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Re: 101 Shirt Tips for Your Authentic Civil War Uniform Shirt

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  • jblake47
    ... you ... The Federal regulations allowed for a single-button, collared, wool shirt as issue. All other shirts were not Civil War uniform shirts, they were
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 19, 2004
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      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "paulamccoach" <coach@c...>
      wrote:
      > 101 Tips for Your Authentic Civil War Uniform Shirt
      > by Paula and Coach McCoach
      >
      > So you want to make or upgrade your Civil War uniform shirt, but
      you
      > don't know where to start.

      The Federal regulations allowed for a single-button, collared, wool
      shirt as issue. All other shirts were not Civil War uniform shirts,
      they were civilian made and generally sent from home from a mother,
      wife or sister.

      What type of material do you use, should
      > you use metal, porcelain or bone buttons, should you have a collar
      on
      > your shirt, what about the cuffs - how many inches are they
      supposed
      > to be, should you hand stitch the button holes, where should you
      put
      > the pocket on your shirt, Ahhhhh!
      >

      The style of a shirt depended on the pattern that mom/wife/sister
      had handed down to her, or the pattern she learned when it came time
      for her to learn the homemaker skills from her mother.

      > Your questions about making your Civil War uniform shirt authentic
      > are answered in this shirt article and continue to be answered in
      101
      > Tips for Your Authentic Civil War Uniform Shirt Course at
      > http://www.civilwaruniforms.net/authenticshirts.htm
      >
      > Here are some of the tips for making Your Civil War Uniform shirt
      > authentic:
      >

      Authentic?

      > 4. To start, you could 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.
      >

      And while you are at it, if you want it authentic, tear out ever
      machine stitch in the whole shirt. The sewing machine was invented
      at that time, but most households did not have one. Authentic
      shirts are entirely hand-sewn, not a cobble job with a seam ripper.

      Better yet, buy a decent shirt in the first place and save yourself
      the time of trying to fix/upgrade that which wasn't any good in the
      first place.

      > 5. 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
      should
      > have about 6-7 stitches per inch. You have just increased the
      value
      > of your shirt and made it more authentic.
      >

      Anything less than authentic is not authentic. Authentic is not a
      relative term.

      > 32. "Pockets were not sewn on most shirts, and not at all on the
      army-
      > issued shirts.

      Pockets were sewn to uniform coats. One does not sew pockets on
      their underwear, which a shirt was considered in that era.

      Heavier shirts had a breast pocket or two. The pockets
      > were generally lower on the shirt and larger than breast pockets
      on
      > shirts today.
      >

      Pockets varied as much as anything else with the shirt.

      > 33. Buttons were metal, wooden or bone, or sometimes commercially
      > made from other products, such as glass or ceramic materials. For
      > Southern troops, different styles of buttons can be used,
      including
      > bits of wood, bone, or even acorns. You can use dental floss to
      tie
      > them on, but make sure the modern materials are not visible.
      >

      Linen thread is authentic, dental floss is not.

      > 38. Battle shirts are a bit controversial.

      And they were early war mostly until the units could get issued
      appropriate uniforms.

      Some troops, especially
      > early-war Southern troops, had a tunic or heavy shirt instead of a
      > wool uniform coat. It would fit over a regular shirt but was not
      as
      > heavy or bulky as the wool jacket.

      Federal issue "uniform coats" are heavy and bulky because modern
      sutler make them that way, Original coats are a lot lighter than
      what is promoted today as "appropriate" and "authentic".

      Before you get a battle shirt,
      > make sure one is documented for your regiment's history, since
      they
      > were not typical and are controversial.
      >
      > 39. Cuffs on Civil War uniform shirts varied as much as all of the
      > other parts that we have discussed.

      Cuffs on civil war uniform shirts were dictated by army regulation
      as were all other specifications for issued uniforms.

      Cuffs can be added using the
      > material of the shirt or a different color or material. Most cuffs
      > were about 2 inches wide.
      >

      Shirts are not stylish. The reason collars or cuffs didn't match was
      because they were often made from leftover scraps.

      > 41. 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 they
      > have the potential to rust and stain your fabric.
      >

      So does sweat and the leaching out of color from the uniform coat.
      It adds character to a shirt.

      > 45. Some shirts had button on collars, and many shirts were
      > collarless. ECHOES: The Confederate Version shows seven shirts on
      > pgs. 154-155, and each one has a different collar. Pvt. John
      Burgwyn
      > MacRae Starr's North Carolina is a dark blue wool collarless
      pullover
      > shirt while the one below, Pvt. Andrew Thomas Beam, 28th South
      > Carolina Volunteers' shirt is a white cotton with a square edged
      > collar made of the same color and material.
      >

      So as a general rule, there was no general rule.

      > 50. My rule of thumb is that I only make Civil War uniform items
      that
      > I have seen in an original photograph or museum. Note: what is in
      > museum is only the very smallest tip of the iceberg because there
      are
      > very few actual items that made it through the war. The vast
      majority
      > of the original clothing is long since gone. Some of the fabrics
      and
      > colors can be seen in very old quilts because they reused
      everything.
      >
      > 53. Note the different collars, buttons, and fabrics, color
      > combinations. I personally do not like solid color shirts. I like
      > something with a little color to it. These shirts have original
      glass
      > buttons on them. I prefer glass buttons for shirts because I like
      to
      > match the color combinations.
      >

      Matching anything is a modern concept. The only thing that matched
      was dad's shirt and mom's dress. Cloth was bought by the bolt and
      everyone in the family matched, until the next bolt was bought.
      There was no such thing as a coordinated wardrobe.

      Depending on the wealth of the family, getting two buttons to match
      might have been a big deal.

      > 55. Keep everything 100% wool and 100% cotton. Make sure that the
      > material is a good grade, like homespun. If you are going to take
      the
      > time and energy, to make your own shirt, buy something high
      quality
      > that will last. The price of the shirt material is negligible
      > compared to the time and energy you will put into making it.
      >

      This tip is valid, and use linen/cotton thread. Not polyester.

      > 70. Original coin buttons are still available and affordable if
      you
      > want to look for them. You can find them anywhere from one to
      three
      > dollars. You might even want to go with a mismatched set - one or
      two
      > state seals and the remainder coin buttons.
      >

      No one is going to put a state seal button from a uniform coat on a
      shirt.

      > Do you have more questions, have them answered
      > http://www.civilwaruniforms.net/authenticshirts.htm
      >
      >

      I commend your bravery of putting such information on the internet,
      but I would suggest a lot more research before you put out
      recommendations.

      Jeff


      >
      >
      > 2004 permission granted to reprint this article in print or on
      your
      > website so long as the contact information is included to
      > coach@c...
      >
      > ________________________________________________
      >
      > Paula and Coach McCoach, 10606 Piney Island Dr., Bishopville, MD
      21813
      >
      > (443) 513-0211
      >
      > coach@c...
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