In preparation for the upcoming War of 1812 re-enactment and bicentennial celebration, a sewing group has been working for more than a year on creating 19th-century clothing to outfit the participants.
The Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum Sewing Group met in the Breckenridge classroom at JPPM in St. Leonard on Saturday afternoon to continue its work on sewing costumes for re-enactors.
“Today’s event, it’s going to be kind of an introduction [for] a lot of people of what we’re doing,” Kate Dinnel, JPPM education and archaeology specialist, said of Saturday’s session.
The group was focused Saturday on sewing women’s and children’s clothing, Dinnel said, some of which were created by using patterns and some of which were not. Dinnel said for garments in which patterns were not used, a bit of research was required. Without a pattern, Dinnel said, garments can be made by examining period clothing and making a pattern using personal body measurements.
“I’ve seen some things that I’d like to kind of partially recreate, so I’ll probably use patterns to help with the sizing, but there are a lot of things you can do,” she said.
Dinnel said she hoped the event would allow the group to get one step closer to completing several costumes for the annual War of 1812 re-enactment, scheduled for Sept. 28 at JPPM this year. After the re-enactment, Dinnel said, she hopes to make even more costumes for the June 2014 two-day event celebrating the bicentennial of the Battle of St. Leonard Creek.
“I’m really focusing on the bicentennial, and I’m really hoping we’ll have enough stuff after next June that we’ll have outfits for folks to wear at our future re-enactments,” she said.
According to the JPPM website, during the War of 1812, “Commodore Joshua Barney assembled a rag-tag fleet of eighteen small gun boats, barges, and sloops and headed to the [Chesapeake] Bay in June of 1814,” in what is known as the Battle of St. Leonard Creek, in an attempt to “open the Bay from the British,” who controlled the bay since the beginning of the war. The battle is the largest naval engagement in the history of the state and took place where the Patuxent River meets the mouth of St. Leonard Creek, right off the shore of JPPM, the website states.
During the 19th century, people made garments “just by measurement, and they knew how they wanted it to look and put it together, and the clothes are fairly simple,” Dinnel said.
“This time period is relatively simple sewing compared to other time periods,” Dinnel said, adding that “18th-century stuff and the Civil War” garments had a “lot of extra fabric.”
Dinnel said funding for the sewing group was provided through budgets in hand and from grant monies. She said some people provide their own fabric because they sew costumes they personally are going to wear.
Several people at Saturday’s event were making their own costumes.
Barbara Kane and Thea Glas, both of Leonardtown, set up and traced patterns for a Sooke dress, a dress worn casually with a bibbed front so women can easily dress themselves, Kane said. Kane and Glas were making custom-fitted Sooke dresses to wear at the War of 1812 re-enactment, she said.
Other people attended the event solely as volunteers to make costumes for other people.
After seeing the sewing event advertised in the paper, Chesapeake Beach resident Marcia Poland said she decided to attend to meet some “like-minded people” with similar interests.
“Nowadays, you don’t find many women that actually sew, but people around here not only sew — they’re really into the costume period [clothing] … and what it all entails,” she said.
Poland said she hoped to work Saturday on doll clothes, which she began sewing when she was 10 years old. When Poland was 12, she started making her own clothes, she said. Poland said she made her own prom dress, her own wedding dress and now sews costumes for her children.
When Pat Kreuzburg “transplanted” to Chesapeake Beach nine years ago, she said she found a part-time job but needed to find a hobby to fill her spare time. As someone who used to sew “a long time ago,” and who has been quilting for about 15 years, she said she was interested in what the JPPM sewing group had to offer.
“I love fabric and sewing, and I thought this might be fun to do,” Kreuzburg said of Saturday’s event.
The sewing group was started by Dinnel about a year ago, Dinnel said, and “it’s gone by fits and starts.” She said the group is always looking for new volunteers.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call Dinnel at 410-535-8538 or email her at email@example.com.
“We’re looking for volunteers to help and there are all levels of sewing [welcome],” she said.