(1850s young woman wearing a fashion bonnet and jacket over her dress)
For a printable PDF of this article, click How to Dress as a Pioneer Woman.
If you are married, or older than 19, you are considered a woman in the mid-19th century.
With a little time and practice, you can make your own clothing at home, and dress like a pioneer woman. Continue reading
For a printable PDF of this article, click How to Dress as a Pioneer Girl .
If you are younger than 18, and unmarried, you are a girl in the mid-19th century.
Congratulations! The styles of clothing appropriate for your social group are comfortable, and have some options not open to adult women. There are distinct advantages to dressing your age. Continue reading
For a printable PDF of this project, click Make Drawers for Women.
Drawers are an optional garment for your pioneer or emigrant wardrobe 1840 to 1865, as not all women of the mid-19th century wore them. (If you use a cage or hoop, wear drawers; the handcart era is pre-hoop.)
Mid-century women’s (and teen girl’s) drawers have an open crutch seam to facilitate bathroom use; however, there is significant overlap and generous fabric around the hips; this is a very modest garment as a result. Wearing drawers over the modern temple garment is optional, as they serve a similar purpose: they make long walking a lot more comfortable!
With a few basic measurements, and a few period sewing techniques, you can make your own pattern, without going to the expense of purchasing a pattern that you’d still have to alter! Techniques used for drawers construction are: straight or running stitch, flat-felled seam, gathering, stitching a band, narrow hemming, and tucks (optional). Continue reading
For a printable PDF of this project, click Make a Pioneer Shawl.
The simplest outer wrap for a mid-19th century person is a wool shawl. Infants, small children, girls, women, even men might wear a wool shawl to keep warm! Your pioneer shawl can wrap around your shoulders when its cool out, be drawn over your head when its misty, or spread out on the ground for a picnic blanket when the sun is shining. It doesn’t take up much packing space, and has so many uses that you’ll find it’s an indispensable part of a pioneer wardrobe.
For a printable PDF of this project, click Make a Pioneer Half-Apron.
Serviceable aprons protect your clothing. They are made in plain, printed or patterned fabric; white aprons are very good for “better” use, but will also be used for dirty work, if the apron fabric is sturdy enough. Modern quilt-weight cottons work well for aprons, as does white “utility” muslin. Your apron should not match your dress or other clothing items. Avoid a “matchy matchy” look. This can be more difficult than it sounds, as we all tend toward modern coordination very naturally. When in doubt, white cotton is just fine.
Historic aprons may be “half-aprons” (ending in a waistband, like the pattern given here), or “pinner aprons”, which have a front bib that is pinned to the dress front. Aprons can hook, button, or tie to close. Teen girls may wear aprons, or may wear more covering pinafore styles held over from younger girlhood.
The hardworking aprons worn for active work tend to be cut fairly long (to the knees, at least), and quite full, to cover most of the front of the dress. If you are a “front wiper”, you need an apron skirt to cover you to the sides of the body. If you are a “side hip wiper”, your apron skirt needs to wrap around to the back of the body. (And if you don’t know whether you’re a side or front wiper, make bread at home, then check yourself for the flour marks.) Continue reading