Sunday, March 25, 2012

Patching a shirt

So, our cook had an unfortunate incident at MTA last year. As he was bending over the cook fire, the fire went all Rice Crispies on him with a snap, crackle and pop. Fire do that all the time, right?

Well, “… man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” As he was bending down, some sparks went up, which, from the cooks perspective was down his shirt. But he didn’t know it at the time. He stood up and felt something warm. He looked down and saw nothing. Then he felt hot. And saw his waistcoat smolder. From the inside out. He yelped for help, and I grabbed the hem of my gown and shoved it down inside his shirt between him and the ember and patted it out.

We now keep a linen rag in the buckets of water we keep by the fire.

Anyhow, the shirt needed help. In the 18th century one didn’t sew a square of fabric over the hole and call it a day. Precious little remains of original utilitarian garments. They were used, repaired, repurposed and then sold to the rag man. Near as we can tell, holes were patched from the back in fabric that matched as closely as possible to the original, and done in a neat and workmanlike manner.
Sewing a rolled hem. Ugh - I should have worn my glasses - this is horribly uneven.
Since I made the shirt to begin with, I kept the remnants of the lovely cambric linen, so I was good there. I matched the damaged front edge to the undamaged edge to see how much had been burned away. I took a scrap of cambric and made a new hand-rolled edge and positioned it in the gap and stitched it in place.
Completed rolled edge.
Patch pinned in place.
Then I pinned the edges of the shirt on top of the remnant. I trimmed off the singed edges, turned the raw edges under and carefully stitched them to the patch. Then I turned the shirt over and trimmed the excess patch away, leaving no more than a quarter inch. Then I turned the edge of the patch under, and stitched to the shirt.
Partially sewn - from the front.

Done. And now that I look at it closely, I'm not that impressed. So much for "neat and workmanlike". Next time, less of a rush and I'll wear my reading glasses. *sigh* Note the slight difference in color? The linen will continue to bleach as it's washed and exposed to sunlight.


  1. Still it's one HELLVA lot better than anything "I" could have done... :-)

    1. No kidding. That's better than I could have done with a machine under good light and the best eyes I've ever had.

  2. It's just patching a shirt. It's nothing complicated like, I dunno, FLYING AN AIRPLANE.

  3. Even before the repair it looked more interesting than my shirt that has the iron shaped burn spot in it.

    If there's a zombie invasion I wish to remind you that I have a guest room with it's own bath a reloading press and I can make popovers.

  4. I'm guessing that in the 1700's a patched shirt would look like... a patched shirt. How is what you did not better than that?
    BTW, it IS easier to fly an airplane than to patch a shirt- am I right NFO?

  5. I'll bring my work shirts by this week?

  6. Shirts with scars make good conversation pieces.