I may have mentioned that I’ve been doing some research about authenticity of my rendezvous gear, costumes in particular but other gear as well. Rendezvous are not as picky about authenticity as re-enactments, but (like my father before me) I do like to be as accurate as possible. Part of what I’ve learned recently is that the preferred fabrics were wool and linen. They were cheaper to make and raw materials more available than cotton in the 18th Century. Cotton was imported and, therefore, quite expensive. I have also learned that cotton insulates, where wool and linen wick moisture from the body and keep one cooler. I would like to have know THAT before we went to Iowa! So what are all of our costumes made from? Cotton.
I have progressed somewhat in my sewing skills and sallied forth to locate new fabric. Linen is generally available only in the spring here, and what I did find amongst some upholstery fabric was $15.00 a yard. I just can’t justify $30.00/petticoat. Wool is just as bad, being a fall fabric, and most of what I found of both were blended with synthetics. I’d rather not have a fire hazard in camp, thank you.
I’m not sure what made me think of it. Maybe it was sheer frustration when I popped over to E-Bay to have a quick look. You have to search with the right key words, but they do have a respectable amount of linen and a bit of wool, and there seems to be enough competition to keep the prices down. Just this week I bought 10 yards of linen for $6.50 a yard, and I put in a bid on two yards of wool which, if the bid stays the same, will shake out to about $4.50 a yard with shipping. I should have enough sewing to do through the winter to keep me out of trouble! I have two shirts in progress and a short gown (for me) and a waistcoat (for Eric) planned, plus I want to experiment with ladies cap patterns. Oh, yeah, and a couple of chemises, too. Can’t forget those.
Now let me put this in the proper perspective. I was doing the Snoopy dance at getting $6.50/yard linen. Six months ago, I was buying my cotton at Walmart from the dollar tables when I could find solids or appropriate patterned fabric. I hesitated to spend more than $3.00 a yard, and I only did that on rare occassions.
So now the question becomes, am I becoming a fiber junkie, an E-Bay addict, or a glutton for punishment for sewing all these clothes that will be worn no more than four times a year? (Did I mention I’m doing mostly hand sewing?) Sometimes it’s hard to say.