Friday, March 5, 2010

"A Severe Republican Plainness"

So said Sir Richard Burton, in describing the dress of the Federal army.
It works for tunics too. I like the phrase. It is imaginative. It is unique.

I have been madly sewing on the boys wardrobe this week. As of now, all they need is 2 more undershirts finished and their wool coats made. Then I will be done. Except for trimming, but that is extra and I will do that as I find time in between more necessary projects. And of course, if I have time, new caps for each of them would be nice. But their ones from last year still look well and will work nicely if I don't have time to make new ones right away.
The undershirts are of a soft fine white cotton and are probably the most simple garments I've ever sewn. They are cut all in one piece with the shoulders on the fold and there are but two seams, one on each side, that curves from the short sleeve, to under the arm to down to the hem. The seams are felled for neatness. I did have to hem the neckline opening by hand since I cannot manage such a fine hem using my machine, but, with about a half hour of work put into each one, the first set is done and I hope to finish the rest tonight. Little David loves his "white shirt". He has been wearing it all day!

I finished the boys second set of tunics yesterday. They are made from the same basic pattern as their blue ones but I cut off the pattern at chest level to make a yoke, and the bottom portion is a box pleated rectangle with the pleats tacked down at the waist and the tacking stitches covered by a self fabric belt. They open in the back, and are made of a semi sheer green striped cotton/linen fabric.
Now. It appears that the Yoked Tunic is a thing of mysterious origin. One does not know whether it originated in fact, or in ones head. It seems the general reigning thought from the good folks at the Sewing Academy is that yoked tunics were not worn, owing to the fact that no original yoked tunics have been documented and no original images of boys wearing yoked tunics have yet been found. Last year I saw and saved a picture of a boy wearing what looked to be a type of yoked tunic but of course, now that I actually need it I can no longer find it on the computer!
At any rate, while Yoked Tunics are perhaps a thing of questionable veracity, it IS true that yoked garments, both underwear and outerwear, were worn in the 1860's period. Yoked dresses were worn by women and girls (it appears that both small boys and girls could have worn yoked dresses) and there is a gorgeous example of a yoked jacket/blouse in the Confederate Echoes of Glory book that closely resembles the tunics I've made for my boys. It was said to have been a popular style that was widely copied by officers. And it is true that civilian clothing, especially womens and childrens, was at times made in a military style, or had a "military influence". For example, the ubiquitous Zouave Jacket. So considering that, I think a yoked tunic is plausible. But until I find some real good documentation - don't take my word for it! :)

I want to trim them up to make them a bit dressier (these being intended for Sundays) but until I get time to do so, they severely plain will remain.
I had just enough linen left to make Malachi a little unlined jacket. This green wildly sets off the boys eyes. I think I've seen enough green for a while, though!




  1. Like that phrase too.To be Plain is not as dull as one would think.

    I wonder how you get your boys into those tunics?

  2. Oh, they all look so nice! The tunics and undershirts turned our really well. And I really like that color. I guess I really need to start thinking about Victoria's wardrobe. But who has the time! Haha! :)

  3. What a flattering color, that green is. Delicate, yet different...very beautiful.

  4. I like them! Simple and plain is often the best, isn't it? And even if the yoked tunic is perhaps not *quite* authentic, it looks good!

  5. PC or not, they are very cute!

  6. They are very nice, I like the color! The pleats add something nice. Thanks for sharing the pictures.
    Faith G.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!