Author Archives: Susan

About Susan

Hi! My name is Susan and I am a historian, seamstress, teacher, mother, and wife. My passion for history has manifested itself in the art of recreating clothing from different periods of time. Growing up in the American South, I am heavily schooled in the art of recreating clothing from the 19th century. After nearly a decade of immersing myself primarily in the Victorian period, I found the need to branch out and explore other periods of time. However, it is my connection with the American South and the clothing of rural America that continues to be the driving force behind my designs.

2017 in review and looking ahead to 2018

Whew! Where did 2017 go?

I think I know! After a whirlwind of costuming madness, our year- end custom commissions tally comes to a whopping 155 garments over a 9 month production season! In addition, I led 2 professional development workshops and participated in an 8 week Arts leadership institute. What an amazing year!

In celebration , here are a few pictoral highlights from our year of costuming!

Favorite garment of 2017!

Runner up for Favorite Garment of 2017!

In March, I traveled to Historic Traveller’s Rest in Nashville, Tennessee for ALHFAM’s Southeastern Region’s annual meeting. It was lovely to see old friends and meet new! Attending these conferences always brings a breath of fresh air and keeps me in touch with the needs and interests of my open air museum colleagues. While there, I conducted a one hour workshop entitled “Basic pattern alteration for historical costumers.”

In July, I traveled to Historic Exchange Place in Kingsport, Tennessee to give a full day workshop on the sartorial heritage of Southern Appalachia and lead a hands on workshop in basic sewing. The Junior Apprentices (ages 10-18) each took home a hand stitched half apron or winter cap.

In the Fall, I was selected as one of 30 candidates to attend an Arts Leadership Institute in Chattanooga. We met once a week at different arts based locations around the city and learned the importance the Arts have played in the revitalization and rebranding of the Scenic City. This was an exceptionally meaningful experience as I had the chance to increase my repertoire in Arts Advocacy and fraternize with Arts professionals and supporters across the region. This too, brought great inspiration as the conversations and collaborations from this Institute generated ideas for much needed expansions (as outlined at the bottom of this post.)

Images from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute

Back where it all started! When I was 12, I attended a summer drama camp at the Chattanooga Theater Center! One of the sessions involved the a costume design session. It was at that moment, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life!

Listening to a variety of Chattanooga- based Arts professionals speaking about the barriers, challenges, and opportunities of being an artist in the South. It was at this meeting I had an “a-ha moment.” For the first time in 20+ years, I realized just how far I had come.

A visit to Sculpture Fields on the Southside of Chattanooga where large scale sculpture artist John Henry et al. was instrumental in converting what was once a city garbage dump turned abandoned ball fields into world class outdoor museum. 

Our Institute traveled to Nashville to meet with the directors and staff of The Tennessee Arts Commission! I was excited to meet the Director of Folklife- a new program aimed at preserving the cultural heritage of our state through financial support, archival work, and apprenticeship programs! We also spent the afternoon at the Frist and toured their exhibition on WWI. Our tour guide was a retired MI6 officer.

And after 2 months- we all graduated! A mixed group ranging from independent musicians, lawyers, bankers, realtors, veterinarians, Emmy award wining designers, and entreprenuers! We all had one thing in common though- a commitment to strengthening the support and recognition of the Arts and Artists of the Southeast!

And finally, in December, my family volunteered as a Victorian Era family at the Craven’s House Christmas Carol (NPS) on Lookout Mountain. This was special for us as there are limited programming opportunities in our area. My children loved it! My daughter really got into her impression! My little boy (3) even got into “pretending!” I hope to find more interpretation and education events in the future!

!!!!! NEW FOR 2018 !!!!!

And now looking ahead, it is with great excitement we announce we will be expanding our services in 2018 to include a collection of high- end, authentic rental garments and props for photography projects, museum exhibitions, short term interpretation and educational events, and other limited engagements! We will also be increasing our selection of ready made and one- of- a- kind garments.  We will be extending our catalog to include 18th century clothing. And, we will be REESTABLISHING our sales of historical fabric by the yard. We will also be retiring some of our older designs and introducing new! Please be sure to check our website frequently to keep up with the exciting new additions we have planned for this year!

Here’s to another fabulous year of historical costuming!


-SJ and the team at Maggie May Clothing Co.

1850s era denim jacket

This reproduction women’s denim jacket is a custom designed/custom commissioned 1850s era piece based on this original in the collection of FIT.

Working with the client, we decided upon a darker denim and a full quilted cotton lining.

The jacket features wooden buttons and lots of hand- stitched details. I chose to use a bright, white thread to showcase the stitching.

You can view the jacket in action here!

Our Historic Farmer tells us about Gulf Coast Sheep.

Posted by Historic Brattonsville on Friday, December 29, 2017

For more information about this jacket or any of our custom commissions, please visit our website at

Old West dress

This 1880s era bustle gown is a custom made version of our Harvest Bustle gown. It is headed to a client in Wyoming who is putting together a Lizzy Borden impression. Lizzie was arrested and tried for murders of her parents in 1892. However, she was acquitted in 1893 and continued to live in Fall River, Massachusetts until her death, on June 1, 1927. The case was never solved.

For more information about this dress or any of our custom made garments, please visit our website at

Retirement Announcement!

Well now. I bet that heading got your attention! Never fear! We here at Maggie May Clothing are NOT retiring… but some of our designs are!

Beginning in January 2018, The Godey Dress and The Varina dress, along with a few other styles will be taking to the closet as we make room for fresh new designs from the Georgian era through the 1920s! Keep your eyes peeled throughout the Spring and Summer as we unveil our exciting new projects!

The Godey dress was wildly popular for many years! Several versions of this lovely blue gown are scattered across the United States!

The Varina Dress was originally created for a film in 2008! It was well suited for the early teen actress we designed it for.

In addition, the following garments will be retired beginning January 2018. These designs will no longer be available for custom order.

Retiring: Our mid 19th century baby gown

Retiring: Our c. 1858 cage crinoline

Retiring: Our silk bustle era gown

Retiring: Our Regency era evening dress

CostumeWorks costumes!

These three Regency Era garments are headed to CostumeWorks for a theatrical production in Boston. The fabrics were provided by the production company and the designs are ours. The dresses are our Marie dress and the Spencer jacket features a modified collar and cuff combination. The garments will be distressed and aged before they hit the stage!

For more information about these garments of any of our custom made historical clothing, please visit our website at

Teen Boy’s Rural Sack coat

This boy’s cotton sack coat is headed to Historic Exchange Place in Kingsport, Tennessee and is indicative of the styles worn by teen boys throughout 19th century Southern Appalachia.

This sack coat is made of heavy weight plain weave brushed cotton in a natural green and is lined in roller printed cotton. The interior features a single patch pocket and four large wooden buttons close the front of the coat.

The cut of this coat is universal and would have been worn for outdoor work or as a dress coat.

For more information about this teen boy’s sack coat or any of our custom made historical garments, please visit our website at

Mid 19th century dresses of Appalachia

These mid 19th century dresses are based upon an extant homespun gown from North Carolina.They are headed to Historic Exchange Place living history farm in Kingsport Tennessee- in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

For more information about our American South dress or any of our historical clothing, please visit our website at www.maggiemayfashions.com