Cloak & Corset | About Cloak & Corset

About Us

About Sara Cornthwaite:
Owner, Intermediate Sewer, Author, and Jane Austen Fanatic

Sara loves to play dress- up. She always has. Her mom told her that once she was able to dress herself, one outfit would never do. She would change it at least 3 times a day! She can remember in elementary school digging with her best friend through her mom’s “costume” box, which was essentially filled with just regular clothes her mom had found; they would pretend to be different people doing many different things. It’s definitely one of her favorite memories growing up.

One day at the summer camp she volunteered at back in High School, she went up to the Staff Lounge and saw a set of 5 VHS tapes that she hadn’t seen up there before. It was something called “Pride and Prejudice” and looked like it was set in a time long ago. She decided to give it a try and popped in the first tape. She was only able to see the first two tapes while at camp but as soon as she got home, she rented the whole series and watched it straight one Saturday afternoon (once you get past the 3rd tape, you really can’t stop!).

After that, she was hooked. She had to read the book and anything else by this Jane Austen. She loved everything about it and her other stories. The manners, courtship, the way they talked, the dancing, and especially the outfits! It was right up her alley of dress-up.

At some point, her sister found out about the annual Jane Austen Evening and, in 2003, they decided to go. She made her own dress, which was the first period dress she’s ever made. Before that, her mom had taught her to sew and she had sewn a few skirts and a blouse or two but she never much liked them as they always seemed to look slightly homemade. This costume still had that feel to it to a degree but it also felt elegant, probably because she felt like she was traveling through time as well.

That ball was so much fun! To see so many others dressed up as well and to get to dance like in Pride & Prejudice…well, let’s just say she was even more hooked than before.

They attended the following year’s Jane Austen Evening and had another great time. Meanwhile, her sister, who was also involved in Civil War reenacting, would invite her along to “play dress-up” with her at those events (although, her sister was into the history portion at the events as well).

She always wanted to bring her husband with her to the Jane Austen Evening and so once she got a husband, she convinced him to go. But he would only go if he did not look like he was in a costume and as long as he was in a Naval Uniform, like Horatio Hornblower. Thus, a huge costuming task was before her. Not only did patterns have to be adjusted as she didn’t have any for a Naval Uniform, she also had to figure out how to make it not look homemade and costume-y. Well, with the help of her sister’s research and Jennifer Rosbrugh’s extensive historical costuming knowledge, she pulled it off and is very proud of her work. Creating that outfit made her so much more confident in her own sewing skills and abilities.

Since then, she has gained even more information and skills through learning from others and from simply just getting in there and sewing. She has already started modifying patterns on her own to represent pictures she's seen of other dresses. She has also started to endeavor in the Civil War era with an outfit for her husband. She was born to dress-up and what better way to experience it than to travel through history!

About Jennifer Rosbrugh:
Master Dressmaker & Author

Always feeling like she was born in the wrong century, Jennifer has been sewing for nearly 30 years mostly making her own clothes and home furnishings. For the past 12 years she has found a passion in historical clothing, studying the design and construction process. Jennifer’s favorite eras to re-create are the Regency (1795-1820) and Victorian (1837-1901) and in particular loves the 1870s.

Jennifer has been a member of the Costumer’s Guild West (CGW) since 2000, and has been a teacher at their annual Costume College™ since 2004. Her first class of Modern Sewing Techniques for Historical Costumes is the basis of the Modern Sewing Techniques for Historical Clothing Construction eBook.

Demonstrating her knowledge of period clothing, Jennifer has taught classes on Nineteenth Century Corded Petticoats, Overview of 1840s-50s Women’s Clothing, Overviews of Regency Fashion and Regency Outerwear, Faux Fur Muffs, the Modern Sewing Techniques class, Corset Sewing Tips & Tricks, and a corset pattern fitting class.

Jennifer is a founding member of the Historical Citizens Association (HCA). She plays the well-to-do Mrs. Rosbrugh and the poor widow Mrs. Minton in Oak Street during Civil War events, as well as participates in the group’s Regency, Victorian and Edwardian dinners, picnics, workshops and gatherings.

In 2008 she re-created the Cloak & Corset logo, a July 1876 Evening Gown from a Godey’s fashion plate, including a full set of new undergarments (chemise, drawers, corset, lobster tail bustle and petticoats). You can see the gown and read about the project on The Historical Sewing Blog and on the Photos Page right here on the website.

About Cloak & Corset:
It was in the midst of sewing for the Jane Austen Evening that Jennifer and I met (back in Oct/Nov 2007). I needed help with modifying my patterns for the event and so my sister introduced me to the master of historical sewing, Jennifer.

Jennifer helped me modify the patterns, understand some of the basics to sewing to make sure the pieces turned out perfectly (like “half your sewing time should be spent at the ironing board;” that one stuck with me and made a huge difference!), and simply give me the encouragement I needed to keep chugging through the enormous project at hand.

Jennifer's information was so valuable that I wanted others to have it as well. That's where Cloak & Corset comes in, Your Premier Source to 19th Century Historical Sewing Construction! With Jennifer's expertise on historical and advanced sewing techniqes, my knowledge of the "basics", and this website, you have everything you will need right at your fingertips.

Here you will find essential Tools & Tips to help guide you through all your Historical Sewing Endeavors.

Cloak & Corset is Your Premier Source to 19th Century Historical Clothing Construction.
©2008-2017 Cloak & Corset/Sara Cornthwaite
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