Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rushon Boys

The kettle bag turned out swell, and work is proceeding on the spats. A matching small kettle bag is cut out. Meanwhile, TOP SECRET things are altering the sewing queue a bit.

The Continental Army kit has been languishing for awhile. Most of the gear is still acceptable, but upgrades are in order. While doing research for the winter march in January, a favorite subject reappeared.

An officer in the Royal Deux-Ponts regiment, Jean Baptiste Antoine de Verger, captured these chaps in watercolor at the Battle of Yorktown. Their mysterious waistcoat vests are worthy of speculation.

The classic late 18th-century waistcoat has tails and pocket flaps.  Both tend to get hung up in regimental coats and stand up in an unmilitary fashion. Overalls, trousers, and breeches ride low on the hips, and a gap can form where the shirt peeks out, especially if the waistcoat is too short.

A belt that buttons the tailless vest to the pants would seem a (vaguely French) improvement. It uses less cloth as well. Time to apply drunk tailoring skills to a belted waistcoat.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Well, Diderot's mitten pattern works. Sleevil is strong with that thumb piece. Five tries later, it finally fit the hole. This is why fitting patterns are so important, especially with new stuff. Once that is out of the way, it takes about an hour to put together.

A quick scan of surviving 19th-century cloth mittens shows the seams on the outside. It may look better inside out, but it isn't as comfortable (and these things are hella comfy, y'all.) The separate cuff piece can still be added if they are too short, but with stocking sleeves rolled down over them it's like a wool space suit.

Here is the spatterdash toe back-stitched, with the raw edge whipped to the body. The buttonhole edge is turned under and clipped to fit the curve. There is a surviving 18th-century civilian gaiter with linen lining the toe and along the bottom inside edge. Add if desired.

Last, the kettle bag gets a tube over hemp cord to act as a draw string. The side and bottom pieces have their seams pressed open, and the raw edges are whip-stitched to the body. Remember this stitch when we start the unlined linen coat in the future.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mitaines and Markings

Our pal, Denis Diderot offers us an idea of how an 18th-century cloth mitten should look. This image is from the bottom of an illustration in the Encyclop├ędie.  Knit mittens were not unknown. A survivor was unearthed with British military buttons.

Sewn wool flannel mittens were considered an expedient at first, but found to be more durable by the British military. The knit one is 12" long (!!!??) Ten inches will probably work. Square off the cuff unless you're feeling fancy. Make a fitting pattern first.

Pity the poor British military fellow, issued tons of crap: gun, hat, shoes, &c. ordered not to loose any of it (or sell it for booze.) Gabriel Bray's delightful painting of a sailor bringing up his hammock gives us an idea of how they kept track of such things.

Fifth Foot Captain Bennett Cuthbertson recommends in A System for the Compleat Interior Management and Economy of Battalion of Infantry, marking linens with a mixture of vermillion and nut oil. Since cinnabar (HgS) is toxic, this seems like a good substitute.

Fold it into some walnut oil with a palette knife until the paste stands up by itself.  Thin with turpentine or mineral spirits. Use a nice period typeface. Initials, company, and regimental markings are good for starters. Oil paint can take weeks to dry depending on the environment. Adding drying agents and heat can speed the process. More information on markings can be found here, buy all of these immediately.