A sewing group creates enchanting costumes

By Judy Tacyn

What started as a few friends sharing their love for Renaissance sewing and clothing grew into “Sewing for Renaissance Festivals”, a Facebook group with over 10,000 members from around the world.

The online group shares photos of completed work, asks for suggestions or asks for help finding materials. Locally, the core group of eight to 10 friends meet once a week at members’ homes to sew clothes for themselves, friends, family, and for custom orders.

With the popularity of Renaissance fairs, such as the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival held at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, the fairground clothing market continues to grow exponentially. It is estimated that more than 50% of the 280,000 Maryland Renaissance Festival attendees do so in medieval-era costumes known as vestments, a number that does not include costumed performers, musicians, or theater performers, who are all in their most authentic period. period outfits.

While attendees can rent clothes for the day at the festival, many others prefer their own outfits.

“We’re on the lookout for unique fabrics, patterns and trims year-round,” said Arnold resident Kathy Pettigrew as she worked on a custom order..

Pettigrew’s basement has been transformed into a cozy sewing room with fabric bolts, thread, rivets, buckles and rolls of trim to rival any high-end fabric store. She and her fellow seamstresses create bloomers to bodices, and court dresses to hats, and everything in between.

“There’s a real sense of pride when the garment I’ve created is unique and really stands out,” added Pettigrew. “I start by talking to the client to find out what he wants. What style and what colors? I like to make things that are unique and really flatter the person who will wear them.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival will take place from August 27 to October 23 this year. During this time, the seasons will change and the temperature could exceed 90 degrees or be as low as the 50s, so fabric choices are important.

“We try to use only natural fabrics…breathable cottons,” Pettigrew said. “Capes and coats may not be necessary in August, but they will be in October!”

In 2014, the group created a place where other seamstresses and vendors could congregate to swap low-cost patterns and materials. This event has grown every year and now has to be held in a new location to accommodate all the vendors, food trucks and performers. COVID has caused previous events to be canceled, but the band is excited to hold a sale this month.

The sixth annual Renaissance Clothing and Crafts Sale will be held July 23 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, located at 1450 Generals Highway in Crownsville.

The event is a combination of a flea market, garage sale and craft festival, with new and gently used Renaissance festival merchandise for sale. Over 30 vendors will offer a combined selection of crafts, artwork and jewelry for purchase.

Many styles will be for sale, including renaissance, cosplay, steampunk, fantasy, pirate, and fairy clothing, as well as accessories. The dressing rooms will allow people to try on their outfit to make sure it is perfect.

Plus, food trucks, like Green Valley and EZ Access Eats, will be on site. For children, there will be face painting and a vendor weaving garlands of colorful fairy hair.

There is no cost to attend. More than 1,000 people are expected, and Pettigrew said she and her fellow clothing designers are ready.

“During COVID, we were mostly sewing at home!” she says. “So we have a great inventory, and we’re really excited to share our creations with other renaissance fair enthusiasts.”

For more information, visit www.marylandgarbsale.com.