How to Make a Betsy Ross Costume

Two Methods:The LookAuthentic

The process of making a "period costume" can range from simple to quite complex depending upon why you are making it. Here's a brief outline of considerations and tips for making your own.

Steps

Decide whether you just want "the look" of a period costume, or if you want something "authentic".

Method 1
The Look

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    Find a pattern. Most major clothing pattern companies have costume patterns which should serve your purposes.
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    Purchase the materials listed on the pattern, sew it, and enjoy.

Method 2
Authentic

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    Research the period for which you need a costume. We'll use Early America for this example, since "Betsy Ross" costume was what the article request was for.
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    Read books of the period with an eye to costume description.
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    Ask a librarian to help you find pictures from that era to guide your search.
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    Ask yourself:
    • What materials were available to people in this period of time? (probably Linen or Wool in early America, not much light weight cotton would have been available, as cloth was handwoven in the early 1700's.)
    • How did they fasten their clothing? (probably no zippers in early America, most likely buttons or hooks.)
    • How do people look in portraits of the time? And remember that portraits were usually only painted of rich people wearing their best clothes. Day to day wear would have been less elaborate and probably easier to keep clean.
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    Once you have a good picture in mind, purchase a pattern (or several) that is very similar to what you are looking for. Expect to make some pattern alterations, as modern patterns have evolved considerably from "old timey" clothing patterns.
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    Obtain fabrics and assemble the costume. This may entail finding a craftsperson who still weaves with a loom if you are determined to be authentic. Many costume designers draw the line here... they will use modern weave and sewing machines to create a costume from an old pattern... Generally only museums or hardcore collectors will go the extra mile to get fabrics made on a loom, hand cut and hand stitch the costume together, etc. because of the amount of work involved.

Article Info

Categories: Historical Costumes