Thursday, June 5, 2014

On-Line Patterns for Clothing (American Civil War/ Mid-Victorian)

Getting into this hobby as a broke high school student, and again as a broke grad student (and now continuing as a broke un/underemployed former student), I've spent a fair amount of time hunting for free patterns and resources on-line.  What follows is a mixture of modern instructions from very generous, reputable persons and original patterns from the 19th century (these are not always easy to work with, especially for a beginner).  Since I mostly do 1855-1865 women's clothing...most of the links are for women's clothing of the 1850s and 1860s.

Useful for New Reenactors

The VERY FIRST Thing to Read Before Making/Buying Women's Clothing:
Your Best Bet Wardrobe by Elizabeth Stewart Clark

General Advice on All Things (but especially non-military clothing for men, women and children)
The Compendium The Sewing Academy Forums
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society Links (Go for the first person worksheets, stay for the widespread advice)

Patterns & Instructions (& Some Advice) 

Hats and Bonnets
Cost-effective Headwear for All Seasons (advice thread)
Original Soft Bonnet/Hood Patterns On-Line (with my commentary)
Romantic History Hood Pattern (printable, modern instructions)
1861 Knit Hood (Original pattern with modern commentary)

My Hair Tutorials
Video: Basic Hair (with some alterations to the side-styling, this will get you through much of the 1850s and early 1860s)
Hair Advice (Thread)
Later Victorian Hairdressing (Beautiful step-by-step pictures, but about 15 years post-ACW)
Video: Rag Curls

Chemise Patterns
Mrs. Clark's Chemise Pattern
1860 Chemise Pattern

Drawers Patterns
Draft Your Own Drawers
1863 Drawers Diagram

Corset Patterns
Stays in The Workwoman's Guide (1838/40) [page 80-81, diagram page 327]
"Practical Instructions in Say-Making" in Godey's (1857) [diagram and instructions pages 165-6]
1868 Corset Diagram (Patent)
1869 Corset Pattern

Skirt Support Instructions
A Covered Cage
Cage Crinoline
Another Cage Crinoline (Thread)
Corded Petticoat (Thread)

Petticoat Instructions (Do not wear a hoop without a petticoat--it will look bad)
A Petticoat

Note on skirt supports: Hoops appear in European high society in 1856, and spread quickly--by 1857-8 they're already on the westward trails & America's Pacific coast.  By the early '60's hoops are ubiquitous.  If you're doing pre-'56 events (or are doing 1856, but aren't the Empress Eugenie), use a corded petticoat.  If you're in the 1860s, use a hoop, or select a non-hoop impression (nurse, servant, cook).  Keep hoops away from open fires.

Dress (Bodice) Patterns
Original 1859 Bodice Patterns
Bodice with 3-Piece Back and Coat Sleeves ('60's)
Mrs. Clark's Fitting Instructions
1857 Bodice

Dress (Skirt) Instructions
Gauging a Skirt (No Pattern Needed)

Undersleeve Instructions

Collars & Cuffs
Draft a Simple Collar (Thread)

Outerwear & Warm Layers
Easy Shawl Instructions
Original Mantle & Cloak Patterns
Original Jacket & Mantle Patterns
1855 Mantle
A Knitted Sontag (and more knitted items for keeping warm)
1859 Winter Cloak

Swiss Waist (patterned from an original)
A Basic Apron
1850 Crochet Reticule
Analysis & Dscriptions of Period Hair-Nets

Yes.  There are period sources for home-made shoes (ie Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker 1856), but you'll want to buy this item.  See Robert Land Historic Shoes and Fugawee to train your eye, then either save up for the good stuff, or search e-bay & second-hand shops for something passable.  I've heard paddock boots are a possible alternative, depending on your situation.  Things to look for in 'period-passable' shoes: leather upper, low/no heel, fastens with side or front laces or side elastic panel ("congress gaitor"), and square or rounded toe (not pointy).  Speed laces should be removed if possible.
1850 Lady's Slipper (All the fancy work slipper patterns I've seen either have a two-piece upper like this one--a trapezoidal toe-piece with a straight band around the heal, or else a single-piece upper shaped like a bottom-heavy V).

1859 Nightcap
1859 Nightgown Drawings

Pouche Pompadour (elegant travelling bag)
Travelling Bag
Re: Period Baskets (read this before buying a basket; Mrs. Mescher's other articles are as interesting as they are diverse
Toilette Sachets

Looking for something to work on at events?  Antique Pattern Library

New period seamstresses looking for an easier start should buy The Dressmaker's Guide.  I've heard good things about the Truly Victorian patterns, and Past Patterns.  Kayfig patterns are meticulously researched; I've made up their wrapper pattern and found it charming (also, the instructions are a comb-bound book, the first half of which is an illustrated tutorial of period construction techniques). If you pick up Simplicity patterns during the $2 sales, look for the Martha McCain or Kay Gnagley ones--the shapes are good, but the scaling is weird and the instructions aren't always period-appropriate.  I've used several simplicity patterns, but I wouldn't recommend them for a first dress unless you have good spacial sense & really can't afford a more straightforward pattern.

Good luck, and always make a test muslin!

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