Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The best laid plans...

Not too much sewing going on at my house for the time being.  I have next Monday through New Years off and I planned to work on my 1810 quilt project, but my dear grandmother (Tood) passed away last week and my family has been dealing with everything that comes with the death of a loved one.  I volunteered to help go through her house the week after Christmas to sort through all her paperwork, belongings to donate  etc. While doing some work there yesterday I found a letter she wrote to the whole family in July of this year that she intended to have read after her death, so she knew she didn't have much time left with us.  I'm positively devastated and I've lost my mojo in sewing, work, all of it.  We are still getting together as a family on Christmas, but it won't be the same without her.
Ian, Me, and Tood (June 2012)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Circa 1810 Quilt Project

Even though I have been sewing reproduction clothing for a few years, I have never attempted a quilt...until now.  Lindy Miller, quilter extraordinaire, historic fabric enthusiast, and owner of Timeless Calico Designs, was kind enough to put together a quilt kit from her wonderful collection of historic reproduction fabrics.  She has an online storefront and an etsy store so check her out!  

The quilt below will be my first attempt. Lindy recommended it for a beginner quilter like me and I love how colorful and busy the fabrics are!

My version replaces the feather border and center sashing with this pillar fabric, but with a mustard background, which will make the quilt predominately yellow.  It will look smashing with my walnut bedroom furniture!

Has anyone else made a quilt and would like to bestow and few words of wisdom?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Libations of the 1840s

Now that summer is here I have been going to our weekly farmer's market and enjoying the bounty of the season: peaches, plums, cherries, squash, strawberries, blackberries, etc., etc.

I made a batch of Brandy Peaches and Cherry Brandy this weekend and will be sharing my culinary adventures with you over the next few weeks / months.  
California Brandy from Korbel.  I used two of these!
 I followed the recipe below from Mrs. Ellis's Housekeeping Made Easy, Or Complete Instructor in All Branches of Cookery and Domestic Economy (1843)
Brandy Peaches (1843)
Eight whole peaches.  I added a vanilla bean for extra flavor.
The Cherry Brandy (New Method) recipe from French Domestic Cookery (1846) was much more time consuming to prepare to stone all the fruit, boil it down with sugar until is reduced, etc., especially compared with the recipe I used last year, which was merely throwing in the cherries, some sugar, and some spices into a jar with brandy and letting them mingle for awhile! 
Reduced cherries and their juice in the bottle and crock behind. 
I won't be able to follow the recipe exactly, since I was supposed to start the cherries weeks ago when the first batch came into season, and then strain them out and add another later season variety of cherries.  I'll probably strain out the cherries after three weeks and check the flavor.  If it could stand a few more weeks to age with the cherries I'll go for it.  And not wanting anything to go to waste, I'll cook the strained cherries in some sugar and reduce them down farther to make a nice ice cream topping.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Housewife from The Workwoman's Guide (1838)

p. 212-213
Figures 19, 20, 21
Straight out of the pages of the Workwoman's Guide, this is the perfect project to use up scrap material.  The main outer fabric is from a vest I made Ian, the pink is from a hand-quilted bonnet my sister made, the scissor area fabric is from a v-neck fan front, and the wool for the needles is from one of Ian's Civil War projects. The pink center has three rows of stitching to keep lengths of different thread separated, as illustrated in the plate above. There is a nice large pocket under the wool flap for buttons, wax, and other small odds and ends.
At 28 inches long, this housewife is a lot longer that the Civil War-era housewife's that soldiers carried. This example measures 11 inches long.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

1840s Skirt Variations

I have never attempted to play around with different skirt designs in my 1840s wardrobe, but after finding this image I am seriously thinking about it for my next project.
"The Hypnotist"
I bought this fabric from Mill Ends in Reno a few years ago and know I wanted to really play up the stripes, so I think I will pieces the skirt with the wavy stripes going horizontal at the bottom and the rest vertical. 

Another skirt variation

Friday, July 13, 2012

1845-1848 Dress

I love this dress beyond words. The little V-neck with lace insert, the lovely draped bodice, the tight sleeves with wrist trim.  SIGH.  This is what I love about the 1840s: Loud and fitted!
American Textile History Museum

Sunday, July 8, 2012

1849 Niantic Storeship

The San Francisco shoreline has dozens of Gold Rush-era ships underneath its buildings and skyscrapers. The Niantic storeship burned in one of six major fires that swept through the city.  The ashes and charred remains of ships and buildings were dumped into the bay and used as fill.  Gold Rush Port: The Maritime Archæology of San Francisco's Waterfront is a great book on the subject.

The San Francisco Maritime Museum, operated by National Parks, has some items that have been retrieved on digs that were usually found by construction crews uncovering ship hulls!  My senior paper in college was about mid-nineteenth century material culture, specifically on Gold Rush era California items.  The museum and library were closed for renovation when I was writing my paper back in 2006, so it was fun to see items that I had read about and seen sketches of, like the duck head paper holder below!
Niantic items
ID chart to items in display
Dug relics from various storeships

Monday, June 11, 2012

Angels Camp Gold Rush Days 2012

This year I gave three presentations on Women's clothing of the 1840s and 1850s.  My twin sister was gracious enough to let me dress her up and flash her underclothes to complete strangers.  At each presentation there was a collective gasp when she took off her wrapper to reveal her petticoats and corset, which I thought was entertaining.  She got lunch and dinner out of it, so no complaints! On the tables in the background are a number of dresses that I reproduced over the years and I printed out the inspiration images (dags) that I based their design on.  I even brought out my wedding dress and accessories, which people really seemed to enjoy. Jesse (far left) wore her 1850s dress, which worked out nicely to show the evolution of sleeve width, bodice length, and other elements of dress that were transitioning between the two decades. At the end of my talk and I welcomed people to look at the dresses up close and handle them and I received some very nice complements from the public.

Demonstrating the layers that go under the dress for the 1840s silhouette
For my hair I was adventurous and did Spaniel curls on a whim the night before the presentation. I used this tutorial for the curls and I think they turned out pretty well for my first attempt. In the image below, Heather is wearing my McCalls pattern bonnet that I worked on the weekend before. I redid the bavolet and added blackberries, strawberries, and paper flowers to the interior of the bonnet to frame the face. I've been meaning to work on this bonnet since I made it in 2005, and I think it looks great now with the new updates.

1844 Truly Victorian Dress
Ian and I (Past Patterns Fan Front dress)
In closing, here is a picture of Ian and I at the end of the day.  He was demonstrating mining techniques in the creek all day.  And yes, it's a real mustache.

Monday, March 26, 2012

1845-1849 Dress from LACMA

Here is another option for the Auburn Ravine dress. This example is from the "Fashioning Fashion" exhibit at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which I was able to visit last year.
1845-1849 Dress
Dress: England, 1845-49 
Silk plain weave with warp-float patterning, printed, silk lace, and silk passementerie

"By the mid-1840s, dresses with sloped shoulders, tight bodices with fitted sleeves, and fuller skirts mirrored the similarly constricting social norms of the early Victorian woman. Bodices often included rows of pleat extending over the shoulder to the waist in a pronounced V-shape that pointed to the wide, cartridge-pleated skirt."
Here a link to a close-up of the bodice.

Using the Truly Victorian TV 454 pattern as a base, the V-shaped pleats would be laid over where the brettelles would go.  It's another option I can play around with!

Friday, March 23, 2012

In Auburn Ravine continued

Just as a quick refresher, here is the next dress I want to recreate.

Circa 1852
I have been thinking about how the pleats at the shoulders are handled with this dress and have two options.  Like the dress below, I could add a separate pleated bertha and attach it the the shoulder and center front seams.

Or I the piece is darted at the waist and pleated into the shoulder seam, as illustrated below.

Personally, I am leaning towards the bertha because I have so many fan front dressed with gathering and pleating at the front waist, that this would be an opportunity to have a darted front dress with a nice tight fit around the waist and added volume to the top (where I need it the most).  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In Auburn Ravine c.1852

Seeing that I am giving a talk on women's fashion at a museum, why not recreate clothing from an original image taken during the Gold Rush? I have always loved the image "In Auburn Ravine."

My husband has yards and yards of dark blue wool that he ordered that is too light weight for what he wanted, so guess what color this dress will be...?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

1847 Dress

New project perhaps? I have always loved the use of trims to make the waist look smaller.  It almost has a military feel to it.