George Washington, Commander in Chief 41


George Washington, Commander in Chief, by Thimbles and Acorns.

George Washington attended the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from September 5 to October 26, 1774. The purpose of this first congress was to determine how the colonies should respond to the British parliament’s harsh reaction to Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. The Coercive Acts, or The Intolerable Acts as they were called by the colonists, not only closed the Port of Boston leaving Massachusetts without needed supplies, but also took away Massachusetts’ right to self-government. These acts spawned a wave of outrage and resistance throughout all thirteen Colonies. For six weeks, Washington met with colonial leaders such as John Adams, John Hancock, and Patrick Henry, listening much, but saying little. The congress considered many options but finally agreed to draw up a Declaration of Rights and Grievances to send to England and to organize a boycott on British trade throughout the colonies until the situation was redressed. Few thought the actions would do any good, so a Second Continental Congress was planned for the following year.

The First Continental Congress

While Washington attended the First Continental Congress, his friend and neighbor, George Mason, made a bold move and organized an independent company of volunteer militia in Virginia. One of their first orders of business was to decide on a regular uniform. They chose a blue coat with buff trim and plain yellow metal buttons, a buff waistcoat and breeches, and white stockings. The colors were not chosen by mere whim or fancy but because they were the longstanding Whig colors of England. Unlike the Torys, the Whigs had regularly shown support for the colonists in Parliament so the colonists felt politically aligned with them. Upon his return from congress, Washington was elected to head Virginia’s new militia and had his personal tailor make up the very first blue and buff uniform. Little did Washington realize that this uniform would remain part of his wardrobe for the rest of his life.

The Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1775 to plan further responses to Britain’s refusal to repeal or modify the Intolerable Acts.  Fighting had  already broken out the month before with the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the mood in Philadelphia was angry and defiant. The delegates were breaking British law simply by meeting, but they no longer cared. Congress was now being called upon to take charge of the war effort.  Again, Washington said little.  He didn’t need to;  the blue and buff uniform he wore said all he needed to say. He was prepared for war. On June 14, 1775 Congress created the Continental Army, and Washington was unanimously elected as General and Commander-in-Chief.

George Washington appointed Commander in Chief at the Second Continental Congress

Washington arrived in Cambridge on July 4, 1775 to take command of the Continental Army. For some time, a rag-tag collection of farmers, tradesmen, sailors, and frontiersmen, dressed as though they had just come from the plow, shop, masthead, or woods had been gathering around Boston looking for a leader. The lack of discipline and proper sanitation, as well as the ragged and non-uniform clothing, shocked Washington. He quickly advised his commanders to clothe their officers as they saw fit, but the result was a mishmash of color combinations. One officer chose a red coat, much like that of a British officer, a disaster waiting to happen. To help maintain order, a standard uniform was needed, but lack of order, money, and goods meant that the uniform of the Continental Army would remain non-uniform for the duration of the war. In a sense, the non-uniformity represented the colonists well in their attempt to unite thirteen separate colonies in their fight against a common enemy.

As the war progressed and the colonies became more unified, so did the uniforms. By 1777, General Washington had earned the respect of patriots everywhere, and his blue and buff uniform had become the favored choice. When the war ended, the blue and buff uniform that Washington had first worn to the Second Continental Congress came to symbolize the service and sacrifice of all those who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Leave a comment below to be entered in a random drawing for a FREE copy of the PDF pattern George Washington, Commander in Chief, by Thimbles and Acorns upon its release!

George Washington, Commander in Chief


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41 thoughts on “George Washington, Commander in Chief

  • Agnieszka

    Very interesting article, I had no idea about the history behind this characteristic outfit. Thank you Thimbles and Acorns for the history lesson and giveaway!

  • Diane Franko

    I love history and to be able to recreate some of the clothing I doll sizes is exciting for me! Waiting to try all the patterns to come. Thanks

  • Carol Meadows

    Enjoyed the informative article, and the story of how the uniform came to be blue! Your pattern is just perfect; hope to own it when it’s released!

  • Paula Howley

    I feel blessed to have your interest in history to transverse to your patterns. I have learned a lot from you in history and fashion.
    May you have many Christmas Blessings.

  • Janine R

    I have long admired this president for so many reasons-his belief in God, his willingness to pray and follow the leading from the Almighty, his humbleness shown by his refusal to let himself be crowned king, but rather become President. Would love to have a copy of his uniform pattern.

  • Georgianne Thomas

    I look forward to every pattern you make. Your historical explanations of the garments make them so interesting to reproduce. This is a pattern your followers have been waiting to see. Thank you for your excellent designs and superb instructions and of course the history lessons.

  • Jo Lyman

    What a beautiful tribute to Washington and his brave men. Your pattern is lovely and will be a wonderful gift for anyone to receive. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to each and every detail that sets this pattern apart from any other one

  • Margie B

    Thank you so much for the brief history lesson and how George Washington’s uniform came to be. I had no idea that what he wore was actually a uniform, it’s such an elegant design. It is not always easy to recreate such detail on a doll’s outfit, but you have captured this uniform brilliantly. I look forward to trying your pattern.

  • Annlee

    I enjoyed the story of George Washington uniform and how the color was chosen. Also how it came part of his wardrobe for the rest of his life and later came to symbolize the service and sacrifice all those who fougth in the revolutionary war.

  • Rhonda

    Thank you for the great history lesson. I already wanted this pattern and now it has so much meaning.

  • Linda Swinbank

    Fascinating stuff, as always. I haven’t seen any boy dolls for sale in the UK. Does anyone know of a supplier?

  • Gloria

    The new pattern is amazing! You have really worked hard to capture the intricate style and details – once again, proof of your wonderful talents.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your article about Washington and his times, and it really held my attention. Thank you, as always, for sharing your blessed gifts and talents with us.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  • Diane H.

    The history of George Washington’s uniform is very interesting. I travel to Williamsburg several times a year and never heard this account. I’m delighted to know this new information!!
    Thanks for your wonderful writing.

  • Judi Wilson

    What a wonderful story about George Washington’s uniform. I really am waiting for this pattern to become available. I will have to purchase a boy doll to dress. Have a merry Christmas.

  • Marcy Mahle

    Really looking forward to this pattern series and so very glad you are back with your wonderful History lessons for us all. I missed you.

  • Rebecca W

    I had no idea how iconic this outfit was! The revolutionary war is one of my favorite historical periods.

  • Karen L

    I cannot begin to imagine how Washington functioned in these garments during that era – they don’t seem practical or easy to maintain. But he sure did look like a commander! I can’t recall ever seeing him in any other uniform. This should be a fun pattern to stitch up.

  • Sue

    This pattern looks so amazing! I am really looking forward to the shirt and the hat patterns too. Your history lessons are fascinating, life-long learning helps keep my brain young!

  • Becka B.

    I’m so amazed at the detail of work with this outfit! You always do a stunning job, and this is right up with the tip top! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Marge R (mer)

    Thanks so much for this interesting article and also for your giveaway. The intricate uniform you’ve created is amazing, considering all the intricate details and the number of buttons required!

  • Chrislin payne

    I love this pattern. Just wrapping up American girl and Wellie clothing for my grandchildren today , getting ready for Christmas thinking of the excitement it brings. I know the sewing has brought me a great deal of joy. Your pattern is beautiful. Merry Christmas

  • Julie F

    Wonderful story about George Washington’s uniform. Blue and buff are a great color combination. Aren’t many of our current day military uniforms blue? I think it still symbolizes dignity and strength.

  • Katherine Powell

    I adore this pattern. My family loves to go to Colonial Williamsburg. Would love to see more patterns in this time period for male and female dolls

  • Paula Bozora

    I can not find the 1/4” or 3/8” gold buttons required to make the George Washington frock coat. Can you help me find a supplier?
    I really enjoy your patterns.
    Thank you,