Discussion of specific projects
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Post by Elden » Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:36 pm

I want a tent like T01: http://www.bractea.freha.pl/tents.html

Here follows an initial brain dump of what I've picked up so far. I'll continue to edit this post for a while rather than inundate the thread with successive versions.


I don't have my manuscript pics handy, will add.
Tent in Basel is not period but is closest extant tent and looks superficially similar.

Suitable historically available fabrics are hemp canvas and linen canvas.
Does not need to be 'waterproof', just enough to convince a decent rainstorm to run down the outside/inside of the fabric.

Hemp rope as far as I can tell. Yes, I need to back up this assertion too.

Pegs+crowsfoot hooks are most likely iron

manuscript tents are covered in stripes. In the basel tent these are reinforced seams, indicating that the tents were made of very narrow loom widths, which fits with contemporary extant fabrics. Seams are good reinforcing. Ropes often appear to run from the ends of the seams.


Linen canvas and hemp canvas are still made, but are expensive.

Hemp gallery for hemp, fabric-store.com for linen

Cotton canvas available from Ricky Richards in Sydney, was 180 wide, transitioning to 200 wide as they get new supply in. Seconds rolls sometimes available. Majority of reenactors use waterproofed, pre-shrunk, fireproofed canvas. Have heard/read conjecture that period tents were waxed/oiled to waterproof them which is a hardcore fire hazard. Have also read that the state of California does not permit the use of non fireproofed tents in state parks which can be a hazard for reenactors there. Not planning to take my tent there, but worrying if tent is greased hemp canvas (a giant candle!) and rule becomes a trend. Predict SCA most likely conduit to bring such a rule to Aus.

Non waterproofed/fireproofed canvas available. Having slept as a scout in canvas tents that were not greased/waterproofed I believe a tent canvas can be water proof enough without additional waterproofing, but hesitant to go with natural canvas and run into leak probs, shrink probs, fire probs or fire regulation probs after going to all that trouble. Thinking 'first tent' to be modern gumby canvas, then work up to better later.

Hemp Canvas: http://www.hempgallery.com.au
http://www.hempgallery.com.au/ecart/pro ... D=24&cID=9 - 100% Hemp, 14.5 oz, Width 150cm, $65
http://www.hempgallery.com.au/ecart/pro ... =161&cID=9 100% Hemp 9oz, Width 90cm, $15 Woven on original French colonial looms in Vietnam
http://www.hempgallery.com.au/ecart/pro ... =160&cID=9 100% Hemp 6oz, Width 90cm, $10 Also woven on colonial looms.
Wholesale prices available.


Commonly lap/fell aka double sewn aka flat fell seam. This seam is on every bloody tent site on earth, google is your friend.

To get the stripes, take two bits of canvas plus a reinforcing strip, line them all up, sew once, then roll reinforcing strip around canvas edges and sew down. I could show you in two seconds with a pen and paper...

Bottom edge of the roof and all edges of walls need hemming. Single sewn, double folded rolled hem?


for the 'double bell' pav style seen in RoA, seems to have a 1 peice roof made from stripes in the middle and triangles at the end. Round the short side of the triangle? Prob not imho as there are many triangles, enough to make a degree of roundness, and there would be no real tension of the 'roundy' flap past the straight line between the corner tension points, making for the floppy.

Walls slope outwards, meaning that the end walls are trapezoidal. Straight edge walls can be rectangles.

Feedback from reenactors suggests you *need* two 'doors' for crossbreeze.

Roof is held up on two poles. 'mushrooms' on top of poles, under canvas, reduce pressure on major stress point ( hole where pole-spike goes through roof) Sectioned poles can be easier to transport. Use looong steel sleeves to make joins and cut the end of poles off at an angle inside the sleeve to prevent spinning and aid temporary join. Poles have (iron/steel?) pin out of top. Mushroom goes on this pin, then roof, then finial (finial might be pretty, should umbrella to keep rain out of pole-hole.

Roof is held out by crows feet. Every second seam termination has a guy off it. From each guy a pair of side ropes goes to the alternating seam terminations. This is a needlessly complicated and confusing description. Crows feet ropes are knotted together. End of the three ropes each has an iron hook (see basel) which hooks into leather reinforced grommets on seam termination. Rope angle is same or shallower than roof angle

Walls connect to roof a little inside to leave eave. Eave keeps worst of water off walls. Walls detachable. Can attach with toggles (easy, historic basis?) recommended by Rodrigo/James from Abbotsford, can attach with laces as per Bractea (harder, historical basis?)

Walls have peg-holes at seam terminations. snug fitting peg holes help stop wall slipping off pegs in wind - Rowan from Abbotsford.

Floor - Rick and Ange (ex OTC) use sea grass matting with carpet over top? Rowan of Abbotsford believes sea grass is period for covering stone/packed earth building floors but will rot in use if ground is wet, then smell terrible.

Sewing - steel gear drive for sewing machine important. Walking foot helpful, alternately feed ramps into machine, or an assistant to hold, guide and feed fabric forward.

Fine nylon thread great, strong according to Rodrigo. Polyester ok, cotton expensive and weak.

Ropes - Rodrigo says manilla. Sisal is ok but rots easily. Only buy whole spools or too expensive. Hardware, sailing supply. 8-10mm plenty. Take lots of spare rope to events.

Pegs - Rodrigo says 1' iron pegs v. helpful in high wind.

Tent making process

draw up plans (graph paper helps!)
I will attempt to scale pattern to sources. Hopefully can get eave above my head height for ease of ingression, egression and regression.

make model
I tried making a mini cotton model with mini poles and a million cotton thread guy ropes, 'pegged' out using sewing pins in the carpet. It was a hassle! It was valuable however, as I realised I'd messed up some seam allowances in the process.

Mistress Rowan in fact makes her models out of paper/cardboard, which is smrt.

make sure model is not ugly or physically untennable.

Make cutting diagram
pattern plus fabric dimensions plus seam allowance

Number every part on the cutting diagram so you're cutting out wall section 9, not just 'one of 12 identical wall sections'

buy fabric. Mark out cutting diag onto fabric, label parts. Hired hall helps for this, as does a few very long straightedges. Angle Ally is my fav bet for straightedges. Wonder if it's expensive? Bunnings job?
Also bring lots of chalk.

Sew fabric, sew on leather reinforcing,
I read somewhere (?) online that Esselte nailclips make a handy substitute for sewing pins when sewing tent canvas.

Use a heavy needle and make sure you've always got a fresh, sharp one in.

Mistress Rowan uses a bladed leather sewing needle for sewing very heavily layered seams, but I'm sure I've been warned off this practice elsewhere as they cut the fibres.

Make poles
Poles should be as sturdy as they need to be, and no sturdier

make pegs and hooks

rig ropes


obviously this is draft A of version 0.0.1, but it's a start.
G'day Elden,
Good to see you are making a tent, its allot of work but it is worth it.
To help you can get thread from"Sewing Thread Specialists Group". There
phone and address is 1300653855, locked bag 108, Silverwater NSW 1811.
http://www.sewingthreads.com.au .

I use Rasant thread, 25 weight, colour 0010 "white", or you could use 0001
which is a off white in colour. The cone size I use is "CO" which is about
2000m. I think it about $35 per cone ?. What sort of sewing machine do you
have? I have a heavy industrial sewing machine which has a walking foot,
most people do not have this type of machine. You may need to go to a
lighter weight of thread to mach the machine you have.


What I use is "Superdux 10-300" it is now available 2m wide its is available
in 50m rolls and you can buy it by the meter, it was $17.95 p/m for a 50m
roll price it is more if you buy the meter. But that was a few years ago so
it is probley about $20 p/m now. I used 70m in my twin pole tent others
that I have made a single pole ones use 50m. Also when you get a roll of
canvas it is best to unroll it and hose it down with water and let lay in
the sun for a couple of days for the canvas to shrink up after that is not
so bad.

The distributed by: Ricky Richards
02 97461433
16 Park RD
Homebush NSW

The other canvas if you want to is Hemp Canvas this is what they would of
used in the day however, its not cheep it is about $30 p/m and is only 1.5m
wide. I do plan to make a single pole tent using hemp canvas and hand
sewing it all together using hemp twine and hemp rope.

I do not have a phone number as it is some ware in the house and no idea as
to ware it is, but they are call the "Hemp gallery" and they are in Sydney.

I hope this helps

Cheers Kiwi
The Pavillion Book. http://midtown.net/dragonwing/pavilion%20book.htm
http://www.amazon.com/Pavilion-Book-Joh ... 979063507/
I suppose I should get a copy of this to improve my chances of a successful tent build.

Rodrigo (Abbotsford)'s advice on tent sewing: http://www.sca.org.au/pipermail/borderl ... 001884.htm

Alex Barnes' notes from his dark green bell tent:
Hi Elden,
I bought the canvas from Bradmill Outdoor Fabrics

The lady called Heather was fanastic. They don't normally sell direct to the public but I guess they are happy enough to sell to their seconds to people like us. She might even remember me if you tell her about my dark green bell tent.

The main structural seams (roof) were done in 6 cord waxed linen and the cosmetic stuff (hems) and the parts that didn't have much stress on them (wall seams) I did in 3 cord waxed linen thread.

I used one of my needles that could hold the thick thread and I don't even use a sailors palm but I did use my needle case that served like a sailors palm.

The mat works well as a big door mat but like anything, it wicks the water quite well when it rains. I'm not sure what it's made of since I bought it from a flea market many years ago.

I hope it helps!


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Re: Tent

Post by Elden » Thu May 07, 2009 10:06 pm

Manuscript resources:

http://picasaweb.google.com/Elden.McD/R ... anderTents#


Mark says
Scale rulers are important. Scale model, get canvas, cut it.

Basel pics: http://www.greydragon.org/pavilions/basel.html (pre 1655 extant tent)

Posts: 282
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Re: Tent

Post by Elden » Fri May 22, 2009 3:31 pm

I talked to Zoe in sales at Ricky Richards.

Two candidate canvases:

Superdux 10-300

40% cotton, 60% poly

Loomstate: 210cm, $13.35ex/linear m (14.69 inc, approx $734.25/roll)

Treated but undyed ('natural'): 200cm, 17.45 ex/m ( $19.20 inc, approx $959.75)

Superdux 10-373
48% cotton, 52% poly

Loomstate 210cm. $17.45ex/m ( $19.20 inc, approx $959.75)
Natural 200cm, $21.20ex/m ( $23.32 inc, approx $1166 roll)

When available, seconds are reduced. Mentioned seconds price on 10-300 nat is 12.50ex. $13.75 inc, $688/roll.

$20 admin fee plus $20 freight to get delivered.

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Post by Elden » Fri May 22, 2009 4:29 pm

Shopping for 8mm Manila rope

http://www.ropemarine.com.au/index.html ... et=d6.html
$160 (inc?ex?) for 250m

also carry 8m manila rope, no price given

Wooden stakes
Many manuscript images show what looks like wooden stakes.
ROA 066r
ROA 83V(even shows a soldier putting a stake in with a mallet)
ROA 138V

and that's just a few examples I can be bothered to link.

The early C15th images of the ROA could be construed as metal pins

Each peg is 320mm (13 inches) long and has a 32mm (1 ½ inches) diameter. Sized to get a good bite into the ground and looks much better on ropes than thin metal pegs.
$5.00 inc GST within Australia
look like softwood...

Macleay Options Inc http://www.moinc.org.au/woodies_form.php
2 x 2 x 16 inches hardwood square peg - $1.55

Alex Barnes on LH list:
For those interested in documentation for tent pegs.

http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/ ... 12/otm12va

"While Sisera slept, Jael took a tent stake and hammer and killed Sisera
by pounding the stake through his temple into the ground. Jael then went
out to meet Barak who was pursuing Sisera and showed him the results of
her deeds."

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Re: Tent

Post by Elden » Sat May 23, 2009 3:04 pm

Bractea's tent is sized as follows:
ground level - about 3 x 5.5m,
height to the top of the roof - 3.1m,
walls height - 2m.

between the poles, the bractea tent has 6 panels

my pattern will be similar dimensions.

5.5m total length, 2.5x3m rectangle in the middle and 2 1.5m dia semicircles on the ends

heights will be 2m to the shoulder and 1.1 from shoulder to top (vertically)

-- Made a model Sat 23/5, but it looks kinda ugly, and hasn't filled me with confidence. Might review the pattern...

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Re: Tent

Post by Elden » Sun May 31, 2009 5:17 pm


Tent models are done. The purple model has a narrower shoulder, while the white model has a wider shoulder. Does anyone have strong thoughts either way on which is more attractive to them and or a better match for the manuscripts? Vote now! :p

More model pics are here

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Re: Tent

Post by Louise » Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:18 pm

I vote the white tent - looks much nicer

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Re: Tent

Post by Jon » Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:38 pm

Personally i prefer the purple tent, but i think the white tent looks more practical, straighter walls which equalls more standing room inside.

Either works.

Let me know when you're considering embarking on this as i too wish to participate.

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Re: Tent

Post by Hugh » Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:27 am

I vote purple - to my eyes the slope of the walls vs roof looks more like the depictions in manuscripts. The white looks too narrow by comparison.

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