How To Get Started In An Tir

Welcome! The Outreach Office (or Chatelaine as we call it) is designed explicitly to help new people (“newcomers”) get involved in the Society. To help you explore, here are a few reference points for you; this information is based on the most common questions the Chatelaine gets asked. Please keep in mind that the SCA is a 100% volunteer-run organization so answers to communication may be a bit delayed.

Help! I can't sew but I want to make some clothes!

Below are some suggestions for getting started with your own garb without sewing. Economy: Goodwill, Value Village or other second hand stores, Old Navy, Kohls, Target, Walmart, and Fred Meyer may have reasonably priced options. Amazon probably has most everything. Generally natural fibers work best for SCA garb (and it will also depend on where you live what is the best for you): linen, hemp, cotton, silk, or wool. Contrary to current fashion dictates, linen is VERY durable and can be machine-washed, and An Tir has a prevalence of linen garb.

*Please note that the SCA respects whatever gender expression you prefer in terms of your character/attire.

Probably the most basic piece to start with is a “T tunic”; you can wear it with a long skirt or pants (or if it is past your knees, alone). If this sounds suspiciously like a tshirt, that is because it is…in shape. A tunic is usually much longer than today’s tshirt, and in the middle ages elastic/spandex didn’t exist, so it was not a stretchy garment. It was, however, shaped like a “T”, with either long or short sleeves. Usually it was worn with a belt over it at the waist. It was basically a front and a back sewn together with a neckhole. Tunics are unisex.


Some options that are pretty easy to use without much alteration:

    • – Nightshirts that don’t have any stretch to them can work, if they are long enough (generally mid-thigh to mid-calf)
    • – Caftans are a great unisex option
    • – An Indian kameez is very similar to what a period T-tunic would look like for female,
    {kameez} and kurta or sherwani for male personas (preferably without showing any sort of pockets). (The kurta below was shown on!)

{kurta} {sherwani}

Male – traditional

    -Kilts as they are designed now are actually not within our timeframe, although if you have one you would like to wear, no one should have an issue with it.


    • -Hospital scrubs can be a great starting point, especially for pants if they are solid-colored.
    -Drawstring pajama pants can work (and plaid is perfectly acceptable!)
    –Trews or pants are very similar today in shape to what would have been worn in the middle ages. With the exception of denim, sweapants/jersey and cargo pockets, if you cover the waistline/back pockets (such as with a tunic) you can probably wear most any pair of modern pants.

*European women favored full skirts, if you prefer something straight, look at Middle Eastern/Asian cultures

    • -Although it probably has stretch as a jersey fabric, a solid colored maxi tank dress with a tunic over it can work.
    • -Long (ankle, or “maxi” length) full skirts.
    -A long nightgown under a maxi skirt can also work really well.

I can sew clothing! Do you have any resources?

If you either know how, or want to learn, sewing is the most common way most people acquire garb. Below are some sources for simple patterns and some online fabric resources.

Pinterest is a treasure trove for finding patterns and pictures of SCA garb.

Please note that The Kingdom of An Tir can’t guarantee that these links are still active and/or relevant. Please feel free to report issues to the Kingdom Webteam.

Books like “The Medieval Tailor” and “The Tudor Tailor” contain patterns and instructions.

Rosalie’s Medieval Woman website has a ton of patterns

Medieval Miscellania carries an extensive series of retail period patterns

Bonnie’s Patterns carries several options

Most major sewing pattern makers have Halloween costumes that are great options like Butterick, Burda, Simplicity, etc. You can find them in the pattern books at your local fabric store.

Some more patterns/instructions for a t tunic:


Other period patterns for sewing projects:


Fabric resources:!Aog1DeKAaC7MyHsGVxQi6W4OnPei

What should I carry my stuff in?

Handy Containers to carry stuff in:

    • – A “rucksack” was a type of backpack. They were very simple with either a flap over the top or a drawsting and shoulder straps (you can find these at import stores like Cost Plus)
    • {rucksackf} {rucksackb}
    • -“Satchel” type bags in leather or textiles, usually worn over one shoulder. We would think of a “hobo bag” or a messenger bag as modern equivalents. Made of leather, canvas, or other sturdy textile.
    {hobo} {messenger}

Baskets and pouches:

    -A “beltpouch” was the equivalent of modern “pockets. It was either a drawstring bag, or a leather pouch that resembles a modern-day “fanny pack” that hung off your belt.


Do I have to pretend to be someone else? What is a persona?

Developing your “persona” (historical character)

-You have probably noticed that almost everyone in the SCA has two names; amongst ourselves, we generally know each other by our “persona” or character name. Choosing a persona is a very integral part of continuing in the SCA. It is certainly possible to change your persona, but much like changing your legal name, there is paperwork involved as well as re-training everyone you know to use the new name.

-We have officers in the SCA who are dedicated to helping members choose a name and personal heraldry. They are called Research Heralds. You will often see them at meetings or events with books, lists, and electronic access to extensive historical records. They can help you find a name if you need help.

-Some people choose names very close to their own, others choose a persona vastly different than their real life, including a different gender.

-Unless you are specifically drawn to a time period/country, you may want to use a variation of your legal name (or your actual name) until you settle on a persona (many people end up choosing a persona based on the clothing or specific culture they are drawn to, like Tudor England or Renaissance Italy, or Mongolia during the time of the Huns, or 16th century Central America, or Moorish Spain). Some people will change their time/country but retain their original names. It is up to you how you wish to proceed. You could remain “Thomas of the Sound” or “Melissa of the O’Connell Clan” until you choose a regular persona.

Here is a fairly in-depth worksheet to help you think about what your persona might be like:

What are titles? How do I get one? Who are all the people with crowns on their heads and how should I address them?

A note about “titles”

-Although everyone in the SCA is presumed to originate from the nobility and our most common greetings are “Good day, my lord” or “Good Day, my lady” (or “good gentle”), we reserve actual titles like “Lady Elizabeth” or “Lord Jefferson” or “Noble Chris” (“Noble” is one of our gender neutral titles) for those that have been given the most common award in the SCA, the Award of Arms (colloquially known as an “AoA”), It bestows the title of Lord/Lady/Noble (or equivalent) and the privilege of creating, registering, and displaying a personal device (our equivalent of a “coat of arms”).

-Titles are an important part of our culture, as they denote an increasing level of appreciation and recognition for specific aspects of our organization built on our pillars of service (volunteering)), expertise in the arts and sciences, and martial prowess in sword/heavy weaponry or rapier (fencing).

The King and Queen, Princes and Princesses (of Principalities and the Royal Heirs) are collectively known as our Royalty.
How to address them: Your Majesty/ies (King and Queen), Your Royal Highness/es (Heirs to the Kingdom throne), Your Highness/es (Principalities).

Those that have served as King/Queen two or more times have the rank (or equivalent title) of Duke/Duchess, and are addressed as Your Grace/s.

Anyone else that has what we consider a “noble” rank, or peerage, is addressed as Your Excellency including Heirs to a Principality throne (also sometimes called Tannist and Ban-Tanist or Tannist and Tanista). When in doubt, if someone is wearing something that looks like a crown/coronet, “your excellency” is usually safe. You will learn to recognize the royal Crowns and Coronets fairly easily, and Ducal coronets have strawberry leaves on them but if you cannot tell if a coronet has those, “excellency” should not offend someone. If someone corrects you, please don’t worry about it.

Is there a general "getting started" guide?


The Society for Creative Anachronism (“Society”) publishes a primer and hosts a newcomer portal that gives you a broad overview of what we do in the SCA. Keep in mind that each Kingdom has its own traditions, customs, and culture so these links are meant to direct you to your local group for further details.

An SCA newcomer primer:

The SCA newcomer portal:

How can I find my local Group?

If you live in Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho, or British Columbia, you can look up your local group using your zip code (US) or postal code (Canada) on our Find My Branch page.

Does Participation Require Membership? Do I have to be a member to attend events?

We do offer membership, however, you are *not* required to have a membership to join in most of our activities. That said, there are some specific activities that do require membership:

  • You must be a paid member to participate in a Crown Tournament (a fighting tournament held in May and September to determine who the next Rulers of the Kingdom will be) as either a fighter or consort inspiration
  • You must be a paid member to hold any office (at the local or regional level)

Our events have varying site costs for admission that are determined by site rental and supplies (water, portable potties, etc.). Site fees will always be published on our Kingdom Event Calendar with the rest of the information about the event (address/directions, schedule, contacts). Membership offers a discount for entry fees as well as access to our Kingdom newsletter.

Click here to become a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism

Are events family friendly? Do you have activities for children?

The SCA is very family friendly, we do have activities for children (including an extensive Youth and Family Activities program), but we do require children under 18 to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times. Service animals are always welcome, other pets are determined by each individual site policy. Our Equestrian community has its own set of specifications. Please contact the Kingdom Equestrian Marshal for more information if you have a horse, or equestrian experience, or interest and wish to explore more).

How can I find out about the range of activities the SCA offers in my area?

Once you have made contact with your local group, there are usually monthly opportunities to get involved. These can include business meetings, socials, martial practices (sword, rapier, archery, thrown weapons), guild/Arts and Sciences meetings or workshops (i.e. scribal arts like calligraphy and illumination, culinary arts, costuming, dance practices, etc.) The SCA has a very wide ranging range of focus that can be a bit overwhelming, which is why we suggest connecting up with those activities that seem of interest to start. We have a very generous culture of providing you with either “loaner” gear or group-owned materials for you to use while trying a new activity.

Our local practices and meetings are really to enable us to participate in our Events, those day or weekend (or sometimes week) long activities where we dress as someone from the past and get together to “play”. Our one requirement to participate at our private events is that you must “make an attempt” at pre-17th century clothing (which we call “garb”.) Many branches have garb that you can borrow as part of their physical assets (ask your branch officer about “Gold Key”), or existing members will try and help you pull something together. There are plenty of online resources for purchasing costumes, or if you like to sew (or want to learn!) there are options for that as well.

What should I wear? Do i have to wear medieval/renaissance clothing?

We ask that you make a reasonable attempt at pre-Elizabethan era clothing but it doesn’t have to be particular to one point in time or one place in the World. Many local groups have loaner clothing we call “gold key” that you can borrow for your first couple of events or until you can acquire something of your own.

Also see “Help! I can’t sew but I want to make some clothes!”


Belts were worn by almost everyone in the middle ages. They could be leather, cord, or woven textiles, tied or buckled. In An Tir and in most of the other Kingdoms of the SCA there are certain belt color conventions to be aware of.

  • White belts are reserved for Knights
  • Red belts are reserved for Squires (students of Knights)
  • Green belts are reserved for Apprentices (students of the Arts)
  • Yellow belts are reserved for Proteges (students of Service)


Almost all footwear in the middle ages was leather (although of course we have “vegan” leather that works perfectly well). Probably the single biggest modern-day footwear that will make you stand out are athletic/trainers/tennis shoes.

  • Sandals in the summer months are fine (prefered if they don’t have visible velcro or zippers). Heels should be low/flat.
  • Simple boots (“biker”, pull on, side/back lace), ankle boots (pull on)
  • Moccasins
  • Loafers (slip on shoes)
  • Huarachis
  • Clogs
  • Ghillie lace ups
  • Mary Jane style shoes, including “Chinese slippers” for both male and female personas

Outerwear was fairly unisex.

  • Anything that is a called “cape” or “cloak” is usually fine; buttons are period, zippers/velcro are not (unless of course they are hidden) with or without a hood.
  • A shawl in either a solid color, stripes, or plaid (usually of cotton or wool, or knit)
  • A large piece of fabric draped around you is completely period (you can fasten it with a pin or just layer it around you). (Military surplus store blankets in wool are really good for this).
  • Fur stoles/collars
  • Leather or natural-fiber gloves (although if you are in a cold climate and only have “stretch” gloves certainly wear them if needed!)
  • Hats that are pull on (knit) (minus pompoms)