Or maybe a mantle? Honestly I’m not sure what makes them different from what I’ve seen ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So, this was the first challenge of the year and was made in preparation for a “cold” outing in Colonial Williamsburg- the day after our scheduled Historic Costumer’s Winter Mini-Market in February. As a stash busting project that I was glad to bust-it-out quickly.
The Challenge: January: Dressed to the 9’s
Pattern: Modified from the Lace Cloak (or Mantle) in Costume Closeup, by Linda Baumgarten, page 50.
Notions: Silk Thread, Silk ribbon, Pinking Chisel, ribbons
How historically accurate is it? I would say 95%. The garment is entirely hand stitched and trimmed in a manner close to fashion plates from 1778/1779 and”in style.” I decided not to line the Mantelet because Virginia is warm- so is silk- and also, I didn’t want to use any more precious silk from my stash.
Hours to complete: 10. The body of the garment itself took about 4 hours to complete, whereas the trimming took at least 6 hours. Always allot double time for trimming. ALWAYS.
Total cost: $30ish for a large scrap of lavender silk and the one yard of fabric for the trim
What would I do differently? This was a hasty project (I absolutely *thought* I needed something for Virginia- spoiler alert– I did not need it, but wore it anyway GOSH DARNIT) so… I didn’t completely think through the functionality of the hood and made it too shallow to be useful. It is a purely decorative hood- and that fact makes me sad.
Takeaway: This was a really fun project to try and also to make-do with the stash remnants. For wear, I was surprised at how warm it was with no lining. It did try to choke me a lot, but I’m not sure how to keep a cloak- like garment from doing that, aside from the cross cross tie technique. I did feel extra spiffy in this Mantelet, even though it completely covered the great fit of my new wool dress. I definitely felt “Dressed To The 9’s” with my extra silk!
I also finally got to debut the Giant Calash bonnet from 6? years ago! Super fun and weird way to spend the day.
Alrighty, here we are; into another new year- A MONTH AND A HALF INTO ANOTHER ONE. It’s so bright and shiny and entices one to make new goals for themselves. These goals don’t always stick (as you saw from my last post) but honestly, it’s goals like these that keep me going. Also, I’m a huge “list person”- so we might as well document all this and see how we do:
Finish “Must Do List”
Focus on Stash Busting
Go to Costume College
Host fun events in Ohio
Do more Historical Sew Monthly Challenges.
Let’s look at the year:
**HSF CHALLENGE: “Dressed to the 9’s”
For this I’m entering in my new Silk Mantle: based on sketches and fashion prints from 1778 & 1779
**Prepare for Mini Market
**Black Wool 1770s Gown
EVENTs: JASNA Dayton Twelfthnight Ball – Jan 12 Event postponed to March!
**HSF CHALLENGE: Linen- I may make a new pair of stays out of linen for this one
**Orange Silk Pet en L’air– At least get a start on it!
**Linen Gardening Smock- Modern sewing, but I really need one, so I’ll do it on my birthday!
**HSF CHALLENGE: Sewing Kit– I really need an 18th century “huswife” or sewing kit in general so I might put that together for myself
**Finish Orange Silk Pet en l’Air
**18th Century Toddler Stays
Postponed JASNA Dayton Twelfth Night Ball, March 9
18th Century Fancy Dinner- March 30 (Tickets on sale until 2/20!!!! GET THEM SOON!)
**HSF CHALLENGE: “Upping Your Game”-
For this challenge I think I’m going to start my venture into Edwardian clothing- It’ll probably have something to do with lace insertion. HOWEVER- this may change
**Finish Trim on Silk Ikat Saque Back Gown
**HSF CHALLENGE: Florals
I plan to tambour embroider/reproduce a version of a sleeveless spencer [allegedly] belonging to Josephine Bonaparte!
**White and Gold 1802 Dress
**Finish Green Corded Bonnet
**HSF CHALLENGE: Favorite Technique
This is going to be a hard one to decide on… totally not sure yet
**Navy Charmeuse 1920’s Dress Repro from The Southeast Ohio History Center Collections
**HSF CHALLENGE: Unexpected
I desperately want to make an 1880’s Maternity Corset
**HSF CHALLENGE: Out of a Portrait
There are a LOT to choose from. Oy. I might do something for Anne, like an Edwardian children’s dress? I don’t know. This one is almost too broad for me-HA!
**Edwardian Ensemble for September Luncheon
**HSF CHALLENGE: Everyday
18th Century Quilted Petticoat- I didn’t get around to this one this year but I’d really like to get working on it!
**18th Century Kid’s Market Bonnet
Fair at New Boston- Labor Day Weekend
Edwardian Croquet Luncheon (More Details to come!
**HSF CHALLENGE: Details- another not sure yet- I might focus my energies on the little details of 1830’s Children’s clothes
**1830’s Men’s Coat
Schoenbrunn Village Market Fair- Date TBD
Locust Grove 18th Century Market Fair- October 26-27
**HSF CHALLENGE: Above the Belt
I’ll likely enter an 1830’s Bonnet or wired cap in preparation for the Dicken’s Village!
**HSF CHALLENGE: On a Shoestring
For this one I might do an up-cycle project that’s been languishing in my rip-apart box. Not sure what it’ll be though.
**Christmas Presents CRAM
Ohio History Connection Dickens Village
Are there any events I should know about and add to my list? It seems a little bare to me…
Geesh! This year has proven to me that I’m not in control of time (or anything for that matter) in any way. I can’t believe the year is almost over… there were so many things that I had intended/scheduled to make but absolutely did not. I don’t know about anyone else, but this year kicked my butt. In terms of “upping my game”- in terms of quality events- in terms of meeting new people- in terms of turning my life upside down. It was a lot to cram in there.
Surprisingly, I’m alive. *CHECK*
This year, I had made a “resolution” to follow the “Must Do List” and to keep up with the Historical Sew Monthly. That went well for about 4 months. Then I tanked HARD. Moving really disrupted everything. I mean, my husband’s job was terminated at the beginning of January, so it’s been an entire year of upheaval- now that I look back on it. We’re finally getting into a “groove” in our new little town and I’m so excited to have some stability. I have an awesome friend who watches Anne once a week so I can get a solid day’s work in and the commission waitlist is getting smaller for Virgil’s Fine Goods. I know that once I get to where I feel I have a handle on things it’ll all go topsy-turvy but for now I’ll enjoy the little bit of routine we’ve got goin’ on.
Anyway, back to this year…. How did I do? On a scale of 1-10 (10 being best) I would say I fall around 4 or 5. I kept up with work stuff but personal projects didn’t go as planned in any way… If I were being graded at school, I would qualify it all as a D, but I’m getting close to 30 so I don’t even know why I would think in terms of that….
I still haven’t made my birthday apron yet- adlkfjahkdljahfdh- but I guess that’s the trade-off when I want to garden, do canning and craftting while having a kid under 2. It’s going to happen next year though. IT MUST.
The Must-Do List (2017) Progress
Finish Yellow 19th Century Ball Gown– Now I need to blog about it
Add more trim to Green Check 19th Century Gown
Finish Regency Stays- Busk Pocket, add real straps
Add Buttons to Black Regency Gown
Fasten Straps to Regency Petticoat
Re-Make Wool 18th Century Petticoat
Trim White 18th Century Petticoat–
Trim Pierrot Jacket– Now I need to blog about it
Hem Ian’s 19th Century Shirt
Wellllllll that’s not great. BUT I did make some fun things this year:
Finished Personal Projects:
(a lot of these will get their own blog post soon, I just have such a hard time getting nice photos to use!)
The 1908 Purple Dress
1810 Yellow Silk Evening Gown
1760s-1770s Small Hoop
1760s-1770s Chine Saque Gown
Anne’s 18th century kit (cloak, mitts, gown, cap)
Anne’s 19th century dresses (3 dresses and corded cap)
1800-1805 White Ikat Crossover Gown
1787 Silk Cap
1810 Trimmed Straw Bonnet
1919 Christmas Dress for Anne
Late-1770s Linen Dress for Felicity
Unfinished Personal Projects (These will be added to next year’s “Must-Do” List)
1805 French Blue Bonnet- I just need to hem the ties!
1800 Green Corded Bonnet Repro- Add brim and trim
Felicity’s Rose Garden Dress Redo
All in all it was an alright year for historical clothing but next year is gonna be wayyyyyy better!
I had a lovely conversation with some lovely people over the weekend. We discussed how far a lot of us have come since starting our journeys into this obscure land of fabrics, threads and ribbons…. and I have been thinking about it nonstop. I wanted to write a letter specifically to those who are just now venturing- or feel like they’re just now venturing- into this hobby:
Dear Costuming and Living History Newbies,
I am so glad that you are coming to join in the fun and creative pursuit that is the costuming world. We welcome you with open arms and hope to help you achieve your own brand of awesome. We hope to support you when you have to rip out all the seams you *just* stitched over the last two hours and tell you that it’ll get better. It can be one of the most memorable and fun hobbies to be part of. We’re so excited to see what you create!
The costuming world can be a very intimidating place. Beautiful pictures are posted on facebook, instagram or blogs and sometimes your insecurity will eat at you. Don’t listen to the “I could never be that good” or “It’s too expensive” or other negative internal dialogues that creep into our brains. So before you start beating yourself up or feeling down about what others are working on remember the following:
Making ANYTHING is a process of research, practice, proper tools and TIME. It takes TIME to practice, learn, understand the mechanics of making clothing. It also takes TIME to gather the proper tools and materials to create a well done ensemble. It takes TIME to research your possible construction methods. You probably won’t do everything perfectly in the first go.
I have been sewing costumes and clothing for almost 10 years now and it’s only been within the last year or so that I feel like I can handle a sewing machine properly and easily… My machine stitching still looks a little wonky sometimes, which is why I prefer to handstitch. On the other side of that… the only reason my handstitching is even is because I’ve been fortunate enough to spend summers and the last 3 years handstitching(as a business) three to sometimes eight hours a day! All that practice adds up.
There is a time and place for everything. Just because there are no events around you where people dress up in silk and eat a fancy dinner doesn’t mean there can’t be. PLAN ONE. Just do it. Do your due diligence and contact places that might be happy to have an event like that. It may take time and a little bit of cash from the guests, but you won’t regret the photos or the unforgettable experiences you can muster.
BUT PLEASE KEEP IN MIND- There is a time and place. An encampment might not be the best place for your fanciest of fancy silk gowns. A venue may not be able to accommodate or allow specific costumes or any costumes at all. A 1770s themed event might not appreciate an 1860s ensemble. An event might only be for hanging out in fancy clothes and not doing a First Person interpretive teaching experience. Etc.
Ask questions. Google. Read books. Peruse blogs. Go to museums. Use the library. There are so many amazing resources you have at your finger tips that many who started out in this hobby didn’t necessarily have access to. WE CAN ONLINE SEARCH MAJOR COLLECTIONS FROM AMAZING MUSEUMS. We have it so easy, anymore! Understand the difference between “first hand research,” “second hand research,” and “inspirations.” All of this research will help train your eye to the obscure world of fashionable details.
Specificity is the sole of narrative. When you ask a costumer a question, please be specific. There are too many caveats to answer a broad question of “I’m making an 18th century gown, what do I need to do?” It takes years to research and understand what is going on in historical garments. There is no possible way we can answer such a broad question concisely or in a way that might make sense to you….And some answers might not make sense to you at all, yet. That’s where research comes into play. Take all of the pieces you’ve found and weave them together. Discuss with others what you’ve found and you’ll find a new tidbit along the way that’ll aid your overall understanding and eventual “look.” All of this is a JOURNEY. New research comes out all the time and sometimes thwarts what we thought we knew. Never say never, and never say always! History might just contradict you soon.
You are your own worst critic. This goes for life itself but especially in clothing we make to be seen in. As long as you’re a nice person and aren’t mean to others, most likely no one is going to notice your uneven stitching at the armpit or even think to bring it up. And you know what? You don’t have to talk about your mistakes if you don’t want to. No one has to know.
Make sure every tip you give or receive is in the spirit of constructive criticism. Don’t take it personally. Most people want to help, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s phrased that way. If you’re looking for constructive criticism, be ready for a flood of help. And that’s just what it is: BEING HELPFUL. Your growing skills are not a reflection on you as a person.
If they’re being a butt about their “advice” then leave the conversation. What they may be saying might be true, it might not. Take it seriously, but not personally.
There can be limitations. Time, money, resources, skills, health, body shapes are all limited in different capacities for each person. It’s okay to make substitutions. It’s okay to accommodate these limitations and substitute with other things. Keep within the realm of your goal and you’ll be able to create a thing you’re proud of.
Also on that note, be aware of your skill level and keep your projects to a challenging, but attainable, goal. There’s no way I would have been able to tackle the Purple People Eater dress even just a few years ago. It would have been a total fail. The extra details were able to be added only because I’ve built the foundational knowledge of how to make a garment well; so stepping up the embellishment game was just the next level….. AND It’s okay to not “be there” yet. We all started at a very different place than we are today. You got this.
Find your community. With the advent of the internet, we’re able to find people across the entire globe who have the same niche interests as you do. I never would have met ANY of the fine gents and ladies I’ve been able to befriend if it weren’t for blogs, facebook or instagram. I honestly wouldn’t have known people do this kind of thing. YOU CAN FIND YOUR PEOPLE.
OH…. General social rules still apply when you find them… or you meet an instagram idol. Just because you follow someone on instagram does not mean it’s okay to run up and feel up their costume without introducing yourself first or feeling like you’re “besties” because they replied to your comments. You can still be a well behaved human. Take time to get to know people personally and organically when you find your people and everyone will be happy in the end!
We all just want to have fun. We all have different reasons why this hobby is enjoyable, don’t ruin it for others. Does someone enjoy being insanely historically accurate? GREAT. Don’t put them down for preferring to handstitch or wanting documentation for their event. Does someone enjoy looking like a fashion plate and being extra? GREAT. Don’t tear them down for creating a fun outfit to wear and having fantastic pictures. Remember, if you’re thoughtful, nice and mindful of others you should be in the clear.
All in all, we’re happy you’re here and can’t wait to see what amazing things you create! Keep on keepin’ on. And happy sewing! ❤ ❤ ❤