Choosing the right materials is a prequisite for succesful dress-making. You should pick materials with care even though sometimes finding a suitable fabric can be difficult and time-consuming. Your apparel should both look suitable for the game and be comfortable for the whole Dragonbane week - mostly spent in outdoor conditions.
Dragonbane clothing should be made from natural fibres only. The fabric can contain no more than 5% of synthetic materials. The reason for this restriction is not as much appearance than safety. Synthetics catch fire much more easily than natural fibres. Since there will fire and special effects in the game, we have decided to ban the most inflammable materials from the game.
Different items demand different qualities from the fibre. Rough wool is good for an overcoat but hardly the first choice when making underwear. A coat can be heavy but a dress needs to drape beautifully. Trousers need to be durable and so on.
The way a fabric has been woven affects many of its qualities, such as look, strech and durability. Plain weave is always a good choice, but in some items like trousers it might not be durable enough. Twill weve is more sturdy. It's a good choice for trousers and overcoats. It also functions well as a supporting layer. Satin weve gives the material a beautiful shiny look. Because of the sheen it's not recommended for Dragonbane. It also gets napped easily. Velvet isn't recommnded for the costumes either, but can be used sparingly in decorations.
Felt is a versatile and beautiful material. It's a good materials for all kinds of props and accessories, such as shoes, hats, coats and if thin for almost anything else too.
Knitted materials are comfortable and elastic. Thin, machine-knitted materials shouldn't be used in Dragonbane. Hand-knitted textures make good details and hand-knit socks are very much recommended. You can use all natural materials for knitting.
Do not use iron-on interfacing, ready-make shoulder pads or other modern aids like them. The effects can as easily be achieved with natural materials.
Colours are important when picking a material for a garment. Plan the whole coulour scheme at first, not as you go. Then you can sure that in the end all your garments fit together beautifully.
If you can't find the exact colour you want, you can always dye cloth yourself. Natural fibres dye easily and beautifully. Machine dye, dye buttons and priting dyes are all acceptable techinuques. Use white as the base colour to get as close as possible to the desired colour. You can use other colours as well, but the results can be unexpected.
Always make a test before dyeing the whole materials. Take into consideration the strength of the dye, the amount of different dyes, the amount of fabric and time. Dyed fabric can give off its colour after dyeing. This can happen when the material gets wet and sometimes also when it is just touched. It is recommended to test the colour fastness before cutting the fabric or at least before you use the finished garment. If needed, wash away excess dye.
The following is a short description of the most common fibres used in dress-making. There are many more natural fibres that can be used, but they can't all be listed here. More information can be found in literature and on the Internet.
Animal fibres (protein) (suomi, svenska, english, abbreviation)
- Wool (villa, ull, wool, new wool, WO)
Wool is made from the fleece of different animals - sheep is most common. You can purchase it as a woven fabric, threads and felt. Wool is warm and breathes well. It can also be itchy and cause allergies. Thin wool isn't hot but drapes beautifully and can be used for many purposes, especially with lining. Pure wool frays easily if thin. Thicker wool is good for overcoats. Wool makes excellent socks too.
- Silk (silkki, natursilke, silk, SE)
Silk is made from the cocoons of silkworms. It is beautiful, breathing, luxuriously comfortable next to skin but usually very expensive. It can both warm and cool. If used long, sweat can make silk weaken. Differently treated silks can vary a lot in looks and texture. There are coarser and thinner materials. All except the common and easily recognised Thai silk can be used in Dragonbane. You can use silk for underwear, scarfs, decorations and all kinds or garments.
- Cotton (puuvilla, bomull, cotton, CO)
Cotton absorbs water and breathes well, so it's very comfortable on the skin. It's also very durable and wrinkles easily. Cotton can be obtained in a variety of forms and can be used for many purposes. Avoid colourful prints and machine-knitted materials though.
- Linen (pellava, lin, flax, linen, LI)
Linen breaths extremely well and can both warm and cool when needed. It wrinkles very easily and is very soft when used for long. New linen can be harder. The durability of linen varies depending on the weave so you might want to check that before purchasing. Linen is good for clothes or as a supporting material. It makes also excellent rags and towels, because it can absorb enourmous amounts of water.
- Hemp (hamppu, hampa, hemp, HA)
Hemp is similar to linen, only rougher and stronger. Usually hemp is used together with other fibres but sometimes hemp threads and items can be found in for example ecological shops.
- Ramie (rami, rami, ramie, RA)
Ramie is a plant fibre which is very strong even when wet. Because of its strength it can most often be found in fire hoses and furniture fabrics.
Synthetic fibres are most often pulp or oil-based, industrially made to meet all kinds of needs. Synthetics have good qualities on their own or mixed with natural fibres. They are used for low costs, strenght or non-wrinkling effects. Unfortunately synthetic fibres are often very sensitive to live fire and sparks. Therefore fabrics used in Dragonbane can only have 5% of any synthetic fibres in them.
List of synthetic fibers (suomi, svenska, english, abbreviation)
viskoosi, viskos, viscose, CV (VI)
modaali, modal, modal, CMD(MD)
kupro, kupro, cupro, CUP (CU)
lyocell, lyocell, lyocell, CLY
polylaktidi, polylaktid, polylactide, PLA
asetaatti, acetat, acetate, CA (AC)
triasetaatti, triacetat, triacetate, CTA (TA)
polyamidi, polyamid, nylon, PA
akryyli, akryl, acrylic, PAN(PC)
modakryyli, modakryl, modacrylic, MAC(MA)
klorokuitu, klorfiber, chlorofibre, CLF (CL)
polyesteri, polyester, polyester, PES(PE)
polypropeeni, polypropen, polypropylene, PP
elastaani, elastan, elastane, EL (EA)
lasi, glas, glass fibre, GF (GL)
metalli, metall, metal, metallic, MTF(ME)
metalloitu, metalleffekt, metallised, ME
Material test with a lighter
Separate some long fibres or threads (2-5 cm) and place them between your fingers. Burn the material a little with a ligther or a lighted candle. Leave some burn remains to be inspected. Smell the burning material and the remains.
Observe the following
- Does the fibre start to crumble or melt from the heat?
- At what point does the materials start to burn or melt?
Oil-based synthetic materials leave a hard melted clump of plastic as the burn result. They also smell like burning plastic. The melting reaction is quite clear. Natural Fibres leave different kind of remains. Usually the remains turn into dust between your fingers. Wool smells like burning hair. Silk has a peculiar smell of burning protein. Cellulose-based threads smell like burning paper.
Celluloce fibres are usually weeker when wet. At first, try pushing your thumb through dry fabric. Then do it to a wet fabric and compare the easiness.
None of these methods are really reliable. The best is to check the material listing when purchasing the material.