This will be a mammoth post, but if you read it all you should have sources for every piece of fabric and/or trim you’d need to make a costume exactly like these!
The foundation layers for all three costumes are identical (except in colour) so here’s the list for those.
1 set of Stays:
just over half a meter of cotton, can just be an old bed sheet. Bear in mind this won’t be seen in the final piece so it doesn’t need to be pretty, nor does every piece need to be made in the same colour.
half a meter of outer fabric. I would recommend either linen or tight weave calico which is cheapest to buy from fabric stores, rather than online.
half a meter of lining fabric. This is optional but I like it as a final touch. I got my fabric in an auction on ebay for 99p for 1.5 meters! This is definitely the best way of buying lining, especially if you want fun patterns!
about 50 cable (or zip) ties, these need to be LONG, up to 40 cm in some places. In Britain you’ll probably need to go to a hardware store but I know sometimes supermarkets sell them also. In America most people recommend stores like Target or Home Depot.
4 meters of Bias binding or 1″ ribbon to bind the top and bottom of the corset. I would definitely recommend going with the binding, even if it does cost more. Get it from your local fabric store for around 50p a meter.
6 meters of ribbon for lacing. This is the very minimum length you’ll need. I bought mine in 3 meter bundles from my local craft store (hence why the front laces are one colour and the back laces another colour). You need ribbon at a maximum 10 mm wide.
Grommets/Eyelets. If you want to use metal ones you can (I preferred to hand sew these) You’ll probably need at least 50 as the holes are placed quite close for spiral lacing.
You’ll need to decide if your pockets will tie round your waist or be attached to a waistband. If you’re attaching them to a waistband you need some cotton or thick twill ribbon as well as some form of closure (button, hook and eye, bar closure etc.) If you’re tying them round your waist you need up to 2 meters of ribbon or bias binding for the waist.
I made big pockets (35cm by 25cm) so I needed a piece of cotton 70cm by 50cm (28″ by 20″), if you plan to embroider your pockets this needs to be strong cotton, or you can back it with aida (cross stitch fabric). This has the added benefit of making your pockets able to carry more weight.
About 1.5m bias binding for the edge of the pocket, depending on the size, (or you could leave it unbound if you wish)
Much like the stays I made these predominantly from scrap fabric. I took the left over cotton from the middle layer of my corset to cut out the pattern piece, used spare bits of ribbon cut from the insides of clothes as ties and stuffed it with scrap fabric. If you were to use bought stuffing you would probably need at least 2lb (1kg) of stuffing (though that is a really rough estimate)
3 meters of ribbon or bias binding, use binding if you want a neat inside. I bought 3x 3 meter bundles at my local craft shop for £1.20 (40p each) however ribbon shouldn’t cost more than 50p per meter if you buy it from the roll.
2.5 meters of 150cm wide cotton, or 3 meters of <150 cm wide cotton. This can be patterned if you like, just try not to pick bright colours as they may show through. A crisper cotton is better.
I ended up not buying cotton of the roll for the petticoats, instead I bought sheets and bed skirts from the second-hand shop and used these. This was much cheaper than buying cotton would have cost as this way each petticoat only cost £3 in fabric. Cotton by-the-meter in my area costs minimum £3.50 per meter.
You need to be looking for fabrics like taffeta or dupioni in order to get the crisp fold typical of 18th century skirts. This can be pure silk blend or polyester, it doesn’t matter. However I urge you to always buy swatches first, it’s better to waste 99 p on a swatch than over £20 on fabric. Also bear in mind that Dupioni comes in two varieties; shot or normal. Shot dupioni is made with more ‘irregularities’ i.e. more of the lines shown in the picture below.
Also be aware that I’m often very stingy with fabric, even when my clients are paying for it. I bought between 3.5 and 4 meters of fabric for each dress, with the intention of using 0.5 meters for each bodice. This leaves NO room for error and so I would probably recommend buying more fabric than I do.
Angelica was the dress I had the easiest time sourcing fabric for. I knew I wanted to do her ‘A winters ball’ dress and cream taffeta is much easier to find than the colours of Eliza and Peggy. I bought 4 yards of cream taffeta from this seller on ebay, they had a buy 3 yards get 1 free offer on so I only paid £10.90 including postage! I then bought 1.5 meters of this fabric for £6.50 for the outer dress. I didn’t order a swatch for this fabric and so feel it’s not quite the right shade of gold for Angelica, but it definitely does the job and is a close enough match for me.
I spent weeks searching for a perfect match to Eliza’s dress colour online, the costume designer describes it as “robin egg blue, tiffany blue and azure” the closest colour I found to what I wanted was called ‘mint blue’. I think my biggest problem for Eliza was being in England; I found a lot of stores selling fabric which was almost an exact match, but they didn’t post to Britain. I would recommend you search for taffeta in all of the colours I’ve mentioned above before doing what I did and resorting to the ‘order books’. I really dislike ordering fabric from my fabric shop because you feel like you have to buy it, even if it’s not an exact match. They couldn’t get taffeta in anything close to the colour I wanted but they could get dupioni in a fairly near match so this was what I ended up ordering. The final fabric is a bit too green for me but I think its much closer than I was expecting to get. Also it cost £5.95 per meter which was better than I hoped (I was praying it wouldn’t cost over £10 per meter), so I bought 4 meters. I’ve recently found this fabric online which looks to be the exact fabric I used, but at a much higher price.
Peggy’s dress is yellow, but not lemon or sunshine yellow. Rather it looks a very muted yellow and this is incredibly hard to judge from pictures on the internet, so like with Eliza I ordered Peggy’s fabric from a swatch book. This was also dupioni but was cationic dupioni, meaning it changes colour when you fold it. Peggy’s fabric is almost perfect when in the light and not folded, however when it folds it looks very orange. I therefore had to wash it in hot water to help some of the colour run out and hung it in the sun to dry so it became more yellow. When searching for fabric you want terms like ‘yellow gold’ or ‘yellow bronze’ as like with Eliza I did find close matches, just in America. This material cost £6.45 a meter and I bought 3.5 meters as it was 150 cm wide.
I bought the lace for all three dresses from this etsy seller, on recommendation from Angela Clayton who uses her often. I was very impressed with her service; when I asked if I could have an extra meter of one of the laces she sent it with no extra charge. Furthermore the lace is really nice quality, not cheap and scratchy at all!
I bought the top lace for the neckline and cuffs of Angelica, the middle lace for Eliza’s cuffs and the bottom lace for Peggy’s cuffs. I tried to match as close as I could to the swatches in the interview given by the costume designer of Hamilton and think I did pretty well. Altogether this lace cost me $14.34 (about £10) which is really good for so much good quality, well matching lace!
I bought 6 self cover metal 1″ buttons for Eliza, 2 1″ buttons for Angelica and 10 3/4″ buttons for Peggy. These were 50p each because my local store had a deal on. You can buy 10 plastic buttons for £1.85 plus shipping here or 5 metal ones for £2.59 here. Personally I don’t think it makes a difference if they’re metal or plastic, so just use what you can find.