Friday, July 26, 2013

Kristen: Fort Wayne, 18th Century Inspiration

This might be a little secret (no wait, I posted it on Facebook!) but I have been researching 18th century clothing as of late. It doesn't help that I attended a Revolutionary War reenactment with my fiancee and the Giorlandos a few weeks back. Of course I have forgotten to post those photos...

My fiancee had never seen the fort (a gem in Detroit) and I had never been there as a spectator. It's odd; I felt that I was dressed wrong! The first thing I noticed about the reenactors is that they remind me quite a bit of the Civil War. The wooden tables and chairs, tents, and cooking fires all reminded me of "home."
All of the people were very friendly and willing to answer questions. Hmm, that sounds familiar! The doctor and his tools were especially interesting, as my fiancee recognized a few from his medical studies.

We continued exploring Fort Wayne, and even ate lunch on one of the porches of a house. It really is a shame that this place was so misused for such a time. All of the history in this fort, and it was abused by the people of Detroit. Thankfully, there are those willing to donate their time and money to the fort, fixing it up inch by inch. If you're interested in knowing more, you can look at their facebook page here and donate here.

Finally, I MUST talk about the clothing! Since I am not well-versed in 18th century clothing, it was difficult for me to completely know every bit of clothing, though I did note a lack of stays on several women. Was this common? My Civil War dress just doesn't fit right without proper undergarments, though it might be different for this era. Also, I saw many pockets!

So here is the big reveal...I've already made 18th century stays! It is not perfect by any means, but I am proud that I jumped right in. It is better to have sewn and lost...then to have never cut at all! My next post will show its construction, and hopefully me in it. Also, Port Sanilac is coming soon, in all of its reenacting glory...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kristen: How to make a Civil War Cooler Cover

I love pretty dresses. I love the rustling sound of a crisp taffeta, the soft lightness of a cotton voile. Every wool, linen, and batiste catches my attention. However, this project made me fall in love with canvas.

It all started when I needed something to cover my cooler. I generally don't bring many refrigerated items to reenactments, but occasionally I like cool butter or eggs. So I lugged around this cooler, and needed to cover it to make it more accurate.

 Hot N Ready Est. 1862

At first I just used a scrap of fabric. This didn't work at all, as the slightest breeze would pick it up and leave my farbiness for the world to see. Then I upgraded to this wonderful basket from my Stepmom's stash that was just the perfect size. While it did work, the design was flawed. It was too heavy and bulky for my vehicle. This went on for two seasons.

Note the offending basket on the left

Finally, I decided to make a cooler cover for this year's Charlton Park reenactment. I must say, it has been one of my most useful projects to date. Probably the easiest too. Let me explain...

1. Cut 5 panels for the sides and the top of the cooler. Cut them a few inches bigger than the cooler, because it will shrink. Leave the bottom open, since it is a pain to shimmy the cooler in to the fabric (thanks Sue!). Sew 4 pieces together.

2. Next sew the lid on the inside of the box you've created.

3. Finally, make little ties with leftover canvas...

4. ...And voila! canvas cooler cover!

I can't believe it took me this long to do such an easy project. It was also inexpensive; $5 for everything! And in under and hour!

Earlier this year I was searching for a cover through a website, and the best I could find was this one through Blockade runner. I suppose if you're short on time and don't mind spending the money, it would be an excellent idea.

These would also be a great gift idea! I think of all the people just starting in the hobby, looking for inexpensive ways to transport food. I might just make a few more! And look how small it folds up! Sure beats that bulky basket...

Tell me what you think! Do you have any other ideas for stashing farb at events? I feel so clever right now, but I'm sure there are more ways to hide farb....


Monday, July 22, 2013

Kristen: Charlton Park Reenactment

Whew! It has been a very very busy month! I've gotten engaged, made 18th century stays, finished a dress, and even found time for a weekend reenactment. My lack of writing is the result of the many activities I sign up for!
Including my limb cleaning duty

Charlton Park is perhaps my favorite event in reenacting, with Port Sanilac at a close second. Last year I visited the house during the day, and this year Mr. Giorlando planned a scenario. Let me add that this house includes "magical" cool air that rises from an ice house below. With temperatures in the mid-80s, it was greatly appreciated (I had heat exhaustion a few years back, and have never completely recovered).

I was in a mourning impression, a daughter whose beloved George died for the Confederacy in the Battle at Fredericksberg. I wore my black sheer, and even brought my veil and black gloves. As was custom, I could not leave the house or accept visitors. There I sat alone in my little room upstairs, hemming my mourning veil.

As a social person, it was at first difficult to be secluded from the family. Yet the more I sat in silence, the more I could take on the persona of the sad widow. I thought about how I would feel, alone in my room, away from the merriment of my family. These were very somber thoughts.

Suddenly I heard a pounding at the door. The quiet was broken, and as our domestic Agnes (played by the talented Carrie) tried to answer, a flood of soldiers entered! They had heard we were southern sympathizers, and turned the house upside down looking for food and weapons. I tried to take a peek, but my Father (Mr. Giorlando) ordered me back to my room for my own safety. 

Eventually they clomped up the stairs and tried to badger me for hidden weapons. I gave them my coldest glare and spat "How dare you disturb my mourning!" I was very caught up in the moment. After all, how would I feel if the very army that killed my husband had barged into my home? It was with great care that I did not yell and scream at them to get out!

Apparently my Father had worried that I might say something untoward, and even mentioned that his daughter had a sharp tongue. In reality, he wasn't sure how I'd react to the intrusion. Honestly, it was most odd to experience the "raid" without actually seeing much. I could hear outrage in voices, soldiers plodding about, and furniture moving. 

Eventually I joined everyone downstairs and we continued our 1st person impressions. Mrs. Schubert, our laundress, paid a visit after "dropping" the starch near a pile of dead bodes. My dear Aunt Caroline (Mrs. Paladino) reminded us of our manners, and other neighbors stopped by!

We all sat in the parlor sewing/knitting/crocheting when I had a startling thought. I was staying in my 1st person impression without thinking about it! Our conversations were about our projects and upcoming gatherings. I gushed about my engagement just as I'm sure a girl would have done. Also, I found a beautiful framed wreath that I thought was hair, that turned out to be yarn. How pretty!

 We settled down to 2 meals in the house, both incredibly fresh and delicious. I purchased brie, sausage, and sea salted bread for the event, and the others brought a variety of tasty foods. My healthy potato salad was also a hit!

I was exhausted by the end of the day, and even took a bath in my new tub! Later at the event I received a phone call from my dear fiancee, and I decided to return home a bit early to spend time with him and his family. I enjoyed another night with my fellow reenactors, including a trip to the saloon to hear singing and watch cards! I left early in the morning, before the heat of summer.
Thanks Ken for the photo

Now I am still exhausted, trying to unpack everything while staying awake. I have so many things to finish for the Port Sanilac reenactment in 2 weeks. Dear reader, if you have an opportunity to attend, please do. We have excellent plans, and I will be there looking pretty (and modest).


Friday, July 12, 2013

4th o' July Vacation in Traverse City, MI

Last week my boyfriend, his brother, Stephanie, and I went to his Aunts for the 4th of July weekend.
She lived on 35 acres and had a gorgeous house!  

She had the cutest decorations and she decorated everything!

Andys mom has the same "pot" of shoes. They really are wearable shoes!

Along with the Aunt's creativeness, her flowers were in full bloom

What a cute shack! She was happy to tell a lot about her garage sale treasures. 

I LOVED that she had chickens! My dream is to have chickens too.

This duck followed us everywhere around the house. He was so funny. He wagged his tail like a dog.

I brought my doggies on this LONG road trip. They didnt know what to think about the large birds!

We were lucky enough to caught the last day of Traverse's Cherry festival. We had so much fun!

Joe is quite quirky, and that weekend I really saw his personality. 

Stephanie was a great companion! I called her 30 mins before we left for the trip. I say it was the best decision! 

This was our view as we listened the "The Beatles" just before the fireworks.

I hope you had a great Independence Day!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Civil War Maternity Corsets and Wrappers

Ive been told that women in the middle Victorian-era would coop themselves up at home when they where VERY pregnant, but says otherwise. I have also seen CDVs (victorian photographs) of women, fully dressed, hoop and all, with a bump!

Whether women did or not, their belly's grew! I plan to make a nursing corset before I get too big, but I will not really know how BIG Ill get. Its a tough situation to be in because I have the need to cut into my post-birth dress wool!

I have Past Patterns #705 which has 1820 and 1860 soft stays as well as 1860-90's nursing corset. This pattern has the option of flaps for nursing such as this original:

I will most likely be making this for longer use.
Sarah made hers as soft stays
Maternity wrappers are a great alternative to fitted dresses.
Wrappers, in general, were loose fitting dresses, and were used such as a robe today. Some had draw strings placed in them to be fitted with a corset. They are great for going to the restroom at night, cooking/ eating breakfast in the morning, getting ready for the ball, or when youre sick with heat stroke or need a good cool down. 

Those who wore a wrapper had the choice to wear as much or as little underpinnings as they wanted! Some could fit over a hoop and some were open all the way down to "show off" the eyelet laced petticoat.

Here are some original maternity wrappers from Google, Pinterest and such:

I believe this is the back of a wrapper. Notice the seam line in the center.

I was given a lovely silk dress a few years back. I didnt know what to do with it. It was a good size, yet it was a little too short. I wouldnt give it away because it was silk! My first silk dress! I was happy to find a purpose for it.

I sewn the front opening together, made hand sewn eyes, and moved the hooks accordingly.

I then added a drawstring, like the originals above, to the waistline. I used scrap fabric, 1 1/2" wide X 12" long. Then I added 1/2" cotton tape to the end of the casing. The most difficult part was figuring out how to turn the casing inside out with the tape in the casing. -.-

I placed the end of the casing at the side seams, which makes the gathers look great. I have to adjust the gathers, but the function looks great!
I see a belly, but the babe is not that big. I just put on some weight! :)
Updated sewing list
  1. Fix Dinner dress belt
  2. Stephanie's travel bag
  3. Sophia's Travel bag
  4. Finish Susie's bonnet
  5. Margaret's wool dress
  6. My travel bag
  7. Michelle's corset
  8. Finish my bonnet
  9. Baby clothes

On My Bookshelf: December

December has been a really rough month. Between what happened in Oxford (not far from where I live...) and just the general pandemic issues,...