Monday, October 1, 2018

An Embroidered Jacket for a Civil War Walkabout

I didn't think I would have any more opportunities to do a Civil War event this year but a few weeks ago a friend decided to organize a causal get together to walk around at his towns annual fall festival, to engage the public and talk with people about our impressions; "Reenactor Awareness", if you will. πŸ˜‰ I was thrilled to be able to participate and had a good time visiting and strolling through the festival with our small group.


While I didn't get any pictures at the actual festival, I did stop and take some pictures at a historic site just outside of the town where the festival was held. This lovely stone house dates from the first decade of the 19th century and after driving past it so many times, it was fun to finally take the time to stop and look at it and enjoy the site. 

I haven't made many new 1860's projects this year. One, I have felt a little apathetic about it this year and two, I've been so busy with so many other things. I felt like I should take this chance to make at least one new thing from this era and after thinking about, I decided that a little jacket for Anne would be good to make. Jackets are quick and don't take much material and she has outgrown the one I made for her early last year. 

I didn't get to actually start her jacket til a few days before the walkabout. These jackets generally don't take much time so I thought I'd fancy it up a bit with some braidwork. I don't have braid but you can use tiny chainstitch embroidery to carry out the design on your fabric. It looks like braid and I have read from trusted sources that this was also done in period.


Anne wasn't thrilled about my choice of fabric (a rather plain and sober greenish-grey) so she selected a bright purple floss from my stash for the braid design. I cut out the front and back of the jacket from my main fabric and after drawing a few ideas for braidwork, at last settled on a fairly simple motif taken from a more complicated one. I couldn't figure out how to trace the design onto my fabric so in the end I freehanded it and eyeballed it and although my motifs are not at all exactly the same, the end effect is pleasing and, I think, looks like originals - which often were full of "mistakes". In fact, it seems non-perfect designs are far more common than "perfect" examples!


Even the simple embroidery took FOR-EV-ER and my hand cramped up by the time it was done but the jacket was finished in time for Anne to wear it Saturday. It is interlined with natural colored cotton/linen and lined in a tightly woven, slick, silky feeling cotton plaid. The sleeves are lined with the same cotton and slip stitched to cover the seam allowances at the armscyes, so there are no exposed seams. The jacket is faced all around and the sleeves are faced a few inches up at the cuff. To close the jacket, a single brass hook fastens at the neck, to bring the edges of the jacket together. 



She wore it with the new dress I made for her in June and the colors worked together very well, even though we did not plan it that way! Rosie wore her beloved "star dress" with Benjamins blue jacket from last year and Benjamin was warm enough in his long sleeved tunic and his green twill trousers. It was a cool day, but not at all too cold for comfort, and we had a great time representing the 1860's! 


It's only been a few months since I made this and already it barely
buttons around her waist and she's gotten a lot taller!




I wore my green plaid dress I made from a sheet last year. I decided to wear my small hoop with it since I always feel uncomfortable NOT wearing a hoop, unless I am specifically doing a very working class, rural impression (and even then, hoops were probably the norm. . .) This made the skirts pretty darn short but choosing between a longer skirt length with no hoop or a shorter skirt with a hoop, I decided to go with the hoop. My only new things were the necklace and earrings I got at a garage sale a few weeks ago (one dollar! Amazing deal!) and I was thrilled that the earrings didn't bother my ears. Normally I can't wear jewelry since it ends up irritating me and even nickel free earrings drive me crazy after an hour or two. But these were just fine, and really helped me feel like I was truly dressed up to go to town. I wore my black silk belt and my black bonnet and a red wool shawl. 

My absolute most favorite thing about my outfit though was - my shoes! Oh my gosh. A few weeks ago a friend was selling her Robert Land boots on a Facebook trade group and I was thrilled to be able to get them from her. They came just in time for the event and it was truly a magical moment to open the box and see these lace up leather boots in there. They are a perfect fit with plenty of room for thick stockings and are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. I will keep my old Fugawee Victoria's for events when I'm doing a more working class thing or if there is bad weather but - oh my goodness. I never thought I'd be able to get Robert Land boots! These fulfill all my wildest Victorian shoe fantasies. πŸ˜„ I was a little nervous about getting these without trying them on since it seems people either love or hate Robert Land shoes, as far as fit and comfort, but I am glad to say I am on the side that finds them extremely comfortable and - you really cannot improve upon the look, the quality or the construction. These check all the boxes. They are as close to originals as you can get without actually wearing antique shoes. I truly was almost in tears when I put these on!


And now, unless anything else comes up, we are done with living history for the season. I am a little sad, but excited about the new season next year, going to new places and having good experiences with old friends and making a lot of new ones! I have met so many great people this year, some of whom have become almost like family to me. 


Over the winter I have a few plans for things I want to make for myself. I will probably wait til very early spring before I start making things for the children, as I have no idea how much they will grow between then and now and what hand-me-downs will work and what won't. For myself, I'd like to make up my black wool, lavender and grey plaid sheer cotton and my green-blue silk. Winter always seems like plenty of time to work on things but it does go by so fast - so I hope to start soon! 


For now, though, I have a very impatient little 3 year old tugging my sleeves and telling me it's time to go sew her Halloween costume! πŸ˜‚ We have our first Halloween party of the year in less than 2 weeks and I've got a lot to do!
She wouldn't be satisfied until I let her wear my bonnet and veil.
She loved it!

Happy October!

Love,
Sarah

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