Home Inspiration This Historically Accurate Halloween Costume Is Beautiful!

This Historically Accurate Halloween Costume Is Beautiful!

by Beth Cooper

Sewist’s Name: Mea Cadwell

Type of Project: Halloween Costume/Historical

Pattern: Original Designs

Featured Date: 10-25-23

Hi, I’m Mea Cadwell. I recently made this 1850’s style costume. It took me awhile to make and included a lot of hand sewing. Everything is historically accurate.

The outerwear is a paletot – an open sleeved jacket – with velvet trim. There is a hoop skirt underneath and a horsehair braid on the interior of the skirt hem. The dress also includes a surprisingly comfortable corset and corset cover.

About 15 years ago I was invited to go the Renaissance Faire in Minnesota and thought it’d be fun to wear a costume to it. I went online an looked at the prices…that were well outside my price range. I figured I better teach myself to sew, and learn pretty darned quick, if I wanted a costume.

I decided to make a Tudor outfit…and that’s when I found out I had a knack for sewing. Who knew? I am self taught and used lots of YouTube videos in the learning process. And, in sewing, the learning never ends, which is pretty cool because there’s always a new goal to strive for.

I cannot read a commercial garment pattern for my life! You might as well put some Latin, interspersed with Swahili, in front of me for all the good it’d do, lol! So, I draft all the garments I make, which adds to the time of making my costumes.

I’ve been making a new historically accurate costume every 2-3 years for Halloween…just for the fun of it and because nobody else has one like it. So, I have lots of them and probably need to stop, lol. Most are both handsewn and machine sewn. They are historically accurate from the skin out along with all the accoutrements from that time period.

This costume is from the late 1840’s to early 1850’s when blouses still had the dropped shoulder. Hoop skirts were just coming in and not too large…yet. I found the lace collar in an antique store and used my great-grandmother’s brooch.

Undergarments include a chemise (handsewn), a non-tight lacing corset and corset cover, bloomers (not historically accurate but I wear them under hoop skirts because of wind and I don’t want to flash anyone by accident). I have a ‘mobcap’. Then there’s knitted over the knee stockings and comfy shoes that don’t quite fit the fashion of the time but I have rheumatoid arthritis so have to draw the line somewhere!

I could not tell you the name of all the fabric because it was in my stash for quite some time. However, the leaf fabric on the apron is Moda Old Cambridge Pike. The blouse is made of a hunter green broadcloth.

The hardest part of sewing in general is having rheumatoid arthritis pain and bone spurs that push against nerves in my neck in such a way that I can’t feel my fingertips. But that doesn’t stop me from sewing all sorts of stuff, like quilts, garments and bags.

The hardest part of this costume was the Paletot. I came across one instance of it online and was instantly smitten with it! I hunted everywhere but couldn’t find a better picture or more information on this particular paletot so drafting it took the longest. I don’t think I’ve ever taken something apart as often as that thing! Frustrating is not the word I’d use and I flung it across my sewing studio at least once. Now that I’ve done it, it’s easy, but during the process I was inventing inarticulate cusswords often! LOL

I thank you for choosing my outfit. This news definitely put a smile on my face. 🙂


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Ilene Hall
Ilene Hall
1 month ago

Dear Mea, What an inspiration you are.! Your work is so amazing.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ilene Hall
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