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Can I get an “Aw, yiss” for being warm outdoors?


After the aftermath. Photo by Drunk Tailor.

They may not be the most accurate <cough>machinestitchedoffabolt<cough> quilted petticoat and waistcoat, but they sure do make a difference.

These aren’t exactly base layers– a white wool flannel shift would not be amiss–but the quilted layers make a big difference to a day in the cold. When I added up the layers, I came to 8 without counting accessories like neck handkerchiefs and stockings:

  • Shift
  • Stays
  • Waistcoat
  • Lightweight Wool Petticoat
  • Heavy Wool Petticoat
  • Quilted Petticoat
  • Gown and Stomacher
  • Cloak

It isn’t always pretty, but in cold, wet weather, function trumps fashion (not that I’m not pretty pleased with this upholstery). The waistcoat ties on, so you have some adjustment should your weight or shape fluctuate. The petticoat, in this case, works like every other petticoat, with the sole exception of a short pocket slit on one side due to operator impatience (this was finished just a few days before it needed to be packed for Princeton).


Thanks to Drunk Tailor for more patience.

The quilted fabric (originally intended, I am sure, for a bedspread) is lined with a plain weave wool for extra insulation and body; the waist band is bound with wool tape, as is the hem. Down in the basement, there’s a camblet- wool batting- linen lining sandwich on a frame, ready for quilting, if I only I would drag it up stairs and start, and I know it would be both more insulating and more accurate.

Does it all fit? Well…pretty much! An open robe with stomacher makes it easier to fit all these layer underneath, and, happily, I don’t have the best sense of my own size, so my clothes tend to be a little bigger than they must be. Fortunately, historical clothing generally involves adjustable closures that make fluctuations and layering easy to accommodate.

After Anna B’s and Anna K’s comments on the overview of the event, I was reminded that these are the confessions of a known bonnet-wearer, and I will humiliate self for history, so in case you are wondering: no, I didn’t wear drawers of any kind, or leggings, or long underwear. A pair of silk stockings under a pair of wool stockings kept my lower extremities warm, but my nethers were sometimes chilly, in a highly specific, localized, but small way. I think this may be where the wool shift comes in– or one that fits a bit better than my current garment, which is a tad too large.

On the porch at Morven, a range of head coverings. Photo by Matt White

On the porch at Morven, a range of head coverings. Photo courtesy Matt White

When it comes to ears, you can see that we adopted a range of solutions. Ear-covering caps under bonnets, under straw hats, and under kerchiefs, were worn by some. At far left, my cap perched on top of my head, so I tied my bonnet on with a kerchief and pulled my hood over all of that. Mistress V (at far right) wore a cap, a kerchief and a hat (which was summarily removed in the afternoon, by Mistress S at her left). Mistress F, holding the cream colored blanket with a wide black stripe, wore a wool hood over a cap and under her straw hat. Wear enough layers– and the right layers, meaning mostly wool and silk– and you will be warm, perhaps even sweaty if you’re active. Still, I might trade in my “Hobo Woman of Princeton” look for a quilted silk hood if the right one came along.