Stitching together history one seam at a time


By Joel Charron

It’s all coming together stitch by stitch

The historic costumes sewn for the War of 1812 Bicentennial were completed and on display at the Gordon House last Thursday morning.

Head seamstress Jennie Jackson said she was asked to make 25 ladies outfits and 25 men’s outfits but throughout the process, approximately 200 pieces were made when factoring in other accessories such as aprons, sashes, hats and bonnets.

Jackson said she became involved with the project after a conversation with the town’s tourism and culture manager Anne Rota.

“It seemed like a fun project,” said Jackson.

Jackson spent a few months researching items before picking up a needle and thread.

According to Jackson it took six months to create all the 1812 costume.


Jessie Basden, head seamstress Jennie Jackson and Helga Bailey stand amongst the 1812 costume they have sewn. Absent from photo: Elizabeth Jones .

Jackson wasn’t a alone, area resident Elizabeth Jones, Jessie Basden and   Helga Bailey pitched in with a helping hand. The ladies said the majority of the costumes are complete but there are still a few more item that are yet to be delivered, including children’s costumes.

“I have ladies that are still sewing. They want to make a few more pieces,” said Jackson.

The town gave Jackson a $2,000 budget, with that money being covered by grant funds that the town had received. However, she has still looked for deals wherever she could be going to re-sale shops and taking apart other clothes to re-use the fabric.

“I’m a recycler. I just search for bargains,” joked Jackson.

Jackson admits that she is excited to see what the costumes will look like on people and looks forward to hearing the public reaction on her finished product.

“I like to create something and I can do something through sewing,” she said.

Jackson said she is a self-taught seamstress, who thought about making her own wedding dress in 1969, but was talked out it of by her mother. Jackson eventually did make wedding dresses and bridesmaid gowns in her basement for many years.

War of 1812 project assistant Sarah Van Grinsven said the costumes are living history and is excited to see them “in action” during the Roots to Boots Festival on Aug. 3-5.

She added that the costumes go above and beyond what she expected.

“It’s really exciting to see everything come about and see everything we’ve been talking about,” said Van Grinsven. “It fills the room. I can’t wait to see volunteers walking around the town during the bicentennial of the War of 1812.”

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