Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Starting from Scratch

One of the things I love most about the First Regiment is that rather than focusing solely on the military aspects of living history, they actively encourage people to get involved in the civilian side of things as well. Obviously this is important to me as a woman--no ladies in the ranks, please--but it also opens participation to a much wider range of people. My mom, for example, and also my friends the Huebners.

 Last year my friend Erinn came with me to her Very First Reenactment, and she had a good enough time that she wants to do it again (phew!) Her excellent husband, Matt (and therefore by extension their one-year-old daughter Ashlyn), wants to join us also, so the next couple of months will be dedicated to kitting out the entire family.

Hello, Huebners!
For this endeavor, we'll all be stepping out of our comfort zones.  Erinn and Matt will be stepping into the wonderful world of sewing one's own clothes, and I will be (hopefully) teaching them. There are a lot of things to think about--patterns, fabrics, sewing methods, and of course historical accuracy. Fortunately my pupils are smart cookies, and they genuinely want to do things "right." Personally, I'm really excited to have this opportunity to do some menswear again. Last time I was really able to do anything with guys' clothing was for Under the Redcoat 2010, so this is pretty thrilling for me. Women's clothes aren't so unusual for me, but sewing for other people is always more of a challenge than for oneself.

At first, outfitting a whole family might sound a bit overwhelming--but never fear. For one thing, we're starting early. Our first event (1812) will be at the end of June, so we're giving ourselves plenty of time to get things done. Also, if you break everything down into manageable pieces, it's not so intimidating at all. For the first event or two, we're going to stick to the bare minimum--nice, basic, sturdy pieces that they can build on as they add depth to their impressions. Also, I don't want them to run screaming for the hills when I start talking about fall fronts and hand-bound eyelets, so we're going to start with a couple basic projects and go from there.

 My first goal is to get both of them comfortable with machine sewing. I know a lot of people would call that cheating, and it is. Clothing in 1812 was hand-sewn, but realistically a young family with two working parents and a toddler isn't going to have the time to invest in making a full set of garments without some mechanical assistance. I'm fine with this, they're fine with it, and if anyone is close enough to be looking at internal seams...we clearly have bigger problems than some machine stitching!  So, keep an eye out here for more updates: we'll be starting with Erinn's chemise soon, as well as a shirt for Matt!

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