How a shirt makes the man

Ta-daa! I have begun costume production for I Am My White Ancestors. I have just spent two days sewing this linen shirt. Known in Scotland and Ireland as a Leine, this was an all purpose piece of men's clothing for centuries. Often reaching the knees, it was worn during the day to protect their outer clothes from sweat and grime and at night for sleeping.  I made it for John Salley, my 18th century gentleman ancestor, but I plan to use it for at least two other male characters. Imagine it peeking out from under a fine wool frock coat and waistcoat, a 16th century velvet doublet, and some kind of rough wool coat that a Scottish farmer or shoemaker might have worn in 1662.

There was quite a bit of hand sewing for the collar, cuffs, and hems to avoid machine stitches which might show in the photos. As I sat hunched over, sewing away, I found myself wondering what it might have been like to do this by candlelight. And who might have sewn these shirts for my male characters? Wife, sister, mother, daughter? Servant, slave? The local tailor? I hope it took them less time than it took me. Of course, it was my first time and I made a few mistakes along the way.

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