20 October 2014

What Cheer Day: October 25th 2014

The Rhode Island Historical Society's annual What Cheer Day, a living history event that shows life at the John Brown House in 1800, takes place this Saturday. As the visiting mantua maker, I've crafted the following letter to help get into character...

October 20th 1800

Miss Brown and Missus Mason,

It Tis with great pleasur that I writ you today from my shop in Cheapside. I've just returnd from a summer sojourn in Salem, where I was visitin my sista the milliner and her spritely child. You will be most interested to learn that I tourd Boston where I acquird prints showin the latest in fall and winter fashions from Paris and I have a new selectin of fine muslins.

As you are both connoisseurs of the fina points in lafe, I would like to call on you this commin Saturdy so you are the first in all of Rhoade Island to view the new French fashions of which I am certan you'll be wearin come this winter seasin. Of coorse, I'm eager to learn of all that has pass'd in Providence since our
last meetin.--I confess I am curious to know if your mothar ever hirad a new house maid? 'Twas quite the scandal caused by the previous new maid's behaviour when she was seen in town wearin Miss Brown's silk gown and new spencer. Alas I fault not Missus Brown for waitin to seek a replacement. OhAlas enough with Gossip!

Miss Brown, you will be pleased to learn that I have found readymade slippers that closely match the description you had requested in late spring. I believe I have your size. Saturd'y hence I shall bring them so you could try wearin them.

Missus Mason we have so very much to discuss I eagerly await meetin your newborn babe! There is a small tokin for you in my possess-ion on b'half of my sista for you to wear in your married state. And I have prepar'd a small gift for you and the child.

I remain as always
Your Humble Mantua Maker,

Nancy Smith 

05 October 2014

A "Sofia the First" 18th Century Gown

On vacation last month, my little one debuted a new gown. I'm particularly proud of this because:
  1. She found the fabric at the fabric store.
  2. I corrected some of the fitting issues from her leading strings gown
It's a striped cotton in purple, which she chose to reflect the young Disney princess Sofia the First. Since it's a fine stripe, I made it 1780s style so it ties closed in the back. Photos of its debut are below with a few explanations; construction notes are coming soon.

 Admiring her new "colonial" shoes on Duke of Gloucester Street.

 Following the "history band."

 Exploring the Governor's Palace garden.

 She had to have a sash. Thanks to the coral sash on her leading strings gown, and the sash on a flower girl dress she recently wore, we're really into sashes. This one is just a shinny purple ribbon that I had in my stash.

 Check out that nicely sewn sleeve!

 I love how I caught her singing in this photo! It reminds me of...
 ...the 18th century painting Young Girl Singing into a Mirror.

 She loved the garden's mazes.

 Pretending to model...
 ...and pretending to be a statue.

 Notice how the bodice ties closed. (Yes, she needs a shift.)

Standing at the spot where her dad popped the question over ten years ago. 

 Making a "history friend" with one of Williamburg's interpreters.

 Showing off her shoes.

This gown fits her perfectly so there's not much room for growing. I doubt we can use it next year, but having a few colonial dresses to wear in the historic area helped positively shape her experience in Colonial Williamsburg.

Wearing the "history dress" made her an engaged and enthusiastic visitor, much more so than visiting in modern clothes. Nurturing cultural interests and fostering positive museum experiences are well worth the effort for some extra fabric shopping and sewing.

19 September 2014

Etsy Sale

I'm on holiday...yeah! To celebrate, I'm having a little sale in my Etsy shop.

Receive 20% off purchases made through September 29th. But there's one catch - your order will ship by October 1st.

Use promo code: HOLIDAY


14 September 2014

Court Ensemble Project: Little Leading Strings

Last year I committed to make Lady Willoughby's 1766 green silk sacque, and it's extensive trim, for the Court Ensembles Project along with Lady Willoughby's daughter's gown. While the bodice drafting hasn't budged from my "Sew What" pile, I completed the little frock earlier this summer which my daughter debuted at Old Sturbridge Village's Rebels & Redcoats last month. It's SO cute...