204 Missouri River Boatman's Shirt


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Misses 6-20; Men's 34-48.

This roomy pullover work shirt was worn by hard-working raftsmen and fur traders on the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio Rivers of 1800s America. It is frequently depicted in the paintings of George Caleb Bingham.

Full sleeves with underarm gussets are gathered and attached into a shoulder yoke. A narrow and convertible cuff may be used. A neck gusset set into the shoulders gathers into a simple turned back collar, which is loosely fastened with a tape tie.  The bottom of the front opening was often strengthened with a needle-lace godet and decorated with the wearer's initials in cross stitch.  The long side openings were also reinforced.  Instructions for cross-stitch monogram and needle-lace godet for front opening are included.

The casual style is perfect for all types of today's labors, as well as pleasures. This shirt is popular with historical reenactors at Civil War and other historic events.  Our Boatman's Shirt can be worn today by men as an overshirt, or shortened to tuck in.  The original length is tunic length on men and women. 

Many thanks to the Missouri Historical Society costume collection for assistance with research for this pattern.  The original shirt is in the Society's collection in St. Louis, Missouri.

Suggested fabrics: Light or medium-weight shirting fabrics such as broadcloth, homespun, linen, chambray, or silk. The original shirt was made of handwoven linen.

This is the paper pattern.  For the PDF pattern, go here.  

Era: 1800s, Victorian

Yardage chart (.pdf)



  • Construction of this shirt is similar to the 217 Poet's Shirt, so for information about sizing this shirt up, as well as constructing the neck godet, read about it on our blog post here.