Wednesday, November 26, 2008

hunting shirt... I mean coat...

This was a not-so-interesting project that turned out very nicely.

The "hunting shirt" is an uncertain garment from the 18th century that was made to go over other clothes (so it was big) to keep them from getting wrecked while you, (the man), went hunting. This goes in the same category as the "fringed frock coat," which I've found few reliable historic references to... yes, I know it's a Rev war coat and was issued to several companies, but I can't find a picture from the time period, only written descriptions. So much can be lost in writing, especially when it's a visual thing... you try describing how to knit a sock without diagrams...

In any case, the "hunting shirt" was BIG, went over your other clothes and could be a pull-over like a regular shirt, or split down the middle like this one. Aside from that I've only come across references to buckskin hunting shirts (and some of the originals still exist). I'm not saying the references aren't out there, I just haven't found them yet.

My dress dummy has cardboard shoulders on it for a man, and they are a little too wide for this customer, but perfect for another long-term project, so I didn't change it for the photos... I know it looks funny with a man's shoulders and a woman's bust.

This hunting shirt is made from linen/hemp fabric and lined with wool. The color contrast is fabulous! I'm so happy he picked brown.
My customer sent me the linen/hemp blend, which was a joy to work with. I had to wear barrier cream on my hands & face because I'm allergic to hemp, but it has the most wonderful texture, and is truly beautiful. The linen/hemp is silver, cream and soft gray... really beautiful. The wool is "100%" from JoAnn's, (but any wool from there is really 3% acrylic to help it keep its shape). It's a delicious red-brown that doesn't show up well on the computer.
Both fabrics were felted (meaning I washed the heck out it in really hot water a couple times, then tumbled dry to "fuzz" it up).

The small pieces (cuffs, collar, neck gussets & arm gussets) are all cut over-sized due to the thickness of the fabric. The large pieces (bodies & sleeves) are cut "normal" size, but long as requested.

The only parts that are lined are the body and sleeves. The fabric was so thick that it became too stiff to work with as it was layered. I did a lot of clipping seams to get things to lay flat, especially in areas where there is pleating (cuffs, sleeves & neckline). After clipping, I overlocked those edges to make the garment more stable. This helped flatten the seams, but it made them stiffer. Then I cut them to 1/4" to reduce the bulk even more. I made a diagram... click on it for a full sized image.

The front & hem are fringed to 1".

The best part of this hunting shirt is that it's hand finished. This means all seams that show (except the sleeve gusset) are hand stitched. The collar & cuffs are finished by hand, so is the neck gusset. The lining is hand stitched to the sleeves on the inside, and hand stitched to the body along the opening & hem. It's set back a little so it doesn't show from the top side. I used a combination of overcast & back stitch for this. Both work well. I could have used a running stitch if I knew the shirt wouldn't get thrown in the washing machine... but I'd rather be safe than fix it later.

If you click on this image you should be able to see the light stitching on the center front. I used thread that matched the outer fabric. I like the way the lighter thread looks against the red-brown wool. You can't even see the thread from the front unless you look really hard from very close up.

The finished garment is very heavy, almost 5 lbs. It should be a warm coat for the rest of hunting season!

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