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...


06 September 2014

HSF #14 Paisley & Plaid: An 18th Century Gown

This is a rather late Historical Sew Fortnightly, for Challenge #14 Paisley & Plaid which ran in early August, but I *just* finished it. Yeah!

It's a 1760s, open front en forreau gown with a little flounce trim.

When I found this silk taffeta earlier this year, I had thought I'd use it for a 1790s gown someday in the far off future but Kitty pointed me in the direction of some great '60s documentation...

Swatch book with 99 textile samples, c.1763
Victoria & Albert Museum Museum Number T.373.-1972

...like this 1763-1764 swatch book from the V&A. In looking closely at my fabric...

It's a plaid (which could probably be classificed as a check, but I'm calling it a plaid) with little flowers...

...that are embroidered. It reminds me of some of the plaid-check florals on the following two pages.

While these examples are probably a brocade, it's pretty close. Especially since the color scheme on this page...

...is a pink and sage like my fabric. In terms of gown construction, there's nothing groundbreak. Here are some process photos and images of the completed gown.

Much like cutting stripes, the plaid-check lines were a helpful guide during the construction process. And lucky for me, the pattern isn't bold so I never felt cross-eyed.

When cutting the bodice pieces, I tried to line up the location of the flowers so they would be fairly symmetric.

The center back panel.

 A detail of the completed center back panel.
Pleating the back was a pain in the butt! The lines of the fabric make it impossible to evenly line up the pleats. As you can see above, one side looks fine but the other appears as if it's crooked.

The pinned skirt panels, with an attempt to not hide the embroidered flowers in the pleats.

 Just about ready to attach the skirt and bodice.

A detail of the completed en forreau.

Using the fabric's lines, pleating the skirt was easy. For the robings...

 ...they have a little pleat on the side that's prick stitched in place. I modeled this after this c.1766 portrait.
Mrs. Martha Vinson, c.1766
Gibbes Museum of Art, Accession Number 1934.009.0002

I tacked the robings to the bodice so it's, hopefully, a little less pinning when getting dressed.

 For the flounces, I used scalloped pinking shears to finish the ruffly side...

 ...which are, unfortunately, fraying pretty badly. To finish the top of the flounces, I simply hemmed it...

 ...added a gather...
...and crudely whip stitched it to the sleeve. Knowing that the one end is fraying, I'll probably remake this at a later point. Overall this project turned out well. I'm hoping to debut it in a few weeks, so photos to follow. And if it weren't for the HSF this pretty silk would still be stashed away, waiting to be used.

30 August 2014

Stamp Acting

In looking at my posts over the last year, one might think I've gone all "Sew Early 19th Century" and abandoned my 18th century roots--which isn't true. My sewing research has explored the addicting era of early 19th century gowns, but my professional work continues to highlight all things colonial. Last week my two history worlds collided (my work life and "reenacting" life) during the Newport Stamp Act Protest, a living history event that, I would argue, was rather unique.

Nearly ten years ago my husband and I bought a reproduction "No Stamp Act" teapot on a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. I confess this was due to product placement. During a tour of the Wythe House, we saw the extant teapot exhibited and convinced ourselves we needed one for our mantle.

After moving to Newport, learning about the city's role in this 1765 event and officially turning into a costume history nerd, I wanted to do something to recognize Newport's role in the Stamp Act Riot...and use my teapot in a period appropriate manner.

Next August will mark the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act, and the relating historic incidents, making this year a good time to "warm-up" with a little protest. (I'm not a violent person, really.) Being the event organizer, I didn't get to take any photos (or even wear a period attire), but I have a few to share that my sister had taken...and I've borrowed a few from "RonaldCRI" on flickr.

Two highlights of the event, which I believe are firsts for a New England living history program, we made an effigy and "ransacked" a house museum.

 Mr. Robinson (L) and Mr. Howard (R) at the Parade.

My daughter dances down the square.
Ms. R. and Mrs. B chat.
A proclamation read by Mr. Vernon (center) and Mr. Ellery (R), 
while loyalists Mr. Robinson and Mr. Howard overhear the news.

Mr. Ellery (L) and Newport sailors admire the effigy of Mr. Howard. 
(I need to work on my effigy making skills.)

Kitty reviews the latest broadside with Mr. Vernon.

Miss C. and Mrs. B. at the ladies tea.

A panoramic view showing the heart of Colonial Newport, what is now called Washington Square. You can see the 1739 Colony House on the far left, the location of the ladies tea was at the building just to the left of center; at the far right Mr. Ellery chats with a visitor.

The afternoon events concluded in front of the Colony House.

For more on the Stamp Act Protest, click here to visit Kitty Calash's review. There are more event photos on RonaldCRI's flickr stream; for the official event photos click here and also visit RevolutionaryNewport.com.

And if you're feeling super history nerdy, I've complied a relatively comprehensive Pinterest board with Stamp Act research.