10th Massachusetts, authenticity, Brigade of the American Revolution, fringe, Historical Sew Fortnightly, hunting frock, hunting shirt, Research, Revolutionary War
I drifted away from the HSF. While, at some point, I had plans for HSF #11: Squares, Rectangles and Triangles, and they were even written down somewhere, something like table clearing and recycling happened…but, hey wait a minute, if you will allow me one curve done twice, I give you the Hunting Frock! (also, the checked bag).
Since there was a search for “best rifle frock for rev war reenacting,” I think this probably bears going into.
Presented, for your consideration, The Facts.
The Challenge: HSF #11: Squares, Rectangles and Triangles
Fabric: 100% “Osnaburg” linen, acquired from Henry M. Cooke IV of Historical Costume Services. I think he orders from the Ulster Linen Co. We are talking bolts here, people.
Pattern: Cut by Mr. Cooke, who used a yardstick, chalk, and an extant shirt (for the cape curve). I have watched him cut two now, and it’s pretty cool.
Year: 1778-1781 <choke> I forgot to ask.
Notions: Does thread count? That’s all this takes.
How historically accurate is it? Based on Mr. Cooke’s research into the hunting shirts worn by Massachusetts troops, and revised to reflect recent research by Neal Hurst, this frock pattern reflects the most current, accurate representation of the hunting frocks (sometimes called shirts) worn by Continental troops during the American Revolutionary War. The garment is entirely hand-sewn using, as much as possible, the correct (thankfully basic) stitches. Flat-felled seams, all that good stuff. Any place it is incorrect is purely my own genius.
Hours to complete: Remember those soul-crushing hours? Yes, these were among them. Actually, no, it’s not too bad. Perhaps twenty-four? You can power down on one of these, but even once you have the initial fringing done and the fringes attached, you will have more thread-pulling ahead of you.
First worn: Monday, May 27, 2013, for the Memorial Day Parade in Warren, Rhode Island.
Total cost: $45, for the linen and the cutting. Your mileage may vary, as the Young Mr and Mr S are in the regiment for which Mr. Cooke is the adjutant.
To the person looking for the “best rifle frock for rev war reenacting,” I have to say, it depends. If you are with a Rhode Island regiment, for example, the linen you choose could be brighter, to reflect the fact that the state called for “whitened towcloth” for hunting frocks for Rhode Island troops. I have found some I think might be likely at Burnley and Trowbridge, but I have not checked it with the RI captain. You need to know if your regiment or group favors hunting shirts (pull over) or hunting frocks (open down the front), and then you need to figure out what kind of linen they were wearing in the period.
But, like a shirt of the period, these garments are very simple: triangles for the gussets (or squares), rectangles, and just the curved cape. The pattern (schematic) at right is adapted from what I have seen Mr. Cooke cut, which is quite similar to the Brigade of the American Revolution pattern I had for the Rhode Island frock I made (also entirely by hand). Since these were so close to shirts, they would have been very easy to construct, and since they’re large, measurements could be generalized. The BAR pattern does not use the under-arm gussets, and the sleeves are not tapered; there is more fringe on the standard Rhode Island frock than on the Massachusetts frock, but there seem to have been variations at the time.
You may also wish to consider whether or not there is a difference between hunting frocks and rifle frocks (I do not know, please don’t ask, I wasn’t told this would be on the test).
For more, here is Neal Hurst, on Fringe on the American Hunting Frock. You can read it before or after you pull threads out of those two inch strips until only 6 to 8 remain in the center. Happy fringing!