Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Challenges of the Challenge

Our first annual Challenge event had wonderful weather, and good participation, which in future Challenges we hope will grow to represent even more of the population of Concord in the early 1770's.  The biggest "challenge" for most participants was the exercise of documenting their kit. Not that it's hard, but rather it requires one to look at a our clothing as a subject of research, much the same way some look at battles or the history of a particular regiment.

100% accuracy is not the goal, nor is this meant to be a competition.  The objective is to raise the bar. Some have said, if you can't be totally accurate, why bother?  Well, you can talk to the public about history, and they will retain some of what you tell them. But ultimately, what they bring home with them is the visual impression, reinforced by those pictures they take.  So why not give them the most accurate representation of history that we can!

Some misconceptions of this event that seem to have arisen.

Everything must be totally hand sewn.

That would be optimal, but hand finished is fine.  If it's visible it should be hand sewn.

My fabric has to be a perfect reproduction and expensive.

Concord was a diverse population. There is a wide range of social classes to portray. Your best gown  or suit might be wool or linen.  Silks or fine broadcloth are optional, your choice of fabric should suit your persona, not a mandated fabric.

The documentation has to be extensive and a master's thesis on 18th century clothing.

Documenting your duds can take many forms, internet links, images, runaway ads, merchant ads, original garments, a one page document was fine, some exceeded that, but one page was more than acceptable.

You have to make a new garment or make a garment just for one event.

If you already have something that works, that's great. A few of the participants reworked existing garments, others finished ones that have been on hold, while others used this opportunity to make something new.

There are lots of opportunities to wear civilian clothing.  Battle Road, The Boston Massacre, The Tea Party, the list goes one.  And what about Twelfth Night Ball?  Maybe it's time to create a great new civilian kit rather than wear your sweaty, dirty uniform on the dance floor in January?

During this Hive season we will be looking closely at the documentation process, and we throw out a challenge to all busy bees -- if you have a plan to make something new for next season, before you start, think about looking to the primary sources as your guide, and document your duds before you put needle to fabric.  It's an amazing process and can be the source of great pride, as well as adding to the total experience of being a re-enactor in New England.

1 comment:

  1. When I was looking to document my fabric, I found two matching fabrics, that were quite similar to mine, in two different places! One was a gown, very like I wanted to make, in the Kyoto Musuem (pictured online and in the exhibit book), and also in Barbara Johnson's fabulous book of swatches, listed as a negligee. (aka sacque back). It was perfect, and so exciting, to find *two* sources for just what i wanted to do!

    Once you get going, doing the documentation is fun....but it is addictive, and I end up searching for many more things than I starred out looking for ;-)