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 a cravat, and his costume will be complete.