History Quest: Fashion Edition

History Quest Fashion Edition

Welcome to History Quest at Blog, She Wrote! History Quests are written by my 9th grader, Rebecca, & I. She chooses the topic based on her studies in history and she does the research. I take care of the photos and finishing touches and publish. Today is History Quest Fashion Edition and it’s all about ladies’ gowns from the Civil War Era.

Ladies Fashion- Designs, Decorations, & Color

No matter the time period it seems, women like to dress well and to have fun with fashion. During the time of the Civil War (~1859-1865), ladies still liked to be fashionable. My mind goes directly to the story of Little Women, when Meg desperately wants to look appropriate at her friend’s party. What can you find out about the following:

  • How many layers did a fashionable lady’s ensemble call for?
  • Gowns of this era were decorated profusely. What kinds of decorations did they use?
  • According to fashion magazines of the time, what should influence color choice?

The Hoop Skirt

Hoop skirts were still going strong during this time. Do you know your hoop trivia? How about these?

  • Hoops were at their largest at this time. How much fabric did it take to make a hoop skirt?
  • Civil War nurses did not wear hoops. Do you know why?
  • Women sometimes carried things they wanted to hide under their hoops. What kinds of things would they  hide?
  • Hoop skirts were also called crinolines. Find the words to a popular song of the time which made fun of crinolines.

History Quest Fashion Edition

Dresses for the Occasion

Different occasions called for different styles and materials for a dress. In fact, another scene from Little Women comes to mind. When Meg is preparing for the party at her friend Sally Moffet’s house and the girls tell her she is wearing an afternoon dress. Then they proceed to dress her up for the evening including a corset! Research to see what was worn for the following events:

  • A picnic- which would be an afternoon event
  • An evening dance- held at night and would be more formal
  • Church- many families attended church regularly
  • A period of mourning- such as the death of a loved one. What color?

Fashion & History

Rebecca is an aspiring costume designer. She loves to design and draft historical and fantastical costumes for people and dolls. Studying the fashion of a time in history is part of her project based learning. With each unit in history, she studies the fashion of the day with a couple of sources. Then sets out to create.

Visit Rebecca’s Sewing & Design Projects page to see a list of her fashion projects with posts. You’ll also see the projects still waiting on a post!


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Exploring Geography with History Quests

history-questThis post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

If you have any history buffs in your house, you might be interested in the post Exploring History with History Quests over at Bright Ideas Press.

Using History Quests in Your Homeschool

If you need an independent tool for exploring history, check out all the reasons for you to use this format in your homeschool. Allowing your students to explore history on their own is a fun way to give them ownership of their studies within the curriculum you are using.

What is a History Quest?

A History Quest is a simple exploration activity in which your student chooses a topic and does some quick research. This year we are using All American History Volume II from Bright Ideas Press, and I chose to replace some of the “For Further Study” items in each chapter with a History Quest of my student’s choosing. At first, I was interested in creating the Quests for my students to do, but my ninth grader suggested she research a topic and write them for me to use on my blog Blog, She Wrote. What a challenge!

Blog, She Wrote: History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

Learn More about History Quests

By visiting the post at Bright Ideas Press. Then come back here for three History Quests we’ve written for you!

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History Quest: Civil War Uniforms

History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

This Quest’s topic is near and dear to Rebecca’s fashion designing heart. What did soldiers on both sides wear? Did they wear pajamas? What kinds of guns did they carry and how? Get ready for today’s History Quest: Civil War Uniforms.

Union Uniforms

Let’s see if you can find out some information about uniforms for the Union Army.

  • What itchy fabric made up most of the uniforms?
  • Cotton from home was preferred. Why was it rare during the war?
  • Standard Union uniforms featured a dark blue shirt with how many brass buttons?
  • Early in the war Union soldiers’ standard issue pants were dark blue. In 1862 this was changed to what?
  • They wore leather shoes which laced up around their ankles. These had a very specific name. What were they called?
  • What kind of hat was most common? What did the symbol on the front of the hat mean?
  • What kind of guns did infantrymen carry and use?
  • How much did an average soldier’s gear weigh?
  • What was the standard issue gear for a Union soldier?

If you could pick a few things to add to your pack, what would you take?

History Quest- Civil War UniformsConfederate Uniforms

How about the Confederate uniforms? Were they similar? How were they different?

  • Most Confederates wore gray, right? Wrong! What color did the majority of Confederate soldiers actually wear?
  • What nickname did the collar of their uniforms earn them?
  • The south had plenty of cotton, but what did the north have that prevented them from making many shoes?
  • Did you know that denim was around during The Civil War? What part of a typical Confederate uniform was made of cotton denim?
  • Why were Confederate uniforms heavily influenced by Union uniforms?

Making Your Own Civil War Uniform

History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

Each year our homeschool group hosts a Civil War Ball in the spring. What began as the culmination to one family’s unit on the war, has developed into an annual event for our group. Part of the process is preparing the gown and the uniforms. In the past Ethan has dressed as a civilian just like Dan (my husband), but this year he was a Union soldier like his younger brother. Rebecca, as you may have guessed, makes a new gown each year.

We used the directions from Time Travelers Civil War by Homeschool in the Woods to turn a navy blue sport coat into a Union jacket. You can do the same with the Confederate uniforms. We have even had brothers show up wearing uniforms from opposing sides!

What did we need?

  • Navy blue sport coat- acquired from the thrift store. I couldn’t find a boys’ size that I needed so I looked for small women’s coats instead. It was kinda hard to partially disassemble a Talbot’s wool jacket! You have to be strong.
  • Brass buttons- I hit a second hand sewing shop for this one and came up strong. I also used the buttons from the sleeves.
  • Gold ribbon- for the collar
  • Yellow fabric- to make the sash for the soldier’s uniform

It wasn’t hard to do at all, but aligning the buttons took some time. We were in a hurry so we could also use a better fastener at the top of the jacket. Next year!


History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

I promise a post on How to Host a Civil War Ball very soon! For now, enjoy learning more about what the uniforms were like so you are ready to make your own!

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