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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 (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 

 


91 Comments

Meghan R
Meghan R

November 17, 2021

My favorite colonial element is the petticoat- it adds so much to the structure of a full dress!

Linda
Linda

November 17, 2021

I love the colonial undergarments it was so amazing all the clothing hey had to wear underneath it all. Thanks

Jane S
Jane S

November 17, 2021

love the cloak!

JAFFA
JAFFA

November 17, 2021

Those dresses are really pretty!

PF Strong
PF Strong

November 17, 2021

I love the closures on colonial clothing.

Pam
Pam

November 17, 2021

I love the straw hats that the dolls wear. They are adorable.

Rachel Baker
Rachel Baker

November 17, 2021

I love the Colonial Day Dress and the long Capes. The long capes always gave them such a nice flow.

brenda
brenda

November 17, 2021

i love stays

Maureen
Maureen

November 17, 2021

I love it all, the gowns, the hats, the capes.

Dorisanne
Dorisanne

November 17, 2021

I think the idea of a stomacher is great because you can change a plain dress to a fancy dress or give variety to your wardrobe even though you have few dresses.

Rachel
Rachel

November 17, 2021

Petticoat

Sarah
Sarah

November 17, 2021

I love capes! I wish people wore them more nowadays!

Ellen
Ellen

November 17, 2021

Thank you for a wonderful blog on 18th century fashion. The clothes are beautiful…I like even the working class dress. Aren’t we lucky, though, that we do not have to wear it!! It does look rather uncomfortable! I love historical drama and may get into these historical patterns yet.

Crystal Miller
Crystal Miller

November 17, 2021

They are both very cute. I can’t choose. I pick both dresses! Colonial Gown if I absolutely have to choose.

Mardelle J.
Mardelle J.

November 17, 2021

I like the whole look. Even their every day clothes look like formal wear to me!

Gail
Gail

November 17, 2021

All the outfits are fantastic, but I love the long cape with the big hood!

Kathy
Kathy

November 17, 2021

I love the full skirts and how the stays create a special look in the front silhouette.

Stephanie Sheridan
Stephanie Sheridan

November 17, 2021

I love the Buster. So fun and cute.

Crystal Miller
Crystal Miller

November 17, 2021

They are both very cute. I can’t choose. I pick both dresses!

Sharon B.
Sharon B.

November 17, 2021

I love the capes – my goal is to someday sew several of the caroling cape outfits and have the American Girl dolls in them as a Christmas display!

Mary
Mary

November 17, 2021

I like the fancier dresses and the cloak! They were sure girly girls in those days.

Gail
Gail

November 17, 2021

I love period doll clothes, especially dresses with very full and puffy skirts.

Isabella P.
Isabella P.

November 17, 2021

I love colonial undergarments, especially stays. I wish I could wear them nowadays—my posture needs it!

Cathy
Cathy

November 17, 2021

I love it all but especially the petticoats, undergarments and aprons.

Sherril
Sherril

November 17, 2021

I love the cloaks women wore during this time period.

VALERIE
VALERIE

November 17, 2021

I love the Colonial Day Dress. When I think of colonial garb, this is what I think of!

Judith L Shear
Judith L Shear

November 17, 2021

I like the open front dress with petticoat. What a great idea! Change out the look (or weight) of a garment just by changing the petticoat.

Carol B
Carol B

November 17, 2021

I love the comfort and practicality of shifts and petticoats. Perfect for everyday activities. They can be dressed up by using fancier fabrics and adding stays. I just wouldn’t want to wear stays though.

Karen
Karen

November 17, 2021

How fun is this! I love history and would love to win!

Connie
Connie

November 17, 2021

My favorite fashion period is the 18th century. I love most of the garments for that period and enjoy sewing them.

MARIA LUISA
MARIA LUISA

November 17, 2021

The stays and petticoats are my favorite but feel intimidated to do them even though the instructions of the patterns I have are really good, but think I am the one that will not have a fabulous project done… will love to have a class on a follow up doing 18th century clothes

mary ann
mary ann

November 17, 2021

The undergarments are so intriguing. Not sure I would be able to wear all those today.

Jo
Jo

November 17, 2021

I’ve always thought it would be great to have a long cape with a big hood.

Brisja
Brisja

November 17, 2021

I think my favorite piece would be the stays. They are so detailed and intricate. They are just an amazing wardrobe piece in the whole ensemble!

Amy Kivimaki
Amy Kivimaki

November 17, 2021

They are all great patterns. I am going to use the Colonial Gown but use the sleeves from the colonial day dress. Would be interesting to see how others mix patterns.

Jessica Morris
Jessica Morris

November 17, 2021

I like the Colonial Undergarments. They were cute

Sandra Beady
Sandra Beady

November 17, 2021

These are phenomenal period costumes.

Anne
Anne

November 17, 2021

I like the petticoat.

Lindi
Lindi

November 17, 2021

the stays and petticoats intrigue me~

Holly
Holly

November 17, 2021

I’m always a sucker for a lovely set of stays and petticoats, but my fave isn’t even there! Need a good pattern for her POCKET! Where else will she stash all the necessary little things of life but that indispensable little bag she calls a pocket?

Melody
Melody

November 17, 2021

The gowns are my favorite. So elegant! I also like the gowns and shawls.

Cassandra Julian
Cassandra Julian

November 17, 2021

Love the day dresses but they’re all stunning!

Chris
Chris

November 17, 2021

I like the gowns and aprons. There are so many options for detailing a gown. Ruffles, trim, sleeve length, closure details – it can all be personalized. I also like that attention was given to the simple apron

Sophie T
Sophie T

November 17, 2021

I’m a big fan of the 18th century fashion (even made my own dress, years ago). I like the stays, but my favorite clothing piece is the “robe volante”. I love Keeper’s Dolly Duds and Thimble and Acorns patterns because of their historical accuracy. Each is a little History lesson!

Rebecca
Rebecca

November 17, 2021

My favorite element is the front-closure gown worn over everything, but the stays and layers of petticoats are also fun to sew. At least for dolls! I’m not sure I’d still love wearing/sewing the miles and miles of fabric for myself! ;-)

dareKITTY
dareKITTY

November 17, 2021

I really loved the way that they spruced up their old gowns by just adding a new false front. When you don’t have the materials for an entire new dress, just add a new accessory, right?

Hanna
Hanna

November 17, 2021

I love the petticoat element and adore the colonial capes

Doll Lover
Doll Lover

November 17, 2021

I love the hooded cloaks but also the stays— while they may have been uncomfortable to wear, they would certainly help with better posture! With all the bent-over-the-computer work done these days, many of us could use some…

Laurie
Laurie

November 17, 2021

I love gowns from this era! The details on these dresses are beautiful!

Kathleen
Kathleen

November 17, 2021

I’ve always liked the prints used during this time period and the total look.

Debbie
Debbie

November 17, 2021

I love the dress with the slit to show the petticoat. There are so many choices for a different look every day, if you make different solid petticoats to go with a print dress.

Dorothy Ransom
Dorothy Ransom

November 17, 2021

I love the gowns. No end to what can be done with these

Corinna Pratt-Wintersgill
Corinna Pratt-Wintersgill

November 17, 2021

I love all parts of historical clothing especially the hats!

Beverly
Beverly

November 17, 2021

I adore the stays.

Barbara
Barbara

November 17, 2021

I want to learn how the over bodice with the stays is done.

Mary Ann
Mary Ann

November 17, 2021

I really like gowns and lace edged sleeves

Jeanette Andre
Jeanette Andre

November 17, 2021

Love the designs which appear to be historic for the time period

Sarah
Sarah

November 17, 2021

I loved how they used petticoats and how everything was so modest and beautiful ❤️.

Dawn
Dawn

November 17, 2021

I like the gowns or dresses. They look so beautiful.

Regan
Regan

November 17, 2021

I love the straw hat and petticoats. I also think the stays are pretty!

Jan T
Jan T

November 17, 2021

I love the detail of the Underpinnings, stays and petticoat. I can’t even imagine having to wear all those layers and then go out and walk through the muddy or dusty streets! Thank you for the informative history.

LorettaT
LorettaT

November 17, 2021

The gowns are my favorite. Make thwm simple or dressthem up withruffles and trim

Bettie Brezee
Bettie Brezee

November 17, 2021

I belong to an 18thC dance /historical group. I love making period gowns to dance in. I also have a number of American Girl dolls in period costumes to show the different classes of dress at the time. We use them when we are having teaching events. This is totally my time period :)

Lisa Abney
Lisa Abney

November 17, 2021

For me, it’s always the jackets and vests that add the perfect completing touch to these beautiful outfits. I also enjoy the “hunt” for the perfect fabric.

Kathy
Kathy

November 17, 2021

I like the Peonies dress but it is hard to decide. They are all cute.

Kim
Kim

November 17, 2021

My granddaughter is only 11 and a huge history buff. I know she would enjoy dressing her AG dolls in these clothes.

CdnCrafter
CdnCrafter

November 17, 2021

I like the fullness of the dresses.

lucinda
lucinda

November 17, 2021

stays and lace edged sleeves

Cristy Estep
Cristy Estep

November 17, 2021

I love the colonial dresses with the skirts! So elegant!

Sarah
Sarah

November 17, 2021

I like the petticoats the best, but I really like how feminine they looked then. I know that’s not what we do now, but I suppose we like what is unique to us.

Peggy Stirling
Peggy Stirling

November 17, 2021

I’m with Christine. I love the pink skirt, white petticoat and flowered vest.

BevM
BevM

November 17, 2021

I love both the Colonial and the Regency periods of clothing. I’m just glad that I don’t have to wear, wash, and iron all those layers myself! The gown is my favorite feature.

Debbie Hall
Debbie Hall

November 17, 2021

Wow! Beautiful clothes and my favorite dress with the adorable straw hat!

Janet
Janet

November 17, 2021

I love the bodice details, the stomacher can be so much fun to adorn and swapping it out can totally change the look of the dress.

Hélène Dahl
Hélène Dahl

November 17, 2021

I really like the quilted petticoats of the period, as well as the various embellishments. Not being American, I tend to prefer French fashion of the period.

Cheryl Ann Bomar
Cheryl Ann Bomar

November 17, 2021

I love the petticoats and floral patterens.

Pamela
Pamela

November 17, 2021

I just love the beautiful petticoats!

K
K

November 17, 2021

The Ivy cloak is beautiful!

Suzy
Suzy

November 17, 2021

I love this time in history. I’m so happy that I can make clothes for my Doll!

Wendy
Wendy

November 17, 2021

I like the Pilgrim pattern, in part for its variety – a bonnet, apron, dress.

PATRICIA
PATRICIA

November 17, 2021

I love this time period it brings back the history of our country, i make these to teach history to the children in my neighborhood

Lauren Rego
Lauren Rego

November 17, 2021

my absolute favorite period of costume! It makes me want to do stop motions of my dolls being costubers :)
I love the way you can mix and match so many pieces. You get such a big wardrobe that way.

Brenda
Brenda

November 17, 2021

I have to pick a favorite? I absolutely can’t! I want to make all of them. I love period clothing! Everyone was dressed so much more elegant than we are today.

Kimberly C
Kimberly C

November 17, 2021

I love the look of the colonial dresses with the fitted bodice and big skirt. Granted, I wouldn’t have wanted to wear it, but I really love the look of the dresses.

Elaine
Elaine

November 17, 2021

I am so excited about this post! My goal is to make a period outfit for Elizabeth. I love the fashion from this era. the fancy dresses are so amazing.

Jeri
Jeri

November 17, 2021

My favorite element is the cloak – I think they look very elegant and warm!

Lori
Lori

November 16, 2021

This is one of my favorite periods for doll patterns, there are so many wonderful ones. My favorite picture is the one with pink petticoat and floral stays.

Maureen W.
Maureen W.

November 16, 2021

I like them all, and especially the 18th century. I enjoyed this read. Thank you.

S.C.
S.C.

November 16, 2021

I actually like how they used the peticoat to give a contrasting color to whatever dress they wore. It’s quite genius as far as color combinations in dress go :)

Rachel
Rachel

November 16, 2021

I absolutely love cloaks!

Christine
Christine

November 16, 2021

I really like the first picture with the pink skirt (petticoat) and white blouse, but don’t see a pattern from Pixie Faire for that outfit. Is there one? Thanks.

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