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AZReenactor
01-03-2008, 09:23 AM
I was recently reviewing a copy of the Sanitary Commission Bulletin (http://books.google.com/books?id=4LoHAAAAIAAJ) and came across a few patterns I found there that might be of interest here.

I'll be trying my hand at putting together some of the items this spring and was curious if anyone had any insights or experience with interpreting these particular patterns, knew of any extant originals of USSC clothing, were aware of any vendors reproducing these items, etc.

AZReenactor
01-03-2008, 09:24 AM
The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. May 1, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 13. Page 405-406.

PATTERNS FOR HOSPITAL CLOTHING.

The following patterns have been adopted as the best and most economical by tho New England Branch of the Sanitary Commission, after an experience of more than two years, during which over 45,500 garments have been cut.

http://lh5.google.com/azreenactor/R3xirTFjqOI/AAAAAAAADTk/PaPAWDebslM/s800/USSC%20Flannel%20Shirt.jpg (http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151100569802483938)

Required for each Shirt—3 skeins linen thread, 5 black bone buttons, 7 stays, tape or silesia.

Directions for Making.—The dimensions given above, are for flannel twenty-six inches wide.

The opening in the front should be fourteen inches long, and should be faced on the left side with silesia, two and one-half inches wide. There should be two button-holes on this side. A flap of silesia, two and one-half inches wide, when doubled, should be put on the right side for the buttons, and stitched under the left side at the bottom of the opening. The collar should cover the flannel entirely on the left side, but the silesia flap should project beyond it on the right side. There should be one button and button-hole in it The shoulder seams should be strengthened by a crosswise binding of silesia, and stays should be put on at the flaps and at the opening in the sleeve. The sleeve should be faced at the wrist with silesia, three inches wide, and fastened with one button. The opening at the wrist should be one finger long. The flaps should be two fingers long.

Required for each pair of Drawers.
1 tape stay, one inch long, (for opening in back.)
3 knots linen thread.
3 black bone buttons.
Narrow tape, for back of waistband (18 inches long.)

http://lh5.google.com/azreenactor/R3xiqTFjqNI/AAAAAAAADTc/h7e-orxNR58/s800/USSC%20Flannel%20Drawers.jpg (http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151100552622614738)

Directions for Making.—If the flannel to be used is less than thirty inches wide, put the point at the back close to the edge of the flannel and piece the fronts, as shown by the dotted lines above.

The opening below the waistband in the back should be four inches long. The opening in front should be seven inches long and faced with flannel or silesia, two inches wide. Two buttons should be put on the waistband in front, and one on the opening below. There should be four eyelet holes on each side of the waistband behind. Waistbands should be lined with silesia. Drawers to be closed to the ankle, and finished with hem.

To cut a piece of flannel economically, drawers and shirts should be cut together.

Put the bottom of one leg against the bottom of the other, and two long triangular pieces of flannel will be left on each side, out of which, with the other small pieces, cut the collars and wrist-facings for shirt, and waistband for drawers. In cutting the second pair of drawers, be careful that the slanting line of the top meets the slanting line left by the first pair, and go on as before.

Begin to cut the shirts at the other end of the piece of flannel, tearing off two yards for the body of each shirt. One sleeve and a half can be cut out of the width of the flannel, and in cutting a number of sleeves, one may be made to fadge [sic] into the other.

Pieces of flannel are usually from 45 to 52 or 53 yards long and 26 inches wide.

Cut by the above patterns, it will take about 5 1/2 yards for a shirt and pair of drawers. The diagrams allow for seams.



The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. May 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 14. Page 426

HOSPITAL CLOTHING.

The length of lower line of the diagram giving the pattern of flannel drawers, in No. 13, was omitted. It should have been marked 18 inches.

The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. July 1, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 17. Page 525-6

HOSPITAL CLOTHING.

Correction.—In the pattern for Flannel Shirt in No. 13 of the BULLETIN, the slope for the neck in "Half of Back" should be one inch instead of three inches, as given.

The drawing of the diagram for "Half of Sleeve" is erroneous as regards the slope at the top of sleeve. The dimensions as given, are, however, correct. Also, this sleeve should be faced at the wrist with flannel instead of silesia. In cutting sleeves, put the wrist of one against the wrist of another, and the long triangular piece of flannel left at the side will cut a collar. Wrist facings, by joining in the middle, can be cut off the pieces cut out of the front of the shirt in arm size.

The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. June 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 16. Page 502

N. B.—Owing to blurred type, the dimensions on the lower line of diagram for flannel drawers, in No. 13 of the BULLETIN, are illegible. They should read 18 inches.

AZReenactor
01-03-2008, 09:30 AM
The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. June 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 16. Page 502



Hospital Cotton Shirt

http://lh4.google.com/azreenactor/R3xiqDFjqMI/AAAAAAAADTU/EciMhTJnQEg/s800/USSC%20Cotton%20Shirt.jpg (http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151100548327647426)


Required for each Shirt.
5 white bone buttons, (3 for front, 2 for sleeves.)
4 tape stays, 1 inch long, (for flaps and opening of sleeves.)
2 skeins thread.

The back of the shirt is cut by the same pattern as the front, though not sloped quite so much on the neck.

The opening in front is 15 inches long, faced on one side with cotton 2 inches wide, and hemmed on the other. The shirt is gathered into the collar both in front and behind.

The shoulder-pieces are faced under the shoulder seams, and cut down one inch at one end, as per diagram, to fit under the collar.

The arm sizes are strengthened with binders 2 inches wide, cut circular, as per dotted line in diagram The sleeve is gathered into the wristband and gathered a little at the top.

Two gussets are added to each sleeve, as per diagram. The flaps are two fingers long.

The above pattern is for cotton one yard wide. After the front, back and sleeves have been cut out, a strip 6 inches wide will be left, out of which can be cut all the small pieces. Cut in this way it will take less than three yards of cotton.

Hospital Cotton Drawers.

Cotton drawers should be cut by the same pattern as flannel drawers, (for which, see BULLETIN, No. 13.) The pattern should be laid on the cloth in the same manner, the smallest part of one leg to the smallest part of the other, leaving a piece on each side for the double waistbands.

The diagrams allow for seams.

N. B.—Owing to blurred type, the dimensions on the lower line of diagram for flannel drawers, in No. 13 of the BULLETIN, are illegible. They should read 18 inches.

AZReenactor
01-03-2008, 09:40 AM
The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. September 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 22. page 697

http://lh6.google.com/azreenactor/R3xirjFjqPI/AAAAAAAADTs/e6hdgKgeEkM/s800/USSC%20Ration%20Bag.jpg (http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151100574097451250)

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING RATION BAGS.

Ration Bags should be made of enamelled cloth. The four points should be sewed together so as to form a flat bottom and the side sewed up to make it into a bag. The top should be bound with cotton and tape strings run in.

AZReenactor
01-03-2008, 09:50 AM
The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. September 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 22. page 696-7



PATTERNS FOR HOSPITAL CLOTHING.—No. 3.
SLIPPERS.

REQUIRED FOR A PAIR OF SLIPPERS.
5 1/2 yards common woolen carpet binding.
2 1/2 knots strong linen thread.

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING SLIPPERS.

Slippers should be made of carpeting or stout woolen cloth and lined with cotton or cotton flannel. Each part should be bound and the three parts sewed together by the binding. A stiff sole of pasteboard or pole leather should be inserted between the lining and outside.

http://lh4.google.com/azreenactor/R3z55DFjqRI/AAAAAAAADVE/lmAGTtaTTEg/s800/USSC%20Slipers.jpg (http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151266832281479442)

AZReenactor
01-03-2008, 09:54 AM
The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. September 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 22. page 696-7

http://lh6.google.com/azreenactor/R3z55jFjqSI/AAAAAAAADVM/BAhX9ZyJEk4/s800/USSC%20Sling.jpg (http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151266840871414050)


DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING SLINGS.

Slings may be made of calico or any other strong material.

The two halves should be sewed together only on the outer side and the edges hemmed.

Strings should be placed on both halves, as per dots in diagram. (Six strings.)

Those at No. 1 are of unequal length, one being 27 inches long, the other 11 inches. The four other strings are 27 inches long.

AZReenactor
01-03-2008, 10:38 AM
The ration bag pattern made me go searching for descriptions of enameled cloth and I came up with the following interesting descriptions.


Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review (http://books.google.com/books?id=CokEAAAAQAAJ) New York, 1859 pg.627

ENAMELED CLOTH.
The enameled cloth of commerce enters into many uses as a substitute for leather. It is light and pliable, and at the same time firm and durable. It has all the appearance of leather, with nearly its durability. Its most important use is that of covering for carriage tops, for traveling bags, and trunks. It is extensively employed in tfie manufacture of cushions, and upholstering of similar nature, and is to a small extent worked up into rain-proof garments, answering all the purposes of India rubber cloth. The method of making the different colors is essentially the same, the black being the foundation, and the colors afterwards applied by hand.

The foundation of this article is cotton cloth of the best quality, and is manufactured of various texture and width, according to the kind of goods for which it is intended. The cloth is taken from the bale, and wound upon a large iron cylinder. It is then slowly passed through the machine, across and between the huge cylinders, from the smaller of which, at the top, it receives its first coating of composition—a black looking substance, composed of oil, lamp-black, rosin, and other ingredients, boiled together till of about the consistency of tar in its melted state. From between the cylinders, dressed in its black cloak, the cloth is carried to the story above, through an aperture in the floor, and wound upon a huge wooden frame. By an arrangement of spokes upon the arms of this huge wheel, each layer of cloth is kept separate, so that no two portions of the cloth will come in contact.

The frame, with its contents when filled, is passed into what is called the heater. an apartment kept at a high temperature for the purpose of drying in the coating of composition. After remaining in the heater a sufficient length of time to complete the drying process, it is removed to the lower story, where it is laid on long tables, and alternately sprinkled with water and rubbed with pumice stone, till the whole surface is made perfectly smooth. The cloth is then wound upon the cylinder again, as at first, and passed through the machine into the upper story, upon the huge reels, and into the heater, and again under the pumice stone. The cloth is passed through the machine five times, or till the required thickness is laid on. After the last scrubbing down, the fabric is taken to another department, and thoroughly varnished, and again passed through the heater. It is now a piece of cotton cloth, with a thick shining coat of black, very much resembling patent leather. It is, in this condition, passed through the enamel machine, which consists of another set of huge rollers, one of which covers its surface with irregular indentations, resembling the grain of a feather. This finishes the various processes.


The Technologist (http://books.google.com/books?id=vkoEAAAAQAAJ), London, 1862, Vol. II, Pg.106-7


ENAMELLED CLOTH, OR AMERICAN ARTIFICIAL LEATHER.

As we published in a former number (p. 64) a communication on the Japan imitation leather, it may be useful to give now a few details respecting the American imitation leather, or enamel cloth of commerce, which enters into many uses as a substitute for leather. It is light and pliable,—having all the appearance of leather, with some of its durability. The black enamelled cloth is the kind most largely in use ; but the method of making the different colours is essentially the same, the black being the foundation, and the colours afterwards applied by hand. The basis of the black is cotton cloth of the best quality, made expressly for the purpose. It varies in texture and width, according to the kind of goods for which it is intended, the width being from thirty-four to fifty-four inches. The cloth is taken from the bale, and wound upon a large iron cylinder, in which position it is ready to receive its first coat, by being slowly passed through the machine across and between the huge iron cylinders, from the smaller of which, at the top, it receives its first coating of composition—a mixture of oil, lamp-black, rosin, and other ingredients, boiled together till about the consistency of melted tar. From between the cylinders, dressed in its black coat, the cloth is carried to the story above through an aperture in. the floor, and wound upon a huge wooden frame, resembling in shape the old-fashioned reel. By an arrangement of spokes upon the arms of this huge wheel, each layer of cloth is kept separate, so that no two portions of the cloth will come in contact. The frame, with its contents, when filled, is passed into what is called the heater, an apartment kept at a high temperature, for the purpose of drying in the coating of composition. After remaining in the heater a sufficient time to complete the drying process, it is removed to the lower story, whence it originally started, to pass through the hands of workmen, who make all the rough places smooth. It is laid on long tables, and alternately sprinkled with water and rubbed with pumice-stone till the whole surface is made perfectly smooth. The cloth is then wound upon the cylinder again, as at first, and passed through the machine into the upper story, upon the huge reels, and into the heater, and again under the pumice-stone. The cloth is passed through the machine five times, or till the required thickness has been laid on. After the last scrubbing down, the fabric is taken to another department in the upper story, thoroughly varnished, and again passed through the heater. It is now a piece of cotton cloth, with a thick shining coat of black, very much resembling patent leather. But it has not yet received its leather finish; so, in another department, it is passed through the enamel machine, which consists of another set of huge rollers, one of which covers its surface with irregular indentations, resembling the grain of leather.

edwardwatson
01-04-2008, 08:08 AM
Any idea what the measurements are at the top of the drawers pattern? I'm having trouble making them out. Specifically, the measurement from top-back corner to horizontal dotted-line and the measurement from center-vertical-line to top-front corner (10?").

GreencoatCross
01-04-2008, 12:15 PM
Troy,

Great find! I had seen the drawers pattern published elsewhere but I'd never seen the other ones. Thank you also for the link to the publication itself; I've been tallying the numbers of cotton, woolen, and "unspecified" USSC shirts that were delivered to the field or to hospitals. That aggregate might give us a better idea of how common the USSC-distributed shirts were.

As a side to that, as soon as I get some single-napped flannel or canton flannel I think I will try out one of the shirts!

PanzerJager
01-04-2008, 12:44 PM
In Howard Coffin’s The Battered Stars he quotes more then once Vermont newspapers donating clothing to the Sanitary Commission, specifically drawers and shirts. It's an interesting note that the book deals solely with Vermont in the overland campaign and the shirt Pattern comes from the New England Branch of the commission, not to mention the time of the publication and the Overland campaign go hand in hand as well.

I am with Brian, I got some nice shirt weight wool flannel I am have been looking to use on a project, this seems like a perfect excuse.

Regards,

AZReenactor
01-04-2008, 01:14 PM
Edward,
That plate of the drawer pattern is rather difficult to read. I know it has been reproduced elsewhere, including Stephen Osman's article on Army Drawers (http://authentic-campaigner.com/links/showlink.php?do=showdetails&l=141&catid=14) where it may be a little more legible. I'll also check my copy of the drawer article on MCH to see if I can make it out there tonight.

AZReenactor
01-04-2008, 01:31 PM
Brian and Seth,
I'm glad they are useful for you. I already cut out a couple of shirts in each pattern using plain old cotton shirting just to see how they go together and to draft a pattern that goes together well despite the errata and such. I'm not sure when I'll find time to get them assembled though. I've got some canton flannel on order and am looking forward to trying my hands at a pair of drawers and shirt from it as well.

Last night I scaled up the ration bag pattern and cut out and sewed up about a dozen using some scraps of cotton drill and oil cloth I had handy. The design is quite simple and goes together quite quickly by machine. I really like the final product. It definitely put the typical poke sack to shame. I'll post some photos of my attempts this weekend but, can't wait to see how they come out using painted or enameled cloth.

<a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151793687329745250"><img src="http://lh6.google.com/azreenactor/R37ZEDFjqWI/AAAAAAAADXA/J8rOQApXRSk/s288/RationBags01.jpg" /></a> <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151794035222096290"><img src="http://lh3.google.com/azreenactor/R37ZYTFjqaI/AAAAAAAADXQ/h3nu53K1bjI/s288/RationBags07.jpg" /></a>
<a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151793562775693618"><img src="http://lh5.google.com/azreenactor/R37Y8zFjqTI/AAAAAAAADW0/TMub8YU5ulQ/s288/RationBags05.jpg" /></a> <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151793618610268482"><img src="http://lh6.google.com/azreenactor/R37ZADFjqUI/AAAAAAAADW4/roVoq6aOrAg/s288/RationBags02.jpg" /></a> <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/azreenactor/MiscPhotosAndImages/photo?authkey=xiom6ijQsVU#5151793713099549042"><img src="http://lh4.google.com/azreenactor/R37ZFjFjqXI/AAAAAAAADXE/7cIK4Sy0yDA/s288/RationBags03.jpg" /></a>

I also want to try making up a pair of the slippers before my next garrison event. ;-)

Drygoods
01-04-2008, 01:43 PM
Mr. Groves,

Thank you for an excellent post, I could sure use this information.:D

edwardwatson
01-04-2008, 02:31 PM
Thanks! The article has the measurements I need.

GreencoatCross
01-04-2008, 05:02 PM
All,

I wondered if there might be any commentary about USSC-provided clothing versus government issued clothing and sure enough there is!

Here is a nice excerpt from pg. 427. It leads me to believe that the USSC looked down on domet flannel and preferred all wool or all cotton materials for their own shirts and drawers.

"Woolen underclothing has not been issued largely. The wool shirts issued by the government are often half cotton, and very rough and harsh; some men who need woolens cannot wear them."

From pg. 550, another reference to government issued undergarments.

"The thin shirts and drawers issued in such large quantities for a few days past, are just the thing. It is really refreshing to see the wounded men in the tents and all those who are able hobble about, sporting thin white clothing, in place of those cruel, hot, dirty flannels."

Very interesting stuff! Of course it makes sense that hospitals, or an organization helping support hospitals, would make comfortable, clean, white clothing available to those recuperating.

The numbers and types of shirts provided by the USSC are below. These are the totals after a precursory search of the publication; there may be many more instances but I need some more time to hunt them up. I've included three categories, viz. cotton, woolen, and unspecified shirts.

Cotton: 9,781
Woolen: 18,573
Unspecified: 20,954

I wish we knew what the large number of unspecified shirts were made from!

GreencoatCross
01-04-2008, 05:31 PM
All,

Here are more numbers after searching for information on drawers and wrappers. In the total for cotton drawers I've included those reported to be made from cotton flannel, "hospital flannel", and canton flannel.

Cotton drawers: 8,380
Woolen drawers: 4,693
Unspecified: 14,752

As for the wrappers, these may simply be what we know as "banyans" or "dressing robes." Hopefully someone with more knowledge about these will chime in later. The wrappers that appear in the USSC clothing reports were made from either cotton or unspecified materials and were likely very loosely fitted and simple in construction. There are some more complex original examples of banyans and dressing robes that were made from a number of materials; silk, printed wool, flannel, and a number of roller-printed cottons.

Cotton wrappers: 313
Unspecified: 2,063

Attached is an image I found of a soldier recovering at a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. He's wearing an example of a wrapper; many others in the larger, unaltered image are wearing wrappers of similar design but of other cloth.

AZReenactor
01-06-2008, 12:28 PM
The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. October 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 24. page 760



WANTED FOR MEN IN THE ARMY.
"Housewives" or "Comfort Bags."

Small bags, each containing one-half dozen assorted needles, one skein white cotton, one skein black linen thread, one half dozen horn or porcelain shirt buttons, (large size), one-half dozen pantaloon buttons, a small ball of yarn, (any color), a darning needle and a few pins. With this material men can repair clothing that would other wise be thrown away.

EM_Powers
01-07-2008, 01:09 PM
Seth and Edward

Upon sharing this thread with the medical unit of the 7th Missouri and interesting question arose. Were these patterns similar to those of the civilian drawers and nightshirts of the period? Does anyone notice a close similarity in the patterns?

One of my civilian nurses is making the patterns for the unit to use. As luck would have it, she was a costume designer at one time. She is making three sizes of the shirts and drawers. One exactly to the period dimensions and two to correspond to a more modern body sizes of men today. I thought it would be interesting to have these items for comparison under the hospital fly for the spectators to see.

She and I will make four in each size. Using fannel wool for early spring and fall/winter enactments and four in cotton for late spring and summer.

Any quess as to stitch patterns and such used in the construction of these items.

Marc29thGA
01-07-2008, 05:43 PM
Mr. Groves,

Thanks for finding posting this. I especially like the ration bag pattern and your inital efforts. I plan to make some of these this winter too.

Kindest Regards,

Justin Runyon
01-07-2008, 11:04 PM
Any quess as to stitch patterns and such used in the construction of these items

I would make the case that the actual construction methods of these goods could vary greatly. Since these were released in USSC bulletins which generally were distributed in hopes of garnering these items through donations, the actual methodology for their production would likely be as varied as the women making them. (within the scope of 19th century techniques of course)

AZReenactor
01-08-2008, 07:07 AM
Justin,
Good point. One of the things that attracted me to these patterns is exactly that. These were patterns for US homemade goods and could indeed vary considerably in actual construction according to the skill and means of the who is making the donations. The fact that they are Northern efforts means that there is no blockade or lack of infrastructure limiting the available resources for their construction either. As such it seemed an especially good candidate for first time sewing efforts.

USSanCom
01-09-2008, 07:49 AM
Haven't posted for awhile, so I had to re-up to get in.

I don't have the issue number for the bulletin, but this is the pattern and these are the directions for it. I was sent this by Susan Hughes many years ago when we had it posted on Jan Romanovich's San Com site. (my ex for those who don't know me) I have all the bulletins and documents on microfiche, but don't have access to a reader right now to get the bulletin number.

Directions for Making Wrapper

The circular side of the collar is to be sewed into the neck. The straight side turns over. In sewing in the sleeve the seam must be placed in the middle of the arm size behind, as per dot, in diagram. The pocket is to be felled on the inside. There are to be four buttons on the front. This wrapper may be made of any cotton or woolen material, doubled. It will take from 9 to 10 yards of any cloth, of calico width.
With a little ingenuity, old pieces may be made to go a great way, by piecing the lining, and making collar, and facings for the sleeves and fronts, of different stuff from the outside.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/ScrapD/authenticcampaigner/wrapper.jpg

Duchess Martin,
U.S. Sanitary Commission,
Columbus, O. Branch.

Pvt Peck
01-11-2008, 12:28 PM
Troy:
Cool to see you utilizing these pattterns. I ran across the USSC books on Google books awhile ago during a random search. Take the time to read through the bulletins in the bound volumes of the USSC papers and there is a lot of good info on how stuff was shipped etc... Lots of neat letters that describe things like getting socks out of barrles with notes in them saying things like "these socks knitted by a 94 year old lady" etc.. The neat thing with the Google Books site is you can search a particular book using key words. Looking forward to seeing the resuts of your work on the shirts and drawers, want to sell any of those ration bags?

Ted Parrott

AZReenactor
01-11-2008, 02:32 PM
Duchess,
Thank you for this additional pattern. I'll have to give it a try once I get caught up on some of my other sewing projects

Ted, sent you a PM.

mboyce
01-11-2008, 05:55 PM
The Sanitary Commission Bulletin. October 15, 1864, Vol. 1, No. 24. page 760
That sounds like a pretty hefty housewife. DO most people have that much in theirs? I have more than most people I know, when it comes to buttons, needles and thread, but I don't have any yarn.

AZReenactor
01-11-2008, 10:18 PM
Marvin,
Keep in mind that this comfort bags weren't for a mere weekend getaway but for weeks and months of living in the field. When you look at it in those terms then 6 needles, 2 lengths of thread, 6 shirt buttons, 6 trouser buttons, yarn, a darning needle, and a few pins really isn't all that much.

I suspect that most reenactors don't carry the yarn or darning needle simply because they have no idea how to darn but if you wear the same pair of socks daily for a couple of weeks of marching daily then doubtlessly darning would be an absolute necessity.

celtfiddler
01-12-2008, 06:23 AM
I'll be trying my hand at putting together some of the items this spring and was curious if anyone had any insights or experience with interpreting these particular patterns, knew of any extant originals of USSC clothing, were aware of any vendors reproducing these items, etc.

Not aware of any vendors, but I believe the US Civil War Medicine museum in Frederick MD has a piece on display (it's been a bit since I've gotten up there). You might want to try getting in touch with them--they're very helpful.

Thanks for sharing your find. Depending on the situation this season, I may attempt hand sewing some of the items at events this year.

KarinTimour
01-12-2008, 08:38 AM
I'm really enjoying this thread, that you everyone for your contributions. I'd also like to add a few thoughts -- first of all, about the "yarn and darning needle" and how much space that would take in your housewife. In modern times, when we think of "yarn" we're thinking of what is known in knitting circles as "worsted weight" yarn. The stuff used to make your home knit sweater or scarf. When you lay a pieceof this on the table it's about the same diameter as the cord for your Ipod or walkman. That's not what they are talking about.

Period socks and stockings were knit out of much thinner yarn, and that is what they would have been sending for darning purposes. To get an idea, take a piece of sewing thread, and cut four or five lpieces three inches long. Stack them on top of each other into a little bundle (like a bundle of twigs, only made of thread in this case). Twist the ends in opposite directions. This is much more along the lines of what they meant when they were talking about darning yarn for socks. Enough of this stuff for ten ordinary sized (half-dollar sized) holes will be about the size of a large "shooter" marble. I suspect they were sending balls of yarn that were about the size of golf balls. Hard to say how long that would last, since there are so many complaints about holes in socks. I've read comments on socks getting holes after a day or two of wear -- another reason that many of them were writing home for home made socks. I strongly suspect that most soldiers were working on their socks on almost a daily basis, especially when they were campaigning. If you're darning almost daily, and you're watching the guys around you who are better at darning, I bet most soldiers got to be pretty good at cobbling together a perhaps unsightly but servicable darn.

USSC Sock pattern
For those of you who are interested in having the "total" USSC package, they printed a sock pattern, and I was asked by the Atlantic Guard Soldier's Aid Society to make a "translation" of the 19th century knitting directions. You can find the original pattern, the translation and some thoughts on sources for needles and appropriate yarn on our website: www.AGSAS.org

Hope that's helpful,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

PFLINT
01-30-2008, 10:54 AM
Attached is an image I found of a soldier recovering at a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. He's wearing an example of a wrapper; many others in the larger, unaltered image are wearing wrappers of similar design but of other cloth.

Brian,
I've done a quick check of the LoC image site and came up with nothing. Could you point me to the original image?
Patrick Flint

AZReenactor
12-28-2008, 08:02 PM
Well for my holiday this year I finally got around to working on some of these USSC patterns. I made up a few sheets of enameled cloth over thanksgiving. It came out fair, but I want to work at it some more to see how pliable I can get it without the factory set up.

Over Christmas eve and Christmas day I cut out a couple dozen of the bags and got them all stitched up. I was lucky recently and found a nice size roll of 1" wide cotton twill tape (and 21 yards of actual cotton canton flannel :)) at a local fabric by the pound" store for a decent price which bound the top edge quite nicely. I ended up with a remnant that was too small to make ration bags from so I made a couple smaller bags that I'm going to try lining and use as a tobacco bag or just use them as a smaller size ration bag for small stores.

Yesterday and today I sized up the pattern and cut out some of the canton flannel into a pair of drawers and shirt. Hopefully I'll have time on New Years day and the weekend to get them stitched up so I can see how the come out. First event for me of the new year (Camp Roberts Tactical in CA) is less than four weeks away. After that things get busy with only two free weekends between there and IPW. Should be a good year.

Anyone else tried these patterns? I'd love to see your results.

http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=105&pictureid=3878

Spinster
12-28-2008, 08:18 PM
This does seem a lovely time a year to piddle with ideas--and my thoughts last week also went to the basic USSC bag pattern --in this case, in an attempt to solve a packing and transport problem.

I have a number of small hand thrown crockery bottles that hold anywhere from one to two pints of liquid, and close with a small cork. Wrapping and packing them is always a risky chore, and left them subject to breakage when various folks reached into our stock box, not realizing that a tightly wound piece of toweling was not there for hand drying, but for holding the molasses bottle intact.

I utilized scraps of heavily fulled or boiled wool to cut and sew bags on the same lines as the USSC ration bag. A good steaming with a heavy flat iron produced a flat bottomed thick sack that stands upright easily. The fulled wool fabric gives a bit to conform to the bottle shape, and fit snugly, allowing the bottles to be packed without extraneous paddling, and the various labels to be visible on the neck once the draw tie is let loose.

lukegilly13
12-28-2008, 08:19 PM
Troy,
Thanks for posting these....i've made several ration bags using the pattern you posted...they are VERY usefuly in the haversack and protecting their contents....I made mine from cotton drill but didn't paint them. Might try painting them now that ive seen yours.

Marc29thGA
12-28-2008, 08:50 PM
Nice work Troy!

I have made several out of various materials; a good way of using up scrap material; only one of these was painted. Yours are top notch.

Anyway – I’ll have to take some pictures and post.

Y.O.S,

AZReenactor
12-29-2008, 10:07 AM
I'm glad to know the patterns have gotten some good use.

Anyone know a good source for period Silesia?

GreencoatCross
12-29-2008, 11:35 AM
Silesia?! SILESIA?!?!?! :angry_smi

Yeah, I have a ton here. :) I got about five yards of black cotton silesia from a tailoring supply warehouse in Cincinnati...it's about a mile away from where I am now. Let me know if you want me to pick some up for you; the five yards I have is back home in Michigan.

Those bags look stellar, by the way. I scaled the shirt patterns and want to produce a few "hospital shirts" from our remaining stock of canton flannel but I first have to find the time. Can't wait to see what else you come up with..keep up the good work!

Marc29thGA
12-30-2008, 07:37 PM
Troy,

As promised, here's a picture of some of my attempts at the bags & variations there of. Nothing too spectacular, but a fun evening project just the same.

You posted earlier in the Thread of the period accounts of enameling. How did you accomplish it? Did you approach it from period painting of fabric?


Y.O.S.,

AZReenactor
01-04-2009, 03:06 PM
Marc, Thank you for sharing.

Yes, my approach at making the enameled cloth started from period painted cloth. My examples so far are basically the same formula one would use for a painted haversack or knapsack. I'm on the look out right now for an old fashioned mangle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangle_(machine))at junk and antique stores to try and replicate some of the factory effects described in making enameled cloth.

The painted cloth works well and considering that this were supplied by donation, it makes sense that they wouldn't all be uniformly made and that substitutes for enameled cloth would have been used as well.

Marc29thGA
01-05-2009, 11:10 AM
Troy,

Thanks for the information. I need to make up a new batch of painted cloth for these type projects. Kind of cold in Maine now for drying - a piece I did last winter dried, but with an ice crystal like pattern.

These painted bags would also make a nice period water resistant barrier for the haversack and knapsack. Although the original intent was more to keep the rations from leaking out, don’t you think?

It does make sense that these bags would be made from material people would have around the house. Enameled cloth would be more expensive for the average person.

I'm thinking I may make some out of scrap jean cloth that is kicking around. Those remnants that are too small even for a vest.

Y.O.S.,

J. Donaldson
04-14-2009, 08:21 PM
Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I was about to start on a set of the ration bags, and I had a couple of quick but potentially stoopid questions.

1. What seam allowance was used in making the bags? I normally use a 1/2" allowance when sewing, and wanted to see if that was correct.

2. How much material was folded over in order to make the drawstring enclosure?

Thanks in advance for all the help. I sketched the pattern on a manilla folder for permanence, so that if these turn out well I have durable pattern to use in the future.

Bob

AZReenactor
04-14-2009, 10:27 PM
Bob, reactivating an old thread with good information is a heck of a lot more useful than starting a new thread on a topic that has been beaten to death already. ;-)

As for your questions, one thing I think worth keeping in mind is that the pattern and instructions are what was originally provided to those making these bags. They were home-made and donated to the USSC. Thus undoubtedly had a great deal of variation in them depending on the skill, resources, and interpretation of the person constructing them.

The seam allowances I've used depended a great deal on the material I was making them from. For painted cloth I used just 1/4", for plain cloth that unravels easier or required felling I used 1/2". I've experimented with adding seam allowances to the pattern dimension and making them with the cloth cut out exactly according to the dimensions of the pattern. I've made them both with felled and raw seams. For the enameled cloth bags I use cotton tape or bias cut cloth to bind the edge and create a sleeve to run the ribbon or string in. When I've sewn plain cloth bags I've both added a 1/2" extra to fold over or just sewed so that the top used the selvage and sewed tie strings directly to the bag. As of yet, I have been unsuccessful at locating any extant copies of these rations bags so have only had the pattern and directions to go off of. Given the nature of what you are making I think a little flexibility and experimentation are perfectly in order and suggest that you come up with a pattern that works for you.

My current preferred method is making them from good quality, light weight enameled cloth using 3/4" twill tape to bind the top and 1/4" twill tape for the string.

J. Donaldson
04-14-2009, 10:50 PM
Mr. Groves-

Thank you for your help. The patterns are great, and I appreciate all your help with the project.

Bob

AZReenactor
07-15-2010, 12:50 PM
Since I uploaded photos of ration bags to the thread about how to tie a poke sack, I thought I'd upload some more examples of USSC ration bags here. I made the enameled cloth from multiple colors since it came in a variety of colors back then. As items made made at home and donated to the USSC it makes sense that they'd have made use of the variety of material available. This batch of painted cloth was made from a fine quality painted muslin. It is nice and light weigh but quite sturdy after sizing and two coats of linseed based paint.

NightOwl
12-22-2010, 10:02 AM
AZReenactor, those ration bags came out stunning. I am a civilian member of the 22nd MA Infantry and we started up the Boston Branch of the US Sanitary Commission and the amount of heavy reading I have done thru the bulletins has not unearthed as much as I have found on this thread. Thank you for sharing your efforts.

Charles Kaiser
03-12-2011, 02:04 PM
Hallo Kameraden,
The cloth for the USSC Bags was painted like Haversacks with cornstarch as sizing, or without, so that the colour was bleeding ?
Did this bags have an inner bag, like the Haversacks ?
A Picture from the inside ?

AZReenactor
03-13-2011, 10:52 PM
The bags I made according to the period instructions are made from very light weight pre-painted cloth which has no bleed through. According to the instructions they are not made with liner bags. They are much more like large fancy poke sacks and so for the small lightweight bags they are there really wouldn't much point to adding a bag to them.

The real challenge is not so much in making the bags which are a very simple design, but in replicating the period factory made enameled cloth . Aside from the descriptions of the cloth included in this discussion, I've acquired and examined several pieces of enameled cloth from the era and am even now still working on improving my methods and techniques as well as experimenting with silk and other fabrics that were factory in the period. Starching the fabric has proven to be critically important and significantly affects the finish of the final cloth.

FTrooper
03-14-2011, 11:54 PM
Troy,
Selling any of those bags? They look too good for words and would LOVE some for my impressions! Especially the green and blue!

Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Jeremy Bevard
05-17-2011, 08:39 AM
Did anyone make the slippers? If so I would love to see some pictures to get a better idea of the construction.

greenmountainboy
10-27-2011, 04:20 PM
Seth,

I am not sure but perhaps because Johnson Woolen Mills in Vermont was Founded in 1842, and donated woolen clothes to the Hospitals?
The Johnson Woolen Mills are still there today I drive buy it often not far from where I live.

Kelly Austin

NightOwl
11-25-2011, 06:32 PM
Dear Poke Bag Researchers,

We are in the infancy of getting a well run and correctly stocked USSC - I have found the patterns for the USSC poke bags, but have not found any references to them being painted. I want to make sure that everything that we do for this impression is well documented. Perhaps they were done both ways? Being dependent of civilians for supplies would have left some variation. Some Abington MA records of goods shipped from the Union Ladies Aux were different than items that were specifically asked for by the Commission.

Thanking you in advance for any help or if you could steer me in the right direction.

I wrote out my signature in my profile and the first time I posted it didn't appear, so I will send this signature as not to be in violation of the rules.

Debra DiFranco
22nd MA Vol Infantry Co. D - Civilian Unit
Co-chair - USSC - Boston Branch

USSanCom
11-26-2011, 05:08 AM
Documents and photos compiling all these patterns are available in our USSC groups on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/USSanCom/) and Yahoo! Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ussanitarycommission/). I've recently asked the members to post photos of their completed projects reproducing these patterns.

Anyone interested in the Sanitary Commission and their works are welcome to join us. We hope some of you gentlemen who are no longer able to take the field will consider the impression of a Sanitary Agent. They were in the field with the regiments and telegraphed back their needs.

AZReenactor
11-26-2011, 06:58 AM
Debra, The instructions for the ration bags that appeared along with the pattern in the Sanitary Commission Bulletin state plainly, "Ration Bags should be made of enamelled cloth. The four points should be sewed together so as to form a flat bottom and the side sewed up to make it into a bag. The top should be bound with cotton and tape strings run in." Don't know that it could be much clearer than that.


I have found the patterns for the USSC poke bags, but have not found any references to them being painted. I want to make sure that everything that we do for this impression is well documented. Perhaps they were done both ways? Being dependent of civilians for supplies would have left some variation.

Pvt Peck
11-26-2011, 10:40 AM
Duchess I actually sent a join request to the FB group today. Troy is a very handy fellow, and he very generously gave me one of those enamled bags and they are GREAT! I have planned on making a pair of carpet slippers for years but have had trouble finding nice ingrain wool carpet to use. The USSC is a greaat impression and makes a change in pace from the usual CW impressions folks do, plus as Troy has shown there is a wealth of info out there if you look.

Rick C.
04-07-2012, 11:43 PM
Great patterns. I want to make some ration bags. My first "correct" attempt at a project.
Regarding prepping the cloth for paint. There is mention of wallpaper sizing starch and cornstarch. WHich works best? What is the mix for using cornstarch?

USSanCom
03-06-2014, 11:24 AM
Wanted to give a standing invitation to visit the United States Sanitary Commission group on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/USSanCom/ where we have patterns, pages upon pages of links to primary source material, photos, events, and about 350 members contributing new material daily. We still maintain the old Yahoo! Group, but it is no longer updated with new material. It can be found at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ussanitarycommission/info for those not on Facebook.

Gentlemen, this is a perfect impression for those of you giving up the military. Commission agents were in the field with the troops and had supplies enroute or already on hand on every field of battle (sometimes getting captured themselves). They maintained warehouses around the country; hauled supplies by rail, ship, and wagon; inspectors inspected camps and hospitals and provided recommendations to commanders and doctors; they operated soldier's homes, refreshment saloons and hospitals; they raised funds and helped soldiers apply for pensions. The officers of the executive board were some of the wealthiest and connected men in the country and the doctors in the Commission provided the most up-to-date research to the Army Medical doctors. There are not nearly enough men doing these impressions in military settings, let alone in civilian ones.