Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Hiatus

Hello readers!

I just wanted to let you know that things are going to get really quiet over here until January... I am working on some labor-intensive but super boring projects, so I won't have any fun pictures to post. The biggest one is hand quilting Mike's quilt for Christmas! I pieced the top last Christmas, so he's had to wait a whole year for this thing... I also hope to finish the embellishment on my wedding gown and be able to move on to actual construction. But once January gets going, I will again have fun historical clothing pics to share. :) 

I know I haven't talked about this here, but I have changed the embellishment for my wedding gown. Embroidering on the silk gauze is just about IMPOSSIBLE, so I had to think of something else if I didn't want to drive myself absolutely bonkers. Inspired by the following 1790s portrait, I am now sewing literally thousands of real silver spangles onto the silk gauze (SO much easier!). Here's also an updated illustration of the gown itself. 

ETA: Plus a picture of Mike's quilt! It's based on this quilt, among others like it:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gigantic Gettysburg Post!

Hello all! Since this weekend was so huge, I wrote 3 blog posts over at my Livejournal to make the sharing of images and info easier. So here are a couple of pictures to encourage you to check out the original posts.

Post 1: 1860s Mourning Ensemble

Friday, November 2, 2012

Once Upon a Time Belle Cosplay!

So... I have a secret...

I'm pretty much addicted to Once Upon a Time. Especially Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold and Belle! They're definitely my favorite couple/story. I started watching the show a couple weeks ago, and it's been an intense love affair. I went through the entire first season on Netflix in a couple days, and have since been tuning in every Sunday to watch the new episodes. Let me explain that I don't watch TV, let alone watch a show on a regular basis on TV! So it's a pretty big deal. ;-)

Since I love Belle so much, I knew I had to make her adorable blue outfit from her episode, "Skin Deep", for Halloween. It went together quickly and well, and I had a blast making something totally not historical! It's such a fun outfit to wear. Very feminine and light and just fun! I'm even giving serious thought to wearing this to faire in May. I'm worried I might miss being my usual noble self, but this outfit would be SO much easier and lighter to pack!! More room for 18th c and Civil War stuff that I will also need. And by faire, I might be able to have shoes like Belle's, which are a silvery-blue t-strap. I'm thinking of getting American Duchess' new 1920s shoes and then painting them. But that's an awful lot of money for something like this... So we'll see. Also, my hair will be longer and will hopefully turn out closer to hers. I think it came out well enough with what little hair I do have!

I really loved making and wearing this. I don't think I can say it enough! There may be more cosplay type stuff in my future!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blandford Harvest Day

Katie spoke so highly of her experiences with the Blandford Nature Center, so of course I was excited to volunteer at their Harvest Day last weekend. One of the most awesome aspects of the center is that they really appreciate their volunteers and are very gracious with them. Since they focus on environmental aspects but do have a nice handful of historic buildings, they very much appreciate having history-oriented people to take over those parts of the center. So Katie and I basically got free range in their 1866 cabin and got to do whatever we wanted in regards to interpretation. We ended up doing period laundry, which was awesome! The kids loved getting involved. It's such a great thing to interpret since it is very visual and easily connects with aspects of people's modern lives. It is also a gateway to talking about hygiene and clothing.

Having said all that, I realized I didn't have anything appropriate to wear in October in Michigan for the 1860s other than my black wool mourning gown and silk gown... And I wanted something a bit more practical! Katie was selling a beautiful dress length of plaid wool which I snapped up from her. I chose some style elements that are visually appropriate for the late 60s to fit with the 1866 date of the cabin (although it was inhabited well into the 20th century), but would still allow me to wear it for earlier events in the future. I chose a standing collar, slim coat sleeves, and a flat front skirt with box pleats, which tend to be features on later 60s gowns. What would have made it perfect is an elliptical cage, which I just couldn't afford for a one-day event! So I went with my regular 60s cage. I also styled my hair very distinctly late 60s, with emphasis not on the sides of the face but more on the top of the head, and with most of the bulk of the hair in a rather full chignon (as opposed to confined to the nape of the neck).

There's actually a lot of things I'm not happy with, so I will be fixing those things in time to wear the dress again in November for my trip to Gettysburg with confidence!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

1560s English Fitted Gown

Firstly, thank you everyone for the compliments on my rolled hem! I know a lot of people are interested in a tutorial, so I will try my best to put one together when I have time, and figure out how to take video of my hands at work...

I wrote a pretty lengthy write up on this project on my Livejournal, so please go there to read it!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Burning the Midnight Oil

This weekend is my university's Renaissance faire. It's more about fun than any sort of historical accuracy, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to wear 16th century clothes. I have a new outfit to debut, too! It is just about done, except for the wrist ruffs I am making (to match this neck ruff).

I just finished the itsy bitsy rolled hem on one of the lengths of silk organza. There's a straight pin (and my fingers) for scale. I did a LOT of rolled hemming during my internship this summer! I can now roll and stitch a hem simultaneously, which makes it go pretty quickly. The wrist ruffs each will have 45" in them, gathered into 6" wristbands. More on the rest of the ruff making process later!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Midnight Musings: When "Costumes" Become "Clothing"

One thing that I know will annoy Mike is if anyone refers to historical clothing as "costumes." I admit, I have been known to use the terms interchangeably when I'm feeling particularly lazy ("Can we go in costume?"). But there really is a difference, at least for those of us who use historical clothing as a very important (and visible) part of interpreting history. In the simplest explanation, costumes become clothing when you choose to make and wear garments based on your physical need for them, in the same way that you buy and wear clothes today. And I don't mean need as in "OMG THAT DRESS IS SO PRETTY I NEED TO MAKE IT!!!!!!". But need as in "Hmm, it's going to be 50 degrees at this event, so I want to have this, this, and this to be warm." It's picking styles and materials that would have been appropriate to the type of person you are portraying. And it's building upon existing pieces in your wardrobe, in the same way you do with your wardrobe today. It's saying "I want to wear this ribbon/petticoat/brooch/bonnet today" to change up the look of an outfit, or simply throwing on a hat and coat because you're going outside, and that's what you do.

I got a serious lesson in treating costume as clothing this summer when I worked in Colonial Williamsburg. I had essentially three outfits that comprised my wardrobe (which is barely over the minimum number of outfits most destitute poor and slaves were given, but that's an essay for another time...) so it was a fun exercise each day figuring out how to put things together differently, or add a new ribbon, or wear a different cap and kerchief combination. And it felt the same as getting dressed in 21st century clothing, when I stand in front of my closet for 20 minutes trying to figure out what to wear...

This weekend, Katie and I went to a small, local Civil War event. Neither of us wore anything new. And it actually felt great. Of course new clothes are always fun. But there was something really rewarding to go into my closet of historical clothes and pick things out as a woman of the 1860s would, thinking "It's cold today; I need my flannel petticoat and my paletot," and "This is one of my better dresses; I want to wear it to look particularly fashionable today!" And then throwing on my trusty bonnet and gloves. I felt complete, and like a real person in real clothes, not a person in a funny costume. If you treat your historical clothing as a wardrobe, the way a person of the past would have approached their wardrobe, you come away with an invisible mindset about yourself that translates into something visible for the pubic.

Pictures from the weekend, by Katie Jacobs.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tips and Tricks: A Survey

As many of you know, my blog consists of my creations and the events I wear them too. But lately I've been wondering if it might be helpful for me to take construction pictures and do a more tutorial-style write up of things. I'm not tech-savvy enough to figure out how to do a poll here, so I would appreciate it if you would leave your opinion in a comment. Just curious to see what people would like to see!

a) I enjoy reading your blog the way it is.
b) I would appreciate construction pictures and/or tutorials in addition to your usual posts.

Thank you! :]

I will leave/bribe you with this fantastic picture of my fiance hard at work, taken by the fabulous Mr. Paul McClintock of From Common Hands 18th century book binding. Thank you Paul!

Monday, September 3, 2012

1790s Redingote

I've been planning this outfit since April when I visited with my dear Miss Waterman (who incidentally got engaged yesterday at the event!) in Tennessee. I thought it would be fun to do something 1790s at the Fair at New Boston, since the time frame for the event is 1790-1810. This is definitely on the early end of the 1790s! I felt really elegant in the outfit, even though the humidity and rain did a number on my hair... It was still tons of fun to wear, and the entire event was awesome as well! I got another chance to use my bow during a ladies archery practice on both days. I also picked up four period arrows to go with it! 

To make the actual redingote, I modified my basic 1770s bodice pattern, adding the lapels and giving it a straight waistline. I then had to draft the capes. Luckily I could use the two piece sleeves from the Mill Farm riding habit pattern. After much staring at the KCI 1790s striped jacket, I finally figured out the funky cuff on that too. The whole thing was assembled using 18th century techniques, in particular the "weird running whip stitch thingy" that Abby describes here: I LOVE this stitch! It is very fast and easy and gives a very neat look to the seams. I also referenced her tutorial for my hair, but again, the humidity and rain really made all the hard work almost for naught...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Embracing the Crazy

It's things like working in the Margaret Hunter shop that make you look at something like this gown and say "I can do that..."

Check out the details of my new project here!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

1812 Lace Insertion Gown at Greenfield Village

This gown was a joy to wear, and I'm so happy with it! Here's just a few picture to tempt you with. To see all of the pictures, visit my Livejournal.