Thursday, November 4, 2010

~ A Hunting Shirt

".... the shirt worn by Morgan and his men, as well as by many other Americans, was the single outstanding contribution of the Continental Army to military clothing. Commonly known as a hunting or rifle shirt, the loose-fitting garment was usually fringed on the sleeves, collar and hem. It was made in either a V-neck pullover or wraparound style and allowed the wearer great freedom of movement as well as comfort.
General George Washington was an early advocate of the hunting shirt. He considered it "cheap and convenient" and thought increased use of the shirt might deceive the British as to the number of riflemen in the Continental forces. Early in the war, Washington tried to get such garments for all the troops but failed because of the shortage of cloth.
As the Revolution progressed, the rifle shirt took on importance as a symbol of frontier qualities which differentiated Americans from the foe. A 1781 ballad contrasted this garment with the more formal attire of the British regulars:

Yet are red heels and long-lad'd skirts,
For stumps and briars meet, sir:
Or stand they chance with hunting-shirts,
Or hardy veteran meet, sir?"

- an excerpt from Soldiers of the American Revolution

I made this piece of outerwear for my dad last month for his Rev War Colonial militiaman impression. I used the Eagles View pattern and as you can tell, this garment has all sorts of names! When I ordered the pattern, I honestly figured that since it was such a cheap pattern that I could at least get it and use it for the shapes and sizing but that was all. I was surprised to find that it really turned out to be more helpful than I at first thought. The instructions are well worded and clear. It includes several sizes which I found to be helpful and all sorts of recommendations. It is the only pattern I could find for this style of garment but it really turned out to be great!

I used about 3 yards of the 8.0 oz. linen from for the XL size. We picked a tan but I thought it was interesting to find out that they were also made in " white, black, blue, brown grey, ash and shades of green."

The only thing I changed was shortening the sleeves and changing the cape. It had you make one cape that was two thicknesses of fabric-- sew right sides together, flip out and then attach. I did not really like that style as I was going off an original sketch from Sketchbook 76. The original's cape was two "capes", one long and the other about half the length one on top of the other and each only one thickness of fabric. I made that change and really prefer the way it looks.

Sleeve gusset

I apologize for not having betting pictures of him wearing it...... I was kind of preoccupied ;-) He is on the left in both pictures.

I am working on pictures for two Civil War era wool dresses and a modern skirt that has finally come out of the UFO bin! Maybe by next week. Hard to say. :-) Thank you all for stopping by and thank you also to all of you who take the time to comment! It really makes it special.
As Always,
Bethany Lynn


  1. I know that this post on hunting frocks just jolted me to remember that I have one to make soon, pronto! :-) It looks nice and I'm glad you point out that you changed the cape. This will be a good reminder to me when I get to that point in the pattern cutting process. I don't know yet if I'll do 2 capes or 1, but I do know that I won't be doing double thickness!
    I look forward to seeing the dresses and the modern skirt. :-)

  2. As always Bethany Lyn, you have done a wonderful job! :)

    Thank you for the information...


  3. I was so excited to see you post on the hunting shirt.I have had one cut out from the same pattern for years. I am always stopped by the fringe. Maybe with your inspiration I will try one more time. Thanks for posting the pictures.

  4. I have to say, your hunting shirt looks very much like the original one (only one of four remaining) that the Fort Pitt Museum has displayed in their
    American Frontier Riflemen exhibit. Excellent job!!

  5. Beautiful hunting frock. What would it take to convince you to make one and size 42?