Monday, February 8, 2010

Tunics for David and Judah

The past few weeks I've been sewing on various reenacting projects. I have had some outside projects for others (including, much to my delight, a U.S. Navy uniform for David's best guy friend - what can I say - I have a weakness for the look of a man in a navy uniform :P) and have been steadily working away the list of things to make for us all here. Malachi, thanks to hand me downs, will need only a few under shirts and some drawers but the older boys need all new things since they have grown at an astonishing rate since the autumn and the clothes I made them then, intending them to be used again this spring, are already far too small for comfort.
After experimenting last year with tunics and button suits, I decided I like the look of a button suit better than a tunic but as far as growth room and versatility, tunics cannot be beat. To that end, I drew up a detailed sketch of each garment I will be making the boys and these tunics are the first to result from the pre planning stage.

They were designed and styled for maximum use. Their points of usefulness for cooler weather are as follows:
  • Long sleeves and high neckline
  • Loose fit, allowing warm undershirts to be layered beneath as needed.

For warm weather:

  • Long sleeves with cuff can be rolled up for use in very hot weather.
  • Loose fitting belt allows maximum airflow at the waist
  • Short, flared skirt allows airflow - something that would be restricted with a button-suit style.
  • 100% cotton lightweight fabric

For growth:

  • Loose fit, allowing garment to be worn (hopefully!) until next year at least.
  • Long skirts, just above the knee now, can be worn until thigh length
  • Long sleeves, gathered and poufy at the wrist now, can be worn until sleeve is too short to hit at wrist level.
  • A-line style and loose fitting belt can be worn until the boys waist measures 25" (considering I had a 25" waist at age 13, they will likely not outgrow this area for some time)
  • Very dropped shoulder can be worn until shoulder hits just below the arm/shoulder join on the body.

The boys are really pleased with their new "shirts" and have been wearing them around the house, just so they can get used to them. In prior experience, they have been uncomfortable when wearing a new garment at a reenactment since they are not yet used to the feel of it and how they can move in it. I have been pleased to observe that these tunics are totally unrestrictive. The boys have climbed, jumped, wrestled, ran and eaten while wearing these and they don't even seem to notice they are wearing them anymore.

The next tunics will be a yoked style, with a full gathered lower portion falling from a chest level yoke. I plan on them having just as much room for growth as these.

For their trousers and coats, I wanted to use corderoy but haven't been able to find any decently priced corderoy in the local stores - and the corderoy that does exist, is such of a hideous color and inferior quality. Yesterday David and I and the boys went to Wal Mart to get a new zip drive for the computer and I looked at their fabric selection (which I have been disappointed with lately) and found several colours of good quality, firmly woven, smooth, cotton twill fabric - for $1.50/yard! Needless to say I snatched some up so hope to get their trousers and coats made within the next few weeks (as well as a few more pair of overalls for David). I just don't know how long I should make their coats? They will be a sack style, but I don't know if I should make them long enough to cover the skirts of their tunics or shorter? I think longer would be better. . .but have never seen an original photo of a coat/tunic being worn to have a better idea of what would be correct.

We are having a beautiful mid-winter snowfall!




  1. Sarah,
    I am wild about these tunics! They look perfect and your boys look so "right." I am assuming you drafted the pattern yourself. Is it something you can share? Or, if you used a pattern (even to adapt), which one did you use? I want Parker's tunic to look just like what you made! I am so excited to move him up to tunics! What pattern do you use for pants?
    Thank you for sharing! Your work is amazing and your boys look so perfect!

  2. I love little boys in tunics! And your boys look darling as usual (how many times have I said that now?). The tunics look really comfortable, and I think it's delightful to see small boys dressed as small boys would have been dressed back then, instead of in scaled-down versions of their fathers clothes, because that's more "right" in our modern eyes.

  3. Thanks ladies! Jess, I can send you a copy of the pattern if you don't mind it traced onto a cut up paper bag :), it was made by a combo of drafting/draping on a willing victim. . .erm. . .child and is about the same size as their modern size 4T button up shirts they have for this summer. The sleeves are rectangles, 14" x 17" gathered into a cuff to fit the wrist loosely. I did insert a gusset into the side seam below waist level to throw some more fullness into the hem since the pattern as I ended up making it would have been too narrow around the hem to look well, I thought. I don't know if the gusset is P.C. or not, but it is the same type that is used in corsets at the bust and hip, so I hope it is not too far out of the realm of possibility. :) You could cut the gusset in half and add it to each side seam so as to have just the front and back piece, but I had to add mine after the majority of the tunic was already cut and made.

    I think the boys are getting into the lemon bars. . .

  4. P.S. The trousers I made last year are drafted using the same concept as Mrs. Clarks womens drawers pattern, except with the seam closed (of course) :) I made a placket at each side and gathered the front and back of the trousers to seperate waistbands, which button together at the sides. There is a pair of trousers on the Wisconsin Historical Society website that has this look about them, so that is how I ended up making mine. It was a lot easier than making a button fly style trouser!

  5. I love their outfits. They look so cute!

  6. Perfection! They look just as they should, straight from a CdV! I love the fabric print, it looks like it will wear really well. I'll bet you'll get lots of "are they twins?" comments this Summer.

  7. The boys look so cute, standing there holding hands.

  8. Dear Sarah,
    The boys are just getting cuter and cuter. The spot pattern is spot on, and won't show what boys get into so much...mud, dust, dirt, grassan straw...

    So did they eat a lot of lemon bars?

    Hugs, and anticipating snow here too,
    Natalie in KY

  9. Sarah,
    I would love to give your pattern a try - even traced onto paper bags. I am not talented with crafting patterns and need all the help I can get. The gusset sounds completely appropriate - I wouldn't worry about that. Parker is wearing a 3T right now, so 4T may well work for him, especially as you mentioned it is better to make them bigger for growth room.

    I never thought about drafting pants from Mrs.Clark's drawers pattern. What a good idea! I'll have to work on that. I like the side closure thing better than a fly, too!

    My email address is - if you send me an email, I'll send you my mailing address. Thanks so much!


  10. They are so adorable! You have done it again! We had beautiful sunny day yesterday and are having snow today! It really is pretty, I just wish it didn't miss up the roads making hard to travel.
    Faith G.

  11. Let me just add that your boys (adorable as ever) look period picture perfect!

  12. I just love a new reenacting clothing post! You always impress me and make me so deliciously excited to TRY something similar. TRY is the key word here.
    The tunics turned out fabulous. Your boys look very pleased!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!