Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #6. How to make an 18th century trade shirt.

I've been a sewing demon this week. I started off by making Lyli her reenactment petticoat and shift, then dove into making the boys their trade shirts. I thought since this is what I've been doing and all that I've thought about (I had a dream last night about constructing a shirt) that I'd share the steps with you in my sixth TT.

Step 1. Cut out all the pieces you'll need. I've been using Beth Gilgun's description out of Tidings from the 18th Century, there are several other descriptions out there though, the great thing about the 18th century is that they really went out of their way to 1. not waste things, especially material, and 2. simplify what they could. Every piece of this shirt is a rectangle or square. Ok, I had to scale down the patter because my boys are boys and not men...I gave mike that job because math and I, well...its just not a good combo. I took this pic directly out of Beth Gilgun's book...because the pattern that Mike made is buried under one of the piles in my dining room... these measurements are for a man:
Step 2. Find the center of the shirt body, from either side of this point measure out about 6 1/2" (this is a kids measurement, not a mans) and cut for the head hole. You will also want to make a slit about the same size down the front of the shirt...don't cut down the back too though.

Step 3. Iron down about 1/4" on either side of the front slit, then sew it down. You're supposed to whip stitch it...and create a gusset so it won't rip down the front. I machine sewed it on both sides then lock-stitched a line at the bottom where the slit stopped to help prevent ripping. If you have the time and patience to whip stitch it and add a gusset though, be my guest :-D

Step4. Neck gussets. Now is probably a good time to mention how much I hate gussets. I hate them. A lot. Actually after this week I've gained a new appreciation and understanding of them, but those old, leftover feelings from the past keep popping up occasionally....gussets were created by someone very evil...who got some sort of perverse pleasure from watching other people struggle to understand how on earth a gusset is supposed to go on a garment! Ok..really its not that only took me 4 trade shirts, a chemise and a pair of breeches to finally understand them...I'm so slow. Anyway..take the smaller squares (these were 3 1/2 I think) and fold them in half to create a triangle and press.

then open it up..and take one of the 3 1/2 " sides and sew it right sides together to the INSIDE of the shirt...then do the other side.
Then you flip it so you're working on the right side of the shirt (the side you will see when you're wearing it) and you top stitch the gusset by folding under a 1/4" and sewing over the raw edges. *sigh* I cant tell you how many times I've had to rip out these things because I sewed them on wrong :P Slow I tell you!

Step 5. The Collar. First thing you need to do is press the collar piece in half lengthwise and sew up the two end edges with right sides together. Turn the collar inside out and press. This leaves you with one long open edge.

Step 6. Press collar in half width wise to find middle of collar.

Step 7. pin together the collar and the shirt collar by finding the middle points and pinning them together, with the right side of the collar to the wrong side of the shirt. Then you need to pin the ends of the collar to the edges of the front slit. You'll want to gather the shirt, or make little pleats until the shirt fits the collar. I make it sound confusing..but this is actually a pretty easy step :-D

Step 8. Turn the shirt inside out and, like the gusset, fold the 1/4" edge of the collar over the raw edge of the shirt and top stitch.

Step 9. Sleeves. Ok..for the sleeves you're going to want to find the middle of the shoulder, so fold the sleeves in half lengthwise and press. You're going to (I'm starting to sound like a recording aren't I? lol..I told you they did stuff pretty simple ) find the center of your shoulder on your shirt, then pin the sleeve to the shirt right sides together using these two marks as your starting point...OH..I almost forgot, from the center mark on your shirt, measure down the body about 5 or 6 inches on either side...these marks you will use to pin the ends of your sleeves to. there will be excess sleeve and you will have to gather or pleat until the sleeve and the shirt match. Now sew.

Step 10. Underarm Gusset. Yes..another gusset. Take your square and sew one of the edges to your sleeve, starting at the seam created where the sleeve meets the body..where your underarm will be..then (forgive me..I'm sure I'll mess this up or make it more confusing than it really is...just remember the end product should have a diamond in the underarm area of your shirt) take the edge that is perpendicular to the stitching and sew it to the other edge of the sleeve. Now you can sew the arm closed (leave about 5" or so at the end of the sleeve open) and then go back and sew the remaining two edges of the gusset to the side seams of the shirt. Then sew up the side seams of the shirt but leave about 7-10" open on the bottom.
This is a picture of what the gusset should look like sewed to the two edges of the sleeve:
This is what it will look like done:

Step 11. The cuffs. This is just like the collar, press the two cuffs in two lengthwise and sew up the two small edges.

Step 12 Pin the cuff to the sleeve. You'll only need to match the ends this time, don't worry about the middle points. Gather or pleat to fit, then sew.

Step 13. Try it on!

The second one took much less time than the first one...Of course I had to rip out the sleeve twice because I sewed it on inside out...twice...I'm telling you..SLOW. :P Oh..and this isn't "technically" done...I need to add buttons...well...My Husband needs to add buttons :-P

One more shirt to go, then I'll have to face the dreaded breeches...those AREN'T simple..they look hard...and scary. They'll probably make me cry.

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Michelle said...

Wow, great work. I never did master the art of sewing. I'm lucky if I can figure out how to sew a button back on to my shirt. LOL!! I'm jealous you have this talent. Happy TT and thanks for stopping by mine.

Kat said...

I am so envious. I cannot sew. Or do crafts of any kind. I would make a horrid Colonial wife :-) I have really enjoyed scrolling through your blog and catching up on all that I have missed (which is everything)...cause that's the way I roll (in a totally non stalkerish way. sort of.).

I homeschool my oldest - and this is truly my adult interaction!

I am looking forward to checking back in with you.

Sheeshintx said...

Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like we have somethings in common, including the committed part. I wish I new how to sew well. Maybe I can after your post. Thanks for sharing!

bernieg1 said...

Interesting 13. Mine is Eat, Drink and be Merry - 13 Last Words, Excerpt: Judaism instructs us to enjoy the simple gifts that God gives in the present world. Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy this life, on this Earth, in this time. I have collected for your enjoyment the last words of some of our more famous fellow human beings involving food or drink before they died.

Bubba said...

Yowza! I consider myself talented at a lot of things...but sewing isn't one of them. You have my deep admiration and respect for having that ability.

Great list...and Happy TT!

Gattina said...

Great job ! but nothing for me I go in a shop and buy ! Hate to sew and never learned it. Sewing a bouton is already too much work, lol !

Gayle said...

Nice work. I love to sew. I miss it. I have buckets and buckets of fabric and patterns, and it won't happen. Just too darn busy, I guess. I'm so glad you get to do this for your family...I hope they realize how special the clothes they will wear are.

Firefly mom said...

I'm very impressed by your sewing abilities. And when you see the post I'm workingon about the Knights Templar costume I made for my son, you'll understand why ;D

Makita said...

I just discovered your post via firefly mom... very clever T13 post. I love to sew but rarely have the time... I have a stack of pants I promised a friend I'd hem for her boys that has been sitting for nearly 3 months!

I love that your kids do reenacting as well. My children and I do as well. Though my youngest is taking a break as he's too adventurous and doesn't stay where he should (he runs off to other areas of the museum - which causes a problem because I can't do my part if I'm chasing after him and he could get hurt, etc.). So, right now it is just my DD and I. She loves it - she is so in her element!

Hoping your summer goes well. :)

Eat Well (was Teresa R) said...

I could have sworn I posted a comment here...I've had several comments "eaten" by cyber gremlins lately. Grrrr.

Anyway, I think I said something about loving your TT because not only is it interesting, but it's instructional as well! :)

Pamela Kramer said...

That is amazing! I hope you teach your children how to sew. I wish I had spent more time with my grandmother learning. I can do a button but that's about it. Happy TT and thanks for stopping by!