The Fat Reenactress

The Fat Reenactress

Monday, April 21, 2014

Post # 3  KISS    (keep it simple, stupid)     Monday April 21st, 2014

A little while back, someone had asked for some advice on what to wear for working class 18th century, especially for the larger size.

My answer for this is really simple:    you can't go wrong with a bedgown. It's a working class garment, it's loose fitting, and can we worn with either a weight gain or loss. There are a number of patterns out there, but the one I find the most flattering, on EVERYONE (read...skinny and heavy)  is the Mill Farm pattern for the European bedgown.  

This pattern can be lengthened or shortened to what you feel is a good working length.(if you make it longer, it's an AWESOME thing to wear for your nightly jaunts to the porta potty...make it long enough to cover your butt, and you're good to go!)  It is cut very generously...and if you are bigger than the largest size's really easy to increase the is literally just two seams down each side, from the sleeve cuff to the hem. The rest of the garment can either use a hem stitch or a rolled stitch around the bottom and the neck and front. In fact, if you wanted a garment to practice your handwork on....this is the perfect one.

It simply pins shut in front, and when you tie an apron on over it, you end up getting more of a fitted look. I like this garment because the neckline is very flattering and looks good on everyone.  You can find this pattern from most sutlers, but I do know that Burnley and Trowbridge do carry it.

As for fabrics, I would stick with either plain or striped linen or a linen/cotton blend. You want something lightweight, but not TOO light weight. I steer clear of using florals for this garment because it IS a working the florals for a pretty fitted jacket.
Everyone loves a striped linen bed gown!!!   :)

I'm not going to say too much about the french or english bodice that most people are having fits/discussing over. My personal opinion is that it's not a documented garment, regardless of the quilted ladies waistcoats in collections  (two totally different garments, in my opinion). Also....I don't find it a flattering garment at all...whether you're heavy or thin. WHY would you wear an unflattering garment??? I have the same feelings towards the pennsylvania german short gown, with the drawstring waist. I made my obligatory one and put it on. I literally looked like a sack of potatoes with a rope wrapped around it. Nope. Never wore it...never made another one.
I just finished my newest bed gown and can't wait to break it in. Loving the new colors.

well, that's it for now. Next up, I think I'll stick with the 18th c. working class and talk about leather stays.


  1. I'll be trying out this pattern in the hopefully near future since you recommended it :)

    1. cool! and if you have questions about it, call Burnley and Trowbridge...they own the pattern company, and are VERY helpful. (not that you should have any problems)

  2. Just found your blog. Very nice!

    Being Swedish I have an option to wear a more or less boned sleeveless bodice for lower class wear. It's extremely well documented in Sweden with a large number of extant examples as well as in text and pictures. They were generally cut a lot like stays, though always laced in front and were made in leather, wool and linen. I even think there are a few in cotton. As I find it very uncomfortable to not have breast support, I'm very happy that I have this option.