Elizabeth Stewart Clark: The Compendium
Excellent articles and free patterns, in PDF format. I recommend:
- Assembling Your "Best Bet" Wardrobe
- Defining the Work Dress
- Make a Basic Petticoat
- Make a Simple Chemise
- Make a Simple Slat Sunbonnet
- How to Make Women's Split Drawers
Anna Allen has collected images, mostly from ebay, of original garments, CDVs (photographic prints), and fashion plates, specifically for the early 1860s.
Bonny Blue: Historical Help
Geared toward beginning reenactors, this is an excellent introduction and how-to's for reproducing the 1860s.
Curiosity Shop: Glenna Jo & Bill Christen's Presentations and Works-in-Progress
Excellent presentations and articles from a very knowledgeable couple.
The Sewing Academy
A forum started by Elizabeth Stewart Clark, this is one of my favorite online places to hang out. The depth of knowledge here is matched only by the members' friendliness and willingness to help. I particularly enjoy contributions by Glenna Jo Christen and Carolann Schmitt, who began reenacting in the 1960s. If you have a question, go here and search the archives for an answer with evidence to back it up.
Bonnet patterns, kits, and buckram and braided hemp frames, from 1795-1865. Their research into the early 1860s is particularly meticulous. The variety they offer isn't simply different styles, but shows how bonnet shape changed subtly but significantly from the late 1850s into 1865.
Mrs. Parker's Millinery and Mercantile
Pam Robles (another member of the Sewing Academy) does gorgeous and incredibly accurate bonnets and hats, specializing the 1860s but spanning Regency and the full Victorian period. She also offers buckram bonnet forms as well as beautiful fancy woven straw bonnet forms. And she is the only source I know for accurate and varied straw hats.
Robert Land Historic Shoes
The only source for accurate side-lacing low-heeled 1860s boots. He also offers Regency varieties and newer-styled 1860s boots.
Bonny Blue Historical Clothing
Owned by Atlanta Shannon, who I know personally. She does beautiful work and takes custom orders.
Originals by Kay
Famed for their custom corsets. Also offer a variety of ready made items and cage crinoline kits, and also do custom orders.
Patterns taken from originals but graded into multi-sized garments. This line has a good reputation and I have had success with those I have used. They include extensive historical notes.
Laughing Moon Mercantile
Offer a beautiful day dress pattern. I have not personally used it yet, but Anna Allen of the Graceful Lady was very impressed. [ETA 3/11/13: I've now fitted it to me, and I love the look it gives; I can't wait to make my first dress with it.] Their basic Victorian corset is slightly long in the hip, but otherwise perfect for the 1860s, and has very high reviews.
Fig Leaf Patterns / Dancing Leaf Designs
Patterns developed with Kay Gnagey of Originals by Kay, such as a wrapper pattern and a paletot (coat).
Also have a very good reputation. Specialize in post-Civil War patterns, but offer quite a variety of 1860s skirts and bodices. Remember that 1860s skirts are mostly squares, and be careful that the bodice option you choose is appropriate for your use, time period, and fabric. The 1858 round cage crinoline is too big for most uses. IMHO it also looks too round, but I have not seen the pattern myself.
More to come!
Also, feel free to leave any questions in the comments, or email me. Thank you for visiting!