How To Make Civil War Costumes

Whether you're a serious reenactor, a hobbyist, or just planning to attend a costume party, giving your Civil War costume the greatest attention to detail can make the difference between someone who looks like they stepped out of a cheesy Halloween shop and someone who looks like they stepped out of time. Here's how to make an awesome civil war costume.

  1. The very first thing to do when constructing a historical costume is research, either online or at the library. This is beyond important and will likely take up the bulk of your time. Researching your ensemble so that it is accurate for both the time and your social status will keep you from looking just plain wrong. What kinds of fabrics were used at the time? What construction techniques? What types of closures and accessories were common?
  2. Next, you'll need to shop for a pattern if you aren't planning to draft your own. If you're a beginning sewer, most of the pattern companies carry at least one easy Civil War costume pattern and several slightly more difficult ones. If you are unsure of what you want or need, ask the sales staff at your local fabrics store to help you choose the correct pattern for your abilities.
  3. Once you have your pattern in hand, read the envelope to find out how much fabric and what notions you'll need. Remember to keep in mind what you've researched while doing this shopping. In the very least, always remember that synthetic fibers did not exist in the 1860's. Your accurate costume should be made entirely with cotton, linen and wool. If accuracy is not important to you, feel free to use whatever you like!
  4. Now that you've done your shopping and have your pattern and fabric at home, take this time to settle down with the pattern instructions and read them from beginning to end. Become familiar with the sewing you're about to do. Understand which pattern pieces you'll need for your costume, what techniques you'll be using, and how much time it will take.
  5. When you're ready to begin, follow your instructions carefully. Take your time and work through the project at a pace that is comfortable for you. Take frequent breaks to keep yourself from becoming overworked. Otherwise, you may make simple mistakes. To keep yourself from having to backtrack and becoming frustrated, take it slow and check your work with the pattern directions frequently. Remember that you always have the Internet on hand if you get stuck.

With patience and diligence, you can create a gorgeous costume that you will be proud to be seen in and even prouder to say that you made!


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