Monday, September 28, 2009

Vermillion County Civil War Days, 2009

Arrived back home at last, we weathered the rain, damp and chill and enjoyed the few sunny respites the weekend offered. And despite my having low expectations and a bad attitude these past few weeks, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am so glad that I went!

Vermillion County Civil War Days is held at Kennekuk park - a county park, beautiful and wild and rather out in the "middle of nowhere". There are the necessary modern things, of course, such as the ubiquitous blue porta-johns and the parking lights but really, all things considered, it is an ideal spot for an Event.

It was not a Progressive Event but not really a Farb Fest either. It fell somewhere in the middle. And despite the presence of rayon snoods and the absence of corsetry and petticoats I enjoyed the friendliness of so many of the people. Renewing old acquaintences, making new, and deepening friendships begun in times already past. The event was fabulously hosted and we all were treated so well! The plans for next year are really impressive. This event keeps getting better. If any of you all are in the central IL/IN area next year at this time, 4th weekend of September, please join us!
This year the medical encampment was positioned quite close to the battlefield. The only bad thing about the spot is the fact there are no trees nearby for shade and the two food vendors the event had were located right behind our tent. Next year the federals will be camped on the other side of the park so thankfully this is not a permanent spot for our group.

The boys quite enjoyed themselves and for the most part behaved remarkably well. They walked with David and I very nicely and did not run off and needed only an occasional reprimand when they were plotting mischief or getting into things they are not supposed to get into - including the medical tools and medicines! Malachi was getting a tooth, running a low fever and due to the damp and chill had a runny nose but otherwise he was wonderful.

On a totally material note, I am so glad I was able to get my mantle and hood finished before this event! I wore them most of the time since it was cool and breezy and they are now forever on my lists of must-haves. How have I existed without one for so long?
I took too many awful pictures, but here are a few of the better ones. The conditions were not favorable for pictures most of the time but we got a few decent ones anyhow!

Here is wee Malachi on the first morning. The grass was almost always damp so he contented himself with pulling up on things rather than crawling about and getting soaked.
Our surgeon recently got this small scale "pup tent" for his dog and our unit mascot. Little David was very interested in it since it was also the perfect size for him!
Judah distastefully surveys a Plastic Rat that inhabited the pile of amputated arms and legs. Here am I and this is how I appeared most of the weekend. I started fringing this morning but unfortunately the fringe is coming out black. It appears the lengthwise threads are black and the crosswise threads are red so my fringe will not match the trim already on the mantle. I don't know if I should go with this for fringe or look for a ready made fringe that is a similar color? I really do not want black fringe! What about a pleated ruching that is attached to the inside hem, peeking out at the bottom? Hmm. . .After lunch on Saturday it grew quite warm, almost hot. I took Malachi's outer clothes off so here he is, happy to be free and cool, in his undies! Judah, Malachi and I were in the fashion show Saturday afternoon and this is what Malachi wore for it!
Trying out tooth #2 while eating a pear.
Judah had an apple.
Muching down! Another bad thing about the weekend was the presence of many bees. They kept buzzing around, trying to get in for a portion of that pear.
Here is David on Saturday evening with Malachi. As you can see it got quite cold again so Malachi is wearing a heavy coat.
This one is a little blurry but I love the background. A lovely little pond and fountain is behind this tall grass. . . such a beautiful spot!My handsome husband. I was immensely proud of him. He does this impression so well!
Lavender in the farmhouse flower bed. David, Malachi and I. Malachi and I. I have no idea what is going on with that look on Malachi's face. . .he was tired!The herb garden where we camped last year. David and the boys on the way to church service on Sunday morning.
Judah, Malachi and I.
David and Judah sitting in a pew, carefully contemplating the easiest and stealthiest way to slither beneath the pew in front of them to escape.
Caught!Poor Malachi. He fell asleep during the service and napped for quite a while afterwards.
The Works. The trenches that were dug on the battlefield were incredible! On Sunday the Confederates had posession of them. We heard that on Saturday night some Confederate soldiers camped out in the trenches and I thought that was wonderful! It was freezing cold that night but oh, what a way to experience a bit of history!On Sunday David set up an aid station close to the spectator line for the battle. It was so amazing to see what he actually does on the battlefield. Injured soldiers made their way to him and the yellow hospital flag and Major Conover, the surgeon, and David treated what they could. One gentleman with a head injury stumbled in and after checking him over David sent him back out on the field again. It was nice to see this up close and hear their dialouge instead of looking on from a-far. It made it so much more real.

And so, that is all! Now to get some heavy coats and things made for the boys before our next and final event of the season. Late October can get VERY cold! And David is requesting a civilian frock coat as well, and I need to remake the bodice on my black wool dress. . . When is a sewing list ever done? New projects get added to mine faster than I can sew up the old ones!



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Malachi Models 1860's

Yesterday I finished up the last of Malachi's things. Namely, buttonholes and buttons. I wimped out and used hook and eyes to close his gowns but they are done! I dressed him up and David helped me take some photos of him in "stages of dress" style.

Shirt and Drawers:
Stays and Petticoat: Outer Gown: (don't you love his expression here? 8 months old and already working on "the look" :) ) Soft Shoes: These were made by tracing around his foot to get the right size for the sole and then squaring off the shape a bit. The top is just one piece with the straps cut out from the top portion. I tried to felt some leftover wool broadcloth to use although it came out a bit fuzzy. The embroidery is a motif taken from an original pattern for baby shoes and is done in pale lilac. Pinafore and Cap: Here Malachi wonders if a leaf tastes good.In the mouth! Ymmm. Crunchy.I am in love with this cap! Mrs. G. kindly sent me a copy of the pattern she used for her own baby caps and I sized it up a tad to fit Malachi. I love how warm and cozy it is.
This one is made from white cotton. I whipped some lace around the face edge for a bit of prettiness. And on the Hay-Rack:
And with Daddy. David made a silly face. Sometimes it is harder to get him to seriously smile than it is to get the children to smile!
And finally, here is David in his totally finished field frock. Yeah! I'm so glad I'm done with this coat! I won't bore you with lots of pictures since it is basically the same as his dress frock but with shoulder boards instead of epaulettes on the shoulders. He is wearing it here with his rejected vest, which I fixed for the time being with a patch over the vent. I love all the buttons. . .I must confess, I do like a man in many buttons. 


Friday, September 11, 2009

A Button Blouse and Trousers

For some reason, my baby boy is turning three next month. I have no idea how three years have gone by so fast but it seems that they have. Little David is no longer quite so little and as a result of his mature age he is going into more boyish styles for our 1860's reenactments. He wore long gowns as an infant, short gowns as an older baby and a toddler and this summer wore short trousers and tunics. Now, he sports long trousers and a button on blouse. These particular garments were chosen more for their practical characteristics (warmth, ease of wearing, requiring less fabric than a full skirted tunic, etc.) but they do make him look so much like a little boy! Well, he is, but still! My baby is growing up.

I left most of my research until the last minute. I was extremely lucky to find some nice images of little boys wearing long trousers and button on blouses so I had something to go from when making little David's. Ebay yielded some nice results and a few other websites and blogs had some lovely images as well. For this particular outfit, here are some of the images that inspired me:
First is this one of a mother and her little boy. I think the little boy is wearing shorter cut trousers since you can see his shoes and socks so well, but I like the detail of his button on blouse and the waist treatment of the trousers.
Second is this picture of two boys wearing similar outfits. I love this one - it reminds me so much of David and Judah!
Third is this one of another mother and her little boy. I can't tell if the boy is wearing a skirted tunic or if it is a button on blouse but I like his necktie. And the fit of the mothers dress is just gorgeous.
Fourth is this little fellow. Look at his trouser legs- it look like a large tuck has been taken up in each leg! Perhaps a hand me down that was too large for him to wear as it was? I love his printed shirt and the white collar.
And this one is one of my favorites - two boys dressed very similarly. I love their coats and will probably do similar ones for the boys as I work more on their Sunday outfits, which will be gray/black plaid wool trousers, a button on white shirt and a black wool jacket with dark red taffeta neckties. I hope to get a good chunk of that work done today.
So, here is my take on this style of outfit. I didn't take any photos of Judah wearing his (which is basically the same, except his shirt sleeves are cut on the bias and he has a yellow necktie instead of a dark red one - scraps left over from Malachi's gowns!) since he was taking a nap yesterday afternoon and I didn't feel like waking him up and then waiting a half hour before he got over his just-woken grumpiness.

His bear comes with him almost everywhere. He kisses his bear. It's not PC but oh well, at least it is not a purple Barney doll or something visually jarring like that.
I wasn't sure how to make the button blouse. It seems like a transitional style so I wasn't sure if mens cutting/styling would be more appropriate or womens. So I made it like the dress bodice of a childs or womans dress, with the shoulder and side seams slanted towards the back. The neck is bound with bias and I tacked in a little strip of cotton for a fold down collar. I love the fabric I used for the shirt - a very lightweight wool. The plaid on it is pretty large but it seems to work all right. I like the colors. Even though it is a dark fabric the cheerful lines of color through it really liven it up and make it look cheerful. Here he is after climbing on the hay rack. He is getting better about holding still for a few seconds so I can take a photo of him. Heck, he even smiled for this one. I think he was getting a bit weary of being photographed by this point, though. My goodness, what extensions of the mouth to project such wailings sounds of protest!
One outfit down, one to go. . .

Monday, September 7, 2009

Autumn Baby Gowns

I fell a bit behind in my sewing so thus am just now finishing up Malachi's items. I still have his caps to make and I have decided that Judah's cloak-coat from last fall will work just fine for Malachi, even though it is a bit big. Malachi still has a red and white cotton twill sacque style coat I made him earlier this year and it still fits, even though it is a bit small. So between smallness and bigness he will fit into them somehow.

Here are his gowns. They still need buttonholes and buttons in the back but they are done enough to take pictures of.
The Autumn Gold Gown:
This is really a mustard yellow and dark brown print fabric, but "autumn gold" sounds so much more fetching, don't you think? It is a nice, soft cotton I picked up at Wal Mart for $1.50/yard. The gown took exactly 1 yard so it is not a bad dress for so cheap a price! The hem falls to just above Malachi's ankles. Long enough to cover his petticoats by 1" or so. The skirts are about 60"-62" in circumference.
The bodice has a jewel neck and is gathered at the waist and is quite roomy. The sleeves are gathered bishop style and are joined to a closed cuff band. I am somewhat of a pipe-aholic so I piped the neck edge and the armscyes and the bottom edge of the waistband even though, due to reading on the Sewing Academy, piping is not necessarily necessary for childrens gowns. Hey, I like how it looks. But I tell you, piping teeny little armscyes in dresses is *not* fun. That was the worst part of the entire construction process. Usually I handsew piping into baby armscyes but this time I used the machine. It's actually faster and easier to do it by hand. It looks like there is a pucker at the armscye in this picture but its just a fold in the fabric; thankfully no puckers resulted from machine-sewing the piping in. Here is the yellow dress with one of the pinafores. The pinafores are a little short, I think but I had to use the fabric I had on hand. I had a yard of this green cotton print but the lady who cut it did a horrible job on the cutting. The ends were both cut on *extreme* angles so by the time I evened it all out I had a lot less fabric than I wanted. But it works. It will keep Malachi's dress clean and that is what matters. The Half-Blood Print Gown:
So yes, that is a stupid name. And yes, I've been on a horribly dubious Harry Potter kick lately. (I even dreamed about H.P. a few nights ago) But this cotton does sport a lovely deep blood red color with little tan and white designs.
Here it is with the other pinafore. This pinafore was made from leftover fabric from Judah's Pumpkin Colored Gown I posted about earlier this year. I'm not sure if I like the orange and red together so I may switch pinafores when Malachi actually wears these items. I'm not sure yet.
So that is the breadth of my sewing accomplishments this weekend. I did acquire a work table for my sewing room over the weekend, as well as a lovely bookcase for the sewing spot to keep things tidy. Hopefully I will not get behind on my other projects!

I do wish you all a lovely holiday. It is a beautiful day here. David is fishing - later we're going walking by the river - and tonight he will make some steaks and we'll have a key lime pie (which I still need to make!) as a last salute to the summer.

Blessings, dear ones!



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Undies for Malachi

Batteries did the trick. Our camera works again.

It was with great terror, at first, I realized over the weekend that I have only four weeks left until our next Civil War event. This might seem like quite a bit of time but I have so much left to sew for all of us that I felt overwhelmed. It is my own fault. If I had sewn a little bit each week over the summer I would not have this problem now, would I? So I have waited until almost the last minute to get to work on our things. Since there are four weeks I divided my time up weekly. Week 1 - Malachi's items. Week 2 - David and Judah's items. Week 3 - Husbands items. Week 4 - My own items.

This week I am working on Malachi's fall wardrobe. I am pretty well on track with what I've planned. By tonight I wanted all of his undergarments finished and they are, except for buttons/buttonholes which I can do this evening after supper. Tomorrow I can make his gowns - 2 long sleeve cotton ones - and Friday I can make his pinafores and a little wool coat. He can use Judah's hood from last year and I will make a few more caps for him over the weekend and his things should all be done on schedule.

I could technically have shortened the rest of his strapped petticoats and gowns from earlier this spring but I am disillusioned with the cotton muslin I used for them. It just does not hold up like I want it to. I've used muslin in the past because it is very inexpensive but is it really worth it when I have to make new undergarments each season?

A few days ago we went to the thrift shop and I was thrilled to find a king size white cotton sheet, 350 thread count, for $2. There was plenty of fabric there for all of Malachi's undergarments and then some. I was further thrilled to discover at the register that all linens were on sale so the sheet ended up being only $1. So all of Malachi's undergarments cost less than $1 to make. You can't beat that! And the fabric is wonderful. I think it will wear very well and last me through many more babies.

I made his things in a larger size, about a size 18 months. Currently he fits well into 12 month clothing but I want these to last him through next season. By the season after that he will be two years old and into tunics anyway. The waist on these things still fall at his natural waist though. My pet peeve in reenacting is seeing children wear clothing with the waists hanging around their hips. I know it is very practical to buy or make your children larger sized items so they can get more wear out of them but I like the waists where they should be. It looks so much neater. Let the sleeves be long, let the skirts be long - but keep the natural waist, please! :) Extra bodice length can be hidden in waist seams and I plan on lengthening the stays with longer straps if needed.

First are the shirt and drawers. He has two apiece. I would have really liked to have had three of each but I didn't have the time to make an extra of each one. He is not a messy baby anyway and I think one shirt and set of drawers should last him fine throughout each day of the weekend. The shirt is copied in style from one from the Wisconsin Historical Society. Mrs. G. posted about her baby chemises on the Sewing Academy recently and the shirt I was inspired by was one she also took inspiration from. They are very simple. There is a front and back, indentical, and they are sewn together at the side seams. The top is left open and I bound Malachi's shirts with bias binding. The original had lace around the top but I am not sure if I want to add that or not since I'm afraid that would be irritating to Malachi's skin. Later, (this evening) I will add a button and buttonhole at each shoulder to close the shirts. The drawers are full cut and have three 1/4" tucks at the hem. Another 1" of fabric can potentially be let down from the top casing. (I use elastic in the tops of my baby drawers).
Next are the stays and the petticoat. Malachi has just one soft stay but I did make him two petticoats. The stays are corded with cotton crochet thread and they are not tight fitting. This is the first time I've made baby stays and I really like how easy they were to make and how they will hold up the petticoats. Honestly, making a petti-chemise is easier and faster but I wanted to try out the other options since I don't know when we'll have another baby to make clothes for! The petticoats are very full and have three 1" tucks so they can be let down quite a bit. They will close with ties and then will button to the bottom of the corded stays.
Here is a close up picture of the corded stays. The outer layer is a soft striped white cotton I had in my stash (the stripes are woven in) and they are lined with the plain white cotton sheet I used for the rest of Malachi's underwear. There are side seams but the rest of the stays are bound with bias binding and the back opening is self-faced and will have a buttoned overlap. I'd like to add some embroidery to them eventually. If I have time tonight after the buttonhole marathon I might add a tiny bit to the side fronts. In between sewing bursts I did get Judah's cap finished. It came out a bit differently than I wanted it to but I had to make an emergent shaping detour while shaping the back seam since I was running out of yarn! I tried it on him while he was sleeping last night and it fits well, although it is a bit large. It should fit him for a while. I now have technically no yarn in the house and I feel a bit freakish because of that. I need to get some more! I want to make Malachi some leg warmers and I want to knit little David a hat as well.
This post is quite long enough, don't you think? :) I should be working on marking those buttonholes! Have a lovely afternoon!