Creating 18th Century Clothing

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Students will learn about the 18th-century clothing worn by George and Martha Washington. Included are suggestions to easily recreate 18th-century clothing in the classroom.

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Creating 18th Century Clothing

  1. 1. Creating 18th - century Clothing for the Classroom Intended Grade Level: Elementary Adapted from Darci Tucker , American Lives What you will find in this guide: Descriptions and Images of 18th Century Clothing Clothing…………...……………………………………………………………………………………... Hats…………………...………………………………………………………………………………….. Shoes…………………...………………………………………………………………………………… Suggestions for Recreating 18th Century Clothing in the Classroom……………………………………. Template for Shoe Buckles..…………………………………………………………………………………... Template for Man’s Tricorn Hat…………………………………………...…………………………………. Template for Lady’s Straw Hat…………...……………………………...…………………………………… 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Additional 18thCentury Clothing Resources: The Style of Martha Washington ~ Mount Vernon Digital Encyclopedia Mount Vernon E-Museum ~ Mount Vernon Permanent Collection Historic Threads: Three Centuries of Clothing ~ Online Exhibit from Colonial Williamsburg: American Centuries: Dress Up ~ Memorial Hall Museum Online Unlessotherwise noted,allimages are from thecollection ofthe MountVernon Ladies’Association
  2. 2. 2 Creating 18th Century Clothing for the Classroom CLOTHING: Men and women’s clothing in the 18th century was as varied as it is today. Most 18th century clothing was made from natural fibers - linen, wool, silk, and cotton. Wealthier families, like the Washington’s, were able to import expensive material from England for their clothing, often choosing silk and cotton in either solid or printed designs. Linen and wool clothing was much less expensive to make, and those with less money would often choose these types of fabrics in solid colors for their clothing. Men typically wore a shirt, stockings, knee breeches, a waistcoat, a coat, and a hat. Some men wore wigs or powdered their hair, which was fashionable in the 18th century. Women wore a shift, stays, stocking, and a petticoat. On formal occasions women would wear a gown. On less formal occasions women might wear a short gown, similar to a jacket, as full gowns were very expensive. George Washington’s Suit Martha Washington’s Gown
  3. 3. 3 Creating 18th Century Clothing for the Classroom HATS: For men, hats were optional both inside and outside, although they were usually worn outdoors and for formal occasions, such as George Washington’s inauguration. Men’s hats had round crowns and started with flat brims that could be cocked (the brim bent up) to suit the man’s taste. There were several ways to cock hats, some of which were specific to certain occupations. The most popular way to cock a hat was in three sections, making the hat a triangular shape. We now call these hats “tricorns” for their three corners. Men’s hats were usually made of wool felt, and the most common hat color was black, but a variety of colors was available. Men's’ hats were sometimes trimmed with ribbon around the brim, with gathered ribbon cockades on the left side, with feathers, etc. When outside, a woman would protect her skin by wearing a hat in addition to a cloth or lace cap that covered their hair. The hats were usually made of woven straw, but were sometimes made of felt. Fashionable hats were sometimes covered with fabric, and were often trimmed with ribbons and silk flowers. © National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. http://amhistory.si.edu/militaryhistory/collection © Victoria and Albert Museum, London http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O145827/hat-unknown/ Late 18th Century Lady’s Straw Hat Late 18th Century Man’s Tricorn Hat
  4. 4. 4 Creating 18th Century Clothing for the Classroom SHOES: Fashionable men’s and women’s shoes in the 1770s had softly pointed toes, and both men and women could wear heels, although women did so more often than men. Shoes came in a variety of colors, and were sometimes covered in fabric. The shoes of middling to gentry men and women, as well as those of liveried (uniformed) household slaves, usually closed with buckles. The shoes of the “lesser sorts” and most slaves were usually made of leather, had laces instead of buckles . Martha Washington’s Wedding Slippers ca 1759 Late 18th Century Man’s or Lady’s Silver and Glass Shoe Buckles It is believed these shoe buckles were worn to a ball celebrating Washington’s First Inauguration in 1789
  5. 5. 5 Creating 18th Century Clothing for the Classroom SUGGESTIONS FOR RECREATING 18TH CENTURY CLOTHING IN THE CLASSROOM Students’ costumes can be inexpensively created by adapting clothing they already own, using items in parents’ closets, from thrift shops, and through simple class projects that can incorporate creating costumes using mathematics. General rules to increase the accuracy of your costumes - Use natural fibers. Linen and wool were generally inexpensive, while silk and cotton were generally more expensive (Eli Whitney hadn’t yet invented the cotton gin, so cotton fibers were hand-picked off of the seeds.). - Use solid colors or woven, not printed, stripes. Checks and plaids existed, but were not commonly used in British clothing Shirt - A loose, long sleeve white shirt. Buttonless is best, but you can always leave the button at the collar undone. Breeches - Solid color pants rolled up to just under the knee (rolling inside works best) and pinned close to the leg. Baseball pants also work well. Stockings - Long socks that go up to, or over, the knee. Baseball or soccer socks work well. White is best, but any solid color will do. Waistcoat - A man’s suit vest that hits at the hips. Sew ties onto the back, or pin it, to pull it tight at the waist. Shoes - Non-descript, simple black or brown shoes. Loafers, dress shoes, or even black sneakers will work. Use the shoe buckle template to create shoe buckles to dress them up. Hat - Use the tricorner hat template to create a construction paper hat. You can also sew or pin the sides up on a wide brim felt hat. For a women’s hat use the straw hat template to build a flat hat with a wide brim. To make your hat fancier, add ribbon or a feather to the hat’s edge. Skirt—Long plain skirt, or fabric wrapped around the waist and draped to the ankles. Apron—For girls, a plain apron can be worn over
  6. 6. 6 Creating 18th Century Clothing for the Classroom TEMPLATE FOR COLONIAL SHOE BUCKLES: Materials Needed: Cardboard or cardstock, pencil, scissors,, large elastic bands, aluminum foil, tape. Instructions: 1. Provide each student with the template below.. 2. Instruct students to trace the template 2 times on cardboard or cardstock, then cut each template. To cut out the middle section, cut a small hole in the center and then cut along the dotted lines 3. Cut 2 large elastic bands per student. 4. Poke 2 small holes in each “buckle” where indicated and thread the elastic band into the holes, tying each end off to secure it. 5. Cover the “buckle” in aluminum foil, and secure with tape. 6. Slip the “buckles” over students shoes—the elastic band will help to keep them attached.
  7. 7. 7 Creating 18th Century Clothing for the Classroom TEMPLATE FOR MAN’S TRICORN HAT: Materials Needed: Black construction paper, pencil, scissors, tape and/or a stapler. Instructions: 1. Enlarge the pattern below and pass out one copy to each student. 2. Instruct students to trace the template on construction paper 3 times, and cut out each tracing. 3. Using tape or a stapler, attach the corners of each section of the hat together to form a tricorn hat. 4. Dress up your hat by decorating it with feathers, ribbon, bows, etc.
  8. 8. 8 Creating 18th Century Clothing for the Classroom TEMPLATE FOR LADY’S STRAW HAT: Materials Needed: Poster board, pencil, scissors, glue, ribbon, and flat foam circle (available at craft stores). Instructions: 1. Instruct students to trace the foam circle on poster board and cut out the tracing. 2. Glue the foam circle on the poster board, and draw a larger circle (approximately 6 inches larger) around it. Cut the larger circle out. 3. Glue the smaller circle to the top of the foam circle. 4. Cut a strip of poster board (equal to the width of the foam circle) and glue that to the outside of the foam circle. This will ensure the entire foam circle is covered in poster board. 5. Cut out 2 pieces of ribbon long enough to attach to the hat and tie under the chin. 6. Cut two small holes in the “hat” and tie 1 ribbon through each hole. 7. Dress up your hat by decorating it with feathers, ribbon, bows, etc.

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