Costuming and Chaos

The world is a pretty overwhelming place right now. Here in Washington, all the schools in 3 counties just closed for 6 weeks. The grocery store is absolute chaos. Life as we know it is suddenly suspended.

For my own sanity, I want to escape into a world of pretty dresses and tea parties. To think of all the things I’ll do once life goes back to “normal.” At least it’s something to fill the time while we’re all stuck at home.

On the flip side – the costuming world seems really frivolous at a time like this. How can I even think about such things when people around the world are dying? It’s not going to be “normal” again for a while.

This feels even harder to balance when it’s not just a hobby. It’s also a livelihood. I love being able to share my designs and classes with you. In turn, your support means everything for my tiny enterprise. I can never say it enough – thank you.

As a small business owner, it’s a stressful time. I know a lot of one-person shops that rely on sales to put food on the table. Others have a handful of employees that are like family. From the sound of it, sales are slowing down for everyone.

I’ve also heard suggestions of turning this time of isolation into a time of creativity. Work on new projects and the ones languishing in a drawer. Learn a new skill. Keep your hands busy.

If you’re in a position to do so, please consider giving some of your favorite costuming businesses a boost. For small business owners, every little bit helps! Even a $6 e-pattern or a $10 sparkly pair of earrings will make a difference. Great reviews and project photos also help and cost nothing.


Digital patterns are the best when you don’t want to leave the house or are too impatient to wait for the mail! If you prefer paper, all these sellers offer printed patterns as well.

Wearing History has a lovely range of patterns from 1900-1950. These are vintage patterns that are cleaned up and modernized for ease of use. Designs include fully updated multi-size patterns as well as expert-level “Archive Couture” that reproduce vintage styles in a single size range. I’m currently making up the “Louise” 1920s robe in this fun print.

I’ve been hearing great things about Black Snail Patterns lately. Their 1830s stays and sleeve puffs are on my wish list right now! They also just issued a darling 1890s vest pattern.

Redthreaded has you covered for all your corsetry needs. They offer print-at-home PDF patterns for stays and corsets ranging from 1730-1890. They also make beautiful custom corsets if you’d rather not tackle them on your own.


Want to learn some new skills? Online classes are a great way to try something new and to share a sense of community.

18th. c Passementerie fly fringe class supplies

Historical Sewing teaches a wide range of classes on costumes and accessories from the 18th and 19th centuries. She also has a new class all about dirndls in the works.

Want to deep-dive into hand sewing? SewnStories offers a class on the Art of the Hand-Rolled Hem, as well as private lessons. Her tagline is “remember what your hands can do.”

I have several free online classes, including Beginner Hand Embroidery. All other classes are 15% off with code BUSYHANDS2020. You can also pop over to my Facebook group to chat with other students or ask questions about your projects using my designs.

Sparkly Bits

Maybe you just need something bright and shiny to help lift your mood, or want to celebrate finishing a project. Here are some great finishing touches.

Dames a la Mode is the undisputed queen of sparkle! It’s a one-woman shop making gorgeous jewelry that works for both historical costuming and everyday wear. To be honest, I wear mine more often for working from home than for costuming events.

Have you ever wanted a medal for finishing a costume before the event? AimeeKitty can help you out! Online sales are even more important when real-life vending opportunities like ECCC are being cancelled.

Virgil’s Fine Goods sells finishing touches for your 18th c. and Regency outfits. Check out her straw bonnets and bonnet decorating kit. PS: she’s still on maternity leave so shipping may a little slow but totally worth it!

For true vintage pieces, check out Deb’s Vintage Treasures. She carries all sorts of vintage accessories to top off your outfits. She also has hard to find pre-waxed silk sewing thread.

Did I miss a great small business on your list? If so, feel free to share the love with a link in the comments.

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers, and I do not recommend products solely to get a commission.

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