Q: Do you have any books or sewing supplies you recommend to get me started?
A: https://www.amazon.com/shop/freshfrippery (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means I get a small cut out of what you buy that goes towards my domain registration fees. I don’t make a profit from this website).
Q: Do you sell patterns?
A: All patterns and tutorials are provided free on my blog. I don’t charge for them but if you would like to donate towards my domain registration and data costs of hosting the many photos on my site, consider buying me a coffee:
Q: Are you a reenactor?
A: No. I’m a costumer that makes historical outfits and attends themed parties and other fun things, but I do not participate in Civil War reenactments, work at Renaissance Fairs, or volunteer at any Living History events.
Q: Are your costumes for sale?
A: Occasionally I will sell something I no longer wear or fit, but in general I am posting pictures to share, not to sell.
Q: If they’re not for sale, what’s with the “prices” at the bottom of your project posts?
A: That is a tally of the materials costs for a finished outfit (not including labor, of course). Unless I’m creating something a extravagant, such as a silk dress, I prefer to stay under $100 for each project. Adding things up at the end keeps me accountable. The tally usually includes the fabric, lining, buttons, lace, pattern, etc.
Q: But why do we need to know how much money you spent?
A: When I started sewing in college I did not attempt to make anything “fancy.” I assumed that upper class garments made out of quality materials must be out of my price range. I hope to encourage other fledgling costumers by showing that it can be possible to make something nice without always spending hundreds of dollars (especially if you’re good at finding bargains, sales, and coupons). The hours spent are another thing entirely . . .
Q: Can I hire you to make something for me?
A: Sorry, no. I have a full-time job and a small child. If I have free time I am playing with my son, or sewing for myself when he’s asleep. Additionally, I do not have experience drafting for other people’s bodies, and you really would be better off hiring a local professional.
Q: Can you give me an idea of how much it would cost to hire a seamstress?
A: Please remember that commissioning a custom item will cost you far more than the usual ready-made clothes you may be used to buying in a store. You cannot get couture for prêt-à-porter prices. For a commission you will be paying an hourly wage x the number of hours required to make an outfit + the cost of materials. For example, a Victorian ballgown bodice and skirt with hand-sewn embellishments may take 30 hours, including the time spent washing, ironing, patterning, and cutting out the fabric and lining. If someone charges $25 an hour and you choose $250 worth of fabric and trim, you might pay $1000, although the cost will vary depending on the person and project.
Q: So I can hire you for $25 an hour?
A: Nice try, but no. And I’m not implying that $25/hour is what you should pay for a commission. Each seamstress or tailor sets their own rate.
How can I find out about all these costume events you go to? Looks like fun!!
Hi! Sorry for the delay in replying. I live in the Bay Area, California so I am a bit spoiled when it comes to having costume events to attend. Between the events hosted by GBACG.org and Peersdance.org, and other organizations, there are lots of things to do every month. I don’t know where you live, but I would search for historical re-enactment groups, comic conventions, vintage dance, and other similar groups using Facebook, meetup.com, and Google. If you live in an area without a lot of events you can make your own! Make a reservation at a tea house or a day in the park and invite friends to dress up with you. Have them invite their friends and their friends’ friends.
Hi. Thanks so much for answering me. I will follow your suggestions to see what I can turn up. Your outfits are great!!
Thank you and good luck!
Loved this post! We publish Early American Life Magazine and I am working on a short article talking about HA and its importance (or not). I would like to use two or three quotes from your piece if possible. I will certainly send folks to your original work.
Hi Tess, thank you for reading! I sent you an email.
Hello, I am a beader with lots of time on my hands. I recently saw examples of 1830s beaded watch chains. Of course I had to make one. I would like to give it to someone who would enjoy such an accessory. You have some lovely huge puffy sleeve dresses but, I see no watch chain. Would you like it? Or know of someone who would? 3/8 inch wide 52 inches long.
Wow, that is so kind of you to offer it to me! You’re very kind. I will send you an email.
I just saw the result of your handiwork on Instagram, and it looks beautiful! If you’re ever interested in making another, I’d be happy to purchase one for my wife!
Hi Tyler, I passed your email address onto Val.