Category Archives: The Sewing Studio

Take a sneak peek into the daily going-ons in our fashion studio!

April 1! 10 Honest Answers to 10 Honest Questions

It’s April’s Fool’s Day! In honor of this silly day, I decided to conduct an “interview” and give honest answers to honest questions! Warning: you might find out more than you want to know! So here goes!

Q: Why do you make historical clothing?

A: Because I do not like teaching. Wait- isn’t that supposed to be the other way around? You know, those who can’t- teach? So cliche. But seriously, I was a visual arts teacher for a while. I loved working with kids but found the educational system most frustrating. I was the only creative in the building and that was a very lonely feeling.

Q: What is your favorite time period to design from?

A: Hmm. That’s a tough one. I love the understated elegance of the Regency Period. But I also love the over-the-top styles of the Bustle Era. I am not a big fan of the 1860s/early 1870s. I guess hoops just aren’t my thing anymore.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: The diversity! Checking emails is like playing the lottery! Today you might be stitching together a couple stock petticoats and tomorrow you might be working for Spike Lee! (True story! Although they called instead of emailing.)

Q: What do you dislike most about your job?

A: Deadlines.

Q: I see you are celebrating 25 years in business! That’s a long time! If you could go back and change one thing from the last quarter decade, what would it be?

A: I would have taken more time off when my second child was born. Literally, the day after he came home, I brought the sewing machine in from my studio and set up a mini sewing station in my kitchen. Why? Because I had deadlines.

Q: What do you think of social media? You know because it didn’t exist 25 years ago!

A: Short Answer: Overrated. Long Answer: I think social media can be a useful way to disseminate information and share ideas with people who have common interests. But somewhere along the lines, social media has become all about money and manipulation and while I do like money, I am not willing to let the social media giants be puppeteers over my life and business. Are you?

Q: Are you hot in those clothes?

A: Why yes. I am “hot” in these clothes. Thank you for the compliment but I am happily married.

Q: Do you dress like this everyday?

A: See photo below.

Q: What advice could you give people just getting started in this field?

A: Follow your passion. Ask yourself: What makes you happy Marie Kondo? What type of lifestyle do you want to live? What are you passionate about? Now what can you do for a living (You know- because you need money to live people!) that allows you to live the life you want? Get a plan and get to it! But be prepared! Success is measured in a variety of ways. Money is NOT happiness and nothing ever happens overnight!

Q: Where do you get your design inspiration?

A: Lots of places! I look at photographs of original garments. I read books (like ones with paper…) because context is important. And, sometimes I even have the chance to get up close and personal with original collections (thank you Costume Society of America!) It might be the overall silhouette I am drawn to or simply a small detail. Sometimes I make up characters or events in my mind. Then I just work up a design in my imagination and go from there! But I always try NOT to copy other creatives’ designs and I do NOT LIKE IT when others copy mine. (Yeah, you know who you are…..)

Q: After 25 years, what keeps you going?

A: I ask myself this question EVERY DAY and even more so when I am at an ebb in my workflow. I always try to focus on the positives. I practice thankfulness- like I am thankful I do not have to sit through a one hour staff meeting in some concrete building; or I am thankful I do not have to miss my daughter’s field trip because the boss would not let me have the day off. I love getting to meet people from all over the world who share the same passions about historical fashion. I thrive on creative collaboration! In short, I am grateful I have been given a skill and talent that allows me to live the life I really want.

New website underway!

New logo for a new website!

Times are a chang’in (even though our clothes are not!) and we are transitioning to a new, super snazzy mobile friendly, more interactive website! I guess it’s time to change the old c. 2000 static HTML based site. Sigh. (Historians don’t like change you know!)

We will be doing our best to keep the old site live until the new one is completely finished. But if you happen by chance to run into our new site- never fear. Just think of it as a sneak preview.

Also, remember the studio is currently closed for the summer. However, we are taking orders for our FALL production season which begins August 2. Just drop us an email! Be sure to get those orders in early as our calendar tends to fill up quickly!

Our shop is currently getting a fresh new coat of paint and solid cleaning. Be sure to check out Instagram #maggiemayfashions #maggiemayclothing and Facebook for pics of progress!

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.

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

Men’s Historical Shirts!

We have shirts! Men’s shirts! This style of shirt was worn from the 1840s through the end of the 19th century! Email us today for current availability!


Men’s high quality white cotton shirt with wooden buttons- $42.00 plus S&H


Men’s homespun shirt with wooden buttons- $58.00 plus S&H

New policies for 2016


Wow! We’ve had an amazing year! I feel like I say that at the end of every year, but 2015 really turned out to be one of our busiest of all time! I estimate over the course of the past 12 months, we stitched over 1200 yards of fabrics and completed over 300 garments! We lead 2 hands on workshops and gave 8 historical clothing presentations! What a year!

Looking ahead, we will be instituting a few new policies. As our markets and clientelle change, so must we. Effective January 1, 2016, we will be changing a few of our requirements. So here goes:

1. All film commissions will require payment in full at the time of order. Orders not paid in full within 10 days of order date will be subject to cancellation.

2. Effective January 1, 2016 a design fee will be added to production estimates for custom designed projects to cover the cost of pattern drafting, sizing, mock ups, and research (if applicable). Our design fee begins at $75.00 per design and is subject to change based upon individual projects (i.e. the more complicated the design, the higher the design cost).

3. Beginning in January, established clientelle will have priority completion dates. One of our biggest compliments is a returning customer and we would like to say thank you by offering priority scheduling.

4. Our reproduction fabric will now be dedicated exclusively to creating our custom historical garments. Any available yardage will be offered for immediate purchase on our IN STOCK page. -REVISED 2018- ALL FABRIC SALES ARE ACTIVE!

5. Our production calendar runs from January 2- May 31 and September 2- December 20. This allows us to spend our summer months conducting workshops, giving lectures, and attending conferences. All orders placed at the end of our production calendar will receive first priority at the beginning of the consecutive production season. We ship IN STOCK garments year round.

And just a gentle reminder:

All Maggie May Clothing images are protected under creative copyright and may not be shared or published in any way without written consent. This applies to our main website, our Etsy shop, and all affiliated social media sites.

Thanks and we look forward to another fabulous year of historical fashion!

New Policies for Film and Television

We are instituting a few new policies for our film and television clientele:

Special Order/Custom Order garments
All special and custom order garments are completed on first come first serve scheduling. Please contact us for current availability. Our completion time for ONE special order garment averages 3-14 days. Orders needed earlier than our average completion time are subject to an additional 30% rush order fee.There is no fee for one set of sketches for custom order garments. All sketches are property of Susan Jarrett, owner of Maggie May Clothing and may not be distributed, copied, or modified in any way. Revised sketches may be requested for an additional fee. Please allow up to 1 week for sketches to be completed.

Fabric swatches may be ordered for a fee of $2.00 per swatch (average size 2”x2”) plus postage.

Orders are not finalized until actress’s measurements are received and garment designs (including fabric selections) are submitted either verbally or in writing (email, order forms, etc.) Orders finalized AFTER our average completion time are subject to a 30% rush order fee.

Any changes made after orders are finalized are subject to a convenience fee and additional materials fees (if applicable).

Sorry, we do not offer discounts.

Payment terms:
Payment is due in full at the time the order is finalized. We do not accept partial payments. We currently accept Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, Personal Check, or Money Order. All payments are nonrefundable.

If you would like your garments shipped via Fedex or UPS, please provide your customer account number and we will be happy to schedule a pick up for your order. Otherwise, we ship all merchandise via the US Postal Service. Customer is responsible for all shipping fees. Merchandise is shipped first class unless express delivery has been requested in advance. A signature may be required at the time of package delivery. All shipping dates are estimates not guarantees. MMC cannot control the timeliness of Postal Service delivery. To avoid missed deadlines, please plan your order in advance. MMC is not responsible for lost or mis delivered packages.

Please review our standard policies as well.

If you have any questions, please email us at

1880s cattle ranch baroness gown

If you have been keeping up with our progress on Facebook regarding the Cattle Ranch Baroness gown, you have seen the steps involved from sketch to final project. However, I would like to dedicate a blog post to the details of this particular gown.

There are several construction features that may not be visible when perusing historical garments for purchase online. I am referring to things like facings, linings, internal construction, seam finishes, ease, etc. To me, the interior of a garment is just as important as the outside. So unless there are copious notes dedicated to each piece, a prospective buyer really has no idea what they are purchasing until it arrives. Let me show you a little about what I mean:

Here is our recently finished 1880s era bustle gown. Basic description as follows:

1880s era bustle gown suitable for day or evening wear. Two piece gown- consisting of separate skirt and bodice. Three quarter length fitted sleeves. 100% silk body/100% cotton lining.

silkbustle1  silkbustle2







Now here’s what is not listed in the description (or what I REALLY want to know):

silkbustle3  silkbustle6

Bodice: Fully lined in black cotton to protect the integrity of the silk and to provide comfort in wear. Sewn into the lining are 3 rows of lightweight boning at center back and 2 longer rows of boning at center front. This provides the wearer support, eliminates sag, and helps hold the overall shape of the bodice. The lightweight boning is not visible from the outside of the gown and is practically undetectable.

silkbustle4  silkbustle5

Skirt: The skirt consists of 3 layers- a built in cotton lining, the skirt, and the bustled overskirt. The trim details on the skirt are hand stitched at intervals along the top layer of the pleated ruffle. The silk ruffle at the base of the skirt employs a small cotton binding to protect the silk against any moisture, dirt, or other unfavorable elements if it touches the ground. If you look at any original silk gown- regardless of period, you will notice the hem always shows signs of wear. This cotton binding will help reinforce the delicate silk fabric and eliminate the potential for any wear and tear.


While working with this particular client, I realized she was not necessarily interested in wearing the full “encoutrement” under her gown. So I built a petticoat and bustle into the skirt itself. By building in the “undergarments”, the client can still achieve the period look without having to fuss with multiple layers under her gown. The ability to adapt, be flexible, and be creative is an important characteristic of any good seamstress.


A few other things to note: The waistband of the skirt is also fully lined in cotton. Cotton is more forgiving against the skin than silk.

In regards to ease, depending upon what part of the garment we are discussing, I typically allow 1-2″ for ease beyond the measurements provided. (Ease is extra fabric alloted for movement of the human body).

In 2012, we began finishing interior seams (and all seams not visible) with sergers. It is my thought that in addition to creating stronger seams, this finishing technique creates a cleaner, more polished garment. Our museum clients and living history patrons are always given the option of more traditional finishing techniques. However, it has been the consensus of the majority that serging interior and unseen seams is an acceptable practice.