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18th Century Crafts for Women
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athenagwis
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:19 pm    Post subject: 18th Century Crafts for Women Reply with quote

I am looking for some information on crafts that women would have done in the late 18th century. I represent a camp follower of a Revolutionary War soldier and am not of great financial stature (neither in reenacting or real life :)) I would like to do some different things while in camp, but do not want to invest large sums of money at this point. Does anyone have suggestions of areas I can research? I am able in pretty much everything except knitting or crocheting. I was looking into finger weaving, but I am not sure if a colonial woman would have done this. I have also looked at quilting, but it seems the quilts of the time were very plain, though I wouldn’t be opposed to doing this if anyone had more information on it. Any suggestions are welcome!

Thanks in advance!
Rachel
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Herbert/va
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Joined: 26 Oct 2007
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Real Name: Herbert Pugh

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good book to start with. {my wife really enjoys reading it} Is Tidings from the 18th century by Beth Gilgun{Sp}
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Susan
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Real Name: Susan Wallace

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rachel,
There are a number of hand work projects you can work on. There is always sewing (and mending). It may be hard to work on a large project (shirt, shift), but a smaller item could be hand sewn, work buttonholes, hem etc.

A more interesting activity is stitching aka embroidery, crewel, decorative stitching. You can work on a pocket, another small project or work on a piece that will be part of something larger.
You are right that finger weaving would not be a common activity for a white woman in the Rev War camp! Portable type weaving would be done on a tape loom. There is a $ investment there however.

Hope this helps, Susan

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Mike Ameling
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, check out Beth Gilgun's book Tidings from the 18th Century. Some great info on "the domestic skills".

Do a web search for some of these simple things and ideas for camp followers:

- a Lucet - it is for making cords for clothing from thread (kind of like the drawstring on a hooded sweatshirt).
- a Tape Loom - a very small loom for making tape/ribbon
- Bobbin Lace - a form of weaving to create patterned lace to add to clothing
- Soap making
- Candle making
- making candy/bake goods (but there might be some Health/Safety rules)
- offering mending/repair of clothing
- laundry services
- writing letters for those who cannot read/write (a common occurance in some military camps)
- making/teaching small toys and games for the kids
- sew up traditional socks from wool/cotton/linen clothe cut out to a period pattern - including wool Nippes or Chausons
- sew up Nightcaps and Workman's caps (almost nobody makes those nightcaps)

You could also take up some of the sailor's knot/rope work. Some of it is pretty simple. And a little Needle Hitching really perks up the look of a knife handle or looks great done around a glass bottle.

A simple single cord loop-thru-loop segment of "rope" makes a quick braclet for kids - especially when they watch you make it or you talk them through making their own. Leather "shoelaces" or some heavy cord works well.

Ditto some of the baiding with 3 or 4 or more strands.

Simple journals/notebooks/diaries can easily be made by cutting/folding some paper together and stitching them to hold it all together.

I hope these few humble thoughts can help.

Mikey - yee ol' grumpy German blacksmith out in the Hinterlands
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Mike/MO
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can go much simpler than a tape loom. You can do everything on a paddle loom that you can do on a tape loom and it takes up much less room.

Here is a picture of the paddle loom.



You can go to this URL to see how the loom was used.

http://www.memorialhall.mass.edu/activities/media.jsp?itemid=7848&img=0

You can do any weaving on the paddle loom that can be done on an Inkle Loom or a tape loom.

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athenagwis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow!! Thanks so much everyone, these are some awesome places to start!! I really look forward to doing some more research on the ideas you provided!

Thanks!
Rachel
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Mike Ameling
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a different message board (the Nouvelle France section), Ike posted some pics of a Chaplet he made with simple beads and brass wire. A Chaplet is a short version of a Rosary. It only requres some proper beads for the correct time period, some brass wire, plus a round-nose pliers to do the twisting/bending, and a cutter to nip the wire to length, and a repro of an original cross for the end. The rest is carefull bending/twisting of the wire to form the wire links, and to add the loops to the bead to add it into your chaplet/rosary.

This would have been a simple little "cottage industry" type craft, and could be demonstrated at many events. Just be careful in selecting the right type of beads, and the correct repro cross at the end.

Another little "business" or craft was making and selling wood splinters/spills/tinder for fire lighting. Kind of like the little "match seller" girls of a century or so later.

And then there is the "rag picker". They collected rags and worn out clothes, sorted them by type of material (linen, cotton, wool) and color, and then sold them to the people making paper. But you could then take that next step and make your own small sheets of paper from collected rags. (just be careful to not get any polyester/nylon mixed in)

Something very similar would be making felt - which could quickly progress into making those classic coned felt hats - or shoe pads, or booties, or mittens.

Have you considered braiding or weaving straw? Lots of documented hats were made from strips of woven/braided straw that was then hand-sewn in a spiral to end up with a hat. And weaving/braiding decorative shapes/figures was also a common household "craft".

Just a few more possibilities to consider, that don't require much start-up expense.

Mikey - yee ol' grumpy German blacksmith out in the Hinterlands

p.s. A Milk Seller was a common person in larger settlements/cities. They carried around a container of milk, and sold it by the glass. But this gets you into those food vendor regs. Ditto selling Hot Potatoes and roasted nuts. But selling apples seems to somehow be outside of that.
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Tim Camarda
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good suggestions here. If your imprssion is that of Rev War campfollower, I would say laundry would be one of the most common chores that women were doing in military camps. Perhaps moreso than cooking. From what I understand, laundry was one of the main roles that women filled in the armies, and this can be done today as well for pretty cheap. Check out Mark Tully's The Packet for some info on washboards. You should be able to get a hold of one pretty cheap, if not make it yourself. I guess getting the pot/kettle is the other big item needed. White linens were oftern boiled in the period to clean them.

Cooking is another one, although I'm really not sure how much of that was being done by soldiers in their messes versus female campfollowers. I know both certainly occured, but I'd need to look into it more. Mending of clothing is a good one as that was most certaninly a constant neccessity and I'm sure soldiers contracted some of that out. I think these three would have been far more common in a military setting than things like larger sewing projects, etc.

Now if we're talking chores around the farm/house/homestead...than thats a MUCH bigger list! Hope this helps.
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Isaac
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan wrote:
Rachel,
There are a number of hand work projects you can work on. There is always sewing (and mending). It may be hard to work on a large project (shirt, shift), but a smaller item could be hand sewn, work buttonholes, hem etc.


You could even "advertise" that you are doing mending and get folks to bring you their clothing to patch, mend, and etc. You could even make a little pocket money doing this!!

Isaac

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Ben Coogle
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some years ago Roy Underhill, From "The Woodwrights Shop", made a paddle loom. He had an original one that was made into the back of a chair. I don't know the year of origin however, seemed like a clever idea.
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athenagwis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Ameling wrote:
On a different message board (the Nouvelle France section), Ike posted some pics of a Chaplet he made with simple beads and brass wire. A Chaplet is a short version of a Rosary. It only requres some proper beads for the correct time period, some brass wire, plus a round-nose pliers to do the twisting/bending, and a cutter to nip the wire to length, and a repro of an original cross for the end. The rest is carefull bending/twisting of the wire to form the wire links, and to add the loops to the bead to add it into your chaplet/rosary.

This would have been a simple little "cottage industry" type craft, and could be demonstrated at many events. Just be careful in selecting the right type of beads, and the correct repro cross at the end.



I tried finding some info online about the type of beads and crosses that would be appropriate. I really couldn't find anything of use to me. I think this is an interesting idea, especially since I have done some beading before. Would you happen to have anything that can point me in the right direction of picking the right beads and style of cross?

Thanks for all the help!!
Rachel
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Mike Ameling
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Rachel.

I know almost nothing about beads - other than some people think they look purty. But there are a number of people on the board that do. People like Isaac Walters and Mike Galban have a pretty good idea, and they have done a bunch of research on early religious items in New France and in trade goods. Here's a link to that discussions on Chaplets and rosaries. It's over on the Frontier Folk message board under Nouvelle France.
http://frontierfolk.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=14890

And you might want to check out Ward's web site http://www.attheeasterndoor.com He has some pretty good documentation on beads, plus repro crusifixes and medals. Plus he already makes some very good repro rosaries.

Crazy Crow has lots of beads, but I wouldn't know about authentic to which time periods (other than the plastic ones).

Isaac Walters commented above about advertising for sewing/mending.

I hope this helps.

Mikey - yee ol' grumpy German blacksmith out in the Hinterlands
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Hawkeye
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think everyone is on the money.
A huge part of camp follower's life was taking care of sick/inured and any children who happen to be part of the followers.

Scrap cloth in a following camp would not have been kept for paper, but would have been cleaned, boiled and rolled for bandaging.

Clothing repairs would be a never ending process.
Thread would be torn from scrap cloth. Possibley while on the move.

lucet ties would be worked nearly constantly keeping the hands busy as long as there was material. This is so easy, I'm ceratn it was done while on the move too.

a camp follower,especially a women of the time of lower class likely would not be able to read or write. However, this is the tail end of the 'age of enlighenment' many people could write including women. and who knows her previous stature in life. poor marriage and chance left many without provisions.

Cooking, the responsibilities varied between armies it seems. Some, the soldiers took care of the soldiers. I find in other comments where there is some additional assitance form the camp followers....


interesting side search. Ovens used by camps.
Interesting read-book
The Revolutionary War by Charles Patrick Neimeyer
Especially look at page 122 and there abouts.


Have fun.

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CT03
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Along with running a laundry... one of the ladies in our unit also dyes cloth and yarn and then makes clothes, knits liberty caps and such.

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Mrs.G
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Real Name: Melinda Gilbert

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:20 pm    Post subject: Newbie looking for info on crafts, recipies and writing. Reply with quote

Would love to hear any information anyone might have on crafts/hobbies for women, any recipes that might have been used during the time period and writing... I am so excited to receive my Tidings From the 18th Century book. I have heard so many great things about it, but until then I need help. :)

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