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How to Make Your Civil War Uniform Shirt - Sources Cited!

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  • paulamccoach
    How to Make Your Civil War Uniform Shirt by Paula and Coach McCoach Your own shirt designed and made by you for your own Civil War Uniform Impression is easy
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2004
      How to Make Your Civil War Uniform Shirt

      by Paula and Coach McCoach

      Your own shirt designed and made by you for your own Civil War
      Uniform Impression is easy and economical. Follow these simple
      directions, and your Civil War uniform shirt will be exactly how you
      want it.

      Take all of your girth measurements.

      Using a tape measure, measure your chest, stomach and note the bigger
      of the two measurements. Write it all down in inches. Do not suck
      your stomach or chest in. Be sure you are in a comfortable position,
      so your shirt will fit properly.

      Next, measure from top of shoulder to mid-thigh, so you can tell how
      long you want the shirt to be. Next, measure then from shoulder tip
      to wrist with arm bent at a 90 degree angle, so the sleeve will have
      enough room in it for you to move freely and comfortably.

      Measure your bicep and wrist.

      Measure your neck.

      Start looking for material but don't buy anything until
      are completed

      Look at original photographs and decide which type of shirt you like
      and would be comfortable wearing on the march. Look at the collars
      and variations on how the neck is done. The collar is an easy part
      of the shirt to change also. A standard placard front with a slit
      for the head is desirable and very accurate.

      Check original photos in ECHOES OF GLORY: ARMS AND EQUIPMENT OF THE
      CONFEDERACY pgs.79, 93, 147, especially 154-5 for patterns, styles,
      colors, buttons.

      Purchase a shirt pattern. Follow assembly procedures.

      Now you are ready to choose your material. 100% cotton or Osnaburg
      is recommended. In my experience a medium to heavy weight cotton
      works best. The polished cotton does not absorb sweat as well and is
      not as high quality. Homespun (good quality cotton) is a looser
      weave and more comfortable on the march. If you are going to spend
      time and money on your Civil War Uniform shirt, make it a quality one
      that will be comfortable for you and last for many seasons.

      Muted colors are more of what was worn during the Civil War. If I
      were going to do a shirt just starting out, I would go with a red,
      white and/or blue homespun. I would stay away from real bright
      colors. Use muted-color fabrics. I think it looks much more accurate
      that way. The reason I said red, white, and blue is that both armies
      were patriotic and those color combinations were popular in the Civil
      War Era.

      Hand topstitch around the pocket and neck. Your hand topstitching
      should be about 6 – 8 stitches per inch. If you do this hand
      stitching, you have just doubled the value of your shirt and jacket.

      You probably will not start the hobby out as much of a tailor. My
      first few handmade items were a joke, but eventually I got to where I
      can put together a good uniform. I would stay away from shirts that
      were real fancy. If you don't want to make your own shirt,
      purchase a
      shirt that is already made that has machine buttonholes in it and
      rework the buttonholes to make it look more authentic. Take a seam
      ripper and pick out the buttonholes and handwork them. I would pick
      out and redo by hand all exposed machine stitching. Someone can show
      you how to do that in about 15 minutes. You have just doubled the
      value of your shirt and made it more authentic.

      For photographs of shirt designs, patriotic combinations, and
      topstitching, go to http://www.civilwaruniforms.net/shirts.htm

      Next, get yourself some good buttons. Stay away from plastic and
      modern buttons. Go with glass, bone, shell, metal, porcelain, 2-hole
      cat's eye or Mother of Pearl. Metal buttons are authentic, but
      have the potential to rust and stain your fabric. Some of the sutlers
      that sell fabric and sewing items have buttons.

      Or I have a ton of buttons I might be talked into parting with.
      Buttons can also be found at flea markets, antique stores, in old
      button baskets, tins or jars. Frequently, you can buy a whole jar of
      buttons for $3 – check out the buttons in it, and if you find a
      substantial antique buttons, it certainly is worth it. Sometimes the
      jar is as valuable as the buttons! I have found jars full of buttons
      with a hundred dollar button in it. Small items like buttons can
      make a huge difference and increase the value of your shirt, jacket,
      pants, etc.

      To see some antique buttons, go to

      Try to get solid brass buttons. Waterbury is good. Original buttons
      are a bit pricey but not out of the question. If you are getting
      U.S. Eagle buttons, sutlers have them. Stay away from the ones that
      are plated. I personally just use coin buttons. If you are doing a
      state regiment, you want to go with state seal buttons. "I"
      are a good generic impression. For late war buttons, go with the Tate
      Script "I" which were coming in later in the war. U.S.
      buttons can go
      U.S. or Confederate. It would not be unusual to see an Eagle button
      on a Confederate uniform.

      For more information on making your Civil War Uniforms Shirt and,
      send an email to shirt@... Learn how to make your
      own wooden buttons!!

      2004 permission granted to reprint this article in print on your
      website so long as the paragraph above is included and the contact
      information is included to coach@....
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