One of the first items of clothing needed for most males as well as both male and female 18th century native re-enactors will be a trade shirt. In warmer weather, a trade shirt and breech clout for native males and long hunters , or a wool wrap skirt for native females, and you have yourself the beginnings of an outfit for 18th century re-enacting.
A backwoods settler may also be properly clothed in only a work shirt and breeches, depending upon his class and if he is out in the fields working. My advice to anyone wanting to begin re-enacting in our time period is to begin simple. Outfitting yourself , especially if you are clothing a family, can be expensive. Your clothing needs can change or you may find that, unfortunately, you have made a mistake in your clothing needs. Dont always assume just because someone is at an event as a sutler that they are selling you the proper attire! One thing for sure is that you can’t go wrong by starting your outfit with a trade shirt. The exception would be in female settlers and their basic shirt or undergarment would be a chemise or shift. They too are not difficult to make yourself and will be covered in a future post.
The following are links to sites that give a good pattern and also a video of the basic construction of a work / trade shirt. I have made about 15 so far and prefer the custom fit that I can achieve by making my own. I made a longer one made out of a darker striped linen. Makes for a good bedshirt that can be worn out after dark on a run to the potty. Regardless if you are looking an economical way to begin re-enacting or just wanting to add a custom shirt to your wardrobe, enjoy ! The video and pattern are on the links below !!