17 April 2014

Colonial Kid

I'm stoked about the new Larkin & Smith 18th century child's gown pattern! (Hallie you knew I needed this, didn't you?!)

My wee one has been asking me to make her a gown for several months. Given that she grows like a dandelion, and I don't have many events to bring her to, I haven't committed the time to assembling an ensemble for her...until now.

It's partly due to this new pattern to make the process easier. And partly because Miss A has asked repeatedly and I want to encourage her interest in living history. And partly because the amazing clothes we inherited are either too big, or too small.

I will let her select the fabric and guide her through some of the18th century images I've collected via Pinterest as inspiration and documentation, though these are a few I love...

Young Girl Singing into a Mirror, Jean-Etienne Liotard

Ann Barbara Russell with her son Sir Henry Russell, by George Romney 1780s
 If we go with a white gown, I'll need Mrs. Russell's green gown...and poofy hair.

Girl with Doll, Daughter of the Painter and Godchild of Maria Theresa by Jean-Etienne Liotard, c.1765

Elizabeth Mortlock and her son by John Downman, 1779

Playing dress-up on vacation, August 2013

...I wonder what she'll pick!

28 March 2014

George Washington's Birth Night Ball

At last--photos from February's George Washington Birth Night Ball! A new event to the line-up of fancy dress events in the Boston area, it took place at the historic Stetson Hall. Hosted by the Second Massachusetts Regiment and the Tenth Massachusetts Regiment, the crowd was, naturally, well-outfitted in shiny 18th century attire.

Unfortunately my photos are rather blurry, but they give a sense of the event...

 A peek at Mrs. B's amazing sacque!

In the tradition of 18th century balls, a group from the Second Mass performed a flawless minuet.

Professional photos below are courtesy the event photographer, Mr. Nowacki.

The obligatory post-event selfie.

It was a night to debut the American Duchess Fleur shoe buckles that have been sitting around for ages. I had thought they were little too sparkly, but for a ball they're just right.

Overall it was a really fun evening that was well organized with *plenty* of food. My sole complaint was the length. I spent more time driving to/from the ball than I did at the ball. I hope they host it again next year and that it runs a bit later so there's more time to chat, chomp and dance. For a little more about this ball, check out Kitty Calash's pre event post from February 22nd and her February 24th post.

22 March 2014

Wrap it Up

When Kitty and I were preparing for the Quaker letters program, I stumbled upon research from ages ago about early American Quaker clothing which said something like,

Where would the Quaker woman be without her shawl?

After collecting some pins via Pinterest, I realized how true that statement is. For example...

Fourth of July in Centre Square
1812 Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art, Accession Number 1845.3.1
A Quaker family is in the foreground just left of center.

Sunday Morning in Front of the Arch Street Meeting House, Philadelphia
c.1811-1813, The Met 42.95.17

 c.1820 Portrait of an Unidentified Quaker Woman
Nantucket Historical Association Accession Number 1995.0005.001

Premium, Par & Discount
1822, British Museum Accession Number 1978,U.857

"Brown silk dress with scarf" 1840-1850
Nantucket Historical Association Accession Number 1993.0263.001

Lucretia Mott, 1793-1880
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Accession Number 396

  ...which meant I needed a real Regency-worthy shawl for the event. I used two yards of a fine gray wool which I sewed into two panels measuring 24 inches wide and 120 inches long.

It's almost as long as the space in my house that's supposed to be a formal dining room.

Mine is similar in appearance to this example from The Met...

Silk / Cotton Shawl 1815-1820

...though it's slightly shorter and skinnier, and a different fabric type. While my wrap is rather boring looking compared to the example above, it does nicely wrap up the ensemble.

12 March 2014

Newport Quakers

We're so color coordinated.
Image courtesy Newport Historical Society
If you follow Kitty Calash, you know that we've been busy researching Quakers for an event that took place last week.

We read early 19th century letters from the Williams family of Newport, RI, who were a Quaker family, in a c.1730 meeting house that is now used as an exhibit space.

In the three weeks prior to the event I threw together...
  • c1803 silk gown and a new pattern that I drafted.
  • A new lappet cap--based after the antique cap I acquired last fall.
  • A wool shawl, a necessary Quaker woman's accessory. 
  • And a failed "transitional" bonnet.

For a slow sewer, this was an accomplishment. I'll share more on the clothing research and construction in the coming weeks. In the mean time, here are a few photos from the program...

Image courtesy an NHS staff member.

Image courtesy Newport Historical Society
Image courtesy Newport Historical Society


03 March 2014

Bodiced Underpetticoat

Do you ever slowly start a project and work meticulously as there's no deadline in sight, and then the project derails...only to pick it up days before it's needed and rush to finish? That's the story of this bodiced underpetticoat.

I started the bodice last fall using a fine linen and paid close attention to...

Early 19th Century Petticoat

 ...details from the extant bodiced petticoat  I based it after. But the project fell off my radar with the holidays and, when I finished the Regency ballgown a few days before the ball, I scrambled to finish this.

The bodice is handsewn; it includes a drawstring that runs across the top and ties on the side.

I used two types of linen; the skirt fabric is some heavy blended something-or-other that's probably part synthetic, which is where I started to focus less on details and more on completing it.

The skirt panels are machine sewn. The scalloped cotton trim creates a nice effect but isn't 
as girly and scallopy as the extant trim.

 To assemble it, I rushed and draped it on my slightly too large dress form.

To make the shoulder straps, I used the bits from the angles I trimmed from the skirt panels which worked nicely since the original has angled straps.

 Draping on the dress form made made the pinning and pleating process move faster as I usually pleat it on the floor, try it on, and repeat this process until it's right.

A little help from my well dressed yardstick-sized assistant. 

I used vintage buttons for the back.

 At first glance it looks ok, right?

 But looking closer, you can see it's wonky thanks to...

 ...my sad attempt at buttonholes! I thought they would be like sewing eyelets, but apparently not. One lesson learned: don't cut the fabric..which I knew, but I was rushing.

 They're ugly, but in retrospect they're funny.

 A few photos after the ball. The petticoat helps create the right look and it's better than 
not having an underpetticoat.

...and from a distance it's not that bad.