Saturday, July 6, 2019

Little David in the Late 18th Century

Back in May I made my oldest son, David, an 18th century style shirt and a workmans cap, buttoned apron and a makeshift pair of pants. I signed him up (perhaps too eagerly!) for an 18th century blacksmith class at a historic site and in the few days I had between his registration and the class date I sewed as quick as I could.

Because I was on a time crunch the only items completely handsewn are the cap and the apron. The shirt has the interior seams machined with all visible stitching done by hand. I was lucky I had the perfect length of this lightweight blue and white striped cotton in my stash! Linen is preferable, of course, for both comfort and period accuracy, but I had to use what I already had. The cap is upcycled from a vintage linen pillowcase and the apron is lightweight cotton canvas. It ought to be linen, or, even better, leather, but like I said, I had to use what I had. And what was comfortable for David, who is still very sensitive to textures/weight/looseness of his clothing. His trousers are modern ones (yikes!) hemmed by hand. I told him they'd work for one day if he wore his shirt untucked so no one could see the waistband. Of course, now they've become his favorite pair of pants to wear! 😂

This entire outfit (if you can call it that!) is full of shortcuts and substitutes but David was extremely happy with it and wore it proudly as soon as it was done. Since then he has frequently worn it, too, because, he says, it makes him feel more like a real blacksmith. 😂

Four children and I loaded up early in the morning the day of the class and drove awhile to the site. Once we got there, however, disappointment struck! Poor David came up to me, his face crestfallen and white, telling me that he was turned away by the gentleman teaching the class because he was too young to take the class. I was heartbroken for him so we just came home, not even staying to look around at the vendors or other demonstrations taking place that day. We got ice cream on the way back so that, perhaps, was worth quite a long drive. 😁 Two days later we found a used, old anvil for a good price and we bought that as well as a blacksmith hammer. Still gotta figure out a forge and get some tongs. . .David keeps me well informed as to what items he needs. We are working on getting everything together and once we do, David and I are going to make some annular and penannular brooches using an awesome tutorial we found online. For those, we just need a torch, which we do have. 

The next day David decided to wear his outfit again in the towns Memorial Day parade. He walked proudly with neighbors and friends, representing the Revolutionary War era in honor of a Revolution vet buried at the cemetery where the parade ended and the memorial ceremony took place. 

I worked a bit on my own 18th century gown the day before we drove out to the historic site. I did not take any pictures, however but hopefully will the next time I have a chance to wear the dress. The bodice was a bit loose after I constructed it last summer and the bagginess below the bustline bothered me. I decided to take in the center front of the bodice by curving in the center front edges a bit below the bustline and taking a little width out. I also decided to put hooks on the dress to close it (even though that is much less common than using pins) so I sewed on twenty hooks and eyes on night at a baseball game. The dress fits much better now and I am vastly pleased with its improved appearance but once we came home from the event, I didn't have the heart to take photos before changing out of my outfit. 

For the girls, I made two white linen caps out of the remaining pillowcase once David's cap was sewn. They also were all hand sewn the day before the event. They didn't get a chance to wear them (I was going to dress them after we arrived) but they will fit for awhile and they can wear them some other time. Anne's dress still fits and for Rosie I put a tuck in the skirt of Benjamin's gown from last year. If we go to Blue Licks in August I will get some pictures then! 

I have twice considered dressing in 18th century attire and pilgriming to the little "old settlers" cemetery near here, not accessible by vehicle. In the end, though, both times I decided the effort was more than I was willing to do just then. Sometime soon though, perhaps, the girls and I will go. Summer is starting to slow down a little with baseball season nearly over and summer judging for 4-H over after this coming week and it's nice to just breathe a little and enjoy the moment and the green, humid, hot world. 

Much love,


  1. Poor David. :( That happened to my brother at a site in our state (and he was 16, which you would think was plenty old enough), they told him he was to young for smithing and comeback when he was 18.
    He tried his hand at smithing at home and he made some cool stuff, but by the time he turned 18 he was no longer interested.
    Hopefully, that won't happen to David (cause smithing is really cool and the world needs more blacksmiths) and with you encouraging him it shouldn't. Keep up the good work . :)

  2. Your little David is growing up!
    All the best to you,


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!