Folding and Storing Your Gowns

When I first began this blog almost 8 years ago, I created a post on how to properly fold a gown.  I referenced it numerous times over the years and decided the overall look needed updating.  So unlike the first post which was only pictures, this time I recorded it!

But first, why is it important to learn to properly fold and store a gown?  I know that I have many newbies make the critical mistake of hanging their one piece, 5 yard gowns on metal hangers.  Then a month or so later when they wish to wear the gown, they discover the damage the skinny hanger did to the shoulders and the strain put on their hand stitches.  Unless your gown is two pieces (where the bodice can but hung but the skirt folded) folding your gown really adds longevity and preserves the shape and design of the gown.

But what about in the 19th century?  Didn’t they have hangers?  Well, yes.  Hangers were around and would be used (for those who could afford closets and more then one garment) for pieces that were light enough such as men’s garments, children’s clothes, and bodices.  Otherwise, gowns were hung on hooks using long ties sewn to the waistband of the interior of the gown.  The gown would hang with the bodice laying over the skirt portion inside out.

Yet for seasonal gowns, or if you lack closet space, folding your gown really is the best option.  And this particular method, taken from a late 1830’s guide, creates a nice little bundle that can be safely stored for travel or long term without damage to the gown.  Once the gown has been folded, you can either wrap in plain white tissue paper or brown paper.  Avoid anything with a pattern or dye to avoid staining your gown.

Ready to learn how to fold your own gown?

I hope this tutorial has been helpful!  Remember, this technique can be used for both gowns and undergarments.

Happy Folding! 


Hale, Sarah Josepha Buell, 1788-1879. The workwoman’s guide: containing instructions to the inexperienced in cutting out and completing those articles of wearing           apparel, &c. which are usually made at home : also, explanations on upholstery, straw-plaiting, bonnet-making, knitting, &c. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University,     Mann Library. London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co. …, 1838

General Overview of Fashion Video Series 1855-1900

In this post, we will continue discussing the general looks and styles of fashion from the second half of the 19th century.  This section is by far my favorite!  Not only have I made more gowns from this time period then any other, but I find the styles and looks to be the most fascinating and complex.  Just a reminder that these videos are meant to be a very brief and general overview.  It does not take into account the various sub styles and looks that occurred along sides these general styles.  But it is a great place to start!!!

Looking for the first half of the century?  Click HERE to watch.


Age of the Crinoline – 1855-1869

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“What Do I Need to Start” Living History Checklist

Now that you have begun the process of getting connected with a living history group or museum ( you can read that post HERE) it is now time to begin working on what you are going to wear and need.  This really will range on what decade you are doing, whether it is event based or something more continuous, and the weather.  When I start to plan for a new ensemble for living history, I really like to use a checklist.  This way I can keep track of what I have, what I need, and what I need to buy or make.

I have taken my basic checklist and updated it  to include explanations to help guide you as you begin your planning.  The expanded  and detailed outline is below, but you can also download the PDF copy (link below the checklist) to make your own notes.  I highly recommend printing it out and writing all over it.  If you are making items, staple fabric samples on the pages so you can see everything in one place.

Living History Garment Checklist

Do I have the proper type and number of clothing?

Below is a list of just about anything you would need for an historical look.  Do you need to have everything listed?  NO!  But it is a great place to start and see what are your first priorities to purchase, make, or what you already may have.

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Getting Started in Living History

So, you have been thinking for a while about getting involved in living history….maybe even connecting with a local museum or historical chapter.  I mean, you joined a living history membership to try and get connected..that is why you are here!  But you just aren’t sure where to go, what to say, and how to even find a museum or living history group that is interested.

Don’t worry.  We will get you on the right path!

So first off, lets go through the main similarities and differences between living history (a.k.a. Reenacting Groups) and museums.   Museums are (usually) stationary buildings that focus on either a wide or a narrow part of history.  They can feature information on local, state, and national history, or on a particular facet of history (i.e. transportation, women’s history, a specific individual etc.)  Many museums are  a simply display or exhibit only, while others may feature a “living”portion with dressed individuals portraying various parts of historical life.  These individuals may be volunteers (docents) or paid employees.  Living history groups, in comparison, tend to be independently operated and attend and/or create historical events.  Both strive to provide a true, historically authentic experience for both attendees and reenactors.  Both are great places to get involved based on the type of reenacting you are thinking of trying.  And both hope that you have done your research!

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