How to Make Revolutionary War Period Clothing

Written by laurie carpenter
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How to Make Revolutionary War Period Clothing
Paul Revere's era featured less formal attire than clothes worn in earlier or even later centuries. (Paul Revere Statue image by Charlie Rosenberg from

Research is the key ingredient in replicating Revolutionary War period clothing; you need an understanding of the material, styles and colours used at the time. During this period, typical fabrics included wool, cotton, silk and linen. Most men were farmers during the Revolutionary War period, and their clothing, since they served in a militia, was much more relaxed and casual than their British counterparts. Women's clothing involved layers of petticoats, which were not frilly; instead, they were functional skirts that helped keep them warm. You can sew costumes from scratch or adapt them from other articles of clothing.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Men's Militia Wear
  • Linen, cotton or wool shirt (no buttons, often tied at the collar)
  • Wool frock or overshirt
  • Knee breeches
  • Knee-high stockings
  • Buckle shoes
  • Black felt hat with narrow brim
  • Blanket roll
  • Musket
  • Powder horn on a strap
  • Women's Wear
  • Petticoats or skirts (at least two)
  • Woollen gown, or "polonaise"
  • Waist-tied apron
  • White cotton cap
  • Red-hooded wool cloak
  • Neckerchief, silk, cotton or linen
  • Knee-high stockings, preferably black
  • Leather ankle boots or shoes

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  1. 1

    Purchase commercial sewing patterns for any items needed or visit thrift stores for clothing to adapt.

  2. 2

    Adapt a men's frock from a brown or beige flannel nightshirt or nightgown. Cut and sew to mid-thigh level.

  3. 3

    Make breeches by hemming a pair of trousers just below the knee and running elastic in a casing around the hem.

  4. 4

    Purchase a pair of white knee-high socks.

  5. 5

    Wear buckled shoes or create a pair by hot-gluing a buckle over the tops of brown or black shoes.

  6. 6

    Purchase a thin-brimmed hat made from soft material such as flannel or wool at a woman's department store or through historical period catalogues. Alternatively, wear a three-cornered hat.

  7. 7

    Roll a small blanket and tie and lash it with a rope to create a shoulder strap and wear your blanket roll across your body.

  8. 8

    Carry a replica musket for effect. Search antique shops or speciality shops for a powder horn with a strap and carry it over the shoulder, across the body like the blanket roll.

  1. 1

    Scour second-hand stores for long billowy skirts or purchase a pattern (see Resources) and make two skirts to use as your petticoats. Use simple elastic waistbands under the gown.

  2. 2

    Purchase a commercial pattern (see Resources) for an 18th century gown, white cap and cloak.

  3. 3

    Purchase fabrics and notions as noted in the package directions and sew according to pattern directions.

  4. 4

    Tie an apron around your waist. Colonial women often wore an apron made of a quilted material for warmth; however, a simple white waist-tied apron will work.

  5. 5

    Purchase or make a triangle kerchief, large enough to circle your neck. Women of the period often wore prints or calico patterns. Wrap the kerchief around your neck and tuck the ends into the front of your dress.

  6. 6

    Purchase a pair of black knee-high stockings and a pair of brown or black ankle boots to finish the look.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are not handy with the sewing machine or don't have one, you can hand-sew many of these items; or you can purchase many of them through speciality catalogues or shops that deal with period costuming.
  • Second-hand stores offer a treasure-trove of clothing that you can purchase inexpensively and adapt with a little creativity and sewing skill.

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