Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cheap Dresses and Fabric! Take a Look!

Hello my dearest and beloved followers!

Sorry for the shameless plug again, but I am selling two Regency dresses and two lengths of wool for dirt cheap. Please take a look!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An 18th c Pinball

This simple pinball is based off of an original in the Manchester City Galleries. I did choose it for its simplicity (I don't knit! And with a whole Berlin work cushion to do, I didn't feel like adding an entirely queen stitched pinball to my to-do list...). The flower, initials, and garland are worked on silk taffeta. The pinball is stuffed with wool and the seam is covered with silk ribbon which also creates the loop from which I may suspend the pinball from my apron.

The original pinball:

Monday, April 25, 2011

And onto the next... 1860s Sheer for a Young Lady

I am taking a week's break from sewing Big Things after the rush of the court gown. Last night I embroidered and assembled my 18th c pin ball. It is awaiting its silk ribbon and then I can take pictures! However, my mind is abuzz with my next project: a sheer dress for the event at Greenfield Village in May. In the heat of summer, one can never have too many sheer dresses! Last year I very much appreciated wearing mine, particularly in that humid Michigan weather.

This year marks my 20th birthday. I am fast leaving young-ladyhood, and must think about leaving young lady styles behind me as far as the 19th c goes. I have had a brief but passionate affair with teen styles of the 1860s. There is little jauntier than the boat necks, short sleeves, and short skirts of children's clothing during this era. Although I started reenacting at 15, I had been focusing on "adult" styles and didn't get to take advantage of my youth to make myself lots of teen style dresses! So now I'm trying to make up for it.

The style for this dress is based off of a handful of extants. It will feature a yoked bodice with a boat neckline, short cap sleeves with a ruffle, and a matching pelerine or fichu (I haven't decided yet). The fabric is a lovely and soft semi-sheer cotton that I snagged for $1.89/yard.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Gown of the 1560s

RPFS moved the timeline back to Queen E's early reign, because our beautiful and talented actress playing E is so young! That meant a change of character for many people in court, since their previous characters weren't even alive in the 1560s. I also wanted a new gown to reflect the change in time. The fabric is really what inspired me. I knew I wanted to let the fabric speak for itself: a round (closed) skirt, solid sleeves.

The bodice and sleeves I based off of this engraving, primarily, although the sleeve shape appears in many other portraits as well.

And of course, I had to have a French hood! I combined the construction techniques of Sarah Lorraine from Mode Historique and previously held assumptions about French hood construction. Mine consists of a linen coif, velvet and buckram paste or coronet, and velvet hood with shiny metal billaments. It is supposed to be flat on top, but apparently in all the pictures it was off center and got smushed a bit too much. *sigh*

There is still a bit more to do to the gown, like more pearls and crystals on the front of the skirt. I'm also contemplating putting a strip of black velvet down the center of the skirt instead. Not sure yet... Oh yes, and covering the eyelets with thread. But I made this gown and hood in one week and am pretty proud of that!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dresses for Sale!

I am selling some of my Regency dresses to make room for an entirely new (and more accurate) 1812 wardrobe.


Monday, April 18, 2011

The Daughter of the Regiment

Last weekend was a BLAST! I had so much fun as a vivandiere! It was awesome being out on the field with the soldiers, tending to their wounds, and informing them that I am too young to legally be carrying brandy in my cask. I was quite happy to talk to people about vivandieres and explain my role to the public. Any impression that gives me a purpose at reenactments is a fun one, and makes events all the more enjoyable. Sitting pretty is fine and all, but doing something--actually interpreting, educating the public-- that's the whole point, right?

I'm very pleased with how the outfit looked with the kepi, haversack, and keg. I felt very "complete"! I actually had enough fabric to make my own trousers (with piecing) and I'm glad I went the extra mile to have matching trousers, as opposed to borrowing male trousers like I'd planned.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Missing Faire...

Last year, I was a maid of honour (Lady Bridget Manners) to Her Majesty at the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire. It was an amazing, wonderful time, but also a huge commitment. This year, because of school and other obligations, I couldn't do court again. Last weekend was opening weekend of the 2011 season, and I am so "home sick" for faire! I am planning to go this year with friends, and hopefully gatelist at least once, but it won't quite be the same.

Here are some favorite moments from last year...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Lavender Wool Gown

Here are some pictures that I took, pre-event (hence the modern glasses and no shoes!) of this gown. I wasn't very happy with any of the pictures taken of me in this gown during the event, so this will have to suffice until I wear it again.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Daughter of the Regiment

La Fille du Regiment. Cantiniere. Vivandiere.

These are all names for women who served in a similar capacity during the Civil War, and prior, particularly in the Crimean War. As the name suggests, vivandieres were originally associated with French regiments. They acted as nurses and cheerleaders, carrying kegs of brandy or wine with them to nurse wounded troops on the battlefield. "The dashing image of French soldiers, especially the Zouave regiments, in the Crimean War, captured the imagination of Americans in the 1850s, and, by 1859, several local militia regiments had adopted the name "Zouave," as well as interpretations of the colorful Zouave uniforms. Some of these local groups sported a vivandiere in their ranks. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, most regiments were organized as independent companies of troops, raised in a local area. Some of these companies selected their own uniforms and accoutrements without regard to regular army practice. And some of these regiments also selected a local lady to serve as "the daughter of the regiment," the American equivalent to the French vivandiere."** They modeled their "uniforms" after those of the regiment they served, but there was no set or official uniform and thus much variation occurs. Civil War vivandieres were most common during the first two years of the war, although a few remained until the end. Since vivandieres were not sanctioned by the army, there is no official record of the number of women who served. The written records we do have come from newspapers and letters.

This is a list of known women who served with Confederate units. I do not remember the website I got this chart from, but if you do, please let me know and I will properly acknowledge the source!

What follows is the research I have done on 1860s vivandieres (heretofore referred to as "vivs") and the reasons for the design choices that I am making with my Confederate "uniform". Later on, when I create a Union (Michigan) "uniform", I'll do a separate post about that.

The Bodice:
Most people think of Zouave vivs when imagining vivandieres: unfitted jacket and unfitted blouse. This was styled after the jackets and shirts worn by the Zouave soldiers. But this was certainly not the only style being worn by vivs, and not all vivs were with Zouave units.

I am taking the majority of my bodice inspiration from a lone surviving viv outfit held by the Smithsonian. It features a fitted bodice with pretty gold buttons and a lace collar. I have 6 CSA buttons to put on my bodice, snagged from my friend when he was switching them out to VA buttons.

Here are a couple more images of fitted bodices (note: some women may simply be wearing military-style dress as a way to show their support; discretion is advised when interpreting photos):

Eliza Wilson of the 5th WI wore "her dark brown frock buttoned tightly around her waist, her what-you-call-ems [Turkish trousers] tucked into her well fitting gaiters."**

Skirt Length:
This varies hugely between each lady. Some reach mid calf, some are above the knee. I'm choosing at the knee out of personal preference.

These also varied widely. Some women wore straight legged trousers, similar to what men wore. Others wore "Turkish trousers" which were full and gathered at the ankle, or below the knee. For now, I will be wearing hand-me-down grey wool trousers from my brother, but I intend to make my own when time allows, most likely in the straight legged style.

Hats and Hair:
Many women are depicted wearing kepis, although "pork pie" and a wide brimmed style were also seen. I will be wearing a kepi made by the talented Tyler Putman (haversack also made by him). Women are also seen with their hair worn down. I have been told that this was so they wouldn't be mistaken for men on the battlefield. I have yet to find evidence to support this, but it sounds logical (although not terribly practical since your hair would be getting in the way; at least mine would be!). I think I'll be wearing my hair down at first to see how I like it.

My prized accessory for this impression is my vintage wooden keg. This was an iconic symbol of the classic vivandiere. I will be attaching straps to it, although I do not intend to put liquid in it to drink from because I'm not sure if the keg is food safe... I will also carry a knife, and haversack filled with ripped and rolled bandages.

I have cut and assembled the skirt tonight. Bodice will be done tomorrow. Pictures soon!

**from "The Daughter of the Regiment: A Brief History of Vivandieres and Cantinieres in the American Civil War" by Susan Lyons Hughes