Saturday, August 3, 2013

Blake's Fatigue Blouse

A few weeks ago I finished a project that has been on my list for over a year. It's a good feeling! Early last year, Blake bought all materials for both his frock coat uniform as well as a some flannel for a lighter weight fatigue blouse. I made his frock coat and other necessary garments quickly, but the blouse has been on the back burner for a while now. It was nice to get it done.

The coat was made in a span of about three days. The pattern was created with a quick mock up we did last year for the body, and the rest of the pattern was created as the pieces were sewn. That is one nice thing about these coats - they are easy to put together, they are not very fitted so you save a lot of time on fitting and tailoring and there are very few buttons. (only 4!)

The fatigue blouse, also known as a sack coat, was a casual (and common) option for uniform in the field. These coats were mass produced and distributed to the soldiers from various depots; at this link there is a brief overview of the different styles produced by different depots. This is just a broad generalization. At John Wedeward's site you can see photos of an original coat, compared to his reproductions. You can also see photos of original federal sack coats on CW Quartermasters site.
photo from Library of Congress

For Blake's coat I decided to go with a 4 piece body - two back pieces, two front pieces - with 1 piece sleeves. Because Blake's frock coat is so heavy, being fully padded and quilted and lined, I decided to make his fatigue blouse unlined. This will hopefully help him keep cooler in the summer time, though the coat may show wear earlier than a coat made with a lining. Both unlined and lined fatigue blouses from this period exist, though unlined seems to have been less common. The material is a very lightweight twilled wool flannel from Wambaugh and White.

The construction was easy. All seams were machine stitched together and then finished by hand. The large kidney shaped pocket on the breast was applied by hand and the edges of the coat topstitched by hand. The collar is interlined with canvas to help it keep its shape but otherwise there is no interior construction. No wonder these coats could be produced so quickly for such a large variety of men!

The last thing to do was to attach the steward stripes on the sleeve. Blake got his from NJ Sekela and I was very happy with the quality and appearance. They are so pretty!

I stitched them on close to the edge of the stripe with an uneven running stitch, short on the outside and long on the inside. 

All done! A hospital stewards fatigue blouse!

Of course, I was really nervous about it until Blake was able to try it on to see if it fit. . .apparently the neck is a bit tight for him but he can still button the collar and I can move the buttons over to give him a bit more wiggle room. David said he looked very fine in it at the living history a few weeks ago. 

I really need to make a man-sized dress form thing, instead of using a couch cushion. . .

And so, that is the last of my Civil War mens sewing projects for this year unless I decide to make David something new. In the meantime I must sew like mad upon the boys regency outfits. 2 weeks til the event and I am starting to panic a bit! I have had the material for a while so WHY did I leave things til the last minute? I thought I had learned by now how awful it is to do that. I guess not. The older boys are getting fall front trousers, shirts and braces (suspenders) and Malachi is getting a little skeleton suit. Here is an in-progress shot of Judah's trousers from yesterday. They just need buttons now and they will be done!  
excuse the mashed banana on his shirt. . .



  1. Beautiful job! I just started following your blog, and it looks like you are a very good seamstress! Keep up the good work and your boys are such little sweeties! xD

  2. Looks good!
    The boys pants look good too. I know you drape a lot of your patterns, but do you know a good source for children's Regency patterns? I'd like to make my kids outfits for the 1812 event coming up here in September.

  3. Thanks!

    Sarah Rachelle, I really don't know of any good sources for children's regency clothing patterns. Of course, Sense and Sensibility does have the girls regency dress pattern (which is lovely!) but it strikes me as a later 18-teens style more than an earlier one. It does make a lovely dress though.

    I have some a pdf file of a boy's suit pattern taken off an original, as well as a pdf c. 1800 girls dress pattern also taken off an original. I am not sure where I got these patterns from originally but I think they were from a danish site. If you have an email address I can send them to you!

    Also depending on what size your little guy is, I could make a copy of and send you the pattern I used for Malachi's suit last fall; it is a little pair of trousers (made with a drawstring in the back for adjustabliity) and a little coat. I made a basic 18th c. shirt for him to wear underneath.

    I am going to be drafting/making him a little buttoned-together suit so if that comes out okay, I can make a copy of that and send it to you too if you want. I am basing this one off an original I saw on pinterest. It has a long sleeved little bodice and high waisted trousers that button to it.

  4. I'd love to see step by step photos of the construction! Did you use a pattern?


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!