Historical Costuming Resources
For a useful general run down on many historical eras try checking the articles listed at Historical Clothing Guides for Theater Costumes by Molly Schwichtenberg.
When building historical costumes you sometimes want to use authentic techniques and materials, but this can be an expensive option. Consider also looking for "similar" fabrics because many historical fabrics just simply aren't available any more.
Sometimes finding "similar" fabrics is a just matter of luck and looking long enough. The big lesson I've learned is to give myself enough lead time to get lucky. If you have a project in mind and have the specifications, you will be ready to jump when you run across that exceptional natural fiber fabric or that hard-to-find oddball item that is exactly what you need to pull off your historical costume.
Another way to find "similar" fabrics is to visit one of the large metropolitan areas that have a fabric district. Visiting them can be overwhelming, so plan to spend all day (or even a weekend) at it. See Gail Wolfenden-Steib's article, LA Fashion Confidential in "The Virtual Costumer", vol 8, issue 1 for tips on visiting Los Angeles.
Consider posting to the ICG-D Yahoo Group a few weeks before your visit to get up-to-date local advice on visiting places such as Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, etc. Don't discount opportunities outside North America either! From Paris to Hong Kong, there are options for shoppers.
Fabrics and Notions
- Bellomodo Antique reproduction buttons.
- Blue Cat Buttonworks Assorted button styles in use during the late 1600's through the 1800's.
- Burnley and Trowbridge Specializing in 17th, 18th and early 19th century fabrics, notions, patterns, and accessories. They also offer how-to-make workshops several times each year from their Williamsburg headquarters.
- Calontir Trim Fabulous trims at fantastic prices is their motto, but not all are historical reproductions. Choose wisely.
- Dharma Trading Dyeable natural fabrics and ribbons in various weights and widths. They also sell the dyes.
- Denver Fabrics This is a giant fabric shop, but if you need basic silk, velvet, linen or fine cottons you can sign up for "E-membership" which notifies you of sales. They do have them periodically.
- The Fabric Store Linen in various weights and colors. Good source for historic natural (unbleached) linens. The blog also offers tutorials on basis sewing skills.
- Historical Textiles Another source of fabrics for discerning historical tailors, reenactors, museums, conservators and collectors. Eras covered: Ancient Roman, English Civil War, French and Indian War, American Revolutionary War, Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War and American Civil War.
- Military Heritage Reproduction Heritage and Military Uniform Buttons.
- Period Fabric A wide variety of authentic, period fabrics: Linsey-Woolsey, Fustian, Hemp, Tent Canvas, Marquis, Jean Cloth, Jean Wool, Linens, Blends, Tent Canvas and Oil Cloth.
- Renaissance Fabrics Provider of wool, silk, linen, and cotton fabrics for the historical costumer. They also offer historical trims, lace, buttons, and patterns.
- Reproduction Fabrics An online source of cotton reproduction fabric for costuming and quilting. Fabric of time periods cover 1775 to 1950, including the American Civil War and Depression eras.
- Thai Silks Over 1400 silk fabrics from China, Korea, Thailand, and India, but not all are historically accurate.
- Time Warp Textiles Producing and supplying both highly accurate 'museum grade' textiles and a more affordable line of 'costume grade' replica fabric covering different periods including Roman, Viking and Saxon, Medieval, Tudor and Stuart.
- Thistle Hill Weavers Creating beautiful (expensive!), historically accurate reproduction fabrics for more than 15 years. See the review of their website in "The Virtual Costumer" vol 8, issue 1
- Two Bees Fabric Specializes in 1800's Civil War Era reproduction and 1930's reproduction quilt and reenactment costume fabrics.
- Vintage Ribbon Genuine vintage ribbon, antique laces and trims.
- William Booth, Draper Provides fabrics, thread, patterns, sewing gear and notions for reenactors. Linen thread in various colors!
Jewels and Metalwork
- Armour and Castings Weaponry, fittings, jewelry, as assemble it yourself parts, or they will do it for you. Some unique items here. Not cheap, but their English is good and their work is beautiful. Allow lead time, they cast on demand and ship from Ukraine.
- Danegeld Viking to Renaissance replica jewelry. Allow lead time. Handmade in the UK for enthusiasts, theatre and film.
- Military Metalwork hand-made reproduction historical accoutrements, regalia, epaulettes, headdress, metallic trims and decorative metalwork of the 18th century, Napoleonic and Victorian wars.
- Museum of Jewelry High end modern "in the style of" reproductions from all eras.
- Pricegems Museum Replicas Licensed copies of jewelry in museums from around the world. Choose carefully, prices, authenticity and quality of the copy may vary. Sometimes number available is limited as well.
- Raymond's Quiet Press Run by long-time SCA member and all around parfait gentil knight, Raymond. Roman through Medieval goodies at fair prices.
- Replica Regalia The European provider of historic and fictional jewels has quite the inventory. Anyone need "The Star of the Kingdom of Vulgaria"? They have it. Will also accept custom and semi-custom orders.
- Sapphire & Sage Jewelers Portrait, film and other historic replica jewels and jewelry sets. Elizabethan Bilament trim by the inch.
- Jas Townsend and Son, Inc. All types of goods appropriate for 1750 to 1840, particulary the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
- Renstore.com (formerly Chivalry Sports) Clothing strong enough to last for many seasons of outdoor use and still look great in a wide range of sizes. Plus accessories, hats, weapons, toys and games. Sign up for their interesting historical newsletter.
- Patterns of Time while the name emphasizes the patterns, this is a full service shop for historical and steampunk gear.
- Smoke and Fire Company American Colonial, Scottish, and Medieval Clothing, Patterns, Books, Historic Camp Gear, and Period Accessories.
- Eagle's View Patterns having all terms fully defined in the handy glossary, plus bold illustrated instructions, make using these patterns very easy to use. I have used the men's broadfall breeches pattern with great success. Men's, Women's Children's patterns for the early American eras. Can be purchased at Patterns of Time, Smoke and Fire or other historical pattern purveyors.
- Kannik's Korner Patterns Designs and publishes authentic, documented, historic clothing patterns for use in Living History, Museums and Theater. Specializes in historic costume from 1750 to 1820. Men's, Women's and Children's patterns. I've used the men's accessories pattern. The historic sewing pamphlets are also very useful.
- Mantua-Maker Patterns Specializing in women's clothing from 1480 to 1895. All patterns are multi-sized, and based on actual garments, pattern drawings, or engravings and photographs made during the time the garment was worn.
- Out of a Portrait specializes in hat patterns and fans by Lynn McMasters. Offers hat patterns from 14th to 20th century and supplies for fan making. Check her photos for costuming eye candy.
To suggest other historic costuming resource links for this page please contact the Web Diva.