by Fritz

Stripes, Top-to-Bottom

July 15, 2014 in Tents by Fritz






Here’s a big one; 17′. The owner wanted the stripes to go all the way from the peak to the ground, so I modified my pattern to make that possible. This one will also get a blue floor and a gold ball and tiny flag, a la Field of the Cloth of Gold.

The tent also has an extra heavy center-pole (~3″ square vs. my usual ~2″ square) It’s a heavy pole, and I was a bit apprehensive at first, but it looks just right in that big tent. While it is about twice as heavy as the 2″ pole, it is about 3x as strong and 4x as stiff. I imagine that it will be very confidence inspiring on those stormy days and nights that we all love to hate.

The usual curved end to the chamfers on the lower center pole looked very “router-y” since they were so much larger than normal. I hand carved “dart-stops” on them. Very pleased with the way those turned out.

This is now my favorite tent that I’ve made. (They almost always are when I’ve just finished something new, not without good reason). Personally, I’ve always gone for more moderate sizes (14′ -15′), but now that we are campaigning with a toddler (and an infant on the way) a bigger tent is starting to look like a good idea.


by Fritz

Seamly Thoughts

January 31, 2014 in Uncategorized by Fritz

seam sketch
A quick sketch and some comments on some of the types of seams to be found on tents old or new.

Flat seam – probably only modern, very fast to produce on a double needle machine, esp. a double needle chain-stitcher.
Leaks like a sieve when under tension.

Plain – used on secondary seams of the Berlin tent (The panels are assembled out of multiple pieces to make most use of fabric)
Also leaks badly if under tension (but in the Berlin tent they are not structural and there is a liner in case it leaks a little bit)

Flat-Felled – the de facto standard for well made pavilions today. somewhat labor intensive since there are two lines of stitching and some careful prep/folding between stitching rows.
Very water resistant and strong

Flat-Felled with double needle and folder – performs similarly to flat felled, but preferred by many manufacturers because of lower labor (only have to push fabric through the sewing machine once)

Webbing backed – used on the primary seams on the Berlin tent (and I think on the Carlos V tent too. The webbing is the primary structural element, the canvas is mostly just a cover (this probably makes it last longer too)
Very water resistant and ridiculously strong

Integral Seam Stripe – used on the Basel tent, panels are cut with one straight and one bias edge, plus stripe itself is straight grain. The stripe covers the plain seam which is under tension and would leak badly
Very water resistant and strong

Originally I posted this on Facebook, but I thought it deserved being resurrected here.

by Fritz

Dovetailed Clothing trunk

December 14, 2013 in Furniture by Fritz

I just finished my first dovetailed clothing chest. It is based on the 15th and 16th century ones I saw in Munich, but is much smaller to make it easier to travel with. It has two tills for keeping small items from getting lost in the bottom. The lids of the tills double as props for the lid of the trunk. It’s made of some walnut boards I got in trade a while back.

Unfortunately, museums don’t let you turn their pieces upside down or open them up, much less take them apart. So, I’m not 100% certain on a few of the construction details. I’ve constructed this as much like the originals as I could figure out and I’ll be keeping a close eye on how it does over the next campaign season.

This one is a birthday present for my lovely lady, but there will be more in the future.



by Fritz

Round one went to the Ukrainian Spammers…

November 22, 2013 in Uncategorized by Fritz

Despite the captcha, I’ve gotten something over a thousand spam comments in the last month or two. Usually something to do with Tramadol, or Xanax, but with links to what appeared to be legitimate websites. They were coming in at such a rate and I was busy making tents, so I couldn’t really take the time to figure it out.

Today I took a couple of hours to look it over. Turns out that all but a handful of the spam was coming through just two ISPs in the Ukraine. A look at my we stats showed that the Ukraine had grown to be my biggest viewer, countrywise, in just a few months. More hits were coming from Ukraine than from the U.S.

I just blocked the ranges of IP addresses belonging to those two ISPs. I suppose it’s not inconceivable that I could have a legit customer who will now be unable to view my website, but frankly, it seems the risk is acceptable. Despite the flood of Ukrainian traffic, I have yet to receive a single real query from there, and anyway, I’m not blocking the whole country, just two ISPs.

If you left a comment in the last month or two, my apologies for not responding. They got hidden in the flood. I’m working on catching up now.

by Fritz

Round pavilion Indoors

November 20, 2013 in Tents by Fritz

I fit the poles to each tent I make. This consists of making the poles a little bit too long to start with and trying to set-up the tent. Trim a bit off, set the tent up again. Rinse, repeat, until the the poles fit perfectly. I’ve slowly gotten better at it; I can start closer to the right size and trim more each time, getting to just right a lot faster, but one thing I have not been able to control is the weather and Mister Murphy’s effects there on.

Invariably, as soon as you start setting up tent (whose poles do not fit and is therefore not particularly weather resistant) the weather gets blustery. Rain/snow clouds will show up in a previously clear sky within an hour of starting this endeavor.

There is a large space in the building my shop is in. It’s not my space, but I can use it occasionally. The only problem is that it’s really hard to drive stakes into a concrete floor. So, I came up with a sandbag arrangement to replace the stakes and viola. The first run was yesterday and today. Just a little tweaking and it worked like a charm. I was able to fit two tents, indoors. The weather outside was, predictably, beautiful.





by Fritz

New sewing machine

August 7, 2013 in Uncategorized by Fritz


This years busy production schedule has resulted in, not only the move to a new shop space, but also the purchase of a second sewing machine. It’s a 25 inch arm machine, which makes sewing in peaks much easier and has an extra high pressed foot lift, which makes stake loops easier.

It also does considerably longer stitches (10mm vs 6mm for the old Consew). This is actually really nice for seams (fewer penetrations of the fabric)

Overall I am very pleased with how it is working out.

by Fritz

New Website

July 30, 2013 in Uncategorized by Fritz

So… it’s finally done. A new website, now with juicy WordPress goodness. This will allow me to do much easier updates and I plan to do a little blog post here, once a week or so. Topics will be all over the place, from pictures of the new sewing machine to discussions and results of my seam and stake loop research. If you have a question or a topic that you think might make for a good blog post, let me know and you just might see it here in the future.

Best Regards,


by Fritz

16th Century Folding Table

March 11, 2013 in Furniture by Fritz

Here is a table I recently finished. I based it on a 16th century original  in the V&A museum in London. The original is made from walnut and is heavily inlaid. Mine is made from white oak and has light carving enhanced with a monochrome (black) pigment added under the oil finish.

The original has chains hold the base at a particular height. Since hand forged chains would have added a lot to the cost and commercially available chains are just too modern looking I chose to use webbing straps instead.

by Fritz

A door closure method.

March 9, 2013 in Tent Research by Fritz

Mughal era painting.

Mughal era painting
This is one of the rare pieces of period art that shows a method of closing doors on a tent.  I’m pretty sure Past Tents in the UK uses this method.

I’ve heard, from someone who owned a tent with this style of closure, that the very limited overlap made it difficult to get a good seal against stormy weather.

The other difficulty that I see is that the brass grommets used by other manufacturers are glaringly non-period.

I could hand sew grommets, but that would be prohibitively labor intensive (i.e. expensive) for most people.