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.