Saturday, November 30, 2013

Victorian Secrets Chapter 1-5 Review

With in the first five chapters, Sarah jumps right in. She begins her story when her husband buys her an under bust corset from Timeless Trends. Reluctant of the negative vibes and comments she has heard, she pleases her husband to try it on. She wanted it off right after he laced her, but realized she liked the figure in the mirror. As her husband went left for errands, she had alone time to rethink about the corset. She noticed she ate less, her posture was better, and her migraines went away. When her friends come over to a gathering that night, she was showered with compliments.

As she continued to wear her corset at home, she began to learn the multitude of facts and history behind the corset. The myth of women breaking their bones was brought to my attention. I have ignored the fact that women did not brake their bones in corsets, but Sarah explains that the baleen of a whale thrives in water. From dehydration, the bones of the whale break, splinter, slice and shatter.

Now that we can no longer use any whale parts: oil for lamps and bones for corsets, corsets must now be made with steel metal "bones". Ive had plenty of moments that, instead of breaking, my bones would "pop out" from their casing. I feel that although the material we use today maybe different, women of the past and those in the present, still have the same "problems". Another view of "bones breaking" is the similarity of reeds breaking. Reeds or Cane, which ever you can to get a hold of, have to be warped or shaped straight in order to slide them between the channels when making a 18th Cent. Stay.

18th Cent rep. Stays

Sarah later makes a comment on how little connection the society of the 21st has in a day. Sarah and Gabriel have to help dress each other while wearing historical clothing. While getting dressed, she makes a comprehension that some person of the day would always have another hand at helping one get dressed. Today this physical connection or verbal connection from person to another is almost non existent. I know others who limit their public display of living and argue that there is no more connecting with people. I was once able to limit my txt messages and online time when I had a razor that had little to none. Now Im unable to wake up without checking my smart phone before crawling out of bed.

Chrisman became more comfortable in her corset that she began to try sleeping in it. She had a rough first night, but later her body became more agreeable with time. I know from experience that a corset is uber comfy and sleeping is just as comfy.

Chrisman brings up her mother often. She says that she gets her impressions of a corset from her mother and her habit of eating also was influenced by her mother. With the same expression of her mother brought up twice, I couldnt help thinking that she was some what dissing her own mom, but none the less I gave her mom the benefit of the doubt and continued reading.

Wearing a corset at any rate, does not live long. Like with any piece of clothing, wear and tear and they come to an end. Sarah's corset was now overlapping from the use, strain, and her waist getting smaller. Once again her husband went to Timeless Trends to buy her a second corset. Timeless Trends is by no means, what so ever, any way, historical, but they are well made, form what I can see. Whatever floats Sarah and Gabriel's boat, I couldn't say anything, for one, I dont know them, but my thought was in dread as I read that they went back to a site (not fit to my standards). But I kept reading.

Once again it was time to buy another corset, but this time Sarah explored other outlets. They found the price of a corset was out of their budget. If I was to meet anyone interested in buying a corset, I would speak up and express that one would save money with a better quality, more accurate corset that fits YOU rather than continually buying a pre-made off-the-rack corset. Not only would they be saving money, but the custom corset would feel amazing!

Sarah mentions that she never had a license, she always drove her bike to school. She saves money from not owning a car which would be insured and need more savings for repairs, she doesnt own a phone, and a television would be another payment that would spend their savings. A young couple with no children would easily be able to limit their savings, but I began to think on how or what I could live without. I have mentioned the phone situation previously, but I would be willing to go back to a prepaid phone for emergency and other verbal connections. Im not sure how close the city they live in was, but my boyfriend does not live or work in a 30 min bike ride radius from my house. A phone and a car are something that I can limit, but I could not take away from my daily life. What would you be able to use without to be more in-tuned with history?

Sarah and Gabriel Showing off their ride (Facebook photo)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Are You Bold Enough to Be You?

Lookie what I bought!

Im so excited that the book came earlier than expected!

The author, Sarah Chrisman,and her husband collects and demonstrates Victorian clothing, but they do not only present their collection, they wear Late Victorian clothing 24/7, 365 days a year! They emphasize that they are not actors and such, but true ordinary people who like to wear the clothing of their choice.

Sarah has a degree in French and International Studies from the University of Washington. She has traveled to Komatsu to teach English and she has a massage therapist license. Gabriel has a bachelor degree in history and a masters degree in Library science, both from Unviersity of Washington. But however normal and well educated they may seem, they limit their technology of the 21st century and do not have cell phones, television, and Sarah doesnt even own a drivers licence!

Sarah A. Chrisman's Blog and her book (I assume, since I have not read it yet) recaps her four year adventure of wearing her corset and Victorian clothing. In interviews she has expressed that she feels "more sensual and striking in the corset than she has in contemporary clothing." Later in the interview she reveals the physical effects of wearing a corset: "she eats as she pleases and yet, never leaves the table hungry".

Before her 4 year journey
Updated photo shoot
Its clear to see Sarah's transformation between the two images. There are clear physical aspects that have changed, and it may not be my place to say, but I think she even looks happier and healthier. With credit of Estar Hyo-gyung Lee.

If you would like to learn more about Sarah or would like to read along with me, you can Buy the book here!

Sarah and Gabriel are not the only ones who wear historical clothing year round. 

Lauren, from San Diego, wears vintage clothing. She has sewn since she was eight and began studying fashion history when she was fourteen. She graduated with a degree of Fashion Design from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She is often wearing Vintage clothing from the 40's wherever she goes. You can read her blog at Wearing History- Lauren's Blog.

Another Lauren, was interested in historical costuming, not so much of historical clothing, but with years of experience she has grown into a great historical clothing seamstress and has also produced nearly twelve different historical shoes dating from 18th century to the turn of the 19th century. You can reach her shoe and accessory store under "shoe shop" tab through her American Duchess- Lauren's Blog.

Mia, from Georgia, may not be submitting anymore posts on her blog, but you can surely be inspired to wear and live in another time with her blog! Mia's Blog sheds light on her African-American family living on a small "cottage" with her siblings. At the time she kept her blog, she helped raise a small self-sufficient garden, taught her younger siblings, and constantly made homemade goodies!

These four women may not be the only ones wearing their historical clothing at events, but nearly everyday. I would love to find more people braving the 21st Century expectations and to courageously wear what they wish. This is a personal dream that I have had since I was little. It originally began as becoming an actress to just wear the clothing a few hours a day to wearing them during the weekend for historical events. Maybe one day I will be bold enough to wear my corset and clothing daily!

Join me and read Sarah's book! I hope you get enthused to wear your historical clothing outside of an event  just because you wanted to!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Baby Shower from Becky's POV

It was so wonderful for Kristen to host a baby shower for me! She kept many secrets while planning this shower, but little did she know I had a big secret for her!

I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the little school house. I was greatly surprised at the decoration and set up. It was a very cute and personal. 

She personally printed and made cards of quotes and images of baby clothes for decorating the table. Also, see the lemon drops there? I was a big fan of those!

I was very happy to see who was able to come, but before I greeted anyone else, I had to greet the most important guest there: Bernie!

I was "running late" and everyone was hungry so after greetings we ate! Boy! It was delicious! Kristen made some great soup and the drink was great too! I think it was Sprite, Amazon tea and lemon slices.

Games were planned after food and one of the guests taught us an old wives tale. We used an needle on a thread over my stomach to see which way the needle swung. If the needle imitated a pendulum swing, the baby was to be a boy, but if the needle made circles, the baby was a girl. And the needle went in circles! Am I going to have a baby girl?

Pass the envelope was Kristen's planned game! We had to settle down from seeing how many chillin's the other young girls will have. Kristen read a long paragraph about how important it was to see a doctor when a child was sick. I think the subject could have been a little brighter, but we had fun being confused on the direction of passing the envelope. We have played this game at other parties such as Christmas party and other small gatherings.

Presents were next! I would have to say this was my favorite part of the shower, besides the food ;). I thanked everyone for coming because I was truly happy they were able to make it, and then I had a question for Kristen!

I asked her to be the baby's God-Mother and she said YES!

My face was pretty much like this when I opened all the presents. I am so happy to have friends with crafting skills. Most of the gifts were hand made and it made the presents even more special!

I also have to thank my dearest boyfriend. He really is a trooper! He is not yet use to the reenacting lifestyle, but I hope sooner than later he will become more comfortable with it. I gave him a good prep talk before we entered the door and made sure he was comfortable throughout the shower.  

I think he recovered pretty well :)

It was a really fun shower and Kristen did an amazing job. I didnt have to do anything but arrive. She even provided my thank you cards. Im so grateful for her and those who came!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kristen: Cloth "hiding" bags

If you recall, dear reader, that adorable little blue/red and white fabric that I used for gift bags. Let me just post another lovely picture:

These little things are incredibly easy to create. Yet I've been a beginner seamstress before, and I understand the need for more concrete direction, and possibly pictures. They are so useful, so essential to the reenactor's toolkit, that I must post a quick tutorial!

Cloth "hiding" bags
1. Cut 2 squares of fabric. The size doesn't really matter, just as long as they are identical. I trimmed my edges with pinking shears to cut down on fray. Pin the sides together, with the pattern you want on the outsides on the inside.
 2. Sew around three of the edges, leaving a fourth open. This is the mouth of your bag.
 3. From the inside, roll in fabric to create a "tunnel." Roll the raw edge under into this tunnel, and pin down. It does not have to be too big, but just enough room to thread a ribbon through it.
 4. Sew down the edge that you rolled under.
 5. Poke a little hole on the inside-large enough for a safety pin!
 6. Thread your ribbon with a safety pin.
 7. Pull the safety pin through the tunnel you created. If you have trouble with this part, you might have to pull the pin through from the opposite direction. Tie off...
 8. And voila! A little cloth bag.

I made 20 of these for the baby shower...I had a system created where it would only take about 3 minutes each on the sewing machine! These would make an amazing gift for a reenactor, as we always seem to need them...

Here's a quick list of things you can put in them: car keys, cell phone, drinks of any kind, sewing supplies, money, napkins, snacks, writing supplies, cameras, children...pretty much anything! I try to bring at least a few to each event, even when I day trip (bags, not children).

So if you are looking for a quick car trip project, or a gift for anyone, here you go. I will be putting this little red one up in my etsy shop soon too, in case you are too busy to make one yourself (no judgement here...I probably should have done the dishes today...)

Until next time!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kristen: ENG 7021 11/20

Humanities Project Rationale:

1. Who is working on this project?
Just me!

2. Briefly summarize the project. Include the length and scope of project as well as a description of the content.

I will be creating a website through weebly that can be used as a source for both 18th century reenactors and literature enthusiasts alike. This project will include a brief background of the time period, with biographies on the authors. I will take physical articles of clothing mentioned in the texts, analyze them in terms of the social context, and give representations of them from the 18th century. This "tracking" of fashion in the different texts will give readers a guide from which to visualize and interpret the articles of clothing in other works.

This is an ambitious plan, yet I am confident of its future completion. Here is my list so far of works to study, and their "fashionable" artifacts of women's clothing. I am not choosing only for frequency, but for importance to themes of the text.

Evalina: Apron
Tom Jones: Muff
The Beggar's Opera: Dress
Lady Mary Wortly Montagu: Corset
Addison and Steele: Hooped Petticoat

I may also include other clothing references in each text as a source. This list might also grow, depending on my other obligations. I would like to include men's clothing eventually too.

3. Why is this project necessary? Describe your target audience and explain how this project will help, educate, or entertain them. What gaps does it fill? How do you know that it does not repeat information already on the web?

I have found numerous sources describing 18th century clothing and literature separately; I propose putting them together for use by reenactors and researchers alike. Fashion is a medium between the two groups, promoting a positive relationship that is guided by research can only benefit both. Having a clear knowledge of these articles of clothing will help literature studies represent and understand their function within the text. The study of these sources does occur separately, but in one place could be quite useful. It will also be entertaining; those reenactors that I do know personally have noted that they would love to read such a source!

4. Why is this project important? Explain its significance to understanding the 18th century novel.

As a novice seamstress and historical costumer, I am always intrigued by authentic references to clothing. They tell so much about a society: gender, station, and etiquette can all be conveyed with a simple piece of lace. I can easily visualize these pieces, and yet can understand how others can have trouble understanding what they mean in context of the time period. The novel, a newer form of writing, tracks the human experience of clothing of that time. There have been many occasions that my historical costuming background has led to further analysis of the text.

5. What makes this an ideal digital project? That is, why is it uniquely suited to an Internet environment? How does it differ from a traditional paper or work of print?

Describing clothing without an image is dreadful. Having studied 19th century sewing guides, I find myself puzzled attempting to understand the descriptions without a picture. It could only be more difficult for someone with no background with historical clothing! The Internet is a useful tool for such a project; it is how I have completed much of my research, as well as other students and researchers. It will also reach out to reenactor groups, and could help them complete their own research. This is not a traditional term paper; yet I believe the breadth and depth of the site will help many.

6. How will it relate to other works on the novel, print or digital? Will it build on them, link to them, or have a completely separate existence?

It really depends on the piece that will be studied. The works of Lady Montagu have had the fashion studied exclusively. Since there are few references in Evalina, I could not find much fashion research there.This site will link all of these sources, and yet exist distinctly from other fashion/literature sites. I imagine that a student having trouble understanding the importance of dress in The Beggar's Opera might find use of clothing description in Tom Jones.

7. How will it engage your desired audience? Will there be any interactive features? Will it create or draw on a previously existing online community? How will you let your potential readers know it exists?

Visual imagery will be the most interactive-I am working out how to do this right now. This source will be a contribution to many online communities that reenact the 18th century with clothing. I am currently a part of several on Facebook, and will ask members what will be most helpful to their own research. I will use the internet as the source for communicating this project.

8. What research will you need to do in order to accomplish your goals?

I will need to reexamine my notes as well as the texts. My research will extend into historical fashion sources, as well as performance theory and articles (with footnotes!) read in class. The OED will be particularly helpful in discovering clothing word meaning. It is my goal to continue adding to this site even after I finish this class.

9. What tools and technology do you need to learn or access to achieve your goals?

Weebly is incredibly easy to use, though I will need to understand more about what can be place on the site. I will also use a word compilation on the site once it is complete, and possibly a map of where in England the clothing is tracked. There are easy applications on the internet for each of these representations.

10. How do you plan to divide the work?

Since I am a person of schedules, here is my plan for the next few weeks. I have already created the website and started to compile research.

11/15-11/21 Research Compiling. Find quotes, sources, visual images
11/22-11/26 Typing, website creation, all pages completed
11/27-11/30 Editing process, show peers/editors
12/1-12/11 Refining edits, fine tuning, any additions

If you have read through all of this and would like to see what I have complete so far, check it out at

Thank you for looking, and I look forward to your responses!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Regency Exhibition Ball 2014- Becky

Its that time again! Although we are looking towards the short-term future of snow and ice... and maybe hot coco with peppermint sticks, spring is right around the corner! This is the time to put on soundtracks of Pride and Prejudice (2005), Jane Eyre (2011), and Marie Antoinette (2006) and sew like a mad man!

First event of the "season" is really not part of a group event. None the less, the Regency Exhibition Ball has been growing and growing! I feel the need to let you all know it's coming up! You better get started on that short stay that has been half finished for a while now!!

 The 2014 Regency Exhibition Ball.

The ball committee extends an invitation to you and your party to join them for 
the 8th annual Regency Exhibition Ball. It is to be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014,
 at the Central United Methodist Church in downtown Lansing, Michigan. 
The doors open to our guests at 6:30 with the dancing to commence at 7 pm until 10 pm.

Dance instruction will be provided by Mr. Glen Morningstar. 
Music will be by The Old Michigan Ruff Water String Band. 
Refreshments will be catered "Sweet Confections". 

Tickets will go on sale beginning December 1, 2013 until February 28, 2014 at $25. 
Student (ages 10-18) tickets are $20 each.
For ticket sales go to
The price for all tickets will go up March 1 - March 15 to $35 each. 
No tickets sales at the door

Period attire for 1790-1828 is highly appropriate. 
We look forward to seeing you at the Ball.

 Most Kind regards, The Regency Exhibition Ball Committee, 
Mr. and Mrs. James Lynch, Miss Deborah Bates, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lynch.

Buy the tickets and all your Regency needs HERE!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kristen: Prizes for Baby shower

So in case you were wondering, here are the prizes that went into those little prize bags. I tried to be as accurate as possible, and used whatever I had sitting around my craft room.
Small cloth needle books with wool pages
Thread waxers in shape of acorns
I also added a little thread holder
Homemade lip balm with shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil in tin cases
All different pairs of earrings made with period accurate stones and 14k gold
Cloth bags that I made

You are probably beginning to see the scope of my madness. I make Civil War jewelry, and even have an etsy shop where I sell it! My lip balm/lotion is a recipe I often make for family and friends. As you well know, sewing is quite a hobby as well...

I truly enjoy making prizes for other people. In the past year, I've already made two dresses for friends, and countless little things for some of the newer members of the 21st Michigan. There's something amazing about giving! So dear reader, I will be giving you tutorials for most of the things I made for the shower! Be ready for more posts in the next few weeks!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kristen: A Civil War Baby Shower

Finally! Becky's baby shower! I started planning all the way back in August, coming up with little ideas to make it perfect. I know that baby showers weren't a "thing" during the Civil War. And yet dressing in our wrappers for an afternoon of food and discussion is our "thing." How could I not throw this party? It was utterly perfect! And a group of finely dressed ladies attended the event, as evidenced by this fine likeness taken...

I've had months to prepare, and I've thought on this topic for awhile. I made 5 of the lovely little sewing baskets, as well quotes/pictures from Godey's and ribbon flowers. The baskets didn't take very long to make, though they were much adored by everyone! The decor matched the environment; I had rented an 19th century school house for the shower, just for more accuracy!

The food was delicious! I made sweet potato and turkey sausage stew, along with my own bread and baked butternut squash. Apple pie, pickled beets, fresh apples, and ginger snaps completed the festive fall scene. I'm not known particularly for my cooking (unless I burn things), but I had many ladies ask for the recipes...

After eating I led the ladies through a quick game. Yet it had to be distinctly 19th century. What better than a "pass the envelope" game using an article from Godey's Ladies' Book? As I read certain words, the lady had to either pass the envelope to the right, the left, or across the table. By the end, they opened the envelopes, and it identified which sewing basket they had won! Everyone also received a lovely striped cloth prize bag, the contents of which I will explain in a later post...

Finally, the gifts! I wrote down names for Becky as she opened presents, and helped move them to another table (the baby is now getting in the way!). She received lovely gifts, some modern and a few for reenacting. Many were handmade by talented hands, crocheted and stitched with care. 

 I asked the ladies to write notes to Becky too, and this will be included in a surprise for her later! Throughout the whole party, Becky seemed to be glowing! It was a lovely occasion which brought together so many friends on a mild November day. We couldn't help but be a little silly too! We posed in funny directions, even playing a little "game" that judges the gender of the child based on the swing of a needle. Could it be true? It predicted she was having a girl, and that I would have both eventually. So silly!

Perhaps the greatest surprise came at the end-Becky asked me to be the child's godmother! I am so excited to have a little godchild running around, and am already scheming to spoil him/her rotten...By the end of the shower, I was exhausted in every way imaginable! I probably slept for 12 hours straight, but it was all worth the time and attention. We have such a fine group of reenactors here in Michigan, all together to celebrate the birth of a child. It simply does not get better than this!

Just imagine, in no time the little one will be reading this post.
Hello little one! We've been waiting for you!


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,...