Monday, December 26, 2016

Goldfields and Amazing Photo Shoot

This year there was an amazing turn out for the Barossa Goldfields Open Day. It was also the first event in which we displayed the newly renovated/restored canon. As the artillery crew was unavailable it was only a static display. The infantry did put on two very good displays to entertain the visitors.

Amelia with her Granny
with Mandi looking beautiful
It was even more special as Darren had a fantastic photo shoot idea. He took photos of Amelia and myself and then superimposed us over the original figures in the painting 'On the Wallaby Track' by Fredrick McCubbin. 

Posing against a tree
the Original Painting
the beginning of Darren's work
the completed image
framed above the fireplace, Nic had it printed and framed as a Christmas gift.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Taminick 2016

This year was our first encampment with our little girl Amelia May. It was quite a challenge to prepare everything, as Nic was working interstate. Thankfully, my father helped to keep Amelia entertained while I prepared. 

This year was also our first year taking our newly re-bored 6 pound canon. The canon is a new acquisition and is helping to expand our Volunteer forces impression. It has already started to increase public interest in the military history of our state and in our group. 

This year we expected rain, so we took a mess walled tent instead of an awning. It made a huge difference. It was cozy and a nice place to gather and work out of the weather. Our South Australian camp had quite a turn out this year with 6 wedge tents and a bell tent. It is fantastic to see our encampment grow larger each year.

As usual I thoroughly enjoyed planing and cooking period meals. This year we had beef shin stew, pease pudding, Irish stew, winter salad and cock-a-leekie. I also was able to experiment with mushroom ketchup and refining my salad dressing from Beaton's. I wish that I had been able to experiment more, but there will always be more encampments and gatherings at home.

The men thoroughly enjoyed the live shooting and parades. I was also able to don a uniform and become a member of the artillery for the live canon shoot. The artillery uniform differs from the riflemen' as it is blue with a red stripe down the legs and a white snake belt.

Amelia May celebrated her 4 month birthday over the weekend and flourished from the exposure to the great outdoors. She loved meeting everyone and being sung to. It was also the best few nights sleep she has had since birth.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Recently we had a christening for our beautiful baby girl. We were blessed to have Nic's brother Ben accept the role of godfather and our friend Wendy agreed to be her godmother. Both were also in our wedding party. As we were holding the christening in the same church in which we were married, we decided to wear attire from our wedding. 

The ceremony was beautiful, as was the afternoon tea afterwards. Amelia has been blessed with many people who love and care for her.

Amelia in her original Victorian gown with period undergarments that I had made her.
The family before the Christening
Proud father and daughter
Amelia being blessed by the sign of the cross

The Godmother lighting the Christening candle

The unit provided an honor guard at the completion of the ceremony.
Socialising afterwards

Domestic Bliss

Winter is a fantastic time to close our modern kitchen and living space and retire to the original rooms of our home. This is one of my favourite times in the year. It is soo relaxing and cozy to work and socialise by the fire. Our close friend and Amelia's godmother also joined us for an evening. She made lemon suet pudding and assisted with dinner. Our dinner for the evening was one of the plain menus from Beaton's. As our seasons are the opposite of those in England, where it was published, I count half a year difference in months to choose an appropriate menu for the season. This evening was held in July, so I used a menu from January. As in previous experiences the recipes turned out delicious. On this evening we enjoyed plain soup, Jerusalem artichokes, boiled potatoes, fried chops and lemon suet pudding.

I am finding caring for an infant and running a period household more of a challenge. Hence my disheveled appearance. Still, I wouldn't change my life or experimental Victorian living for anything. We are very blessed in our little cottage.

Our 1858 Cottage Living Room
Preparing Dinner.
Wendy, cooking Lemon Suet Pudding.
Preparing Dinner
Nic holding Amelia while we cook
Feeding Amelia before preparing dinner. I love my nursing corset, it makes feeding her a lot easier.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Elite Infant Layette

As the basic layette was very simple to construct, I'm still couch bound awaiting the birth of our new family member and I still have a lot of small linen scraps... I decided to attempt the Elite Infant Layette in The Tudor Child. This book has been fantastic so far. 

One of the reasons I am keen to make these as they can be constructed using insertion stitch to join the seams. I have always wanted to learn how to sew insertions, so this was a fantastic opportunity. It also linked in well with the Holes Challenge for the Historical Sewing Monthly. Insertion stitch can be a delicate, intricate and ornate way to join join seams. It is far more eye catching than any other type of seam joining as it looks like lace. 

As I am learning this type of stitch I decided to keep it simple and basic for these items. I will try more complicated designs in future items that will be more visible such as chemisettes, under sleeves and caps. 

Elite Shirt (fits 000-00)
Before I could start learning insertion stitch, I had to draft up the pattern, cut out the pieces and narrow hem the pieces all around. The only piece that is not hemmed all around is the collar. I left one side I hemmed as I plan to whip gather it to the neckline once the shirt is complete.

I had instructions in a sewing guide. It suggested basting the fabric to graph paper to help ensure the stitches are  even. I used some of my husbands 2mm graph paper which I cut into strips that are not too bulky. Instead of basting, I found that pinning it in place also works. For thread I chose to us buttonhole thread as it is strong and of a good thickness. My book also recommends that you can use embroidery floss. 

First I had to attach the cute little mini gussets.

Next I closed up the sleeve along the other side of the gusset. The insertion stitch was not as difficult as I expected and became easier as I got into a rhythm.

The insertion stitch I used involved sewing a small inwards stitch through a few threads of the linen before making a small knot in the thread. Then repeat in reverse on the other side. 

The shoulders were then joined together.

Finally the sleeves were attached to the shirt body. 

The last step in sewing the shirt was to attach the collar. The instructions were a little vague, so I decided to just whip gather it on like I do with cap ruffles.

Elite Biggin (fits 000-00)
Sorry I did not take any construction photos. The construction was exactly the same as for the other items. I did choose to attach the crown with insertion stitch. It only took about 4 hours to sew.

Forehead Cloth (fits 000-00)
This is very simple to construct and only took half an hour to sew. It is very good as a starter item to get used to narrow hemming. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Basic Infant Layette for SCA Events

A while ago I decided to join the SCA. All my historical activities were with family, and I decided I needed some time out away from family. Thus also provided me an opportunity for new research and challenges. 

I am planning and working on a renaissance outfit for myself, as I have been borrowing from a friend. I will post about that in a later post. As I'm still new to this period and with a baby on the way at any time I also required an infant layette, which I could not borrow. Unlike my Victorian layette I only require one of each item as I will not be camping and will only be attending events for short periods of time. 

I was not able to find many primary sources, so a friend leant me her copy of The Tudor Child. This is a fantastic resource with simple and easy to follow instructions. I decided to practice on the basic set and then also try my hand at the elite set which has a more detailed and complicated construction.

Basic Shirt (Edit- fits size 0000 prem to newborn)
I started with the basic set. The first item is the simple shirt. The pattern is very easy to scale up and draw. It is a simple square with a hole for the infants head and two slits for the arms.

The shirt is narrow hemmed around all of the edges. The sleeves and sides are then folded and whip stitched. It was very  simple and the whip stitched joins sit beautifully flat. 

Overall thus shirt only took about 4 hours of hand sewing. 

Basic Biggin (fits size 0000-000)
This was a little more complicated due to the shape. I made a pattern for ease of cutting and reproducing the cap in case I choose to make more in the future. The pattern gives two options. The first is a single layer that is hand sewn and the second was two layer bagged machine sewn cap.

As I prefer to try more period correct sewing, and I'm working on this while waiting to go into labour, I chose the single layer hand sewn version. I narrow hemmed all the edges.

To get the pieces to sit flat when whip stitched I found that it is very effective to only stitch though the end of the fabric with very small, close whip stitched. I only pick up 2-3 threads of the fabric at the edge.

This basic infant biggin was very easy to make. It took less than 4 hours of hand seeing while watching TV. I love how it looks and went together. 

Linen Bed (Both Basic and Elite Layette)
*as this is a published for sale pattern book I am not including any measurements for these items out of respect for the Tudor Tailor.

This item is a simple square of linen that is narrow hemmed all around. I'm becoming quite fast at hemming with all the hand sewn items I have completed recently. It only took 2 hours to hem be hand.

Swaddling Bands (Both Basic and Elite Layette)

This is a very long length of linen tape. It is cut and then narrow hemmed all around. As I am creating these items from the left over linen from constructing my own shift, I did not have a length of linen long enough to construct this in one length. As a compromised I cut multiple shorter lengths and flat felled them together before narrow hemming.

To get my lengths of linen perfectly straight for narrow hemming I drew threads to create a straight line to cut. This makes the fabric easier to hand sew and reduces fraying on the fabric edges.

This was also very simple to make, even though all the narrow hemming did become tedious after a while.

Red Woolen Bearing Cloth (Both Basic and Elite Layette)

This will have to be added later, as I am waiting to pick up the wool.