Wednesday, December 30, 2009

End of the Year Sewing ~ Regency Short Stays

I have been on a wild cleaning spree since David went back to work after his Christmas break. The tree is taken down and the ornaments and decorations packed away. Today I swept everything up downstairs and mopped everything and dusted everything. Two days ago I spent three hours cleaning our tiny closet of a bathroom. With great joy did I vehemently scrub away the soap-spots on the tub with a bristle brush and baking soda! I've reorganized the office and sewing room, hung new pictures, taken old ones down, rearranged furniture and cleaned all the mirrors and windows. The end of the year hustle to make things nice before the new year begins. Sigh. It is always like that around here.

So, therefore, I have not had much to post about. Unless you want to hear about and see pictures of the newly reorganized and decluttered office closet, which I really had to clean out to be able to put away the Christmas things.
I did find time to finish up a set of short stays from the Sense and Sensibility Regency Underthings pattern. I got the pattern a few weeks ago and had not yet used it til yesterday when I cut out the short stays. I don't really need a new set but I was curious to see how they went together and if the size I normally make would work for me. They went together very easily and quickly - I finished them today - but the size is absolutely enormous on me. I can usually wear a pattern size 18 from the S&S things but not with this. My underbust measurement is 30". The underbust measurement on the finished size 18 stays is 37". WAY big. And the cup size, cut with gussets in a D cup, barely goes a quarter of the way up to the midline of the bust. The width of the cup could work for me, with some amount of squishing, but the gussets need to be a lot longer for my particular size. So. They are now For Sale, and I posted them in my Etsy shop. Somewhere out in this great world there must be someone whom these will fit prettily. I corded these, instead of boning them. I wanted to get in some practice on cording so I can remake my 1820's/1830's stays with cording instead of boning. I was shocked at how easy and how quick the cording process went. I have no idea why I have thought that cording took so much time and was so hard to do. It's not, and I love how it looks and how it gives firm yet flexible and comfortable support. I can't wait to make a fully corded corset of my own now!I have so many projects I want to start on right away. There is a gorgeous 1790's gown in Costume in Detail that I long to copy as well as a drop front regency dress that I simply am dying to make up. For some reason, post-Christmas is always a very regency time for me. It may have something to do with the fact that several Christmas's ago I received the dvd of Pride and Prejudice and consequently, each year at that time I get into a regency mood again. Plus I have my 18th century stays to keep working on and I also want to make all of us a Tudor outfit (peasant) for a Ren Faire about six months from now (if we go. We'll have to give up a CW reenacmtent to go to it and David still isn't sure if he's willing to do that or not!)

So much to do! So hard to know where to begin. In the meantime, I clean. For one can think and plan quite easily while one cleans and it is always more pleasant to sit down to sewing work when the house is tidy and everything neatly put into its own place.

May you all have a very blessed end of the year!



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1820's Christmas Dress

Today it has rained and rained, slowly and steadily and the rain has washed away nearly all of the snow we received a few days ago. The wind comes from the easterly direction and is warm. I don't think we shall have a white Christmas after all. Rather a brown and gray and silver sort of Christmas, with the wet and damp of the outdoors combated by a warm wood fire and smells of roast duck and cheesecake and cranberry-apple pie and a cut glass punchbowl simply swimming with ruby-red punch that David makes from ginger ale and frozen cranberry juice. (Assuming, of course, that the duck comes out well).

I finished the last of my Christmas gifts and have them all neatly packaged and wrapped. I was very proud of myself to have only to bake something for my grandparents before I was done with all my Christmas preparations. I whipped up a batch of cinnamon swirl bread and baked the two loaves as I have done countless times before. They came out terribly. The taste is excellent but it seems the loaves underwent some sort of writhing and twisting contortions while within the oven. The dough has burst open in some places revealing the brown and sugar crystaled interiors. I just cannot give these to my grandparents. It never fails that when I want to make something especially nice for someone dear to me that the thing I am making turns out wrong. Especially when it comes to cooking and baking. The fudge won't set, the cookies burn, the apples in the pie are still crunchy, the cake has a dip in the middle, you get the idea. Sigh. I will make a batch of my tried-and-true favorite blueberry muffin recipe tonight to give to my grandparents instead of the bread. If they don't turn out it is not my fault. I am under some sort of holiday-baking curse.

I finished my dress today - well, except for the hook and eyes - and am very happy with how it came out. I haven't had a new dress for Christmas for a long time and well, isn't every girl excited to have a pretty new frock to wear for a special occasion? :)
It took me a little while to figure out how I wanted to attach the ruffle. I debated over whether drawing it up over a cord or hemming the top side and attaching it directly to the skirt. At last I decided on a more practical solution that will hold up the best to every day wear and washing in a modern washing machine. I just gathered the ruffle and covered the top edge with a bias band and then turned under and hand stitched the top of the bias band to the skirt. This way I had way less handsewing to do (since I like to handstitch everything that can be seen from the outside) and it is very sturdy. I really like the ruffle. It gives a little added feminine flair and also helps the skirt obtain that characteristic 1820's triangular/gored shape.
The bias band also helps to hide the imperfections of the fabric I used. It was a $1.50 cotton from Wal Marts bargain table and the check is not woven, it is merely printed. The print was not exactly on grain so the lines of the print do not match the straight torn lines at the top and bottom of the skirt as well as the top and bottom of the ruffle. I chose to add the ruffle to hopefully help hide the lines of the print at the plain skirt hem and the bias band to hide the weirdly angling lines of the check where I attached the ruffle.

I decided to make just two bows for the bodice. They are placed slightly down on each shoulder and attached with a safety pin. The belt hooks closed in the back. A lot of fashion plates from the 1820's show gowns heavily trimmed but this is just a plain cotton day dress so I tried to think of something a girl from this area may have done, in a rustic backwoods community, to dress up a plain frock for a special event. The bows and belt seemed like a very simple and easy way to accomplish this and they can easily be removed and reattached whenever the need arises.

The necklace is a wood carved cross pendant on a black linen cord. The two items (cross and cord) were from David to put in my stocking. I decided to put them together and save him the trouble of having to figure it out for himself. :) I like the simplicity of it. And yes, the necklace is going back into his little "stocking goodie" bag so I can get it permanently on Christmas morning.
I am NOT looking forward to sewing on hook and eyes. You know when you reach that point of hand sewing where your fingers are rough and indented with millions of tiny pin and needle pricks and catch on everything you touch? I am at that point now. But I Must Get This Done. I suppose I will work on it while sitting directly in front of the oven watching my muffins with suspicion and passionate eagerness - "Oh, please come out right this time!"
I don't think I'll have time to post again until after Christmas, so I wish all you dear readers a most marvelous and wonderful God-filled day! Merry Christmas!!



Friday, December 18, 2009

Preparations for Christmas

I was startled yesterday to realize it was one week - one week - til Christmas Eve. Where has December gone? It seems like just last week we were looking forward to Thanksgiving. When I was a child, the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to last forever. Now, they are gone in the blink of an eye.
The tree is up, and each day the mailman usually delivers a Christmas card or two from dear friends and beloved family. Each card is duly admired and read and then hung upon our mantle with the others, til Christmas Eve, when they will be taken down and replaced with our stockings.

The boys admire the tree and the lights but have no idea about the presents they will find beneath it on Christmas morning. In some ways, I envy their innocence. They aren't anticipating piles of gifts and when we go to the store they don't even look at the new toys stuffing the shelves. For them, the pretty lights and the fact there is a tree in the house in enthralling and interesting enough. This year, they are old enough to begin to understand about the baby Jesus who was born to save mankind from their sin. We have a sturdy ceramic nativity set that they enjoy playing with very much and the baby Jesus is of course their favorite piece!

As the years of our marriage have brought us children in quick succesion, David and I have not had much time to think about how we want to have Christmas for our family before the babies themselves were in our arms. Some traditions we have done away with (Santa Clause, for example, who is traditional in David's family), some we question and some we embrace. Some we would like to begin but have not done so yet.

This year, we have a tree, though which, perhaps, has it roots in pagan practices, symbolizes to David and I the tree upon which our dear Lord was nailed. His sacrifice was indeed the Greatest Gift, and the Christmas tree, overshadowing all the smaller gifts beneath, is a lovely reminder to us of this fact.

We are not giving slathers of presents to each other. I have mentioned before that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I do not like the whole modern atmosphere of Christmas because of the focus on finding the "perfect gift", spending large amounts of money and impressing people with hosting grand Christmas parties. So David and I are giving a few toys and gifts to each of the boys and they have gifts from their grandparents as well. For each other, we set a small limit on spending funds and have got each other a few meaningful, useful gifts. We both know what we got for each other but the rule is that we will not be able to see or use our gifts until Christmas day. :)

I have been working on a few homemade gifts for other family members. Here is a sneak peek of a few of them:

"Victorian Roses"
"Autumn Colorsplash"
I have also been slowly working on my dress for Christmas Eve. It is going very slowly as I keep having to postpone work on it for some reason or the other. It is an 1820's style and I think this is the last dress I will make in this style for a little while. It is getting - old. I still really like the overall look, I'm just tired of making dresses with this overall look at the the moment. The process gets so monotonous. Here is the bodice. It is made of a cream and cranberry check cotton with a darted bodice, scoop neckline and piping. The sleeves are bishop sleeves, based on a drawing of different sleeve styles in Patterns of Fashion 1.
Here is the point of construction that I am at now. I have the skirt pinned to the waistband but not sewn on yet. The folded up fabric you see laying on the neck will be an 8" wide ruffle all around the hem. The skirt is made from one 45" wide rectangular panel in the back and three gores in the front. To make the gores I folded a 45" wide rectangle, cut to my preferred hem length, in half and drew out a gore that was appx. 15" wide at the top and 35" at the hem. The two pieces left over after I cut out the center gore I used as side gores. This gives maximum fullness at the hem but a smooth line at the top. I did lightly gather the front of the skirt in case I ever wear this if I am pregnant again. Room to grow is always a good thing!
To finish it, I plan to add the ruffle and trim the top of the shoulders with cranberry taffeta bows with perhaps another bow at the center front neckline and a cranberry taffeta sash or belt. I also just got the Sense and Sensibility Regency Underthings pattern and would love to make a turn back collared chemisette to wear with it from some sheer voile I have.

Once I finish my current projects I hope to make David a few suprise gifts for Christmas. He has asked for a nice handkerchief and a woolen night cap so I think I can get those made for him before Christmas Eve. I recently saw a beautifully hemstitched hem on Sarah A's blog that she is working on a ruffled collar edge. I would love to try out that technique on David's handkerchief. I've been reading online about how to do it but it seems there are at least several different ways to construct this stitch. Does anyone have any tips, advice or links? :)

Have a lovely weekend dear ones!



Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Scrap Quilt for Judah

It once happened, in a doomful and unfortunate time Before Me, that David had a girlfriend by the name of Tabatha.

Early in our marriage David spent several days going through his belongings, digging into the hidden recesses of his closet into dusty and long-forgotten boxes, to remove from his life anything pertaining to this lady. I had felt quite natural feelings of dislike and suspicion towards her and was quite glad to help David in his riddances.

However, even then, I was not so hard hearted or jealous to deny that despite the evil tendencies of this woman (who had inconsiderately claimed my husbands affection for four years prior), she was not completely devoid of usefulness or interest. For she had made David a quilt that I asked him not to get rid of.

It was made all in squares, all in plaids and tied with maroon yarn at the top. It seems she had never finished it completely. It had, in the years of its use, become rather disfigured and worn but I thought it would work well for a spare blanket for reenacting.

We did use it as a spare blanket at reenactments. At home it sat folded up with other spare blankets.
It was a sad and forlorn little blanket until Judah moved from his crib to his toddler bed. At that time he needed a larger blanket and for some reason had an affection for the raggedy plaid quilt. So he has used it all this past year and it has become even more worn and disfigured - but loved.
Last year I made little David a quilt for his 2nd birthday. I wanted to make Judah a quilt for his second birthday but unfortunately the quilt did not materialize as I, as usual, procrastinated.
I have spent the past month or so trying to cut all my scraps into 4" squares. On Tuesday I decided that I had enough cut to make Judah a quilt for Christmas. I pieced eighteen 9-patch blocks with scraps, alternating with plain white squares. I sewed them together 5 x 7 alternating with 17 plain calico squares and then sewed calico sashed around all the edges. I used a big full size sheet for the backing and an old blanket for the middle and tied the corners of each square with dark turquoise colored wool yarn and there it was.
Now Judah has his very own quilt and the poor plaid one can once again be a spare, though I do not know how long it will remain here with us as it is definitely in the final stages of its life.
Now to make one for little Malachi. . .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Romantic Gown ~ Sense and Sensibility Pattern Review ~

I recently had the opportunity to use the Romantic Gown Pattern from Sense and Sensibility to make several dresses for a sweet customer. I have long admired this pattern but never used it until this project. I thought I would review it in case anyone else may have been wondering about it. Not that my thoughts may be particularly helpful, but, well, it’s a post worthy topic. :) And anything post worthy is most welcome since I've been rather neglectful of this poor wee blog as of late.


Sense and Sensibility’s Romantic Gown Pattern, available from

General Description of Style:
This pattern contains several style variations on the typical mid 1820’s - mid 1830’s style dress. The dress is styled in the transitional fashion popular at the time, falling between regency era fashion and Victorian fashion. The gown features a slightly elevated waist, large “leg o mutton” sleeves that are puffy at the top and narrow at the wrist and long full skirts. The pattern also contains a pattern piece for short puff sleeves, suitable for evening wear. There are no skirt pattern pieces. Since skirts of this era can be simply rectangles, directions are given in the pattern for measuring and cutting rectangular skirt panels which are then gathered, pleated or gauged and secured to the waistband of the dress. Variations of style include directions for both front and back opening dresses, different neckline shapes and a collar suitable for the V neck dress. Instructions are also included on how to make a sleeveless “jumper” with the pattern.

Historical Documentation/Accuracy:
The pattern pieces all have a good shape for a basic 1820’s-1830’s style bodice and sleeves. The basic style is documented with photographs of original garments and fashion plates included in the pattern. The skirt instructions are good for a basic rectangular skirt. However, another style appropriate for this time period is a skirt with a smooth or lightly gathered gored front with a gathered back with gored side pieces. This style would probably be more appropriate if you are going for an earlier look. It is easy to measure and cut gored skirt pieces for yourself but the instructions do not include this style.
One thought I had was that the curved side pieces of the bodice back could come in towards the center of the waist more. Rather than having so much space between the two curved seams at the back bodice edge, it would look nicer if, perhaps, there were only a few inches of space between them as I have seen on the majority of the original dresses I’ve seen from this time period. The sleeve seams are called to be matched to the side seam of the bodice. I prefer to match the sleeve seam to a point on the front of the bodice, so the inner sleeve seam is running down the inside of my arm instead of under it.
The construction methods offered in the pattern seem a tad modern. I can’t say if they are inaccurate per se, but I like to construct my own dresses a bit differently with the lining and fashion fabric treated as one and seams overcast or left raw as per original dresses. The instructions call for sewing up the lining and fashion fabric separately and then sewing them right sides together and turning them. I prefer to use a turned self facing for opening edges (front or back) or piping for around the neckline and openings rather than using the method called for. The instructions also call for a center front or center back placket in the skirt. I like to use a center back skirt opening for a back fastening dress but prefer a dog leg closure on a front opening dress to avoid a seam or placket in the center front of the skirt. The instructions also call for the top of the skirt to be gathered along the raw edge and stitched directly to the waistband or bodice. A period method would be to turn under a little of the top of the skirt and attach the folded, finished edge of the skirt to the bodice with small whip stitches. This method makes a very smooth, low bulk waistline rather than having all the gathers or pleats bunched into the waistband.

Although no pattern for piping is provided, the online instructions for this dress do have a link to instructions on how to make piping. Very small self-fabric piping is a very nice period correct touch for bodice and sleeve seams.

Physical Characteristics:
The pattern is printed on heavy white paper and is clearly marked as to size and pattern piece. The pieces fit together well and seem to correspond well to the size measurements given on the size chart. The pattern comes with a thick stack of instruction sheets that clearly explain and illustrate the construction methods given. The pattern envelope is white paper and is illustrated with a group of ladies wearing the different style gowns contained in the pattern.
Technical Characteristics:
One very nice thing about this pattern is that it clearly explains how to make and fit a muslin mock up of the bodice before you cut into your dress fabric. This step is absolutely critical in getting a proper fit and so many patterns leave out this very important step.
The pattern also contains vintage illustrations on how to gaage a skirt. Gauging is beautiful and period correct and it is nice to see this addition and alternative to gathering or pleating.
Final Thoughts:
I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone interested in making a dress in the 1820’s to mid 1830’s style. The sleeves are a little small for fashionable 1830’s appearance but could be made larger by enlarging the head of the sleeve in length and width, tapering down to the original pattern lines at the lower arm and wrist. In Janet Arnolds Pattern of Fashion 1 there are several diagrams for full gigot sleeves which were at the height of fashion in the early to mid 1830’s, and those can easily be scaled up and used in place of the sleeve pattern included in this pattern if desired.

I made the pictured gowns in the front opening style with the original pattern darted bodice. The bodice is attached to a two inch wide waistband and the skirts are gathered to the waistband and are made of three panels of 45” wide fabric. I set the skirts with a dogleg opening which opens to the left side. Self fabric piping was used at the neckline (pattern “jumper” neckline), armscyes, and on either side of the waistband.
Another lovely pattern by Sense and Sensibility! I think it is a lovely base pattern from which many serious costumers could create beautiful, appropriate gowns, combing outside research on fit and construction and additional style details with the information contained in the pattern. As is, the pattern creates a very passable dress and would be a wonderful and practical style to wear for everyday.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The At-Last Waistcoat and Trousers and 1830's Dress

Last year Jo Anns had a great sale on their woolen goods. We were blessed to randomly drop in at the store while the sale was in progress and lo, there was a bolt of black wool. Black wool sells very fast in our local stores so finding ample yardage was a pleasant suprise. David picked up about four yards of it and I promised him I'd make him a civilian style waistcoat and a pair of civilian trousers.
I made most of the trousers early this spring. But uniform making duties forced me to postpone finishing them. They hung in the closet for months. I finally pulled them out and finished them a few weeks ago. I made the waistcoat last week, after the green corderoy disaster. This time I made sure to cut an ample seam allowance and the finished vest fits David quite nicely. It has 3 welt pockets, a notch collar and buttons up the front with seven covered buttons. David wore the set for the first time to church yesterday for our beginning of Advent service. He requested a red necktie to go with his outfit and looked, I thought, very festive. I was able to get my dress finished up on Saturday. I do like it very much although I am not completely happy with how the sleeves came out. I wish I had gathered the pouf to a point lower on the arm to get less of a mushroom effect. However, as Mr. Darcy said in his letter to Elizabeth, "It is done, however, and it was done for the best." Also to keep in the mood of Austen, here is a picture of the dress in front of a "prettyish kind of a little wilderness", where we plan on tilling up ground for our garden when spring comes. I don't usually wear a cap. I only wear one when the mood strikes. Here is a capless photo, though a tad risque - dear me, you can see my bare leg! - complete with this beautiful set of ultra-modern Fuzzy Snowflake Socks with White PomPoms. Don't they look wonderful with my repro mid-19th century boots? I didn't mean for this photo to be so alarming, I promise. It was the fault of the stiff breeze. Now you can see all my farby sinfulness!
Here is a back view. I was appalled when I saw this photo - "David, is my rear end really that big?!" Thankfully big bums were "in" for most of the 19th century. In those times, looking like a woman with natural womanly features was desired and encouraged. Alas. How times have changed. But David was kind enough to tell me that it was my fluffy skirts and petticoats that gave the illusion of a bigger behind. I need to add a few more hooks along the wrist placket since the placket kept folding open yesterday, but other than that I think this will be a very serviceable house dress. Oh and yes - David has decided to grow side whiskers! I have become reconciled to the thought of a beardless husband. His look has grown upon me and I do like this new style very much. He looks rather like I imagine Col. Brandon when I think of him in my mind. David is becoming ever more interested in pre-CW times and, I think, it shall not be long ere he joins me in the 1820's and 1830's. He is currently afflicted with great passion for the 1840's and his next set of civilian attire is to hail from then. Love,


Friday, November 27, 2009

New Day Dress Bodice

Greetings to all you dear folks. I do hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving yesterday and may I likewise extend my wishes that you all have many leftovers to make tonights dinner prep a breeze.
We had a nice Thanksgiving although we all are sick. The bronchitis has left us but now a stuffy sinusy and runny nose type sickness has taken its place. We were not able to have our friends over as planned so we had a quiet family meal together and later in the evening David set up the Christmas tree and we watched The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I was too sick to feel like decorating last night so we plan to do that this evening instead. I have rearranged the living room and put the lights on the tree. The older two boys keep trying to blow them out. I suppose they think they are like the candles they recently had on their birthday cupcakes. Alas. Electric lights aren't as fun as real ones. The durn things won't blow out and the poor boys are blowing themselves ragged.
I got quite sick late Wednesday. I've been working on a sewing job for a customer but since I was so sick I decided to put her things up for a little while so I wouldn't spread germs to her gowns. Instead I started a new day dress for myself. After all, it is getting colder and colder and so far I have only made one new dress for winter time. This one I wanted more of an early 1830's style. I used the same basic bodice pattern as for my pink gown but am making the sleeves a tad bigger. Instead of gathering the fashion fabric at the waist, I darted the lining as usual but tucked the fashion fabric and tacked the pleats down by hand. The sleeves have a slender undersleeve with a full puff sleeve mounted on top of that. Bethany has recently posted a great instructional article on how to make these style sleeves. The neckline I cut in a V shape. I want to make a chemisette to wear with this dress but haven't decided if I want a standing frill style or a collared style. I love how the frilled styles look but I have no idea how I'd keep the fabric starched well enough to hold the shape. I'm hoping to finish it up today. All it really needs is the skirt attached and the hooks sewn on. Then hopefully I'll feel well enough to get back to my work sewing once more.

Have a wonderful weekend,



Friday, November 20, 2009

David's Overalls

Due to David coming down with a sore throat, which, the doctor said, is probably strep, he has been home for the past two days to rest and recuperate. I seized the opportunity to take some pictures of him in his new overalls. By the time he gets home from work on weekdays it is far too dark to take any pictures outside and on Sundays we are usually occupied with something else. So, today, at last, I have some pictures to share!

Beware. These pictures may Shock and Awe you. For - yes - David has shaved his beard.
It was, he said, my fault. I cut his hair for him last Saturday and he asked me to trim his beard. Once I was done he said that his beard appeared to be shorter on one side than the other. I looked. It was indeed a little shorter. About 1/16" shorter. So, he surmised, the only possible thing for him to do was to shave it all off and start over with it. I begged. I pleaded. I got on my knees. I really did. It was of no use. The bathroom door was firmly shut and a few moments later I heard the sounds of scissors; the sound of David's beard being butchered. A half hour later he reappeared and the bathroom floor was littered with hair. I wouldn't kiss him for a long time. I had to get used to it. I felt that I had a different man in place of my husband. I am now finally starting to get used to it but his beard is already starting to come back in a stubbly, prickly shadow. Little David now checks his chin every day to see if he is getting a beard, himself.

And now that I have firmly got off topic on a nicely developed rabbit trail, I will return to the main topic of this post, which is Overalls. With them David has finally found a use for the scarf I made him a few years ago. Although he thinks the color scheme is a tad Christmasy. With his trouser legs tucked into his tall black boots I think he just looks nice and old fashioned. Although he will be improved in looks once his beard is back in.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

1790's Transitional Stays Finished Photos

I am finally getting some pictures of my 1790's Transitional Stays. I have had these done for about a week but failed to wear them thus far because I was too lazy to put in a lace.
I love these. Out of the corsets/stays I have, I think these are my favorite by far. They are insanely comfortable. The back is quite heavily boned and the front boned only at the center front which seemed a bit backwards to me at first, but I really love the great back support and the gathered cups give enough support to the front without additional boning. These are meant to be a little short waisted, but they really do end at just about my waist level. They do not reduce my waist at all which really adds to the comfort level. Nothing is tight, actually. . .just supported.

I used cross lacing instead of spiral lacing just because I find it easier to do when I have to lace something up myself.
I really didn't think gathered cups would offer much support. And, compared to more heavily boned and structured corsets, they do seem flimsy. But I was pleasantly suprised with how well they have worked. I have been wearing them today for the past 8 hours or so and they still seem to be fine.

What is great about these stays is that while they work well for my drawstring gowns, they also work perfectly with my 1820's dress from last year, which I am wearing today. Past Patterns has a similar pattern which is dated 1790-1820. PP usually has fantastic documentation with their patterns so I'm sure their dates are right, which means I can wear these with my early 20's dresses and not feel farbatrocious.
I hated binding the tabs at the bottom but it was worth it, I think!



Monday, November 2, 2009

1820's Gown Finished Photos

I was able to wear my new dress for the first time to church yesterday. After we got home, David obligingly took some pictures. The day was lovely and warm. Despite the nearly naked trees and the lonesome stretches of bare fields, it seemed summer returned for one last afternoon.



P.S. I do not smoke a cob pipe, but since David had one lit, I couldn't resist using it as a prop. After all, my extreme interest is in the clothing of the Early Settlers and according to Christian Reeser, patriarch of David's family, who settled in this same area in the mid 1800's, tobacco was one of the things that kept him healthy and young (he lived to a very great age, I believe 102 but do not have the family history book on hand to check for sure). The last picture is of my handsome hubby with his Redbone Coonhound, Jeb Stuart.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Busk

This week has gone by far too quickly. I feel that I have not been able to get much accomplished and at times feel guilty about that. Although the boys are now over their almost-three-week-long sickness, I still am fighting it and I am getting tired of being sick! David keeps urging me to go to the doctor but I do not want to; my mother recently sent me a list of herbs and vitamins and food recipes that are supposed to help cure and ward off sickness so I'm going to give several of those suggestions a try. I don't like doctors. I do not trust doctors. Tey are all urging for the H1NI vaccination and I am very much against the idea. I am not in a mood to be pressured.

Anyway, this week I've been obsessing about my 1820s stays. I thought I had them finished, but after a few days it began to bother me that I did not get the "lift and the seperate" look. Here is a fashion plate from 1823 - notice the very noticeable seperate look the bosom has:
I was not getting that look. I took the 3 bones out of the center of my stays and corded the sides of the "busk pocket" in the center front, although at the time I had no intention of ever using a busk. It supported me but did not give me a seperate look at all. I posted about my problem on the Sense and Sensibility message board and received several suggestions and encouragement to try a busk - so I did! The effect was immediate and happy. I got The Look. I also felt much more supported since the busk is very stiff and holds up the gusset "cup" in which each bust lies.

I used an old paint stick for my trial run and yesterday David made me a new one. This one was also a paint stick which he picked up at a hardware store yesterday. (He got several actually; they were free). The ones he got were much thicker than the one I used as a trial run. They were printed on one side with lettering and there was a curved in handle shape at the bottom. He carved it down so the width of the paint stick measured the width of the curved-in handle so the finished busk is all one width. He sanded the edges smooth and sanded off the lettering. He did a very nice job with it. It is just a tad too long but he has promised to cut it down to the proper length for me this evening. I love him so. :) A wife certainly knows she is loved when her husband is willing to make a busk for her!

I made an opening at the top of my stays so I can slip the busk in from the top. It does not go all the way down the front of the stays but stops about 2" or so short of the bottom edge. This is so it does not jab me between the legs when I sit down while wearing it. For a very good overview of busks, an excellent article was written by Jenny La Fleur.
In other sewing news, I've been lazy. But I did finish my pink 1820's dress by sewing on the hook and eyes this afternoon. I also made a cloak earlier this week, 18th century style. It is a trial run made of poly blend plaid but it is warm and I have been using it a lot in the rain and damp we have been having. I also drafted a pattern for a set of 1790's stays for use under my regency drawstring gowns. The short stays I made a few years ago no longer fit the way I want them to. I've always admired the 1790's stays that Katherine made, and when Lauren also made a similar set I decided I had to try this style too! So far I've just made one quick mock up and traced the pattern out but I hope to get a good chunk of work done on these next week, if not have them finished by then.
And finally, did I mention we have rain?! I glimpsed out the window today and realize we have a lake. Wild geese have been pausing here for rest and water all day long; as one flock goes out another comes in. They are now swimming the bean field that was harvested last week. It is very comfortable and cozy to hear their cries and bellows. What a busy little watering place we have right now!