Sunday, February 7, 2010

Linen Addiction

So, one must ask the question--what does a reenactor do all winter? True, some rascals put together winter camps and winter treks and other activities that must be prefaced with "winter" so that you know it's going to be cold, wet, and possibly induce frostbite. These people are quite plausibly clinically certifiable. I know some of them, which only goes to back up the point.

Others, more sane folk (as some call us, wusses), use the winter to catch up on the projects we put off from spring through late fall when our weekends were eaten up by events. You see, just as life in the eighteenth century was hard on clothing and gear, recreated eighteenth century life imparts its wear and tear, too. I finally had to yeild one shift to the scrap bin, and my husband's shirts are--well, "stained" is a polite way to say "in no way white anymore, period."

Other sad facts from the inventory: My caraco, which used to be a lovely burgundy, has faded to an odd pinkish-red with white along the seams. The eyelets on my stays have lost their overstitching and do a lovely job tearing through staylaces. I have two petticoats that require new waistbands. Quite frankly, I'm a bit of a mess.

Priorities first, though--the linen. Shifts and shirts simply must happen this winter, and to do this, we need linen. I also found a lovely block print for a new caraco, and that needs lining. More linen. Here's the trouble with eighteenth-century living history. We have to keep the fabrics authentic, and linen was one of the staples. It was cheaper than cotton in the period, so a person's basics like undergarments and working clothes were made of it. The trouble? It's more expensive and less desirable for most people today than cotton is, so it's tougher to find in the fabric store. So I stick with my favorite linen purveyor,, whose site claims "Our Linen is Addictive."

Yes, yes it is.

But I was a good girl and "only" bough 20 yards of lightweight linen for shifts, shirts, caps, lining summer clothes, and ruffles. Certainly, I don't need 20 yards right now--but this is in the same logic as why I buy toilet paper and paper towels in bulk--I don't want to do this again in a few months.

...And I snuck enough lovely green linen in the cart for a petticoat. Several of mine are torn and burned on the hem (klutzy?me?) so it was (almost) a necessity.


missbluestocking said...

gahhh message got deleted.

As I was saying. This is fascinating stuff! I wish I knew more about the fabrics used during the 18th, 19th century. Makes me think of how I write about so much I never experienced. I never wore a corset. I never wore a gown...But there is always time in the future!

Rowenna said...

Fabric is a wonderful thing...I'm a little addicted! So I end up with lots of useless knowledge about it lol. If you ever find yourself in the Midwest in the spring through fall, let me know, and we'll get you into a pair of stays and a gown!