Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Monday, August 2, 2010

All the Fashionable Hunters are wearing Stroud Cloth This season…

Our Spokesmodel Cynthia after a nap on some of the cloth

Red Stroud and Blue Stroud made using this method

Detail of how to whip stitch webbing on

All the stuff you need to make a pair of Stroud Leggings...Smaller blue pot used for clouts/single leggings

Despite the common misconception there wasn’t a native section of a traders store and a “hunters section”. The gear we see The hunters at places like Fort Pitt Buying is the same gear you see being sold to the native customers (and everyone else for that matter). This is the same for the Breechclouts, leggings and matchcoats. To date I have not seen a reference to a “linen” breechcloth or leather leggings being sold to hunters. Commonly the cloth being used for these items are Halfthicks, broadcloth or Stroud. But the focus of this little blurb will be on the common stroud cloth.
This cloth was a common trade item during the majority of the 18th century from Nova Scotia to Louisiana. Named after the region of England it was produced this cloth made in Blue, Red green and black. During the process of making the cloth Webbing was sewn to the edges and when it was dyed these areas remained white. These “lists” or “worms” as they are referred to in the period become a trademark of sorts for this cloth.
At Fort Pitt in the 1760’s this cloth is used by Hunters, Bateau men, native and shopkeepers For everything from the usual Matchcoats, leggings and breechclouts to table cloths in the storehouses and Blanket coats. Here are some examples from the BW&M papers:
March 27, 1765
Alexander Mckee
1 pr Stroud Leggings ..7..6
July 26, 1765
Shawanese To Sundry Acco.
2 Stroud Breech clouts …14..
1 pr Stroud Leggings ,,7,,6
May 1767
William Wright Batteauman
1 pr stroud leggings 8/6
Sept 1 1767
John Vaughn
2 pr stroud leggings 12/6….1’’5’’0
Aug 4 1768
Jacob Drinnen
1 pr red stroud leggings 8”
My goal here Is to Give the basics on making “stroud” look cloth so that. The following method is one that I and Travis Crowder have come up with that works for us thru trial and error. My caveat here is that I’m using Modern Dyes and the cloth in the period went thru a number of procedures not just being clamped and dyed to be called “Stroud” cloth.
If you really want to get into making cloth or learning a lot more about the cloth and a different process of making it yourself check out The Trade cloth Handbook.
Four winds Trading Post
P.O. Box 580
St. Ignatious, Montana 59865
If you want to make anything more then a pair of leggings GET THIS BOOK!!!! This is the Method the folks making the $$$expensive$$$ stuff are using.

SO for a basic pair of leggings you’re going to need
1) A yard of 60 inch wide white coat weight wool (washed and ironed).
2) 2 strips of linen/hemp/cotton canvas 2 inches wide by 40 inches long
3) A roll of the dreaded artificial sinew and Scissors
4) Pins and a thick needle
5) 2-3 bottles of liquid Rit dye in either Dark blue or Scarlet
6) A Large aluminum Pot
7) A cup of salt
8) A container to put wet dyed cloth in to transport it
9) Stove or hot plate
Step 1 Ok so the first off along the selvedge edge of the wool fold and pin your piece of canvas so that half is on each side. You should allow a few inches of the canvas to hang off each side about an inch or two.

Step 2 Starting at the edge begin to whip stitch around the canvas using your artificial sinew (leave about 6 inches of sinew hang off the end you start). This should cause the selvedge edge to roll towards you. After about half an inch go back and wrap your extra sinew on the edge of the canvas. This will help keep the dye out. Continue to whip stitch the canvas until you have reached the edge. Make sure you are using tiny stitches and cranking each stitch in place. The tighter the stitches the better!

Step 3 Repeat on the other selvedge edge. When done if you wish you can cut the piece in half. (Or leave as one piece and you have 2 breechclouts worth of Stroud and some scraps for garters etc) Cut it so that the sewn section would act as the top of the legging.

Step 4 Now soak your pieces of cloth in the sink while you prepare the dye pots. Put the pot on the heat source fill with water and dump in all the dye bottles (3 bottles is kind of over kill but it works) and add your cup of salt. Let the temp build up until you have steam rising off he top. Now it’s time to add your wool.

Step 5 Add in a piece of wool to the Dye. You’re going to want to stir this off and on for about half an hour. When the time is up move the cloth to the “wet cloth” container ring out by hand and move it to a place to hang up (preferably somewhere that wont stain the kitchen floor been there done that)

Step 6 Repeat with other legging

Step 7 I hang out the sections to air dry and finishing dripping. From there I throw the pieces into the washing machine and wash them in cold water twice. Then I hang them back out to air dry. Once dry I go along and cut off the threads holding the canvas strips on and once finished you have a piece of Stroud cloth ready for leggings.

Crappy Bibliography
Web resource consulted:

Article consulted
Textile History, 36 (2), 196–234, November 2005
© Pasold Research Fund Ltd 2005 DOI: 10.1179/004049605x61564
From Stroud to Strouds: The Hidden History
of a British Fur Trade Textile1
Cory Willmott

Bayton Wharton and Morgan Day Book (unpublished)
Bayton Wharton and Morgan Microfilm

Super genius consulted: Travis Crowder


  1. Thanks for posting, Nathan. Now I too, can be a smurf with a blue matchcoat (which is what would happen if I tried this)

    So how do you do the saved list that is not directly on the selvage, but a couple inches up from it?


  2. Is this Maria Hayes (blake) ?

    No Maria you wouldn't be blue the process I describe works great. the 2 washings keeps the dye from bleeding later. I know for some sutlers this has been a problem (crazy crow & white savage cloth have both suffered from this problem in the past) but I have never had this problem with my cloth.
    In fact I just did a canoe trip with some of my stuff and getting wet/drying for a few days didnt have any bleeding in either the blue or red cloth.
    as far s the off the edge selvedge I'll post another blog on that later as I with the help of Travis crowder have nailed down the wide list as well as the narrow list seen in the russian matchcoat/caldwell items I have examined.
    The process I describe is pretty much the same process that Travis and I showed James how to do with the difference being the dyestuffs info travis provided. Have fun making the cloth!

  3. Ummm, no. That would be me, Maria (ma-ree-uh), Ken's wife, not James wife. I'll give you a shout. I guess I wasn't thinking of the dye running, but the actual mess of the dying process!

    Talk later,

  4. Oh, I forgot to ask, any particular reason for the aluminum pot and not stainless steel?

  5. Hey Maria whats up? long time no see. the reason for the aluminum pot is that it seemed to make the color brighter then using a steel pot. I've added some linx as well to help folks dye their stroud cloth.

  6. Nathan, you can get a more color fast dye with the RIT using an acid process -

    I have not tried a saved list with that process though; it might be too 'strong', and soak through the canvas.

  7. The original process is with natural dyes, Cushings is the only acid dye that I know that comes close to what the natural dyes do. Natural dyes do the correct job without adding heat or the added expense. From what I have compared, natural dyes cost $.20-.50 per pound while acid dyes run $2.50 or more per pound wool.

    Natural dyes are a bit tricky, but never use an al. pot with them. Steel, enamal, pottery, or plastic for dye vat. Yes, they are very light fast.

  8. The binding of the list is best illustrated in Stroud to Stroud a pdf. online. Best to bind using
    a strong crochet yarn, and a one inch wrapper cloth of gilt webbing (very dense cotton twill tape that is no long around). Doubled 2" twill tape can work if a stripe of canvas or wool is added as wrapper cloth. To dye an old type saved list away from the edge, just bind several inches in from the edge. The effect is much like the stripe on a point blanket. The width varies from 1/4" to 1" of saved list er stripe in this case. The list of selvage is on the edge and not that far in.

  9. Nathan, why is it necessary to wash the wool first?