Back to basics: 1820s Shirt

Yes, more straight line sewing! This past weekend saw the sewing of the last of the three 1820s shirts for the volunteer educators at the Society. And to avoid frustration for future projects, I’m actually making some notes about the dimensions of the shirts we’ve been making – all closely based on the measurements from A Workwoman’s Guide (with a few modern adjustments for comfort… particularly around the neck).

Here goes:

Men’s Large Shirt
Body = 40″ x 80″
Space to leave for shoulders = 8.75″
Length of arm-holes = 12.5″
Width of sleeve = 20″
Length of sleeve = 30″
Collar = 22″ x 10″
Wristband = 11″ x 10″
Sleeve gussets = 8.75″
Neck gussets = 5″
Front slit = 14″

Men’s Small Shirt
Body = 36″ x 72″
Space to leave for shoulders = 8.75″
Length of arm-holes = 12.5″
Width of sleeve = 18.75″
Length of sleeve = 27.5″
Collar = 21″ x 7.5″
Wristband = 10″ x 10″
Sleeve gussets = 8.75″
Neck gussets = 5″
Front slit = 12″

For our purposes, the ‘Large’ size has been working for a volunteer who is over 6′ and is about a 50″ or 52″ chest. The ‘Small’ size is what we’ve been using for volunteers between 5’6″ and 5’10” with chests ranging from 44″ to 48.”

To be fair, they are still pretty full even by period standards so it has taken some getting used to but when all is said and done – they look great and really help the guys look the part!

All interior seams have been sewn by machine but the neck gussets, front slit, hem, and felling all the seams were done by hand. I think each shirt takes about 3 hours and uses about 2.5 yards of linen. Because linen is usually pretty wide – cutting out shirts results in many leftover bits that can go towards making caps and frills down the road.

And there ends the basic lesson for today ;o)

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