How to Make a Minstrel Costume

By Hannah Peltola ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Red beret (or hat of similar shape)
  • Red tunic
  • Green vest
  • Red tights
  • 20 small gold bells
  • Leather shoes or boots
  • Feather (8 to 10 inches long)
  • Red thread
  • Needle
  • Ukelele or small guitar

Minstrels were the singing jokers of medieval times. Today, the closest thing we have to a minstrel is a street musician or busker. Minstrelsy originated in Europe, where the main occupation of minstrels was to sing stories for royalty, embellishing their tales for entertainment purposes. Minstrels often traveled from town to town regaling the townspeople with their tunes, which is why they were called "wandering minstrels." Minstrels provided an important element of entertainment in the days before television and movies. To most accurately portray a minstrel, your costume will need green and red elements--the most common minstrel colors.

Attach the feather to the cap. Thread the needle with the red thread, hold the base of the feather against the seam of the cap, with the bushy part of the feather facing the back of the hat, and stitch over and around the base of the feather until it is securely fastened.

Attach the bells to the tunic. Measure the circumference of the bottom hem of the tunic and divide by 20, to provide spacing for the 20 bells. Make marks where each bell should be sewn. For example, if your tunic has a circumference of 40 inches, you will make marks every 2 inches (40 divided by 20). Sew the small bells onto the bottom hem of the tunic at each place you have marked. The bells will not require much thread to be secured, just three or four loops around the top hook of each bell.

Put on your whole costume. Start with the tights, then the tunic, then the vest, then boots and the feathered cap. Carry the ukulele or a small guitar with you for added authenticity.

About the Author

Hannah Peltola began writing in 2002 and also serves as a book editor. She has been published and featured in "City Arts," "Sunset," "Seattle Magazine" and "Seattle Metropolitan." Peltola has a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in economic development from Bryn Mawr College.