MuseumMinute

Historical Costumes

Growing up, I was very fortunate to have a mom who A. could sew and B. always offered to sew me an amazing Halloween costume. I don’t have any childhood photos of me online (boo), but rest assured, the costumes were pretty amazing – and I still have them! My mom actually wanted to get rid of them a few years ago–oh, the horror!–but I talked her off the ledge.

Anyhow, every fall my mom and I ventured to the fabric store tosift through the pattern books, looking for the perfect costume. The catalogs offered colorful photos of witches, clowns, fictional characters, and period costumes. These “olde tyme” (pronounced “old-ee time-ee”) patterns gave the essence of historical fashion, but were never meant to replicate the real thing.

Until now! During a recent trip to the fabric store, I stumbled across a wonderful pattern (Simplicity 3727) for a beautiful dress with the description, “Civil War dress from the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society.” I am assuming that they crafted this pattern from a dress currently in their collection, but the description is all I have to go on. Does anyone know more about this?

Historically accurate patterns have been around for a long time, of course, from both small companies like Past Patterns and giants like the vintage reissues at Vogue. But I was happy to see another mainstream pattern company, Simplicity, sell historically accurate patterns as well.

For an interesting look at the evolution of the reproduction costumes at Colonial Williamsburg, be sure to check out their very neat 75th anniversary time line.

2 thoughts on “Historical Costumes

  1. Silly, Lindsey, ask a WHS worker. Namely, moi. LOL Yes, it is a dress from our historical collections. WHS used to publish the patterns themselves (see this page for a look at patterns not in print, but still for sale), and they were based on clothing in our collections. WHS found that it was too expensive to produce ourselves and made an agreement with Simplicity for the 1857 dress. Simplicity realized the money to be made in Civil War era clothing. I usually check Simplicity first if I’m looking for something somewhat accurate. I hope my kids remember my costume making much like you did with your mom. And the time line for Williamsburg is so cool!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s