1760's Colonial Girl's Outfit

1760's Colonial Girl's Outfit

My friend Kimberly mentioned to me that her daughter, my mini-me, needed a colonial outfit for school.  I sooooo wanted to make it!  I was trying to be nice and not steal the opportunity to make the costume from Kimberly, but oh, how I wanted to make this!!!  She graciously agreed to let me do it, and I immediately started shopping for fabric. Even though this is for a kid, and a school thing, I still wanted to go historically accurate. Because that's most of the fun for me.  ;) The outfit is made mostly from 100% linen, and the underthings are in a cotton muslin.   I did use a sewing machine on a lot of the long seams, but did as much of the finishing by hand as possible. 

The first garment is the chemise.  It is always worn under clothes, and is intended to be washed frequently, so that the outer garments don't have to be washed as often.   

Next, pockets are tied on around the waist.  Pockets were not built into garments, and were a separate garment.  

Pockets

Pockets tied on over the chemise

Over the chemise and pockets, a petticoat is tied on.  This garment can be an older skirt, or a seperate garment intended to be used as a petticoat.  I made this one in muslin, to keep it lightweight.  Modern children are not used to wearing all the layers that children of previous eras wore, and I didn't want to make my mini-me miserable.  :) 

The pleating on the petticoat and skirts are different in the front and back; the front has a flat front, and the back has an inverted pleat.   The inverted pleat helps add extra fabric so the skirts are comfortable to sit in, and the front is designed to be flat so that the multiple layers of skirts don't become too cumbersome in the front.  The openings of the petticoat and the skirt are on the sides; these also provide openings to access the pockets. 

Next, the skirt is put on over the petticoat.  

The back of the skirt has the same inverted pleat as the petticoat. 

Here you can see how the skirts are tied on.  The strings from the back are pulled around to the front and tied, and the strings from the front are tied in back.  This gives the skirt a better fit at the waist while still keeping the side slits open to access the pockets, and also allows for skirts to be adjustable to be worn longer as the child grows. 

After the skirts are on, the bodice is put on.  It ties in the front, and has ribbons on the 3/4 sleeves.  

The back of the bodice has vents to help it fit over the layers of skirts.  It also has tiny pleats in the back of the shoulder / arm seams to give ease for comfort.  

Next, an apron is pinned on. Like the chemise, the apron is a garment intended to protect the outer garments from needing to be washed frequently, and it is worn all of the time, not just while working in the kitchen or doing chores.  Also, unlike modern aprons, aprons of the 17th and 18th centuries did not have a strap to go over the shoulders or around the neck. Instead, it is simply pinned on to the bodice with straight pins. 

It ties in the back.  These are the only ties on the garment that are intentionally left on display on the outside of the garment.  

The outfit still isn't quite complete! Next, a kerchief is folded into a triangle, and worn around the neck, with the point in back, and the front corners tucked either into the bodice or under the apron bib.  The kerchief is worn to cover the low neckline of the bodice, for modesty. And, because it was improper for women to have their heads bare, a bonnet was worn at all times.  Women would wear a hat over their bonnet whenever leaving the house.  

This was such a fun project to work on, and went surprisingly fast, because it's so small.  I spent about 50 hours on it, start to finish, including time to stop and play with the dogs when they were being all cute, or watch a movie while I sewed, and spending more time watching than actually sewing. ;)   It took roughly 5 weekend days, with most of the day spent sitting at the sewing table. I think it's the fastest I've ever done a full historical outfit! I'm kinda hoping Mini-me has a Victorian themed event next  year. Or rennaisance.  Ah, hell, I'm game for any era, who am I kidding? ;)   

 

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