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Dressing the Colonial Family

Research, Patterns and Fabric
     
Preliminary Research Changes
Books More Fabric
Patterns Other Patterns
Fabrics More Books

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Dressing the Colonial Family

Research, Patterns and Fabric

My brother, sister-in-law and their six children will be visiting Williamsburg in the spring of 2004. I have agreed to costume them all in appropriate attire.

I am dividing this project up into two construction phases. The first, from now (October 1st) until Christmas, I will be working on the basic pieces for the children – chemise, gowns and caps for the girls and shirt, waistcoat and breeches for the boys. After Christmas, I will work on the clothing for the adults and cloaks and jackets for the children.

(Note: Right after Christmas, I realized that I had bit off way more than I could chew and there was no way I was going to get all this accomplished. Fortunately, my sister-in-law picked up the ball and ran with it. Boy, did she run with it!)

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Preliminary Research –

There is almost nothing available on the web for Colonial children’s clothing. What I did find was from the Colonial Williamsburg site.

http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/history/clothing/children/child01.cfm

I also found the information at 18cNewEnglandLife.org helpful.

http://www.18cnewenglandlife.org/18cNEL/children.htm

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Books –

I already own Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwoman’s Dresses and Their Construction: c.1660-1860 by Janet Arnold and Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women’s Dress 1500-1800 by Jean Hunnisett.

I have ordered Fitting and Proper by Sharon Ann Burnston, Tidings From the 18th Century by Beth Gilgun, and Textiles for Colonial Clothing by Sally Queen. I tried to get Costume Close-up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790 by Linda Baumgarten, et al but it is out of stock everywhere – even the publisher is out until about Christmas.

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Patterns –

After checking for available patterns and reading as many reviews as I could find, I have settled on the following patterns for the children:

Ben – size 14 slim – Rocking Horse Farm #107

Courtney – size 10 slim – Rocking Horse Farm #102

Stephanie – size 6x slim – Rocking Horse Farm #101

Emily – estimated to be size 18 months by next spring – the only infant pattern available by Kannik’s Korner

These patterns were purchased from Harper House.

Michael – size 5 slim

Isaac – size 3 toddler

There are really no patterns available for little boys. The button front on Ben’s pattern is really too fiddly for little boys. In period, little boys would have worn frocks or gowns. I don’t think a dress would go over too well with Michael or Isaac. They want to look just like their big brother. So, I found Simplicity 8442 for Isaac and I will modify this pattern to make it more colonial looking and then grade it up in size for Michael.

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Fabrics –

Thanks to the Columbus Day sale at Joann Fabrics, I bought the following:

10 yards of white cotton broadcloth for shirt and chemises (to start with)

6 yards of carnation pink cotton broadcloth for Stephanie’s dress and dress lining

5 yards of cotton calico for Courtney’s dress (to be lined with some of the white cotton broadcloth)

3 yards or so each of cotton broadcloth in khaki, navy, gray, and black for lining waistcoats and jackets

All of the above were promptly preshrunk and are ready to go.

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Changes –

With further research, I discovered that the fabric I purchased for Courtney’s dress is not period. I tried looking for more suitable fabric without success. Eventually, I decided to use the carnation pink for Courtney’s dress and to do something else for Stephanie.

Tidings From the 18th Century is an absolute gem! In the book is a pattern for a “chemise dress” made of muslin. I decide to do this for Stephanie with a carnation pink sash.

Tidings From the 18th Century also contains patterns for small boy’s shirts, waistcoats and breeches.

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More Fabric –

5 yards navy wool for Ben’s frockcoat and breeches

3 yards gray wool for Ben’s waistcoat and Mike’s breeches

1 yard black and white herringbone tweed wool for Mike’s waistcoat

1 yard brown and cream tweed wool for Isaac’s waistcoat

I recycled an old brown wool blend pants from my husband for Isaac’s breeches

1 yard hunter green wool for Emily’s frock/coat

I had purchased 10 yards of 3.5 oz linen for my Elizabethan shirts, smocks, and chemises. Nothing gives a period look and feel for shirts and chemises like this linen, so I decide to use this for the kid’s shirts and chemises.

The wool was washed in cold water, delicate cycle and dried on low heat to preshrink. The 3.5 oz linen was washed in hot water, regular cycle and dried on high heat. This was repeated 3 times to produce maximum shrinkage.

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Other Patterns -

During Joann Fabrics pattern sale, I picked up some patterns I thought might be useful:

Butterick 3072 – 32-36 – Men’s Colonial Costume – Ben

Simplicity 5732 – 7-14 and 3-6 – Boy’s pants, tie and lined jacket – Ben and Mike - jacket

Simplicity 5648 – 7-14 and 3-6 – Boy’s pants or shorts, shirt and vest – Ben and Mike - vest

Simplicity 7036 – 3-6 – Child’s pants, shirt and knit top – Mike - pants

Simplicity 9836 – 7-14 – Girl’s Renaissance Costume – Courtney and Stephanie – dress

Simplicity 9292 – 7-14 and 3-6 – Girl’s Sleepwear – Courtney and Stephanie – nightgown for cutting chemise neckline

Simplicity 8953 – 4-8 – Child’s dress – Stephanie – sash

Simplicity 5689 – 2-6x – Child’s dress or top, shorts, skirt and hat – Stephanie – dress

Simplicity 5517 – ½-4 – Toddler’s Renaissance Costume – Emily – view B

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More Books –

I managed to find Costume Close-Up at Harper House.

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