Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Under Pressure

Okay, so maybe two coats at once (plus ancillaries) is a bit much. Luckily, one of them is supposed to look half-assed. Both projects are interesting, it's only a question of getting both done on time. Here is the faux-cuff stotted to the sleeve. Regimental coats in this period have sleeves that end right at the wrist.

 Looks like the poor Baltimore contract worker who is making these coats has cats. While construction continues, research is ongoing into the appearance of these coats. Blue and red seems a safe bet. A thorough search of Nathaniel Greene's papers, 1780-81 is in order.

Meanwhile, work on the super-fiddly 1799 coat proceeds. Here it is inside out, over a shirt and waistcoat. Hemp canvas interfacing helps shape the body, but lack of pad-stitching means things can slide around. All the front edges of the coat have been turned and whipped to the canvas. The interfacing tends to curl around the shoulder seams, so the canvas edges are whipped together over the pressed-open wool seams.  Like the 19th-century tailcoat, this has ridiculous lapels, but they are totally separate from the Elvis-like collar. It's really more cape than coat.

Cheryl agreed to the tedious task of providing silk Death Head buttons for this project. With the silk tail lining, just the right amount of pimp. Thirty-one days till showtime.  Hope to finish a new neck cloth and get some boots in the mail before then.

A close up of the chaos under the shirt sleeve. The pocket bag peeks out from the interfacing, complete with back stitches to hold the under flap in place. A pencil/chalk line marks were the outer pocket flap gets sewn to the body.  Once they are in place, the lining can start.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Pew and Pocket Flaps

Great times were had at Frederick, Maryland. Chaps from the Fort Dobbs garrison and the Fort Pitt Museum formed a combined company of North Carolina Provincials serving with General Forbes in 1758. Good lads. Brandyn Charlton took this Last of the Mohicans shot of us. In the background is the 300-year-old road built by the people we are portaying.

There is something satisfying about marching with an axe or spade instead of a musket. Roadwork was part of the scenario, a job the Provincials performed, even though the public couldn't see it. Shovelling dirt into ruts in the heat, felling trees, all while dressed like Natives may sound boring, but many Carolina men arrived in Maryland without weapons or much else. There was even a coffin maker in the camp to keep us honest. Pew is losing it's appeal.

Here are the front and back of the 1780s Continental Army pocket flaps. These snazzy buggers are purely decorative and vertical, not unlike those on Light Infantry coats in the period. Holes are punched in the cloth, and the shanks are secured with linen tape sewn to the back. Yes, the USA acronym is that old. This is the Kochan and Philips French Blue cloth that was color matched to a surviving American uniform fragment. To save money, the coat is short, with no functional bits.

Equipping and clothing the US Army every year became a headache for the bankrupt Congress. Lack of shoes, hats, small clothes, gear, even food was common. France helped, and some of the clothing was made there under contract.

Things are looking up by 1799. This gentleman's coat is made from fine black cloth, and lined with green silk. Along with custom Death's Head buttons and giant pocket flaps, these under pocket flaps secure the opening and keep the pocket bag from stretching. Less cost-cutting here. The nine-piece lining is made from three different materials depending on visibility. The back and sleeves are cheap cotton.


Fatigue cap scraps will be useful when it comes to the cuffs on the Continental coat. A combination of stotting and piecing will simulate frugal construction. In the experimental history department: how did folks in the past deal with Poison Ivy? Perhaps it wasn't as much of a problem then.