1810’s Baby Dress


Little Anne with her rattle.

Life with a baby has been great! Anne is an amazing sleeper, so I can’t complain about not getting a night’s sleep because of her. However, sometimes, I just can’t sleep! This little number was the result of one of those nights.

I made this dress from a small piece of fabric in my stash and about 4 hours of time. It is based on an infant’s dress at The Met that I had fallen in love with. The only major difference is the original has an a-line skirt, rather than the straight sides I used. I made it as a basic square with sleeves with the sleeves having a tiny vandyke fine hem… that part took the longest of the entire thing!

The major hallmark of baby clothes from the 1790s-1810’s is a drawstring waist, which is easy and fast to produce. This one also has a gathered neckline. That part stumped me for a bit, but I made an executive decision to attempt to get as much wear out of this garment as possible. Children grow a lot, and I’d like for her to wear it next year, too!

Since the drawstring neckline in the extant doesn’t extend through the shoulder seams to the back, I had to figure out a way to make it not only look the same as the original, but also function as a way to get more longevity. I left one side of the front drawstring casing open and tacked the cotton tape to the selvage of the sleeve while the other side is closed and fixed in place. I’ll be able to get another 1 1/2 inches out of the front neckline which coincides with typical 12-18 month baby measurements. (see photos below)

The vandyking of the sleeves has got to be the best part about this garment. They’re very tiny- only 1/2 inch from cut to cut. Since the inside of the vandying was raw at the top, I ended up tucking the edge up about 1/16inch to conceal the raw edges and hopefully make it launder without it fraying. (Edit: Since originally writing out this post I had hand laundered the dress with rigorous effort and am happy to mention that the tuck seems to have done the trick!)

Ultimately, I’m extremely happy with how this turned out. Anne got to wear it for the first time to a fashion show, and again at the Fair at New Boston. She seemed to have a good time at both. She looked cute if nothing else!

If there’s interest, I’ll be doing a pattern or kit in the Virgil’s store for those who would like to make their own. Let me know if that’s something you’re interesting in!

Thanks for reading and I hope this post helps those of you clothing your little ones in the early 19th century!


Felicity Friday: Pinpillow and Snips

Hello from 4 weeks post baby! As I’m still recovering and spending a lot of time on the couch either feeding, pumping, or consoling my child, I’ve been working on small projects here and there!


She’s slowly getting there!

One of the first to be completed is Felicity’s heart-shaped pin-pillow! How adorably tiny! My own pin pillow was made from the scraps of my 1780s red stays, and Felicity’s pin pillow is made from the scraps of my own pin-pillow. This pillow is stuffed with wool and attached to a 4mm silk ribbon.


So little and cute!

My favorite part of her sewing accoutrements, though, are her working silver scissors! I found these antique doll scissors with an elephant on them somewhere online and they’re just to die for!

I’m not sure what the next Felicity project will be, but I do need to get Felicity some proper 1770s garments! We’ll see what the future holds!


Felicity Friday: Work Wear Accessories


, ,

I’ve been using my free time between work and life to put together Felicity’s historically accurate wardrobe for various 18th century occasions. My purpose for making this extensive wardrobe isn’t just to satisfy my need for tiny things, but to use Felicity as a teaching tool for children’s groups at various events or lectures I do! She’s really fun to share with people of all ages and they love seeing how her clothes are made just like they’re supposed to be.


Here she is, so cutely put together.

Right now I’m working diligently on making her some work wear in contrast to the middling class/half dress I typically depict at an event. This way, I can show the public possibly camp-follower impressions or just lower class impressions without having to point at individuals that happen to be passing by! This week I finished up:


So many little things!

A checked kerchief  made from Burnley and Trowbridge cross barred linen– the scraps from a 19th century apron I made last year (I’ll post about early Regency aprons soon).

An 18th century apron to match my own- blue & white plaid cotton with tiiiiiiiny binding from thin linen tape.


Tiny stitches and bindings!

And a new linen petticoat- also made from scraps from my own! So dainty! Next week I’ll update you as to what Felicity gets to wear next but for now if you’ve been working on Felicity projects, do link them in the comments. I want to seeeeee!

Now she’s almost ready for all this cold weather we’ve got goin’ on



Regency Sheer Straw Bonnets

So, I wanted to focus on something in our shop that’s not being widely made right now and we, at the Virgil’s Hats & Fine Goods, are proud to say we debuted these lovelies at the Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove this year!


Here we are modeling the (L-R) Trimmed, Chocolate colored, and wheat colored bonnets.

When choosing a hat for warmer weather, it’s hard to decide between something “pretty” versus “functional” with the choices that most living historians have.  With what’s generally available at most sutlers- Warm weather presents us with the only options of  a “chip straw” hat/bonnet or a silk covered hat/bonnet. Silk doesn’t breath, and chip straw is more fit for a lower-class impression- which isn’t always what we’re going for.



You’ve seen a few movies with these types of bonnets present in them and you might have thought “That’s too pretty to be historically accurate” or “surely they wouldn’t have had something that decorative” but you would be wrong! There are numerous textual examples of woven horsehair or straw bonnets being used and taxed in the early United States from the 1780’s-on.


Excerpt from “A Collection of all the Statutes Now in Force, Relating to the Revenues and Officers of Great Britain and the Plantations” Vol 2, Pg 4, 1780.

AND there are quite a few extant pieces in various museums along with a few references to them made in fashion plates. (see images below)  This is a style that has many terms and can often be confusing-  “capote” “leghorn” “coal scuttle” “poke bonnet” are all terms I’ve seen associated with this shape:  generally narrow all the way through and slightly elongated to the back. This was a very popular shape in headwear (caps, hats, bonnets) as well as hairstyles from 1797-1808. These styles are said to have emerged because of the early 19th century “discovery” of new ancient Greek and Roman artifacts- and fashion emulates whatever is exciting!

Comparison of our sheer bonnets to the extant piece,
Woven Horsehair and Straw Bonnet, Ca 1805-1820, Litchfield Historical Society


“…balloon bonnet of wicker…” July 1796, Heidelhoff, The Gallery of Fashion. Image from Bunka Fashion College

A sheer bonnet offers a delicate and light option for those who want a more refined look while still having some sun protection with your headwear.What’s also great about a sheer bonnet is you can line it with interesting colors- or leave it unlined- depending on your taste!


Joanna, my business partner, is a wizard at millinery and made these beautiful pieces now for sale in our shop suitable for 1790s thru 1820s! We modeled them at JAF2016 and are now available for purchase. These are made with antique/vintage straws that are extremely hard to find. We hope you like them as much as we do!

(We will have more bonnet shapes, like the tall poke bonnets and maybe even 1860s spoon bonnets made out of these gorgeous straw & horsehairs available in our shop in the near future!… keep checking the shop for new listings)

18th Century Baby Stays

For the 2017 new year, my husband and I found ourselves around the TV with his family basically just hanging out until the clock struck 12. His sister read a book and his nephew played on our WiiU, while his mom chuckled here and there when his nephew would lose or something….. I got terribly bored. I mean: BORED.  I don’t mind hanging out, but this was largely a solitary occasion we were having- I was getting antsy to get my hands on something. After a little while of frustration, I whipped these puppies up [mostly] before the new year and finished the eyelets yesterday!


So cute and little!

Oh- if you follow my blog but not my facebook page, this will be our baby announcement to you! My husband and I are expecting a little girl in May which is why I decided to make these adorable little things.

The Challenge: January: Firsts & Lasts – Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

This is the first piece made for my little Anne’s 18th century wardrobe. She won’t be able to wear them until she’s close to a year old (or maybe a year from now… we have big babies in both our families) but I figured if I have the time to make them now, might as well!

Chip Board
Linen Scraps

Pattern: Anne’s stays are largely based off of an extant pair from the Memorial Hall Museum. The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop at Colonial Williamsburg made a pair I got to handle while I was interning. Two Nerdy History Girls have done a blog post about them, as did Sew 18th Century. I made these slightly smaller than another pair of extant child stays from the All the Pretty Dresses blog– but similar in size to the yellow pair at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These are the smallest pairs of infant stays I could find measurements for.


Anne’s stays measure 18″ wide and 5″tall at center back.

edited-baby-stays2You might also notice the light boning in the stays themselves: My fabric is slightly see-through, so you can see the boning really well. In the pair from the Memorial Hall Museum, you can barely make out some extra reinforcements of boning in a similar arrangement to mine. Sew18th Century also made her stays like that, so I figured it was a good idea. The boning is simply basted into the pasteboard before covered with fabric.

(There’s also some extra stitching on the extant pair at the CF point, waistline, and armscyes. I suspect it’s either extra reinforcement (padding for comfort) or repairs)


Year: 1760-1800

Notions: Natural Linen Thread

How historically accurate is it? 95%ish I say this because I have never had my hands on an extant pair (only a reproduction) and I made the stays out of a woven checked linen- which is typically used for linings of stays rather than the outer-side of them. I did this because of the scraps I had on hand…. Also, how can you be 100% historically accurate, anyway?


So cute!

Hours to complete: 3.5 hours
Patterning: 15 min
Cutting: 15min
Assembly: 2 hours
Eyelets: 1 hour

First worn: Give it another year

Total cost: Maybe $3?

Favorite Part of the Project: I love 18th century pieces because you finish them as you go, so once you assemble the pieces, it’s done! That’s how these were.


These stays are constructed much the same to other 18th century stays. Pieces are whipped to the others.

My next favorite part were the eyelets. On originals, you can see the eyelets are 3/4’s of the way bound and then wrapped around the outer edge. I’ve seen other stays done this way, BUT in the case of these: if you were to bind the whole straight through the pasteboard, it would perforate out the eyelet entirely, so the wrapped part might be a way to combat that. I thought that was cool.


Comparison of eyelets from the Memorial Hall Museum


Compiled list of sources for this project:

18th Century Stays- Hallie Larkin

Baby Linen or Making a Basic Layette for Eighteenth Century Reenactor Infants- Sharon Ann Burnston

Baby Clothes- Sew 18th Century

Stays for the Very Young- Two Nerdy History Girls

The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop- Colonial Williamsburg

What Clothes Reveal, pg40- Linda Baumgarten


Striped Infant Stays stiffened with Cardboard, c.1770- Memorial Hall Museum

White Linen Baby’s Stays- Georgian era- Poppie’s Cottage

Striped Linen 18th Century Baby Stays- All The Pretty Dresses

Striped Child’s Stays, c.1740- Germanischen National Museum

Child’s Stays, c.1775- Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Wool Child’s Stays- The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Linen Infant Stays, c.1770-1790- Philadelphia Museum of Art