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Author Topic: Launching Myself Into Men's Clothes  (Read 4824 times)
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Miss Lydia
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« on: July 14, 2014, 05:55:40 PM »

I'm taking a break from some very futile shirt mending for my... what's the accepted abbreviation for "dear boyfriend"? DBF? After getting a $3 off coupon for Laughing Moon and not having any ladies patterns on their site I was interested in, I decided to buy their shirt pattern and make him some new shirts. I guess I watch too many period shows and movies, because I'm one of those people that (for some unknown reason) think that sewing a shirt for your SO is romantic and intimate.

I've read over the shirt-making threads that I thought were most relevant, including the thread about Pattern #107 and threads about what fabrics are appropriate for shirts. I'm starting out with regular everyday shirts, for a guy that cleans up nice but is definitely outfitted in general for working class impressions. I'm inclined to start out with two shirts, one plaid or stripe and one calico print. The stripes and plaids don't worry me, but I'm feeling paranoid about exactly what calico prints would be appropriate. The pattern seems to imply that calicos used for shirts should have a white ground, but from my (very light) research, I'm seeing some shirts in photographs that clearly have a colored ground. I'm still seeing mostly plaids, checks, or stripes, however.

I guess I'm not exactly asking a question, I'm just hoping for validation. How do these calicos look for a working class men's shirt?

Brown ground with white print: https://www.fabric.com/buy/0333999/judies-25th-anniversary-tiny-bouquets-brown
Green ground with geometric print: https://www.fabric.com/buy/0334017/geo-dotted-squares-green
Cream ground with brown dot print (looks most like "shirting" print to me): https://www.fabric.com/buy/0334050/tavern-collection-tiny-dots-cream-brown
Cream ground with green medallion print (also looks like "shirting" print to me): https://www.fabric.com/buy/0334046/tavern-collection-decorative-medallions-cream-green

Thanks so much for your patience with me. Under normal (read: womenswear) circumstances, I feel confident in my ability to pick out appropriate prints, but menswear seems like a whole other story to me and I get needy and have to have my hand held when I'm overwhelmed by something new.  Roll Eyes

Edited to Add: In making calico shirts, should I make the collars and cuffs out of the same fabric, or can I make them in white, too? The colored-ground prints would look really snazzy with white collars and cuffs, in my opinion, but I know "Not Mine Will But The OC's"
« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 06:07:33 PM by Miss Lydia » Logged
Allison vV
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2014, 09:06:00 PM »

Welcome to menswear.  I found it a bit overwhelming, too Smiley.

You said that for your two shirts you were inclined to make one plaid and one calico.  Have you considered making one of the shirts all white?  I understand that they were more common and readily available.

I believe that collars and cuffs should be white regardless of whether or not the shirt is a print or white.  I think patterned (matching shirt body) collars and cuffs did exist, but were rare.  The experts, I'm sure, can speak to this.
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Allison van Vegten


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Miss Lydia
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2014, 05:32:05 AM »

DBF has a lot of white shirts to wear already so I'm shying away from adding to that collection, although white shirts are, of course, in the plans for the future (I also plan on making him a wool battle shirt).

One of the things that I'm considering is that he looks a lot like his older brother (especially when they both have beards) and people mistake him for his brother all the time. He's kind of "the other one" or "S' brother" and he's mentioned to me before that he would like to stand out a bit more to help with that problem, so I'm hoping that by making him a calico shirt, it'll help him with that while still being period correct. I don't see too many calico print shirts on men in reenacting, at least not at the events I go to and not with the people I'm around. There are a couple of younger boys in camp who have nice calico shirts that they wear, but I think I've only seen one or two men with one. 

I'm sure that I haven't looked at enough paintings and photographs to be confident that the sample size is large enough that I can go one way or the other on collars and cuffs. I've seen colored shirts with self-fabric collars and cuffs, and I've seen them with white collars and cuffs. I'm on the fence about it.
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2014, 03:16:37 PM »

It sounds like you're being influenced a lot by what other reenactors are doing.  You might be better advised to see what's actually documented before spending a lot of time making shirts.

Most reenactor men (including yours truly) have, or have had, calico print shirts bought from a sutler.  We've all heard the conventional wisdom about the frontier wife bringing the bolt of cloth home and making shirts and dresses for the whole family.  Not to say that never happened, but it might be more appropriate for a small boy than his father.  Most American men, most of the time, by 1860 were wearing mass-produced shirts.  If these were colored, they were typically plaids, stripes, or solids.  The fancy print shirts I've seen photos of all have a vertical stripe element in the pattern, not a plain floral calico.

What about a colored shirt with a white collar/bosom and cuffs?  These certainly show up in images, but they may have paper collars - it's probably not possible to tell.  A dark colored shirt with white collar and cuffs would be a laundress' nightmare.  Again, we've all done it (even in my avatar image) but that doesn't make it the best choice.  Conversely there are known examples of fancy print shirts with matching bosom, collar and cuffs.

I'll be interested to read what the shirt collectors have to say, but my advice would be:

- all white
- all colored (which can include light-colored prints with a stripe) with matching bosom, collar and cuff
- all colored with band collar, and removable white collar and/or bosom
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Chip
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2014, 06:10:48 AM »

It sounds like you're being influenced a lot by what other reenactors are doing.  You might be better advised to see what's actually documented before spending a lot of time making shirts.
...  If these were colored, they were typically plaids, stripes, or solids.  The fancy print shirts I've seen photos of all have a vertical stripe element in the pattern, not a plain floral calico.



I concur with Mr. Ruley regarding the issue of stripes and plaids as being much more typical than prints for men's shirting.

Here are some vendor examples of materials:

http://www.bnbtart.com/shirtings.html
« Last Edit: July 16, 2014, 06:28:58 AM by Chip » Logged
Miss Lydia
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2014, 03:04:04 PM »

Thanks for the info, gentlemen. To summarize to make sure I understand, calico shirts would be appropriate for children but not men? Are these those horizontal-stripe motif calicos or are prints like the ones I linked acceptable too? DBF seems inclined to marry me someday and I hope that future children won't ALL be little girls.

I know it seems like I'm just dying to make a calico shirt but... that's just 'cuz I've fallen in love with those prints I linked and don't have any projects for myself I could use them for.
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2014, 06:22:08 PM »

I think small boys would be more likely to wear homemade shirts, and therefore fabric that is intended as a dress print rather than shirting.

This is what I had in mind by "vertical stripe motif":

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/497858933776521684/

Not sure if that's proper terminology, but it combines vertical stripes with the floral design elements.  There is an original in "Thoughts on Men's Shirts" that uses a somewhat similar fabric.  You can see it on the book cover here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/1577470486/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_dav
« Last Edit: July 16, 2014, 06:29:32 PM by Jim_Ruley » Logged
Miss Lydia
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2014, 07:22:22 PM »

Ah, okay.

So these two groups of prints claim to be shirtings. Here: http://www.reproductionfabrics.com/lines.php?subcat=1100
and here: http://www.reproductionfabrics.com/lines.php?subcat=1147

There are one or two prints that look similar to the one you linked, would any of the prints in the collections be appropriate for a man's or boy's shirt, are they more suited to women's shirts/bodies for the later 19th century, would they be suited to men's/boy's shirts just out of our era?
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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2014, 06:06:12 PM »

I think the following would be safe choices:

FV212A, FV212B, FV212R; FS311A, FS311B, FS311R.

especially in the black or blue versions.
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Miss Lydia
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2014, 09:09:42 PM »

Thanks for the advice!
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