Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Handsewn Gold Rush Tent

I admit it.  I bought a HUGE wall tent when I started going to Civil War events.  It was even nicknamed "The Miller Mansion."  Not only was it a pain to set up with a system of bolted 2 x 4's, side wall posts, ropes, and spikes, it took up a lot of space in storage and in the car to events.  This would not do.  

Fast forward a few years and Ian and I had the idea to make our own tent for Gold Rush events, since the wall tent was just too big and not appropriate for the time period we were using it for.   Friends of ours had sewn their own, so they were also a source of inspiration for the project. We looked at original images and sketches and designed our own. 
"View of Agua Fria Valley" Source: Bancroft Library
We bought canvas from the local fabric store and cut the fabric into the width that was commonly used for canvas manufacturing in the 1840s. We used twine to sew the seams with a simple running stitch.  We ended up needing more canvas than we had calculated for and ended up buying some unbleached heavy cotton to complete the final strip in the tent peak.  This actually worked perfectly since it is a thinner fabric, it almost acts as a skylight to illuminate the interior of the tent!  A friend of ours cut a ridge pole and two supports from some saplings (instead of the horrible cut lumber I had for the wall tent), which really completes the whole tent. 
Back and side view
Front view, other handsewn tents in background.


Overall, it was a fun project and something that we will get years of use out of.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, my, my! I thought of the Mormon pioneers when they immigrated West and how terrible it would be to sew through canvas. Their poor fingers!

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