November 16, 2021

391 Comments




 

 


Colonial Period Fashion: 1770s Looks Your Dolls Will Love!

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you make a historically accurate late-eighteenth century look for your 18-inch doll, focusing specifically on the period between 1770-1790s! Whether you’re creating a formal look (which in colonial times was referred to as “dress”) or a more working-class look (referred to as “undress”), you’ll be sure to find something to make for your doll from our pattern selection.  Colonial womenswear had several key components:  the undergarments, the gown, the shoes, the cloak, and the accessories.  In the 1770s, girls started dressing like women as early as age five, so these components will add up to a great look for any age of colonial-clad doll. 

Bonus Giveaway: After reading this post, scroll down to the bottom to leave a comment telling us which colonial outfit element is your favorite! Enter to win a $50 aleksandrajones Gift Card too, details below!

 

Colonial Undergarments

Colonial undergarments consisted of several different elements.  The shift was the first layer worn and was a long shirt made from white linen that was worn down to the knees.  The second layer after the shift were called stays.  Stays were basically a type of corset that were filled with a stiff material (most often wood or sometimes even bone) which would help the colonial ladies maintain perfect posture.  The petticoats were worn over the stays.  These were large underskirts that would often be visible through the center of the gown.  During the winter, extra petticoats (made from wool) would have been added to help the colonial lady stay warm.  Occasionally, in the aristocracy, hoopskirts were worn to give the outfit more volume as well.  A final undergarment worn by colonial women would have been a pair of woolen stockings that were worn up to over the knee.

(*Pictured above is the Thimbles & Acorns 18th Century Underpinnings.)

 

Colonial Gowns

A colonial-style gown was the primary focus of the outfit.  Because of the lack of ability to mass produce clothing, each gown was fairly unique and fitted perfectly to the wearer.  In the lower classes, gowns (and other types of clothing) would have most likely been made either by the wearer or a close member of the wearer’s family (i.e., a mother or a sister).  In the upper classes garments may have been outsourced to a tailor.  Gowns were most commonly made of natural materials like wool, cotton, or silk (for those who could afford it).  Most gowns were fairly plain with minimal decorations, but upper-class ladies would often embellish their clothing more.  Gowns would be fastened by laces in the front and feature a slit that would expose the petticoats.  The sleeves of the gown would usually extend down towards the elbows and sometimes featured ruffles to dress it up.

(* Pictured above is the Thimbles & Acorns Enfourreau Gown)

 

Colonial Shoes

No outfit would be complete without the perfect pair of shoes, and a colonial outfit was no exception!  Shoes during the colonial period tended to be very basic and made of woven materials or leather.  Fancier shoes were made with silk and featured embellishments but were only available to the upper classes.

 

Colonial Cloak

Cloaks were the outerwear of choice for colonial women.  They were made of heavy wool and worn during the winter months.  Cloaks went over the shoulders and would extend down to the waist, or more likely, down to the ground.  They would clasp at the neck and sometimes feature a hood as well.

 

Colonial Accessories

The final component to the colonial outfit would have been accessories.  These accessories might have included an apron, a cap (or a mob cap), a hat, a fan, gloves, and/or jewelry.  Aprons were usually made of linen and were worn by the working class as a protective layer over their gowns.  A cap was made of linen or cotton and was used to manage a lady’s hair and to keep it clean.  A mob cap was a type of bonnet that had a more decorative flair than the basic cap.  Hats were worn with wide brims to protect colonial ladies from the sun.  They were made of straw, silk, or felt and were often decorated with things such as flowers, ribbons, and feathers.  A fan was typically carried by upper class ladies.  Gloves were worn in all types of weather and spanned from the elbows down but exposed the fingers.  Jewelry could have been as simple as a ribbon tied around a lady’s neck but as decadent as a string of pearls or a silver hair pin.

 

Colonial Colors and Prints

Common colors for the late 1700s included ones of the raw materials or ones that were produced easily from natural dies (for more information about natural dyes you can take our Natural Fabric Dyes Master Class Video Course here).  The color black was symbolic for humility and was easy to produce naturally in wool from black sheep.  Blue and grey were often worn by servants because they were sourced from cheaper dyes.  The colors orange, red, and brown were all produced from madder root.  Orange and red were symbolic for courage, whereas brown was symbolic for humility.  Green was easily sourced from lichen and vegetables.  Yellow was made from weld and symbolized hope.  Common prints used for colonial clothing would have been very organic like flowers or vines and occasionally more geometric prints like plaids or stripes.  You can take a look at the links below for our suggested fabric choices!

Cascading Floral from Colonial Williamsburg

Paisley in Royal from Etsy

Olive Brushed Wool from Mood Fabrics

Lightweight Linen from Mood Fabrics

Pastel Green Georgette from Mood Fabrics 

 

The Colonial Time Period Pattern Collection for 18-inch Dolls

aleksandrajones offers a wide variety of eighteenth century-inspired patterns but to start check out these patterns below!  You can also learn more at our past blog post on Betsy Ross here for information on this amazing colonial hero.

 

We’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment and tell us which colonial element is your favorite!

Thanks, everyone!

Katie & The aleksandrajones Team

 

ENTER TO WIN A $50 aleksandrajones Gift Card!

 

 

To enter this week's contest, simply click the link below and then enter through the giveaway widget at the bottom of the blog post, there are many things you can do to earn multiple entry points!

Contest Details: You enter through the entry form that is embedded on this page and appears just below this paragraph, if you don't see it, be sure to visit the page from your desktop or an alternate browser such as Google Chrome. It may not appear on all mobile devices. The complete rules and entry details appear on the entry form. This is not a comment contest - in other words, leaving a comment on the bottom of this page is not an official entry method. The only required entry method is to leave a comment under this post and then confirm that you did it in the contest widget. One person will receive the PF Gift Card. You can enter once, or gain multiple entries by completing the other entry methods and increase your chances of winning. Please review all Terms and Conditions on the giveaway page before entering. While we wish we could run this contest everywhere, for legal reasons it is only open to eligible residents of the U.S. and Canada, not including Rhode Island. This contest is exclusively endorsed by Liberty Jane Clothing and aleksandrajones. 

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 (This post and giveaway are not endorsed or affiliated with American Girl®, no endorsement implied.) 

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell us, Which colonial element is your favorite?

Thanks, everyone!

--The aleksandrajones Team 

 


100 Comments

Mary J. Sanchez
Mary J. Sanchez

December 29, 2021

It is hard to choose a pattern, they are all so beautiful. The colonial one are my favorites.

Dinna
Dinna

December 06, 2021

My favorite is the En Forreau. I had to follow the directions carefully, as I often intuitively wanted to put them on backwards. But it turned out very well. I am dying to make the stays.

Mollie Bradford
Mollie Bradford

December 05, 2021

I love the under things the most, especially fancy embroidered stays!

Carolyn menzies
Carolyn menzies

December 03, 2021

I love the underpinnings as well but my favorite is the colonial dress with the stays. So enchanting!

Rebecca
Rebecca

November 29, 2021

I love the ruffles and trim the most, but also the ability to mix and match with different stomachers and underskirts.

Grace
Grace

November 29, 2021

I like the gowns and undergarments. Also, the cloak, which is classic and could be used for any period to go to the theatre!

LM
LM

November 29, 2021

I love this period. Beautiful pieces!

Alison
Alison

November 27, 2021

I like the way the stays, bumroll, and petticoat combine to create a beautiful silhouette.
Laura
Laura

November 26, 2021

I like the colonial gown with underpinnings and the ivy cape.

Amanda Van Sickle
Amanda Van Sickle

November 26, 2021

Colonial undergarments are such a neat touch to add to a doll’s wardrobe

Gena
Gena

November 22, 2021

I like all Colonial Era clothing, but especially the silhouette and the trims as well as hairstyles

Shelley S.
Shelley S.

November 22, 2021

Thank you for offering another great give away.

I absolutely love the ball gowns, the under garments, the petticoats & the hats. Wouldn’t want to wear them in today’s era as they are quiet bulky & most likely hot. But they sure are dainty. How they would make those women wear those tight corsets is almost barbaric. No man would ever want to have to be squished in those corsets almost till they couldn’t breath. Just say’n.

Carol Litchfield
Carol Litchfield

November 21, 2021

I LOVE the 1700-1701 – the Thimbles & Acorns dress is BEAUTIFUL!! I haven’t ever tried to make 1 though for the dolls but I did make one for myself years ago for an old fashion wedding I went to.. It turned out really good and we had lots of fun..

Kyla
Kyla

November 21, 2021

I love the colonial period just haven’t braved making the patterns yet. I just restored one of my dolls felicity from the 1990’s and I can’t wait to make her some period outfits.

Kaylee
Kaylee

November 21, 2021

I love stays!!! Even though they are technically undergarments, you can make them beautiful and wearable.

Anna
Anna

November 21, 2021

I am working on a whole 1700s ensemble for my dolls and my stays are by far my favorite part and one of my favorite things I’ve ever made! Call me crazy but I would wear them. I could use a little extra support!

Denny
Denny

November 21, 2021

Love the peonies dress, especially with multiple sizes included in the pattern.

Katherine
Katherine

November 20, 2021

I have used 4 of the patterns pictured here and they’re all wonderful, but the Betsy Ross dress is my absolute favorite.

Constance
Constance

November 20, 2021

I really love the underpinnings. They can be fancy or plain. It’s amazing how many articles of clothing they wore.

Rosemary Kelley
Rosemary Kelley

November 19, 2021

I LOVE THEM ALL BUT MY FRARITE IS THE 18TH PEOINS DRESS. Thank you GOD BLESS

Joanna
Joanna

November 19, 2021

I love this thanks!!

Susan
Susan

November 19, 2021

I like the floral print fabrics.

Greta K
Greta K

November 19, 2021

I love the gowns and the cloaks, especially the fancy gowns and the full length cloaks with the beautiful hoods. Would I want to wear them? Absolutely not. But, my dolls would love them all.

Jodie
Jodie

November 19, 2021

I love the underpinnings. So cute!

isabella
isabella

November 19, 2021

My favorite are those STUNNING court gowns. Especially the ones with the lace and ruffles!!

Laura Lepkyj
Laura Lepkyj

November 19, 2021

I like the gowns split in front to reveal the petticoat.

Beth
Beth

November 19, 2021

I love the cloaks and capes.

Connie M
Connie M

November 19, 2021

What fascinating information!! I have always thought the long cloak is so romantic.

Sandra
Sandra

November 19, 2021

Thank you for the lesson!

Vanessa
Vanessa

November 19, 2021

I love the cloaks from the colonial times!

Shirley was
Shirley was

November 19, 2021

I love the 18th Century Underpinnings. It was a fascinating period of time in our history.

michelle
michelle

November 19, 2021

those tiny stays are awesome!

Jackie Koepnick
Jackie Koepnick

November 19, 2021

love the dress and the underthings they must have had spunk to were all that material and work to

Juanita Lanaux
Juanita Lanaux

November 19, 2021

I love the corsets, but I can’t imagine having to get in and out of them.

Dottie B
Dottie B

November 19, 2021

I liked most of them. I made me understand why women needed maids to help them dress? Doesn’t look like it is possible to put them all on by yourself

Becky W.
Becky W.

November 19, 2021

I really like the petticoats.

Sara
Sara

November 18, 2021

Absolutely have a different respect for the amount of time women spent getting dressed at that time. I just love the underpinnings, even though they restricted breathing usually, they are quite breathtaking (pun intended) 😉

Sandy
Sandy

November 18, 2021

So much wonderful information on historical garments. I never knew about underpinnings. Looks like a fun pattern to make.

Diana
Diana

November 18, 2021

I love this period of clothing. It always looked complicated to make, but these patterns look doable for me :)

Jackie Pitts
Jackie Pitts

November 18, 2021

Of this assortment I like the cloak best. But of all 18th century inspired patterns at aleksandrajones I like the short gown by Thimbles and Acorns best. I want to make some for my Sashas and my one AG and for my Kidz n Cats dolls and Pandora when I get around to making her. Then they can all dress up on patriotic holidays.

Wendy
Wendy

November 18, 2021

I love the whole outfit, but those little stays and panniers are super cute!

Marcie
Marcie

November 18, 2021

I love it all. The petticoats with cotton tape to tie, the bonnets and the simple silk necklaces. A proper straw hat to top it all off. I love all of your patterns.

Rheta Russell
Rheta Russell

November 18, 2021

Thimbles & Acorns Enfourreau Gown is my favorite. The information about historical clothing was very interesting.

Leesa Eason Mergens
Leesa Eason Mergens

November 18, 2021

I love them all, but my favorite is the En Fourreau Gown

Monya
Monya

November 18, 2021

I love, love, love all elements of the colonial women’s dress but you aren’t fully dressed without a beautifully beribboned straw hat with a mob cap under it tied behind your head!!!

Ann
Ann

November 18, 2021

I love the petticoats :)

Lynn Stram
Lynn Stram

November 18, 2021

I like all of them

Theresa
Theresa

November 18, 2021

I really can’t choose a favorite… I suppose it’s all of them!! I really love looking at all of the historical patterns. It is very cool to see all of the layers and dresses in miniature.

Laura
Laura

November 18, 2021

I love the Ivy cape and the colonial dresses. Also the undergarments are a must. Have a great Holiday season to you and all your employees and designers!

Sharon Thomas
Sharon Thomas

November 18, 2021

I love the detail, how feminine the looks are, especially with the lace.

HELEN
HELEN

November 18, 2021

love the long full gowns and the pretty prints

Maretta
Maretta

November 18, 2021

18th Century Peonies Dress

Diane
Diane

November 18, 2021

Love the undergarments.

Deborah
Deborah

November 18, 2021

What’s not to love about Colonial Williamsburg? Loved Felicity & her colonial attire- if I have to pick I love the stays & petticoated overskirts.

Gianna
Gianna

November 18, 2021

I love how the chemise a la reine is looks so flowing and light. Also the embriodery especially on the stockings.

Margaret goodman
Margaret goodman

November 18, 2021

I love the long skirts (petticoats) with the overlaying dress.

Jeannie
Jeannie

November 18, 2021

I love the details on the stays and sleeves.

Mariann
Mariann

November 18, 2021

i love petticoats and corsets… the fashions are so beautiful… but must have been so uncomfortable!!

Lynette
Lynette

November 18, 2021

I like the undergarments, particularly the stays.

Gail Beam
Gail Beam

November 18, 2021

A favorite is hard to pick, so I will pick the underpinnings

Tatum
Tatum

November 18, 2021

I’ve always had a weird love for how stays look on dolls. :)

Debby
Debby

November 18, 2021

I love the basic everyday wear.

susan
susan

November 18, 2021

I love making multiple petticoats to go with a gown for new looks.
A special little girl loves that they are so easy to change.

silgalia
silgalia

November 18, 2021

j’adore cette période, j’adore l’histoire en général mais surtout l’histoire du vêtement…
j’aime toutes vos tenues de cette époque. Mais mon préféré sont les sous vêtements, car sans ceux ci les robes n’auraient guère de forme. bonne journée à tous

Lisa
Lisa

November 18, 2021

It’s a toss-up between stays/underpinnings and a cloak for my favorite. BUT, if you’d mentioned pockets, THAT would be my favorite! They were separate items, not built into garments like they are today. Perhaps they were the first ‘fanny packs’? 😉

Liz
Liz

November 18, 2021

I like the En Fourreau gown. It adds elegance and grace to the wearer. My second like is the “undress” clothing and third, the cloaks.

Candy
Candy

November 18, 2021

I love the capes and the ball gowns!

Lynn
Lynn

November 18, 2021

This is my favorite time period of clothing. I love the various layers of clothing, particularly the peasant style undergarments that sometimes peak above the top garments at the bust. They are generally a cream color, perhaps in muslin fabric back in the day.

Diane R
Diane R

November 18, 2021

Hats

Stephanie G
Stephanie G

November 17, 2021

My favorite is the undergarments.

Patricia Stegall
Patricia Stegall

November 17, 2021

My favorite clothing elements are the underthings. Anyone can put a long skirt on a doll, but to achieve a true colonial look, the proper underthings such as side hoops are needed.

Donna sherry
Donna sherry

November 17, 2021

I love the capes they wore

Ana Schmidt
Ana Schmidt

November 17, 2021

I like best the cloak, so elegant! But the stays are so very attractive. Glad I don’t have to wear them on a regular basis but would love to wear an ensemble like that at least once.

Rita Cashion
Rita Cashion

November 17, 2021

I think the dresses of that time period were very feminine and very beautiful. However, I’m glad it was not my time period. My favorite look though is the hooded cloak. That is one garment that I would love to see in style today. I don’t know why I love it….I just do. :o)

Rachel
Rachel

November 17, 2021

The gown, of course.

ro
ro

November 17, 2021

Lots of work but lots of fun too. Cape and hat for my current skill level are the best lol

Melanie
Melanie

November 17, 2021

Love all of it! I can’t pick just one element!

Melanie
Melanie

November 17, 2021

Love all of it! I can’t pick just one element!

Melanie
Melanie

November 17, 2021

Love all of it! I can’t pick just one element!

Eileen
Eileen

November 17, 2021

My favorite element of this particular era is one you didn’t discuss: the pocket. They could be made with the most glorious and beautiful details but were never even seen. One might make them from fabric scraps of previous clothing and embroider it. Of the ones you did mention, the corset is the most fascinating because women still wear versions of it today in various shape-wear and more flexible version were put on infants for a time, thinking that it would help them have better posture as they grew!

Jeanette Y
Jeanette Y

November 17, 2021

I love
The look of the undergarments, especially the way the shift makes everything look.

Rebecca Landers
Rebecca Landers

November 17, 2021

I love the dress with the petticoat and how feminine they look… Its amazing how beautiful these dresses were

Debra
Debra

November 17, 2021

I love the petticoats and the hoop skirts!

Carol Stephen
Carol Stephen

November 17, 2021

Love the underpinnings, especially the stays! This article is fascinating!

Nanette Seale
Nanette Seale

November 17, 2021

I love the petticoats and stays.

Nancy A
Nancy A

November 17, 2021

I love the petticoats and stays. Very feminine looking.

Dorothy
Dorothy

November 17, 2021

I love the stays in the garments because they were so a part of that period’s wear. These outfits are all gorgeous! Thank you!

Linda
Linda

November 17, 2021

I choose the underpinnings. I like details, especially what is under the clothing and the difference it makes in how the outerwear looks.

Pamela W
Pamela W

November 17, 2021

I love the stomacher – just the practical sensible idea of a garment piece that can be changed when something gets on it (especially with food and small children at home!), especially considering that they only had just a few outfits to own and use.

Pat
Pat

November 17, 2021

I love the detail on the hood of the Ivy Cape.

Sue D
Sue D

November 17, 2021

I like the petticoats.

Cheryl Goode
Cheryl Goode

November 17, 2021

Of all the aspects my favorite revolves around the fabrics of the period.

Sandra Cox
Sandra Cox

November 17, 2021

It was really difficult to pick one item but the stay seams to be forefront to me.

Lisa
Lisa

November 17, 2021

The beautiful capes and full dresses are my favorites.

Mae Lynn Beck
Mae Lynn Beck

November 17, 2021

It takes all the icees to make the outfit but I guess my favorite is the stays. Make the outfit very feminine.

Bev
Bev

November 17, 2021

Awesome, display of our beginnings as a new Nation.

Annlee
Annlee

November 17, 2021

I love the gowns of that period. also the clocks

Helfrich Deb
Helfrich Deb

November 17, 2021

I love everything about the colonial era clothing, but I am especially fond of the underpinnings.

Heather Swanson
Heather Swanson

November 17, 2021

I like the fancy dresses.

Kelly
Kelly

November 17, 2021

I enjoy making the clothes from this era. It is fascinating to give these garments more color and different pattern prints that wasn’t available back then.

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