Dressing up, 18th century style

It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this blog that I quite enjoy making replica 18th century clothes. Last year I started reenacting and attending events across Scotland, dressed as a Jacobite camp follower. I ended up having my photo taken for the local newspaper in Killiecrankie and appeared briefly in the background on a TV programme filmed by the fantastic Prof Mary Beard at Prestonpans. I got to speak to members of the public about the role of women in camps and specifically about spinning and knitting (it can get very cold in camp and I needed something to keep me busy!). Now my health is starting to improve, I’m really looking forward to attending more events this year.

There are quite a few businesses both in the UK and North America who cater really well to the re-enactment community, and there are also bi-annual markets which folks attend to purchase historically-accurate items of clothing and the such like. Part of the enjoyment of reenacting, at least for me, comes from going through the process of making your own clothes (which you try to make as accurately as possible). Making those clothes, for me, gives you more insight into the living conditions of the past much better than reading it in any book.

As I learn more about making clothes for myself, I am also acquiring the skills to make replica men’s clothing. One thing that strikes me is how much more time consuming it is to make men’s jackets. Here’s one I made for a friend last year, which we finally got around to photographing properly yesterday.

I love how John, an Army veteran of over 20 years’ service, has teamed his (military) MacKenzie tartan replica jacket with the black Stewart plaid. I think they both complement and clash perfectly.

My favourite pattern maker for 18th century clothing is J P Ryan. Her patterns, which all seem to have been drafted in the early 1990s, are not cheap but are excellently drafted and have very useful instructions. I get them from Vena Cava Design online

I also made a waistcoat for Grant, a member of Paca, Highlander Tours & Outlander extra last year as well. The waistcoat was also entirely made by hand.

Here’s another photo of Grant with Andy and my friend Vicki just down the road at Doune Castle. Vicki is wearing my outfit from last year in this photo, and Andy is wearing hose which I knitted for him

I’m about to start another jacket for another friend, and a waistcoat for another friend to wear, and a dress for me to Culloden in April for the commemorations and will be sharing photos of the process (& recording the amount of time it takes!)

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