Adventures in First Time Reenacting / Sewing

Joined
Mar 27, 2019
Messages
37
Location
Spring Hill, Florida
#1
Hello everyone! I'm pretty new here and have only made my introduction post and commented on one other thread. I've lurked and "liked" countless posts from years past. Now, I'm simply wanting to I suppose have a chat or just practice posting. Thought I would tell a story.

I'm a divorced mother of two and in August began seeing a wonderful man I went to high school with 20+ years ago. We were smitten with each other all those years ago and it was as if nothing had ever changed. He has been reenacting for 32 years. I remember meeting up with him at the Brooksville Raid in 1997 in modern clothes and walking around with him in his period attire munching on kettle corn during one of those rare 40 degree days we sometimes get. My hair smelled of campfire for 2 days after. I loved it.

Fast forward 22 years and I went to the Brooksville Raid again this year with him for the first time in period attire that he had scrounged up from his cousins and mother. I wouldn't dare wear anything his ex-wife had worn. There is a line you do not cross. I began to fall in love with the possibility of living in a different time while forgetting everything that was going on outside of that Boy Scout Reservation. We walked arm in arm, I tripped over my dress 50 times, we ate kettle corn and then went to the dance that evening with his son and daughter.

After this event I was starting to feel this buzz whenever I spoke about the possibility of more events. Then, The 155th Anniversary Battle of Olustee happened. We stayed in Modern Camp as his group does every year due to rules regarding families and females. I fell even deeper in love with this hobby and my mind started racing. I purchased my first outfit that was not a hand-me-down, watched the battles, and began to scour the internet on my phone on the way home. I looked him dead in the face and said, "I'm going to make a skirt. A camp skirt." He laughed and said, "There it is - I was wondering when that little light was going to pop on and your obsession would begin."

Ladies, I will tell you right now...I have never before this ever sewn more than a button back onto a shirt. I do not know what the name of any stitches are let alone how to do them. I couldn't tell you how to operate a sewing machine, either. I have two of them a modern one and one made in 1911. They do not get used. When I got home I found period patterns on Etsy - in a digital download (because digital is my thing I work in the computer software industry). I went that same day and bought what I thought was going to be the absolute perfect fabric. I'm laughing right now because I didn't even know what that fabric would consist of. It's a blend, ladies. I purchased a little sewing kit and thread. I was totally set. Because I, being the overachiever I am, was going to do this all by hand.

When I printed out the "pattern" I felt betrayed by the ladies in the reviews stating how simple it was!! This was most definitely not simple. There was actual math involved. They labeled the printed and non-printed sides of the fabric "right" and "wrong" also while using the word "right" for a directional instruction. I had heard of the word "placket" before and assumed I knew what it meant but I apparently didn't quite know why we needed them. The instructions were also hand drawn and most definitely not to scale. I still to this day do not know if I was supposed to use the selvage edge as part of the fabric of my skirt. Nevertheless, I persisted. I followed every single direction to the letter (I hope). There were 3 panels: 1 front and 2 back. When I was finished with my front panel I was in tears because it actually looked GOOD. My boyfriends mother stopped by and asked how I was doing and she said my box pleats looked great. Moving onto the back panels I sewed them together and then started reading the instructions for the gauging or gathering at the back. I don't think I've ever been so overwhelmed by anything in my life and I have 2 teenagers. I called my Momma over and she told me an easier way to gather but I was still so scared of this part of the skirt. I put it on hold for a week. That week was supposed to be when it was finished in time for The Battle at Narcoossee Mill. I waited until the last minute.

There I was sewing the gathers in my blended fabric camp skirt by candle light lantern in a wooden folding chair wrapped in a crocheted blanket in another skirt and petticoats. I looked up and saw only candle light, our amazing tent and dining fly that my wonderful fella set up and the rope bed he built. My friends in our company were laughing over the fire drinking from their tin cups and I felt like I had just been sent back in time. Authentic camp is no joke when done correctly.

One of my boyfriends long time friends and members of our company came and sat down next to me and began to inquire about my skirt. He apparently sews like crazy and does his wife's outfits and his own. He asked what stitch I was using. Shrugging with a laugh I replied, "I'm not entirely certain. I liked the look of the stitch at the bottom of my jeans so I tried to copy it." I could see his eyes getting wider as he took part of the front panel in his hands and examined my handiwork. "I'm not entirely sure what this stitch is either. Who taught you to sew?" As I explained before no one had taught me to sew. I just knew what I wanted it to look like and it needed to hold. The only thing I sat long enough to hear from my mother when I was little was how to twist a knot into the end of the thread between your thumb and forefinger. My stitch lines were impeccably straight and everything "looked" in place. When it came time to connect the plackets and finish the waistband I realized I had left the fasteners at home.....

I wore that skirt for a good two hours the next day around the campfire with a set of petticoats underneath. There wasn't a finished hem and the waist was secured with at least 6 safety pins under a men's leather belt. I received a couple of "great jobs" when I came out of my tent. I had actually sewn, by hand, something that resembled an actual skirt.

It may have been the wrong fabric, wrong type of stitch, I measured it too big, and it is still (after a week and a half) unfinished. But I did it nonetheless. I know I can do it. Starting one doesn't seem nearly as daunting of a task. I have a great deal to learn but my new hobby has certainly turned into a fiery obsession. My boyfriend says, "I've created a monster."

No monster here, I've just finally found what I can truly let go and be passionate about!! My next one will be spot on!!
 

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luinrina

First Sergeant
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Jul 30, 2018
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#2
Thank you for sharing the story of sewing your first skirt. Great job on persevering! I'm not reenacting myself but would want to get it right too if I were. I know how to sew by hand - have learned it in primary school - but long since have forgotten what the various stitches are called so don't worry on that account. As long as the stitches are done properly and hold, who cares what a type of stitch is called?

Would you mind sharing pictures of your skirt?
 

captaindrew

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Mar 13, 2017
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West Palm Beach Florida
#3
Thanks for sharing your story and so glad to hear how much you're enjoying the hobby. I can't help much with sewing other than a button or crude patch or repair. But for future info my other half always camps with me at Olustee in authentic camp and have never been told otherwise. There are some groups that go campaign style there and I think everybody picks up there game a little for that event but I never found the camping all that different from any other event. Maybe it's just what their unit likes to do.
 

Northern Light

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Jul 21, 2014
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10,664
#4
I have sewn for most odf my life, but I have never sewn a garment by hand! I am , very impressed!!!! Plackets are a pain until you figure them out and then they are not.
I think it is wonderful that you have found a new hobby that you love, and that is FUN as well! I would love to do that type of reenacting, and always try to talk to the reenactors when I am somewhere that I see them. Good Luck!
 

lelliott19

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Mar 15, 2013
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5,265
#8
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can relate in the fact that, if I were to enter the hobby of reenacting, I too would "go the whole hog." :D I chuckled a few times as you described the challenges -- and when you said these things, to which I can definitely relate:
Because I, being the overachiever I am, was going to do this all by hand.
I don't think I've ever been so overwhelmed by anything in my life and I have 2 teenagers.
I put it on hold for a week.
I waited until the last minute.
Isn't it funny that those of us who identify as "overachievers" are often the worst procrastinators? :bounce: I tried to explain this once to my husband -- he just doesn't understand. He has this crazy theory that working on something earlier yields better results. :D
And we dont have a love button, but I loved this. The way you said it is priceless:
It's a blend, ladies.
I am so happy that you have found a hobby that you love so much and are so passionate about. Welcome to Civil War Talk -- and I will be on the lookout for your next post.
 

Sbc

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
1,145
Location
Georgia
#9
Hello everyone! I'm pretty new here and have only made my introduction post and commented on one other thread. I've lurked and "liked" countless posts from years past. Now, I'm simply wanting to I suppose have a chat or just practice posting. Thought I would tell a story.

I'm a divorced mother of two and in August began seeing a wonderful man I went to high school with 20+ years ago. We were smitten with each other all those years ago and it was as if nothing had ever changed. He has been reenacting for 32 years. I remember meeting up with him at the Brooksville Raid in 1997 in modern clothes and walking around with him in his period attire munching on kettle corn during one of those rare 40 degree days we sometimes get. My hair smelled of campfire for 2 days after. I loved it.

Fast forward 22 years and I went to the Brooksville Raid again this year with him for the first time in period attire that he had scrounged up from his cousins and mother. I wouldn't dare wear anything his ex-wife had worn. There is a line you do not cross. I began to fall in love with the possibility of living in a different time while forgetting everything that was going on outside of that Boy Scout Reservation. We walked arm in arm, I tripped over my dress 50 times, we ate kettle corn and then went to the dance that evening with his son and daughter.

After this event I was starting to feel this buzz whenever I spoke about the possibility of more events. Then, The 155th Anniversary Battle of Olustee happened. We stayed in Modern Camp as his group does every year due to rules regarding families and females. I fell even deeper in love with this hobby and my mind started racing. I purchased my first outfit that was not a hand-me-down, watched the battles, and began to scour the internet on my phone on the way home. I looked him dead in the face and said, "I'm going to make a skirt. A camp skirt." He laughed and said, "There it is - I was wondering when that little light was going to pop on and your obsession would begin."

Ladies, I will tell you right now...I have never before this ever sewn more than a button back onto a shirt. I do not know what the name of any stitches are let alone how to do them. I couldn't tell you how to operate a sewing machine, either. I have two of them a modern one and one made in 1911. They do not get used. When I got home I found period patterns on Etsy - in a digital download (because digital is my thing I work in the computer software industry). I went that same day and bought what I thought was going to be the absolute perfect fabric. I'm laughing right now because I didn't even know what that fabric would consist of. It's a blend, ladies. I purchased a little sewing kit and thread. I was totally set. Because I, being the overachiever I am, was going to do this all by hand.

When I printed out the "pattern" I felt betrayed by the ladies in the reviews stating how simple it was!! This was most definitely not simple. There was actual math involved. They labeled the printed and non-printed sides of the fabric "right" and "wrong" also while using the word "right" for a directional instruction. I had heard of the word "placket" before and assumed I knew what it meant but I apparently didn't quite know why we needed them. The instructions were also hand drawn and most definitely not to scale. I still to this day do not know if I was supposed to use the selvage edge as part of the fabric of my skirt. Nevertheless, I persisted. I followed every single direction to the letter (I hope). There were 3 panels: 1 front and 2 back. When I was finished with my front panel I was in tears because it actually looked GOOD. My boyfriends mother stopped by and asked how I was doing and she said my box pleats looked great. Moving onto the back panels I sewed them together and then started reading the instructions for the gauging or gathering at the back. I don't think I've ever been so overwhelmed by anything in my life and I have 2 teenagers. I called my Momma over and she told me an easier way to gather but I was still so scared of this part of the skirt. I put it on hold for a week. That week was supposed to be when it was finished in time for The Battle at Narcoossee Mill. I waited until the last minute.

There I was sewing the gathers in my blended fabric camp skirt by candle light lantern in a wooden folding chair wrapped in a crocheted blanket in another skirt and petticoats. I looked up and saw only candle light, our amazing tent and dining fly that my wonderful fella set up and the rope bed he built. My friends in our company were laughing over the fire drinking from their tin cups and I felt like I had just been sent back in time. Authentic camp is no joke when done correctly.

One of my boyfriends long time friends and members of our company came and sat down next to me and began to inquire about my skirt. He apparently sews like crazy and does his wife's outfits and his own. He asked what stitch I was using. Shrugging with a laugh I replied, "I'm not entirely certain. I liked the look of the stitch at the bottom of my jeans so I tried to copy it." I could see his eyes getting wider as he took part of the front panel in his hands and examined my handiwork. "I'm not entirely sure what this stitch is either. Who taught you to sew?" As I explained before no one had taught me to sew. I just knew what I wanted it to look like and it needed to hold. The only thing I sat long enough to hear from my mother when I was little was how to twist a knot into the end of the thread between your thumb and forefinger. My stitch lines were impeccably straight and everything "looked" in place. When it came time to connect the plackets and finish the waistband I realized I had left the fasteners at home.....

I wore that skirt for a good two hours the next day around the campfire with a set of petticoats underneath. There wasn't a finished hem and the waist was secured with at least 6 safety pins under a men's leather belt. I received a couple of "great jobs" when I came out of my tent. I had actually sewn, by hand, something that resembled an actual skirt.

It may have been the wrong fabric, wrong type of stitch, I measured it too big, and it is still (after a week and a half) unfinished. But I did it nonetheless. I know I can do it. Starting one doesn't seem nearly as daunting of a task. I have a great deal to learn but my new hobby has certainly turned into a fiery obsession. My boyfriend says, "I've created a monster."

No monster here, I've just finally found what I can truly let go and be passionate about!! My next one will be spot on!!
Welcome and best wishes— hope y’all will be happy
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2019
Messages
37
Location
Spring Hill, Florida
#10
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can relate in the fact that, if I were to enter the hobby of reenacting, I too would "go the whole hog." :D I chuckled a few times as you described the challenges -- and when you said these things, to which I can definitely relate:




Isn't it funny that those of us who identify as "overachievers" are often the worst procrastinators? :bounce: I tried to explain this once to my husband -- he just doesn't understand. He has this crazy theory that working on something earlier yields better results. :D
And we dont have a love button, but I loved this. The way you said it is priceless:

I am so happy that you have found a hobby that you love so much and are so passionate about. Welcome to Civil War Talk -- and I will be on the lookout for your next post.
I know what you mean! I’m an overachiever and work better under pressure. Maybe that’s why I wait so long! Thank you for your awesome comment. I had a great time writing this out.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
17,909
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#11
How on earth long did that take? I wouldn't know a placket if it lived next door and it's always seemed to me sewing also involves ironing.... . Have considered discovering a doc who'd write a medical certificate stating ironing is bad for your health and I'm not allowed to do it. You sewers out there have ALL my respect- please keep bringing your projects here!
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2019
Messages
37
Location
Spring Hill, Florida
#12
How on earth long did that take?
Well, I started it on Thursday March 14. I worked on it about 4 hours that first night, then couldn't touch it again until the Saturday the 16th. I worked on it Saturday about 5 hours before my neck was too stiff, then another 4 hours on Sunday the 17th. By then I had the front panel done and the back two panels built and put together. That is when I left on our trip for Spring Break in Orlando.

I was supposed to work on it each night in our various hotels but like I said in my original my fear overrode everything. When I got to the actual event to set up I had to bite the bullet and get to work. I finished to the point you see in the pictures in about 4 hours. 17 hours of sewing over a handful of days.

I know that sewing machines are much faster. However, I'm not certain I'll use them all that much. I did very much enjoy sitting down and working on this. It was an accomplishment that felt like no other. As long as I have the time and prepare I'll likely hand sew my own things. If I make something for my bonus-daughter I'll likely learn to use the sewing machine. I couldn't bear it if hers wasn't done perfectly and started falling apart. Although, she has expressed it would be cool if I hand sewed hers as well. She's such a sweet young lady and was so encouraging when I almost threw it in the garbage! "You've come so far!!!!" :D
 

grace

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Joined
May 5, 2018
Messages
594
Location
Crossroads of America
#13
Welcome from another girl who dove in headfirst also not being able to sew!! My gentleman caller (giggle, giggle) was a major part of why I got involved too. Now we reenact together. :smile: (and I make cookies and boss the others around. It's great fun)

Glad you came, and please do stay!
 



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