I have always been a huge Civil War buff. After college there was a time when I thought that I might try to get into reenacting. I didn’t know anybody who reenacted, but I knew that you could do it individually.
Since you can’t reenact without the proper attire I knew that I would have to acquire some clothing. The problem was that I didn’t want to spend $500 on a dress. In order to get something that actually looked period that was the neighborhood that I was looking at spending.
I decided that I would sew my own dresses. Or at least attempt it.
This was my first attempt at really sewing anything large. I purchased the homespun material, about 10 yards of it, and used a Simplicity pattern. I had purchased a hoop and corset in Gettysburg, so I was good to go with that. I’m not sure that I can fit into this camp dress anymore, though. I made it at a time when I was very sick, but didn’t realize it. I was beginning to be at my thinnest that I had ever been in my adult life. I wish that I was that thin again!
Once I had sewn the camp dress I decided that I would need a day dress, too. At the time Simplicity had just come out with a series of period patterns that really did a great job of actually looking like Civil War clothing instead of looking like a Cinderella ball gown.
This particular pattern was simple enough for me to sew and fancy enough to be able to wear as a visiting dress. This is really what I would have worn as a reenactor if I had gone out for the day to an event. The previous dress would have been worn if I was actually camping out and having to do manual labor in camp.
I styled mine slightly different, and my hoop isn’t as wide as the model’s on the pattern, but I felt that my dress turned out really good. This one was more challenging than the first one. I had to sew lining to the bodice, plus all of the trim on my dress is hand sewn. I had lace that looked like it was hand-tatted so I used either coffee or tea (I can’t remember which) and dyed it a little bit.
The dress doesn’t look like much, but when you pick it up it’s quite hefty. I have to admit, though, that I loved sewing all of the trim onto it. I never did wear this as I had intended because then I met Jay, got married, and all thoughts of reenacting went right out of my head. That doesn’t mean that I will never use it. It just means that for right now I don’t have anywhere to really wear it.
I must agree with my mom on the Simplicity patterns, though. If you’ve never really sewn before and you want to give a try you should really use a Simplicity pattern. They are easy to follow with clear instructions and you don’t have a lot of elaborate things to do. Whenever I have to find a pattern I always head to the Simplicity books, first.
Boogart we miss you and love you tons.