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My passion is for historical fashions and the study, construction and wearing of them.  So naturally, when Rhonda, my dear friend and the dressmaker, proposed an afternoon of fashions back in February, I jumped at the chance to fulfill a longtime dream.  

Timeline of historical fashions, 1810s-1860s.
(Photographs courtesy of Carrie T.)

Our fashion show took place two Saturdays ago on June 9th as part of the annual tea and quilt turning event hosted by the Newark Valley Historical Society.  This active historical society oversees and cares for two historic sites, including the Bement-Billings Farmstead Museum, and a nature trail in the heart of Newark Valley, northern Tioga County, NY.  For more information or to plan your visit, please see their website here: Newark Valley Historical Society or on Facebook.  

I was so impressed with my first visit to Newark Valley and the historic farmstead.  Rhonda serves as both the curator and costumer at the Bement-Billings House, which preserves the early domestic life and agriculture practices of the region, and was where the event took place.

Front of the Bement-Billings House.

Back of the historic house.

Tea & Quilt Turning 

The tea, arranged by the members of the cooking and guides guild, was set up in the two parlors.  Four types of tea sandwiches, including cream cheese, ham, chicken and egg salad, melt-in-the-mouth lime puffs, coconut macaroons, and maids of honor tarts, my personal favorite, were among the homemade treats served.

The early parlor.

The front parlor.

After the tea and fashion show, the quilt turning, featuring both antique and modern creations with their unique stories, commenced in the reconstructed, Herrick family threshing barn.

Catching the end of the quilt turning.

The ladies made sure that we enjoyed our fill of the delicious tea treats ourselves!  

(Photograph courtesy of Rhonda B.)

Relaxing with company and conversation after the show.

Historic Fashion Show

For our contribution, Rhonda and I had been brainstorming ideas for months.  Finding enough models to do a traditional fashion show was ruled out early, but setting up the three bedrooms and modeling two garments each was the perfect solution and allowed for a complete timeline of fashions.  Together, thanks to large historic wardrobes (as well as some sewing to fill the gaps), we ended up assembling eleven outfits, three eras of undergarments (in addition to those we were wearing) and all of the accessories for our display.

Apparently I've accumulated quite the historic wardrobe over the past few years of sewing...after packing four, overflowing laundry baskets, two bonnet boxes, two dress forms and their stands, and a backseat full of dresses, there was barely any room for us in my car!

The backseat was taken over by two dress forms,
bonnet boxes and dresses!

Wondering if the trunk with four laundry baskets
and other assorted garments resting on top was going to shut...

While Rhonda and I unloaded the car, Carrie, a member of the Newark Valley Historical Society and docent at the Farmstead, arranged each of the bedroom displays.  She then patiently helped us in and out of our outfits and snapped pictures during the fashion show.  I am so grateful to her as we could not have done it without her unwavering support and artistic eye - many, many thanks to you, Carrie! 

The 1810s display was set up in the pink bedroom:  Everything from the proper undergarments, to a morning robe and day dress were laid out on the bed.

1810s fashions.

The 1830s display featured Rhonda's late-30s dress and chemisette on the form, and a complete set of undergarments and working attire on the bed.  

1830s fashions.

Those long, corded stays were finished right before the show!
Blog post to follow...

The last and largest of the rooms held our 1860s display:  When were originally planning the show, fashion and fiction came up as a possible theme.  Perhaps that's Meg March's ballgown on the bed, and Jo's day dress and skating attire on the chair?

1860s fashions.

It was fun to pull all of the red and green themed winter attire!

For the more traditional "fashion show," Rhonda and I modeled four dresses (worn over the proper undergarments and fully accessorized) to show the changes in silhouettes from 1810 to 1860.  I thought our hand lettered cards (made the night before haha) added to our presentation.  As one of us walked through the two parlors conversing with guests about our respective decades, the other dressed upstairs.  Based on the kind words from several of the attendees, our format seemed well received! 

Rhonda in 1810s and me in 1830s before the show.
Please ignore that my eyes are shut LOL
(Photograph courtesy of Carrie T.)

Our hand lettered cards!

Rhonda modeling her purple 1840s dress and bonnet.

Couldn't resist a picture in my new 1860s dress with the 1860s display!
(Photograph courtesy of Rhonda B.)

Before packing up for the day, Rhonda and I had fun taking a few pictures around the Bement-Billings House and grounds: 

Just look at that delightful pineapple wallpaper!!
(Photograph courtesy of Rhonda B.)

I learned that this amazing fireplace cover was designed and hand painted by Carrie!

It was getting dark in the house by the time we finished.
(Photograph by Rhonda B.)

Thank you to Rhonda, Carrie & the Newark Valley Historical Society
 for the wonderful opportunity to present historic fashions!

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Yesterday was my first day back for a fifth season at the Genesee Country Village & Museum as the interpretation office assistant and historical interpreter.   If you've been following this blog for a few years, you may be familiar with a tradition that Judy, the partner-n-crime, and I have to take opening day photos.  Though it was not exactly opening weekend this time, it was a very happy reunion!  

Opening day photo, year III!

I also enjoyed getting to play "dress up" again for a day at the Foster-Tufts house.  We had about 400 school children and several other families come through to hear all about how to prepare for a new, little arrival (the current interpretation theme).  For the occasion, I revamped an old dress, finally adding hooks and eyes at the wrists, and paired it with new accessories and the 1830s Cap of Lace, Net & Ribbon from the previous post. 

Outfit of the Day

Maria did me the great favor of playing photographer in the morning.  Though, being the little sister, much silliness ensued...including this outtake:

I wonder what was so funny? LOL

2017 Domestic Skills Symposium Synopsis

Since it's a museum post, I thought I'd play catch up and tag on some pictures from the Domestic Skills Symposium this past fall - November 10th through the 12th, 2017.  I realized I never ended up posting these, so for memories sake (and to prove I was there haha!), here we go...

Hosted by the Genesee Country Village & Museum, this year's three day symposium featured four, exciting guest speakers, a 19th century luncheon, and two full days of pre- and post-conference workshops.  

The Saturday speakers included: 
  • Peter G. Rose, author and food historian, presenting "Manuscript Cookbooks as Documents of Social and Family History"
  • Nancy Webster, curator of the National Friends Historical Association, presenting "Street Foods of the Late 18th and 19th Century"
  • Mark Presher, our master potter at GCV&M, with "Store it, Cook it, Eat it. The Potter Made it All."
  • Patricia Tice, curator of the John L. Wehle Gallery and Susan Greene Costume Collection, presenting "Calico Capers"

Chocolate custards using American Heritage Chocolate
from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery, in All Its Branches, 1858.

The luncheon bill of fare featured familiar favorites like Salamongundy with Hosmer Dressing, Mrs. Fitzhugh's Buns, sweet pickled beets, East India pickles, and apple and quince.  Collared pork, green corn pudding and French spinach were the main dishes.  Though, it was the desserts that really stood out with a cold fruit pudding from Mrs. Horace Mann's Christianity in the Kitchen (1858), hot pudding sauce, and chocolate custards from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery, in All Its Branches (1858).  Beverages included fruit shrub, cider, coffee, tea and water.  

Only the yummiest fruit pudding ever, serious ever...
I won't admit to how much of this I ate ;)

One of the workshops included the incredibly successful Berlin work pincushion class taught by none other than Judy.  She put so much time and effort into the class, it's no wonder it sold out!  

Berlin work pincushion workshop.
Photograph by Ruby Foote.
(via the Domestic Skills Workshop Album on Facebook)

This time I was one of the out-of-state attendees, driving all the way home on Friday after classes so I wouldn't miss symposium number four.  (I'm still 4/4, and planning on 5/5 this coming fall!)  I really look forward to this event.  There's just something about it that makes it more special to me than some of the other events...perhaps it's getting to share our crafts in the village program and representing our interpreters for a fourth year now.  

Obligatory outfit of the day picture
thanks to Ruby Foote!

As in the past, I spent most of the day manning the crafts in the village table and showing off a years' worth of work by our very talented craftspeople.  Dawn really outdid herself with the hand-dyed yarns this year!

Naturally dyed yarns as part of the crafts in the village program.

Interested in attending this year?  The dates for the 2018 Domestic Skills Symposium have been announced!  Mark your calendars for November 2nd through the 4th - hope to see you there! 

Pottery by Mark Presher, master potter at the Genesee Country Village.

Shout outs:  Many thanks go to Deanna for her leadership and coordination of another outstanding symposium (and for allowing me to come back again!)  To Brian, Lori, Sarah and little Penny, and to everyone else who made it such as success.  To Ruby and her camera for capturing all of these memories (and reminding me to take pictures myself haha).  And finally, to Judy, my partner-n-crime, for welcoming me back and making the weekend trip possible, and Ariana, my museum twin, who I couldn't disappoint ;)   
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From ginormous gigot sleeves to towering Apollo knots, if there was one thing to be said about the fashions of the 1830s, having "too much" was not a concern.  Pile on the lace, the ribbons, frills and bows!  The more the merrier!  And that's just what I did for this newly completed cap:

1830s cap of net, lace and wide ribbon trim.
Tomorrow I'll be returning for my first day of the 2018 museum season, substituting for another interpreter at the Foster House.  While I enjoy the responsibilities of working in the interpretation office, there's nothing like getting to play "dress up" for a day and sharing stories of the past.  While I would have loved to have a new dress for the occasion, I decided to alter a previous creation instead and finish this confection of a cap.  In fact, this has probably become my most favorite cap to date! 

Historical Inspiration

As always, I like to look to extant examples, portraits and other period appropriate sources for inspiration.  This painting really spoke to me: 

Portrait of Alexandra Nicolai Sicily
by Christian Albrecht Jensen, 1824
(Source: Hermitage Museum, via Wikimedia Commons)

My reproduction cap.

I modeled my design after this cap from the MET:

Morning Cap, 1835
(Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

And got the idea to pleat the net from this:

Woman's cap of net and satin ribbon, c.1825
(Source: Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

But it was finding this extant example that really helped my design come together:

Net cap with green and yellow striped silk ribbon, c.1800-1830
(Source: Lot 66 of the Helen Larson Private Collection)

For more extant examples and other inspiration images, feel free to visit my Early 19th Century Caps Pinterest Board.  

Construction Details

If you've been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I make a lot of caps.  Rather than repeat more of the same, I'll just say that rolled hems and whipped rolled gathers on net are nothing like fine cottons or linens.  Net is far more finicky, and not for the faint of heart!  

In progress: the cap itself is a single layer of net finished with rolled hems. 
Both the lace and net frill (double layer made by folding a long strip in half)
were pleated, then attached with rolled whipped gathers.

Outer layers of frills attached.

The gathers ended up being a little more bulky than I would prefer due to the pleating and all of the layers.  In a few of the extant examples I've seen, the frills appear to be attached with a running stitch and then covered with a narrow band of net to enclose the raw edges.  I would explore this technique as a better alternative in the future...

Interior view of the cap.

The ties, much like the net frills, were just long strips folded in half and rolled up the sides:

Interior view of the ties and rolled whipped gathers or hems.

Exterior view.
Please note that both sides of the cap are visible.

Untrimmed Cap 

Once the ties were on, I took a break to capture some pictures of the untrimmed, but finished cap.  

So sheer!  No hiding unstyled hair under this cap!

Completed Project Shots 

To complete the look, I trimmed the cap with two yards of a beautiful, wide moire ribbon from The Dressmaker's Shop

I think the ribbons really change the look.  What do you think? 

Thanks for reading!
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At last, it's summer vacation, and I am so ready for it! 

Hello blogging world, I'm baaa-ck!

This past year has been quite a whirlwind as I decided to return to college as a full time student.  For those of you who know me in person, I can be quite a perfectionist and tend to like to bite off more than I can chew, as the expression goes.  The combination of the two has left this poor blog rather neglected, and its writer feeling a little overwhelmed.  I was so focused on projects, essays and exams, I feel as though I've let any personal sewing and blogging fall to the wayside, and even fallen out of touch with many friends.  

This summer, however, offers the chance to make amends and pick up those unfinished projects and unpublished posts.  (The sheer amount of pictures and ideas for content that have amassed are quite alarming!)  While I've made peace with the fact that I'll never be able to finish everything, I am content to simply get back to writing and am jumping back on the blogging bandwagon.

Moving Forward on Blogger

I love what Ray Bradbury said: "Write what you love and love what you write."  To me, blogging is all about the personal experience.  It's a space where any individual may write about whatever makes them happy, capture memories and share passions.  We as bloggers should free ourselves from self-imposed expectations, deadlines and guilt, and instead, give ourselves permission to do exactly what Bradbury said: write what we love

What does this mean for the blog?  You may see me writing more about past projects and events, including a year's worth of school sewing projects.  Never fear, though, there will also be new historical sewing and living history posts too!  However, I will be focusing more on publishing finished works, and keeping the in-progress updates to other social media accounts. 

Also, a note about restoring pictures to previous blog posts: there are still many past blog posts missing pictures, due to problems with the switch from picasa to google image hosting.  Ideally, I'd love to restore all of the images, but doing so has been slow going.  So, for now, unless there is a want for a certain post (please let me know by requesting in the comments), this project has been put on hold.  

Onto Facebook & Instagram


Speaking of other social media accounts, you can find us on Facebook, Pinterest and now on Instagram too!!  I will probably be most active on the Facebook page, posting about in-progress works, events and previews for upcoming blog posts.  Pinterest is reserved for collecting research and inspiration images. 

I'm still trying to figure out Instagram and how best to use it, so please bear with me there.  Suggestions are always helpful and appreciated...

Other Summer Plans 

This weekend is the opening weekend for the Genesee Country Village & Museum's 2018 season!  While I am sad to have to miss this year, I am pleased to announce my return for a fifth season as the interpretation office assistant and historical interpreter!  If you have the chance to visit our lovely historic village, please say "hi!"

Also, my "homework" for the summer is to practice sewing.  Practice, practice, practice has been the advice of professors and fellow sewing friends (Kaela, cough cough) alike, as I know there are many areas where I need improvement and sewing confidence.  Several opportunities this semester have made a future, yet not so distant, career in costume construction and living history seem all the more real and exciting...so be on the look out for more sewing projects like these:

First project I finish when I get home!

I will make you, squiggle dress!

Almost there...

This year's birthday dress?

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Finally, a blog post!  It's our last week of classes here at Kent State University, with plenty of projects to finish, papers to write and exams in store for finals week...but, it's almost summer!  I have big plans, including some serious catch up on sewing, blogging and just life in general...

But first, I'm breaking the blogging silence with something very exciting: 

I'm in the newspaper!

See it online in both Mandarin and English, here:

The Erie Chinese Journal, in fact, which is a Cleveland-based Chinese (and English language) newspaper.  I believe that the article, "Designing Your Dreams" by Cynthia Lundeen, author and milliner at Cynthia's Centuries of Style, was originally released in the March edition, but I happened to come across it, just yesterday, online.  (It's amazing and sometimes very scary to see what comes up when you"google" search your name...)  

Anyways, I had been waiting to see it in print before announcing to family and friends, and heard that the package is currently waiting at my permanent address...but, having seen it published now, I can no longer keep the secret!  I am just beyond words at having had the great pleasure and privilege of working with Cynthia Lundeen and Ying Pu, publisher of the Erie Chinese Journal.  

Standing in the dining room,
Photograph by Ying Pu

The story starts back in February when I received a surprise email from Cynthia Lundeen, who I had greatly enjoyed having as an instructor for the period millinery course in the previous semester.  She mentioned that Ying Pu, friend and publisher of the Erie Chinese Journal, took interest in my chosen, non-traditional course of study, and that they would like to interview me as it could help other students find just as niche and career specific programs.  Immediately, I jumped at the chance, incredibly honored to be considered for Ms. Lundeen's next article.

Photograph by Cynthia Lundeen.
Historic home built in 1896.

Signing the guest book.
Photograph by Ying Pu

A few weeks later, we met for tea and an afternoon of talking about our passions and history, and how important the pursuit and remembrance of both are.  The historic home was beautiful, inside and out, built in 1896 and listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  I even had the chance to tour the millinery parlor and upstairs work studio, which were truly where the magic happens - I've never seen so many vintage hat blocks before, or hats for that matter!  

Photograph by Ying Pu.

Playing "dress up,"
Photograph by Cynthia Lundeen

In addition to bringing what few items of historic dress I had on campus, I was happy to get to share a little about going to school for costumes and textiles, working at a living history museum, and my passion for historical sewing.  I will admit to feeling a little sheepish when talking about myself, but do hope that this article may inspire future students who are struggling, much like I was, to find a college program that meets their specific interests and career goals.  Integrated or multi-disciplinary studies programs are the best-kept secrets of colleges, folks!  

The face of glee!
Photograph by Ying Pu.

Alright, back to homework for me, and, hopefully you'll consider taking a peek at the article now.  Many, many thanks to Cynthia Lundeen and Ying Pu of the Chinese Erie Journal for the great honor and privilege of sharing my story!  

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Happy St. Patrick's Day!  For the day that's all about the wearing of the green, I thought it appropriate to share this emerald, plaid day dress from the Point Park University Collection.

Point Park University Collection - 1860s Green Plaid Dress

If there is anything to be said of Civil War fashions, they sure loved their plaids!  Type "Civil War dresses" into any image search, and dozens of examples will probably appear.  In fact, you might even come across a green plaid dress or two, as there's seemingly no shortage of examples out there.  Here are several that I found:

Hand tinted portrait.
(Image via: Pinterest)

All the Pretty Dresses, one of my favorite resources for discovering extant garments in private collections (usually shared from Ebay, Etsy or other auction sites), had three green plaid dresses:

Green and black plaid silk dress with pagoda sleeves.
(Image via: All the Pretty Dresses)

Two-tone green plaid silk dress with velvet trim.
(Image via: All the Pretty Dresses)

Green, black, white and red plaid silk dress with pagoda sleeves.
(Image via: All the Pretty Dresses)

And yet another sold on Ebay:

Green plaid silk dress with pagoda sleeves.
(Image source: Ebay - travellingbubble)

So, it's no surprise that Point Park had one of their own hidden away...until now!  The following images may be shared and saved for personal reference, but please credit the "Point Park University Collection" - thank you!

1860s Green Plaid Dress 

This gorgeous, green plaid silk dress from the Point Park Collection is from the American Civil War Era.  It was among my favorite discoveries when I was given permission to study and photograph parts of the university's collection (more details here: project background).

Unfolding the dress, front view.

Full length view of the back.

The fabric is a green, grey and black plaid silk taffeta:

The bodice is fully lined with a tan-colored, polished cotton and has a one inch waistband.  It closes with nine 3/4" buttons and corresponding button holes up the front, and two snaps and hooks at the waistband.  The topmost button is missing, and one of buttons applied on top of the trim is decorative, rather than functional.  (A third snap on the inside serves as the closure.)

The front of the bodice closes with nine 3/4" buttons and button holes.

Close up of the center front.

The center back, from neckline to the edge of the waistband, measures 15.5" in length.

Back of the bodice.

The trim is eye-catching and interesting because the black silk bias strips were first machined through the center (to conceal the raw ends), then hand basted to the dress.  Three rows of the black silk trim are applied continuously from front to back, with the bottom edge slightly extending onto the waistband in the back.  

Notice the hand basting and curved, machine stitching details.

The two coat sleeves feature wide bands of pleated black silk to form decorative puffs.  These puffs are banded down by two bias strips - one applied at the top, and other at the bottom - to hide the stitching and raw edges.  Three bias bands at the wrist echo the the trim on the bodice.

Close up of the silk sleeve puff banded down with bias strips.

The sleeve trim echos the bodice and skirt.

In looking at the interior, one of the front darts was opened, and an extra 2" extension was added to both sides of the waistband at the center front.

Interior view of bodice.

Alterations included removing one of the front darts.

The front placket or skirt opening measures 9.5" in length.

The skirt is made from the same plaid silk and fully lined in a forest green polished cotton.  Measuring around 108" in circumference, the skirt is pleated at the front and sides, and gauged only at the center back for 5 inches.  Black wool braid was applied to protect the hem.

The skirt's trim was applied in the same way as on the bodice - machine stitching along the middle of the bias strips and then hand basting on the garment.  The 1/2" bias strips were applied rather unevenly with the average distance between each strip being 1/2", and the average distance between the groups of three being 1.5 inches.

Nine bands of black silk bias trim and wool hem braid applied to the skirt hem.

Note: In looking through the university's acquisition pictures (probably take in the early 2000s), I came the matching bodice with pagoda sleeves!  There may also be a matching ball gown bodice, but, unfortunately, neither were in the box with the dress above:

Green plaid silk bodice with pagoda sleeves.
Photograph by Point Park University.

Please visit the Extant Garments page if you're interested in more collection items, and let me know if you want to see more posts like this in the future! 

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Posting about the Ohio Regimental Ball last weekend reminded me that I never did share the pictures from the first, period adventure that Sarah and I went on, or Ginny's green sheer dress, which was made special for the outing...this must be rectified immediately!

Just a girl and her doll.

Last semester when I began at Kent State, I was welcomed by a lovely lady and fast friend, Sarah, whom I had met once before at the Genesee Country Village & Museum and befriended on Facebook.  We immediately hit it off over fancy coffee, sewing and all things historical clothing, and parted with the promise of future exploring and period events.  And, from that day forward, the rest is history as they say...As a side note, I must include a small story of coincidence.  When I moved to Pittsburgh, I was welcomed by another, fellow living historian, classic novel reader, and seamstress extraordinaire, who I had just so happened to meet at GCV and reconnected with through Facebook.  In fact, even more eerie, both Kaela's and Sarah's professions involve languages...moral of the story, I must have a type in friends haha!

Part I: A Visit to Hale Farm & Village

Celebrating 60 years at Hale Farm & Village
(Image via: Facebook)

When I saw that Hale Farm & Village was having their annual Harvest Festival, I asked Sarah if she'd be interested in joining me.  Not only did she agree, but we decided to attend in period attire, of course!

My well-dressed traveling companions - Sarah and Ginny -
in the Jonathan Goldsmith House. Love that yellow!

The three of us - Sarah, Ginny and me.

The site was beautiful, and having a personal tour guide made the day trip all the more memorable.  Hale Farm & Village was created to reflect a typical town in the Western Reserve, and the buildings collected and preserved represent a variety of architectural styles, built before or fitting with pre-1850 styles.  There, the historical trades, farming, gardens, lifestyles and stories of the families of early Ohio are brought to life daily by costumed interpreters and community events.  The village itself is made up of 34 historic structures and an array of guest facilities situated on over 100 acres, and entrusted to the care of the Western Reserve Historical Society.  

In short, I was very impressed with what I saw there - the interpreters were very knowledgeable and engaging, especially with the many families that day, and the restored buildings and artifacts were evidently well cared for.  In fact, several of the homes reminded me of ones at my museum.  The log cabin resembled Hetchler, the church, our Brooks Grove, and the stenciling in the study upstairs at the Jonathan Goldsmith House is similar to that at Hosmer's Inn! 

Stenciling in the upstairs study at the Jonathan Goldsmith House,
Hale Farm & Village. 

Stenciling in the upstairs ball room at Hosmer's Inn,
Genesee Country Village & Musuem

Of all the village attractions, my two favorite houses were probably the Jonathan Goldsmith House, mentioned above, and the Jagger House.  The latter had some of the prettiest wall stenciling I've seen yet!

Intricate wall stenciling in the Jagger House.

Ginny coordinated with the mint paint in the formal parlor.

Someday soon, I would very much like to go back for another event or just to walk around again...thanks so much for the wonderful day, Sarah!

Ginny putting her feet up after a long day of being carried around.
Being so popular and smiling for pictures wore her out ;)

Part II: Ginny's Green Sheer Dress

Ginny, the blog's official traveling doll, was greatly in need of another, exciting adventure and new dress!  So, she came along with us to the village where Sarah helped me pose her for pictures.  I was so happy to bring Ginny, as she ended up being very popular and had her likeliness taken by other visitors, several times.  In fact, since it was a family oriented event weekend, we had the chance to meet many other young friends and their AG dolls.

As for the new dress, it was inspired by an original sheer gown from the personal collection of K. Krewer.  While I would have loved a new dress of my own, creating garments in doll scale is much more practical, and presents its own challenges and rewards. 

Sheer gown from the K. Krewer Collection.

Sheer gown from the K. Krewer Collection.

My reproduction, 18" doll scale.

Construction:  The first step was to drape the bodice.  I wanted the front to have a half lining and "v" neckline like the original.

Draped bodice pieces. 

Next came assembling the bodice.  I chose to dart the fabric, rather than gather like the extant example.  Both the ends of the sleeves and top of the front lining were finished with small rolled hems, while the neckline was encased in a narrow bias binding.

Bodice ready for the skirt.

Bodice, interior view.

After adding a small waistband, I ripped and seamed two panels for the skirt.  I finished the hem with a wide facing, and gauged the top before attaching it to the waistband.  

Gauged skirt with hem facing.

Back, full view.

Finally, closures and ruched trim were stitched to the bodice and sleeves. 

Ruched bias cut trim at the center front.

Side and sleeve front detail.

Side and sleeve back detail.

Completed Project Shots: Please excuse the less than ideal background...

Styling her hair was so much fun!

Silk belt with doll-sized, vintage mother of pearl buckle.

And that's all...'till the next adventure, thanks for reading!

Ginny in the pumpkin patch.

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"Meg's high-heeled slippers were very tight and hurt her, though she would not own it, 
and Jo's nineteen hairpins all seemed stuck straight into her head, 
which was not exactly comfortable, but, dear me, let us be elegant or die."
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

"Christopher Columbus. Aren't we elegant?" - Little Women (1949)
Dressed for the ball with my weekend companion.

Last weekend, I had the chance to attend the annual Ohio Regimental Military Ball with two good friends, Sarah and Calvin, and it was absolutely marvelous!  This year was especially so as it was both the 30th anniversary, and attended by over 200 people.  There were day workshops, dinner and dancing, and many dear and new friends to meet.  In this blog post, I'll be sharing the highlights of the event in hopes that you'll join us next time.  Make sure to visit their website here: Ohio Regimental Military Ball and Facebook group for more information and pictures from the weekend.  

Here was the official event flyer: 

And now, to begin the recap:  Several months ago, Sarah, my Ohio reenacting and sewing friend, mentioned this event and invited me to stay with Calvin and her.  Always eager to dress up and dance, I agreed and am so happy that I did!  

Originally, when the ball was still several weeks away, I had planned on making a new, pink dress suitable for Valentine's Day...but college and practicum responsibilities got in the way.  All I managed to finish was the bodice, but here's some in-progress shots: 

For the day, I ended up wearing the polka-dot dress and accessorizing with a new collar, hair ribbons and bow from Timely Tresses, and an antique shawl, which was a lucky thrift shop find.  

Outfit of the Day.
Showing off my new shoes, which totally coordinate!

Footwear close up.

In the lobby, there were maybe a dozen vendors set up, including Originals by Kay, Amazon Drygoods, and Barnyard Biddy among others.  I hadn't planned on anything beyond window shopping, but when I saw row after row of shoes(!) displayed so enticingly by Samantha of Amazon Drygoods...well, let's just say I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  These maroon side-lacers were the only pair of their kind, in my size too, and they matched my outfit so well.  It was meant to be!

And another picture, because I'm in love with these boots!

Speaking of new pretties, Sarah was a vision!  Dressed in a soft pink, striped dress, which she started and finished a mere night before, straw bonnet and cockade belt, her ensemble was perfection: 

While there were several, morning workshops I was interested in, I chose the most playful - Parlor Games.  We had such a fun time, and a great instructor too.  A minister's cat and blind man's buff, quick thinking and tongue twisters, and forfeits all around! 

The rest of the afternoon was spent socializing and shopping.  I met up with Jamie of BarnyardBiddy, who I had met before and was so surprised that she remembered me too.  She is so sweet, and had a lovely display.  Just look at those brilliant, hand-dyed silk yarns!  

This beauty was oh soo tempting, the picture just doesn't do it justice!

An incredible beaded miser purse!

I also made a new friend, Dana!

And finally met Janet, who had invited me to join the Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society a couple of years ago, in person: 

Michael Rhodes, photographer and case maker extraordinaire, was offering wet plate or tintypes.  Sarah sat several times: 

Then it was time to change for dinner and dancing.  Calvin, who had worked all day, joined us.  Sarah had another new gown, this time a colorful plaid silk: 

Tacking the bertha in place. 
What's period dressing without last minute stitching? ;)

Calvin and Sarah, the best dressed couple at the ball!

I wore my champagne ball gown again, and Sarah kindly styled my hair:

Obligatory hair shot!

Formal dinner and dancing commenced:  The ball room at the Mckinley Grand Hotel was certainly befitting the name "grand" with all of its elegant chandeliers.  Dinner featured lively conversation and anniversary cake.  In fact, we were seated with Annabel (I recognized her from the Civilian CW Closet!) and her husband, and a couple who have been attending the regimental balls since the very beginning.  

Dinner picture borrowed from the Facebook group.

We danced the night away!  Music was provided by the 73rd OVI Brass Band.  Favorites included the Spanish Waltz, Gay Gordon, Patticake Polka, and Haste to the Wedding...oh I love to dance :)

Everyone looked so regal in their finest!

Making more new friends (Erin, Vanessa, Holly, and more) and memories!  Hopefully I'll see them again next year or at other events in the meantime.  

Erin and Sarah.

The after-party included a discussion based on these fantastic cookies...kudos to whoever brought and frosted them:

And finally, my favorite picture from the evening.

A million thanks to everyone who worked so diligently to bring such a wonderful evening together!  Let us be elegant or die! 
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Ask not whether you should mark your fabric, but rather, what you should mark your fabric with!  Whether it be stitch lines, darts or dots, transferring those important pattern markings easily and accurately is key to efficient clothing construction.

In my costume technology class, the first project we're tackling is a corset.  In this structural garment, there not only 16 boning channels to mark, but grommet placements and other notches to transfer.  In fact, it would be just about impossible to construct this corset without the guiding lines.  The question then becomes, how do I accurately transfer the markings from the paper pattern onto the coutil fabric?  

Corset paper pattern with boning channels and markings to transfer.

Luckily, there many tools, both made for the purpose or unintentionally discovered, that can be used to mark fabrics.  In this blog post, I will be sharing my top sewing tips, tricks and tool picks for marking fabrics.  Let's get started...

Fabric Marking Tools

Sewing Pins

Most people reach for pins to hold fabric together, however, they are also useful for indicating placement lines, notches, dots, and the like.  Need to make an adjustment?  Simply pull the temporary marker and re-pin.  

Pros:  Temporary, very easy to adjust, and does not leave a residue. 

Cons:  Temporary, may fall out, and sometimes has to be removed when stitching.

Thread Tacks or Basting 

These temporary stitches may be done by hand or machine.  

Pros:  Much like pinning, thread tacks and basting stitches are temporary and safe for all fabrics.  They leave minimal, if any markings once the stitches are removed, especially when done by hand, and can be seen from both sides of the fabric.  Thread also comes in every color. 

Cons:  Takes time, and will show in seams if not entirely removed.  For instance, if basting with red thread on a white garment, time and care must be taken to remove each piece of visible thread.  

Tailor's Chalk 

Tailor's chalk comes in both squares and triangles, as well as sticks, wheels or even in retractable pencil form.  

Pros:  Time honored tool.  Marks most fabric surfaces, brushes away easily, rarely discolors fabric.  I like to use chalk on wool and silk.  

Cons:  Temporary, and may brush away too easily.  Unless sharped constantly, the lines may be thick and not as accurate.  Chalk breaks easily, and is only available in certain colors.  

Dressmaker's Carbon Paper

(Image source: Sewing Supplies: Dritz Sew 101)

According to the Dritz company article, "Sewing Supplies: Dritz Sew 101" - 
"These tools are used for transferring pattern markings to fabric. To get started, sandwich the tracing paper between your fabric and pattern. Trace along pattern markings using the tracing wheel and the markings will be transferred to your fabric."

Dressmaker's carbon paper must be used with a tracing wheel.  These pigmented sheets, most often available in white, black, red, yellow or blue, have a waxy surface that leaves a faint, colored line with pressure, as explained in the excerpt above.  

Pros:  Great for transferring markings from paper patterns to fabric.  These are the only tool (besides using a powerful light box) that I can think of that allows the user to simply and accurately trace from on top of a paper pattern.  

Cons:  Tracing wheels may be difficult to use, especially on curves, and may lack the control of pencils or pens.  Enough pressure has to be applied, or the colored, dotted lines will not show.  The waxy residue may not always rub out or wash away.  

Pencils, Ink Pens and Markers 

Pencils, ink pens and markers intended for paper may also be used to mark fabric.  However, these markings, especially from ink pens or markers, are usually permanent, and best for mock ups or for use in places that will not be seen.  

Pros:  Convenience (I am guilty of often reaching for mechanical pencils, which allow for very fine markings, rather than other instruments perhaps more suited for fabric...) and familiarity with handling. 

Cons:  Markings are usually permanent, and markers like sharpies tend to bleed into the fabric.  

Fabric Marking Pencils 

There are pencils and pens made specifically for marking fabric.  These include popular water soluble or disappearing ink options like Mark-B-Gone.  I, personally, like the blue (or white) water soluble pencils. 

Pros:  These handle much like their paper counterparts offering precise lines and dots.  The water soluble pencil markings are removable with a damp cloth.

Cons:  They may leave permanent markings or stain fabrics.  Disappearing ink pens tend to dry out and have to be replaced, while water soluble pencils need to be sharped constantly.  Limited color selection. 

 FriXion Erasable Pens 

Though intended for use on paper, these erasable pens are basically magic!  Okay, maybe not magic, but a product of some pretty cool thermo-technology which allows the ink to disappear with friction (heat).  Use an iron to erase the markings, and your freezer to make the lines reappear.  I love my FriXion pens! 

Pros:  These pens are made in a variety of colors, and write on both paper and fabric.  The ink disappears when ironed over, which makes it perfect for marking complicated designs or corset boning channels! 

Cons:  The ink may not completely disappear, and markings may be visible, even after applying heat.  

Crayola's Ultra-Clean Washable Markers 

Much like the FriXion pen hack, these are another one of my favorite sewing secrets.  Intended for children who often color surfaces other than paper, these washable markers are often more "washable" than the water soluble fabric pens or pencils.  They're also way less expensive.  I believe I paid around two dollars for the pack of ten colors, and the fine tips provide very thin and accurate stitch lines.  

Pros:  Low cost, water soluble option that is often visible from both sides of the fabric.  Can also double as paper makers.  

Cons:  Markings may not always wash away, and could bleed or discolor the fabric. 

And that concludes this list of fabric marking tool options!  Whenever using a marking instrument, it is always recommended important to test it on a scrap, before applying it to the final fabric.  

Do you have a favorite fabric marking tool or tip?  Share it below! 

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Today's the last day of winter break, and I thought it fitting to share the one and only project I managed to complete over the holidays...a poinsettia skirt with a vintage vibe:

Poinsettia skirt paired with
a vintage cardigan, fur collar and velvet hat.

I know, it's not much, but it's done and has been worn three times - to dinner, at contra dance and to visit a friend!  I would have loved to share some other exciting projects, but sometimes life has other plans...family comes first.  Plus, there are always other opportunities to sew.  I have big plans for you, 2018!  

For this project, all of the materials came from the stash.  The novelty fabric has large poinsettias with tiny green houses, snow-covered evergreens and a split rail fence.  The combination, for some reason, reminded me of the classic holiday film, White Christmas (1954) - snow, snow, snow!  Even the zipper, which is vintage, probably from another garment as thread remains indicated, interfacing, thread and metal skirt closure were pulled from the stash.  Oh, and the project was stitched on my 1940s Singer featherweight machine.  

The construction could not have been simpler or more straight-forward.  I ripped three panels for volume, seamed and hemmed them.  Then, gathered the skirt onto the waistband, which was stiffened with interfacing.  

I installed the zipper with a lapped seam, then hand whip stitched the inside of the waistband closed.  Lastly, I found a metal skirt closure to finish off the project.

Lapped zipper, outside.
Just imagine that the skirt is closed,
it's slightly too small for the dressform.

Lapped zipper, inside.

Completed Project Shots

The completed skirt, front and back.

Again, I've already worn the skirt for three occasions, and it's definitely well suited for twirling!  Though, I suppose it's time to pack it away until next Christmas...perhaps I'll be able to convince the sister to take a few pictures then.  In the meantime, there are plenty of other projects to work on.  So, thanks for reading, and I hope you'll stop back for more sewing!   

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