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As expected, the plans I made at the beginning of the year have already started to change! Edwardian Leia is on hold even though I have the fabric and pattern... I just don't have anywhere to wear it, so it is relegated to waiting patiently in the stash.

I'm slowly stitching on things for faire in May, as I'm almost certain it will take me that long to have them done the way I'd like. There are several events before then but I am currently planning to wear "old" clothes with new accessories, or clothes that haven't been well photographed. A part of me is worried that I won't have something shiny and new for the 18th century tea in April, especially with so many people coming from out of town, but I'm trying to console myself with the fact that I will hopefully have a kick-ass gown for faire in May. And maybe I could have my new stays done for that...

In a couple weeks I'll be setting up my mourning display again, and I'd like to have a set of black crape full mourning undersleeves to add to the display. A new white collar is almost ceratinly a must... A new 1860s corset would be good too but I'm not holding my breath.

Then MTA... I'm dusting off my 1890s bloomer outfit because I'll be working that weekend and want something easy to wear. Plus it's such a fun outfit and I never have a chance to wear it! If it's really cold (which it very well may be) then I think it'll be the 1916 suffragette outfit again.

Then the 18th century tea. Pretty sure this will be my white silk fluffy gown with the new pink flounced petticoat I made in December but never wore, and my big black hat. Plus the black mantle I started last year just needs the hood attached, so that's easy and should be cute with that outfit. I've worn that white gown a lot but the pink petticoat and matching breastknot should change up the look considerably.

Fort Fred... Riding habit? Mike needs to finish my hat!

With May comes a new 1812 event in North Carolina, which I'm super excited for because ktlovely and Rich will be coming! I've started a cap for this and Katie is graciously giving me checked linen for an apron. I have a brown printed cotton in my stash for a serviceable gown which should hopefully go together quickly as I plan to do a simple drawstring or apron front style. We'll see! But I really want to do a nice working class impression for this event.

Finally I'll be going to faire on May 20 and will hopefully have a kirtle, gown, partlet, and hood finished by then. I've got the wrist ruffs made up and the partlet ruff hemmed. Kirtle skirt is cut out. I refit my petticoat upperbodies to be a little smaller since I'm worried about looking like a stuffed sausage in all of those clothes (petticoat upperbodies, kirtle upperbodies, and gown bodies--yikes!). The gown may not get all the trim on it that I'd like but we'll see how things are looking as May draws closer...
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I can't find the motivation to write about my trip, even though it was AMAZING. It's been hard to write blog posts since coming back. My mind is swirling with so many ideas about historical clothing and all I want to do is sew, not blog! So I don't think I'll be posting much for a while...

So here are some pictures from my internship with The Tudor Tailor. I stayed and worked with Ninya and her family. I saw so many incredible things and learned so much. Plus I came home with 21 yards of Hainsworth wool for very, very little money. XD

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My hand is really hurting right now, so I almost feel foolish for writing this out... But daydreaming about sewing plans still makes me happy, so *shrug*.

Right now I'm dying to start the historical Star Wars cosplay I came up with last night. I finally struck on an idea that I really like and would be easy to make (no hard-to-find fabrics or intricate accessories and I don't mind using undergarments I already have). I've got a couple months' lull now that it's winter and I think it would be pretty quick to make.

So... here's Edwardian (c.1904) Leia! I just bought the fabric, too, a silk/cotton blend ottomon (ribbed). Still need to figure out what to do for the belt, but that can definitely wait until the dress is finished.

Next will be either a cotton print sack gown or a 1560s ensemble. It all depends on if I can go back home for Faire in May. Unfortunately these gowns are pretty labor intensive and would have due-dates within a month of each other, so I don't know if I can pull off both. But we'll see!

Finally, I have three gowns that need to be made for a very special event in September, one of which I'm embroidering! I've already got the skirt panels ready to start working on, so hopefully it will be finished in time...

Then it will be time to get ready for Gettysburg in November, and I think I'll finally make a new full mourning dress. The fabric has been waiting very patiently in my stash!
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I feel like I was constantly sewing something this year but have very little to show for it. In truth, I think I spent many nights after work just being lazy, as I'm finding it harder to come home after sewing all day to...sewing all night. And as I mentioned in a previous post, my wrist/hand is still causing me problems even after the surgery. I'm planning to see my doctor in the new year but I'm not hopeful.

In addition to sewing at work and sewing at home for myself, I took commissions for two other museums, which I didn't get pictures of before sending them off. But my work is now on display at Mount Vernon and the New York Historical Society.

Another issue is that there are quite a few garments that I made this year but haven't gotten pictures of, or they're wearable but not "finished" and thus not photographed. But hopefully I can start taking care of that in the new year, at least for my 1860s ball gown and 1616 gown.

It's probably worth noting too that I organized and ran a conference at work and got a raise and promotion!

Even thought I didn't sew a lot, I went to many wonderful events (like Costume College!) and had a great time with friends regardless of if I was wearing an "old" dress. Next year promises to have some great events as well. I haven't quite figured out what my 2017 sewing goals are, but there will be a blog post when I do!
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I've been wanting to make a new early 17th century gown for some time now, mostly because I have learned so much since I made my green wool outfit. The idea behind the gown was for it to be representative of a common woman's Sunday/holiday best. This year's Publick Day event was the perfect excuse, although I waffled over whether or not to make something new until about two weeks before the event. So this gown was handsewn in two weeks, amid work and everything else. Michael blocked new hats for both of us. He is becoming quite the talented hatter!

These pictures are from the gown's third wearing, on Thanksgiving for my work's annual event. Someday I'll starch my darn cuffs enough that they won't start going wonky after a few minutes! I'm wearing the gown over my newest petticoat with upperbodies.

Ignore the white threads all over me; I was sewing a shirt!

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Emma and I had a fantastic time at Remembrance Day this year. I got to visit and catch up with so many old reenacting friends and meet some lovely new ones. It made me realize how much I miss reenacting... It feels like we never get out to events since we moved to Virginia. We were much more active in Michigan! There are still things to do around here, but it's not the same, at least for me. I miss the camaraderie of being in a unit.

The weather for the most part was FANTASTIC, so much so that I didn't really bother to finish my paletot. It was wearable but definitely not picture-ready. But almost immediately after the parade ended, the winter squall blew in and it hailed. Yes, hailed. I've never seen weather turn so quickly in my life!

We attended one of the balls and a tea and I had my picture made. I can't begin to tell you just how pleased I am with this tin type. I haven't been able to capture with my phone just how crisp the real image is. And I'm really pleased with my outfit. I try to get tin types made whenever I can because for me it's about the process of creating an image so authentic it could be mistaken for the real thing. I think we got fairly close this time. ;-)

I did finish my black ball gown, but didn't get any good pictures of it. Plus I wasn't happy with how the bertha turned out and have already ordered new lace for it! So it will get pictures and a blog post once that arrives. Here's a peak at the skirt for now.

Can't wait for next year!

We took two trips to Needle and Thread... I got some basics like brown and black polished cotton for linings and facings and white cotton sateen for new Regency stays. My big splurge was worsted wool flannel in the most amazing green color for a secret project (sorry!) which was priced almost twice what I like to pay for worsteds but I couldn't pass up that color. It's the same color as the 1840s dress I started, which I need to finish for Agecroft in two weeks! Then I got a pretty striped cotton for probably something Regency and a sheer striped black silk for an 1860s sheer dress.

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In the midst of scrambling to sew for Gettysburg, I attended the Burnley and Trowbridge stays workshop this weekend. It was incredibly helpful for my job to learn more about measuring and fitting various body types for period support garments and I'm looking forward to trying out the techniques at work. It also meant getting to finally start a new pair of stays for myself, which I haven't had since before my internship over four years ago. They are made of pale yellow wool and will be partially boned. They fit so comfortably and I couldn't be happier with how they are turning out. But it's back to Gettysburg sewing before I can finish them!

I look pretty wretched in these pictures because I was in frantic workshop mode the whole time, but I think my stays look good so far, even without any boning in them!

Pictures by Burnley and Trowbridge.

Taking the measure in our shifts. This workshop also required me to stop putting off making a new shift. It's not the shift I wanted to make (I want one with cuffs at the elbow) but it's the one I had time to make...

Stays in progress! The pattern is based on the red damask stays from the V&A, but I won't be doing the same boning arrangement in the front. I had to adjust the original pattern for length (needed to be much longer) and width (-1" in the bust and -2" in the waist), but these were much easier adjustments than I expected to have to make.

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Growing up in the 90s, American Girl dolls were probably one of the most coveted toys for girls. My parents rarely denied us anything and we have been very fortunate my whole life--but for some unknown reason, my parents never budged on American Girl dolls. I envied all of my friends who had them and contented myself with poring over the beautiful catalogs. I did have a Bitty Baby doll (and lots of adorable oufits for her), also by the Pleasant Company, but she wasn't a historical doll, which I wanted so badly. Like many historical costumers and reenactors, I credit the American Girl line of historical dolls with encouraging my love of historical clothing and history in general.

Samantha was my favorite American Girl for a while, since we share a name and have brown hair and eyes. But Felicity eventually supplanted her. I mean, she has the best clothes! And a horse! It doesn't get much better than that.  In 2013 for my 22nd birthday, my parents surprised me with Felicity and all of her outfits, which my mom had been collecting on Ebay. That was the inspiration I needed to finally make the best American Girl dress of all: Felicity's brilliant blue Christmas gown. This was also after my internship at the millinery shop, so I felt more confident in my 18th century mantuamaking skills.

So almost three years ago I began the hardest part of making my own version of Felicity's Christmas gown: sourcing the perfect color fabric. This went on for at least a year. I bought swatches from Thailand and India that took ages to arrive, and dragged my parents through the LA garment district when I came home to visit. Of course when you are looking for a very specific shade of fabric, you won't find it! At some point (I honestly can't remember how long it took me to find the fabric) I saw a post on the Renaissance Fabrics Facebook page that highlighted their "sapphire" blue silk taffeta and--bam--that was it! I will say that while it is not the same "flat" blue of the doll's polyester fabric, I think the color of this is perfect for reimagining the doll dress as an actual 18th century garment. It has much more depth to it, which I think is appropriate! It sort of changes color depending on if you are inside or outside and if you are in the sun or in the shade!

As for the design, I knew I wanted to make it as historically accurate to the early 1770s (1770-1775) as possible while being as true to the source material as possible. This proved to actually be quite difficult, since the doll dress draws on a few different decades in its design! So compromises were made. I also knew that I wanted to make a sack back gown because I had never made one before and it seemed appropriate for a dress as special as Felicity's Christmas gown. While Felicity as a nine year old girl would not have worn one, I didn't set out to make a historically accurate child's dress, as that would be rather strange on adult me! I have to say that I now LOVE sack back gowns and I want all of my new 18th century gowns to be sack backs! They are just the epitome of elegance...

So let's take a look at the doll dress to analyze the different design elements and how I decided to interpret them.Collapse )

Phew! That was a lot of writing! Now for the part I know you're actually interested in--the pictures! These were taken at the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg, exactly where Felicity would have worn her gown. Colonial Williamsburg had the brilliant idea to bring back the Felicity teas that they used to have in the 90s. I snapped up a ticket as soon as I could and I'm so glad I did. The tea was absoutely lovely and it was incredible to see how many little girls still love Felicity and American Girl dolls. The tea sold out so fast that they added three more seatings! I hope CW got the message that this is a popular (and profitable) event and will have more Felicity teas in the future. It was the perfect occasion to dress up and finally get proper pictures of a project that has taken me so long to work on and is so dear to my heart.

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More fabric for sale!

Black wool gauze, perfect for a Regency mourning dress or anything else you can dream up. It really is BLACK in spite of the pictures.

4.75 yards x 48" wide
$80 plus shipping

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Utterly beautiful but synthetic! Please give this a good home! 6 yards x 44" $114 plus shipping.
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I undertook a lot of sewing for an event I did this past weekend. Once I get some better photos there will be an in-depth blog post on it all. Since I was essentially the focus of the program, I really wanted a new gown! But I also wanted to use all of the research that has been done and shared in the past 2.5 years I've been working in the 17th century. That meant new canvas upperbodies for my petticoat. More on that in the blog posts, so for now here are a couple of teasers!


Unfortunately I've been swinging wildly back and forth between being hugely inspired by the 16th/early 17th centuries and 1860s/Civil War stuff. A few weeks ago I did a Civil War event where I had my mourning collection on display, which got me all fired up to make new things for Gettysburg in November. But then I had to get ready for this past weekend's 1616 event, which threw me right into the depths of 16th and early 17th century feelings! I spent a really ridiculous amount of money on fabric for both time periods... Right now I want to go straight into a 1560s kirtle and gown but I've got to get back to the 1860s if I want to make my dreams for Gettysburg come true. I'm also thinking about a new gown for 12th Night in January, and I'm torn between doing a 1790s gown with the striped silk I got in LA and a 1760s gown from the imperial yellow silk taffeta, but I really can't be thinking about that until after Gettysburg!
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So here's a list of things I hope to do with the rest of the year:

*finish the commission by Sept. 24th. I've been dragging my feet on this but I should be able to get it all finished up next weeked if I'm good!
*I want a new gown for Henricus in two weeks but that is probably impossible with the commission and I should stop thinking about it!

*work on 1860s undergarments for Gettysburg: finish the drawers I started, make chemise and new corset, figure out under-petticoat situation. I finished my tucked petticoat except for the button and button hole.
*start the black evening gown

*finish black evening gown
*start fur-trimmed paletot

*make imperial yellow 1760s gown for 12th Night in early January
*take Felicity gown pictures finally!
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This ended up being my favorite gown to wear at Costume College. Comfortable and easy to wear!

The gown is entirely hand sewn using period construction methods and was draped on the body. I wore it with fine muslin wrist ruffles, kerchief, and petticoat, as well as the beautiful silk gauze apron that Emma made for my birthday.

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I meant to do a write up about Costume College, but it never happened... Doing it now seems too late! I had a good time this year but I still felt like I missed hanging out with people as much as I would have liked. For some reason I was exhausted the whole time and went to bed super early each night... which I really regret now but at the time I just couldn't handle it. Sad...

But I've been very busy since then with lots of sewing. I need to finish a commission for a museum by the end of September and then I can go full steam into my wardrobe for Gettysburg Remembrance Day in November. I plan to wear my black and white checked silk gown during the day but with a new black wool paletot trimmed in black fur. And I talked myself into a new ball gown for the Friday night ball!

Yes, it's a black ball gown. :) I'm making it out of silk/cotton satin and it will be trimmed with antique black lace and lots of ridiculous bows. It makes my little black heart happy! Here's my Pinterest board on black evening gowns: https://www.pinterest.com/reinedecoudre/black-evening-gown/

I also need to finish adding tucks to my petticoat, and I desperately need new drawers and a chemise as well. And also a new corset! So lots to do before November 18!
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My Gala gown is wearable! I would say it's done but I just remembered a few things I want to neaten up. But I'm really excited to wear it! It was a huge pain for the longest time and I'm still not completely happy with the fit, but oh well.

Can't wait to see you all at Costume College!

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I leave tomorrow morning for California to spend a week with my family before Costume College starts. I really want to have all of my CoCo prep done as soon as possible so that I can focus on my family and give my wrist a true rest from working. I was super good for the first two weeks after surgery but then I really needed to get stuff done, so I started sewing again... Mostly machine work and Michael was sweet and did some hand sewing for me. All that's left is to put hooks and eyes on my Gala gown, wrist ruffles for the Dutch print gown, four more buttons on the Oriental fancy dress bodice, and possibly three bows for the Gala gown as well. I'm partially packed. Not in a bad place!

While I wasn't sewing right after surgery, I was still incredibly inspired by the 17th c clothing conference, so I went slightly nuts buying fabric for future projects.

Today this amazing yellow silk came for an "imperial" yellow 1760s gown.

And this will be a 1560s gown (black silk satin) and kirtle (silk damask).

I also did some promo work for an event I'll be doing in September portraying Rebecca Rolfe. I want a new gown for that as well, probably out of the wool satin I bought a couple years ago. Should be quick to put together since it will be the exact same style as this green gown.
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I should have thought of doing this gown of Padme's as straight Elizabethan for the historical Star Wars group this year at Costume College! Even if I had, I wouldn't have had time to make it on top of everything else. Oh well!

ETA: Or a 1900s version of the "picnic" dress, to play on the art nouveau theme... Or a medieval version to play on the hair buns!

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I don't even know where to begin...

So much has happened in the past two weeks, but I don't have the energy or dexterity to write out a detailed post on it all. You may have noticed my previous posts about the 17th century clothing conference I helped organize. Well, it finally happened last weekend! It really was just my boss and me running this show, which was horrendously exhausting but so worth it in the end. The feedback we have had from our participants and presenters is just overwhelming. The conference included tours, workshops, lectures, and interpretive demos. Everyone had a fantastic time and learned so much. We assembled a veritable powerhouse of 16th and 17th century clothing historians and costumers, including The Tudor Tailor, and it all took place at Jamestown Settlement. We partied in the reconstructed fort and ate fantastic food, and watched the sun set over the James River from the deck of one of the recreated ships. It really couldn't get much better than that!

But right after a showstopping weekend, I went right into wrist surgery. It was just time to get it over with. That means all sewing has come to a screeching halt, and everyday tasks are pretty painful, including typing! So while I want to gush about what a fantastic event I helped put on and how much I learned, I physically can't. I also am desperate to sew but, again, I can't. My doctor is quite sure that the surgery will be the cure to my troubles, but I won't really know until everything is healed up. I'm less confident. I just hope I can finish the last few things I need to do before Costume College...

Here's just a few pictures from the conference, and links to other folks' albums. There are too many great pictures to share them all here!

Jen Thies' photos from the weekend: https://www.flickr.com/photos/52716085@N00/sets/72157670331598125

From the fort party, by Fred Scholpp:

By Victoria Dye:

And a couple of me in hospital and my wrist! :-P

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As part of the three day conference at Jamestown Settlement, The Tudor Tailor is giving an entertaining presentation on June 24 that is open to the public! After the presentation, you can shop at The Tudor Tailor store, chat with Jane and Ninya, and examine reconstructed garments, all while enjoying complimentary refreshments. Organizing this conference has been the biggest project of my short career, and I'd love for you to be there!

This presentation on June 24, 2016 from 7-9 p.m. by The Tudor Tailor is based on exciting new research to be published in their next book, The Typical Tudor.

'As I lie dying'

See inside the wardrobes of two Elizabethan women living in England in the 1570s and go through their garments to discover how very differently they live their lives. Barbara Bundock, a much-married merchant’s widow, and Margery Trollope, a soap and candlemaker, meet for a gossip and to enjoy their favourite conversation – the ailments they suffer and their imminent gathering to heaven, which they have discussed weekly for more years than either can remember. Each is blessed with clothes that represent their wealth and standing among their neighbours. They are competitively well-informed as to the relative value of their dress: the raw materials, where they come from, who made them and how they rival each other in quality and cost. But their clothes also carry a heavy burden of responsibility as tokens to be passed on to friends and family. Not only must they decide who is most deserving of their own garments, there are many items of their husbands’, which demonstrate their doings in more detail than is necessarily comfortable. Barbara and Margery assess which of their grasping friends and family may benefit from the best rather than the worst items on offer.

Join Jane and Ninya for this lively presentation and dressing demonstration which draws on the wealth of material gathered by The Tudor Tailor team since the publication of The Tudor Tailor ten years ago, and gives enjoyable insights into the exciting new content of their forthcoming book The Typical Tudor.

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Now that the museum commission is finished and delivered, I can finally start working on my outfit for the 17th century clothing conferece next month. For the past couple of months, I really wasn't feeling historical sewing as much as I used to, but my mojo is finally back. As a result, I'm seriously questioning whether or not I should go through with my fantasy gown for the Gala. I haven't spent tons of money on the supplies, and I'm sure there will be another event in the future where I can wear it. I just wish I hadn't gone and posted the picture! But I guess we all change our plans every now and then, right?

What I'm thinking of doing instead of a fantasy gown that I really don't "need" is using the time to make some nice new accessories and, more importantly, a new pair of 18th century stays. Mine are about four years old, many of the reeds are broken, it doesn't fit as well as it could, and it was made before my internship, which is when I feel things really changed in regards to how I approach researching and making historical clothing. I have much better resources now.

So... I think I've just talked myself into it! The 1610s silk gown will be plenty fancy and flashy for the Gala. I really want to wear my "old" white silk 1770s gown too, with a new big crazy cap and hair. But I'm not sure what to do for the Ice Cream Social... Does anyone not change for that?

Friday: 1770s white silk gown
Ice cream social: 1770s white silk gown
Saturday: 1780s Dutch print gown
Gala: 1610s silk damask gown
Sunday: Wedneday Addams

Because I don't like posting without any pictures, here are the inspiration images for my c.1616/1617 silk damask gown. I'll be wearing my rebato like the last two images instead of making a new ruff, but I will make matching cuffs. It will have a closed skirt and the long hanging sleeves in the first three images. The trim will be most similar to the green gown, with rows of silver lace. I need new bodies, too, since the neckline gets so low during this period. My current pair of bodies is better suited to 1600-1610. (Clicking on pictures will take you to the Pinterest source.)

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