Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Planning An 18th Century Outfit (Using only free online tutorials!!!)

I love all historical fashions, and the Georgian Era (18th century or the Revolutionary War Era) stands out for me as having a particularly attractive aesthetic.

Image result for rococo fashion
800 × 400 -

And it wasn't all "Marie Antoinette" either! Each decade has its own unique look that with binging on period dramas   research one can start to appreciate.

Whereas "Poldark" is set forty years later

"Outlander" is set in the 1740s...

Now, 18th century clothes were occasionally very complex, as per my sketch (based on an 18th century illustration ) below, but, again that was not the case with the working classes. I don't believe working class outfits were very complicated. They couldn't have been, because ordinary people made cloth and sewed their own clothes by hand. Most couldn't read, let alone follow patterns and instructions.

Versailles fashion #sketch #history #fashion #costume #pencil #Rococo #baroque

Check out this interactive "Dress the Part" game from  the Colonial Williamsburg website that I used to enjoy as a kid (feels kinda racist, though, that all the people of colour are dressed more humbly. I'm sure there were wealthy people of colour in the 18th century).

In any case, here are some "Design Inspiration" pictures before we get to the tutorial links you're all waitin' for. I think you can right-click the pictures and that'll take you to the original site (they are NOT my pictures):

The "Chocolate Girl" is my main inspiration

From the "Mantua Diary" blog, she's awesome!!
This is a Rubens, BTW

So here's how I plan to make a working class 18th century outfit (using completely free patterns). Note that I'm a costumer (ie. for cosplay, for theatre, etc), NOT a historical reproduction-maker and thus I'm not going for 1000% accuracy.
  • Hairpins
  • Drawstring cap (ie. mob cap)
  • Simple linen/cotton chemise
  • Stays made with cable tie boning
  • A petticoat (or two)
  • A shortgown or bedgown
  • Barefoot, or stockings and some kind of shoes

1) Hairpins haven't changed much. They date back to the 18th century and I think chignon (u-shaped) pins should be perfectly fine.

2) Here's how to make authentic 18th century curls by researcher Janet Stephens:

3) Here's a gorgeous mob cap... made using this pattern (wonderful detailed diagram and tutorial)

4) Here's  how to make a historical-looking bergere or sunhat from a modern straw hat
5) Here's how to make an 18th century shift or chemise (with detailed pictures/diagrams)

By the "Marquise":
By "Mara Riley":
By "Tea in a Teacup":

6) Now about stays... Being working class, I can wear "old-fashioned" and unfancy stays. Working class stays also can be made without shoulder straps for greater freedom of movement. It is probably best to buy a proper pattern for stays, such as this lovely new pattern by the American Duchess:

No, this is not a paid advertisement, just major fangirling

 I messaged the "American Duchess" and she did mention that any conical-shaped pair of stays can be passed off for working-class costumes...

So, the easiest thing to do use the Elizabethan "corset" generator, WITH boned tabs:

Here's one that I did (a "draft")

Me again! I know the boning isn't great but I will definitely use cable ties next time

I AM confused why mine doesn't look like other "Elizabethan stays", such as this one by the MN society of costumers

You can also reshape the custom  Elizabethan stays to a more "18 century" look using any one  of these diagrams. That's what I plan to  do. The "Aristocat" has an excellent diagram...

Constructing a miniature 7x4 inch model of 1780s stays out of craft foam #geek #cosplay #miniature #fashion #history
That I remade in EVA foam, in miniature size

18 century #corset all laced up #miniature #history
For no good reason, haha!

 7) 18th Century petticoat. SO sensible, straightforward, and simple. Just two rectangles, joined at the sides, pleated at the top and tied onto the waist separately (front and back). Working classes keepin' it real, YO.

I love her! I've been following her website since I was a wee bairn

 Another lovely pattern from "Fashionable Frolick":
That shows you how to pin pleats and stuff
And one last one from "Yesterday's Thimble":

OMG that's an awesome shade of green... so lovely

8) The petticoat serves as a "skirt", and  a bedgown/shortgown will serve as my "shirt" or "top".
Aylwen has a straightforward diagram of a shortgown:

 Mara Riley also has a tutorial, and "Threading Through Time" has some great pictures and illustrations. Here's some historical info on the shortgown by

Threading Through Time - SO GORGEOUS!!!

 8) The shoes part has me confused, but here's how to turn modern pumps into 18 century pumps (inappropriate for my means and station though)

As with the stays, I might go back further in time and use something like medieval turnshoes 
or ghillies

By Morgan Donner on DeviantArt
And if you have the means:

9) A plain neckerchief would be a simple and ubiquitous 18th century accessory

10) And an apron! (My cosplay personas are ALWAYS bakers)

Bib or no bib, 18th century aprons sure aren't rocket science!

Gathered square and ties...

The reason why I look for online resources is because patterns are hard to get in my country and historical costuming is pretty unheard of. The amazing thing about the historical costuming community (online) is that everyone is so willing to share information, whether patterns, tips or shortcuts. Tutorials abound and it's easy for the beginner to get started.

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