Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wedding Aniversary, Our Way

This year Nic and I managed to make it to our 2nd year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, he was away at work on the actual day. To make up for this we decided to have a belated anniversary to remember.

One of the local attractions here in the hills is the historic Steam Ranger, which runs steam train rides from Mount Barker to Victor Harbour. It is a 2 hour ride each way with a 3 hour break at Victor Harbour to enjoy the sea side. Sounded like the perfect way to celebrate and have a picnic. This is a late post as our trip was on the 4th November.

As you can imagine we did draw a crowd when taking our own photos. It was also lovely as a retirement village had booked one of the carriages for their clients to have a day out. So we had people wanting to touch my skirts, ask questions and take photos. Its nice to think we may have added to their enjoyment of the day.

 It wouldn't be a picnic without some champagne.

To finish the day we went for a camel ride, explorer style. I must say it was very tricky in skirts as they did not have a side saddle. It is probably best that there is no photo of me as I was showing quite a lot of ankle. Nic said that it was not as bad as I am married. I think he was just being sweet to make me feel better.

Regency Christmas Picnic

Well today we had our Victoriana Society annual Regency Christmas Picnic. I also finally got some photos of my completed long sleeve dress and linen gloves. We simplified our plans this year as we had way tooo much food the year before. We also found some different Regency picnic food recipes to try including scotch eggs and quail eggs. Very yummy, I now have the intention of trying to convince Nic to let me get some quails for my new avery when I build it in January.

Nic is away, at work in the Perth office, atm. It is amazing how much more difficult it is to attend events without a man. Thankfully, I had some friends to help me prepare and to take the following lovely photos.

 Mandy, Derek, Dave and Wendy
 Group Shot
and finally a photo of the completed dress. Not bad after 2 years of hand sewing on interstate trips. I hope my next dress does not take so long. I do get the feeling wearing it that I should have a few children hanging from my skirts. Maybe one day.

 and my linen gloves, also hand sewn while on interstate drives. Its amazing how much hand sewing can be completed in a car. Thankfully, Nic does the driving to assist with this.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Keeping Busy

I know I havent posted much of my sewing of late. I have just finished 2 small courses and a 4 week teaching placement block that have absorbed most of my time and energy. Now with a few months of holidays ahead of me I hope to get back into my sewing. I have a large number of unfinished projects that are screaming out from neglect.

To Do List
  • woven striped cotton pants 1850s for Nic (almost finished)
  • 1830s Frock Coat (grrrrrr, small doses.... on the collar atm)
  • 1830s dress for me (cut out)
  • 1866 mourning dress (bodice almost complete, one sleeve attached... looks at me with sad eyes across the room)
I think that this lot should keep me busy for the next month :-)

I have finished some tasks. Unfortunately, I have no photos of these. I have just completed hand sewing infants undergarments including a copy of an open shirt from the MET, stays, drawers and a petticoat from the Lady's Economical Assistant by Kanniks Korner dated 1808. I hope that I may be able to take photos of these in the future.

I have also finally after 2 years completed my blue drawstring dress. It now has the long sleeves attached. I will try to take some photos of this soon. I have also completed the linen fingerless gloves to wear with the dress. 

I hope everyone else is doing well with their projects over the holiday period.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Researching Napoleonic Authenticity - The Frustration (I need help)

I am sure this is a topic that most of us struggle with. With the increasing amount of information available it is easier, and yet it is also sometimes bewildering. I am lucky with my Victorian impressions in having friends that own original garments from my city, however, I find my Napoleonic impression a lot harder. Recently I have been trying to work on improving my outfits when portraying a wife of a Brunswick-er Private. This is very frustrating as
  • I have been unable to find examples of original lower class garments that have survived, I'm guessing this is due to the fact that they wore them till they became rags and then used them for that purpose.
  • The fact that we do not wear the clothes of our grandparents did, so would they be still making garments that are 50 years out of date (I also believe that the older garments used more fabric so could possibly cost more to make? please let me know if this is true as I have yet to make any 18th century clothing), just because they are poor (within 10 years seems more acceptable to me considering the amount of wear their clothing received).
  • There is the question about European cultural dress and how that can be incorporated
  • That much of the existing cultural dress items are actually from the upper classes and I have yet to find any original dating before 1875, as I doubt that the lower classes had metallic embroidery, pearls and excessive glass beading on their vests (but OMG they are very nice and drool worthy), but please feel free to correct me if you think I am wrong on this one.
  • Most of the paintings I have found were painted around 1900 by artists that were not born until the 1820s.
  • The fact that the Brunswick army recruited from multiple countries after battles, so where exactly do I and my husband come from, there were many different duchies and small ethnic groups
  • That they were away from their homeland for five years, how much of their original cultural garments would still be wearable/not replaced
  • Considerations for the large trade in second hand garments on the tail end of the English army, which the Brunswick-rs were attached to/fighting alongside after their retreat to England
Sorry this has become a little ranting, but I have now been researching these questions for 4 months and I have found that my questions have actually increased with time.This is definitely the most frustrating thing I have come across to date. Much of what I think I know is pure speculation, which annoys my academic and perfectionist personality immensely. I NEED ACCURATE INFORMATION (sorry insane moment there). I would honestly love to hear from any other European Napoleonic renactors if they have any advice or suggestions.

So far this website has given me some help as it has Dutch army prints dated to 1816 and is my current idea of the impression I should be aiming for, but any further images/websites etc would be appreciated
Netherlands Infantry Uniforms


Vegetable Seller

Perfume Seller

The main points I have from these images is that the dresses are half calf length, do up in the front, loose (could be larger second hand garments adjusted to fit), unmatched, have some form of fabric pelisse type garment over the top, coloured fishus and harder wearing fabrics.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Mid Victorian Waistcoat, Regency Work Apron and 1830s Bonnet Caps

Unfortunately, my holidays from university are coming to an end. I am finding that I have no where near enough time to complete all the tasks that I had set for myself. Not that I can complain, as a few days were lost in a wonderful surprise trip to Melbourne to see the Napoleon Exhibit. This week I have finally completed my Regency Linen work apron. It is completely hand sewn. I am finding that I am undertaking more and more handsewing as I feel more comfortable and confident. I have been needing this for a few years now and is perfect for when on campain and required to work around the fire. I have also found it to be useful around the house and garden,  as it is really very comfortable.

After we got home from Melbourne, Nic decided that he needed a new waistcoat. I found him rummaging through my fabrics and about to cut into some fabric purchased for pants. Thankfully I got to him in time and redirected him to the waistcoat fabrics. Yes, I know Im strange, but I always purchase in quantaties for the projects in mind and I hate wasting good fabric when it is so hard to come by here. I was also very happy as Nic had not undertaken any sewing since our marriage, when he received some constructive, but not very nicely worded feedback on his last sewing attempts. This time he worked on it with my assistance and leaving the finishing touches and hand stitching to me to complete. It took two days and looks stunning. I think he should be very proud of his achievement.

Finally, I have also completed two 1830s linen caps to wear under bonnets. It is really nice to sit by the fire in the evenings and hand sew by candle light. Small projects like this one are perfect for these times. They are a very strange shape, compared to the periods that I am accustomed to. I have been told that it is very flattering, but I think the jury is still out on that one. The first I made for myself and the other for Jessie.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Regency Petticoat for Jessie

On Tuesday I was meant to be taking part in a 1800-1900 reverse strip fashion parade for the Freemason wives, during their monthly meeting. As the lady who was wearing the Regency attire did not have the undergarments required I had offered to lend my own. Fortunately/ Unfortunately, my husband did not know of these plans and booked us airfare to Melbourne for the same day. In Melbourne we are to attend the Napoleon Exhibit in period. This meant that I am no longer able to lend out my undergarments.

Thankfully, I recently partook in a fabric swap with my good friend Jessie. She gave me some trims and brocade fabric to make myself a wrapper and I provided her with linen to make herself a regency petticoat, an item she was sadly lacking in. Jessie will be attending the fashion parade and agreed to loan the new petticoat. She, however, had recently broken her reading glasses and was struggling with her own projects and feeling a little unwell. Due to this, I offered my time today to construct her new petticoat. It was also only fair as the linen did not cost overly much.

Jessie required the petticoat for use under Regency gowns dating from 1800 to 1820, so I fashioned the petticoat for the earlier period, which has thinner shoulders. I also added extra fabric to make the petticoat draw string around the neckline and under bust area. Many ladies suffer from weight fluctuations at times and so the drawstring would accommodate this and expand its period of usefulness. I would love to have had the time to finish all of the seams by hand, but even with the machine sewing I am very happy with the result.

The completed petticoat front view.

The completed petticoat back view.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Evening Odds and Ends

After a long day working on the larger projects its nice to cuddle up on the couch with a nice warm fire and do some small hand sewing projects while watching a nice show on tv.... or kittens attack each other if you have that option.
 Leopold and Dinah. 
Wonderful entertainment when not attacking my hand sewing or my sewing machine.

I am enjoying being so busy catching up on all those half finished or never started small projects that I keep in many little seal lock bags in a basket under the bench. Seeing that basket get fuller and fuller is very depressing, but finally I have started to get through it and it feels great. Three weeks of holidays to go and I am very happy with my progress so far.

 I have just finished this apron for Jessie, a very dear friend of mine. She has arthritis and so she struggles sometimes with cutting out and hand sewing, so I enjoy sewing small projects to help her out. This apron is made of a lovelly rough linen and makes a perfect work apron.

I have also made her this 1850s lace cap with some spare lace that she had from an old dress. It is a wonderfull feeling to give fabric a second life and to help out a friend.
The back of the lace cap.

As there was some of the linen from the apron left over, Jessie gave it to me to use to make myself a Regency work aron. It is amazing how quick they are to make with simple hand stitiching. I chose to make mine a cross over back to ensure the shoulders do not slip off while working. I am hoping this apron will come in a lot of use in the garden and when cooking over the fire on campaign. I am alos hoping the colour will do well to hide a lot of dirt and coal smudges I often seem to find on my dresses.

to be completed....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

1830s Frock Coat - Frustration... Lining and Tail Finished

As it is the 175th aniversary of the colonisation of our state, I am slowly working towards creating 1830s outfits. As I am still new and unsure when it comes to tailoring coats I decided to purchase the Reconstructing History 1830s Frock Coat pattern as it seemed similar to those in 'Men's Garments 1830-1900: A guide to pattern cutting' and 'Making Costumes of the Eighteen-Thirties: Volume 2'.

 The basic body toiled up quite nicely with only minor adjustments needed. The issue that I found with this pattern had to do with the sleeve cuffs that only have 4 instructions that make no sense whatsoever... I mean who puts buttonholes down the fold line? I did email the company for clarification of their construction, however, they never responded back. Highly disappointing as their help line was one of the reasons why I chose their pattern. In the end I discarded their sleeve cuffs and drafted those from the book ' Making Costumes of the Eighteen-Thirties' by Brian Reader. Another problem with the pattern is that it omits the tail pockets and facings from the illustration.  These I also had to draft from the book. Over all I was very disappointed with this pattern and will probably not purchase from them again. I do highly recommend the book as it goes into very good detail about how to construct different male garments of the1830s, even though it does contain some modernities such as iron on interfacing and over-locking. These, however, are not big issues.

 For the lining I have hand quilted cotton flannel to the linen lining. The flannel holds amazingly well to the worked horsehair. I am hoping that by doing a lot more work on the jacket's insides it will create a far better finish. The lining shape was heavily adapted in the toile stage and then used to create my own pattern for the interfacing.

 As Nic requires glasses I have included a pocket inside the left hand breast lining as this jacket will be required for leisurely afternoons undertaking gentlemanly pursuit of shooting.

 As mentioned I had to draft my own tail pockets and facings. I think they turned out well. I chose to pipe the facings in black velvet to tie in the top collar, which will also be in black velvet. This took me three full days to complete... and a big headache... so I will take a day off tomorrow to work on my 1830s dress.

 Finished pocket facings close up

Inside the pocket

Full placement

Ekkkk messy tail inside, till the skirt lining goes in.

Sigh, the next task is the collar.....

Random Stuffs

Well I haven't done much sewing in the last few months, but I will be very busy stitching for the next three weeks. Either way I have been up to some things so I decided to put up a few more photos. I know I change hair colour a lot... thankfully I have long hair so it doesn't create an issue with hair pieces...

1850s Hair

Regency hair

Nic and myself at Government House

ohh I have sewn one thing... Nic's new regency night shirt... lol.