Sunday, May 31, 2009

GAR Fundaiser Ball

In Peoria, IL the GAR hall celebrates it's 100th birthday this year. Yesterday an open house was held in the afternoon with displays, refreshments and a play about Abraham Lincoln and in the evening was the ball. David and I attended with Malachi - since he is breastfed, he is a necessity!
I finished David's new uniform yesterday morning, before we left. Two late nights were necessary for getting it done and his trousers took longer than usual due to a necessary but unplanned trip to the oral surgeon on Friday (one of my wisdom teeth extraction sites has dry socket) so I wasn't even able to cut out the trousers until Friday evening. The work was worth it though. David was the most handsome man there and I just love how he looks in his new frock coat! Isn't the blue most brilliant? I was nervous working with such fine fabric but it sure makes for a nice finished product.
The displays were in the basement portion of the GAR - a fine array of medical tools, engineering techniques, uniforms, flags and even a portion about women in the war, as soldiers, doctors, nurses and spies. Malachi soon grew weary of me holding him and desired to roll. Since he has learned to roll he rolls everywhere and that seems to be his favorite occupation, besides eating. I spread his little quilt on the floor and he was happy as could be, grabbing at his little stocking feet and rolling about. The other little children in our reenacting group seemed to like him and, of course, he just ate up the attention!I love this picture of Miss K. holding little Malachi. She has been so good and so motherly and so sweet with all of the boys. I first met her when I was pregnant with little David and was absolutely taken by her sweet demeanor. Here is David outside the GAR hall. This is the only picture I have that makes my husband appear small. The building is huge!And of course I took many pictures of him in his new uniform. He only likes a few of them, but here is a closer picture of him fully accessorized (except for his medical officers sword, but his sword belt is not in yet. It's due to be shipped in July). The wind was terribly strong. Note to self: Use pomade next time. Hair wispies just aren't the thing for a nice 1860's look. A little gated pathway going alongside the GAR hall provided some relief from the wind. Here is the front of David:And the side back:And me. I am so unhappy with how this dress fits now. I made it last year when I had just found out I was pregnant with Malachi. The bust is too tight now and the waist sits too high. I had just started work a new corset last year before I found out I was pregnant. The corset was put on hold and now I see that I still really, really need a new one. David said to go ahead to get what I need so today I need to make a mock up and fit it. I think I'll use the Laughing Moon Silverado pattern this time since I've heard gussetted styles give a better shape. I'm just tired of being smushed up top so I can't wait to have a better fitting style. It's time for a new corset anyway. I made my current one when I was pregnant with little David - 3 years ago!We got our dinner at a little ice cream shack type place - tamales and strawberry milkshakes and cheese fries. Oh-so-not-period but oh-so-good. We ate at the botanical gardens although we could not go IN the garden since a wedding was going on.

The ball was held in the upper level of the GAR hall. It was beautifully decorated in red, white and blue and the windows let in such romantic light on the dance floor. It was very hot, however, and Malachi was stripped down to his little strapped underdress and diaper. The beauty of layering! The baby was a social success and handed round. I received my Darling back when he became fussy and attempted to feed at a bosom that was not mine.
I was delighted to discover an old friend whom I had not seen for a few years. Here is Mr. Eric and Malachi. I met him when I was 15 and severely criticized him at the time for being a federal sympathizer. Ah. The follies of 15! Despite our rocky beginning, we have been good friends ever since. David even let me dance the Virginia Reel with him. I also danced the Virginia Reel with David and then did the last waltz with David and Malachi. Malachi seemed to enjoy that.
Here is the little sister of the aforementioned Miss K. - another Miss K., and isn't she adorable? This is the pink dress I made last fall for the elder Miss K but as it was a bit too small, it was passed down to her sister. I think she looks perfectly sweet!Mrs. Lincoln, as portrayed by Donna Daniels, and a gentleman. Mrs. Lincoln had the loveliest, ladylike demeanor and sweetest disposition. A final (although blurry) picture of Malachi and I. And the only one we got of Malachi with either of us!
A lovely time, but now to focus my energies on getting this new corset done!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

David's New Tunic

Taking a break from the almost-last-day sewing marathon that I inevitably go through prior to a "big event". David and I are attending a fundraising ball this Saturday and he desperately desired his new dress uniform to wear. I told him I wouldn't rush myself (since last time I did it resulted in my having to take apart and redo his uniform frock three times) but I could tell that he really wanted it to wear and, because I love him, I am going through this sewing marathon.

Tonight will be a Late Night. I am not a Night Person. I like to be in bed at this time and usually am sleeping by now. But I have a nice big cup of hot spiced Chai tea and David is going to pop in David Copperfield to keep us company while I finish up this frock coat. Just the buttonholes and hem to do. I will place the epaulettes tomorrow. I am pleased with how smoothly it has gone together. I am forever grateful to Mr. Jim Ruley who drafted the pattern for this frock coat. It has been a dream to work with. The only thing I had trouble with was the tail pockets and I think I finally got them figured out. At any rate, they are now securely sewn in and covered with the skirt lining so they can't be seen, anyway.

I wanted to share a few pictures of my little David in his new tunic, made for him by the lovely Mrs. G. of Pastoral Symphony Farm. Isn't it darling?! He loves the trimming on the belt and every time I put it on him he runs his fingers over it. I think he likes red, very much.
He is rather difficult to photograph since he either wishes to touch the lens of the camera with his finger or else he runs from me while I run after, attempting to catch him unawares if he might turn around. I finally got the front view of him while he stood upon the shoe wipe mat on the back porch steps. He has a current fascination with mats. He likes to pick them up and move them and then stand upon them. This one is always in a different place than where it was last seen as a result. Here he has moved the mat to the door on the side of the house. It leads into the boys room but we do not use it and a big shelf is set across the door where they keep their toys.
Ah yes, of course, the fascinating properties of Peeling Paint. It's a good thing we don't use this door. By David's expression though, I think he does not have a very high opinion of it. Yes, his hands were well washed after this. We take no chances with lead.

And finally, on the front porch. Note poor Judah in the background at the door, very upset because he is not outside with us. Sorry about chopping his head off, but I thought the colors were so brilliant in this photo!

A huge thank you to Mrs. G. for her beautiful work. A little boy is quite happy with his new clothes!



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apron Winner ~

The handy random number generator picked #4, making Racheal the winner of the apron! Thank you so much to everyone who entered. I only wish I had one of these aprons to send to each of you! I need to do giveaways more often! Racheal, please email me at david_sarahmeister at mchsi dot com to let me know where to send the apron!

Today I passed from twenty-two to twenty-three, and am now the delighted owner of my very first teacup and saucer. Or, at least, a real teacup and saucer. I had tiny teasets as a little girl. But this is a grown up one. :) I cannot wait to use it! It will make tea-drinking so much more elegant than the blue mugs I am accusomted to.
In some ways it is sobering to be twenty-three already. It seems so terribly old. Yet, it is exciting to look towards the future and to wonder how God will work out the threads of my life. It will be bittersweet to watch my babies grow bigger and become more independent. It will be wonderful if God blesses our family with any new sweet bundles as the coming years go by. It is fun to ponder on the possibilities. Yet, for now, I am content to live in the moment and to reflect on the past twenty-three years of my life. I have been so incredibly blessed by wonderful parents, wonderful siblings, a wonderful husband and wonderful babies - and wonderful friends!

God bless you all!



Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Very Rainy Second Day Out

The time I painfully spent sewing this week seems, it turns out, in vain. At least most of the boys items are finished for the rest of the season, except for a few pinafores and a sunbonnet apiece for Judah and Malachi.

Yesterday was to be the start of our reenactment this weekend. It was a Flood. I didn't even try to take the boys out and David went alone to help our unit set up tents and to demonstrate. He called me yesterday evening to tell me the ridge pole that supported the main hospital tent and fly snapped and so we would have house guests overnight. I am thankful we live close enough to where this event is that it was possible to house the un-tented folk! Last night was no night for either man or beast to be outside. Water everywhere. Little rivers ran through the yard, the driveway, the street. The entire sky was a falling sheet.

Today I decided to take the boys out since it only rained this morning and the sun came out in the afternoon - quite pleasant! A few minutes into our arrival we found that our oldest son had run off. Across the road, actually, and into a drainage ditch, happily splashing in the water. (!) He was soaked. The wind was quite strong and with the temperature below 60 degrees (in the middle of May, mind you!) I had no choice but to take him home, dry him off, wash his clothes and get him into some dry things.

Let us hope tomorrow has fairer weather.

Since I don't really have a "reenactment post" I will share some of the things I've been working on this week. I hope to get everything for the boys finished this coming week so after that I can start on David's uniforms.

How Little David Appeared Prior to His Drenching:
Here is little David in one of his new outfits. He originally was wearing some new black cotton twill trousers with his tunic, but he decided to have an accident in those just before we left so he was changed into these red and white twill ones from the tunic outfit I shared last week. His tunic is his last falls wool dress, shortened four inches. His coat is the Godey's cloak coat I made last fall and that he barely ever wore. It looks like he won't get much more wear out of it either! I'll have to save one of these coats for Malachi and find another little boy who can use the other one, since Judah has an indentical style coat that he is outgrowing as well. David's little cap is made of brown cotton twill and was a last minute addition since it was so cold and windy out. From reading Lissa's blog post about the cap she made her little boy I think I need to research more into more appropriate cap styles for boys this young. But, for today it served its purpose and it's a cute accessory he can wear in modern life as well! And since I'm home this afternoon I can download the Workwoman's Guide and dig into some info on different cap styles.

How Judah Appeared and Continued To Appear:
Here is Judah in last fall's wool dress, with his own cloak coat and quilted hood. He kept the hood on the whole time we were away, which suprised me. Last year he wouldn't keep it on at all! His dress is getting pretty short and it's small in the bodice too. Another dress to save for Malachi. I think I'll need to make Mr. Judah a different wool dress for this coming autumn.

Other Projects~

David's Green Tunic:
I made this tunic from some pretty green plaid cotton. It is the same style as the tunic I posted about last week except its a bit shorter. I forgot to add the extra 2" to the bottom of the pattern I made last week! Oh well! It's hip length. I don't have any extra fabric to add more length since I was trying to get Judah's dress and this tunic from 1 and 2/3 yd. of fabric. It was doable, but just barely! To decorate the front I added blue strips down each side of the overlapping side with some blue rick rack down the center. The belt is made of blue cotton closes with a shell button. To go with it, he has brown twill pants (same as the fabric for his cap) trimmed with the same blue rick rack.

Judah's Green Dress:
This is from the same pattern as his pumpkin colored dress. I shaved 1/4" off each side edge of the bodice and that did the trick to get it to fit correctly. I pleated the skirt and the sleeves for a bit of difference from the pumpkin dress. It looks quite plain to me and I want to add trim to it but don't know exactly what I should do. I asked David and he told me to leave it plain, since it looks like a "boy's dress" without trim. I might. It will be covered by a pinafore most of the time anyway. I still have this intense desire to put black bows at the shoulders though!

Malachi's Ruffled Baby Cap:
My current favorite baby cap style. It is from the basic baby cap pattern but with the edges of the brim rounded and a ruffle added round the edges. Instead of a drawstring to tie it has self fabric sewn on ties and the back of the cap is gathered with a binding sewn on to hold it in place. I love how Malachi looks in this, with the petal-like ruffles falling around his sweet little face! Too bad the ruffles were plastered against his head in the wind we had today. No good pictures to be had. Perhaps tomorrow!



Friday, May 8, 2009

A Very Rainy First Day Out

Each year for the past four years I have gone to a "Civil War Days" event in a nearby town. It is a field trip event for the local schools and there are different "stations" set up where students can learn about different aspects of the war. The first year I went I was still single - hadn't even met David yet! - and portrayed a person from the Illinois Institute for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb (now the Illinois School for the Deaf). The past three years I have gone with David and his confederate artillery group.

The weather is always iffy. I have experienced extreme heat and dryness, freezing cold, pleasant 70's with sunsine, and rain. Today was rain.

As soon as we went outside our petticoats became damp and saggy. My skirt was wet up to the knees from walking through grass and even my drawers are muddy! (how?) I took the babies home after a few hours since they were wet to the skin and it was getting chilly. It was, however, our first reenactment of the season!

David had a ball running away from me and his daddy. He loves to be chased. He discovered a mud puddle in a shallow dip and splashed through it and fell down. He thought that was delightful. He did it again. He also ran up a large hill, ran towards the cricket field and explored a vast area filled with dandilions.
And then he had to look inside the tents. He thinks every tent belongs to him. Judah was quieter and stayed close to the camp. Many people remarked about his beautiful blue eyes and he gave them a glare in return. He is at the "Don't look at me. I don't like to be noticed." stage when it comes to strangers. He saved his sweet smiles for me. It's a lovely thing to be a mother. :)
David's mom came out for a little while and explained to many people why little boys wore dresses during the 1860's and helped keep an eye on the big boys. She helped me take the boys to the petting zoo area and Judah was fascinated by the chickens.
After Malachi ran out of people to hold him, he laid on his quilt in the wagon, happy and snug. He was the only one who did not get very wet. As in years past, I was astonished by how many people were suprised to find out that Malachi was a real baby and not a doll! Why do people assume little babies in period dress aren't real?

Here is Big David in his new confederate trousers. I think we finally have his trouser pattern fitted right. I made him some black wool civilian trousers and these gray ones over the past week to get the fit right before I cut out his federal trousers from the expensive Hainsworth broadcloth. I do *not* want to make a mistake on those!
I wore my infamous blue print dress. It was an .88 cent a yard print I got a few years ago. It has been patched and mended and repaired and remade several times. I think it has seen its better days but I still wear it quite often since it fits well and I like the sleeve style. You know that certain outfit you have that you just feel so natural in? This dress is like that for me. It reminds me of part of Johnny Cash's song "Ragged Old Flag": She's gettin threadbare, and she's wearin thin
but she's in good shape for the shape she's in. . ."

It's also currently my only cotton dress since the other one I had became unwearable via an unhappy dyeing experience. :( I have some gorgeous pink and brown sheer plaid for another summer dress that I got from a lady on the Sewing Acadmey and I can't wait to make it. I have some other pieces for a few more plain cotton dresses too. . .it's only finding the time to make them.

And the ability! I think my arm is fractured or strained or something. I can't lift it at all and can hold very little weight on it. I fell down the attic stairs last night and landed on my left side. I am nicely bruised and something is wrong with my arm. I thought I was getting better so I did go to the event today and alas, I took the boys to the playground and because it was wet, I slipped and fell hard on the same side and hurt my arm worse. I'm going to get it x rayed so should know soon what exactly is the matter. I hope it does not last too long since I have a lot of sewing to do still. Thankfully all my projects for other people (outside the family) are done.

I think at least one person was exhausted from his time runing out of doors today. After coming home and changing the boys and getting something warm for them to drink I discovered little David curled up on the windowsill in my sewing room, his poor ragged little bunny tucked under his head for a pillow, fast asleep.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

David's First Tunic

It is hard to believe my baby boy is old enough for this, but he is!
I gave up trying to get all the outfits for the boys made by Friday and instead am trying to just get one outfit apiece done. To that end, I picked a tunic style that looked fast and easy and went with it. I am unsure about the correctness of the style, construction, etc. but will post a question about this on the Sewing Academy to see what more knowledgeable people have to say. I didn't have much time to research boys tunic styles and found very few images of little boys wearing this particular style and it was hard to judge exactly how to make it based on the few photos. I most definitely "winged it". I ended up using the basic jewel necked bodice pattern I used for his green wool dress last year. His wool dress still fit him so I didn't need to make changes as far as making it bigger. I lengthened it and made it an A-line shape from the armpit down. The back opening was changed to a front opening and I refined the armscye drop a little. The bias band at the bottom was a last minute necessary addition since the tunic turned out a bit too short. To carry on the bias-y theme I cut the belt on the bias as well. Taking inspiration from the tunics on Originals by Kay, I put self fabric belt loops at each side seam to help hold the belt in place. I think the belt is a bit too wide but I can easily fix that when I have a little spare time.

I was a little more confident making the trousers. They are cut like drawers and open at each side with a placket. The front waistband buttons to the back waistband. They were pretty simple and didn't take more than an hour and a half. They still slide down David's waist though and I'm afraid of them sliding completely off. His waist measure is bigger than his hip measure (due to his belly) so I don't know what to do to keep them up. Ideas??
I dressed him this afternoon while his brothers napped (David seems to have grown out of naps, of late) and tried to take some pictures of him. He kept running away and was not interested in the camera whatsoever, but here are a few I did get!

We were outside maybe a half hour at most and already there is a grass stain on one knee! Oh well! Boys will be boys!



Saturday, May 2, 2009

Victorian Ball Gown Bodice

In the spare time I have had the last few days I finally finished up the bodice that goes to this skirt. I still need to make the undersleeves (a very sheer off-white tulle) and attach the skirt, but otherwise it is pretty much done! I hope the lady likes it. It was an enjoyable although challenging gown to make!
The sleeve overlaps itself towards the top of the off-the-shoulder bodice, creating a petal effect. With the airy undersleeve below I think this will be quite feminine, indeed. Now I'm wanting a ball gown of my own! I keep telling myself to wait though. I hope to loose some more weight before investing time and money into a silk ball gown and I can't really nurse in a ballgown bodice this reenacting season, anyway. Malachi seems determined to nurse at every moment he can induce me to sit down. No three hour spans of time in the evening to steal away for dancing in a back opening dress!I can still plan and sketch designs and research! Thankfully those occupations don't need time to slim down and no money for purchase! :)

Have a lovely weekend!