This past weekend Rachel Hogue was a presenter and historical interpreter at Middleton Place in Charleston. The event was "Leisurely Pursuits and Grand Entertains," which sought to give an immersive look into the leisure activities of middle- and upper-class people in the 18th century. During this event, Rachel demonstrated and presented how women in the 18th century did their hair, what they wore, and how they wore it, and a few other topics that aligned with these subjects.
On the subject of clothing, Rachel has been studying and hand sewing 18th century clothing in detail for about four years. Rachel first became interested in this period's clothing after lots of trips to visit her grandparents, who lived close to Colonial Williamsburg. Rachel's current outfits are as accurate as possible and sewn in a way that is very close to how women in the late 18th century would have been making clothes. Everything Rachel is wearing, both what you can see, and her undergarments, are hand-sewn by her. In the last several years, Rachel has worn her clothing to living history events and historic buildings, but she was always on the spectating-guest side of things. This weekend at Middleton Place allowed her to be on the teaching and interpretation side of things, an opportunity she had been patiently waiting for.
For every garment she makes, the first step is studying the clothing in historical context. This involves studying fashion plates, extant garments in online museum collections, as well as studying previous bloggers and sewers' documentation of similar projects. For materials, Rachel only uses natural fibers (wool, silk, cotton, and linen), since this would have been all that was available in the late 18th century. For this event, Rachel used accurate hair products made from recipes from the period, made by fellow living historians who run small online stores for this niche area of study.
"Sewing is something I do as a hobby, and the events I do are because I love to teach others about history, and they also allow me to network with other historians and broaden my knowledge," said Rachel Hogue, GSSM Class of 2020.
The information that Rachel has learned from doing research here at GSSM is attracting attention among the state's historical community as she continues to teach the public about colonial textiles, clothing styles, construction, makeup, and social customs.