The first thing every lady puts on is a shift--a loose, slip-like garment to absorb body oils and sweat. Mine was made using the free instructions here.
I used a white cotton sheet from the thrift store and trimmed the wide neckline with Wal-Mart cotton lace. Green ribbon makes it adjustable, so a bit of lace can peek out from my dress neckline.
Next come the stays--the eighteenth-century corset. I used the half-boned stays pattern from J.P. Ryan. It was pretty easy as long as you followed the directions carefully (altho I have made stays before so that probably helped), and the stays are very comfortable and give a lovely accurate shape.
|Twenty-four (?) hand-stitched eyelets...phew!|
Mine are actually a bit too big; the back edges are not supposed to meet up and they are rather loose on me--but that was the smallest size! It does make the colonial outfit quite a bit more comfortable than my Civil War garments though. ;)
I used plastic zip ties in place of boning; the stays are made from natural colored linen (pants from the thrift store!) and lined with scrap cotton. I cheated a little and used polyester blend quilt binding for the edges, which isn't accurate, but oh well.
After the stays the lady would tie on her pockets. I have two, made from scrap linen & leftover quilt binding. These are really easy to make without a pattern; there is a lovely site here with more info on pockets.
To give the gown its bustled shape (quite in vogue during the 1780s), a bum pad (or bum roll) must be worn. (Panniers were from a previous decade.) I think this was my 3rd attempt--the others were either too fat or too thin. Again, scrap linen. ;)
And finally over all of that, the lady would tie on one or two petticoats. In the interest of saving time, fabric and money, I multi-purposed and wore my Civil War petticoats under my colonial gown, so unfortunately I don't have a colonial-style petticoat to show you.
Lastly, a lady would not be completely dressed without her cap. I drafted mine using my head measurements based on this reproduction from the Silly Sisters. It has a lovely pleated ruffle around the edge. Since my cap covers most of my hair, it would be considered quite modest and appropriate for everyday wear. Basically, the smaller your cap was, the fancier the occasion and the less modest you were being. ;)