Genteel Arts Main Menu

* NEW 2019 Schedule *



Thanks to everyone who participated in The Civilian Symposium and The Ladies & Gentlemen of the 1860's Conference through all the years!

Website revised February 26, 2019


- OUR 31st YEAR -

The Genteel Arts Academy was founded in 1988 to encourage interest in the clothing worn during the Civil War era; concentrating on historically accurate sewing techniques. The Academy offers a continuing series of lectures and hands-on seminars on all aspects of Civil War clothing and needlework. Students select from over 100 topics which are offered on a rotating schedule based on popularity.

Classes are held at various locations across the US and occasionally in the Gettysburg area. Future classes can be scheduled in your area of the country. Please contact the Academy for further details concerning scheduling seminars and classes in your area.

PO Box # 3014
Gettysburg, PA 17325
(717) 624-5694

For additional information email:  info<at>

(Please be sure to replace the  <at>  with  @  in email addresses before sending.)

Proprietor: Carolann Schmitt

Business Manager: Don Schmitt

Member of the Costume Society of America & ALHFAM

"The Genteel Arts Academy", "The Civilian Symposium" and "The Ladies & Gentlemen of the 1860's Conference" are subsidiaries of GENTEEL ARTS, LLC

Genteel Arts, LLC does NOT manufacture Civil War period clothing for resale. The company focus is instruction on the history of period clothing and teaching students how to accurately reproduce it via hands-on workshops, seminars and lectures.

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GENTEEL ARTS ACADEMY is pleased to announce our 2019 schedule of classes, presentations and conferences on Victorian period clothing and culture. Anyone interested in Victorian fashion, history, sewing, needlework and material culture will find these events very educational.

All hands-on workshops include a review of the history of the garment and a study of specific design characteristics used during the period. Students then sew the garment using period fitting and construction techniques. A workbook including historical information, a suggested reading list and sewing instructions is included with the registration fee.

We suggest registering for any listed event well in advance of the activity date as many fill up quickly.



* Check location carefully, the 2019 schedule includes classes, presentations and conferences at various locations around the US *

PRESENTATION: City of Bowie Museums Celebration of Women’s History Month, Belair Mansion, Bowie, MD, March 23, 2019. Carolann will be speaking on Underneath the Layers: How and Why Mid-Nineteenth Century Women Dressed as They Did. The fashionable silhouette is often created by the layers worn underneath the dress. These layers work together to create a system of protection and support; they also provide many details of the daily lives of the women who wore them. The program also includes Dr. Ann Wass discussing Keeping Up with the Europeans: Women’s Fashions 1795-1820, and Andrew Och who will present “Unusual for the Their Time”, speaking about the First Ladies who helped get their husbands elected to the highest office in the land. 12 PM - 3:30 PM, Free, no reservations required.   

CLASS: Mantles in Minnesota, St. Joseph, MN, April 27-28, 2019. Mantles were one of the most common outergarments worn in the mid-nineteenth century, infinitely variable in style and flattering for any figure. The styles offered in this class can be adapted for use c.1830-1870 and will be different in style from mantles offered in other Genteel Arts classes this year. Participants may opt to make a warm mantle for cool temperatures, a sheer summer mantle, or an elegant evening mantle. Instructions to modify the basic shape and the embellishments for each style will ensure your mantle will be different from those made by other participants. Contact us for additional information and registration.

PRESENTATION & EXTENSIVE DISPLAY: Civil War Remembrance Weekend, Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI, May 25-27, 2019. Spend Memorial Day weekend immersed in living history as military groups, civilians, musicians and expert historians provide demonstrations, exhibits and special commemorations. Carolann will be one of several speakers and will also participate in an extensive display of original garments, accessories, and artifacts. Additional information at

CONFERENCE: ALHFAM International Conference, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, Midland, Ontario, Canada, June 8-12, 2019. The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums presents their 49th annual conference with an extensive program of presentations, workshops, tours, and other events. Carolann will teach a hands-on workshop on Broderie Anglaise and a presentation on “Wrapped in my dressing gown…” At-Home Attire for Mid-Nineteenth Century Gentlemen.  Visit for additional information.

CLASS: Something for My Shoulders: Fichus, Pelerines and Mantles, Hot Springs, AR, July 14-15, 2019. These three garments begin with the same general shaping over the shoulders. From there they expand into a variety of accessories and outer garments. Fichus and pelerines can be made from fine lightweight fabrics, or from the same fabric as the dress.  They can be used over a low-body dress for day or evening wear, or over a high-body dress to change the overall look. Mantles can be made from a wide variety of fabrics, from fine sheers and nets to medium weight wools. Each garment can be embellished in a variety of ways. The styles used in this class can be used from 1830-1870. Contact us for additional information. Limited availability.

CONFERENCE: Corsets & Cravats, Newberry, SC, August 2-4, 2019. The second annual conference offers a full weekend of classes, workshops, lectures, shopping, and social events. Carolann will present a lecture “Google is not a Synonym for Research”, a class on nineteenth century periodicals “More than a Fashion Magazine”, and a hands-on workshop on “Berlin Wool Work”. Complete information at

CLASS: Pretty, Practical Pasteboard. Belair Mansion, Bowie, MD, August 24, 2019. Mid-Victorian women enjoyed creating a variety of ‘novelties’ made from pasteboard covered with fabric. These practical, functional, and decorative novelties included needle books, scissors cases, decorative boxes, work baskets, watch pockets, and many other items. Participants may select from a variety of projects taken from period publications and original artifacts. Minimal sewing skills are required. All materials will be provided. Participants should bring a pair of utility scissors to cut pasteboard and a pair of sewing scissors to cut fabric. Contact us for additional information.

CLASS: Winter Accessories: Hooded Fichu, Muff and Mittens. Connecticut, November Turn-over Shawl, Wallingford, CT, November 9-10, 2019. Keep your head and hands warm this winter with these accessories based on original examples. The hooded fichu covers your head, neck, upper shoulders and chest. It is made from wool and accented with braidwork. The muff is made from wool or velvet, wadded with wool batting, and lined in silk or glazed cotton. Contrasting ruching embellishes the edges and flap of the muff. Over mittens made from warm wool fabric are cut and sewn and are worn over gloves to provide an extra layer of warmth. Contact us for additional information and registration.



Please review each listing carefully for event location. We recommend making reservations at hotel, motel or bed & breakfast well in advance of the activity.


Please contact the Academy via phone or email and request a flyer containing class and registration information. Gift certificates are available! Payment can be by check, money order, VISA and MasterCard. Genteel Arts Academy reserves the right to cancel any class due to insufficient enrollment.


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Do you wish a class or presentation could be in your area? We can come to you!


Your group or historical site can sponsor a Genteel Arts Academy class, or series of classes, in YOUR area. Contact us at  info<at> or call 717-624-5694 for details and available dates. (Please be sure to replace the  <at>  with  @  in email addresses before sending.)

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If you see a topic you would like to see scheduled or have a topic you would like to have added please contact us.

Lectures & Presentations

  • Introduction to Textiles

  • Textiles for Men’s Clothing

  • Fundamentals of Clothing for Women

  • Fundamentals of Clothing for Children

  • Fundamentals of Clothing for Men

  • Underpinnings

  • Outerwear

  • Accessories

  • More Than a Fashion Magazine

  • Altering a Pattern for Fit

  • Altering a Pattern for Style

  • Skirt Supports

  • Fur Garments and Accessories

  • The Artifice of Dressing Well

  • Sheer Accessories

  • Men’s Dressing Gowns, Caps and Slippers

  • Men’s Vests

  • Dressing for Inclement Weather

  • Sleuthing at the Seams

  • The Difference is in the Details

Hands-on Seminars

Period Construction Techniques

  • Essential Stitches and Seams I

  • Essential Stitches and Seams II

  • Essential Stitches and Seams III

  • Nitty-Gritty Details of Dress Construction

  • Gauging and Pleating

  • Trimmings and Embellishments

  • Introduction to Sewing for Children

Hands-on Workshops


  • Chemise-Yoke

  • Chemise-Band

  • Corset

  • Drawers

  • Petticoats

  • Quilted Petticoat

  • Corded Petticoat

  • Wool Petticoat

  • Cage Crinoline

  • Covered Crinoline

  • Nightgown

  • Stockings

  • Garters


  • Altering a Bodice for Fit

  • Altering a Bodice for Style

  • Darted Bodice

  • Gathered/Tucked Bodice

  • Sheer Bodice

  • Yoked Bodice

  • Semi-Formal Bodice

  • Ball Gown Bodice

  • Basque Bodice - Two Versions

  • Fan-Front Bodice

  • Sleeves

  • Skirts

  • Make-a-Dress Series

  • Wrapper

  • Garibaldi Shirt

  • Sheer Overbodice

  • Bloomer/Gymnastics/Bathing  Costume


  • Fichus and Pelerines

  • Collar and Cuffs

  • Undersleeves

  • Chemisettes

  • Belts and Sashes

  • Medici and Other Shaped Waists

  • Pinner/Work Aprons

  • Fancy Aprons

  • Muffs

  • Mittens

  • Purses and Reticules

  • Covering a Fan

  • Quilted Sontag

  • Slippers

  • Lady’s Neckties and Cravats



  • Summer Mantles

  • Silk and Net Mantle

  • Winter Mantles

  • Paletot

  • Lady’s Sack Jacket

  • Spanish/Zouave Jacket

  • Fold-over Shawl


  • Drawn Bonnet

  • Quilted Bonnet

  • Marie Stuart Hood

  • Quilted Hood

  • Glengarry Cap

  • Day Caps

  • Dinner/Tea Caps

  • Headdresses

  • Decorative Nets


  • Broderie Anglaise

  • Berlin Work


  • Housewife

  • Sewing Basket

  • Needle Case

  • Scissors Sheath

  • Sewing Chatelaine

  • Thread Trolley


Digital Media Series

  • From Wetplates to Megapixels: Digital Photography for the Historian

  • Microsoft Powerpoint for Historians


Men's Clothing

  • Square-Cut Shirt

  • French-Cut Shirt with Bib

  • Vest

  • Unlined Summer Vest

  • Trousers

  • Sack Coat

  • Unlined Linen Sack Coat

  • Summer Paletot

  • Drawers

  • Dressing Gown

  • Smoking Cap

  • Cravats


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Profile of the Senior Staff

Clothing historian Carolann Schmitt has been studying the clothing and needlework of Civil War era since 1968. She is a featured lecturer at conferences, living history events and historic sites throughout the country. Carolann is a board member and past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Shippensburg University Fashion Archives and Museum (SUFAM) and has been a continuing education instructor for Harrisburg Area Community College. She is an active participant in many living history activities and is the past Chairperson of the Costume Committee of the North-South Skirmish Association. An accomplished seamstress and needlewoman, she and her students have won numerous awards for their authentic reproduction clothing in national and regional period costume competitions. Genteel Arts, LLC is a member of the Costume Society of America.  Carolann is the President of Genteel Arts, LLC. Her email address is: cschmitt<at> (Please be sure to replace the  <at>  with  @  in email addresses before sending.)

Don Schmitt has been actively involved in 19th century living history since 1968. In 1970 he was one of the three founding members of the 11th Pennsylvania Vol. Inf Regt. This unit remains active today in the Gettysburg area as a fife and drum corps and color guard. Prior to retirement at the end of 2013 Don was in the business information technology field for 30 years. Today he is active in the Gettysburg National Military Park volunteer program and also coordinates the auxiliary communications program at the Adams County Department of Emergency Services & 911 Center. Don provides marketing, business management and technical solutions for Genteel Arts, LLC. His email address is: dschmitt<at>  (Please be sure to replace the  <at>  with  @  in email addresses before sending.)

Carolann and Don participated in North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) events for over 40 years. Their member organization, Knap's Independent Battery E, Pa. Light Artillery, participates in live fire small arms, artillery and period costume competitions. They have also participated in Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) events which portrays Old West living history and competitive shooting for the period 1860-1898.

Carolann and Don are both fifth generation natives of Gettysburg and reside in the Gettysburg area.

Carolann Schmitt, President - Genteel Arts, LLC

Genteel Arts recommends these links:

Follow Genteel Arts on Facebook

Gettysburg National Military Park

Adams County Historical Society

Shippensburg University Fashion Archives & Museum

National Civil War Museum - Harrisburg, PA

North-South Skirmish Association