I realized a week or so ago that many new reenactors do not know how to handle bad weather. To me, having the right clothes is of utmost importance for two reasons:
- An event is more fun when you’re comfortable
- Authenticity and public education
Surprisingly, the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, often the authentic clothing is just as, if not more, comfortable than modern clothing in bad weather. Below is a list of items that can be acquired or made to make your experience more enjoyable in all sorts of weather.
- A change of stockings
- Wool Broadcloth cloaks/bedgowns
- Wool Petticoat (More for warmth in damp weather. Use worsted or flannel.)
- Wide brimmed hats (wool felt is the best in rain)
- Wool Broadcloth cloaks/bedgowns
- Quilted Waistcoat/Petticoat*
- Wool Petticoats/gowns made of worsted or flannel
- Wool stockings
I recently went looking for some metallic-ish thread for a project that is mentally in the works. I stumbled upon Gilt Sylke Twist! You can buy this thread in 23 m spools from various different stores; however I bought mine from Hedgehog Handworks. My original intention was to twist it with Soie d’Alger silk thread and make a lucet cord out of it. It came out horrible (mostly operator error) and much thicker than I really wanted so I tried the Gilt Sylke Twist on it’s own. Let me tell you this thread makes an awesome cord! The resulting cord is very thin; only a few millimeters in diameter. T
You do have to be careful with it; the metallic twist can break and its generally a bit difficult to pull through. Just make sure your tension is a little on the loose side so that it doesn’t snag badly.
(The camera is zoomed in. The cord is much smaller in person.)
The following excerpt is from George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789. Retrieved from the George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress.
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I had one of those brilliant ideas that make me sound like a lunatic the other day. I had a hankering for an 18th century newspaper that was individualized for my particular Regiment. The idea came about because I wanted to have a runaway advertisement for one of our children in an effort to get people more involved.
Here’s a sampling of what I came up with:
I’m rather proud of the final product if I do say so myself. I used snippets from actual books of the time as well as from the actual newspaper closest to the date I wanted to portray. On the back I included some event specific information and a recipe. The result is interesting, education, and practically helpful.
If you are interested in making your own newspapers you have some options.
Colonial Williamsburg provides freely accessible scanned pages of the Virginia Gazette (all three of them!) from 1730 to 1780. The one downside is that some of the scans are hard or impossible to read.
Newspapers.com is a subscription based website that is associated with ancestry.com. Subscription costs $79.95 a year or $7.95 a month. For the 18th century they do not have a huge selection; however the scans are very good quality. If you’re a Civil War reenactor you have MANY more options on this site. The newspapers available for the 18th century are:
- Virginia Gazette beginning in 1736
- Pennsylvania Gazette beginning in 1728
- Pennsylvania Packet from 1771-1790
- Freeman’s Journal or the North American Intelligencer from 1781-1792
- Maryland Gazette beginning in 1745
The Walden Font Co. makes an excellent Caslon font package called the Minuteman Printshop. If you make 18th century documents for your group I highly recommend that you invest in this font. It contains three Caslon fonts, two Webster fonts, bullets, historical signatures, borders, and more. If the $49.95 turns you off (though it’s totally worth it!) than they also offer a one font package called Old State House.
I have completely fallen in love with Microsoft PowerPoint. It allows you to do all sorts of cool things with photos and designs without paying big bucks for fancy software. You can turn on “Gridlines” and “Guides” under “View” to help you line up graphics and text boxes. When you’re done tweaking things to your liking, safe the file as a PDF and it’s ready to print!
If you’re like me, you don’t have an office quality printer sitting in your living room. Office Depot allows you to order prints online. You can print simple jobs right at your local store and pick them up an hour or two later. You can also order them from the big Office Depot in the sky and have them mail you the finished job. The second option gives you access to better printing paper and other options that your local store might not be able to do. If you choose the second option, Office Depot will actually call you and verify everything in your order as well as ask any questions they may have.
I haven’t had the time to write much of a post in the last week or so and as of right this minute, I still don’t really have the time or energy to write something profound. So I’m going to take the lazy way out and point you to a page I DID write in the last week.
In an effort to help reenactors, specifically reenactors in my own Regiment, I’ve been slowly working on a website to assist them with research. The following link is to one of the most recent pages: Children’s Basics. If you have a child and don’t know where to start with acquiring clothing for them, this page is a good place to start.
As you may have guessed from my last post, my current project is a set of clothes for my 11-year-old sister! Because I have never made a child’s gown and M lives in New York, I needed a pattern. There are a couple of patterns out there for children gowns and 18th Century Girl’s Gown by Mill Farm Patterns (Designed by Sharon Ann Burnston) is the most commonly used. But I want to talk about a new pattern on the market. Hallie Larkin and Stephanie Smith have been working hard on their new line of patterns and I wanted to try them out. You can buy this pattern on their website At the Sign of the Golden Scissors.
Larkin & Smith market their patterns as a workshop in an envelope and this is exactly what you get. I have used various different 18th Century patterns for other clothing items including Kannik’s Korner, Mill Farm, and JP Ryan. I have also attended a workshop at Burnley and Trowbridge. I have also used books with scaled patterns.
I have found that it is unequivocally easier to make 18th century clothing using the original techniques!
That means no pattern, no sewing machine, no modern sewing techniques. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or can afford to go to every workshop that comes down the pike.
The solution is Larkin & Smith patterns.
The pattern contains the minimal number of pieces needed to create the garment which is refreshing when it comes to a pattern. I mean, do I really need a piece of paper to cut out a rectangle? I just need the dimensions! The included packet walks the user through construction using hand techniques (although some machine tricks are included). The instructions are easy to understand and the result is wonderful. I highly recommend this pattern if you have a reenacting child.
This week I’m just going to leave you with a teaser for my current project.