Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Getting Ready for Danville

This weekend the event I have looked forward to all year is taking place. For any of you dear readers who have been with me for a while, you will remember Danville as the reenactment Judah first went to, when he was eight days old. It is a beautiful, romantic spot with an atmosphere of tranquility, peacefulness and history. A little cemetary is tucked away in one corner and the rest of the acreage (which is large) is filled with billowing grasses, trees, meadows, darling little wild things and some old, historic buildings lining a dusty central street. A sweet white church broods quietly beneath a few large shade trees.
Just a few days and we will be there!
I have been working on finishing up some projects for our reenacting attire. I finished my sontag last week and was so delighted to have actually succssfully completed this that I have been addicted to knitting ever since! I braided cords of six strands of the yarn I used (it looks a little orangey in these photos, but is a deep, blood red) and made yarn tassels to finish it off. It is actually a bit large for me, I think, but that leaves growing room for new Baby and me! I got some pretty white checked sheer cotton a few days ago to make a knitting apron with. I can't wait to use it at an event! Now to find some period correct knitting needles. . .
To use up leftover bits of yarn I decided to knit up a sortie cap and see what I could see with that pattern. I found a link to the pattern from The Sewing Academy. The original calls for much lighter weight yarn and smaller needles than I used (I just used the size 7 needles I used for the sontag and sport weight yarn) but it came out exactly the right size for me. I can't imagine going any smaller with the yarn/needles without having to increase the stitch number. . .maybe I have a larger head than most women did 140 years ago? I originally did the bows and ties in green but after David mentioning that I looked patriotic to either Mexico or Italy I changed them out for blue ribbons. Now it looks patriotic to the United States, and I can wear it as a symbol of patriotism to either the Southern or Northern flag, depending on what "side" David is on. :)
I got Judah's coat finished from the Godey's diagram I drew up for a "boys cloak". It has only three pieces and since I left off the collar and used only the back and front piece I thought it would be easy to put together. However, I found the batwing type sleeve very awkward to sew into the front and even harder to hem. I at last gave up trying and just bound the raw edge with strips of brown velveteen, which I also put around the front and bottom of the coat. I trimmed it similarly to Judah's wool dress with the same wool I used for his hood. I still have little David's to make before Friday and I am NOT looking foward to it. I keep putting it off! I'll be glad when I'm done!
I also finally put the skirt back on my blue print dress. I really wanted to make up my new cotton print that David got me for Danville but didn't want to be rushed with it since I want to try a new style for the bodice (with tucks at the shoulder) so I took his suggestion and just redid my blue dress. I cut a new shape for the neck (shallow v, instead of jewel) for a more flattering line. The new neckline thus necessitated a new collar and this time I tried a bit of embroidery at the corners. I used a tiny chain stitch and satin stitch for a flower-like thing with two leaves. Okay, so they didn't come out the greatest, and they are not the same size! But the only one close enough to me to notice that will be my husband and he doesn't notice little things like that, thank God! :) (don't worry, the fabric beneath the collar is not one of my civil war gowns! It's just the skirt of the dress I happen to be wearing today).
I gauged on the skirt instead of setting it in pleats. I put on a new hem facing. I also had to fix the gathers on the sleeves (they were copied from an 1840's dress) and trimmed the last row of gathering with some double face satin ribbon. The dress looks much better now and I am looking forward to finally being able to wear it again - this time with the skirt on properly and not backwards! It is just a cheapy cotton print I picked up at a discount store last spring for .88 a yard but I do like it because it doesn't show dirt very much and so far has held up really well to wearing.
I also made myself a hood, but I'm not sure if I like it very well. I lined it in white silk and quilted it in red, so every little mistake shows up very clearly! And the silk wanted to stretch out and I sewed a few puckers into the quilting which bothers me greatly. Sigh. That is another reason why I made the sortie cap!

I do hope the photographer comes to Danville. He was there last year but I checked his schedule and he doesn't have this event listed! :( He is, by the way, Steve Ingram from The Tintypist. He does wonderful, amazing work.

God bless all of you and may you have a lovely rest of the week!



  1. I'm always so amazed at your work, do so much...and with two babies + one! Yikes...I just love all of your pictured-projects...perhaps you will get a picture of yourself in full costume? Your knitting looks beautiful!

  2. Wow! You have been busy! You must take some pictures this weekend, I am so eager to see all of you in period dress! Have a wonderful event!

  3. Sarah,
    We love the music on your blog. Melancholy but beautiful. I am so happy with the slat bonnet, a perfect shade of blue. We enjoy reading about your family and hope to meet you one day. Your boys are beautiful, but so are mine! And my daughter, too. We are so blessed.
    God bless you in Danville I know you will have a great time.
    Pamela and Frank

  4. Your sortie cap is a neat idea. I really do hope the photographer is at Danville after all the work and thoughts you have put into having a period picture done.

  5. Hi Sarah,
    I am interested in knowing how to "gauge" and what tool is needed if any?
    Also, did you use some technique to get the sleeves so tightly and evenly gathered? Is there regular sewing on those rows or elastic thread? I'm referring to the navy blue sleeve with peach flowers. Thanks. Mrs. Smith


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!