This summer I had the opportunity to interpret the dressmaker’s shoppe at Boonefield Village in St. Louis, MO. Usually I am in the tavern / inn cooking food all day. A new building is always a treat.
First, this little building was bright and airy and had lovely colors inside, which contributed to a cheerfulness not always felt near a darker hearth.
The first room right as you enter, I tried to set up like an office / reception area where if you were a customer looking to have a dress made, you could begin your experience by looking at fashion plates.
I wanted my “customers” (public) to have an immediate visual of the fashions of the time. Although I was interpreting a shoppe in a big city like St. Louis (because this type of shoppe did not exist in a small frontier village), I wanted them to know that women still cared about fashions abroad and the newest styles. I also wanted them to see how fashions changed just slightly from the 1780s to the 1820s, but my focus was on 1819. I arranged the fashion plates chronologically from left to right and when I greeted customers, I asked them which style most intrigued them or what colors they liked the most. This then allowed for more opportunities for them to ask questions about the particular style or how a dress was constructed.
Me working on mending a pair of men’s trousers
I had lots of fabric spread around the store as well as some garments in progress and undergarments from the previous era and the current era. As always, customers enjoyed trying on stays.
My work table in the center of the room for ease of movement during the cutting and sewing process; my sitting area in the corner for when I need a little rest.
Luckily I had two of my own dresses to display. Some people asked to try them on, which was fun. I wish I had had mannequins or some other way to display these dresses so that it was a little more visually appealing.
Overall, this was a very good experience. I love sewing and talking about clothing. There’s so much information to share that it’s always neat to see what people latch on to within the first few minutes of a conversation and how long they stay and chat with you.