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August 6, 2010

Costume Design Center Offers Sewing Workshops

Colonial Williamsburg’s Costume Design Center teaches guests the finer points of 18th-century sewing. These programs take place at Bruton Heights School, 301 First St.

Two programs will be offered on Saturday, Aug. 21. During Martha Washington Sewing Kit Workshop from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., attendees re-create their own sewing kit based on a pattern from Colonial Williamsburg collections from silks used on reproduction gowns in the Historic Area. Participants will be instructed in the making and decoration of the case which they will take home to complete. Basic sewing skills are a must. All materials and tools provided but participants may bring their own sewing implements. Cost is $75.

During the second program, Patterning Garments: From Antique to Bespoke at 10 a.m., participants will learn the process of patterning an intact garment, antique or reproduction, and adapting the pattern to a wearable garment for the modern body. Basic instruction in the care and protection of the antique garment will be addressed. Cost is $15.

During the Pinballs and 18th-century Sewing Tools Workshop at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, participants will begin work on a reproduction pinball. Costume Design Center staff also will give instruction on other 18th-century sewing implements. Participants should have basic sewing skills and bring basic sewing tools such as small scissors, a thimble and needles. A magnification device may be useful. Cost is $60.

These programs are not intended for young children. Reservations are required and can be made through 1-800-HISTORY.

Behind-the-scenes tours Thursdays, through Oct. 14

Colonial Williamsburg’s Costume Design Center also opens its doors for behind-the-scenes tours at 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays, through Oct. 14. Guests can meet staff members and explore the building where most of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area costumes are designed and maintained.

Space is limited. Free reservations are required and can be made at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket office or by calling 1-800-HISTORY. Strollers cannot be accommodated.

This is part of a series of programs that delve into the reproduction of historic costumes. The Costume Design Center marked its 75th anniversary in 2009. The 18th-century clothing pieces the Costume Design Center creates for Colonial Williamsburg’s staff are used as interpretive tools themselves. Costumes add to the colonial ambiance and help delineate class and occupation. They also help hook guests to the greater story of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area.

The nearly 144 types of garments -- from underwear to outerwear – dress both genders and all strata of colonial society. For women, the design center produces gowns, petticoats, stays, shifts, women’s jackets and bed gowns, caps, hats, kerchiefs, aprons, pockets, hoops, jewelry, mitts, gloves, cloaks and riding habits. For men, the design center makes shirts, socks, cravats, breeches, trousers, waistcoat, sleeved and sleeveless jackets, coats, great coats, cloaks, kerchiefs, caps, spats and hats.

For a timeline on how Colonial Williamsburg’s costumes have evolved thanks to ongoing research, resources for the reproduction of historic costumes and more, visit:

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121