Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quilted Hood Progress & Odds and Ends

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas! We had a very nice one here and the weather was unseasonably warm. We smoked a lamb roast on the grill for Christmas dinner with oven roasted veggies and little David made a steamed cranberry pudding for dessert. Today, finally, after weeks of sunshine and open windows I had to turn on the heat, and we are using the leftover lamb for a big stroganoff later tonight.

I've been working on some handsewing the past week since it's been nearly impossible to have time in the sewing room. Since participating in the Vernet project I have come to really appreciate handsewing on a level I never have before. It is really perfect to have a small project to work on in spare snatches of time here and there. I decided to see if my sunbonnet pattern could work as a winter hood (minus the pointy edges) so that is what I am working on. I like the flared brim of the sunbonnet. We will see how it makes up for cold weather use.

This one is very simply made in plain wool, hand quilted to a cotton lining and cotton interlining. The stripes make a handy little guide for the quilting lines. It will be rather lightweight. I am pleased with how it is turning out so far and hopefully it will be done by the time the boys resume school. Then, I can work on the 1840's dress again. 

2015 has been a pretty pathetic year for sewing. I did sew a lot but not much of it was for me or my family. I hope to do more next year. I don't have many specific plans yet but do hope to follow along with the challenges for the Historical Sew Fortnightly. (actually monthly now, with one project per month.) 

  • January –  Procrastination – finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting.
  • February – Tucks & Pleating – make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration
  • March – Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.)
  • April – Gender-Bender – make an item for the opposite gender, or make an item with elements inspired by the fashions of the opposite gender
  • May – Holes – sometimes the spaces between stuff are what makes a garment special.  Make a garment that is about holes, whether it is lace, slashing, eyelets, etc.
  • June – Travel – make a garment for travelling, or inspired by travel.
  • July – Monochrome – make a garment in black, white, or any shade of grey in between.
  • August – Pattern – make something in pattern, the bolder and wilder the better.
  • September – Historicism – Make a historical garment that was itself inspired by the fashions of another historical period.
  • October – Heroes – Make a garment inspired by your historical hero, or your historical costuming hero.
  • November – Red – Make something in any shade of red.
  • December – Special Occasion: make something for a special event or a specific occasion, or that would have been worn to special event of specific occasion historically.
I'm trying to determine what I want to do as far as costuming goes. I'm still trying to figure out exactly why I want to do this and what the purpose is. What is my goal? 

When the boys were little we often went to Civil War reenactments and I had a lot of fun planning and making their outfits. As the years passed, though, I grew pretty disillusioned with mainstream reenactments. I have greatly enjoyed the few progressive events I've been to and hope to do more of that but it is probable that those events will be limited in number to only one or two per year.

I also really love going to more "farby" events like Renn Faire's and multi-era rendezvous'. It's so much fun to just wear what you love and spend some time doing fun (if not strictly HA) activities with people you enjoy being around.  

I also like just dressing up in period attire (whatever the period may be) and going on a hike or picnic, visiting a museum or historic site and enjoying the heightened sense of time-travel that dressing in period affords.

All this kind of bothers me because costuming just doesn't make practical sense. I'm having a hard time rationalizing it since, really, why? Why do it? At best it affords a creative outlet for me and lets me participate in some activities I enjoy with like minded people. At worst it's a waste of time, space and money. 

Sometimes there just seems to be so many other, better things I could be doing with my spare time. But still I dream of dresses and by-gone fashions and society and making things fills me with keen delight and satisfaction. It's the little girl who never grew out of the dress-up days, I suppose, still fondly imagining herself a princess or maid or Laura Ingalls, as the case may be. 

As the kids get older I constantly need to readjust my plans and schedules to accommodate their changing needs and desires. There's not much room these days for living history events (although they love those, too!) 

Season of life, I guess? I guess I'm floundering for a place to settle when it comes to this hobby of costuming. What do I make and what do I do with the things I make become the main questions. Cause hanging them in the closet for a vague someday seems pretty darn stupid. 
A random picture of my child from Christmas Day, just because she is cute and does not loudly flail and scream and resist being photographed.

I still want to make the 1840's dress, though. ;) I'm sure I'll rouse up from this ponderous, melancholy state soon enough. After all, some days I feel more like a corset and petticoats than yoga pants and a hoodie, ya know?

Anyway, here is to a fantastic year of sewing in 2016! To all the projects yet to be! 



  1. When people ask me what I miss most (I now live in Mexico) about the USA, I have to say it's historical reenactments. I miss Dickens' Fair, RenFaire, and my friends from there.

    I did Ren Faire (Renaisance Pleasure Faire in Northern California) for many years with my children. I can't speak for other faires but RPFN had workshops for 6 weeks prior to faire, from topics like herbal lore, the politics of the time,and theatrical things like "meet and greet". It was a positive experience for us.

    If you are spending money you don't have on making costumes or neglecting your family because of it, then that is a concern. But it's a hobby, hobbies are meant to give pleasure. History is important. If you were into birding, would you be questioning the time and energy you put into doing that?


  2. I so hear you on the "but why?" question. I've been wrestling with it for a long time, especially since where I live is very historical-themed-event-lacking. I eventually settled on "it makes me happy, that's why". I hope you find an answer soon :)

  3. I also live in a state that only has a pirate faire near the coast(woo hoo)& a ren faire(fun)2 states over.We would have to join a reenactment group & I don't have the time to participate all year. I love sewing from past time periods-that's what I enjoy. I also enjoy your blog about and all your sewing adventures. Take care rosemarie

  4. I ask myself the same question almost daily. I no longer work in a historic house museum requiring my wearing period attire, which is what got me into this 'mess' in the first place. I remember at one point when I had to leave the job, feeling so lost because just 'what' did I learn all this for? I too do not really mesh with the reenacting community. Very hard to break into and quite clique-y, as are most things in life. That is what got me into historical doll making. I finally joined a costume guild and managed to get my husband into period clothing so now we attend 'events' such as Dickens, Twainfest and a couple of others during the year. I have limited events but still find excuses to make another dress. I think 'we' do this because first of all, we are unique, talented and in need of something 'more' than most folks, and secondly...we must surely have lived another life in another time where this brings us a comfort most people cannot relate to.

  5. Follow your spirit, and make what it whispers. Release your creativity to the universe and life may surprise you. Sewing is your art, it is not a waste. Follow your bliss. Don't foil your creativity by asking what you are going to do with your art.
    And don't forget the others you have inspired along the way.

  6. It sounds like you're feeling a little down. I know it's hard to make time for things when you have to provide for a large family, but don't forget that this passion that you have has given you a means of earning a little money that you can do at home while watching your kids. You also inspire the internet costuming world and we look to you to learn how to make things. You have helped me become a better costumer and to take it beyond a hobby for personal entertainment and start a business venture. Also, remember that a creative outlet is a crucial aspect of life and gives us a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Keep smiling, Sarah!

  7. Thank you everyone for your sympathy and encouragement! I'm glad I am not the only one who feels this way from time to time. You are right - it is a hobby and art. I don't feel like my kids interests are wastes of time. Maybe I still struggle with some weird made up maxim that if something is fun, it must be bad and the enjoyment of it is a guilty enjoyment.

    I think I'm still in the process of adjusting to life with six littles and trying to still find the best way to organize my time. It's overwhelming some days! Hard to find time to work on projects or do research. But even a little here and there is better than nothing, right?

    Anyway, love to you all and thank you for your sensible advice!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!