Shop Pioneer Women
Only in America can we celebrate the role of Pioneer Women, as they quite literally stitched together the fabric and families who settled this country. As much as they may have yearned for the silks and bustles they left behind, the rigors of traveling by wagon train or on foot made dressing as they would have on the East coast impractical. Still, these brave women managed to craft ladies pioneer dresses for themselves and clothes for their families with the materials available to them, usually in cotton, muslin, or wool.
Yardage of any description was valued in the new West, and ladies would make use of every bit they had. Even the smallest scraps of fabric were saved and used in quilts. Did you know that the patchwork quilt is uniquely American? No other culture had developed this particular craft before. Cotton yardage was available in towns of any size, and in the more remote areas, peddlers carried bolts of it, along with needles, thread, and other necessities to isolated prairie homes. Calico, a coarse lightweight fabric, was often available in a variety of designs. It was not uncommon for a woman to purchase an bolt to clothe her entire family. This meant everyone from the oldest to the youngest person in the family had their clothing made from the same print, and it was sometimes possible to tell what family a child belonged to simply from the pattern on their clothing.
Life on a farm had its influence on ladies pioneer dresses. The hemlines were raised to save them from dirt and wear. Often, the lifestyle demanded work that made a corset impractical, and they were often not worn except on formal occasions. For this same reason, bodices and sleeves were fitted less closely than on their city cousins. An apron was often worn to protect the dress underneath, as it was much easier to launder the apron than to repeatedly wash a ladies pioneer dress. A bonnet or wide-brimmed hat was worn out doors to protect the face and neck from the sun.
Even though luxury had been left behind, prairie women still took great pains to make their clothing attractive. Ruffles took less yardage than pleats, but were still feminine. Lace was treasured, and bits of it still adorned collars and cuffs. Petticoats were always worn, and if the weather was cold, they might be made of flannel.
As you look through these ladies pioneer dresses, we hope you will enjoy having something that is comfortable and easy to wear as well as pretty and romantic!