Civil War Civilian Living History

Interpreting the American Civil War Home Front

Cape May: The Preparation

Jessica Craig planned another of her wonderful events in Cape May, NJ for September. This was a must attend event for me; Cape May has been on my bucket list for years and a chance to hang out in period clothes was more than I could resist.

Before the actual event I needed a new dress, of course. I have had a fashion plate of seaside wear for some time and decided to reproduce one of the dresses in that print, the lighter colored one.  

I searched quite sometime before I found a fabric that would work. I settled on a gray cotton shirting with an anchor motif. The trim was made of a wonderful, deep red silk taffeta from Needle and Thread. It is a beautiful silk.

But before I started the actual dress, I needed the white waist. Luckily I attended Carolann’s chemisette classI had help drafting the pattern and the fitting. I used a sheer white cotton. Only the top of the piece is gathered, the bottom is darted.

Originally I had bought shell shaped buttons to use on the dress front. But there were only three, so I used then on the white waist cuffs.








The trim on the dress had to be cut and applied separately to the skirt, jockies, wrap and bodice. There was almost 100 yards of strips to apply.









The bodice is fastened in the front with hooks and eyes; buttons are used as decoration only. The skirt hem guard is cotton mosquito netting, the closest we have to a similar fabric used for light weight lining in originals. I also used the netting as the base for the sleeve jockies. The hem tape is wool.

The skirt is pleated into a waist band made of the same tape used on the hem.

Once the bodice was attached to the skirt I then made the wrap trimmed with the red silk and the sash of the same red silk taffeta and we’re done.

I still needed the hat, however. I contacted Pam Robles of Mrs. Parker’s Millinery and Mercantile. She made me a wonderful straw hat with a huge plume.  I added the ribbon that I found at Needle & Thread.







I was now ready for Cape May 1860.

Categories: Civil War