02 August 2014

Setting-up Shop at Salem's West India Goods Store

I feel like I've been trying to prepare for the Salem Maritime Festival for months. While I didn't get to create as many accessories as I had wanted to--July is a busy time for my work--I made a few new things and spent the day with good company in a great location.

Here are photos from our shop in Salem...

Milliner Kitty Calash assists our best patron Mrs. B. as they review the latest trims, several of which are lately arrived from the West Indies.

Our shop at the West India Goods Store offers a fine assortment of jewelry...
 ...and reticules--all in the latest Parisian fashions.
 We oft carry ready made goods for the very young.
Ms. Burnston, a frequent customer, visits our shop.
 "I paid for my bonnet in cash over a fortnight ago, though I have not received it. When will it be ready?" 
Ms. M, our bandbox maker, prepares the box for Ms. Burnton's absent bonnet. As you can see, Ms. M is astonished to learn that it is not available.
 Kitty's very fine silk bonnets, though none suit Ms. Burnston. (Which you may soon find on Etsy.)
As you can see, we offer a diverse selection of bonnet fashions--all at the best prices in Salem.
Late in the day, Mrs. B returns to share the gossip that she overheard during teatime. The cordwainer's new apprentice has runaway and it is believed he has stolen from several stores in town!

 Ms. M confronts Kitty about Ms. Burnston's missing bonnet.
Kitty explains that she had made it, and that I had trimmed it, yet the whereabouts of Ms. Burnston's bonnet remain a mystery to us all. Perhaps that new apprentice ran off with it?
With such enticing displays...
...we can understand how one would be tempted by our goods.
As my husband is at sea, my daughter, Miss A, spends many hours at my side while I work. (Image courtesy Kitty Calash.)

You can oft find her in the corner playing with wood toys... (Image courtesy Kitty Calash.)

 ...or sweeping.
 She insists that we have the cleanest shop in town.
We owe much our of our shop's success to Mrs. B's husband, a Navy officer of great fortune. He is always prompt to pay when Mrs. B purchases on credit.
Our shop's location offers an excellent view of the harbor and on occasion a fiddler and dancers perform in the courtyard. The talented Miss Quinn can be seen at the center.
As you can see, we are indeed the finest shop in Salem...
...and rival the selection you might find in Boston or even Philadelphia. So it would not be a surprise if a runaway apprentice would be tempted to take goods of quality.

My daughter and I wear new gowns---hers is a sweet frock and mine a less trimmed copy of Miss Lewis's morning dress.
I had to end the day with a Federal selfie.

13 July 2014

A completely documentable early 19th century hat for about $5, or a Cheap head dress one can wear with confidence

Mrs. C - that long title is for you. : ) 

The August 2nd Salem Maritime Festival is approaching a little too quickly and, thanks to competing commitments, I haven't trimmed as many bonnets as I'd like for the millinery shop that Kitty and I are creating. However I put together this little hat, which took less than two hours and cost about $5. Yes that's right, $5.

It's not the cutest thing in the world. But it's completely documentable for the early 19th century as you can see in the detail from this Ackerman print...

The description for this head dress reads: The hamlet hat of straw or chip, tied under the chin with white ribbon, and ornamented with two curled ostrich feathers, waving towards one side. This headdress belongs to the morning or walking costume.

My hat kind of looks like this one too!

This print comes from Fashion in the Era of Jane Austen by Jody Gayle. It's full of Ackerman prints dating from 1809-1820 and includes helpful descriptions. (Many thanks to Miss R. for this great gift!!)

I used a white plume, measuring 28 inches from end to tip, which was about $2 from a fabric store last fall...
 I ended up not using the little bow that's seen here.

...some vintage cotton/rayon grosgrain ribbon that hardly cost anything...

...and the 14 inch Ashland Straw Hat from Micheal's craft store. With a coupon, it was less than $3.

There isn't much noteworthy about its construction. I used the ribbon to hide the metal grommets.

 I tacked the feather in two places: at the tip...
...and the base.

 I tried to make sure the end of the feather dangles off the back...
...but because I only had one feather mine dangles less than the June 1811 example.

Looking at it from the front it's rather, well, fluffy. But you can see why it would be nice to wear on a breezy morning walk. Plus this meets the requirements for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #13: Something Under $10, making it the first time I can participate. Yea!

05 July 2014

c.1808 Girl's Frock

My sweet pea is quite fond of the little "history dress" she modeled in my last post--as am I since I'm finally making progress with her a little wardrobe. Given the busy summer ahead, I didn't want to fuss with pattern drafting and fitting since she grows like a dandelion, so I used the Kannik's Corner Girl's Frock pattern.

The construction is super simple. It's based on directions from the 1808 The Lady's Economical Assistant or The art of cutting out and making the most useful articles of wearing apparel without waste explained by the clearest directions, and numerous engravings, of appropriate and tasteful patterns. I used the pattern as a guide for cutting, but I didn't closely follow the directions during the construction process because I find directions hard to follow. Here's how this gown came together...

I choose a printed cotton from my stash that I think has a nice early 19th century look... 
...and reminds me of a swatch from Old Sturbridge Village.

I followed the pattern for cutting... 

... but I found that the gown's shape seemed too big and boxy 
so I chopped off several inches from the back.

Since the gown is essentially a rectangle, the sideseam under the arm has a little box pleat which adds shape.
As you can kind of see above, the pleat is stitched in place with prick stitches, 
much like the pleating on an 18th century English gown.
There were two options for the little sleeves: making them with a drawstring, as the original directions call for, or making a puffy sleeve.

 Because I didn't want to fuss with retying a little drawstrings that I think would become easily untied, I opted for poofy sleeves which I modeled after the sleeves on my 1812 ballgown.

 Like many 19th century gowns, the drawstring is unavoidable. There's a drawstring around the waist...
...which I made with self fabric.
And two drawstrings around the neckline. They're anchored at the top of shoulder: one ties in the center front and the other ties in back. Though this created an extra step I thought it would make adjusting the gown on a wiggly body a little easier.
 A view of the inside bodice, which is unlined.

The waist is set pretty high, but this seems in keeping with portraits from that era like like example below.

A c.1810 English portrait miniature of a young child, probably by James Leakey (1775-1865). Earle Vandekar of Knightsbridge

 The gown has two growth pleats along the skirt's hem...

 ...but the gown seems too short for this era. I need to let them out and add another panel to maintain the look. 

 Overall it's a good start to building a little wardrobe. To see a similar frock with stunning stitching, check out One Stitch Wonder from the blog Two Threads Back.