Where This Pattern Originates
Most of this post is not from my personal research. In combining research others have done and posting it here, all of the information I have used in making shirts is in one place. I am not a shirt expert. The pattern is a pattern that Deb Najecki shared freely, with very slight modifications. Credit is given anywhere I can give credit, using information that was shared with me or the community. If I accidentally do not have credit given where I should, please message me, it was not on purpose. I asked for and have received permissions to share all of the research that is provided in the article. Thank you so much to everyone involved for sharing so freely with the community.
In 2013 I got involved in the 18th century community. I have been lucky enough to have been influenced by some amazing people willing to share information freely with me, and in online forums. Early on I was directed to Najecki Reproductions for coat buttons. I am a huge fan of Roy Najecki’s buttons, since the first day I saw them. One afternoon I called to ask a few questions and to make an order. Roy was not home, and Deb, Roy’s wife, answered the phone. I explained to her what I was working on and asked her a few questions. She did not only help me with those things but spent the next hour giving me advice and laughing about her experiences in the hobby.
Why I Have This Pattern
Not to mislead anyone. I hardly knew Deb. I only physically met Deb twice, but she was always kind to me on the phone. When we spoke she was helpful and shared information freely with me. During that first interaction she said she would send me a write up about how to make a shirt. When I asked her how much it was, and she told me that it was just something she shared. I asked if I could share it with others who may be interested, and she told me to feel free to share it with whomever.
A couple years later I was starting a shirt, and a dear friend, who at the time was working at a historic site asked what pattern I was using. I told her that it was just something I had been given a couple years before. She told me she had a set of instructions that I should try. She snail mailed the instructions to me along with a number of other things.
When I got the envelope and saw the instructions I started giggling. It was the same set of instructions I already had. It was typed out a little differently, and there were hand written notes on it. On the bottom of the page was typed “1/27/08 dnajecki”. These were for the most part the same instructions, with some notes in them,/ I later found out these were another friend’s notes. Since then I have found that this set of instructions is something many people have in their stash of information.
In March of this year Deb Najecki passed away. Although I barely knew her, she was an early influence on how I approached the hobby. It is the little moments in life that help a community change, and strengthen, the little interactions, the little kindnesses. A couple months ago at an event I asked Roy if it was okay to share the directions online that she had shared with me, and others. He said it was fine. Thank you to the Najecki’s, for being so open on and offline with your information.
Deb’s pattern is intended as a jumping point to start your shirt journey. If you would like to see a copy of her original unedited instructions I have linked a copy that Ruth Hodges has had for many years. The next few pages are my modified version of the shirt pattern. Very little is changed, just some more information that has been found over the years that I thought may be of interest.
Najecki Reproductions are just one of the sutlers who helped me with shirt information. Once I started organizing this post I asked Paul D., at Wm. Booth Draper about his shirt knowledge. I knew shirts were something he loved to learn about. He had been a big part early on of my understanding of the period. My first shirt made with this pattern, the first shirt I made in the hobby, was with his fabric, using these instructions. When I told him what I was doing he was very helpful. I have quoted many of his facebook posts as well as a lot of images and information that he shared.
I also have several videos I share here. Lucky enough to taken a good number of Burnley and Trowbridge workshops I know how helpful their videos can be. Those workshops are always something I look forward to going to. I knew they had some wonderful videos about sewing techniques. Using their facebook and website and have linked the ones I thought would be helpful in the process as well.
Shirt Options and Advice
The goal of this is to share free information about 18th Century Shirts, and give everyone a starting pattern. For those looking for a historically accurate, well researched shirt pattern Larkin and Smith currently has the best commercial shirt pattern available. It is very well detailed and documented.
Before beginning the process of making Deb’s shirt, I need to share this piece of advice that Deb gives.
“If you don’t really know how to sew, I highly recommend that you buy Kathleen Kannick’s books “The Lady’s Guide to Plain Sewing by a Lady” (book I) and “The Lady’s guide to Plain Sewing Book II by a Lady” by Kannik’s Korner. I refer to these books throughout these directions.” Deb Najecki
Stitches you need to know for a shirt.
- Backstitch – Burnley and Trowbridge
- Stroke Gathers – Golden Scissors
- Connection a Wristband – Burnley and Trowbridge
- Button Hole Stitch – Fort Ticonderoga
- Button Holes – Burnely and Trowbridge
- Felling Stitch – Burnley and Trowbridge
Helpful links for 18th Century Shirts
- Deb Najecki’s Original Pattern with Notes
- Larsdatter – Original Shirt Links
- Williamsburg Diligent Needle Exhibit – Two Nerdy History Girls
- Material Culture Shirts
- Steve Rayner Research on Shirts
- Garsault Shirt How To
- Kitty’s Stolen Shurt story
- Cat’s Stolen Shirt Story
Places to Purchase Fabrics and Shirt Accessories
- Deb Najecki of Najecki Reproductions is responsible for the majority of the content of the pattern that is being shared.
- A large number of images used in this are images found and cropped by the man otherwise known as Wm Booth Draper. I also quoted him liberally.
- Videos that I link to are Burnley and Trowbridge’s. They are intended to assist people in understanding sewing techniques used in the 18th Century.
- Tony Holbrook – Images of his original shirt.
- Ruth Hodges – Her copy of the shirt pattern, with suggestions I use.
- Kathleen Kannick – her books are liberally mentioned.
- Sharon Burnston
- Fred Lucas
- Klára Posekaná
- Elroy Davis
- An Anonymous Dear Friend