Tabards in the SCA are used to distinguish baronies, households, kingdoms; just about any level there is involved in the SCA. Whether recognized or not. They can be long or short depending how what the person desires. Design wise they can be elaborate or basic depending on a few things. If you are just part of your local barony you will want to go with your barony colors. If you belong to a household in your barony you might want to add splashes of color of your household. Of course if you are under the king you will want the kingdom colors. However even a basic, single color tabard will work to fight in. And if you are even slightly adept at sewing and have a decent sewing machine, you can make a tabard.
A tabard is just a piece of cloth that basically hangs over the front and back of the body with a neck hole. Pretty simple to create, no arm holes to worry about. The problem can be if you have multiple colors as many baronies do. So having a pattern to use is quite helpful to make the tabard. I used a McCall’s pattern, number M8311. This is actually a tunic pattern that has sleeves but with some slight modification it was easily turned into a tabard pattern.
Now the pattern calls for five pieces but you only need four of them. It is because the fifth one is the fluer de lies they have as a decoration for the tunic. Unless your tabard uses those, they are unnecessary. Cut the pattern straight down. You will be cutting part of the tunic pattern off since you are not sewing the sides together. You will have to pin the top and bottom sections together to make them one piece since the tunic has the contrasting pieces as the top and bottom not front and back as my tabard is made. Again, of course, if your barony tabard is designed with the top and bottom contrasting you are all set. I have seen some household tabards this way so yours may not need to be modified at all.
I do suggest going with the pattern that is the XL-XXL size and using the XXL pattern if you are going over your armor with it. Most people put their tabard over their armor and you will need the bigger size for that. Of course some people are stocky and might need an even bigger size than that or put their tabard under their armor and thus need a smaller size. Think about where you will wear the tabard and how big your armor is before buying the pattern so you don’t get the wrong size or cut the pattern an incorrect size. You also want to get the right amount of material.
Speaking of material, buy a heavy material that can hold up. My first tabard I bought broadcloth and found out it was too thin. It will not last. Also if you have contrasting colors that go on the front and back, make sure you triple check before sewing the pieces together. You don’t want to have to ripe them apart and resew a seam. I recommend getting bias tape for the edge. While just sewing the edge works, it is not as nice looking. Maybe for a practice tabard. I also recommend having more than one tabard, one for practice and one for events. Keep the event one very nice looking, buy nicer material for it and maybe go with something cheap for the practice one. Or if your first attempt isn’t what you thought it would be, use that for the practice tabard.