Columbia Diggn's Outfits

April 2003

For the past 2 years, Lisa & Rene have been active in a historical re-enactment group that portrays life in an 1852 Gold Rush mining town. The re-enactment takes place the first weekend in June at Columbia Historial State Park in Columbia, California.

I'm making new outfits of them for this year. This is Lisa's complete outfit. It consists of drawers, a corded petticoat, a fancy petticoat, a hand-smocked bouse, a skirt and a vest.

I've also made, but not pictured, drawers and corded petticoat for Rene and a corded petticoat for myself.


the complete outfit, front

the complete outfit, back

These are "authentic" drawers, in that they have a split seam in the back. This was allegedly make it easier for ladies to use the "facilities". Lisa didn't even bother to try out this aspect of the drawers; I don't quite blame her. :-)


drawers. Swiss embroidered fancy band at bottom

close up of fancy band

I was *very* surprised at how functional a corded petticoat was! Normal petticoats would have contained horizontal circular steel bands of increasing circumference held together by vertical bands of tape. This is what gave ladies that lovely silhouette. Totally impractical for wilderness or gold mining towns.

But, if you don't have something to help hold your skirts out fo the way, the fabric of the skirts gets tangled up between your legs. Very annoying.

Enter: the corded petticoat. Think of a long A-line skirt with circular rows of ginormous piping at the hemline. These circular bands really DO provide a certain amount of "lift" to keep the skirt fabric away from your legs. Amazing. And a whole lot cheaper than a standard hoop skirt! More practical in those times, also.


corded petticoat. Used as a substitute for a crinoline with steel bands.

close up of corded band of petticoat.

Fancy petticoat. Made from flocked taffeta (not historically accurate), which makes a lovely rustling sound. :-)

The smock underneath would not have normally been seen, as it was actually an undergarment. But since I put all that hand-smocking on it, I doggone well wanted it to be seen! :-)

The vest is a historically accurate pattern. I did some hand-embroidery on it.


close up of vest. Hand embroided design.

blouse with hand-smocked neckline and cuffs.

close up of smocked necline

another close up of smocked neckline and cuff of sleeve.