Felicity Friday: Work Wear Accessories

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I’ve been using my free time between work and life to put together Felicity’s historically accurate wardrobe for various 18th century occasions. My purpose for making this extensive wardrobe isn’t just to satisfy my need for tiny things, but to use Felicity as a teaching tool for children’s groups at various events or lectures I do! She’s really fun to share with people of all ages and they love seeing how her clothes are made just like they’re supposed to be.

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Here she is, so cutely put together.

Right now I’m working diligently on making her some work wear in contrast to the middling class/half dress I typically depict at an event. This way, I can show the public possibly camp-follower impressions or just lower class impressions without having to point at individuals that happen to be passing by! This week I finished up:

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So many little things!

A checked kerchief  made from Burnley and Trowbridge cross barred linen– the scraps from a 19th century apron I made last year (I’ll post about early Regency aprons soon).

An 18th century apron to match my own- blue & white plaid cotton with tiiiiiiiny binding from thin linen tape.

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Tiny stitches and bindings!

And a new linen petticoat- also made from scraps from my own! So dainty! Next week I’ll update you as to what Felicity gets to wear next but for now if you’ve been working on Felicity projects, do link them in the comments. I want to seeeeee!

Now she’s almost ready for all this cold weather we’ve got goin’ on

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Regency Sheer Straw Bonnets

So, I wanted to focus on something in our shop that’s not being widely made right now and we, at the Virgil’s Hats & Fine Goods, are proud to say we debuted these lovelies at the Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove this year!

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Here we are modeling the (L-R) Trimmed, Chocolate colored, and wheat colored bonnets.

When choosing a hat for warmer weather, it’s hard to decide between something “pretty” versus “functional” with the choices that most living historians have.  With what’s generally available at most sutlers- Warm weather presents us with the only options of  a “chip straw” hat/bonnet or a silk covered hat/bonnet. Silk doesn’t breath, and chip straw is more fit for a lower-class impression- which isn’t always what we’re going for.

ENTER THE SHEER STRAW/HORSEHAIR BONNET:

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You’ve seen a few movies with these types of bonnets present in them and you might have thought “That’s too pretty to be historically accurate” or “surely they wouldn’t have had something that decorative” but you would be wrong! There are numerous textual examples of woven horsehair or straw bonnets being used and taxed in the early United States from the 1780’s-on.

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Excerpt from “A Collection of all the Statutes Now in Force, Relating to the Revenues and Officers of Great Britain and the Plantations” Vol 2, Pg 4, 1780.

AND there are quite a few extant pieces in various museums along with a few references to them made in fashion plates. (see images below)  This is a style that has many terms and can often be confusing-  “capote” “leghorn” “coal scuttle” “poke bonnet” are all terms I’ve seen associated with this shape:  generally narrow all the way through and slightly elongated to the back. This was a very popular shape in headwear (caps, hats, bonnets) as well as hairstyles from 1797-1808. These styles are said to have emerged because of the early 19th century “discovery” of new ancient Greek and Roman artifacts- and fashion emulates whatever is exciting!

Comparison of our sheer bonnets to the extant piece,
Woven Horsehair and Straw Bonnet, Ca 1805-1820, Litchfield Historical Society

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“…balloon bonnet of wicker…” July 1796, Heidelhoff, The Gallery of Fashion. Image from Bunka Fashion College

A sheer bonnet offers a delicate and light option for those who want a more refined look while still having some sun protection with your headwear.What’s also great about a sheer bonnet is you can line it with interesting colors- or leave it unlined- depending on your taste!

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Joanna, my business partner, is a wizard at millinery and made these beautiful pieces now for sale in our shop suitable for 1790s thru 1820s! We modeled them at JAF2016 and are now available for purchase. These are made with antique/vintage straws that are extremely hard to find. We hope you like them as much as we do!

(We will have more bonnet shapes, like the tall poke bonnets and maybe even 1860s spoon bonnets made out of these gorgeous straw & horsehairs available in our shop in the near future!… keep checking the shop for new listings)

18th Century Baby Stays

For the 2017 new year, my husband and I found ourselves around the TV with his family basically just hanging out until the clock struck 12. His sister read a book and his nephew played on our WiiU, while his mom chuckled here and there when his nephew would lose or something….. I got terribly bored. I mean: BORED.  I don’t mind hanging out, but this was largely a solitary occasion we were having- I was getting antsy to get my hands on something. After a little while of frustration, I whipped these puppies up [mostly] before the new year and finished the eyelets yesterday!

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So cute and little!

Oh- if you follow my blog but not my facebook page, this will be our baby announcement to you! My husband and I are expecting a little girl in May which is why I decided to make these adorable little things.

The Challenge: January: Firsts & Lasts – Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

This is the first piece made for my little Anne’s 18th century wardrobe. She won’t be able to wear them until she’s close to a year old (or maybe a year from now… we have big babies in both our families) but I figured if I have the time to make them now, might as well!

Material:
Chip Board
Reed/Cane
Linen Scraps

Pattern: Anne’s stays are largely based off of an extant pair from the Memorial Hall Museum. The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop at Colonial Williamsburg made a pair I got to handle while I was interning. Two Nerdy History Girls have done a blog post about them, as did Sew 18th Century. I made these slightly smaller than another pair of extant child stays from the All the Pretty Dresses blog– but similar in size to the yellow pair at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These are the smallest pairs of infant stays I could find measurements for.

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Anne’s stays measure 18″ wide and 5″tall at center back.

edited-baby-stays2You might also notice the light boning in the stays themselves: My fabric is slightly see-through, so you can see the boning really well. In the pair from the Memorial Hall Museum, you can barely make out some extra reinforcements of boning in a similar arrangement to mine. Sew18th Century also made her stays like that, so I figured it was a good idea. The boning is simply basted into the pasteboard before covered with fabric.

(There’s also some extra stitching on the extant pair at the CF point, waistline, and armscyes. I suspect it’s either extra reinforcement (padding for comfort) or repairs)

 

Year: 1760-1800

Notions: Natural Linen Thread

How historically accurate is it? 95%ish I say this because I have never had my hands on an extant pair (only a reproduction) and I made the stays out of a woven checked linen- which is typically used for linings of stays rather than the outer-side of them. I did this because of the scraps I had on hand…. Also, how can you be 100% historically accurate, anyway?

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So cute!

Hours to complete: 3.5 hours
Patterning: 15 min
Cutting: 15min
Assembly: 2 hours
Eyelets: 1 hour

First worn: Give it another year

Total cost: Maybe $3?

Favorite Part of the Project: I love 18th century pieces because you finish them as you go, so once you assemble the pieces, it’s done! That’s how these were.

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These stays are constructed much the same to other 18th century stays. Pieces are whipped to the others.

My next favorite part were the eyelets. On originals, you can see the eyelets are 3/4’s of the way bound and then wrapped around the outer edge. I’ve seen other stays done this way, BUT in the case of these: if you were to bind the whole straight through the pasteboard, it would perforate out the eyelet entirely, so the wrapped part might be a way to combat that. I thought that was cool.

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Comparison of eyelets from the Memorial Hall Museum

 

Compiled list of sources for this project:

INFO:
18th Century Stays- Hallie Larkin

Baby Linen or Making a Basic Layette for Eighteenth Century Reenactor Infants- Sharon Ann Burnston

Baby Clothes- Sew 18th Century

Stays for the Very Young- Two Nerdy History Girls

The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop- Colonial Williamsburg

What Clothes Reveal, pg40- Linda Baumgarten

EXTANT PIECES:

Striped Infant Stays stiffened with Cardboard, c.1770- Memorial Hall Museum

White Linen Baby’s Stays- Georgian era- Poppie’s Cottage

Striped Linen 18th Century Baby Stays- All The Pretty Dresses

Striped Child’s Stays, c.1740- Germanischen National Museum

Child’s Stays, c.1775- Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Wool Child’s Stays- The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Linen Infant Stays, c.1770-1790- Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Hairdressers at the Sign of the Mortar and Pestle take on JAF 2016

Happy Fall (well almost winter now), everyone! We’ve managed to have beautiful weather for the last few weeks and I’m finally in a groove where I can start posting more regularly. Hooray!

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R-L: Ms. Williams getting her hair curled by me and Ms. Stephanie having her hair curled by Joanna!

Of my many adventures this past summer, I especially wanted to highlight our time at the Jane Austen Festival this past July. We were stationed with LBCC Cosmetics and set up a historical hair styling experience for those who would like to pamper themselves for the day and/or get ready for the ball and learn about historical hairstyling.

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Here’s a sweet little view of our wee workshop complete with our turbans there in the back!

The LBCC tent was wonderfully situated so we could have our guests actually listen to the presentations given at the big tent while getting their hair done. We were also near Dames A La Mode, La Bohemian Belle, and 96 District Fabrics, which is a great place to be!

What was so wonderful about this project is that we were able to use historical hair products from LBCC Historical (namely the pomatums, oils, & powders) as well as historical tools to achieve a perfect look- and our guests didn’t have to worry about a thing; they just enjoyed not doing their own hair.

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Later on, I’ll do a post more in depth about achieving an historically accurate Regency hairstyle, including the tools we use to get the perfect look!

Joanna and I luckily had just enough time to get ready for the ball…and were about 45 min late. We still had a lovely time and so enjoyed seeing all of our guests enjoying themselves and looking utterly perfect! We managed to get a group photo with some of them- namely from the Regency Society of Virginia!

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It’s a little dark, but the ladies looked so beautiful!

 

We had so much fun and plan on doing it again next year! I’ll keep you posted on when appointments open up!

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Virgil’s Hats & Fine Goods

As per my facebook page, some of you may know about this already but I’m still happy to shout it from the rooftops:

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Photo taken at the 2016 Jane Austen Festival. Photo by Janet Abell.

I now have an Etsy Store!!!! The shop is called Virgil’s Hats & Fine Goods… after my beloved wee pal, Virgil.

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Look at those eyelashes!

To give some background on what’s been going on the past few months: In February, I left my position at Habitat for Humanity of Southeast Ohio to pursue 2 new exciting opportunities… and go on my honeymoon. The first opportunity was to partner with my lovely friend, Joanna, to expand her custom theater millinery business and for us to start the subject of this post: Virgil’s Fine Goods.

What is Virgil’s Hats & Fine Goods, you say?

Virgil’s (for short) is a shop for living historians or historical fashion enthusiasts in pursuit of fine, handmade accoutrements.

What items does Virgil’s carry?

Currently, we have a number of 1800-1820’s ladies reproduction hats, bonnets, and turbans. A major focus of the store will be to provide well made, accurate (and affordable) men’s linen 18th & 19th century shirts and women’s linen shifts. We will, however, have many other items listed~ such as chemisettes, men’s beaver hats, horsehair bonnets, silk gauze caps, aprons, men’s shirts, leather, Felicity items, etc.

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Hats & Caps & Bonnets, Oh my! Photo courtesy by Janet Abell



Why did you start your own business?

Truthfully, owning my own business has always been the LAST thing I ever wanted to do. The idea of “doing my own thing” or “being the bossman” has never been a fun idea. I had worked numerous times doing custom work and I’m never happy doing it.

So why start one? Holy cow. After talking with a few close friends, I realized no one is providing the living historians with accurate, well made, linen men’s basics or women’s basics, at mid-range prices. I’m talking, 100% linen thread, 100% handkerchief linen, hand finished, 18th & 19th Century shirts or shifts. So, this is the direction Virgil’s be going in the future; smattered with hats, silk caps and other items we decide to make because it’s fun and we want to provide needed items of living history for those who don’t have the time or means.

Does Virgil’s Hats & Fine Goods have a storefront?

Not currently. The business is run from my new residence in Dayton, Ohio but will operate through Etsy for the time being. Listings on the Etsy site will be updated regularly with new items as they are made. We plan to set up at only a few events during the summer, like we did at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville KY.

We had a fabulous time at the Jane Austen Festival. Joanna and I set up as hairdressers for the weekend while we debuted our little shop. Here’s a pic from that event. I will be posting more about it soon!

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Joanna and I as the “Hairdressers at the Sign of the Mortar & Pestle” Photo courtesy of Stephanie Cote

I hope you’ll check out my shop to see the different things I have to offer. New stuff will be added weekly, so keep checking back!

Do you have any questions about the shop? Feel free to comment below!

 

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