Sewing Project Done

I have a new respect for the seamstresses and tailors of yore. What a lot of work went into a shirt or a waistcoat! And a full three-piece suit — let’s not even go there.

The patterns I used contained complete instructions for sewing the garments by hand, for the true and authentic 19th century experience. I am not that dedicated and did most of the work on my trusty Bernina sewing machine. Even so, there was a fair amount of hand-stitching to be done, especially on the shirt. And 19th century men’s shirts were voluminous — longer and fuller than men’s shirts today.

And yet in 1850 a man could buy a shirt for less than a dollar. Unless he was mining in California. In 1849 at Bidwell’s Bar and other mining camps a shirt sold for $8. Men were astonished at the prices.

On Thursday I am doing a school presentation, and I am taking “John Bidwell” with me to talk to the kids. Here is a picture of Nick Anderson in his new Bidwell outfit. All he needs is DSCF0466a cravat, and his costume will be complete.


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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1 Response to Sewing Project Done

  1. Dianne Donoho, Chico Museum Steering Committee Chairperson says:

    I would love to have you and Nick Anderson (aka John Bidwell) come to the Chico Museum and talk about life at Rancho Chico with Annie, farming successes and failures, and the story behind getting the town of Chico started. We are now organizing Chico history presentations for the enjoyment of the community on Saturday mornings. I think you and Nick could offer some great information to the local community about John Bidwell, his interests and accomplishments. Would you let me know if you are interested in being guest presenters?

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