Dressing like a Civil War Woman: The Order of Clothing

There can be a bit of confusion of all the various items one should wear when dressing as a 1860’s lady, and in what order all of these items belong. I have created a picture tutorial of what I humbly think (based on research and practicality) the order of events should be when dressing. Hope this helps!
Step One:
Put on stockings and garters.

Step Two:
Put on chemise and corset. Lace up corset as tight as you can but make sure you still feel comfortable and can breathe normally.

Step Three:
Do your hair. I find that this is the best point to create one’s hairstyle. This way you have the basic foundation of clothing on, yet you can still move fairly easily.

Step Four:
Put on your pantaloons and tuck your chemise in. Some people but their pantaloons on underneath the corset…it is your choice.

Step Five:
Put on a modesty petticoat. The modesty petticoat is not as long or as full as a regular petticoat and is designed to protect you should your hoopskirt go flying about! I find this piece to be rather annoying but needed. If you are going to be outside during the winter, I would make this petticoat out of quilted flannel for warmth.

Step Six:
Put on your shoes and your hoopskirt…in that order…this way you can still reach your feet easily.

Step Seven:
Put on your over petticoat.

Step Eight:
Put on a corset cover if needed. If your gown is of light or see through material, a corset cover is a must!

Step Nine:
Finally…put on your lovely dress of choice!
P.S. This dress is the completed (well, almost completed) blue and white Day Dress. All that is needed is the front hook and eye closures down the front.

Step Ten:
Put on jewelry, accessories, and hat! Now you are ready to go out after these ten easy (ok…well maybe not easy) steps.
Oh and here is a close up of my new shoes!!! Love them!

Hope this helps in your effort to put together the perfect Civil War outfit!!

1860’s Corset Cover

I realized that after I tried on my white bodice, one could see my corset. How scandalous! So I decided to create a corset cover. I didn’t feel like paying money for a pattern and I was confident I could create one on my own. I did some research and found several pictures for inspiration.

corsetcover1 (1)


All three covers have darts in the front for a tight fight, a scooped neckline, and trim. With these images in mind, I went through my collection of patterns and decided to use Period Impression Pattern 450. This pattern in for a Day Dress, however the bodice pieces are wonderful for a variety of purposes. All I did was add three inches in length to the pattern. I assembled the back, side, and front pieces (made out of white muslin) and then fitted it on my dressform over my chemise and corset. This part is important so you can get a really tight and accurate fit. I pinned the darts and then sewed them.

Once I had the correct fit, I then cut out a scooped neckline and hemmed it. I know that the above covers have a very wide neckline, but I do not like the feeling of straps or clothing items falling down my shoulders, so I made sure to leave a pretty wide shoulder strap. I also decided not to do sleeves since my chemise already has sleeves and I didn’t want so much material around my arm. I added five buttons down the front, hemmed the bottom and armholes. And for a little girly finish I attached a lace trim around the armholes. Overall, I am very pleased with how it turned out!

Next up on my sewing list: Drawers!! Stay tuned!

1860’s Corset

Well for the reenactment I am attending in August I needed to make a new corset. I wanted something that was a bit more secure and more durable. I used the Past Patterns Mid-Century Stays for this corset and am very pleased with how it turned out.
Here’s what I did…
I first cut out the pieces using a medium weight, white cotton and transfered all markings.
Then I put in all the gores…which took quite a while. I also made sure to topstitch all the seams as well.
I then put together the lining with the face pieces and made the casings for the busk and stays. I also made the eyelets for the back lacing.
I used shoelace string..about five yards worth…to lace up the back.
And voila…a corset!
I do have a few things to tweak on the bust gores…but overall it came out great! OH and I did finish the brown and tan gown! This picture is very dark but in person it looks great! Its now for sale on my Etsy shop!
Have a great rest of your day!!