Laundry Love

This site will eventually have a variety of things on it. For now it is a place for me to slowly organize and share 18th Century Laundry information and research as well as share whatever sewing project I am working on.

Laundry Slideshow

A slideshow on wash that I recently completed.

I have been super busy with life recently. It does not mean a stop on my research, I just have slowed down on doing anything here in blogland. I figure this is for me more than anyone else. This spring I am planning on attending a few events. My big goal in the next couple weeks is taking the time to make some ash balls from fern… because I do have a mini obsession with them, and to make some lye water out of some cherry ash. We live in an area where there is a lot of cherry so that should not be too hard to do, just finding the time right now is complicated.

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Stays Workshop … Prep

sta-maker-william-hogarth-c1744I am going to a stays workshop this weekend. I have no idea what sort of stays I want to make. I probably will have no idea until I get to the workshop and see what is best for me. I am excited about the workshop and nervous. I have spent the last couple weeks taking notes on stays in historic records and saving images.

I have worn stays for several years, I have worn corsets in the past as well. Everyone always assumes that stays are miserable and uncomfortable, as well as hot. I do not find them to be so. No matter what most women wear support garments already. They have wire in them that likes to sneak out and stab you. If you yank the offending wire out you end up lopsided and feeling awkward the rest of the day. Modern bras are made from modern fibers, often times uncomfortable and sweat inducing. I do not find the stays any worse. There are many days I prefer them. Stays are not supposed to be tight laced. although there are satires about women choosing to do so, many doctors of the time advised against it. The best way of describing a set of stays that fit is a sports bra and a home depot back support belt put together. It forces you to squat to lift properly.

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I am using scrap material to make pockets. Economy in the use of textiles is important in the 18th century. As is seen in Fitting and Proper, Pair of Printed Pockets, c 1750.  they will have a front lining helping reinforce the slit. Turning the slit to reinforce it. After this the pocket fronts will be worked as one piece.  The entire pocket will be top stitched. Front to back. The seems will be left raw on the inside.Of course while writing this I run into an ad with a purple calico material used as a gown… and one of the pockets. Somewhere I have some of that purple floral printed cotton B&T material.  When I find it I know what it will be going to now…

The Pennsylvania Gazette
August 30, 1764

RUN away from the Subscriber, living in New Britain Township,
Bucks County, a Servant Woman, named Catherine Palmer, about 5
Feet high, well set, of fair Complexion, full faced, pretty
fresh coloured, with brown Hair; has a Scar on her Breast, and
another on the left Side of her Head, grey Eyes, supposed to
be about 29 years of Age, sometimes says she was born in
England, but talks with the Scotch Accent; she is much given
to Liquor, and chewing Tobacco; Had on, and took with her when
she went away, a long Calicoe Gown , with purple Flowers; a
striped Linen short Gown , Kenting Handkerchief, and a blue and
white one, three Shifts of homespun Linen, one with the
Sleeves something finer than the Body, two Linsey Petticoats,
one blue and white, the other red and white; two Caps, one
with Cambrick Border, and the other with a Lawn one; Black
Bath Bonnet; a Pair of Pockets , one of the same Stuff as her
Gown ; a Check Apron, a Pair of new Shoes, her Buckles not
Fellows, a Pair of Woollen Stockings, with blue Gores, stole a
Pair of blue Stays, new Silk Handkerchief, about 8 Yards of
fine Linen, a Pair of red Worsted Stockings, and several other
Things supposed to be taken by her. Whoever takes up the said
Servant , and secures her in any Goal, so that her Master may
have her again, shall have Five Pounds Reward, and reasonable
Charges, paid by JOHN JAMES, jun.
N.B. All Masters of Vessels are strictly forbid to carry her off.

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1750s Hubert Robert Paris

An Outline for Laundresses

by Catherine Schirf


This outline will focus on the best practices for laundry in a perfect situation, as if one had all the knowledge and resources available and they were being put into proper practice. This does not reflect the realities of camp life, or the practiced ignorance of people at all levels of society. But knowing this should help people develop demonstrations that suit their setting.


These are what I am sharing today. I have done demonstrations without any of these things. Don’t panic, improvise. Things can be (and in many cases should be) added or removed depending on what you are portraying.  

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