Here is the first piece I wrote on tent making a long time ago. It tells you the first part of what do to to design a tent.
Go and look at tent pictures. I prefer looking at medieval pictures, there are lots at http://home.adelphi.edu/~sbloch/sca/tents/pictures/ If you have lots of time, you could take a look through http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/searchMSNo.asp. There is also an existing tent here – http://www.greydragon.org/pavilions/basel.html
You can also go and look at pictures of tents other SCA people have made. There are lots of pages on the web that will tell you about how other people have made their tents. I don’t have any I particularly like – google it and share your findings in the comments section .
While you’re looking start to think about the constraints on your design:
- How big do you want your tent?
- What do you want to put in your tent?
- How many people do you have available to put up your tent?
- How much space do you want to take up with your tent?
- How much time do you have?
- Where can you store it?
- How will you transport your tent?
- How much money do you want to spend?
A bell tent sized to fit a double bed uses 30-40m of fabric. At commercial canvas costs of $15-$20, that’s $450-$800 for canvas alone. Rope is about $100, timber for poles and leather for grommets can be another $50-$200, depending on your scrounging ability. Your tent can cost about $600-$1100.
You also need to think about what styles and time periods you like. Do you have a particular persona you’d like to match with your tent? If you wear mostly Viking, maybe you should be looking at Viking tents.
I have made bell tents, like this one.
It has a central pole, stormguys to hold up the pole and wall guys to hold out the roof. The walls are pegged at the ground. It was designed to fit a double bed and canopy (2.4m above ground level) on one side of the centre pole, while taking up as small a land area as possible. It needs a circle of 9m diameter to put it up. Notice the slope of the roof?
The next tent is one of the first ones I was involved in making. It also needs a 9m diameter circle, but has a lot less internal space. It fits a king single on one side of the centre pole. The slope of the roof of this tent is shallower, so the guys go out further.
Double bells are just bell tents with a rectangular insert and an extra pole.
I have information and a pattern for my circus tent here.