I will probably catch some flack for what I'm about to write, but this is just my opinion in a sea of many.
When it comes to sewing historical fashion on a budget, for me personally it's going to require even more research into fabrics used, to make up for lack of discretionary income :-)
So often I see beautiful formal 18th century reproduction gowns at events made of expensive silk in taffetas, velvets, brocade and duchess satins. The keyword here is Formal wear.
Naturally, people who choose to create a formal gown want it to look expensive. Yet more often than not, the materials they desire are too expensive, very rare, or just not available any more...so they choose a modern synthetic range of fabrics in place of actual silk.
I will admit that this can bug me. A lot, but we do what we need to do and use what our wallets will allow. I save my pennies so I can by silks when I find it at a great deal
But, why would it *always* need to be silk or satin in the first place?
Here's an idea; how about cotton?
Cotton prints and wovens during the last 2/3 of the 18th century were in high demand and highly fashionable. They were not only seen in day wear, but often at social functions and dances, even at court(!).
Yet today cottons are overlooked when costumers are on a budget to create a formal ensemble, and instead they end up with a plastic, way-too-shiny acetate or polyester outfit...that I might add, photographs horribly. Seams on poly satin ripple and the fabric doesn't breathe. Acetate can often look too stiff or shiny as well.
That's not to say there aren't some nice blends out there that work quite well, but it's all in how you use it, and being knowledgeable about how the synthetics are going to behave. In drape, fit and texture.
I've used synthetics plenty of times, including the blue gown in the previous post.
That was an acetate cotton blend bengaline (it has a faille texture), and behaved much like a heavy silk. It's sheen wasn't too shiny and the drape was wonderful. I only used this fabric however, because I was familiar with it's content and behavior.
This is a great post about cotton fashion and how it is too often excused as 'casual', or only used later in the century, at another 18th century blog, At The Sign Of The Golden Scissors:
I think one point I should state, is that when the use of synthetic fabrics truly bugs me, is when someone brags about how "perfectly accurate" their polyester ensemble is.....perhaps not for 1782, but 1982?