Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Fort Harrison Soldiers Thru Time 2022

 This past weekend Malachi, his friend K and myself traveled to Fort Harrison to participate in their annual timeline event, Soldiers Thru Time. Our friend Dennis also came although he portrayed a federal American Civil War impression and the rest of us portrayed Vietnam era military. We are hoping he will be doing Vietnam with us later this fall!

This was my first time doing a Vietcong impression. As I have mentioned in my most recent posts, much of my research and my ongoing experiements in putting together clothing and kit is on my Instagram page. For this blog post, I will share some of pictures and a video from that day. For more about all that went into this and more of my thoughts and reasons about where I'm currently at in my ongoing VC impression journey, do check out my Instagram!

Much love,

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Welsh National Costume

 Today is Saint Patricks day! I have an apple cake baking in the oven, a loaf of soda bread (studded with dried cranberries instead of raisins, since my kids aren't a fan of raisins) ready to put in as soon as the cake comes out and plans for cabbage and potatoes and sausage for dinner. 

It was often commented on that Welsh women were frequently barefoot and would carry 
their shoes and stockings with them, donning them before entering town. 

While I enjoy celebrating Saint Patricks day and feeling a bit Irish I wanted to share about my progress on my Welsh national costume and Saint Davids day which was just a few weeks ago on March 1. 

Last year was my first time celebrating Saint David's day. Saint David is the patron saint of Wales and it seems like this day is every bit as much a fun holiday to the Welsh as Saint Patricks day is to the Irish. We celebrated last year by making a few Welsh dishes and watching an old movie set in Wales. I began researching Welsh folk dress and planned to have my own Welsh outfit complete for the next Saint David's day! 

I spent all of last year reading as much as I could about Welsh dress. I have a lot of my research on  my Instagram account but most of it originated at the wonderful Welsh Costume blog with many helpful photos from Folk Costume and Embroidery including the post about Costume of Ceredigion or Cardiganshire, Wales or Cymru and Costume of Ynys Mon, or Anglesey, and North Cymru or Wales.

I read every single thing on both blogs and followed all the links as far as I could. Even now, a year later, I still frequently reference both blogs because there is just SO much good information on both of them. 

After this past year of reading it seems that the idea of Welsh National dress is a rather recent concept and originated from a desire to retain Welsh identity in a country fast adopting English fashions, culture and language. Lady Llanover, in the 1830's, was instrumental in pushing for the adoption of specific Welsh fashion. While she categorized different types of regional Welsh dress, had the styles illustrated and encouraged the wearing of such styles amongst her family, servants and visitors, it seems that this was NOT the normal, everyday dress of most women.

Reading through the sources on the Welsh Costume blog, it seems reasonable to assume that most Welsh women wore what any other woman in England may have worn - middle to upper classes ladies wearing current English styles and lower class people wearing more old fashioned or informal work clothing, including bedgowns. Visitors commented on the prevalence of wool for nearly every item of clothing - including shifts! - so it appears the use of wool versus linen, cotton or silk may help identify Welsh nationality. Wool was frequently described as stuff, or flannel and the colors brown, blue, black and red appear frequently. Stripes seem to have been common. The styles illustrated by Lady Llanover include the old fashioned bedgown, as well as other clothing styles that would have been considered old fashioned in the 1830's - 18th century style fitted gowns, jackets and accessories like lappet caps, long cloaks and the unique black Welsh hat (after the 1830 period or so, this was typically a top hat shape, but could also be ANY mans style hat, not necessarily the tall style). 

I decided for my own outfit to go with the late 1790's/early 1800's and have been working on slowly stitching the pieces that will go into this ensemble. I wanted it complete to wear for this year but I am not even close to being done with everything yet. 

Instead, I'll share these photos that I took last year as my attempt at a Welsh-type outfit for Saint Davids day. These are all various parts of my 1860s reenacting wardrobe, with a petticoat from my 18th century dress and various shawls and scarves. While these clothing pieces are all historically accurate, they are not made of wool and this was just a for fun attempt at recreating a historic look inspired by Welsh common folk. 

Soon I'll share photos of what I've been working on for my proper attempt at Welsh dress. At this point I have all my undergarments hand sewn and ready to go and fabric ready for several outer garments to mix and match for a variety of looks. 

Much love,


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Wreathes Across America

 Ten days before Christmas, Malachi particpated in a wreathe laying ceremony with a local Sons of Union Veterans camp. Wreaths Across America is a nationwide effort to lay wreathes on the graves of our military veterans and I am so happy Malachi was able to be part of this. It is a very sober responsibility to represent the veterans of any war and it is good to be reminded that although reenacting can be fun, it is, in the end, a living memorial to those who came before us. 

Malachi laid the wreathe at the flagpole of the POW-MIA during the ceremony and then we all gathered and walked to a portion of the cemetery where a large group of Civil War soldiers are buried. 

It was a cold day and spitting rain but rather typical for December. I wore a late 1960's dress I made the autumn before last and was happy to have occasion to wear it, although I think if I dress 1960s again for this event I will make a much warmer outfit! 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have started the New Year off with as much positivity as is realistic. We are now entering into another year where covid continues to shape the world we live in and I know for me, I sometimes feel very down and very numb because of it. Yet, there are many things to be thankful for as we creatively figure out how to still go about the business of living and I am grateful that those I love who have been affected by covid are still here. Covid went through our own family in November and I am very lucky that no one had anything worse than mild cold symptoms. I am glad I was able to get my booster vaccine on the very last day of the year. 

We have been busy and I have been making lots of things but somehow never quite find time to post about them here. I do post quite frequently on  my Instagram sewing account, so if you have an Instagram account and prefer that platform, please visit me there at romantichistory_sews. 

Some new things I'm doing this year include a National Liberation Front impression (otherwise known as VC) for when I take Malachi to Vietnam events, 

My ao ba ba, otherwise known as "black pajamas" worn by the Vietcong. I made this set from black cotton shirting and sewed it on my 1921 treadle singer sewing machine. I absolutely love developing and researching this impression. My sandals are repro rubber tire sandals from eBay. I have so much more that I've made or acquired but it's not good weather for photos that ought to be set in a very warm climate! So I'm waiting for better weather and continuing my research. 

NLF armband, worn for fighting scenarios (they would not have worn these outside of active engagement)

and the beginnings of a 9th century Anglo-Saxon common (working class) woman.

Handsewn linen shift, headband and veil. 

Try on of the undergarments.

I did make a mock up for 1798 stays for my Welsh folk dress outfit, which I hope to have done before St. Davids day this year.
Mock up of the 1798 stays from Jill Salens "Corsets". 

All last summer I worked on a Bronze Age kit, which is far from complete but gives me so much joy to work on bit by bit. I have so much to share! But likely Instagram is a better place to do it, as writing enough blog posts to get caught up would take a long time. 

Last Tuesday, dressed to celebrate Imbolc. πŸ’š

Much love,


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Vietnam Reenactment at Fort Harrison

 A few weeks ago Malachi and I experienced a new-to-us event at Fort Harrison State Park in Indiana. Malachi is almost 13 and over the past few years he has become more and more interested in the military history of US soldiers during the Vietnam war. Over the summer he made a new friend who does Vietnam reenacting and was invited to come out to the living history and reenactment that took place on the weekend of September 11th. 

It was really nice to spend some one on one time with my boy and meet a great group of new folks. The museum was really nice and the weather was perfect. I had a wonderful time and Malachi did too! 

While most of my clothes could work for 1960's and early 70s, I did make a new dress to wear for Sunday. I've had a pattern for a shift dress from 1963 for a few months and wanted an excuse to make it. Malachi was going for a late 60's impression so I updated the dress by taking off a good 6" in length to bring it up into the later 60's. The pattern is for a basic A-line dress with a high neckline and semi fitted with darts in the back and princess seam darts in the front. I made two mock ups and traced out my final shapes onto new paper so that next time I can just cut and sew!

I made the dress from these cotton pillowcases I found on clearance at Wal Mart.

The print was a little off-grain, so I cut the pattern peices off grain to match the print. To keep the dress hanging ok I flatlined each piece with lightweight plain white cotton.

It took me a few days to sew it carefully. I even put in a zipper without too much trouble! I bought some eyeshadow and liquid eyeliner and experimented with make up looks from the 60's. My children were horrified! πŸ˜‚ I found a few cute scarves at Goodwill that had 60s and 70s vibes. 

Greenish blue with black in the crease.

Silver and black. I ended up going with light blue-green on Saturday and beige on Sunday.

Since the rest of these pictures are ones I took at the event, here are the two outfits I wore. Then I can get into the real pictures! For Saturday I wore my vintage style Persephone Pants that I made a few years ago. These button fly, high waist, wide leg denim pants were very comfortable to wear all day. I paired the jeans with a white peasant blouse from my modern wardrobe and a few cross necklaces. This is the only picture I have of me on Saturday, from Saturday night at the hotel room I stayed at while Malachi camped with the guys. 

On Sunday I wore my new dress, beige sandals I got for free from a garage sale setting out its leftovers 😁, a scarf and an antique necklace borrowed from my 1860's reenacting days. 

Here is Malachi and I after arriving home Sunday afternoon. I begged him to allow me to have at least one picture with him and he grumpily agreed. Here he is wearing an original jacket he got in trade from a friend at the event. 

He's working on a brown water navy impression now and it is a lot of fun seeing him develop his interest in Vietnam reenacting. We have two neighbors who are Vietnam veterans (Ralph was in the air force and Gary in the marines) and it is a war that still creates complex feelings in those who lived through it as well as those of us who only have heard about it. It was a terrible war but all those who served there deserve to be remembered, honored and thanked for their sacrifice. 

In no particular order, here are some of the photos I took. I had such a wonderful time. I am so glad we had this opportunity to experience this together. I edited these in Lightroom to get a vintage feel.