Friday, March 24, 2017

Queen's Rangers at Sully Plantation and Fort Ward love them!

Fort Ward is an odd little 18th c event in Alexandria, VA.  Held over the Washington Birthday weekend, its a day for folks to come out and engage in living history in an a-historical battle at an American Civil War Fort.  Go Figure.

The thing is, its only one day, so you normally only get local folks.  This year, I decided to make a weekend of it and coordinated with Erin Rock at Sully Historical Site in Fairfax for a one day drill.

What a great site and opportunity to engage with the public, bust some rust on the '64 and try out the new Bacon Shovel (skillet) I knocked together.  More on its construction, later.

That evening we stayed at my best friend's house in Vienna and replayed the battle of Hobkirk's Hill using the game system Carnage and Glory.  More on that over at Legio XXVIII Lillipvtia.

The next morning, the weather was beautiful and we were off for Fort Ward.  Spectators were very interested in the green uniforms and the fact that Americans...VIRGINIANS no less, fought for the crown.  We even ran into a British Rifles Officer stationed at the Pentagon.

The battle was...shall we say as odd as ever in this urban park.  That being said, we had a great time and I was able to see a lot of old friends from the First Virginia Continental Line Regiment and make contact with prospective customers for my fledgling historical clothing and equipment business. 

Next event:  Guilford Court House as NC Whig militia. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Progressing on the Queen's American Ranger Jacket: Lining, Buttons, Hooks and Eyes

A finished're almost there

Sew in your button stand and interfacing prior to working buttonholes or sewing the lining.

Once you have finished the exterior of the coat, work the buttonholes on chest prior to sewing on the liner.  Be sure to have sewn on a button stand on the interior of the chest panels, prior to working the buttonholes.

Now pin the lining to your jacket.  The bays is a very loose weave, so you will need to fix your pins very close together.  Sew the lining to the collar using a whipstitch.  The body should be sewn using a straight stitch (at least 6-8 stitches per inch and a 1/2 in seam allowance).  Pull the sleeves through and fold the false cuff in on the lining.  Sew using a 1/2 in seam allowance and straight stitch along the slash, whip stitch along the bottom of the cuff.

For the chest button holes, now work the button holes on the interior (whip stitching the lining to the buttonhole on the interior.  Once you have it tacked down, cut the lining open.

Sew the lining to the buttonholes on the chest panels

Cut the lining only after you have completely sewn it to the buttonhole.
Mark your button placement on the opposite side and make your holes with your awl, just like you did for the epaulettes.

Gently force the fibers apart where you marked your button placements.
Depending on the fabric thickness, you make have to pull the shank through after
threading the tape through to the exterior of the chest panel.

Push the button shanks through and sew the linen tape down along the chest panel buttons.

Detail of chest buttons (interior)

Do the same for the two buttons on the cuffs as well.  There are no button holes on the cuffs.  These are closed using your hooks and eyes.

Hooks on the button side, eyes opposite.

Fix the hooks and eyes right behind your buttons on the cuffs...and you're done!

Progressing on the Queen's American Ranger Jacket: Collar

The Pungo Mess at Sully Plantation
Moving on to the collar of the jacket, you will want to cut two of the pieces about 1/2 in longer on the long edge that will fix to the neckline.  More on that later.

Whipstitch catching only half the fabric's thickness.

Exterior of the collar.  No stitches visible.

Interior of the collar.  Now would be the time to tack on some interfacing.

Place the longer of the short ends together and sew using a whip stitch with no seam allowance.  Catch about half the thickness of the broadcloth, so your stitches are only visible on one side.

Then pin the smaller of the two collars to the neckline with the two edges (collar and neckline) facing upward.  Sew to the neckline using a back stitch and 1/4 in seam allowance.

Now pin on the upper collar (longer of the two) to the lower collar. 

After pinning on the outside of the collar, roll the edge and pin the interior to the neckline.
Exterior showing pinning and topstitching along the collar's edge.

 Sew using a straight stitch (at least 6-8 stitches/in.)

Now fold the top collar over the bottom collar and pin.  You should now see the reason for one collar being slightly larger than the other.  It has to travel a bit further over the neckline to allow it to lay properly. Whip stitch the upper collar to the neckline.

The two collars pinned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Progressing on the Queen's American Rangers Jacket: Pockets, sleeves, epaulettes and wings

Next up is to fix the sleeves to the jacket.  I pinned the sleeve to the interior of the jacket, ensuring that the rear sleeve seam bisected the back panel about 2-3 in. from the seam with the front panel.  You might have to work, stretching the arm hole to get it to fit the shoulder of the sleeve.  I had to work with the pinning a few times to avoid the fabric buckling.  I sewed the sleeves on with a backstitch and then pressed out the shoulder seam using a ham, just like the lower sleeves.

On to the pockets.  For their placement, I measured up 5 1/2 in from the bottom of the front panel and 3 in. from the raw vertical edge (where the buttons and button holes will eventually be worked).  Now, I should say that these measurements are based off a size 44 jacket, so they may change with a smaller or shorter jacket.  I think generally on line with the third button-hole is what we're aiming for. 

We have no information as to whether there were working pockets on the jacket.  Most enlisted coats of the period had interior pockets, so the outer pocket flap would lay flat (i.e. Regimentals).  It is suggested that the same would be true for waistcoats, however, my theory is as follows.  When the Rangers switched from Regimentals to jackets, like other light infantry, it is probable that they merely took the sleeves from the regimental and fixed them to their waistcoats.  If we consider that they were accoutered with the converted government set (ventral box slung on a belt across the shoulder) there is no place to stow tools (turnscrew), picks, and such like.  It is possible the working pockets were added after the fact.  I have chosen that route here.  The pockets hold my turn screw, pick, a few coins, a penny knife and my flint and steel very nicely, without causing a disheveled and unmilitary appearance. 

Sew the pocket welt below where the pocket slash will be located, leaving a 1/4 in seam allowance.  Use a backstitch.  Be sure to clip the corners, so you are not sewing through three layers of fabric when you turn the welt up to sew to the body.

If you choose to make a working pocket, fold a linen square back on itself, using a back stitch.  Leave 1/2 in seam allowance throughout and use a whip stitch to fix the pocket bag to the interior of the pocket slash.

Fold the pocket welt back on itself, press and pin.

Using a straight stitch, sew the sides of the welt to the body.  Use a whip stitch to fix the top edge of the welt to the body, or it you chose to make a working pocket, to the front part of the pocket bag.

Should you choose to  have working pockets, the finished product should look like this.

In placing the epaulette, it should be centered on the shoulder.  It is easier to work the button hole prior to sewing on. I have seen several options for affixing epaulettes:  one can sew it flat with the epaulette falling over the sleeve and then turn it back towards the collar or use a back stitch to sew it flat and then whip stitch to the sleeve where the raw edge will join to the wing.  For fixing the button, make a hole with an awl, forcing the button shank through.  on the underside thread about two inches of linen tape through the shank and whip stitch the tape to the underside of the shoulder.

Epaulette placement

Pin your epaulettes and wings like so. 
Notice how the wing will extend about 2 in beyond your sleeve seams. A whip stitch
will suffice to hold the wing.

Make a hole where you marked the placement of the epaulette buttonhole.

Poke the shank through the hole and thread the linen tape through.
You may need to ream out the shank hole with your awl,
in order to allow the tape and needle to pass through.

Sew down the tape on either side of the shank. 
This same technique is used for the buttons on the chest and cuffs.

 As you see in the photo the epaulette should just touch the shoulder seam, about 1-2 in. from the neck line.  Once we fix the collar, it should not overlap the button.  This may require some trimming of the epaulette prior to sewing.

In fixing the wings, start at the top of the shoulder at the epaulette and sew down the front an back, again using a whip stitch.  As always, there should be at least 6-8 stitches/in. and the stitches should be small enough not to be visible on the sleeve. 

Notice that the wing may need to be trimmed such that it only extends about 1-1/2 in. below the sleeve seams. 

The points of the wing should bisect the space between the rear arm sleeve seam and the rear panel seam.

Next time we'll look at sewing the collar and attaching the lining.