Sunday, December 18, 2011

Victorian Christmas

This is our first holiday season in our 1893 house and we have always wanted to host a Victorian Christmas party.  Since I just completed my masters degree in Public History, it was the perfect opportunity to have a party and get the house decorated.  We brought nature inside and decorated with cypress garland, boughs, red berries, etc. 
I want to keep the garland up all year round!
Boughs on the frames
Edmond and Nellie-Bly wish you a Happy Christmas.
Two Eastlake frames I picked up at the antique fair last weekend.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday this year and as our Christmas cards say, "Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man." --Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dickens Fair 2011

As of Friday I turned in my thesis and have officially earned my M.A. in Public History!  No more school forever!  Yay!

As a reward, the whole gang went to the Dickens Fair this year after having to skip out last year due to school obligations. Ian knows Prince Albert, so we got complimentary ticket this year, which meant we could buy more drinks inside.  It was a win-win for everyone!

1860s and 1840s collide.
We were presented to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Albert and I forgot to bow.  FAIL.  I was so nervous!  We didn't get a chance to see the Saucy French Postcard show, but we might be going back in a few weeks. I disappointed Prince Albert by not dancing with him before we left, so I guess I have to learn to waltz before then.

Friday, October 28, 2011

1850s French Cantiniere Uniform

During my recent trip to Paris, my husband and I went to the Musee L'Arme TWICE.  They had a few women's uniforms from different eras, but I loved this 1854 Cantiniere uniform.

1854 Cantiniere Uniform
Ian has been talking about making one for me over the years and this one is just too perfect with its rounded collar, shaped waist and wonderful trim.  Even the back is covered with the braid!

Not too much going on the sewing front lately now that it's crunch time to get my thesis done.  The weekend after it is due we are going to the Dickens Fair in Daly City and I can't wait!  It is SO MUCH FUN.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

1850s Ladies Shoes

Even though these shoes date to 1857, I thought it would be fun to share pictures of originals rather than my own reproduction.  This pair of shoes is located at the Sacramento Valley Museum in Williams, California, and has provenance as part of a wedding trousseau from a local woman.  I helped with an exhibit redesign and had the opportunity to take pictures of many of the clothing items that were on display and those in storage.  
Interior view
Side lacing

Eyelet detail

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

1840s Street Style

Due to the fact that I'm moving this coming weekend, I haven't had much time to post, let alone work on any projects.  In lieu of anything new, here is a group shot of myself, Ian, and my sister Heather in 2006 at Columbia State Historic Park.  We are all wearing clothing made from Past Patterns, except for Heather's bonnet, which is from Miller's Millinery.

Left to right: Me, Ian, Heather.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

1840s Cooking Utensils

This is what I use to cook at events:

Iron skillets
Rockingham bowl
Wine or Champagne bottles to roll out dough (this always gets a lot of attention, but it works!)
Black glass bottles to hold spices, jam, etc. (they were great recyclers back then...)
Iron trivet
Copper Tea Kettle
Bone handled forks and knives
Pewter spoons
Milk pan/gold pan
Salt glazed jug for water
English transferware bowls, plates, and tea cups

Wood spoons
Knitted pot holders
Salt glazed pottery for butter/lard
Hot tin dipped plate/cups
Dog River sauce bottles

Typical layout at Coloma
Cooking dehydrated apples to put in fried pies

Monday, June 13, 2011

1840s Pleated Bertha

 Inspired by this dress from the Tasha Tudor collection, I made a pleated bertha out of 100% silk duchess satin with a hard backing for my wedding dress:
Detail of pleated bertha.
 To make my life easier I used the Civil War Ballgown Simplicity 5724 bertha pattern pieces.

Simplicity 5724 
I attached piped lozenges at the berth front and shoulder seams (like the original dress) and the back closed with hooks and eyes.
Bertha back, note lozenges over shoulder seam.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Laughing Moon #114 Ladies Round Dress 1840s-1852

Late 1840s bodices are usually either darted or fan front, with variations of course.   
Darted 1840s Dress
Fan Front 1840s Dress
Most of the dresses that I made for Gold Rush had been the fan front style using the Past Patterns dress, until Laughing Moon Mercantile published their Ladies Round Dress Pattern. A variety of styles can be achieved with the pattern with a darted or fan front bodice, sleeve variations, etc.  I made the darted version with a tighter sleeve and sleeve caps.

I used an 1840s reproduction cotton print with vines and bubbles, (hence the dress has been dubbed “The Bubble Dress”), 100% silk satin to cover wood discs for the buttons, and 100% silk satin ribbon trim.  The bodice lining is boned at the darts that extend up to the bust line and the dress has functional cuffs.
1840s Round Dress Pattern
Sleeve cap ribbon detail.

 Overall, I really like this pattern.  The armscyes were a bit too small for me, but other than that it went together great.  I think I will be using the bodice pattern as a base for a new 1853 dress I have in the works. .

Friday, May 20, 2011

McCall's 5129 Bonnet Pattern

This was the first bonnet that I made by myself outside of millinery class.  It's McCall's 5129, which is now out of print.  I made up View A (the red bonnet), but with modifications.  I completely ignored the instructions, since it says to use a glue gun!

Grey bonnet on left is McCalls's 5129, bonnet on right is Miller's Millinery Round Cottage Bonnet.
I dyed some ivory taffeta to a pearl grey color for the fashion fabric and cut strips from a periwinkle, lilac, and white silk plaid that I had on hand for the ties and bavolet.  The brim is lined in cotton eyelet, which really needs to be changed out.  I cite the "poor college student" clause for its use!  I have a thin layer of batting over the top of the buckram frame to cover the seams where the wire is attached and to give a nice, smooth appearance.  Instead of a gathered crown I made mine smooth and I made my bavolet much deeper. I think for my first independent attempt, it turned out okay.  I don't wear it very often, but with a few changes and tweaks, perhaps it will come out to events again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

1840s Fan Front

I just completed this project to attend a Gold Rush living history event this weekend where I gave a presentation on material culture and foodways of the California miner in the 1840s and 1850s.  Here's the inspiration images:
Wool Dress and Pelerine, August Auctions.

Left side dress, source:

Pelerine front
Pelerine back
Without the pelerine
Full view

Detail view of fabric and fan front gathering
I used the Truly Victorian 454 German Day Dress Pattern with the fan front variation.  The fabric is a reproduction cotton print from Windham Fabrics that I bought at Mill Ends in Reno, Nevada.  I cut the neck wider (which was a pain and I'm not 100% satisfied with it yet) and I drafted the pelerine myself.  The pelerine edges are bound with self-fabric bias strips, like the wool dress above, and lined with white polished cotton.  I also took in the sleeves a good two inches from the TV 454 pattern and also brought up the armscyes, since I thought they dropped too much.  There are three bones at the bodice front and two the side seams.  Overall I'm fairly pleased with my new dress and received some very nice comments.  One little girl wanted to come over to "meet the princess," which I thought was a crack-up!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Handsewn Gold Rush Tent

I admit it.  I bought a HUGE wall tent when I started going to Civil War events.  It was even nicknamed "The Miller Mansion."  Not only was it a pain to set up with a system of bolted 2 x 4's, side wall posts, ropes, and spikes, it took up a lot of space in storage and in the car to events.  This would not do.  

Fast forward a few years and Ian and I had the idea to make our own tent for Gold Rush events, since the wall tent was just too big and not appropriate for the time period we were using it for.   Friends of ours had sewn their own, so they were also a source of inspiration for the project. We looked at original images and sketches and designed our own. 
"View of Agua Fria Valley" Source: Bancroft Library
We bought canvas from the local fabric store and cut the fabric into the width that was commonly used for canvas manufacturing in the 1840s. We used twine to sew the seams with a simple running stitch.  We ended up needing more canvas than we had calculated for and ended up buying some unbleached heavy cotton to complete the final strip in the tent peak.  This actually worked perfectly since it is a thinner fabric, it almost acts as a skylight to illuminate the interior of the tent!  A friend of ours cut a ridge pole and two supports from some saplings (instead of the horrible cut lumber I had for the wall tent), which really completes the whole tent. 
Back and side view
Front view, other handsewn tents in background.

Overall, it was a fun project and something that we will get years of use out of.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Past Patterns Fan-Front Bodice

Ian and I met at Columbia State Historic Park at a Gold Rush living history event, so we decided to have our picture taken for our one-year anniversary at the same event.  For this special occasion I decided to make a silk dress with the Past Pattern Fan-Front Bodice pattern with some silk I bought in the LA fashion district. The interior is lined with white cotton and is boned at the front and side seams.  I made pleated linen cuffs and a ladies cravat in a different silk plaid. I also have a ladies watch on a chain, a paste brooch, tortoise hair comb, and gold hoop earrings (that my hair is covering).  It's all about the accessories!  Ian even has a pinky ring on!

2006 Columbia Diggins Event.  Posed copied from an original dag.
The only digitized color picture of the dress.
I have used this same pattern multiple times with reproduction cotton prints and have been pleased with them each time.  If I make another, I think I will bring up the armscye a bit, since they are fairly dropped on this pattern, and maybe play around with the point to come farther down and take up the sides.

I'm on the left and my twin sister is on the right.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1840s Silk Bonnet

I minored in Theater Arts at Humboldt State University and one of the first class I took was millinery. Covering buckrum forms in class (I made a top hat!) gave me plenty of practice for creating my own bonnets at home. I made this particular bonnet in 2007 or 2008 from the Miller's Millinery Round Cottage Bonnet Pattern #9101 (late 1840s-early 1850s) with a cream colored silk.  The leaves are cut from cotton velveteen and the flowers are paper.
Self-fabric ties and decorative trim across the crown.
Bavolet and decorative bow coped from an original.

Interior netting grips hair to prevent slipping backwards.

I look like a jerk in the one picture I have of me in this bonnet that I would rather not share... I want to re-trim the bonnet like the one above with some very similar flowers to the dag above that Ian bought me at Nancy's Sewing Basket in Seattle.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Simplicity 7215 Corset Pattern

This is my modified version of the 7215 Simplicity corset pattern made of a single layer coutil from Sac City Drygoods. I'm going for an 1840s "coffee can" silhouette with this one so I modified the boning placement, gusset placement, shortened the height of the back, shaped the front edges, and made it two sizes smaller than my previous version.

Front view and wearing a Elizabeth Stewart Clark pattern chemise:

I'm very happy about the spring in the back being even the entire length:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

1840s Theme Wedding - The Details

For me, the accessories really made this dress come together.  I made an orange blossom hair piece from a kit I ordered and attached a mid-19th century embroidered bonnet veil that I bought off ebay.  I had to soak the veil in Biz a number of times to bring it's beauty back.  
View of orange blossoms
It was a labor of love to get it this white!
I had a pair of custom made silk satin slippers made by Robert Land and then decorated the edges with pleated ribbon.

Robert Land Slippers
Oh yeah, and I also made our wedding cake from an 1840s recipe the day before the wedding!  (Not for the faint of heart).
Everyone raved about the cake.  Some people had a third piece!
We rented out a Gothic Revival bed & breakfast for the weekend for the wedding and reception that was built in 1854, which the town of Ferndale was named after.
The Shaw House, 1854.

And to top it all off, my engagement/wedding ring is from the 1840s.  We might be a little obsessed with this decade...
It's prettier in person, trust me.

1840s Theme Wedding - The Dress

Our wedding theme was the 1840s since Ian and I first met at a Gold Rush living history event, so we thought it would be a great idea.  The first dress I drew inspiration was from the Tasha Tudor collection.  I copied the pleated bertha with 9 pleats on the front and back, as well as the shaped piped lozenges to cover the seams.  The second dress I took inspiration from the long sleeves and the skirt pleating that meets in the front.  I loved the idea of a pelerine but it wasn't suitable for a summer garden wedding.
Tasha Tudor dress
1840s Satin Wedding Dress with Swans Down Pelerine

My 1840s Wedding Dress
Close up of pleated bertha
The material is a hard backed 100% silk duchess ivory satin that I bought from a shop in the LA Garment District.  The bodice pattern went through so many changes that I don't even remember what I used as a starting point! For the skirt support I wore my corded petticoat, a tucked petticoat, and a plain petticoat (all with yoked waistbands).  
Mr. Rochester and his Mustard Seed

Up next...accessories!