Friday, November 29, 2013

Odds and Ends

Happy Holidays! So much work to do. ANOTHER IMAX film opportunity next week. I love emails out of the blue. Where to start... How about at the end? Remember this thing?


It's the early 19th-century equivalent of a clip-on tie. I added a strap and stock buckle from my collection, and two folded strips sewn at one end. Some of the original stocks I've looked at have bows or knots stitched to the front (even backwards tails proving they weren't tied so much as built from pieces.) I'm going to leave this one loose so I can change it as the mood strikes me. It feels like a neck corset, and I can actually see stars if I hold my head the right way.

Here is something cool for all you 18th century Northerners and Francophiles as the temperature drops:


Comfy and practical, straight from Mr. Diderot. He says these Chausson were knitted from wool or linen thread by Canadians, or made from cloth. The pattern looks like this:


I was turned on to these by a friend who has a fantastic site on 18th-century Native culture here. Check it out if you have any interest in the frontier and honoring the history of the people who were here before us. Next time, construction details of a simple 18th century great coat, perhaps the first time I have worked on winter clothes during winter. Meanwhile, tying a barrel knot is much easier if you aren't wearing it:


Monday, November 4, 2013

Drunk(er) Tailoring

Well THAT was fun.

I destroyed my first pair of gaiter-trousers and my favorite shoes, but it was worth it. Not allowed to talk about it. Let's just say I understand why Peter Jackson likes Red cameras so much. Considering I only do living history a few weekends out of the year, I've finally reached a solid year of campaigning and it is time for some new clothes. Even my patches have patches.


Making overalls is a PITA. Trying to keep the seams straight on the legs is tiresome. It turns out I may have been doing it wrong all these years. Take a look at these nicely preserved trousers at the MET. The dating may or may not be right. The outseam is nice a straight, probably follows the selvage. The inseam is where all the fitting takes place. It looks like it meanders quite a bit. Clever.

Perhaps I have been too careful, despite my drunken intentions. Which brings me to terrifying thought: how bad did the British Army look in the 18th century?

Corporal Jones of the 13th Foot was drawn by William Baillie in 1753. His uniform is remarkably rumpled for being on a recruiting party. I'm beginning to think even my level of skill is too good for the King. We know that every soldier was generally entitled to a new coat every year, so making them must have gotten as close to mass production as possible.

Pieces were cut in several sizes economically and quickly, and handed off to poor women to assemble. Not tailors. Here is an interesting bit from the Old Bailey. I'm guessing Melckisideck didn't eat that day. So the faster you make coats the more money you get. Can I bring myself to use four stitches per inch?

This should inspire anyone to take up making 18th century military clothes. If it doesn't get laundered regularly don't waste time with fine stitching. The few surviving originals seem to bear this out: Redcoats looked good at a distance.