Monday, August 9, 2010

Tunics and the Boys Who Wear Them

I finished sewing on the trim on the boys new tunics this morning and now all that is left to do is work the buttonholes and attach the buttons in the back. I had hoped to have them done so I could start my wrapper today but I found out I will be making a couple of tunics for a 5 year old boy in our group before our next event so it doesn't matter - the tunics must be done before the wrapper is. I can live without a wrapper if need be.
These tunics are cut on the bias except for the back bodice pieces. I like the visual effect of bias plaid but it wasn't as easy to work with as the usual straight grain pieces I use. The finished garments just don't have that crisp look. But it is a period style and one I had not tried yet. It was a fun project, even if I did run into a few problems when making these up!

Judah's tunic is green and blue plaid and is trimmed with green bias strips and plain gold colored metal buttons. I somehow have my doubts about those buttons - they seem a little too big to me. But Judah wanted some shiny gold buttons like Daddy wears on his uniforms and these were all I had on hand.

David's tunic was, I thought, a red plaid cotton but on closer inspection, stimulated by David's horrified exclamation last night, "Sarah, his tunic is pink!" I determined that the plaid is, instead, a light red. :P It is trimmed similarly to my inpsiration image and has two narrow rows of dark red trim at the hem and at the sleeves. I may put black buttons down the front but I haven't decided yet if it will look right or not.

The style is a basic rather roomy, lightly gathered at the waist bodice with a jewel neck and loose sleeves, a narrow waistband and a skirt that reaches just to the knee. I hope they will last the boys through next summer.

Off to cut out some more tunics. . .



  1. I was waiting for you to post about the tunics as I was sure they'd be inspiring and I wasn't disappointed! :-D Lovely work as usual. Thanks for taking the time to post about them.

    Mrs. G

  2. They are adorable! I gave up on our tunics for this year, as it is already raining and I'm sure all our events will only get colder. Have a great time at the event, I'm sure the boys will enjoy their new clothes!

  3. Wonderful job! This makes me wish I had a boy of my own to sew for. Does your oldest mind the "pink"? Do your boys, in general, like wearing what you make them?

  4. Oh Lissa I wish we had cooler weather here to stay. It has been an unusually warm summer here and we are in for yet another week of 100+ temperatures. :( I hope it cools off before our event next weekend.

    Jenni, generally the boys do like what I make them. They call them their "tent place" clothes, since every time I dress them up in these, usually, we are headed out to a reenactment and they love it! As far as the pink plaid, David actually picked it out when I was fabric shopping a few months ago. I found the plaids, they were lightweight and a good price and there were several colors. Judah picked the green and David the red - really, it does look a lot like red when seen in person. But anyway, at least pink was considered a manly color in the 1860's!

  5. It looks 'light red' to me. Both tunics are very cute. (As are both boys).

    I hope you are staying cool with your new window a/c. I am so tired of this weather.

  6. As always, beautiful work on those tunics. Your boys are growing so big!

  7. Your little gentlemen look awesome, as always!

  8. they look handsomely darling
    i really like the bias strip trimming - really like it!

  9. It's so tedious---seeing word games being played to maintain an illusion of gender differences---that don't matter. Call these dresses, please. I have a documentary on the history of sex typing garments---403,041 words and climbing. I do happen to be the world authority and have paid my dues to prove it. Playing hop-scotch with terminology does not change anything. It's a strategy to deflect criticism. Have a look at what Franklin Roosevelt wore in 1883. It definitely was not called a tunic. I don't mean to rake you over the coals too much, as the fact that you'd want sons to have something nicer to wear shows your intentions are OK. I don't propose to completely phase out the word "tunic," but people will correctly insist on calling these dresses. If a man wears a skirt and blouse (presenting as a man), he isn't likely to call it a "skirted doublet" as it would be called in medieval Europe. Having them in trousers underneath is also a subtle cue that "they're still boys." It won't be accepted by a majority---same as the Bloomer women with baggy Turkish trousers under shorter skirts were not accepted. Pants were thought male only in the 1850s, the way that dresses/skirts are thought female only today, with few exceptions besides bagpiper costume. Since the trouser and the skirt are activity differences---not gender differences---there's no overriding cause to have them in trousers at the same time.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!