Williamsburg Print

A 1780s jacket and petticoat made from a Williamsburg reproduction cotton print. 

Inspiration & Resources

Useful Books & Links Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: English Women's Dresses and Their Construction, c.1660-1860. New York: Drama Book, 1984.

Baumgarten, Linda. Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern 1750-1790. Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1999.

Hart, Avril, et al. Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries. New York: Rizzoli, 2000.

Construction Details


For the jacket I used the scaled polonaise pattern from Janet Arnold (pg 36) and fit it over my lightweight linen stays. I've used this pattern for all the my previous 18th century bodices and find it makes a nice base. The jacket is one layer of cotton print, lined with a lightweight linen. The seams are sewn using my cheater 18th century seam finishes:  the two pieces of fashion fabric, and one lining piece together by machine and then cover the seam allowance by whipstitching the other lining piece over it. It looks period, gives some stability to the seam and is easy.


The jacket peplum is a semi-circular piece of material, gathered to the back point. I simply played with the fabric on the form until I liked the shape.


For the bodice trimming I layered pinked strips of gathered self- fabric and puffed green silk ribbon. I also added a green silk bow to the front of the neckline.

The petticoat is simply two pannels of cotton, knife pleated to a waistband. The petticoat hem has a wide, full ruffle, pinked on both sides, to which I added some puffed green silk ribbon.

I'm really pleased with the outfit as a whole. The fluffy petticoat and jacket skirts are so bouncy and fun. And I'm really pleased I added the green ribbon. It gives the perfect pop of color and breaks up the print. There is some wrinkling on the bodice front. When I noticed this it was extremely frustrating because I spent so much time perfecting the fit of the muslin, but then I remembered that I didn't have enough linen to cut the lining fully on the bias. I think its fighting with the printed cotton and not stretching as much as it should. At first I thought I would rip on the lining and add a new piece, but that would require me to redo all the trimming. Perhaps I will revisit that idea before I wear it again.

The hat I'm wearing was a fun slap-dash project. When I use straw hat blanks I like to pin as many trims as possible so I can change things up later, plus I'm lazy.

To start I used a straw hat I bought at Williamsburg in March as my base. I was going for a "cheater" version of a Lunardi hat or a large capote. Eventually I would like to make a proper one, with a shaped brim and large crown, but this works for now. Originally, I had just used taffeta for the crown but I found it tended to collapse in on itself and it didnt have enough poof to it. So my solution was to top the crown of the hat with a wadded up piece of silk organza to give the crown some height. Then to support the taffeta, I cut another piece of organza into a circle, gathered that, and attached it over the first piece of organza.


For the taffeta layer I cut out a circle using the hat as a template. I would have liked to have made it bigger, but I was working with a limited amount of fabric (less than half a yard) and I really wanted to use the blue silk. I gathered the edge of the taffeta and pinned it over the organza, pulling it out further over the brim of the hat.


To cover the gathering stitches, I cut a strip of taffeta and folded the edges in towards the middle of the strip like bias tape. Then I wrapped it around the base of the crown and pinned it in place. Add a bow or two et voila! Silly little hat!

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Revisiting an Old Favorite

Revisiting an Old Favorite

In my original wardrobe plans for Williamsburg I had intended to make several new day outfits, but time got away from me and ended up pulling out my wavy print jacket and petticoat to wear instead. I have to say I’m really glad I did! When prepping for an event, it’s easy for me to get into the mindset that everything I wear needs to be new, so I often forget how much I enjoy rewearing favorite costumes. My events are so few and so spread out that it feels almost obligatory to make something new every time, but I’m resolving this year to focus on quality over quantity and make things I truly love and am proud of the construction.