Costuming Tour - Old Sturbridge Village

Last Saturday, I was part of a small group (nine people) who had the privilege of touring the costuming department at Old Sturbridge Village.  The village is a living history museum that recreates a New England town of the 1830's.  It has an extensive staff of interpreters, all of whom are costumed by a small staff working out of this tiny, densely-packed house on a corner of the property.

On display in the first room, an office, was this gorgeous, gold silk reproduction gown.  If my memory serves me correctly, it was done by an intern and is an exact replica of a gown in their collection.

"Exact" truly means "exact" in this case.  It is exact in the 1/32" error in matching down the center front seam of the bodice, and in the number of handstitches per inch.  Simply an amazing piece of workmanship by a very talented, hardworking woman.  It took 2-3 months to complete.

Then it was on to explore the work rooms and closet rooms throughout the building.  Thread upon thread in gorgeous colors!

There was a bonnet storage room.  All the straw bonnets on the floor were divided by age, from age 14 to 18, as with increasing age, a girl could wear an "older looking" bonnet.

This beautiful bonnet, carefully protected by a plastic bag, caught my eye.  Such pretty ribbon!

My favorite room was the ladies' accessories room, filled with intriguingly labeled boxes containing all manner of necessities for the lady of the 1830's.

The ladies' closet room was filled with period dresses.  A newly-hired interpreter would be taken here to see if anything in the room might fit her, and if not, a new gown would be made.  I tried to imagine how fun it would be to get to choose from among these gowns, and so headed over to my size to see which one I would pick from among the selection.

This one!  Definitely this one!  Loved it's smocked sleeves!  Although the tartan dresses were catching my eye too.

And what a pretty print this is!  All the cotton prints are period reproduction fabrics.

I thought it was interesting that the men's shirts didn't seem too different, in terms of prints, than modern day shirts.  This could almost been any man's closet.

The entire basement is devoted to menswear.  Hats upon hats!  All the straw hats in the village are made by a group of Pennsylvania farmers' wives, who make hats for the village in the wintertime, when their own farms demand less of their time.

Next up is a pictorial view of some of my favorite scenes in Old Sturbridge Village.


  1. What a delightful opportunity, Kate! I am sure that you were in your glory! :)

  2. What a fun experience! How wonderful to get this behind the scenes look :D We are planning on going to OSV for 4th of July weekend and I am SO excited!

    1. Ooooo...have a wonderful time! I HIGHLY recommend that you stay for the fireworks. Quite spectacular! They shoot them off over a pasture, and you sit at the top of the pasture looking down at them, and the very ground under your feet will shake with the booms! Quite the memorable experience!

  3. Very interesting post, Kate. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Colonial times. I'm so glad you got to see these items up close.

    Jacki G.


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