November 16, 2021

391 Comments




 

 


Colonial Period Fashion: 1770s Looks Your Dolls Will Love!

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you make a historically accurate late-eighteenth century look for your 18-inch doll, focusing specifically on the period between 1770-1790s! Whether you’re creating a formal look (which in colonial times was referred to as “dress”) or a more working-class look (referred to as “undress”), you’ll be sure to find something to make for your doll from our pattern selection.  Colonial womenswear had several key components:  the undergarments, the gown, the shoes, the cloak, and the accessories.  In the 1770s, girls started dressing like women as early as age five, so these components will add up to a great look for any age of colonial-clad doll. 

Bonus Giveaway: After reading this post, scroll down to the bottom to leave a comment telling us which colonial outfit element is your favorite! Enter to win a $50 Pixie Faire Gift Card too, details below!

 

Colonial Undergarments

Colonial undergarments consisted of several different elements.  The shift was the first layer worn and was a long shirt made from white linen that was worn down to the knees.  The second layer after the shift were called stays.  Stays were basically a type of corset that were filled with a stiff material (most often wood or sometimes even bone) which would help the colonial ladies maintain perfect posture.  The petticoats were worn over the stays.  These were large underskirts that would often be visible through the center of the gown.  During the winter, extra petticoats (made from wool) would have been added to help the colonial lady stay warm.  Occasionally, in the aristocracy, hoopskirts were worn to give the outfit more volume as well.  A final undergarment worn by colonial women would have been a pair of woolen stockings that were worn up to over the knee.

(*Pictured above is the Thimbles & Acorns 18th Century Underpinnings.)

 

Colonial Gowns

A colonial-style gown was the primary focus of the outfit.  Because of the lack of ability to mass produce clothing, each gown was fairly unique and fitted perfectly to the wearer.  In the lower classes, gowns (and other types of clothing) would have most likely been made either by the wearer or a close member of the wearer’s family (i.e., a mother or a sister).  In the upper classes garments may have been outsourced to a tailor.  Gowns were most commonly made of natural materials like wool, cotton, or silk (for those who could afford it).  Most gowns were fairly plain with minimal decorations, but upper-class ladies would often embellish their clothing more.  Gowns would be fastened by laces in the front and feature a slit that would expose the petticoats.  The sleeves of the gown would usually extend down towards the elbows and sometimes featured ruffles to dress it up.

(* Pictured above is the Thimbles & Acorns Enfourreau Gown)

 

Colonial Shoes

No outfit would be complete without the perfect pair of shoes, and a colonial outfit was no exception!  Shoes during the colonial period tended to be very basic and made of woven materials or leather.  Fancier shoes were made with silk and featured embellishments but were only available to the upper classes.

 

Colonial Cloak

Cloaks were the outerwear of choice for colonial women.  They were made of heavy wool and worn during the winter months.  Cloaks went over the shoulders and would extend down to the waist, or more likely, down to the ground.  They would clasp at the neck and sometimes feature a hood as well.

 

Colonial Accessories

The final component to the colonial outfit would have been accessories.  These accessories might have included an apron, a cap (or a mob cap), a hat, a fan, gloves, and/or jewelry.  Aprons were usually made of linen and were worn by the working class as a protective layer over their gowns.  A cap was made of linen or cotton and was used to manage a lady’s hair and to keep it clean.  A mob cap was a type of bonnet that had a more decorative flair than the basic cap.  Hats were worn with wide brims to protect colonial ladies from the sun.  They were made of straw, silk, or felt and were often decorated with things such as flowers, ribbons, and feathers.  A fan was typically carried by upper class ladies.  Gloves were worn in all types of weather and spanned from the elbows down but exposed the fingers.  Jewelry could have been as simple as a ribbon tied around a lady’s neck but as decadent as a string of pearls or a silver hair pin.

 

Colonial Colors and Prints

Common colors for the late 1700s included ones of the raw materials or ones that were produced easily from natural dies (for more information about natural dyes you can take our Natural Fabric Dyes Master Class Video Course here).  The color black was symbolic for humility and was easy to produce naturally in wool from black sheep.  Blue and grey were often worn by servants because they were sourced from cheaper dyes.  The colors orange, red, and brown were all produced from madder root.  Orange and red were symbolic for courage, whereas brown was symbolic for humility.  Green was easily sourced from lichen and vegetables.  Yellow was made from weld and symbolized hope.  Common prints used for colonial clothing would have been very organic like flowers or vines and occasionally more geometric prints like plaids or stripes.  You can take a look at the links below for our suggested fabric choices!

Cascading Floral from Colonial Williamsburg

Paisley in Royal from Etsy

Olive Brushed Wool from Mood Fabrics

Lightweight Linen from Mood Fabrics

Pastel Green Georgette from Mood Fabrics 

 

The Colonial Time Period Pattern Collection for 18-inch Dolls

Pixie Faire offers a wide variety of eighteenth century-inspired patterns but to start check out these patterns below!  You can also learn more at our past blog post on Betsy Ross here for information on this amazing colonial hero.

 

We’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment and tell us which colonial element is your favorite!

Thanks, everyone!

Katie & The Pixie Faire Team

 

ENTER TO WIN A $50 Pixie Faire Gift Card!

 

 

To enter this week's contest, simply click the link below and then enter through the giveaway widget at the bottom of the blog post, there are many things you can do to earn multiple entry points!

Contest Details: You enter through the entry form that is embedded on this page and appears just below this paragraph, if you don't see it, be sure to visit the page from your desktop or an alternate browser such as Google Chrome. It may not appear on all mobile devices. The complete rules and entry details appear on the entry form. This is not a comment contest - in other words, leaving a comment on the bottom of this page is not an official entry method. The only required entry method is to leave a comment under this post and then confirm that you did it in the contest widget. One person will receive the PF Gift Card. You can enter once, or gain multiple entries by completing the other entry methods and increase your chances of winning. Please review all Terms and Conditions on the giveaway page before entering. While we wish we could run this contest everywhere, for legal reasons it is only open to eligible residents of the U.S. and Canada, not including Rhode Island. This contest is exclusively endorsed by Liberty Jane Clothing and Pixie Faire. 

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Commenting below and confirming your entry in the widget above gives you one entry method, the other methods are listed in the widget above, be sure to enter in as many ways as you can to receive the maximum amount of entries to win the gift card!

 (This post and giveaway are not endorsed or affiliated with American Girl®, no endorsement implied.) 

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell us, Which colonial element is your favorite?

Thanks, everyone!

--The Pixie Faire Team 

 


100 Comments

Carol
Carol

November 17, 2021

The dresses are beautiful but I can’t help but imagine how difficult it would have been to make every one of the full-size garments for each person in the family by hand.

Judy Robinson
Judy Robinson

November 17, 2021

I love everything about the period clothing. I love all the layers and how each layer gives a different look to the outfit, bringing it together with all the finishing touches. The fine detail in the clothing is what I love the most.

Vicky
Vicky

November 17, 2021

I love everything about this. Although I have only made the keepers Dolly duds it is one of my favorites it’s so detail oriented I love the Laise the Bonnet just everything

Shirley
Shirley

November 17, 2021

I don’t really have a special favorite. I like the gowns and under garments. I also like the cloaks.
It would be great to have patterns for the Colonial period.

Lisa Crow
Lisa Crow

November 17, 2021

I love the shift — so much potential for embellishment!

Beth
Beth

November 17, 2021

Love all the fancy underpinnings!

Ruth Ann
Ruth Ann

November 17, 2021

I like the pockets — you can put a lot in there. Cloaks are also interesting.

Jessica
Jessica

November 17, 2021

I love the stays

Sandra
Sandra

November 17, 2021

love the Ivy Cape.
LINDA J Smith
LINDA J Smith

November 17, 2021

I really like the variety of cloaks they had, especially the ones designed for use with the ball gowns.

Pauline
Pauline

November 17, 2021

I love the stays and undergarments

Carrie P
Carrie P

November 17, 2021

My favorite is the lace trim on the sleeves.

Barb B
Barb B

November 17, 2021

I love EVERYTHING about this period of clothing. It is my favorite time of history so, naturally, I want to make more clothing for Felicity & Elizabeth! I find the Underpinnings fascinating & want to make these so their dresses will look & fit more accurately. I’m very excited about this new project!

Mary
Mary

November 17, 2021

I have loved the En Foureau gown since it was introduced. Since American Girl brought the historical dolls back, I got the Colonial miss and can’t wait to make it for her!

Martha
Martha

November 17, 2021

I love the cloaks.

Sam
Sam

November 17, 2021

I would say the stay and the capes are my favorite element

Cathy
Cathy

November 17, 2021

Love the petticoats and full skirts.

Dolly
Dolly

November 17, 2021

I have made all the dresses shown and I love them all. The one thing that fascinates me is the history and the accuracy of the under garments.

DellaSue
DellaSue

November 17, 2021

I have made all except the cloak. I will have to try it!

Teresa
Teresa

November 17, 2021

I love being able to sew period undergarments for my girls!

Esther
Esther

November 17, 2021

The Cloaks! They are so elegant. I want some for myself, not just my dolls!

Dolores
Dolores

November 17, 2021

I like fancy and ornate bodices.

Gracia Marks
Gracia Marks

November 17, 2021

The full rich dresses were beautiful. But they were heavy, uncomfortable and hard to care for. Those styles are fine for dolls, I will take modern day clothes, specifically Jean, t-shirts and sneakers.

Donna B
Donna B

November 17, 2021

I love the shift and the petticoats. The corset without stays would be okay too.

Jennifer
Jennifer

November 17, 2021

My favorite is a fancy stomacher. You can dress them up so many ways, with lace or ribbons!

Nannette
Nannette

November 17, 2021

My favorite is the cloak. Wouldn’t mind having one for myself.

Nannette
Nannette

November 17, 2021

My favorite is the cloak. Wouldn’t mind having one for myself.

Linda Gunder
Linda Gunder

November 17, 2021

I love all the pieces that they wore. I would hate washing and drying of the clothing.

Lou Wilson
Lou Wilson

November 17, 2021

I am partial to the colonial gowns with the slit in front showing the petticoat

Carol
Carol

November 17, 2021

I love the article and the clothing from Colonial times. I would’ve hated washing and wearing in hot weather though.

LYNN
LYNN

November 17, 2021

I love the panniers.

Katherine Blume
Katherine Blume

November 17, 2021

I love the undergarments!

Wilma Morris
Wilma Morris

November 17, 2021

I like the gown and petticoat because I enjoy using coordinating fabrics in the same outfit. I have recently made the Colonial Day Dress by Eve Coleman and will do the En Fourreau
gown next.

Linda
Linda

November 17, 2021

I love the elegance of the 1770 En Fourreau Gown. Using different fabrics, colours and textures would make this a must have pattern.

Cynthia Conley
Cynthia Conley

November 17, 2021

I like the shift and petticoat. The stays just sound like torture!

Liz
Liz

November 17, 2021

My favorite style of colonial wear is the robe a la francaise/sacque back gown! But as far as practicality goes, nothing beats pockets. I own an 18th century style pocket and I’ve fit so many things in it (a phone, charger, keys, and a few other things with room to spare). Plus, when you wear it under your petticoats you can’t even tell there’s things in it and you don’t have to carry it like a purse!

Heidi Brown
Heidi Brown

November 17, 2021

I love the cloaks!

Renee B
Renee B

November 17, 2021

I have always liked the Colonial era clothing. Visiting Williamsburg, VA way back in the 1970’s with my mom was so much fun. Hard to choose which part of the clothing, guess the underpinnings are fascinating because we don’t use them now. The hats are interesting too.

Ambrosia
Ambrosia

November 17, 2021

My favorite element is the pocket! I used to work in Colonial Williamsburg and fell in love with wearing them. I really think it’s time for pockets to make a comeback.

Karen
Karen

November 17, 2021

My favorites would be the shift since it was so versatile, UT the under pinnings were so well designed especially the drawers. I cannot imagine trying to use the facilities with those dresses while in today’s underwear. And the pockets! I love the way they were embroidered and still kept out is sight.

Cherie
Cherie

November 17, 2021

Fun to view and interesting to read the history. Would be so uncomfortable to wear!

Renata
Renata

November 17, 2021

I can’t choose one specifically because love them all!

Kathleen
Kathleen

November 17, 2021

I love the cloaks and the stays, very striking!

Tina
Tina

November 17, 2021

I like the petticoats, and cloaks, the best.

Piroska
Piroska

November 17, 2021

I’m fascinated with the undergarments, petticoats, and the corsets (stays).

Denise Darby
Denise Darby

November 17, 2021

I like the under pinning’s.

olivia
olivia

November 17, 2021

I like the colonial gowns.

Carma
Carma

November 17, 2021

I like the fashion. I like the look of the layers. But very thankful I don’t have to wear them.

Leanna
Leanna

November 17, 2021

I love colonial gowns—they are a lovely way to showcase several special fabrics at once!

Marilyn
Marilyn

November 17, 2021

I like them all but i would pick the peonie dress and the cloak.
Marilyn

Jasmine Freeman
Jasmine Freeman

November 17, 2021

Pockets!!!

T
T

November 17, 2021

Hands down without reading the article, a cape. A fabulous swirly cape. After reading the article, honourable mentions are the gloves, hats and accessories such as pins and such.

Elaine
Elaine

November 17, 2021

I would have to say that I love the underpinnings part the most because of the way it shapes the figure for the entire ensemble for the doll. I love the shift/corset with the eyelets and ribbon to hold onto the shoulders and the lacing in the back. You can use this alone without putting it underneath a gown to hide it for a Renaissance faire for your doll or a night on a beach in the Summer time.

Elaine
Elaine

November 17, 2021

I would have to say that I love the underpinnings part the most because of the way it shapes the figure for the entire ensemble for the doll. I love the shift/corset with the eyelets and ribbon to hold onto the shoulders and the lacing in the back. You can use this alone without putting it underneath a gown to hide it for a Renaissance faire for your doll or a night on a beach in the Summer time.

Mary
Mary

November 17, 2021

Way back in ‘97-‘98 time period, my daughter had a “History Faire” at school. After much research, we designed a line of Barbie dresses for the Colonial time period. We even dressed her sister up to be a “living mannequin”. We did not have these lovely patterns, but we have long loved the Colonial clothing. By the way, she got an “A” on her project.

Kathryn
Kathryn

November 17, 2021

I love this period in clothing and have sewn many of those listed. My favorite would have to be corsets and hoop skirts. They make the dresses look so perfect!!

Elaine
Elaine

November 17, 2021

I have loved all the doll designers of the Colonial doll clothes for quite some time now. I love Eve Coleman, Shari Fuller and many others. I would have to say the tie is between the under pinings pattern and the Enforourreau Gown by Shari Fuller from Thimbles and Acorn. Shari is to me the pioneer of these doll patterns. He company has really started all of this some time ago. I love her sense of Historical details in the doll sizes.

Laura
Laura

November 17, 2021

I love this time period. Felicity is one of my most spoiled dolls between her PC collection and things I’ve found to add to it. I absolutely love the cloaks and hats as well as the gorgeous gowns with their lace detail.

Christine Victorsen
Christine Victorsen

November 17, 2021

I like the underpinnings, the stays and the panniers and such.

Mary Corcoran
Mary Corcoran

November 17, 2021

I love the petticoats under the open front gowns. Knowing there are openings for the pockets, tied on, is so interesting! Of course, wrapped up in a cozy cloak is the essence of colonial clothing! I also love the straw hats tied under the chin, with a mob cap peeping out!

S
S

November 17, 2021

I love the undergarments.

Bella
Bella

November 17, 2021

I love the cloaks. They always give an aura of mystery, warmth, and feminine mystic.

Cassandra
Cassandra

November 17, 2021

Not sure I have a favourite. I like the shift because it is so versatile in it’s use. The stays create great shaping and structure but would have been uncomfortable to wear. The over shirt and bodice allow for creativity. The look is very romantic.

Cassandra
Cassandra

November 17, 2021

Not sure I have a favourite. I like the shift because it is so versatile in it’s use. The stays create great shaping and structure but would have been uncomfortable to wear. The over shirt and bodice allow for creativity. The look is very romantic.

Beth S
Beth S

November 17, 2021

I like the En Forreau Gown, and I have made one for my doll.

Monique
Monique

November 17, 2021

My favorite piece of colonial wear is the pocket. I wish it still was a part of clothing today as I don’t like my shoulder handbag continually sliding off my shoulder.

Marian Peoples
Marian Peoples

November 17, 2021

I love the symbolism of the colors used in the garments of the upper class.

Donna Deters
Donna Deters

November 17, 2021

I like the red coat because my daughter has red hair.

T iliff
T iliff

November 17, 2021

I love the accessories used.

Sue
Sue

November 17, 2021

I love the colonial style …. but my favorite are the stays!

Madeleine
Madeleine

November 17, 2021

I think it’s so cool that 18th century women were just as concerned about pockets as we are!

Carol B
Carol B

November 17, 2021

I think the accessories are my fav, especially the straw hat.

Carol B

Barbara Vinton
Barbara Vinton

November 17, 2021

I love the underpinnings…especially the stays! But the cloak in velvet is beautiful!

Linda
Linda

November 17, 2021

I am especially fond of the En Fourreau Gown. As a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, this style is the same one as my own gown. Feminine and historically accurate. After seeing this post, I think making the entire ensemble and using it as a fundraiser for our chapter would be a great idea! Thank you for the inspiration!!

Dena M
Dena M

November 17, 2021

I like the overdress with elbow sleeves and lots of lace the best.

Danielle
Danielle

November 17, 2021

My favorite element is the hats and accessories. I love embroidering tiny purses and pockets

Rebecca G
Rebecca G

November 17, 2021

My favorite are the stays. I’m fascinated by corsets and the silhouettes they create.

Debra Luecke
Debra Luecke

November 17, 2021

I love the cloak. So fluid and beautiful. So much detail on the dresses. The underpinnings are a work of art as are the dresses. Love all the elements. Just glad I don’t have to wear it on a daily basis.

Catherine
Catherine

November 17, 2021

This is my absolute favourite era. Choosing a favourite element is like choosing a favourite child. The styles of the era are so feminine. Love love love everything about it.

Pat
Pat

November 17, 2021

My favorite is the cloak. It is so cozy and can protect against the cold winters they had to face. Once I hid our month old son under a cloak to visit his weak and ailing Grandfather for the first time in the Hospital…Everyone loved seeing him but it was a way to protect him from the germs in the air as we passed through the halls as well.

Caprina
Caprina

November 17, 2021

I love the vest, it is lovely. Thanks for you amazing creativity.

Cheryl R.
Cheryl R.

November 17, 2021

Although I’d never wear one and they are pretty much a torture device for women, I have always loved the corsets. I think I mostly just enjoy constructing them in miniature….and thankfully our dolls don’t complain about wearing one. LOL

SUSAN
SUSAN

November 17, 2021

Nicely fitted and tailored stays.

MELISSA
MELISSA

November 17, 2021

I love the stays! I mean, I love all of the elements, but those tiny stays are so darn adorable!

Melody Sharp
Melody Sharp

November 17, 2021

Love the patterns and history in it all

VICKY
VICKY

November 17, 2021

I am fascinated by the stays or corsets. I enjoy watching YouTube videos by Prior Attire and Bernadette Banner, among others, to see how reproductions of this type of clothing are made and worn. They do a lot to dispel myths about these undergarments being uncomfortable, and I recommend them to anyone who is interested in clothing from this period.

Marjorie
Marjorie

November 17, 2021

I love everything about this period of dress.

Rita
Rita

November 17, 2021

My favorite is the cloak. It keeps you so warm!

Donna Landreth
Donna Landreth

November 17, 2021

I love the colonial gowns and the stays. I love the brocades. Thank you Cinnamon for the awesome giveaways.😘❤️💋

Lisa
Lisa

November 17, 2021

I LOVE THE UNDERGARMENTS., PARTICULARLY THE BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED STAYS.

Jackie
Jackie

November 17, 2021

I love the capes. They were so romantic.

Patricia
Patricia

November 17, 2021

I love the Colonial Day Dress, but I am fascinated by all the clothes and shoes of the colonel era, and enjoy finding the right fabric, tiny prints, and plaids, and combining embellishments to these to enhance them. Usually I add the extra folds on the bottom of day dresses, that young woman had so as they grew in height the dress still came to the proper dignified length on her ankle, and did not require a new garment. Your articles and drawings are incredible. Thank you.

Sharon
Sharon

November 17, 2021

I love the hats!! I have made both doll and reenactment hats from this period and it is a fun project.

Deana
Deana

November 17, 2021

I love the ladies undergarments.!

suzie
suzie

November 17, 2021

of course that should read Betsy!

Christine Brown
Christine Brown

November 17, 2021

I love all. The clothes from colonial times, but making the under garments correctly
Would be fun, the pantaloonns and petticoats, and the corset part of the undergarments. I hope ill be able to purchase your classes soon. I have for it as a Christmas present
😁 I pray that happens. I love pixie faire.
Thanks for all you do.

suzie
suzie

November 17, 2021

yes, I too love them all but I have a soft spot for Betty’s bonnet cap so practical at the time.

Jennifer
Jennifer

November 17, 2021

I like the sleeves, neckline and petticoats

Kathleen
Kathleen

November 17, 2021

My favorite clothing item is the cloak. I love the look of a long cloak enveloping a woman with warmth and the way a hood frames the face.

sheila
sheila

November 17, 2021

all the clothing seems interesting and quite elaborate. I like the cape best; it doesn’t look too hard. thanks for your insight.

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