Well, pandemic boredom got the better of me again with this project. Winter weather had me staying inside and I started wondering about what haven't we created a pattern for yet. I did some digging around the ol' interwebs and realized how little was actually written about making Federal haversacks. They are such a staple of reenacting, I was actually surprised. I saw some reviews, historical essays, and several articles about people who had made their own but only a few crudely drawn schematics. So, I thought I'd try recreating my favorite haversack and share with the community. My haversack is from a quality vendor and having spent several days elbow deep in the haversack and the Quartermaster Manual, I was pleased to see how accurate my purchased haversack was.
I will say, I'm no haversack historian. This pattern is of my haversack, knowing there are many contract variants. If you don't create this exact one, it should be a helpful guide as you navigate creating a pattern for your desired haversack. There is certainly plenty of research you can do. In these instructions, I've included the entire 1865 Quartermaster specifications for haversacks. "American Military Equipage Vol. 1" could also be a valuable reference. This particular pattern is for a single piece body construction. In other words, only one side seam. This posed some figuring out at times especially the bottom and the hem transition to the flap. I would classify this as an intermediate sewing project. A beginner could do it, but expect to refer to some YouTube sewing videos. This haversack is nearly entirely handsewn. The only exception being the long center strap seam. Aside from the button holes, this bag only really uses running and felled whip stitches. I admit, I'm not sure they're called felled whip stitches but it's what I call them. They look like straight stitches perpendicular to the hem on one side and a diagonal whip on the other. I suppose you could use backstitches for additional strength, I have a reference size of one, so I can't confirm authenticity on that. I typically over-sew things and tend to backstitch everything for strength. But, for this I stuck to reproducing it faithfully. The no. 35 thread is pretty thick and I wouldn't be worried about durability with a good running stitch.
I also want to call out that my pocket is bleached cotton twill. I've had a difficult time getting hold of some fabrics because of the pandemic. I'll continue to keep my eyes open for unbleached. Though, after a few uses, this bright white should dull pretty well.
I hope this information is useful and maybe even fill up some of that pandemic free time. I still consider this version a draft. If I update it, I'll be sure to let you know. Happy sewing!
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