My husband and I have been discussing the many possible options for a decent, somewhat medieval looking tent for weeks. There are so many really amazing images of tents floating around the internet that it can become difficult to make any kind of firm decision on a direction to take. There are custom pavilions selling for hundreds, to thousands of dollars, there are army surplus tents in the same price range, there are instructions for DIY tents, bell tents, A-frames, Viking, Ottoman... it can be a bit overwhelming.
For us the options can be cut down based on price; we simply cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a tent that we will use briefly each summer. Because of this we decided to go with a DIY approach. There are all kinds of wonderful plans available online, SCAdians are great about sharing what works and what doesn't, but we are taking a slightly different route. Consider this the first installment of the lazy man's guide (okay, lazy woman's guide if you prefer) to a medivalish family encampment. We are planning to purchase a 10x20 carport to use as the basic structure of our tent. These carports can be purchased for around $100.00 and for us this is a very reasonable starting point. It is the material needed for the conversion that can be very expensive.
Marine grade canvas, Sunbrella, and similar fabrics can be very pricey. I have heard about people getting them for as low as $5 a yard, but I haven't seen any myself. I was planning to save up for a few months to get enough duck canvas, an inexpensive marine option, to create the necessary side panels for our tent. We basically want to enclose ten feet of the carport to create our sleeping space, and then leave the other ten foot section open on the sides (perhaps with the option of closing in two more sides in foul weather) to serve as a sitting area. Now, I use the past tense here because that plan changed with a little good luck.
I found a crazy, amazing, stupid cheap deal on what appears to be marine-grade vinyl. I say, "appears to be," because this fabric has no information on content, or thickness, or anything, but it was so cheap I didn't really care. "How cheap?" you ask. Brace yourself...
I paid ten cents a yard for 150 yards of this stuff, yep $15.00 plus tax.
That roll weighs so much my husband had a hard time carrying it inside, and we are pretty sure it is one continuous cut, which is crazy. It is a woven synthetic of some sort, it is bright yellow (the red stripes are just the tape holding the roll), and it is 46" wide. I can make an entire matching encampment with this stuff! I am super stoked. Stay tuned for more pics and info as we start putting this baby together. I hope to be camping in it by our big September event so I better get cracking!