I often listen to the other history majors argue about what their “specialty” is. Some are obsessed with WWI, others love the Crusades. As you might have guessed, I’m pretty darn fond of Early America and the 18th century in general.
So why in the world would I venture into 1830? Well, for starters, I wanted sideburns. Second, I like this period in history. My interest in US history tends to drop after the Civil War. The fashion in the 1830’s has always struck me as unique with its large collars, trousers, and insanely tall hats. So when I was offered the opportunity to hop on the 1830’s wagon, you bet your bottom dollar I did.
Kitty Calash and I are headed on up to Eastfield Village just outside of Albany this weekend for Founder’s Day. This is going to be my first immersion(-ish) event and I’m pretty excited. I’ve spent the last month or so making a roundabout jacket for this event. I didn’t have to do trousers or a hat since we found loaners that fit me.
My roundabout adventure began before school started when a few of us 10th Mass folks went on up to Uncle Hank’s house for a 1781 LI coat workshop. Uncle Hank pulled out some other things for us to look at (as always) and my eyes fell upon a simple white linen roundabout in his collection. He took out his magical measuring tape, took a quick measure of the jacket, then me and proclaimed, “This oughta fit you with barely any modification! I’m gonna make a pattern and cut it out!!”
Needless to say, being the first to receive a pattern from Uncle Hank that was taken right off an original was pretty darn neat. Uncle Hank put the main body together and it was up to me to finish the coat which meant putting the back waistband, two front panels, cuffs, upper collar, make buttons and then attach them, and make buttonholes. Sounded easy!
Boy was I wrong. Mistake number one came pretty early in the game. I messed up on the back wasitband and accidentally used the scrap cloth meant for buttons for it. I was wondering why the back pieces were weird sizes but thought nothing of it until I went to make the buttons. Then it all made sense why the seams didn’t match up.
The front panel linings then required my most dreaded stitch…the zig zag stitch. This stitch and I became enemies back on my blue frock coat when I had to do it on the buckram. The attention needed to do it is not something I have and originally I was gonna say forget it and just whip it in. However, the good sewing angels Kitty Calash and Low Spark chimed on my shoulder and convinced me to take the path of righteousness.
Then came the cuffs. These things were a pain in the butt to pin and fold over the edges. The shape still didn’t come out like the original’s and that’s do to sewer error. I took way too much in on what I thought was the seam line on Uncle Hank’s pattern instructions. Turns out that was the fold line. So they’re slightly more narrow than they should be but I think they’re just as stylish.
Finally, the button fiasco. As I was attaching the buttons, I began to remember the garment having more than 8 buttons total. But I asked Uncle Hank how many I needed and simply took his word that I needed 8 in total. Turns out just the bottom 8 were functional and I still needed 4 more to finish! Guess who didn’t order 12 buttons! This guy! So we’re going with what we got for now. And of course, the button holes are just as funky as you’d imagine.
Is it a perfect roundabout? God no. Is it mine? You betcha. I’m gonna wear it proud this weekend. After all, I’m a poor farmer. I doubt anything they had was super nice. Expect photos next week!