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101 Tips for Your Civil War Uniform Shirt

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101 Tips for Your Civil War Uniform Shirt

By: Paula and Coach McCoach

101 Tips for Your Civil War Uniform Shirt
by Paula and Coach McCoach

So you want to make or upgrade your Civil War uniform shirt, but you don't know where to start. What type of material do you use, should you use metal, porcelain or bone buttons, should you have a collar on your shirt, what about the cuffs - how many inches are they supposed to be, should you hand stitch the button holes, where should you put the pocket on your shirt, Ahhhhh!

Your questions about making your Civil War uniform shirt authentic are answered in this shirt article and continue to be answered in 101 Tips for Your Authentic Civil War Uniform Shirt Course at http://www.civilwaruniforms.net/authenticshirts.htm

Here are some of the tips for making Your Civil War Uniform shirt authentic:

4. To start, you could purchase a shirt that is already made that has machine buttonholes in it and rework the buttonholes to make it look more authentic. Take a seam ripper and pick out the buttonholes and handwork them.

5. I would pick out and redo by hand all exposed machine stitching. Someone can show you how to do that in about 15 minutes. You should have about 6-7 stitches per inch. You have just increased the value of your shirt and made it more authentic.

32. "Pockets were not sewn on most shirts, and not at all on the army-issued shirts. Heavier shirts had a breast pocket or two. The pockets were generally lower on the shirt and larger than breast pockets on shirts today.

33. Buttons were metal, wooden or bone, or sometimes commercially made from other products, such as glass or ceramic materials. For Southern troops, different styles
of buttons can be used, including bits of wood, bone, or even acorns. You can use dental floss to tie them on, but make sure the modern materials are not visible.

38. Battle shirts are a bit controversial. Some troops, especially early-war Southern troops, had a tunic or heavy shirt instead of a wool uniform coat. It would fit over a
regular shirt but was not as heavy or bulky as the wool jacket. Before you get a battle shirt, make sure one is documented for your regiment's history, since they were
not typical and are controversial.

39. Cuffs on Civil War uniform shirts varied as much as all of the other parts that we have discussed. Cuffs can be added using the material of the shirt or a different
color or material. Most cuffs were about 2 inches wide.

41. Next, get yourself some good buttons. Stay away from plastic and modern buttons. Go with glass, bone, shell, metal, porcelain, 2-hole cat's eye or Mother of Pearl.
Metal buttons are authentic but they have the potential to rust and stain your fabric.

45. Some shirts had button on collars, and many shirts were collarless. ECHOES: The Confederate Version shows seven shirts on pgs. 154-155, and each one has a different
collar. Pvt. John Burgwyn MacRae Starr's North Carolina is a dark blue wool collarless pullover shirt while the one below, Pvt. Andrew Thomas Beam, 28th South Carolina
Volunteers' shirt is a white cotton with a square edged collar made of the same color and material.

50. My rule of thumb is that I only make Civil War uniform items that I have seen in an original photograph or museum. Note: what is in museum is only the very smallest tip of the iceberg because there are very few actual items that made it through the war. The vast majority of the original clothing is long since gone. Some of the fabrics and colors can be seen in very old quilts because they reused everything.

53. Note the different collars, buttons, and fabrics, color combinations. I personally do not like solid color shirts. I like something with a little color to it. These shirts have original glass buttons on them. I prefer glass buttons for shirts because I like to match the color combinations.

55. Keep everything 100% wool and 100% cotton. Make sure that the material is a good grade, like homespun. If you are going to take the time and energy, to make your own shirt, buy something high quality that will last. The price of the shirt material is negligible compared to the time and energy you will put into making it.

70. Original coin buttons are still available and affordable if you want to look for them. You can find them anywhere from one to three dollars. You might even want to go with a mismatched set - one or two state seals and the remainder coin buttons.

Do you have more questions, have them answered http://www.civilwaruniforms.net/authenticshirts.htm

2004 permission granted to reprint this article in print or on your website so long as the contact information is included to coach@civilwaruniforms.net


About the Author

Coach McCoach has been creating patterns and making Civil War uniform items for 25 years. His Civil War uniform designs have been seen in the movies GETTYSBURG, ANDERSONVILLE and the Antietam Visitors Center. For more information, contact coach@civilwaruniforms.net or visit http://www.civilwaruniforms.net

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