I got invited to a 18th century event with the question “I’m sure you have some 18th century clothing”, my answer was “No actually not, but the event is one month away and I am sure that I can make something”.
I have liked the 18th century for years, started a outfit years ago but it never got any further then a par of stays, a chemise, a pocket, bumroll and a half finished jacket. So it was not really a hard thing to start up with again. Last time I wanted the big silk dress, but now I had acquired the taste for lower class. The “undressed” is so nice, very forgiveable and a god place to start. It can easily be made on a budget as you can wear miss matched skirts and jackets; perfect for thrift shop fabrics.
I asked for a Swedish 18th century artist to Google and was told that Per Hilleström was the way to go and I quickly decided on this picture. He paints a good amount of more common Swedish people an around a time that I like. The picture of the women and the fish is dated to 1775, a period that I like shape wise and I really like the shape of her jacket, simple but nice.
I looked around some more and added my findings to a album on my pinterest .
My old stays was way to small, so I made a new one. The pattern is the 1776 stays from “Corsets and crinolines” by Norah Waugh. I decide to not hand stitch the stays as I had only a month for this project. So therefore I choose to use coutil for the base fabric and also steel boning, I will make a more correct one when I have the time for it. The top fabric is a old linen table cloth that was mangled into shine by some old lady making it look almost silk like, I thrifted it for almost no money at all.
I choose to sew the middle section by hand, if it decided to peek out under by bows or if I needed to undo the jacket for some reason, faking it until you make it.
The stays are bound with red wool, leftover from my medieval hose making. Wool is a very nice material to bind with as it can be steamed and pressed flat after binding and have some natural stretch even if I actually did cut it on bias as well. when binding tabs, you want all the help you can get. The binding was machine stitched thee first way around and then stitched down on the back by hand. Making it very neat and nice on the outside.
I choose to make the lacing holes by hand, I as I am crazy and actually love button hole stitching I stitched them with button hole silk thread from Gütermann.
I really like the finished result of the stays, they are nice to wear and does no compress anything, as stays are not made for tight lacing but to only give the correct shape, something that my soft body very easily does. I would say that stays are on the hole more comfortable to wear then other types of corsets, as there are no reduction. The measurements of my waist and bust of me in stays and without are the same, or to be honest my waist is slightly bigger in the stays. But the tabs makes by hips look even more huge then they are, perfect for the 18th century silhouette.
In the pictures of me in my stays, you can see my old hand stitched chemise, I used it almost as it was, but I added a small ruffle of a finer linen around the neckline, inspired by this extant chemise. I also swapped the green string in the drawstring neckline into a pink faux silk taffeta ribbon.
My next dilemma was the shoes, I had no budget at all to buy finished shoes and I had no shoes at home that might work. SO I turned to my local second hand shops. I wear a size 42 (US size 11) and had no real hopes about finding shoes, my local second hand shops are not that good. So I was very surprised to actually find a pair of never worn size 41 shoes in real leather and with a heel that might actually pass as nearly right for under 10 USD. They were a bit frumpy and in a boring colour, but I instantly knew that I could make these work. And we have a shoe stretcher at work, so that they were one size to small was not an issue.
I did some creative cutting, gluing, and then binding it all with a thin leather I had at home already, adding a tongue and buckles made out of other buckles. To make it all into one shoe again, I slapped some black leather paint on them and; Tada! Passable as 18th century shoes! The stockings I bought from American Duchess ages ago, I was very happy that I had them just laying around.
Next up was the jacket. I already decided that I wanted a 1770:ish jacket with bows in the front. So I turned to the very good book called “Kvinnligt mode under två sekel” by Britta Hammar and Pernilla Rasmussen.” (Female fashion over two centuries). A very in depth book using Swedish extant garments, looking at everything from the fabrics to the way the sleeves were set and the seems where sewn.
I choose a silk jacket in the book for the simplicity of the cut, and the short sleeves and bows as in the painting that I was inspired by. Using my stays pattern a base I made the pattern for the jacket looking at pictures of the pattern for the silk jacket. I made two toilles to make sure that the shape was right, the gores put in at the right height and the skirt of the jacket wide enough. Also testing the sleeves and length.
The fabric for the jacket is a brown wool that I found at a thrift shop for around two USD and the lining as a end of the bolt fine natural linen with sun bleached edges that I got for five USD at a fabric shop. Both in very nice qualities. The jacket was hand stitched together and fully lined of course. I got brown silk ribbon of ebay to put in the front and the sleeve ruffles are made in thin linen fabric.
I wanted t have the not so fancy embroidered sleeve ruffles, as also can be found in both pictures and extant examples. For one, I do not embroider that well, I did not have the time and also, I wanted to keep it simple. I wanted to keep the silk ribbons and silk socking the most fancy thing in this outfit.
I knew I needed something on my head, and I opted for the small linen cap with ruffles or lace edges, the ribbon in the back was inspired by this painting also by Hilleström. Still keeping it simple without lace but adding a matching ribbon.
One of the other things I already had was the embroidered pocket, inspired by extant pockets of forest and deer but with a very modern twist. I made this for several years ago and it is actually taken from a mug made by my all time favourite designer Klaus Haapaniemi. The mug was part of the summer collection Satumetsä he made for the Finnish company Iittala that I adore. The pocket is made in linen with linen embroidery, so not very historically accurate.
I also had a bum roll, but it was quite big so I deflated it a bit by opening it up and removing more then half the stuffing. I already have so mush hips, and for a common persons outfit you don’t need that much oopmf in the back. But as the stays gave me superhips I looked almost flat in the back and it looked kind of off, so the bum roll only took the sharp edge of the flatness.
The fabric for the skirt is the only fabric that I bought specificity for this outfit, it is a woad blue wool from my favourite shop “Medeltidsmode”. I made the skirt the “apron way”, with the back part tying in the front and the front tying in the back, giving you natural pockets slits in the sides. In many of the skirts from the book “Kvinnligt mode under två sekel” the front part had a wider waistband then the back so I made my skirt according to this fashion as well, it is very simply pleated to the waistband.
I am very pleased with my outfit, but the only thing that I am no all that happy with is my bangs, They are to short for me to try and hide in a hairdo so I simply left them out this time, perhaps I need to get myself a good wig in stead so I don’t have to bother with my hair, wigs are period correct after all.
Now follows a bunch of pictures I took by some 18th century cottages that are situated only a short walk from my apartment, I feel so spoiled to live in Sweden sometimes, we have so much history that is just around the corner from where we live.
The event I attended was awesome, very cosy in a 18th century cabin in the woods in Stockholm, filled to the brim with nice people in awesome outfits. If you want to see pictures from the event, check out these facebook albums
14 thoughts on “18th century common woman”
You are amazing. Thank you for sharing.
I’ll second the ‘amazing’ comment. Sigh…you make it look so easy. The first (and hardest bit for me) is to have someone draft an accurate pattern block for my torso. I actually enjoy hand sewing, but I have serious fitting issues.
Wonderful! Thanks for sharing.
The 18th century Swedish commoner was impressively well-clad and -shod! A very inspiring influence on contemporary fashion too, imho.
You look great! I love seeing the whole project in one post. My favorite is your pocket. I think you did a great job with the shoes, too.
Åh vad duktig du är! Känner mig som värsta fuskaren i jämförelse! Är så imponerad att du hann allt på så kort tid och ändå gjorde det så seriöst. Jättefina grejer och jättefina bilder, som vanligt!
Finns det någon tidsperiod du inte ser stilig ut i? :-) Jag är superimponerad att du hinner med så pass mycket under så kort tid.
How fun to see you step into the 18th century! Your stays look great! I have been a fan of your medieval work for *ever* … it’s really great to see you step into the 18th century!
Hi ! Beautiful costume!
Ive recently attempted my first try at the exact same corset as the fourth picture and I have no clue on how to bind the parts on the bottom that are the inwards corner (does that make sense?) I can do the curves just not the curve on the inwards part without it bunching up or having excess.
Any tips? n_n xx
You look lovely as always. Great work!
I thought I recognized that embroidery :D Cool that you used that. And you did wonders with the shoes! I’m pretty scared to do anything that radical to any shoes. I have to get my hands on that thing, I’m really lacking on the shoe department.
This is fabulous! I love how you repurposed so many things from the thrift shop! Altogether, you look like you stepped out of an 18th century painting, bangs and all!