Making Your Own Uniforms

For those who have the means and talent to sew their own uniforms, there are many patterns "out there". Many of them are unacceptable, however, because they are either too complicated or not historically correct. The following uniform items would have been issued to a 10th New York trooper or would have replaced worn or lost gear. The patterns have been researched thoroughly for historical accuracy.

The correct uniform for Federal cavalry is:

Federal Issue Mounted Services Jacket: This is the fancy “shell jacket” made of fine dark blue wool lined with osnaburg, with 3/8” yellow mohair tape trim, 12 small brass eagle buttons, a stand-up collar with 4 small buttons, and 2 small buttons on each cuff.

OR: U.S. Fatigue Blouse (also called US Sack Coat) The standard issue jacket of the infantry, this was also very commonly used by cavalry and is actually under-represented in the ranks today. Made of lightweight (14 oz) wool flannel, it requires 4 large eagle buttons, has a flat collar, and is very simple to construct. It can be made either lined or unlined. NOTE that the wool used for this jacket is a light weight (a “flannel”) rather than the heavier wool used for the trousers.

Federal Issue Shirt made of off-white or gray domet flannel. Simple to construct pullover shirt with a single stamped tin button at collar. Domet flannel is a cotton-wool blend that many people find scratchy.

OR: Civilian Shirt: Many cavalrymen opted to use cotton shirts sent from home. Check patterns are acceptable here, but no calico. Use tin, pewter, milk glass, bone, or mother-of-pearl buttons. The only wood buttons used were “faux bone”--wood painted to look like bone.

U.S. Mounted Services Trousers: These are made of 21 oz. sky-blue wool (kersey), button fly using cast pewter or stamped tin buttons. 4 additional buttons at the back and 2 in the front are used to attach braces. (OK to substitute U.S. Trousers used by infantrymen, the difference is that the infantry trousers do not have the reinforced seat and are simpler to construct.) Which ever trousers you choose, you will need braces (‘suspenders”) to hold then up.

Drawers are an optional item, but essential if wool trousers are too itchy for you. Patterns are available from all of the vendors below. Most authentically they could be made of canton flannel (available from Charlie Childs, see below).

All non-visible seams on uniforms can be machine sewn. Visible seams/topstitching and buttonholes should be hand-sewn.

To see what the uniforms look like go to Chris Daley’s website,
He is one of the best makers (and the prices reflect it) but gives you something to shoot for.
Also have a look at the First Maine Cavalry’s website.

“Homespun Patterns” for Federal uniforms are carried by these vendors:

James Country Mercantile
P.O. Box 364, Liberty, MO 64068
fax:(816) 781-1470

Click on Patterns, then on Homespun. Pattern numbers are:
Federal Issue Mounted Services Jacket:  M 015 (comes in S, M, L)
U.S. Fatigue Blouse (“Coat, Sack, U.S.”): M 002  (S, M, L)
Federal Issue Shirt: M 026 (one size fits all)
Civilian Shirt: M 005 (S, M, L)
U.S. Mounted Services Trousers: M 014  (S, M, L)
U.S. Trousers: M 006 (S, M, L)

Cloth and trim items:

  • Dark blue kersey, flannel weight, for sack coats
  • Sky blue kersey for trousers
  • Also carries the 3/8” yellow mohair tape trim for cavalry jackets.
  • Carries brass Waterbury buttons (large size for sack coats, small size for cavalry jacket.)
  • Carries cast pewter buttons which can be used for trousers

Fall Creek Suttlery
P.O. Box 92
Whitestown, IN 46075
(765) 482-1861
(765) 482-1848 fax

Patterns: Homespun brand, numbers as above.

Cloth: Carries Woolrich wool—Dark blue for coats and jackets, sky blue for trousers, $19.95/yard. NOT the most authentic material, but due to the difficulty of getting correct material, even some “authentic” makers use it. Wears like iron.

Carries stamped tin trouser buttons (black japanned, .30 each), 3/4” US Eagle buttons for sack coats and 5/8” U.S. Eagle buttons for cavalry jackets.) Pattern numbers same as above.

Also carries both high grade and economy model cavalry sabres.

Other options for patterns

Cedar Creek Supply Depot:
Jim & Linda Lammers
1100 Witt Road
Morristown, Tenn. 37813

Carries “Past Patterns” Union Issue Trousers, Mounted. Pattern No 710 for sizes 32-38 and Pattern No. 713 for size 40-42 Reg and 44-52 Tall. Many people consider this pattern the most authentic for mounted trousers.

Charlie Childs/County Cloth
County Cloth, Inc.
13797-C Georgetown St. NE
Paris, Ohio 44669

  • To receive their complete swatch cards, send then your name, address and $6.00.
  • Many consider his cloth and patterns some of the most authentic. Not recommended for the fatigue blouse pattern (some people have reported difficulty with it) but good for other items.
  • Only source for domet flannel used for the U.S. issue shirt
  • Canton flannel for drawers
  • Carries dark blue kersey for mounted services jacket (K4) and sky blue (K2) kersey for trousers
  • F1 flannel (dark blue) for fatigue blouse (sack coat)
  • Sells patterns for the U.S. Fatigue Blouse and the Schuylkill Arsenal (SA) Mounted Services Jacket.
  • Sells kits (but not patterns) for mounted trousers.

Family Heirloom Weavers
125 O'San Lane
Red Lion, Pa 17356

Carries what many consider THE most authentic cloth for Federal uniforms being made. Their kersey runs $25 a yard whereas the much less authentic Woolrich material from Fall Creek is $20 a yard, so for just a little more money you can have a much more authentic uniform.

click on “Yard Goods” on the website to find these materials:

  • Federal Enlisted Kersey 21 oz., sky blue for trousers
  • Dark blue Federal Fatigue blouse flannel, 14 oz.
  • Osnaburg (cotton) for mounted services jacket linings
  • Shirting for civilian shirts (recommend medium weight)
  • Correct suspender webbing and completed suspender

Tart, Brantley and Benjamin
c/o Ben Tart
P.O. Box 28
Spring Hope, NC 27882
(919) 478-7668

Fabric, notions, uniform kits and others. Good supplier for Confederate impressions. Now had correct fabric for Federal sack coats and Federal fatigue blouse flannel as well.

Recommended Order of Purchase

Making Your Own Uniform: Recommended Sources for Patterns and Materials

Vendors List

Back to Authenticity Guidelines

You may also download the PDF file "Hints to Campaigners", a set of tips originally published in the United States Army and Navy Journal and edited in 2004 by Mark D. Jaeger.