Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Instructor Perspective: Men's Shirts

This is the first of a series of posts by our Hive Instructors so they can share with you their perspectives on reproducing 18th century clothing.  

Why You Should Learn to Make A Man’s Shirt
How About Them Details??
By Victoria Brenckle

            Since you are reading this post on The Hive’s website I am going to assume that you have already seen the fabulous workshop selection for the 2012 season. Next, I am going to go out on a limb and assume that most of you were swept away in daydreams of tuning up your gun or making leather breeches. Perhaps your mind wandered towards overalls or waistcoats because those get “seen” and are important to get to first.

            Why would I accuse you of such things? I know because I was there. I came to the Rev War via the 1630’s which was, by the way, a century and a half BEFORE the Revolution. (I wish someone told me that when I started in Revolutionary War reenacting.) I wore my old clothes to my first 2 events. The first thing I made was a jacket; outerwear.

            Now, as a seasoned so called "veteran reenactor", I will share the most important rule in building an historic impression. Start from the inside and work out!   I can now assume the two questions that come to mind: What do I do in the meantime? and Why should I do that?

            The first question is the easiest; either show up and soak it all in as a spectator to start with or ask your group where the slop chest is or who will let you borrow an outfit. As long as you are actively working to get yourself outfitted, most reenactors do not mind loaning clothes a few times.

            On to the harder question. Why would I make you put off the chance to learn all that other cool stuff first? Here are my reasons:

·       By studying inventories and reading copious primary sources, Matt and I see the same thing over and over again. Men had numerous shirts. You see, shirts got dirty since they were worn closest to the skin (which was not cleaned as frequently as yours is…assumptions again). Do you change your underwear everyday but wear your pants more than once? Eighteenth Century men followed the same pattern. Shirts were the most worn, laundered and replaced item in a man’s wardrobe. If you have a shirt now, wouldn’t you like to have another? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to repair it? How about to make another when that fabulous shirt you make with us gets tired? We’re teaching you how to fish here people!
·       By fish I mean…sew! When you make a shirt by hand you need to learn and use (over and over and over again) those basic stitches that are used to make other 18th century reproductions. Sewing a shirt by hand will force you to make your stitches smaller, neater and quicker than you are now. Once you construct a shirt by hand, you move from basic to intermediate sewer. An intermediate or advanced sewer will reap the same benefits of smaller, neater, quicker stitches as well!
·       As I compose this post on “Cyber Monday” I know how easy it is to acquire a ready-made shirt. Truth be told, you can order one for less money than this class costs!
Will that shirt be made of appropriate materials? (Probably not)
Fit you properly? (If you are lucky)
Give you the warm fuzzy inside feeling of being the most accurate you can be? (Definitely not!)
·       You will have not one, but two experienced historians, sewers, and nice people to help you along the way as you construct the most important garment an eighteenth century man wore!

Sign up to make your own shirt or a shirt for your favorite man.
Looking forward to working with you,
Vicky and Matt Brenckle
e-mail v_rebal@yahoo.com to sign up
(Also, please note that we will offer the option to make a woman’s habit shirt. A habit shirt is the undergarment a woman wore under her riding habit, it looks similar to a man’s shirt but is much shorter. If this option interests you then feel free to write to me.) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from The Hive

In the 18th century there was no "Thanksgiving" as we know it today, you know, turkey, stuffing, football.....  Rather, "Days of Thanksgiving" were routinely declared.  And you have to love how they were sometimes, matter of factly, announced in the newspaper, like this example from 1766 -  Lt Governor proclaims a day of Thanksgiving, and by the way, a ship sprung a leak, the mackerel is plenty and there was a ship wreck and everyone died. A stark contrast to today's super-hyped holiday.

It would appear as things heated up between us and England that Days of Thanksgiving in the Colonies, took on a more focused and important purpose. Take a look at this one by John Hancock in 1774 who includes in thoughts that, "harmony and union to be restored between Great Britain and these colonies". 

In 1777,  progress during the war was cause for a Day of Thanksgiving

In 1783, a Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed to be thankful for a "cessation of all hostilities"

So as we launch headlong into the craziness of the holiday season, why not take a minute to reflect on  how our 18th century forefathers and mothers viewed Thanksgiving and be thankful that they left us their words to study and to learn from.

Best wishes from all of us at the Hive and enjoy this Day of Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hive Workshops Fall 2011/Winter 2012

HIVE 2012 – Workshops – Minute Man National Historical Park Concord, MA
For questions contact: hiveworkshops@gmail.com

Breeches or Military Overalls: December 3 & 4, 2011 Sat/Sun
9:30am – 4 pm

The workshop will guide both beginners and experienced sewers through the process of measuring, cutting, constructing and finishing a pair of linen or woolen fall front breeches or military overalls. Students will have the option of bringing their own fabric, or purchasing a pre-cut linen or woolen breeches kit. Original garments will be available for study and inspiration.

Kit Prices: kits include pre-cut fabric pieces, thread, buttons for covering or metal buttons, thread, pattern, and instructions. Buckles are not included 
Wool Breeches kit - $120 
Linen Breeches Kit - $ 80
Fee:   $100 per person ("fitting models" may attend at no additional charge)
Instructor: Henry Cooke
To register:  hcooke4@verizon.net

Staymaking Workshop -- WORKSHOP FULL
January 7 & 8, 2012 Saturday/Sunday
9:30am -4pm
We will be making stays in the 18th century manner. We strongly encourage participants to sew the entire pair of stays by hand in order to produce stays that fit well, are easy to remodel in case of weight loss or gain, and can easily be repaired in the case of any broken boning.  However, if you are unable to do so, one can sew the channels by machine, with the rest done by hand.  As people have discovered in our other workshops, when constructing items in the 18th century way, hand sewing is easier and produces better results than machine sewing.  Besides, you can do it anywhere and it's very relaxing!

All materials for your stays will be supplied for the workshop, including linen canvas, thread (please advise if you are planning on sewing your channels by hand or machine), boning, leather binding and stay cord.  

All skill levels are welcome, stay making is not difficult, but it is time consuming. Some knowledge of hand sewing is helpful but not necessary. 

Fee: $150
Instructors: Hallie Larkin & Steph Smith

American Militia Cartridge Pouch
January 14, 2012
9:30 am - 4pm

You will construct a 19-hole cartridge pouch that would be appropriate for Seven Years War Provincial, Revolutionary War American militia, and pre-1779 Continental Army. The pouch will be complete with the wood block, black leather shoulder strap with brass buckle.
Fee: $75 includes materials -- Maximum Attendees: 6
Instructors: Roy Najecki & Joel Bohy
To register: roy@najecki.com

Making a Man’s Shirt
Saturday January 14 & Saturday February 11, 2012
9:30 am – 4 pm
A great beginner project in which to learn and practice your hand sewing but also a great way for more advanced sewers to create a thing of beauty! These two Saturday sessions will teach you the basics of constructing and sewing a man’s shirt. The classroom time will focus on learning the trickier details while you work on the easier things at home between classes. The second session will help you with the finishing touches like cuffs and sleeve buttons.
Fee: $100 (Fee does not include materials
Instructors: Matthew & Vicky Brenckle

Waistcoat as a Foundation Garment
January 14 & February 11, 2012
9:30 am -4pm
Ever notice how a well-fit waistcoat beautifully complements an 18th century suit? Often overlooked because a coat covers it, the waistcoat is actually a man’s foundation garment. This two-day workshop will look at original waistcoats and explore the methods tailors used to create a good fit. By the end of day one, you will have drafted a pattern to create a superbly fit waistcoat, cut out your fabric and will leave with a homework assignment. The second session will be spent perfecting construction techniques and focusing on the finer elements.

Fee: $100 (Materials not included)
Instructor: Henry Cooke

Stomacher Front English Gown - WORKSHOP FULL
February 18 & 19, 2012
You will be constructing a hand sewn stomacher front/en fourreau back gown based on a period example and constructed in a period manner. This gown is correct style for women reenacting a period of 1760-1780. By the end of the weekend, your gown should be substantially completed. This class will require a one-hour individual fitting session scheduled prior to the class in order to focus class time on gown construction.
Fee: $130 includes the bodice and sleeve lining
Instructors: Hallie Larkin & Steph Smith

Constructing a Young Lad’s Kit  
February 18 & 19, 2012
9:30am -4pm
We often neglect our children’s clothing even though they are the real camera magnets and are oft times photographed in less than wonderful kits. Spend a weekend constructing a young lad’s outfit consisting of an unlined workman’s jacket and trousers or breeches. Learn how to build a little room for growth into the garment as well as some tricks to facilitate construction. Even if you don’t have a boy in the hobby, this is a wonderful opportunity to make up a kit or two in a couple sizes for your company stores so your regiment can easily outfit it’s younger members
Fee: $100
Instructor: Henry Cooke

Fine Hand Sewing: Making a Shift
Saturday, March 10, 2012
9:30am – 4 pm
Is it time to upgrade your wardrobe with a new shift, historically accurate in every detail while honing your hand sewing skills at the same time? Enjoy a day of camaraderie and learning. Sharon Burnston, author of Fitting and Proper, will explain about the evolution of shifts during the 18th century, and you will have an opportunity to examine an original F&I-era New England shift from Sharon's private collection. You will cut out and commence construction of your own shift using period sewing methods with the focus on developing your fine hand sewing skills. Fabric requirements and specifications will be sent to you on registration.
Fee: $50. Maximum class size: 12.
Instructor: Sharon Burnston

Making a Man’s Cocked Hat
January 15, 2012 9am - 12 & February 11, 2012 
9:30 m-4pm
The first session, will demonstrate the process of blocking your hat. During the second class, you will finish the hat blanks that have been blocked and stiffened. You will trim the brims to size, create and stitch in the linen lining, install an optional leather brow band, and stitch the worsted edge binding for British impression, steam/cock the hats, and attach the cockade for British. 
Fee: $100 Instructors, fee includes materials
Instructors: Roy Najecki & Joel Bohy
Register: roy@najecki.com

Leather Breeches Workshop
March 24 & 25, 2012
Leather breeches were perhaps the most universal garment in the 18th century male wardrobe, from Royal Governors to slaves in the fields, these durable and comfortable breeches were the blue jeans of their time.  Join Jay Howlett and Jan Tilley from Williamsburg, VA for an intensive and very hands on exploration of the arts and mysteries of the breeches maker. Participants will receive all materials and notions to cut and fit a pair of buckskin breeches. 
This is an advanced level workshop requiring good hand sewing skills. Participation is limited to 8 to allow the individual attention requisite for proper cutting and fitting. Those sewing for someone other than themselves will need to have the wearer attend for parts of the workshop. 
Fee $400
Instructors: Jay Howlett & Jan Tilley

Trimming a Gown
March 10, 2012 - Saturday
Learn how to use readily available materials, vintage trims and passementerie with which to embellish your gown.  We will examine what is appropriate for the gown you are wearing and how to achieve a period look.  You will also learn how to make fly fringe and how to enhance modern trims to approximate period ornamentation. Techniques like pinking, ruching, and adding cuffs and sleeve ruffles, will be discussed.
Fee: $40 includes trim samples
Instructors: Hallie Larkin & Steph Smith

March 10, 2012, Saturday
Create a pair of custom made silk or wool mitts based on a period pair from a private collection.
Fee: $40 includes materials
Instructors: Hallie Larkin & Steph Smith

Gun Tune-up
March 10 & 11, 2012
10am-12pm  or 2pm-4pm 
Get your musket in top working order for the season—a clean well-tuned gun is a safe one. Join gunsmith Jim Casco for a hands-on workshop where each participant will perform a detailed inspection of their musket. He/she will dismount the lock and barrel and completely disassemble the lock. This will enable the participant to learn proper maintenance and discover any problems. Jim will guide the participants, step by step, through the procedures and be able to evaluate any problems and make recommendations to correct them
Fee: $25