Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pursuit of Floyd

This past weekend, about 20 civilians and 100 military attended an Immersion event hosted by the Genesee Country Village and Museum.

Set in a lovingly restored historic village containing 68 buildings and set on some 400 acres, it was the perfect setting for the event. Participants spent the weekend living in 3 of the historic homes and portraying the citizens of Mountain Cove, WV in 1861.

Some of my favorite moments from the event were seeing all the ladies package a care package for the soldiers and putting in the letters, baked goods, medicine, bags, food, and warm mittens and socks in. The other was Saturday evening's entertainment in the stenciled ballroom of Hosmer's Inn. The candle and firelight made the scene magical. I shall never forget the looks on the faces of the ladies and gentlemen as my husband recited Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, nor the enthusiasm with which we danced as I scratched out a fiddle tune!

We did not expect to see much of the military that weekend, but we ended up seeing quite a bit of them! Some of the Confederate wounded were housed in the Inn and my house, full of Federal soldier's wives, was forced to put up ten Confederates Saturday night! They were civil and left rather early after keeping the fire going all night, but still, it was quite the invasion!

We had an active post service and money to pay for room and board at the Inn and boarding houses. There were plenty of things to do: make applesauce, cut down trees for rail-splitting, drip lye for soap, and sharpen tools. Each participant had their own individual goal to accomplish during the course of the weekend, I wonder how many got done?

If this event should occur again next year, please don't miss it! We hope to be able to use more buildings next year and have a real store to purchase things in!


As many of you may know, I'm making a long-term study of bonnet veils. A friend just sent me This Link to a wonderful photo of a veil DOWN! Notice it's rectangle and very ornately embroidered. So neat! I had thought that the rectangular ones might be a little out-of-style for the 1860s but this one is being featured in this photo!

New Book to come out!!

Anna is about to publish her book! Here's a little preview of what you can make using her instructions:

Anna has been letting me test drive these fabulous little sewing boxes and kits that she’s written excellent directions for. Here are some photos of the finished products!
My favorite, the Deluxe Kit!

This kit contains: scissors, a 6 inch ruler, 5 pages for needles, a pincushion with glass-headed pins, beeswax, locket containing hooks and buttons, thread winders with thread, thread ripper, a pencil and paper booklet for lists and notes, a tapes measure, chalk for marking, and two thimbles.

Medium sized kit:

This one is very small. It fits in my drinking cup! It is only as long as the first kit is wide. It contains: 4 pages for needles, a pocket for buttons and hooks, scissors, a thimble, thread wound around a fabric twist, chalk, a ball of string, a small pincushion in the shape of a strawberry, a measuring tape,  and, since it’s for traveling, a fresh collar to keep the neckline of the dress clean. It’s tied with a wide silk ribbon that can double as an ornamental bow for a dress.

The Soldier’s Housewife:
The smallest one of all!

This one rolls right up to be very small indeed! The rolled section is a pincushion stuffed with wool. There are 3 pages for needles and a pocket for buttons, a thimble, and thread wound on winders. No scissors since a soldier would also carry a jack-knife.

For more information, check out her blog at Anna's Blog

It's the most wonderful time....

Yes, it's that time again! Time when fall slows into a dreary blah state and you know winter is around the corner. Thanksgiving is just next week and I'm sure everyone has their plans in place. Husband and I will be having Thanksgiving with family, but we will be spending that Saturday at a great event put on by the Genesee Country Village and Museum. It's called Preparing for the Holidays and features the ways that folks were getting ready for the cold weather and holiday season in the 19th-century. There will be cooking, chocolate demonstrations and tastings, sausage stuffing, smoking hams, chili for lunch, target shooting for the men, and sewing warm winter clothing by the fireside. There will also be a hog butchered that day for the holiday feast! I hope it won't be too cold!

and then....
It will be time for Yuletide!!


1830's sewing projects

So, lacking anything between the 1810′s and the 1840′s naturally, I have become obsessed with the 1830′s!! So of course, when I found this perfect fabric on discount at a high-end quilt shop, it just spoke to me about being 1830′s. Yes, that’s right, the huge sleeves, the low necklines, the pleats, the piping on every seam, the box pleated skirts, and (UGH) back-closing bodices. Yes. It’s the decade of ridiculousness and we’re not even to the bonnets, yet…

Well, I already had a corset that would work, so the first thing to start on was the corded petticoat that would support the skirts and provide loft. Well, 3 hours into sewing tiny cords in between layers of muslin with no added stiffness apparent, I was a bit discouraged. But, 12 hours and good starching later, I was much pleased!! Though, I think I will try to convince a weaver to make some on a loom next time!

Next was the bonnet. One of those awful Poke Bonnets. Using pattern paper and some scissors, turns out the first try was the best, so we went with that. I didn’t want it to be TOO big and awkward. Just enough to be the early ’30′s. The MET’s collection also helped a great deal. I ordered a beige china silk to cover it. I had envisioned lots of flowers, ribbon and even a feather or two, but a simple spray of orange ribbon flowers is all that’s there for now. I’m still looking for the right feathers. It had to go with the green veil of course.

The next thing to do was the dress. It took several mock-ups to get the sleeves just right, and since I had such limited fabric (only about 5 1/2 yards) it was crucial to get it right. The skirt was two and a half fabric widths (probably about 105 inches full) but that seems to be in keeping with primary sources. The hard part was fitting a bodice on yourself that closes in the back! The trick was to finish the back, then drape the front on a lining piece. Sew the side and shoulder seams together and then use the center front seam to do the fitting with. I was lucky, all my pleating lined up really well. I also was puzzled by the lack of darts on originals, so I put the front pieces on the bias and that works great! There’s piping on EVERY seam, so I was forever at that. But I think it came out well. A very flattering neckline, and I don’t think the sleeves need supports underneath (one yard in each sleeve!)

I then made a little chemisette and cap by hand while watching the Jane Austin marathon that was on during the Superbowl.

The next 30′s project is a whitework pelerine to go over the low neckline. It’s debut will be at the MAALHFAM conference at GCVM in March.

Sky Meadows

Sky Meadows

I’m a little late getting this up since it was so long ago, but here’s some pics from that lovely weekend.

Hood Workshop for MAALHFAM


I will be teaching a hood workshop in March at the MAALHFAM conference at GCVM, so I got to work on some of the sample patterns made for that class. Here’s the hood based on an original we’ll be copying:

And then, because this seems to be the other popular hood type at use during the mid-century, I had to make what some friend of mine call a “pumpkin” bonnet. Mine is orange of course. They were also sometimes called “uglies”.  Much more of a challenge than the above.

I think I’m finally ready for the conference!

Update: Pics from the hood workshop at the Conference!

About Me

After my marriage in 2007 to my fiancee, Christopher, I have been working from the home at sewing. My goal is to recreate as historically accurate as possible, garments from various past time periods. I specialize in the decades preceding and during the American Civil War, but I have been branching out into the 1700's, 1830s and Regency time periods as well. I create both men's and women's garments. All garments are custom and one of a kind.

As of this June, I now have a full time job, so please contact me early for your projects as my time to sew has been dramatically reduced. Please comment if you are interested in a commission.
Use to send an e-mail request and to find out more about commissioning an article.

I am also available for lectures, presentations, and for workshops. A workshop is a great way to learn how to make an item of clothing that may be too expensive to purchase. Usually, minimal sewing skills are needed and the cost is usually very affordable. All of my workshops contain thorough research, visual presentations, and use period techniques and appropriate materials. Please contact me if you would like to have a workshop with your group.

Catching up

Since taking a new job with an amazing employer, it appears I have been quite remiss in blogging. I've been blogging for them really!
Anyway, this past weekend, Genesee Country Village and Museum hosted their first Immersion event for Civil War. Around 20 civilians and 100 military attended. The goal was to live in the past for the entire weekend with as few modern amenities as possible. Three buildings in the village were available for our use, we enjoyed period food in period packaging to cook with, cooks were assigned to buildings, and inhabitants slept on real rope beds with straw-filled ticks! Of course, the village looked wonderful, and the sun was shining brightly both days, especially rare in November! There were activities planned for us to do like packing a care package to send to soldiers, having a fun Saturday evening gathering with dancing and music in the stenciled ballroom of Hosmer's Inn, and daily chores like making apple sauce, cutting down trees, and dripping lye. Each person had a role to play out and objectives to accomplish as well as money and letters to give and send.
Since there's no modern stuff allowed, I have this one picture of all of us outside Hosmer's. If it gets done again, this was a GREAT even to attend and I highly recommend it!
Civilians from the Pursuit of Floyd

Hello World!

After blogging for my employer using Blogger, it's hard for me to go back to my wordpress account, so I'm going to be switching things over here. Bear with me!