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Author Topic: Shirt Fabric  (Read 4931 times)
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Michaela Richmond
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« on: November 19, 2015, 08:45:31 AM »

Good morning!

I just noticed Fabric Mart Fabrics is having a sale on cottons and was wondering if any of these would be appropriate for a man's shirt? The first three are shirtings, which I thought would be a nicer quality than some of the quilting cottons, but they are listed as "light" weight and with a "thin hand". Do you think they'll be sturdy enough for a shirt? Thanks for your help!

#1 Green & Red Box Plaid http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Forest-Green-Red-White-Box-Plaid-100-Cotton-Shirting-44W.html
#2 Dark Blue Plaid http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Dark-Blue-Sky-Blue-Plaid-100-Cotton-Shirting-58W.html
#3 Muted Olive Plaid http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Off-White-Muted-Olive-Black-Mini-Plaid-100-Cotton-Yarn-Dyed-Shirting-57W.html
#4 Brown Print http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Haute-Chocolate-Tan-All-Star-By-My-Mind-s-Eye-Print-Quilting-Cotton-42W.html

Also, is it acceptable to do a white collar and sleeve cuffs instead of just self-fabric?

Edited to add: This is for 1860-65
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 08:47:08 AM by Michaela Richmond » Logged

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Elaine Kessinger
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 09:34:54 AM »

How old is the man in question? How conservative/fashionable in his choices? What acquisition method is his portrayal using? What function in his wardrobe will this shirt serve?

The yarn-dye checks will work for a work-worthy shirt but not for a nicer one.
The brown print will work for a moderately fashionable man getting further into the 60s but not earlier 60s or older/conservative man. (They'd choose a white background with colored print for a "calico shirt" or a "speckled shirt")
The yarn-dye checks will be more likely square cut made at home. The brown print will be more likely French cut or transition to French cut and ready-made or bespoke.
To utilize a white collar for either, band the neckline and do a detachable collar rather than sewing a white collar directly on. (that seems like a "well, duh" but I hate to assume knowledge and have the instructee make a mistake.)
I have seen soldiers in checkered shirts with white collars and certainly printed cotton was treated as regular cotton, so it would be an option there too.
Some checked shirts that have the look of modern yarn-dye checks were wool. Wool shirts have different commonalities.
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Michaela Richmond
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 05:43:42 PM »

Sorry, I should have been more specific with details. There are actually two different gentlemen in question.

One is in his mid twenties, a private in an Alabama regiment, working class. His shirt will be home-made.

The second is a rough and tumble working class Northern twelve year old in need of a more sturdy play/work type shirt and also a nicer "Sunday best" shirt. His shirts will also be home sewn.

I guess I need to jump into some shirt research. I've sewn enough women's garments, but not too many men's yet. My brother has been in need of new shirts. I saw the fabric on sale and kind of ran with the idea before I had completely collected my thoughts apparently.  Cheesy

ETA: So is this type of print what you were referring to when you said "speckled"? https://www.fabric.com/buy/0353350/penny-rose-19th-century-shirtings-diamond-red This would not be appropriate for a younger man?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 05:50:06 PM by Michaela Richmond » Logged

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Rob Bruno
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2015, 06:26:24 AM »

Michaela,
A good source for pictures of shirts and therefore a study of shirts is the Library of Congress.  If you search Civil War or dates, I believe there is a category for camp life or something along those lines.  If you down load the highest resolution, takes a while and chews up data, you will not believe the details you can get from the pictures.  I don't have it or can't find it, but there is a picture of Union soldiers I think either gambling or watching a cock fight or something.  They are all standing around without their coats and you can see the types of shirts they wore.  It looks like most are in a white or checked shirts.  When you zoom in very close, there are actually a couple in probably a print or pinstripe that you can't see till you zoom in very close.  The print or strip is on a white background as Elaine mentioned, but it is there.  I also think there are a couple guys with white collars on check shirts.  Anyway, that might be a good place to see pictures from the period.

The other issue with shirts is that so many were made at home and not many survive.  I have had the luck of looking at about a dozen period shirts and no two are constructed exactly a like.  Tons of tiny stitches and craftsmanship that is a challenge to reproduce.  I don't know how many I have made, but I know I have not come close to the originals which is why I think a lot of people, especially people in business, don't like making shirts.  Too many stitches they can't make their money out of them.

Anyway, good luck with your projects.
Rob
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Elaine Kessinger
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2015, 07:26:23 AM »

White background with colored print is seen on both younger and older men from early 1850s onwards. We begin to see a colored background print during the War years.
Thus, younger men in the 1860s can (and should) begin wearing colored background shirting prints, while older fellows should stick to the white background, colored print when choosing a printed shirt.

Woven checks and stripes are a different animal. Rarely were fabrics printed in the kinds of stripes and checks that mimic wovens. Wovens are a classic for shirts intended for heavy work and hard use.

So, your Alabama fellow has the world for choice of shirts.
Your 12yo has several choices for his "play" shirt... brown print, white with red diamonds print, woven checks
   for his Sunday shirt, go with a solid white cotton or linen.
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BetsyConnolly
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2015, 03:35:29 PM »

Jumping on this thread because it's timely...

In what kind of situations could a fellow wear a printed shirt? I'm working on a wardrobe for my Gentleman Friend, he's 30 years old, "clerk studying the law", and I have some really lovely white shirting fabric that has a printed pattern on it - little black floral-esque motifs with a black stripe. Where/when might he wear such a shirt?
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Betsy Connolly
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Elaine Kessinger
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2015, 07:12:06 AM »

In short, any every-day, casual occasion can see a printed shirt...even some of the every-day "business" dress. As I said above, you'd want a solid white shirt for things like church, meeting the GF's Parents, asking the Boss for a raise, holiday dinner with Auntie Conservative-Sourpuss, etc.

Here's a large group of clerks in the Quartermaster's Office circa 1864. The men sport a variety of white, printed, and woven shirts... and part of what makes this a favorite photo of mine is that many of the men are in shirtsleeves, so we see better what shirt choices they've made. Notice the white collars with printed and woven shirts, the thin cravats, what plaid/check suit pieces we see. Lots to see here at a high resolution.
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.04274/
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Rob Bruno
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« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2015, 08:31:18 AM »

Elaine,
Do you think the two guys with the check shirts (the one guy almost in the center and the guy further to the right) have shirts with removable collars or is the collar just made of a white material?
Rob
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Elaine Kessinger
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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2015, 09:04:42 AM »

Given common laundry methods of the era, white collars on colored shirts are detachable.
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