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Clothing (& accessories) Forum

by Ralph & Mary Briggs

IF YOU have any information on any of the questions previously posed here, have some tidbit to contribute, or are looking for help yourself, please write us at 1537 31st, Des Moines, IA, 50311 or contact us by e-mail at or We can use your name or not, your choice.


One of the more expensive items for new members to buy is shoes. Most of us would prefer not to see non-authentic shoes, even if they are black leather, so we have tried to come up with a generic pattern for short gaiters to cover them. With a few extra pairs in camp it would help our newcomers feel more comfortable, and us, too. And with a little adjustment maybe we could even cover a few children's tennies. And of course there is the added benefit of keeping out stones and dirt.

The following pattern is based on two sketches of British soldiers at Warley Camp done by de Loutherburg in 1778 (both of privates in the 25th Foot, see Katcher, pp 52 & 70), and a pair of civilian spatterdashers from the engraving The Enraged Farmer (see Baumgarten, p 65).

Wool is a good choice for fabric (like an old dark blanket), as it's flexibility would make a more forgiving fit, but any dark natural material would do.

Cut 2 (two) strips of this fabric 9 inches wide and 16 inches long. Place the right sides together (the sides that you wish to be on the outside) and measure 5 inches from the right on the long edge, then cut a slit about 4 1/8 inches long (Figure A).

Cut 2 (two) pieces of the fabric in a pie shaped wedge, using for a pattern the ghosted image on this page. Sew one pie shaped piece in the slit placing the edges to the wrong side (inside) with a 3/8 inch seam. Now do the same with the other pieces of material, yielding two gaiters.

Black horn or plain pewter buttons are authentic. Place 6 to 8 button holes on the short outside flap, depending on the size of buttons you use (Figure B). Pin to mark, and sew buttons in place, or use "button pins," which are safety pins with a kink on one side. Used with shank buttons, they make button placement simple and infinitely adjustable. To adjust the fit for a narrow legged man for a weekend, you may otherwise need to bring along a needle and sturdy thread.

If the wool is not felted, you may finish the edges with a blanket stitch, or bind it with bias tape. If using another fabric, turn all the raw edges under 1/4 inch and stitch.

To hold gaiters from riding up, cut a 3/4 inch wide leather strap 7 inches long (you can use and old lightweight leather belt), to fit just under the instep of the shoe. Sew the leather by hand 1 1/2 inches from both sides of the wedge bottom (Figure C). It's easier to stitch through leather if you punch holes in it first with a leather punch¯even a hammer and small nail will work. Use a heavy duty thread and a cross stitch (X) to hold it in place.

Hope to see more gaitered shoes in the future!

Progress on Other Items

GOURD UPDATE: We now have more information and experience using gourds as canteens. If you are interested in trying this yourself, get those seeds in the ground now! We will share what we have learned in the September issue of The Courier.

OVERSHIRTS: Kim Stacy of the North American 84th Regiment Association offered the following: "...all duty or fatigues to leave their regimental coats in their tents and to wear the course osenburg shirts." Halifax, 8 July 1777, Murdoch MacLaines' Papers, Scottish Records Office, GD 174. Osnaburg, in all its variant spellings, is defined by Montgomery as "Coarse, unbleached linen or hempen cloth...Osnaburg sold today in dry-goods store is coarse cotton muslin with brown flecks simulating the rough fibers of unbleached muslin" (pp 312-313).


Katcher, Philip, Uniforms of the Continental Army, George Shumway, Publ., York, PA, 1981

Baumgarten, Linda, Eighteenth-Century Clothing at Williamsburg, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA, 1986

Montgomery, Florence, Textiles in America 1650-1870, W.W. Norton & Co, NY, 1984