My friend Pam told me her mom would take an old coat and repurpose it into a coat for Pam when she was a little girl. This is a common way to repurpose old clothing and something that, if you have the time, is relatively easy to do. Here is a really cool resource for free patterns; it features a new patterns section and the last time the site was updated was in early December so it is still tended. The part I'd like to highlight is the "Recycle" section that has some great ideas and patterns for repurposing old clothes like jeans and t-shirts (like t-shirts into underwear!).
The family has been getting very interested in researching Florida Pioneer history since we've been volunteering at Morningside Nature Center's 1870 Living History Farm (and commenter Amy, please email me about contacts for volunteering - they really need the help!), and I just happened to switch over from my research into colonial execution sermons to look at historical clothing patterns. It's interesting to note that the Modesty Clothing Movement (I don't know if that's the name - it's a devout Christian ideal of women wearing modestly styled clothing that I've reported on in the past with regards to bathing suits, here and here) has some overlap with historical clothing hobbyists (or sewers, I'm not sure what the correct term here would be). This is evidenced by the link to the Modest Clothing Directory, which has many listings for historical patterns. I just think it's kind of neat to think about people in the 21st century making a conscious decision to dress in a historical style all the time because it's more in alignment with their personal and spiritual philosophy.
I guess I'm thinking about all this because I spent all day yesterday at the Living History Farm (I had not intended to but they really need the help right now) and thought about the construction of historical clothing and how that could be accomplished for our family (and for Morningside, as I've committed to helping them beef up their costume collection after graduation), in an inexpensive manner. One thing I've noticed with many of the shirts they have is that they are thrift shop finds that have had the collars taken off. I thought this was a great way to make cheap historical clothing. I'd like to try my hand at historical clothing construction, and will hopefully get the chance after April.
Okay, back to Sunday research on execution sermons from the 1700's.