Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Federal Officer Sack Coat

I have again been rather negelctful of my blog as of late. The reason being - life has taken a busy turn lately, it seems. This past week was hectic. For those of you who are always going different places and rarely home my "busy" week would probably seem laughably pathetic to you. But for me, someone who usually is home except for church and grocery shopping, it was a busy week. I have discovered anew the very true words made famous by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. There is no place like home.

Truly there is nothing like having sweet places of repose and rest to sink into after a long day away. Small circles of warm lamp light; the just after sunset breeze ruffling the white curtains, wafting scents through the room of fresh cut lilacs, the book Rainbow Valley, a cup of tea. Loved ones near, the murmur of low voices. A tiny voice breaking out into a spontaneous version of "A Froggie Went A-Courtin'" with great emphasis on the "Uh-Huh" part of the chorus. Home is indeed the best place in the world. The feeling of tiny fingers curled around your own, a baby boy asleep against your shoulder, his little arm clasped around your neck.
One reason I have been busy is our upcoming first reenactment of the season which is next weekend! I thought I had a good grasp on everything I needed to do but now am finding that I still have a lot of little things left to do, and those little things do add up!

My last big project I finished up yesterday. It is my only big project for David this year (at least, he says!) and includes new federal staff officer trousers and a federal officer sack coat. For most of you, this is probably not that exciting but I did enjoy making the trousers and coat this past week. I have made so many sets of trousers for David before that these went together in a day and a half and the coat took just four days to complete. I am fascinated by the uniforms of both the Federal and Southern Army and I really do enjoy making these things, though they are not very pretty or girly. :P
One area that officer sack coats differ from enlisted issue sack coats is in length. Regular sack coats had just 4 buttons and officer coats boasted 5 buttons and extra length. They could also include details not found on enlisted sack coats like extra pockets, different collar styles and could closely resemble civilian wear of the day. Officers did not have their clothing issued to them but, from what David tells me and what I have read, were issued a clothing allowance with which to purchase their different uniform parts. Thus, a LOT of variation can be found in extant original officer uniforms since they were made by personal tailors and could include variations based on the desires of the officer in question. David personally likes to stick pretty closely to regulations but this was not always the case in the period. David's coat is made from dark blue wool flannel from Wambaugh and White and his trousers made from dark blue kersey from the same company. The body is lined with black cotton sateen and the sleeves with white pima cotton. The buttonholes were done with silk twist from B. Black and Sons. The pattern was Charlie Childs federal fatigue blouse pattern, altered for length. I also had to make some adjustments at the side seams and shoulders and neckline to fit David's particular figure. He wanted six pockets so he has two inner pockets sewed into the lining and four outer pockets. I am pretty happy with how it came out although, as always, there is room for improvement. David did complain less about this particular coat than he has about previous coats. His only gripes were the gathers in the sleeves (he likened them to the wide puffy sleeves popular in the 1980's, even though many pictures of original coats depict light gathers or easing in the sleeve heads) and the pockets, the edges of which to don't remain together when the coat is worn. (although the pictures of the original coat I was copying a lot of details off of had slumpy pockets too!)
This week is petticoat-week and hopefully next weekend I'll have some good pics from our first event to share!

May you all have a lovely spring evening, as we are having here!



  1. I think you did a lovely job. Our husbands seem similar in that Anthony also is happy when I make him something, but always has some complaints. :) I guess they are just trying to help us improve. Anyway, the ensemble looks very handsome on David. The pockets, droopy or not, look very well done to me.

    I know what you mean about busy weeks! It has been nonstop around here lately. And it seems such a laugh that it should be-I only have one kid and like you usually only go out to church and shop.

  2. splendid!
    you did a fantastic job, and that uniform looks like a job!!

  3. Looks sharp, Sarah! When I was newly married and had no children, I didn't understand my Mother-in-law always talking about staying home. NOW I get it. I love being at home~do enjoy it at this stage...the older the children get, there is naturally more required as they prepare for their God-ordained future.

  4. The coat looks great! I have so much trouble with welt pockets. It looks really good.

  5. That coat looks fantastic. I tried to make a uniform for Keith and although it turned out ok, it was the most frustrating thing I ever did. :)

    Love your words about home -- as one who used to being out and about a lot, and one who is still getting used to always being home, your words inspire me to take note of the little joys of being at home instead of out in the world.


  6. The coat is wonderful. I can't wait till I experience your description of home. I'm so tired of the hustle and bustle of our lives. Only 3 months, though, till I'm done :-)

  7. What a beautiful coat and what a blessed man your husband is to have such a talented bride. Any of the gentlemen in my household would be delighted to have such a garment made so lovingly for them.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!