Search Selected Revolutionary War Websites:

I have a new home! Check it out here:

www.MyCrazyRevWarLife.com

Come see what's new:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Subscribe


I added a new feature! If you want to subscribe to this blog by email, so every time we update you will receive an email with our post in it, then feel free to put your email address in to the right.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Sunday, March 30, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Parade March 2008


Today was the St. Patrick's Day parade in Manchester, NH. It was a little bit later in the month because Easter was so early this year. The parades that we do help us be able to afford to do the reenactment battles for the summer season. We needed a turn out of at least 15 members at this parade, and we got 21!! Wahoo! Unfortunately our captain couldn't make it today, but don't worry Joe, your troops did you proud. The boys look really great marching today, and they got some great firing in that really scared some of the crowd! :-) :-) Kris and I joined after the St. Patrick's Day parade last year, which it sounds like we should have been very happy for. Apparently it was beyond cold for the parade in 2007. But this year we got very lucky, even though it had snowed quite a bit on Friday, (Yes, snow in late March!! And just a side note, that puts us on the records as the second snowiest winter ever!!) it was actually great weather for a parade. It was just warm enough to not be considered freezing, but still cool enough to not get over heated walking a mile down Elm St. There was next to no wind, so overall it was a great day! We were marching in front of a group of military soldiers (perhaps reservists? Not too sure) and they were getting a lot of well deserved applause, but it made us feel like we were getting some of it too!! :-) Okay I'm sure some of the crowd was clapping for us, we do look pretty dang cool all dressed up. And after all we are representing the soldiers that fought the very first battle for the United States. But of course the guys behind us are fighting a war right now, and any one of them could have their lives in real danger within the next 6 months, so they deserved a lot more than applause. The boys even gave a 'present arms' for the soldiers as they walked by at the end of the parade. One of the new guys, Lorenzo, was able to make it to the parade and marched with us. We assured him that if he thought this was fun, he would have a blast at one of the weekends! I was able to get two videos of the guys before we started marching, they did an awesome job following their commands, and they looked really great today!





After the parade, most of us headed over to the Jameison's, where they had some good eats and Janie got to watch Daniel Day-Lewis run naked through the woods in Last of the Mohicans. She had a fun time showing Kolby the movie, and he seemed to find it very interesting. I actually have not seen this movie from start to finish, but sadly we have gotten rid of our TV for a year ... so anyone up for a movie night at their house?? :-) Most likely we will just rent this one in 2009 when we have the TV back. That and hopefully the John Adams series will be out on video by then too. But I ramble. There was a lot of good conversation at the Jamieson's and a fun time was had by all! For more pictures from the parade and from the Jameison's be sure to check out my album.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Children's Clothing


I kind of skimmed over children's clothes in this blog because frankly I haven't had to do too much with that. I was lucky enough to have gotten clothes from other people in the regiment that had been used by their kids. But here is a great article written by Karen from my regiment. She wrote it in 1995 for the continental line, but the information contained is still very useful.

Greetings to the column! This article is focusing on the smallest clothes in the hobby: children's garments.

I recently have received several compliments on the authenticity of my children's re-enactment clothing. It seems that in the "hobby." kids are the last ones to be dressed correctly. (OK, so there are a few holdouts from the grand and glorious Bicentennial Days.) The reasons are usually that, 1. "they grow too fast anyway" and 2. "there are no good sources for children's clothes."

In defense of the majority of sutlers, let's face it. Reason number one prevents most parents from spending very much on kids clothes and so, it may no seem like a lucrative business. And on the other end, moms and dads who work full time are not looking forward to endless hours of sewing. (By the way, keeping house and raising children IS full time work.)

Here are a few suggestions for getting more mileage out of those clothes.

1. In the eighteenth century, girl and boy babies were dressed alike. Open shirts, gowns, and caps (even with lace!) can be shared by brothers and sisters. (We did it.)

2. Toddlers should still be wearing dresses or frock coats. Skirts and breeches just don't stay on!

3. Boys being "breeched" doesn't have to be taken literally. A few sizes larger "breeches" can be used like overalls. You can leave the legs plain and finish them later as the child grows. A larger waist gusset that allows you to pull it in a little more can work wonders.

4. Girls can wear those great dresses with extra pleats in the back and hem to be let out later. (See Tidings from the 18th Century by Beth Gilgun.) Also, adding ruffles to the sleeves can stretch it out. Lacing can naturally be let out to accommodate growth, or you can use a bigger overlap with hooks and eyes and just move them out later.

5. Shirts and shifts are supposed to be roomy. Don't skimp on the material!

6. It may sound obvious, but share kids clothes within your unit, or look for someone else who might need your kids' outgrown outfits.


There is some really good information there!! We want our kids to look authentic, but we don't want to have to be spending money every year for them. Last year I found a really good sale on shoes at Wal-Mart that would work fine for Kolby, and I bought his size at the time and one size up so I could use them for 2 years. I just bought soccer socks for him, and we got him a simple hat (though he needs a new one this year!). So keep the kids as authentic as possible, but also use a few of these tricks to also keep it cheap.

Here is another good link that discusses children's clothing:

http://www.18cnewenglandlife.org/18cnel/children.htm

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Do I Know When to Die?


I've been doing this reenactment thing for about a year now, and when I first started, I once asked Bruce "How do you know when to die?" He just laughed and said "Well, there are lots of ways. Say, for instance, your gun stops working, or you get hit by a cannon blast." (Which did happen in my first event at Fort 4) Then Bruce said "To be honest with you Kris, some of these events are hours away and who wants to drive 8 hours to just lay down and play dead?" I laughed and thought that makes sense.

On another occasion I asked Janie how did she know when to die? She looked at me with a very serious look and said shaking her head "Janie doesn't die."

I, on the other hand, love to die. I have now died at some of the finest battlefields, the 2007 reenactment season had to offer. I think that it's a lot of fun for the crowd to watch someone get hit in the heat of battle. But then again, it wouldn't be so much fun for the crowd if we all died, so it's probably a good thing that many of the other reenactors don't enjoy dying as much as I do. I made it my mission last year to die in as many reenactments as I could, and I was able to die at almost all the events. There was one exception at Fort Ticonderoga, where the battle was called on account of heat stroke before I had the chance to die.

As for the 2008 reenactment year, well now that I have my regimental jacket to try and keep clean, I may rethink the dying thing, I may just change my ways. I may ... but then again, maybe not.

Very respectful,
Kris

Washington's Birthday March 2008


Last night we had dinner at the Common Man in order to celebrate Washington's birthday. His birthday is on February 22nd, so it was a bit of a belated birthday celebration, but it was a fun time nonetheless. Here is a great link that has some information about the progression of Washington's Birthday, Lincoln's Birthday, and President's day. According to the site, Washington's birthday was celebrated even before he died in the late 18th century, but it didn't become an official federal holiday until President Chester Arthur signed a bill in 1885. The day we recognize as President's day is still officially Washington's Birthday according to the federal government, it was never changed to President's day. Some state governments have changed it themselves, but mostly the widespread view comes from advertising and general public opinion.

Last night we started the night off at Debbie and Bruce's house. They had snacks for everyone and we all got to mingle and chat with each other. Everyone was decked out in their finest and was looking very dapper, even Nana Janie decided to be a lady tonight! There was good conversation, good food, and good wine. What more could anyone ask for?

After that we headed over to the Common Man. We got a few looks and a few questions as we were walking in. I am sure it's not every day that you see a big group of people dressed up like us walking into a restaurant. Inside, they had reserved a room for us and set up the tables in a 'U' shape, which was very conducive to conversation. We started off with snacks first, and when the salads came out we went around the table and read thirteen toasts, which was put together and organized by Bruce. The toasts were as follows (ones in quotations are original to the 18th century):

1. To the United States of America. May she always be an inspiration of freedom.

2. To the Continental Army. May her foes shrink in her path.

3. To liberty, may Princes around the world quake at its mere mention.

4. "To George Washington, commander of the American armies, who, like Joshua of old, commanded the sun and the moon to stand still, and both obeyed."

5. To the State of New Hampshire and her righteous spirit.

6. To John Stark, the hero of Bennington.

7. "To the signers of the Declaration of Independence. From this act of treason against the British Crown sprang a chart of Liberty and Emancipation broad as the universe and filled with glad tidings and good will towards men. They who periled their lives by this noble act will live and be cherished in the hearts of free men."

8. "Freedom from mobs as well as kings."

9. "May the liberties of America never be clipped by the shears of a bad economy and may we never be tempted to surrender to promises of security."

10. "To the illustrious Louis the Sixteenth, who, like the moon, sheds his mild and benevolent rays on and influences the globe."

11. "To the enemies of our country! May they have cobweb breeches, a porcupine saddle, a hard-trotting horse, and an eternal journey."

12. "May the world's wonder be American thunder."

13. To all our fallen brothers and sisters. May their sacrifice never be forgotten.

After the toast, Kris delivered grace for us. He did a fine job of it. Here is the grace he delivered:

Dear Lord. Thank you for the food we are about to receive. Oh Lord please watch over the First New Hampshire as we start this 2008 reenactment season. Dear Lord, please watch over the troops that are fighting to keep this country free as you watched over the troops that fought to make this country free. In your name we pray, and your will be done we pray. Amen. Then it was time to eat! We started with a lovely salad, and moved on to the main course which was a choice of either pork, prime rib, or a vegetarian dish. After dinner, which was exceptionally yummy, we got to have chocolate cake. Well most did anyway, Todd did have to go and rescue a few pieces from the kitchen for two kindly ladies that seemed to have gotten skipped over! But other than that all went well.

After dinner, we had the pleasure of being entertained by Ethan, with Bruce standing in as the official music stand. Ethan had brought his acoustic guitar with him and sang us one John Mayer song and two songs he wrote. He sang beautifully and enthralled the crowd greatly. Below are two videos of Ethan singing, the first is of the John Mayer song he did and the second is a song he wrote himself. Sorry for the lighting, it was not very well lit in that room, and YouTube made them even darker.





If you would like to see all the pictures from the night, be sure to check out my album. It was a great night and fun times were had by all.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Friday, March 14, 2008

Buttons, Buttons


So adding buttons to things is not fun. But it has to be done, so I do it. I was working on finishing up Kris' buttons on his regimental yesterday, when I realized that I did not have the right buttons for his sleeves. I had bought small brass buttons, thinking those would work, but really I should have gotten the larger ones. So now his jacket can't be finished until I can get my hands on some large buttons, I really didn't want to do another order from Townsend already, but it looks like I am going to have to. I was really hoping to have that jacket done by this weekend. I will at least finish the main ones, and maybe he can get by without the cuff buttons for a bit. You know what they say about the best laid plans!!

I also took some time and actually added button holes and wooden buttons to one of Kris' shirts. Unfortunately I was button hole impaired last year, so Kris had to get by with safety pins hidden underneath the cuffs of his shirts! It worked okay, but I went ahead and bought a sewing machine that actually makes button holes for me. It is pretty slick. So I got the chance to use it today and I added three buttonholes and buttons to his blue shirt today, so he would look good for the upcoming dinner. It turned out pretty dang good if I do say so myself. (No pictures of that, I know, I'm a slacker!) Now I just need to do the same to his white linen shirt and we will be good to go. So many projects, so little time.

I also put a call in to the woman that made Kris' jacket today. I asked if she could make a cold weather shirt for Kolby and gaiters for Kris. I have the fabric and the patterns for both, what I don't have is the time or the want to make them. She said she would be willing to make them and at a very reasonable price to! So that is a very good thing!! Another project off my list!

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Satirical Prints


So I was checking out the links from other regiments in the area, I like looking at their pictures and seeing what events they are planning on attending. In my cyber travels I stumbled upon this great little website called the "The Hive Online". They are in Mass and they have some workshops to help people with different aspects of 18th century living. I am not sure if the classes are open to everyone, or if they are meant just for the members of their regiment, but it looks really neat. I may have to look into their classes more.

But what I found really interesting on their site was some pictures of Satirical Prints from the late 18th century. Satirical Prints were little "comic" prints that made some sort of statement about the culture, religion, or customs of the time. These have been around for hundreds of years and are still around in all different forms today. I like these prints because it gives us a slight inkling of what people dressed like at the time. I am not looking at the subject of the print, because of course they are over-dramatized to get a reaction out of people, but I think there is a lot of value in looking beyond the subject and taking a look at what the people are wearing. It's very difficult to find paintings of women that were not royalty or close to it. A common housewife probably couldn't afford to have her picture painted, and even if she did have the money to have one done, I would imagine that she would dress in her finest for the sitting, not in her everyday clothes. You have to think that getting your picture painted in the 18th century cost quite a bit of money, so whether you were rich, poor, or middle class, if you were going to put down the money to be painted, you were most likely going to look your best. Not to say that there aren't a few examples out there of a more common experience, but in general I have found most of the paintings to be a lot nicer then I imagine the everyday people dressed. Now of course I know none of this for fact, but it makes common sense to me. These prints give us a small window into what a woman going to market may have dressed like. To be honest I was very enthralled looking at these because I am missing a few things, like a good shawl, that it looks like a common woman would have worn quite a bit. So I really enjoyed looking at these prints and getting a feel for the more everyday look.

Here is one of the prints I really liked (Picture is clickable for the original site, that this came from):

In this print the girl is wearing two skirts, and she has one tucked up, she also has a small shawl that is tucked into a band of some sort across the chest. I have not seen this kind of thing anywhere else, but I think it makes sense, because one may not want to wear a large shawl that would be tucked into the apron, a smaller one may be more sufficient, especially if it's warmer out and rather than tucking it into the top of the dress, to have a band of some sort to hold the shawl in place would make sense. I wish there was more on this, perhaps it's a ribbon tied around the top of the dress? I also like that she has a ribbon choker around her neck, a very plain and simple one. I have often wondered if I could wear something around my neck, and this shows me that perhaps they did even when they were out doing their daily tasks.

These are a great resource for men and women's clothing. You can also see some more prints from all different dates here:

http://www.lclark.edu/~jhart/mezzoto1770/mezzodatedante1760.html#dated

I think each of these really give us a real look at the real, everyday people of this time.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

18th Century Jewelry


So I had previously posted about my request for crafts on the Historical Trekkers forum. Well I went back today and Mike had another suggestion for me:

On a different message board (the Nouvelle France section), Ike posted some pics of a Chaplet he made with simple beads and brass wire. A Chaplet is a short version of a Rosary. It only requres some proper beads for the correct time period, some brass wire, plus a round-nose pliers to do the twisting/bending, and a cutter to nip the wire to length, and a repro of an original cross for the end. The rest is carefull bending/twisting of the wire to form the wire links, and to add the loops to the bead to add it into your chaplet/rosary. This would have been a simple little "cottage industry" type craft, and could be demonstrated at many events. Just be careful in selecting the right type of beads, and the correct repro cross at the end.

I have done some beading as projects just for myself (not 18th century), so this sounds intriguing to me. I decided to take a stroll around the Internet and see what I could stir up on 18th century beads.

One of the interesting things I found was a pearl necklace that belonged to Abigail Adams, and is now in the Smithsonian. I found a website that is selling a reproduction of the necklace, although Abigail's necklace was fake pearls and the one this site is selling is real pearls. (They also have some other interesting necklaces.) On the site they have a link to a portrait of Abigail wearing this type of necklace. It looks like the reproduction necklace is all one strand with ribbon attached at the ends, so you can wear it long or wrap it around your neck a few times, I like that idea. This would be fairly simple to make, I think if I just made loops on the strand of pearls and sewed the ribbon on, I could do a pretty fair job of it. I think I will give this project a try, but with fake pearls, just like the original.

I found another interesting site along the way. It looks like they are selling beads that were actually made some time between the 11th and 18th century (If I am reading this right). They are seed beads from a company that just recently shut down, but had all these antique seed beads hanging around. I guess they were used on court dresses and the such. It sounds like a line to me, but I suppose it could be true. They are a bit expensive, but if it were true, it might be nice to have a few if for nothing else but to try and match them to current seed beads and pick a good replacement (at a cheaper price)! Here is the write-up from their site:

18th century French opalescent seed beads. On spools of wire around 14 beads to an inch. Sold by the foot of beads on wire. A pale opalescent cornflower blue. We feel so fortunate to have come acress these amazing beads. We have 8 antique spools in the colors above. The spools are of iron, wood or of a type of pressboard with the spool company "Chauny-Perigeueux" embossed on the spool. These beads came from a very old French glass house of Salvatore. Originally in located in Venice, famiglia Salvatore moved its glass house to France in the 11th century. Up through the end of the eighteen century these beads were produced and then stored in large canvas bags. In the 19th century they were strung on fine wire and wound on the spools we have today. The beads were made for costume and textile decoration for royalty and gentry. They were originally used to decorate court gowns and costumes for weddings, baptisms, balls, coronations. The company closed early in the 20th century and we have been told that the remaining spools are just being distributed for the first time.

Google really didn't come up with much as far as 18th century beads were concerned. I probably didn't try looking as hard as I could have, I will probably do some more looking later. But I could use those seed beads (or cheaper look-a-likes) to hand make crosses pretty easily I think. I also couldn't find much information about the style of cross that would be appropriate. Maybe google isn't my best research friend when it comes to the 18th century!! I may have to actually resort to looking in some books ... *gasp* ... what's a girl to do? Or maybe I will just send a message back to Mike and ask if he has more information on the appropriate stuff to use, now that's my kind of research!!

Also check on my other article on this subject, it includes paintings as well!

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Crafts for a Camp Follower


So I have begun to do some research on some other things I can do in camp while the men are out to battle. Since we don’t live this way everyday, just 2 days a month roughly, I unfortunately don’t have nearly as much free time as the women of the time would have had. Although I would love to live like this more often, that’s a whole other topic for another post. But doing a large craft is probably not a good option because I don’t want to be working on the same thing for the entire summer. Most likely I won’t work on it outside of events, because I have a lot of other projects to work on. It’s not easy finding good information about what would have been done at the time except darning socks or needlework, the first of which I am not interested in at all and the second of which I might do, but I wanted something more exciting. I had done a little research on finger weaving, but I had a feeling that a white, female, camp follower of this time wouldn’t do this. So I was looking for other places to start looking.

So in my quest for other information some time ago I stumbled across a great forum for “historical trekkers.” They have some great information being shared by reenactors from all over the country (and other countries too). I have been reading the forums for 6 months or so now, but I never joined in the conversations. I was just trying to absorb all the information I could. Some of it applied to me, some didn’t, but it was all very interesting. A few days ago, I finally signed up and posted a question about crafts for 18th century camp followers. I got some great answers! I haven’t had the chance to research anything as of yet, but I wanted to share the information that was provided with me.

The first suggestion I got was to read a book by Beth Gilgun. It is titled Tidings. I may be the only person left in the hobby who hasn’t heard of this book, but it looks like an awesome resource, not only for crafts, but all kinds of things related to the 18th century. Amazon has the following description of the book:

Beth Gilgun brings the mid to late 1700s to life with her entertaining and informative "letters" to a friend on the frontier. Great for reenactors, teachers, historic interpreters, and theatrical costumers. As an accomplished seamstress and goodwife, Gilgun shares with her "friend" information on clothing for men, women and children, as well as other topics of daily life in Colonial America. Included are clear, concise instructions for constructing reproduction 18th century garments, from choosing fabric to finishing. Her chatty letters include news about current events and the latest goods available on the East Coast.

I am going to check if my library has this book in stock and give it a good look over. I will share more information once I have it, but this looks like an awesome place to start.

The next suggestion I got was from Susan. She suggested the sewing, mending, embroidery, crewel, and weaving on a tape loom. I have never heard of a tape loom before. It sounds interesting and I am definitely going to do some more research on that one. Mike from Missouri also suggested looking into a paddle loom. He said it works like a tape loom, but is smaller and easier to handle. I have no idea if that’s true or not since I don’t even know how big a tape loom is, but he gave me a link to look into this more, so I will certainly do that!! I think I will devote a whole post to this once I do a little more research.

I got a bunch of really good suggestions from Mike who is from Iowa. Here is the list he provided for me:

- a Lucet
- it is for making cords for clothing from thread (kind of like the drawstring on a hooded sweatshirt).
- a Tape Loom
- a very small loom for making tape/ribbon
- Bobbin Lace
- a form of weaving to create patterned lace to add to clothing
- Soap making
- Candle making
- making candy/bake goods (but there might be some Health/Safety rules)
- offering mending/repair of clothing
- laundry services
- writing letters for those who cannot read/write (a common occurrence in some military camps)
- making/teaching small toys and games for the kids
- sew up traditional socks from wool/cotton/linen clothe cut out to a period pattern - including wool Nippes or Chausons
- sew up Nightcaps and Workman's caps (almost nobody makes those nightcaps)

You could also take up some of the sailor's knot/rope work. Some of it is pretty simple. And a little Needle Hitching really perks up the look of a knife handle or looks great done around a glass bottle. A simple single cord loop-thru-loop segment of "rope" makes a quick braclet for kids - especially when they watch you make it or you talk them through making their own. Leather "shoelaces" or some heavy cord works well. Ditto some of the braiding with 3 or 4 or more strands. Simple journals/notebooks/diaries can easily be made by cutting/folding some paper together and stitching them to hold it all together.


I really like some of his ideas. I think the journal would be a great one, my husband wants a journal to keep with him, and so I might make that. I will have to do some research on the type of paper to use. I wonder how hard it would be to make my own paper. Though more likely I will just buy some paper, I think I already have enough projects to do without adding paper making to the list!! I also like the idea of making toys; I think that might be fun to do. I will have to do some more research on that as well.

Well since this post is long enough for now, I will do some more posts with more specific information when I do some more research on each of these things, but I am very glad to have some good ideas of places to look for some different ideas of things to try!!

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Monday, March 10, 2008

Buying Linen


Linen can be hard to find and when you do find it, it can be very expensive. So I thought I would share a great source that I found online for linen. When I bought a bunch of linen for Kris’ shirts and my skirts, I order form fabric-stores.com. They were actually a lot more reasonably priced then anything I found locally even with shipping. The per yard price is about $6-$7 depending on which weight and color you get, and from what I can remember the shipping was pretty reasonable, especially if you are buying quite a few yards. They will also send you a nice color swatch, which would be helpful in matching colors to things you already have. I found a great little article on the site about which weight should be used, and it also had some great tips on taking care of linen, which apparently does not need to be babied! Here is the text of the article, it’s a long one, but worth looking over:

The Right Stuff
The importance of using the correct fabric for historical clothing

By Kass McGann of Reconstructing History

Why Linen?
Like many historical reenactors, when I started in this hobby, the clothing I wore was just the means to an end. We have to wear correct historical clothing in order to participate in our hobby. It's our uniform, just like footballers wear shoulder pads and helmets and baseball players wear cleats and caps. It's also important for us to wear the right uniform for the occasion. You can't show up at the Battle of Hastings wearing jeans and a T-shirt and expect to look like a Norman knight. By the same token, you can't show up to an English Civil War reenactment dressed in 14th century kit. It's simply the wrong clothing for the occasion. And since we like to think our events are more than just elaborate historical costume parties, we're sometimes rather strict.

But living history reenactors aren't strict because they want to be exclusionary or because they've had a bad day at the office and want to be mean to you. We simply take pride in getting all the pieces right and accurately portraying a certain period in history. We're sticklers for detail and the little things are tremendously important to us.

Our hobby is about half history and half theatre but it's the theatre part that many people get confused about. In theatrical costuming, it's important to look the part. However, it's not so important to feel as if you really are living in Ireland in the 16th century as it is in living history. If there's a hidden zipper in the back of your gown or you're wearing modern shoes, as long as the audience doesn't see it, it doesn't matter. But in reenacting, these kinds of shortcuts are taboo. However, today I'd like to share with you the deeper reason why we insist on using the right materials from which to construct our "uniform".

It's oft been said that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. But what about a 16th century smock out of a modern microfiber or a poly-cotton blend? Many believe that the reenactors' insistence on period-accurate materials is pure snobbery paired with a rejection of things modern. This simply isn't so. The truth is more akin to the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." In spite of increased technology and sophisticated modern thought, the best material for a typical 16th century smock is still the stuff from which 16th century seamstresses made smocks: Linen.

No other fibre feels like linen. Nothing else moves like linen. And most importantly, nothing else reacts to the sewing techniques and pattern shapes like linen. As with all things, if you want to make a replica that will teach you about the original from which it is copied, but must use the same materials. Even substituting cotton or a linen-cotton blend for 100% linen will change the result dramatically. Linen has an inherent crispness that makes pleating a dream. You can literally do it with your fingers as you sew! And that same crispness will make the linen stand away from your skin in the heat. This increases airflow to your skin at humid summer reenactments. Paired with that crispness is a stability that makes linen perfect for lining bodices, jackets, waistcoats - anything that requires substance without stiffening. And linen breathes. The Ancient Egyptians wore linen in their hot climate. And our European ancestors wore linen under garments in all weather until the beginning of the 19th century. Millennia of ancestors can't be wrong.

So to answer our question: Why linen? Well, honestly, why wear anything else!


Which Linen?
If you've ever browsed the linen stock at Fabrics-store.com, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of different types and styles of linen and wonder how you could ever be expected to know which type is the right one for you. Well, that's why I'm here. Knowing the correct fabric to use truly takes many years of experience both studying extant historical sources and comparing swatches from modern fabric manufacturers. But today, I'm going to give you the goods in a nutshell so that you can buy linen for your historical clothing project in confidence at Fabrics-store.com.

First, let's make things easy. Rather than get into a discussion of what colors are appropriate for what period of history, let's just focus on the subject of fabric weights.

The first fabric we'll talk about is IL020. This is a 3.5 oz linen that runs 57" wide. Sometimes called "handkerchief linen", 3.5 ounces is very lightweight, but not light enough to be considered sheer. However, don't expect to hide behind it. This weight linen isn't heavy enough to hide skin color. In other words, don't run around camp in a handkerchief linen shift unless you want to be known as "The Streak". It really leaves nothing to the imagination!

Handkerchief linen is suitable for under-dresses, shifts, smocks, men's shirts, caps, linen headdresses, veils, falling bands, collars, cuffs, and neckerchiefs as well as handkerchiefs. Throughout history, the finest, whitest linen was reserved for the upper classes. So if your persona is of the nobility, Fabrics-store.com's 3.5 oz. linen is perfect for all your body linens. Depending upon the width of the sleeves, three yards should be enough to make an ample undergarment.

IL020 comes in a variety of colors and also two types of white: Bleached and Optic White. For reenactment purposes, I recommend Bleached. Bleached has a slight yellow cast that makes it closer to the color linen would have been before the invention of chlorine bleach. Optic White appeals to our modern sense of "white", but it is too artificially bright to look correct for historical clothing. Have no fear. Fabrics-store.com stocks plenty of both!

Our next fabric is IL019, a 5.3 oz linen that comes in 59" widths. Fabrics-store.com is right to call this mid-weight linen "universal". It's substantially heavier than the 3.5 oz but not as bulky as the 7.1 oz we'll discuss below. It can be used for the same garments outlined above, but in 5.3 oz linen, the garments will be much less see-through. If portraying a middle-class or common person, this would be a terrific choice for your body linens. Again, "Bleached" is the perfect color choice.

But wait a minute, kids! The beauty of
IL019 doesn't end there. There's a reason they call this stuff "universal". This linen is truly versatile in that you can use the same weight to make outer garments as well as body linens. Petticoats, gowns, jackets, waistcoats, and breeches can all be made out of this mid-weight linen. So find the colors appropriate for your time period and go crazy. IL019 is a wonderful linen. I always keep a good stock of this versatile fabric.

And last but not least - 4C22, a 7.1 oz. linen 59" wide. This hefty fabric is too coarse for body linens, but it's just the thing for everything else. Breeches, petticoats, dresses, waistcoats, tunics, kirtles... Just about every garment you can think of can be made out of good ol' 7.1 oz linen.

NOTE: Be sure to research whether linen was used for these garments in the time period you wish to portray. In many cases, linen was the hot-weather alternative to wool. But in some places in certain periods, garments were just made from lighter wool for the summer and linen was restricted to body garments. So be careful. You're going to fall in love with linen, but don't use it where it's not appropriate.

The Care and Feeding of Linen
Before you do anything with your linen, make sure you wash it. All fabrics shrink to a certain extent, and it is best if they shrink BEFORE you cut out your garment. This will also remove any shelf dust and commercial finishing from the factory that can irritate the skin. You can hand wash the fabric if you want, but I throw mine right in the washing machine on a normal (not delicate) setting. Turn the water on hot (remember, you want it to shrink) and toss your fabric in. Just wash it with normal laundry detergent and skip the fabric softener. Send the fabric through the dryer for extra shrinkage potential. Linen is a very hearty fibre. It's made from the stalk of a plant that is nearly three feet tall. Unlike cotton and wool that have fibres ranging from 1" to 6" in length, linen is really a giant. The longer the fibre, the studier the fabric. You won't harm it by laundering it roughly. It doesn't need to be babied. Matter of fact, the harder you are on your linen, the softer it will be to you! Take your linen out of the dryer as soon as it's dry or leave it a little damp. Hang it up IMMEDIATELY! Possibly the only drawback with linen is that it wrinkles terribly and that lovely crispness will turn into creases and ridges if you're not diligent. However, quick removal from the dryer is about all you need to keep the linen relatively wrinkle-free.

Before you cut your garments, you'll want to straighten the grain. Lay the linen on your cutting table and look carefully at the grain. Do the threads intersect at right angles? If so, your grain is straight. But sometimes in the laundering process, the grain gets bunched up and crooked. To correct this, get out your ironing board and iron. Spray the linen lightly with water and iron it on the highest setting. Keep the iron moving and pull the grain straight with your free hand as you go back and forth with the iron. This should fix the grain and make your linen straight again. Now spread it out on your cutting table and start on your masterpiece


Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Subscribe via RSS Feed!


Be sure to subscribe to my blog!!

 Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Last Meeting Before the Season February 2008


So tonight we had the last official meeting before the 2008 season starts. We started off with some meeting type stuff, which I am sure Bruce will send out in an email to anyone that needs to know. We got to meet another new member (Hi Glen!!), which is very exciting for us! After all the important stuff was handled, the boys got to drill for a bit. This was actually the first time I had seen the boys drill in the gym and they looked pretty darn good. It took a little bit to warm up from the rustiness of winter, but soon they were looking like they have been doing it for years (which some of them have)! The new guys fit right in, and looked to be having fun themselves. I think this will be a very fun year. I took a few pictures of them drilling, which can be seen below, and I also took some video of them. Unfortunately the batteries on my camera died, so I couldn't get any really good shots of them. Here are the pictures I got, and a short video I was able to get is at the bottom. Enjoy! :) (Well there was sound on the video, some awesome drumming by Todd, but I had to edit it on Windows Vista, which apparently doesn't play sound on my videos ... isn't that awesome? So you will just have to imagine some stellar drumming in your head!)






video



Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tea Cakes


I was doing some research some time ago and stumbled across an interesting article on rootsweb.com. I had it bookmarked and just found it again today. The article is here. But this is what is says:

In my book, "The LEEs and KINGs of Virginia and North Carolina1636-1976" by Reba Shropshire Wilson and Betty Shropshire Glover, p. 90:"A most unusual part of the Revolutionary War was played by the women in Edenton, N.C., Oct. 25, 1774. It is the earliest known instance of political activity on the part of women in the American colonies. It has been called "The Petticoat Revolution," because in 1774, in the home of Mrs. Elizabeth KING, 51 ladies gathered for tea, to protest the British taxes and to sign a resolution to 'solemnly engage not to conform to that pernicious practice of drinking tea or ye wear of any manufacture from England until such time that all acts which tend to enslave this our native country shall be repealed.'

It is said that the rebellious ladies drank a beverage made of dried raspberry leaves. Mrs. Thomas BARKER served "Penelope BARKER" teacakes, and presided at the tea party.

The Elizabeth KING residence where the tea and protest signing was held, was located on the Edenton Green, near the beautiful Edenton court housewhich overlooks Albemarle Sound. A bronze teapot indicates the formersite of the King residence where the tea party was held."

"How to Prepare Penelope BARKER Tea Cakes:
1 quart flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup butter and lard mixed 2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon soda 1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat eggs, add sugar, salt and soda dissolved in water. Mix flour,butter and lard, add to other mixture. Roll and cut. Then bake in hotoven."

I found it to be interesting that the women made a stand against the British tea tax as well. I liked the article, and I think it might be fun to make these teacakes at one of our reenactments since they don't seem that hard to make.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Adding the Buttons


So today we decided to go ahead and attempt to add the buttons to Kris' Regimental jacket. I knew we would have to cut the holes open for the buttons, so I grabbed a steak knife (we have very sharp steak knives). When Kris saw what I was going to use, he suggested using one of his utility knives. I wasn't sure how well they would work, but I figured it was worth a try. So I grabbed a notebook I didn't care about, so I would have something hard to press against and gave the knife a go.


It actually worked out really well!! The knife cut through the layers of wool in one stroke and it was a very clean cut, so I was very happy that Kris made that suggestion. Once we had the holes cut I had to mark where I wanted the buttons to go, luckily since I am a quilter I had a marking pencil. I just laid the flaps of the jacket flat, and poked the pencil through the holes and marked away. I am not sure if this is the most efficient way to do this, but it was the best I could think of.

So once I finally had all the buttons marked, it was time to sew them on. Now I was very glad that we had someone else's regimentals when we came to this part. At first I was going to sew the buttons through all the layers, but Kris mentioned that the other jacket didn't have the string showing on the inside, I looked at it and sure enough the buttons had been sewn just into the top layer of wool leaving the lining clean. So I went ahead and did it that way, it was a little harder to do, making sure not to catch the lining, but it really wasn't bad. Kris helped with sewing on the buttons too. (Well actually he only sewed on one button and gave up, but he may not admit to that. LOL) So I have to finish the buttons on the sides and then I have to do the small buttons on the cuffs. Once I am done it will be ready for Kris to wear! I am so excited to have one project done before the season starts!! Now I only have ... oh 100 or so ... left to do! :) :) :)




Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Stays Part 2


So I ordered the stays from Townsend after making a pair of my own, but not wanting to finish them up. Well they finally came. I tried them on and they are super comfortable, I really like them. The only problem I have is that they are a medium and I can lace them up such that both the back and the front lacings are closed completely. I was reading something on the Internet that someone preferred to have a gap. I am trying to lose a few pounds so I am a bit concerned that if I lose anything these will be too big. So then I got to thinking that maybe I don’t need to lace them as tight, so I started doing some reading on the web about how to properly wear stays and I found some interesting articles. Here are some of the things I found:

Stays vs. Jumps

Pictures

And here’s a quote from a site that really made me stop and think. This is from Mara Riley:

Stays Rant

“I think many women resist wearing stays because they think that stays will be uncomfortable -- they associate them with the scene in "Gone With the Wind" where Scarlett is being laced into her corset. Nothing could be further from the truth. A good-fitting corset should be snug enough not to move around much on the body, but you should be able to breathe while wearing it (you may need to loosen your stays a little if you plan on dancing vigorously, of course). And stays for women who expected to work in them were cut differently from those worn by upper-class women; the armscyes were bigger, and allowed for more arm movement.”

That really made me think about what I was doing. See when I started reenacting the 1700s, I didn’t know much about the women, all I knew about women wearing corsets was what I had seen in Gone with the Wind or Titanic. (Silly I know, but hey that’s all I had!) So when I started thinking about stays for RevWar, I assumed that they should be tied as tight as those women, but apparently they shouldn’t be. As Mara was saying, it needs to be tight enough not to move, but it’s not there to make my waist small, it’s there to give me a shape. So when I tried on the stays from Townsend, I may have just been pulling them too tight. I also noticed form the pictures link above, that many of the women in the paintings don’t have the heaving bust like you see in later periods. The stays of this period were really meant to give a flatter more cylindrical look to the torso. We may not find that look as “appealing” nowadays, but since I am striving for authenticity, I am going to try and go more for that flat, cylindrical, but able to still breath, look. So I will try my stays on again and try not pulling them so tight and see if that works better for me. I love learning new things!!

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Townsend Order


Well we ordered a few things off Townsend before the start of the new season. As I mentioned before, this year we were just looking to round out the stuff we already have with more pieces that fit the time period. I figure that we can just add a little bit more each year and eventually we will have everything we need!! Here is what we ordered from Townsend this time around:

Buttons
As I mentioned in the Regimental jacket post, we ordered some brass buttons for Kris' jacket. In addition to those, we also ordered some pewter buttons that we can use for his gaiters and anything else we might need them for. I ordered a total of 20 of these.

Stays
Okay so you may be wondering why I ordered stays. My previous post about stays talked about how I had made my own stays. I also mentioned at the end of that post that I had no desire to redo the stays since I felt they were too small, and even if I felt they were fine, I had no desire to finish them off! So rather than have all that pressure of getting those finished, I decided to buy a pair of stays from Townsend. I think I will still try and finish the ones I made by hand, but I really wanted to have something to wear for this season, so this was the best way. They cost a bit more than I really wanted to spend, but I am happy that I got them.

Ladies Cape
Since we started doing events a little bit later in the year last year, I really had no need for cold weather clothing at the time. But now that we will be doing parades earlier in the year, I really needed something to keep me warm. We did have one cold parade last year, and I just improvised by making Kolby and I wool blankets that we wore over our shoulders. It was sufficient, but I really wanted to get a cape for myself. So I did! Well technically Kris bought it for me as a birthday present, which is even better. I decided to go with a blue one since a lot of my clothes are blue, and I figure it really can match any color.

English Bodice
I have mentioned before that my research on the bodice shows that most likely it was only worn under something else. I also mentioned that I really wanted to make a dress for myself. Well I decided to go ahead and buy another bodice anyway. They are cool for the summer and most of the girls wear them. I still want to make something more for myself, but it's just not in the budget right now. I wanted to have 2 bodices since we are usually at the events for two days and I would like to have 2 complete outfits. I went with a red bodice since I have a red skirt. Once the events start, I will probably keep an eye out at the Sutlers for a nice short gown. Or maybe I can see if someone can help me make one.

Waistcoat
The last thing we got at Townsend on this go round was a waistcoat for Kris. Since we were able to get him his regimentals this year, we figured it was best if he had a waistcoat as well. From doing a little research on men's clothing, it seems that the popular idea is that a man never would have been seen without a waistcoat on. Now of course this was war time, so society rules probably fell by the wayside a bit, but really it's best that he have one to wear. In that time, it seems, that not wearing a waistcoat would be like walking around in public with no shirt on today. Some people might do it, but it's not commonly accepted. We went for a linen waistcoat since it should breath the best and it doesn't cost any more then the cotton or wool. Really cotton would have had very limited use in this time period because cotton had to be sent to England to be processed and just wasn't as readily available as homespun linen was. Don't get me wrong, I still use a lot of cotton for our stuff because it is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than linen today, but if given the choice I will try and choose linen over cotton. Kris decided to go with a gray color, really just because he liked it.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Regimental Jacket


Well Kris finally got his Regimental jacket!! A woman in New Boston is the one that makes them for us. We didn't get one last year because it was just too much on top of everything else we were spending. The jacket cost $150 and is made of Red and Green wool. The only thing we have left to do on it is put on the buttons. She sewed the holes for the buttons, but she didn't cut the holes open or put the buttons on. We actually had to buy the buttons from Townsend. We ordered 10 small buttons for the cuffs and 20 large buttons for the jacket part. The buttons ended up costing us another $30. Now I just have to figure out the best method of cutting the button holes open and then I have to go about sewing each button on! I will update once I get around to that!!

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Pot Luck Meeting, February 2008




On February 24th we had a pot luck meeting. We needed to have a meeting to hammer out the details of the schedule for 2008, so we all brought over a dish and made a night of it. We had our meeting, voted on our schedule, our family got officially voted into the regiment (yay!), we got to meet a new member, Lorenzo, (yay!), and then we had dinner. After dinner we went and watched some dvd's of past events, a few from this year and one that Joe brought from England in 1987. Everyone was abuzz that we might be going back to England in 2011. I hope we do! I think that would just be a blast!! The night was a fun night, and I am very excited about the upcoming year! Check out some more pictures from the night: photo album.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

The New Year


Well 2007 went out and 2008 has already come in. I started this blog last year, but didn't update it all, you will see some posts below that should be updated for all the events we had in 2007. I tried my best to outline some of the things we bought and needed for the year. There were quite a few things we did without, but we still had a blast and are too excited for the 2008 season to get here!! I have begun to make a list of the things we will need to make or buy for ourselves. I don't want to go overboard this year either, but since we needed EVERYTHING last year, it will be nice to just add to what we already have while spending, hopefully, less. I would also like to do some more reasearch this year and really work on becoming a more accurate potrayal. I don't think I will be able to do everything since I don't have that much to spend this year, but it will be good to learn more about the era and the people that lived during that time. So here's to 2008! The next few posts are things that have already happened, and hopefully I will be a little better about keeping this thing updated!

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fort Taber, MA August 2007


The Fort Taber Event was a fun event. It was in New Bedford, MA so it wasn't too long of a drive to get there. However, it was right on the water, so the wind off the water was terrible the whole weekend. Somehow we managed to live through it all. Of course the drunken watermelon was a big help! :-) On Saturday night we had what I like to call "Hurricane Fort Taber." The wind really picked up as the night went on, and I thought for sure that our tent would blow over. In fact I was holding on to our center pole, much to the amusement of Kris, but I wasn't too keen on having the tent collapse right on top of us. Once the wind slowed a bit, I went out to pound in some more stakes, because of course I hadn't bothered to put them all in since we weren't expecting it to storm up like it did. When I went out, I discovered that unfortunately not everyone was as lucky as we were to have our tent still standing. Most of the smaller tents that were held down with ropes had collapsed and been abandoned. The owners, must have gone to their cars to sleep. We had a few close calls with our kitchen fly as well that weekend, but we managed to keep everything standing and had a great time despite the weather. It was quite an adventure and made the event quite memorable. Unfortunately I did not take one single picture from that day, and our website doesn't have any up as of yet, but I was able to find a pretty cool montage on YouTube from the event. I believe the pictures were taken by a visitor of the event, and there are a few in there from our group. Hope you enjoy!





Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

The Stays


So ever since hearing that we were going to do RevWar, I knew that I wanted to wear stays. Call me weird, but I just think they look cool. I don’t think they are uncomfortable at all. (Okay well granted I had never worn any for extended periods of time, but I truly believe that if they were made to fit your body, they wouldn’t be uncomfortable.) I knew that I couldn’t afford to buy them right now because they usually cost close to $100 and that just wasn’t in the budget this year, so I decided to hold off and look around, do some research and see if I could make a pair. Seemed daunting, but I figured it might be worth a try.

So the first place I started my research was the Internet of course!! Here are a few sites that I found along the way:

Saga of the Stays

Good Directions on how to make Stays

Some good Articles

Timeline of Stays through History

And of course I just did some good old fashion asking around when we were at the events. Many of the women in my regiment don’t wear stays, but some of them had made them, so they had some good tips for me. I also asked Sutlers that I noticed had stays made up, ready to buy. One good tip that I got was to use ¼” reeding for the stays themselves, rather than the poly or metal ones that are sold. (More on this later.)

So now that I had an idea of what I wanted to do I had to find a pattern. The directions above had a drawn pattern, but I wanted something more rigid. I wanted to be able to cut it out easily, so I looked up patterns on Townsend and found a great one. It looked a little more complicated then some of the others I have seen around, but I felt it was one of the more accurate examples from all that I had seen. The one I picked can be found here.

Once it arrived, I sat on it for a while. I was trying to figure out the best fabric to use. I didn’t want anything too thin because I didn’t want the stays poking out at me, but I also didn’t want it to be too hot. One day we were out looking at yard sales and I stumbled upon a great find. Someone was getting rid of some bolts of fabric, I got a black cotton, which I wanted for a Halloween quilt I wanted to make, a black canvas, and two green cotton bolts. I got all of these for $25, which is significantly less then I would have paid for them by the yard, especially considering these bolts were full. I figured that the black canvas would be great for Kris’ gaiters and for the inner part of my stays. It is thick enough so nothing pokes out, and since another fabric would be on the outside, the black wouldn’t absorb heat as much. I picked a nice blue check fabric to go on the outside.

I cut out all the pieces, followed the directions and sewed it all up. I did my best to do channels that were slightly larger than a ¼” since the reeding would be a ¼” I figured it wouldn’t work if the channels were the same size. My lines were not the straightest since I am not a professional seamstress by any means, but I thought it turned out pretty good. The reeding I picked up is found here. It came in a huge bundle, way more then I needed, but it was cheap enough that I wasn’t too concerned. I soaked the reeding to help it uncurl, and I slid it in the channels. Since my channels weren’t perfect, I actually ended up having to trim down some of the pieces of reeding, but eventually they all fit in there. I dried it under something heavy and flat to make sure the reeding didn’t curl back up. The stays still needed a backing layer and the finishing around the edges, but I wanted to try wearing it once before I did that.

In order to wear my stays I had to punch holes in it so it could be laced. I actually used my anywhere eyelet punch that I had from my scrapbooking supplies. I punched the holes using the guide from the pattern, and then I hand overcast stitched each hole. This took quite a bit of time to do, but I think it looks really nice. They would not have used metal grommets in this time period, though I know some people use them and then cover them with thread, I figured that was just an extra step.

I tried them on and they fit fairly well. They only laced in the back, so I had to have my husband help me get them tied up. I wore them for one event, but quickly started to notice that the reeding went too far down. I had brought the reeding all the way down into the tabs, but I think it would have been better to stop right above the tabs. I took the stays off for that day and I went back and pulled the reeding out, trimmed it, and pushed it back in so it was now above the tabs. I wore that version for the last parade we had, and it wasn’t too bad. It was still slightly uncomfortable around the waist, but I was walking and sitting this day and really it was a lot better then the last time.

So that was as far as I got. I still haven’t finished off the stays because to be honest I dread putting the edging on there, and since they are still not quite right, I wonder if I should have made the pattern a little longer. And the thought of starting the whole thing over to try it a little longer makes me nauseous. I have all the materials, but the time it took to make it, is time I really only wanted to spend once. So I gave up, I set them aside. I love them, and I wish they were right, but I just can’t bring myself to finish them right now. Since it’s more of a matter of time then cost or materials, maybe someday in the near future I will try again.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hubbardton, VT July 2007


Hubbardton was another fun event (okay I admit it, I thought they were all fun!). Since it was so close to July 4th, we got to see some nice fireworks over the tree line from a nearby town on Saturday night. The men had a nice hill to battle on. At one of the battles, they actually fought a good part of it on the other side of the hill, so we didn't get to see that part, but I am sure they had a blast! The video below is from the battle, you can hear Kolby talking, he was quite excited about this battle. After the battle was done, Kolby saw Kris laying dead on the ground (Kris enjoys playing dead sometimes). Kolby yelled out "There's my Daddy! He's dead!" It was quite funny for the crowd. If you want to see some more pictures from the day check them out in my album.



Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Strawberry Bank July 2007


On July 4th 2007we had a parade in Amherst, NH and right after the parade we headed over to Strawberry bank. The parade was fun, but Kolby had to go to the bathroom about half way through it, so I had to fall out of line and rush him to a bathroom (which they weren't even going to let me use until I explained it was for my son!). We tried to rush back to everyone, but that's hard to do with a four year old that is already tired. So we just met up with them at the end.

video

At Strawberry bank we got to do some living history demonstrations, which was interesting. I had actually never been to Strawberry Bank before, so it was really neat to walk around. They have reenactors from RevWar, Civil War, WWII, and other time periods. Getting lunch while we were there though was an ordeal and a half! I think a few of our members stood for over an hour outside the Mexican cart waiting for their lunch! But overall it was a good time. The video above is of Todd singing a song to Kolby. And the picture below is a picture of my whole family, we don't get very many family pictures, so it's neat to have one of us especially dressed in our RevWar clothes.



Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bordentown, NJ June 2007


Bordentown, NJ ended up being our first overnight event. We arrived late at night because we had gotten stuck going through New York. We had to set our tent up for the very first time in the dark! Luckily we had some help from the other regiment members. A reenactment is something to be seen. I had never been to a RevWar reenactment before participating in them, and it is just awe inspiring. You really feel like you have gone back in time. I loved walking around and visiting the Sutlers, they are not allowed to sell anything modern day, which is great for us. The Sutlers are a wonderful way to pick up some different and unique period pieces. Unfortunately since I am writing about these events so long after they happened, it's hard for me to remember just what we did. I really hope to keep up with the blog better in 2008 so I can have a better record of the fun times that we really have at these events! (Hmmm or maybe some things are better left forgotten. Like a drunken watermelon in Fort Taber that shall remain nameless :) :)) The picture to the left is of June making us breakfast and the one to the right is of Kolby and Jeffrey shooting the British. If you want to see some more pictures from Bordentown, check them out here.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Other Camp Related Items


Now that we had our clothing and our tent, we needed to get all the other everyday stuff that was needed for in camp. We needed stuff for inside the tent (which luckily didn't have to be period as long as the tent was closed during the day) and stuff that we could use outside the tent (which did have to be period or as close as we could get). The first thing I started with was stuff to eat with.

Bowls and Plates
First off we needed something to eat off of. I asked around for a bit about what would be the best thing to use and it was suggested that plain metal bowls and plates would be fine. They would have used pewter ones I believe (I think I will research this more), but the pewter bowls were pretty expensive so I just went with plain stainless steel. I ordered the bowls at Townsend, but I decided to hold off on the plates. They weren't too too expensive, but I really just didn't want to spend the money at that point. We were fine with the bowls, the only time I had wished we could have had a plate was when we had corn on the cob, other than that the bowls worked great.

Utensils
I did a little research on utensils of the time, and it seemed that the general consensus is that they would have used a spoon made out of horn and a knife. Again I didn't want to invest a lot of money here, so after some suggestions from another member, I headed down to Wal-Mart and just picked up the plainest stainless steel spoons and forks I could find. They have no design on them at all. Although they could have had a small design, I went with plain because I couldn't find any others without roses or something. I could not find plain knives so we went without for a while until I bought a kitchen knife from a Sutler at one of the events.

Cups
We ended up buying 3 mugs at Fort 4. They are earthenware mugs with a white glaze and a blue design on them. They are the perfect size to have around. I haven't done a lot of research into what they would have used at the time, but I figure these are good enough for now.

Seating
Another big thing we needed was seating. This was a little bit harder to acquire. I was looking for plain colored canvas seats at Wal-Mart to use, but they only had small ones. We did get one of those for Kolby, but they were way too small for Kris and I to use. We tried to buy seats at a few events, but the Sutlers always seemed to be out by the time we got there. I was able to find a plain box that we kept under the dining fly, it held all of our stuff for the day, which was really nice to keep everything under control and the even better part was that it could double as seating. I was finally able to find a chair at one of the Sutlers, so I bought one for myself. So Kolby has his canvas seat, I have a wooden chair and Kris can use the box since he is in the camp the least.

Inside the Tent
We obviously needed to be able to sleep inside of our tent. Most people do not make the inside of the tent period by any means. Some do, and I think I would like to someday, but for now it was easier to just use what we had already. We did buy a tarp to go under everything so we wouldn't get wet if it rained. Then we used an air mattress that we already had around from when we went camping in the past. We just brought our regular pillows and blankets to sleep on the mattress with. For Kolby we have a mat that rolls out and he sleeps on that with his regular pillows and blankets as well. We also have a rubbermaid chest that we use to keep all of our clothing in. That's pretty much all we keep in our tent. We actually always forgot to bring our flashlight, but that would have been a good thing to have too.

Believe me yours faithfully,
Rachel