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Showing posts from August, 2012

Gold Corset?

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So I've been holding off making my corset because I wanted to have some good silk for the outside of the corset. However, I've spent all of my pocket money on other fabrics and need to wait until payday. Well, I was reorganizing my fabric and setting aside my historical fabrics when I found some gold silk I had acquired a long time ago. I do believe I have enough to make a corset! The only thing, is that I was planning on purchasing some white silk. This gold stuff is really a dark, almost brassy gold. (see below) How will this look through a white Regency dress?! Will I need a corset cover of some kind? I want to be resourceful and thrifty and use what I have, but dark gold? Hmm... I'll have to think about this one.


Corset or no corset from this stuff? What do you think?

Gettysburg & A Fabric PARADISE!

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We are very blessed in that Gettysburg is only an hour away! We took a family trip there on Saturday and it was a nice visit. We mostly just walked around the town, had a picnic lunch, and visited the Soldier's National Cemetery. No battlefields or museums or anything. Relaxed and free. We only spent money on the gas! I love trips like that.

Well, in my online searches for period accurate fabric for my Regency dresses I found a fabric shop in Gettysburg that caters to reenactors called the Needle & Thread. So.... while we were there I asked a lady in a costume shop where it was and she was able to tell me (of course!). And after we were done walking around, we took a little detour out of town to the fabric shop. Boy, was it worth the trip!

This store was in a medium-sized warehouse type building and it was chock full of historically accurate (1860s mostly) cotton prints, sheer cottons (swoon!), silks, cotton velveteens, one entire row dedicated to linens (unheard of!), and tw…

Boone Frock & Cap

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I finally started into some historical clothing sewing. It was a bittersweet experience. It felt so good to do sewing that was so familiar to me that I didn't even need instructions. The bitter part was that I couldn't help thinking of my historical sewing mentor, Suzanne, and how much I missed her. I kept thinking I should call her up to tell her about my latest projects but then I would remember that she's passed away. It was difficult, but like I said, it was bittersweet.

I decided to start small and sew a dress for my daughter. I've had these children's Civil War clothing patterns for something like 10 years and never had children to use them for. I even had fabric I had purchased as a single, childless teenager for my future children which is what I used for her dress. How insightful of me! It's not the prettiest fabric, but I didn't have to go out and buy it, so that was great!


So, I decided to make a Boone Frock for my daughter. It's an 18th cent…

Patterns!

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My husband and I went to an English Country dance last night. It was so much fun! It was my husband's first time going and he was a little reluctant at first, mostly because it was a new thing, but he admitted to having a good time and I think he did pretty well too for a first timer! (For me it was only my second time.) I was very happy that they taught one of the dances that you see in Pride & Prejudice - the one where Elizabeth and Darcy dance together. I recognized the tune and it's such a pretty dance. It's so much fun to actually do it myself!

I have started collecting patterns and some material. Ever since I did Civil War reenacting I have never thrown away a piece of wool, linen, or silk that came my way. I'm very glad for that! Some of it will really come in handy.

So far, for my Regency-style costumes, I have gotten patterns for my underthings, Spencer jacket, and dress from Sensibility.com. And I recently just ordered a corset pattern and a wooden busk …

Trimming an Old Gown

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This blue day dress was one of my later ones in my Civil War reenacting time. I really like how the shape of it turned out and it fit me surprisingly well (except for that right shoulder maybe) considering I didn't have a dress form or anything.

The 150th Gettysburg is coming up next year and it's been on my mind. The last time I went to the 135th Gettysburg at 16 I lived in Indiana and it was quite the drive! Now, 15 years later I live only an hour away. Even though I don't reenact anymore, the hobby has been calling to me. 15 years ago I committed to going to the 150th anniversary event and now that I live so close, I really have no excuse and I would regret it if I didn't go. And if I didn't go in costume, well I would regret that even more. 
So, I thought it wouldn't hurt to finally add the trim I'd been planning to add all this time. Just in case... 2 kids later, I actually don't know if it even still fits. So, I might need to make a new dress anyw…

From the Archives: Instruction Manual for American Soldiers

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I have a plethora of research that I've accumulated over the years which I'd love to share. It's just sitting there anyway. Someday soon I'd like to make something of it in the form of a few published papers or articles, but in the meantime my blog forum will have to do. So, occasionally I'll be posting things "from the archives" which will be interesting tidbits of history that I've uncovered through my research.

Starting with:

I saw this book at the Bodleian Library giftshop at the University of Oxford in England when I was on a study abroad to London. I didn't buy it though.

And I kept thinking about it. Regretting that I hadn't bought it.

Then, merely a week before we were due to fly home I used my last remaining train pass punches to take the train from London to Oxford just to buy this book. It may seem silly, but to me as a historian who is fascinated with American/British relations during WWII it was a must!

Instructions for American Se…

The Shopping Challenge for Historical Costume Makers

Finding authentic or authentic-looking fabrics, ribbons, etc. for historical costumes is quite the challenge especially if you only have big-box stores like JoAnn's to go to. Doing adequate research and even keeping a fabric journal can help. Some things you will need to find online, but you can make do with a trip to JoAnn's or Hancock's if you know what to look for and where to look for it. I found this article from HistoricalSewing.com to be a great help, especially for beginners:
http://historicalsewing.com/searching-for-historical-supplies-from-chain-fabric-stores

You'll also see on the right side of her page a place to sign up using your e-mail address to receive a free copy of "7 Strategies for Creating Realistic Historical Clothing from Chain Fabric Stores". It comes as a .pdf file and I found it quite helpful, even with some experience under my belt!

It's A...

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BODKIN
A bodkin is indeed used for lacing, in particular for lacing up a corset, as shown in the picture above. A bodkin has other uses, though. It can be used for making your own sashes or fabric ties (Think of a fabric "tube" - when you fold a long, narrow piece of cloth in half lengthwise, sew down the edge and then you insert the bodkin into the end, thread through the end and pull it through to turn the fabric tube inside out. This is very difficult to do without a bodkin. I've used safety pins before and it takes forever!)

A bodkin is a very useful tool indeed!

Thanks for all (2) who guessed! haha! :-)
According to dictionary.com a bodkin is:

asmall,pointedinstrumentformakingholesincloth,leather,etc. alongpinshapedinstrumentusedbywomentofastenupthe hair. ablunt, needlelikeinstrumentfordrawingtape,cord,etc.,throughaloop,hem,orthelike.

What IS it?

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Have you ever been to a museum and seen a displayed artifact that you had no idea what it could be used for? I love seeing these "history mysteries" and trying to guess what they'd be used for. Then I read the item's description to see how close I was. Usually I'm way off.

Well, I thought it would be fun to periodically feature an historical artifact that has an unusual name or is itself unusual.

Today's History Mystery feature is:



What is it? (And not just what it does, but what it's called!)

Leave your guesses below in the comments!


Fabric Diary

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Be sure to check my "Historical Threads" tab! I've added some more pictures.


Following in the footsteps of my mentor, Suzanne, I started keeping a fabric diary. I got a regular desk journal and stapled fabrics into it as I made different Civil War dresses. I am so glad I did this! It is one of my most treasured keepsakes. Many of the fabrics in my journal I no longer have even scraps of.

If you're really into historical costumes, keeping a fabric journal is a great way to preserve scraps of not only all the clothing you make, but of period-appropriate fabrics that you find at the store or online to use for reference. (You could even print off examples from websites like Reproduction Fabrics to paste in your diary.)

Here are pictures of my own fabric diary from my years of Civil War reenacting. I'll be adding to it as I make new Regency gowns.






I *HEART* My Remington

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I acquired this portable 1930s typewriter at an antique store during a Saturday antiquing outing for a very reasonable sum. Oh, how I love the clacking and dinging of this wonderful piece of bygone technology!

I didn't buy it to sit on a shelf. I don't mind antiques for the sake of looking at - within reason. I really prefer them to have a purpose and function. So, I employ this typewriter to write a good friend of mine who is living overseas and who shares my same love of good old-fashioned letter writing. She told me she forgot how lovely a real typed letter feels in her hands. I would agree!

There is a quality and importance to these older technologies. To the rest of the world they may seem obsolete, but this functioning typewriter is a piece of our past, a part of our communication roots. And there's something about touching the real thing - touching our past - that is so magical. A reproduction can't do that. Just think of how many hours of typing and fingers th…

Historical Threads

Check out my "Historical Threads" tab at the top. I'm slowly adding pictures of all the costumes I've sewn. Right now they are mostly Civil War-era, but I do plan on learning to make more - especially Regency-style! I can't wait!

It's History Baby!

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Yes another blog about history floating in the ether. And you're welcome. 
I might as well introduce myself. 
I'm Sarah.

No, I'm not a Union soldier, but I dressed up as one once. I even got to fire that shiny black powder rifle. It near tore my arm off! 
(Not to mention I was about 17 there, which I am NOT anymore...)
This is more what I look like. In this picture I'm an "ice angel" dressed in an 1860s work dress to carry a really heavy bucket of ice water during the Civil War reenactment of Billie Creek, IN for the parched reenactors who braved the elements (namely HEAT) in ridiculously hot wool uniforms. You BET they thought I was an angel! (The water I carried was also distinctly refreshing with ice and lemons in it. Mmmm!)
These days I'm a wife and a full-time mom of two adorable cutie pies. I like history. A LOT. I also love photography, cooking & baking, doing historical research, writing, and sewing historical costumes, which you will see a w…