When it comes to historical costume patterns, we've got a whole lot more choices these days. If you're into the U.S. Civil War or historic fantasy costumes like elves and wizards, then the major pattern companies have you covered. But what if you want, say, a 15th century German outfit? Or how about a Regency ball gown? Then you have to look a little harder. Fortunately for costumers, the Internet has made small independent pattern companies into viable businesses. And serious researchers like Kass McGann have taken up the challenge and created wonderful historic patterns for many different eras.
McGann is not a costumer; she is a clothier. She is someone who ardently researches clothing from bygone eras. Not content to simply look at paintings, she also reads period accounts of the clothing and visits museums all over the world so she can study and document the real surviving pieces. This is because she's not only interested in how the clothing looked, but also how it was made. Modern tailoring is different from period construction. And that's why her company is called Reconstructing History. Her patterns combine the best of her research with the ease of conventional patterns.
So, what eras do these historical costume patterns cover?
Medieval--These patterns heavily favor the 15th century. You'll find men's and women's outfits from peasant to royalty. Chemises, gowns, tunics, hose and hats--nothing's left out. There are also patterns for 11th through 14th century, just not as many (because there weren't as many styles.)
Renaissance--These patterns include doublets and jerkins, a complete pikeman's outfit from the late 16th century, pre-Tudor kirtles, Early /Mid/Late-Tudor gowns. England isn't the only culture represented. You'll also find Italian, Flemish, Irish, German and Scottish--including a great kilt pattern with doublet and cut hose. There are several Landsknecht patterns that are just to die for!
17th century--Whether you're looking to play a Musketeer or a Jack Sparrow, you can stop relying on fantasy versions and get the authentic look with these men's and women's patterns from this era.
18th century--Capes, coats and corsets; gowns and garters. The early American Colonial period through early Federal period clothing is represented, including two riding habits for the ladies.
Regency--Jane Austen would feel right at home in these clothes. Morning and evening dresses for the women and waistcoats, frock coats and great coats for the men.
20th century--The early 1940s are touched on in four patterns including 1943 ladies day dress, ladies suit and Redingote coat. A pair of 1940s men's dress trousers are also included.
Many Reconstructing History patterns are based on surviving artifacts including a man's Irish leine, the Moy Gown, the Shinrone Gown, the Gunnister finds, the Tawnamore finds, and more. Where possible, the pattern includes historic notes about the original.
I think the best part about these patterns is that you get the entire outfit, not just a piece or two. If there are required accessories to complete the look, like hosen, hats, pockets or gloves, you'll get those as part of the package. You can also purchase accessory patterns separately.
McGann has written extensively about her travels and her research. You can find it on the Reconstructing History website. She also provides extra construction notes and photographs on many of her patterns there as well.
So, whether you're a serious reenactor or want an accurate look for a stage production, Reconstructing History historical costume patterns may be just the ticket.
Women's 14th century cotehardie or kirtle pattern