The cheats costuming guides,easy,cheap and quick to make historical costumes

I am in the process of preparing easy to follow guides on how to make historical costumes .I will eventually cover every era from the early medieval to the 1940s ,I will use this page to add links to each specific post as I finish them.

None of the guides need any particular sewing experience ,skill or know how .They need no specialist tools or expensive fabric and where possible I have tried to limit tools to those easily available.
Tools needed for gowns and other clothing-


Needle ,thread and scissors and cellotape (though pins or safety pins are useful).You will also need something to make small holes for lacing the dress ,a kebab skewer ,bradel etc

back bst

For most of the dresses you will need cord to use to lace it up

cord for pet
All the clothing sown on these pages has used only these tools .The only extra item I ever use is a pair of pinking shears to make zig zag edged ruffles for Victorian or Georgian gowns.


green dres

They are rarely used but if you do want lots of frills on a gown they would be a good investment and it removes the need to sew edges or make special pleated trim .The flounced skirt and petticoat below took weeks as they needed to be hemmed at both sides . On the other hand the long red gown in the photos below them with its huge flounced hemline took a day as it was a lengths of pinked edge fabric that was just gathered by a signal run of stiches and sewn on with another row of stiches.The green Victorian gown shown above has several tiers and is also pinked at the edges so there was no hems needed on it at all

For headdresses
These almost all use just the same things ,needle cotton and cellotape ,in addition you need a box  either a cardboard box such as those used at supermarkets

birdwatch and blog stuff 149

which is used for the Gable hood.
gable hood front

Or cereal box used for the other Tudor and medieval head dresses and the Victorian hats

The fabrics used can all be easily found in charity shops as all the gowns and underwear can be made using either old curtains or bedding.The nightdress below is a handmade Victorian sheet and the lace from a table cloth,The petticoat is also made from an old sheet

I have instructions for making a chemise for Victorian ,Medieval and Tudor gowns from a sheet here
The gowns below are all made from recycled curtains or duvet covers ,sheets etc with trims from fur hats ,necklaces or belts.
elizabeth princess red gown
leah blue gown

I cover medieval gown styles and fabrics here in my first cheats guide to medieval gowns
regency shawlblue dress
If you want to use new fabric then duvet covers and curtains can be bought in sales ,this Ikea duvet fabric was used for several gowns
regency gate
The headdresses construction requires cereal boxes for most and a slightly thicker cardboard for the gable hoods
I will cover
Medieval headdresses ,Henins and crespinettes , ie the tall pointy ones and wide flat ones.
Tudor Elizabethan and Stuart dresses,

black gwn hd
mart tudor gown1
under layers and sleeves

These are mostly covered in the chemise post

but I am planning a post on more specialist items such as partlets ,chemisette,inner and over sleeves  etc
tudor inner sleeves
headdresses including French hoods
bolyen hood
,Gable hoods and intermediate hoods .
Georgian gowns
saque back narrow panniers
Regency gowns.



and hat
regency golden gown
Spencers are the little short jackets seen in series like pride and prejudice and can be made in an hour or less using an old jacket,the spencers below are all cut off and slightly altered modern jackets
 regency gown
jane Austen festival
Victorian gowns,under layers
and hats

The gown post is here
1940s cheats guide,this is not specifically a how to make it guide but how to fake it guide .
1940s haworth 2

There is a further post on how Ikea fabrics can be used to create accurate historical costumes here
Abigail Bell is my pen name when writing for other sites or blogs)

10 Responses to The cheats costuming guides,easy,cheap and quick to make historical costumes

  1. Pingback: 392: chapters 29-30 - Sense and Sensibility | CraftLit

  2. ANNA says:


  3. I’m about to start on my first ren faire dress using your guides. I love your ideas, and this was the most comprehensive site I could find.

    • Hi ,
      many thanks for letting me know its great to know that the posts are useful as I am never sure if they are clear enough or relevant ,I am hoping to finish the medieval high waisted gown post this week

  4. Amber Nanni says:

    A great site for Theater costumes to be sure!

  5. Viv Digs says:

    can’t believe you made all these amazing pieces of clothing! truly incredible. i have always dreamed of making my own gown. i will eagerly check out your guides, but i only have basic sewing skills…thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hi ,They are much easier than they seem,sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error ,but often its fairly trouble free ,you can probably sew better than I could when I first started making costumes ,I had not done any sewing for years I think I only owned a couple of needles ,some kitchen scissors and a couple of different reels of cotton from sewing on buttons etc

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