1770s Underpinnings

The necessary underthings for a proper Colonial lass!

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1770s Underpinnings

The necessary underthings for a proper Colonial lass!
Price: $80.00

1770s Underpinnings


The necessary underthings for a proper Colonial lass!

By Joni Lynn
For Kindred Thread Foundations

Under Felicity’s clothes, from the humblest work dress to her fancy silk gown for the Governor’s Ball, she wore the same underthings as virtually every girl and woman in the Colonies. These underthings served a practical purpose but I think they are rather stylish as well! This set was created from a wonderfully detailed pattern by the talented Shari of Thimbles & Acorns. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart (nineteen boning channels in the corset alone!) but the results are well worth it.

The first layer is a shift, or chemise, worn next to the skin – this protects the clothing worn over it from being soiled by body oils and sweat, since the more complicated fashions of the time were not so easily laundered! Felicity’s shift is sewn from a lightweight batiste which is thin enough not to add bulk under her clothing. The shift slips over her head for dressing and features a drawstring casing so you can adjust the neckline to sit hgher or lower on her shoulders.

Felicity’s pocket hoops are also known as ‘panniers’, from the French word for ‘basket’, and they are absolutely essential for creating that period-correct wide-hipped silhouette. Because they are closed at the bottom and open at the top, they can also be used for storing treasures – maybe an apple for Penny? (I have learned from personal experience, however, that it’s hard to dig a cell phone out of the bottom of your pocket hoops before it stops ringing…) The pocket hoops are constructed from cream-colored cotton with three rows of boning, and simply tie around her waist with a length of rayon seam binding.

By far the most complicated piece of this ensemble are the stays or corset, with the aforementioned nineteen channels for boning! 18th century stays are quite different from the steel-boned ‘hourglass’ corsets that we associate with the Victorian period – they were stiffened with whalebone, baleen, reed, or even cardboard (in the case of a very young child’s stays). Felicity would have worn stays from a very young age, as they were believed to be essential for supporting a young child’s growing body and assuring correct posture. (Want to know more about 18th century stays? Begin here, but be prepared to fall down the rabbit hole of the American Duchess blog!) Felicity’s stays are made without shoulder straps for greater ease of movement (though stays with shoulder straps were also worn and could even be used as outerwear!) and stitched out of plain cream-colored cotton, with shaping provided by modern nylon featherweight boning – so much kinder to the whales! Tabs at the bottom spread out over her hips when laced, helping to support the weight of gathered skirts. The top edge is finished with bias binding, and the back is finished with metal eyelets (less historically accurate than sewn eyelets but a lot sturdier!) and laced up with a length of cording.

Our 1770s Underpinnings including shift, stays, and pocket hoops are ready to order on an ongoing basis but may take up to three weeks to ship depending on existing inventory. Fits 18″ play dolls such as American Girl; we are not affiliated with American Girl or Mattel. Fabric and trim may vary slightly based upon availability. Please note that the listing is for underthings only – the doll and any accessories are not included. Price includes FREE SHIPPING via first class mail to the United States and Canada. Intended for adult collectors.


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