C ostume Close-up unveils the secrets of 18th century garments in the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Here, you will find: in-depth examinations of the history and construction of 25 antique garments or ensembles, discussions of 30 related side topics, patterns for 28 individual pieces of clothing, 61 modern drawings or graphs illustrating 18th century stitches, construction techniques, assembly details, and embroidery, quilting, or knitting patterns techniques, 94 black and white photographs, including construction and embroidery details; 27 color photographs including overall views and close-ups, and 31 illustrations from 18th century sources.

Examining stitch marks, thread remnants, and creases, the authors solve the mysteries of how clothing was made, altered, and sometimes even how it was laundered and stored. In the course of their investigation, they illuminate aspects of the manufacture and wearing of 18th century clothing from how wool was glazed (the textiles were folded and placed in a press) to who wore under drawers (Thomas Jefferson and George Washington did, but many men did not).

Experts and novices alike will enjoy the engaging presentation of text, period illustrations, and modern photography.

Colonial Williamsburg owns one of the world’s outstanding collections of period costumes: almost 900 costumes and more than 2,400 accessories. This important body of material documents the way Americans and Europeans dressed during the 18th and early 19th centuries. This was truly a period when clothes had great symbolic importance, proclaiming the wearer’s status, occupations and place in life and society.

10 x 12 in.


Linda Baumgarten is the Curator of Textiles and Costumes at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation where she has worked since 1978. Baumgarten holds two master’s degrees: one from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the second from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture in Delaware.

John Watson, Instruments Conservator at Colonial Williamsburg and a specialist in computerized recording of antiques.

Amazon Reviews:

“A new classic in costume. Like Janet Arnold’s now-classic Patterns of Fashion books, this book takes existing museum garments and offers basic scaled patterns for them. It also offers great details about how the garments were original made, tips for using period techniques, and even a few short histories”

“A Must-Have for 18th century costume construction.”

“This book is a staple for the 18th century costumer. A must have reference. Fabulous patterns and wonderfully informative writing.”

“One of my favorite costuming books, it presents information both in articles and text-box asides, and uses line drawings and period illustrations as well as photographs and patterns of the actual garments.”

“Lots of Useful Detail for Colonial Re-enactment Costuming.”

“Especially appropriate for civilian (non-military) interpreters in the Revolutionary War period re-enactment community.”

A new classic in costume like Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion books!

A staple for the 18th century costumer.

Lots of useful detail for Colonial re-enactment