The American folk hero Johnny Appleseed was actually a real person, a man named John Chapman born in Massachusetts in 1774. Chapman moved to Ohio in the early 1800s and from there began a business of planting orchards in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. Settlers nicknamed Chapman Johnny Appleseed because of his passion for planting apple trees and sharing his crops. Folk tales often described him as shoeless and wearing tattered or threadbare clothes and a tin hat.
Things You'll Need
White or off-white cotton or linen shirt
Dark linen or cotton pants
Pair of clip-on suspenders
Battered metal saucepan that fits on your head
1 yard of 4-inch wide burlap fabric
Soft tape measure
Brown or tan thread
3 cups of small seeds
Snip the edges of the shirt with the scissors, along the bottom, the cuffs and the collar. Cut a few small tears in the fabric across the back and front of the shirt.
Make small cuts with the scissors on the bottom edge of each pant leg and along the waistband. Rip a few holes in the pants' material.
Put on the pants and shirt, letting the shirttails hang outside the waistband.
Clip one end of each suspender to the front of the pants and the other end to the back, with each suspender going up and over a shoulder. Cross the suspenders in the back if they are too loose.
Place the metal pot on your head as if it is a hat.
The Burlap Sack
Fold the burlap fabric in half so that the folded piece is 22 1/2-inches wide -- measure from folded edge to selvage edges -- and 36 inches long.
Measure and cut the fabric into two pieces, both 22 1/2-inches wide; one 20-inches long and one and 16-inches long.
Fold the larger piece in half and pin on both cut sides. Leave the top opposite the folded edge open. Loosely baste the two pinned sides by hand with needle and thread, removing the pins as you sew.
Stitch the two basted sides of the folded burlap on the sewing machine to make a bag. Turn the bag inside out so that the raw edges of the seams are on the inside.
Cut a 3- or 4-inch strip from the remaining piece of burlap 45-inches long.
Pin and loosely baste one end of the 45-inch strip to one seam edge of the burlap bag and the other end to the opposite seamed edge. Stitch each end of the strip to the bag with the sewing machine over the hand-basting. Do not hem the edges of the strap and top opening of the bag to make them appear more ragged and authentic.
Apple and Appleseeds
Pour the cup of seeds into the bottom of the bag and sling the bag's strap over one shoulder.
Hold the apple in one hand.
Reach into the bag periodically and pull out a handful of seeds. Scatter a few on the ground.
You can check secondhand stores for clothing in worn condition and a metal pot that doesn't look brand new. Look for oversized shirt and pants to give the costume a hand-me-down, worn look.
Use wildflower seeds or grass seeds that are not toxic.
Because it might not be safe to walk barefoot outside, wear scuffed or worn sandals in keeping with the costume's worn or tattered appearance.
- Bio: Johnny Appleseed Biography: Folk Hero (1774–c. 1845)
- History: Ask History: Who Was Johnny Appleseed?
- NPR: Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know: The Strangely True Tale Of Johnny Appleseed
- Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story; Howard Means
- Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard: A Cultural History; William Kerrigan
- Urbana University: Johnny Appleseed Society