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Friday, August 24, 2007

Women's Clothes

With Kris' clothes pretty much out of the way, it was time to focus on getting my outfit together. I had started some of my pieces prior to the parade, but had been unable to finish them in time. My new goal was to have mine and Kolby's outfit finished by the next reenactment which was going to be on June 2nd and 3rd. Lori from the regiment was a huge help in getting me started with what pieces I would need.

Here is what I put together for my outfit:

Black Shoes
Just as with the men's shoes, there are vendors that sell period shoes for women. Someday I may get these, but for now $80 for shoes was not feasible. Townsend sells these, but I am not altogether convinced that someone of the status that I want to represent would wear nice shoes like these for everyday. Since the cost is too much for now, I have time to do some more research on this. For now I just used some plain black slip on shoes that I was using for work. I had picked these up at Wal-Mart for around $20. They didn't look overly modern, so they worked well enough for now.

Cotton Socks
Since I would be wearing skirts, my socks would not be showing as much as a man's socks would. For this reason I didn't feel it was necessary to buy special socks for myself. I couldn't find socks that were made specifically for women online, so I just decided to forgo these for the time being. Instead I headed down to the local sports shop and I bought some blue and black soccer socks. They were a solid color. Of course they were by no means period, but since my socks would not be showing too much, they worked fine for now.

Before making the actual pieces of my dress, I made sure to do a little research on what was actually worn (see my post with research links). For my skirts, I decided to make two. Most of what I read showed that women rarely wore one skirt at a time unless it was very hot out. I picked a set of patterns from Townsend to help me the skirts (as well as some other things). The skirts in here are sewn directly onto a waistband. I have seen some skirts that float on a string, and are just naturally gathered when they are worn. But I preferred the ones that are sewn in place because I figured I wouldn't be adjusting them as much. I have also heard that some people use an elastic waist for their skirts. Of course this is not period correct either, but considering that no one should ever see the top of your skit, this should not be a problem and would most likely be very comfortable. I made my two skirts out of linen. I sewed the portions of the skirt that would not be seen with my machine, but the seams that would be seen I hand sewed to try and give it a more authentic look. The red linen I bought at a local store, it is 100% linen, but somehow is wrinkle free. I love it! The blue skirt I made I bought the fabric from It's a very nice color, but wrinkles very easily. I don't usually iron it, mostly out of laziness.

Every woman had pockets. This was the equivalent of a purse. The pockets were big and would hold everything that a woman needed. The pockets were often ornately decorated, but contrary to what one might think, these pockets were always worn underneath clothing. Pockets never would have been worn outside the clothes for fear of pickpockets. The pattern that I bought included a pattern for the pockets as well. I used some of the white linen that I bought from to make there. I sewed these pretty much all by hand since they would never be worn over my clothing. My pockets are awesome to hold my camera and any small modern day items that I want to have on hand, but do not want to be seen.

English Bodice
After doing a lot of research, I have gotten a lot of mixed feelings on the bodices. I think the more common thought right now is that the bodice was not worn by itself in public, although there has been some proof that it was a real piece of clothing, many believe that it was worn under something else to help keep ladies warm. However, the bodice is the most cost effective piece of clothing that i could get to go over my shift. I wasn't looking to spend a lot of money up front, so I decided that the bodice would not be that bad a choice. A lot of the girls in my regiment wear a bodice, so I would not stand out by wearing one. I got a blue one from Townsend. The pattern pack that I bought does have a pattern for a shortgown, so I plan on making one of these as well, though there is now emerging research that shows that these would not have been worn as commonly out in public either. I think the best route to go will be a gown, a more simple one since I am not portraying a rich persona.

Shift and Cap
I had planned on sewing my own shift, but when it came time for our first reenactment, I still had not made it because I had been spending so much time making my other items. So I decided that I would try and buy these two items from the sutlers there. I was very lucky that one of the girls from our regiment was present as a sutler and had a shift and a cap that she was looking to sell. I bought them right up and was able to use them for that weekend. I figured that I would try and make a shift later since it would probably be a good idea to have two, one for each day.

Believe me yours faithfully,

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