View Full Version : Please help period fashions for my sweetheart

05-12-2007, 03:27 AM
My sweetheart is in need of clothing. She is new to reenacting, and will need everything from head to toe.

I have found some items on the Blockade Runner site, but little else.
We do not have Tons of cash to spend, and nary a rich uncle haha.

Does anyone know of other outlets who sell ladies fashions at a reasonable price?
Thank you
Wendell Brown

05-12-2007, 05:13 AM
What's her impression? Can she sew? The answers to both of those will make a difference in our answers.

If she's part of a group, she should be able to ask for a mentor, who will be able to help.

If not, she can always come on here herself - we'll probably be asking her more questions to point her in the right direction.

And she can always look for second hand stuff on the classified boards.

05-12-2007, 07:33 AM
Kat's impression will be of the "common" woman of the period.
The wife/ sweetheart of a farmer/ soldier with the A.O.T.

NO, I am afraid she can not sew, and hasn't expressed an interest in learning the craft.

I'm thinking along the lines of camp/day dresses, skirts,plain shirts, very simple items that the wife of a farmer would wear in Ky.


05-12-2007, 08:21 AM
here's a (relatively) recent thread with lots of relevant information. Note especially mrs. lawson's reply - nothing will fit properly without a corset.


05-12-2007, 09:03 AM
Pam's direction to the previous thread will be helpful.

Some thoughts on a basic wardrobe for a farm wife:

She'll need chemises and petticoats, and possibly drawers. These can all be purchased ready-to-wear without too much fuss, so long as the drawers are cut in a period style, and don't have elastic waists, drawstring waists, or nylon lace along the mid-calf length hems. :) (Ditto with elastic and drawstring waists on the petticoats, and nylon lace on anything.) Plan for one set of two to three petticoats if she's not wearing a small hoop or cage, and one set of two petticoats to wear over a small hoop or cage. Petticoats are worn several days running, so she needs just the one pair or set of them to get by. They should be full-gathered and set to a fitted or semi-fitted (adjustable with button positions) waistband, and hemmed about to the ankle bones.

Shoes and stockings can be purchased ready-to-wear fairly easily.

A wool fabric shawl can be made without any real sewing--a 60" square gets evened up, the selvedges trimmed a smidge, and the four edges "fringed" by pulling the cross-grain threads out for about an inch on all sides.

Slat bonnets and other cloth sunbonnets can safely be purchased ready-to-wear if they are cut in an accurate historic shape (not the Holly Hobby bonnet of late century), and in a very lightweight cotton fabric.

Corsets are much harder to purchase off the rack, as every woman has some fitting quirks that need to be accomodated for a comfortable fit. But, as mentioned in the other thread, a nice corset is essential to the look, even for a farmer's wife. :)

Once she has the foundation bits, a one-piece dress is a good wardrobe staple. These are somewhat difficult to buy off-the-rack and have a satisfactory fit... at the very least, you want something made-to-measure, for which a base pattern is adjusted in key fit areas (bodice length, neckline width, skirt length and balance) to fit your beloved's shape better. Look for a one-piece garment with a gathered- or pleated-to-fit bodice, jewel neckline, long slim, coat, or bishop sleeves, and an attached full (140" to 180") skirt. Ideally, that skirt is attached in a period-appropriate way, either gauged and whipped on or pleated and whipped on. (If a vendor tells you they do this "by machine"--it is NOT a period technique, and will not function with the benefits of period skirt attachment methods. Period methods for this process cannot be adequately done with a machine.)

If she'll be doing active work, she'll also want a variety of aprons to protect her one dress... these, too, can be successfully purchased ready-to-wear or semi-custom.

So, most everything *can* be bought off the rack from reputable, historically-heavy vendors, with just a few bits requiring custom or semi-custom adjustment.

One thing I look for in evaluating vendors: do they offer "skirt & blouse" sets in cotton, and do they have "Zouave" or "Garibaldi" items in cotton or cotton prints? If so, it indicates a lack of applied historic information, and I tend to be highly skeptical that good research application went into the rest of their items. When originals, diagrams or engravings are shared as documentation, I evaluate how closely the "repro" really resembles the original, in materials, visible construction and piecing, construction techniques, and overall aesthetic appeal. Some vendors do a very good job; others have a gap between the original inspiration, and the application.

05-12-2007, 12:44 PM
Any chance y’all are coming down to the Resaca battle next weekend? I don’t know what size Kat wears but I have a dress for sell for $45. If she wants to, she may e-mail me at goatwagonsutlers@yahoo.com