Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Back Down the Rabbit Hole -- Shirts

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London Self Portrait of Lt Gabriel Bray 1775

IIt's back down the rabbit hole and this time we were led there by shirts.  We decided to do something different this year by devoting an entire Hive to a single garment. The shirt was selected for several reasons - because so many reenactor men are wearing really bad ones, but also because we knew there was much to be learned about this seemingly humble garment.

The first part of the Hive will look at the shirt from a societal and historical context. What do earlier and later shirts look like?  What do period sources tell us about how to make a shirt? Who makes them? How many would you own? What are the period names for the parts and pieces of a shirt? We'll then dive into a survey of shirts as depicted in 18th century artwork in order to identify the hallmarks of a shirt from the 1765 - 1785 time period.  We'll use period advertisements, inventories, sewing guides, and other primary sources to better understand fabric options, shirt production and specifications.

Detail from The Blacksmith 1772 Lewis Walpole Collection
The actual construction of the shirt will take center stage when we dig deeper into the details, sewing techniques and assembly sequence. We are going to look at four examples of shirts with 18th century provenance that we have had the opportunity to closely examine.  What did we expect to see?  What didn't we expect to see?  And what were the out and out "wow" moments?   And thanks to high resolution digital photography we can zoom in close enough to make sense of what we can't see with the naked eye.

Detail from Paul Revere Portrait by JS Copley - MFA Boston
The last part of the Hive will be spent demonstrating several of the stitching techniques you will need to create an authentic shirt of your own.

Mark you calendars for February 21st and come join us for what should be a fun and informative afternoon!

The Hive will be held at Minuteman Technical High School on route 2A in Lexington, MA.  The Hive is from 12-4.  Admission is free, coffee is served and snacks to share are always welcome.

Any questions feel free to email me at hiveworkshops@gmail.com

(Yes our website is currently unavailable -- up to date info will be posted on this blog)

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