Sunday, August 31, 2014

Recent Musings on a Perplexing Situtation

While at an event the other day, I was surprised by some reactions that I received from other members of the group we were participating with when we announced that we would leave the event directly at its completion to go shopping in the centre of town during late night shopping. The questions, responses (verbally and facially of horror and fear) and answers did sit in my mind and perplex me a lot and yes I know I think far too much (its a bad habit).

This has lead me to finally come to a new understanding and put into words who I am and why I undertake this 'strange' hobby.

I see myself as a progressive living historian. I am not a costumer, I call my garments clothing or attire. Personally, I believe that calling them costumes devalues them and changes the mindset I have when wearing them. I normally dress hours before an event. I drive to events in my garments, drop in the shops on the way and will often go shopping or out for dinner or drinks after events. Even now when typing this (at 8pm), I am still dressed in my 1850s attire that I put on this morning for a non event day at the black powder range. When I got home I went garden shopping and then came home to play with my chickens and plant seeds. If I did not have to worry about image and employment at work, I would probably dress in period attire every day (and I often do during holidays) and I do sleep in my chemises (they are the most comfortable sleepwear, I also plan to start work on some nightgowns very soon). When dressed in period attire I feel at my most beautiful. As little girls often say 'look a princess!'.

Most of my friends are horrified that I happily catch the bus to events, that I can walk through the city centre and not care about what others think and that I am happy to be dressed in period attire without being around other people. Almost everyone else I know only dresses at the last possible moment before an event. Most dress at events and cart around piles of containers and often forget or misplace items. They rush back to the change room or their home to strip their clothing off as fast as they can. Finally, they worry that friends or acquaintances might see them.

Please do not think that I am making any negative connotations here. There is nothing wrong with either my or their actions. Everyone is entitled to do as they wish with their lives (within respect and legal limitations). What perplexed me most was trying to understand spending the time and money that is required to participate in this type of hobby to then avoid wearing and enjoying the fruits of our labour. I have never though of this as being a hobby for people that are worried about their image or impression. I have always seen it as being similar to any other alternative life style. For example my husband used to be a punk (bondage pants, leather, patches, tartan) and I used to be a kinder goth as a teen and then a mix of rock, vintage and rockabilly. In a way, I am also used to being different from when I was a 6ft tall white woman living in China. Cameras and people staring do not bother me.

I hope that this new understanding and musings will help me to be more considerate and understanding when with others who are not as comfortable. I also find that I have a sense of sympathy for them. It makes me feel sad to imagine feeling in loving historical clothing while also being scared and embarrassed of my hobby. This has made me even more grateful that I am able to live my life, dreams and desires to a large extent without any negative feelings or connotations. I am also grateful that when I do go out in period attire I have only ever had positive feedback from the people that I have met and that I have the opportunity to use my hobby to meet lots of wonderful new people.

Ps. I am hoping to start some cooking experiments soon using period recipes from publications including the local Adelaide newspapers. I am very excited to be expanding my historical experiences and undertakings.

1830s Frock Coat Finally Finished

In what feels like a life time ago, but was in reality only 2012.... I began work on a frock coat for my husband. This coat was his dream coat. He wanted a full blown 1830s blood red coat with a rich black velvet collar. Thankfully, this is my third and final post as the coat is now finished.

Post One - Total Frustration with the pattern

Post Two - Progress

One big change was that we decided to remove the fullness from the sleeves and make them fitted to be more late 1830s.

He wore it first for the Business SA 175th Gala Dinner, where we were asked to promenade, meet and greet the guests in the entrance to the Entertainment Centre. Afterwards we headed into town to purchase fabric, have drinks and dinner. Nic received a lot of comments from women who found his attire very dashing and handsome.

 Business SA Gala. Sorry about the photo, but my small camera is not very good in bad lighting. Nic and myself are on the back left.
 Drink time at La Boheme. We met some tourists from Canberra and had a great time and a few amazing drinks.  
On Sunday, he put the jacket to its original purpose and filled his dream of wearing it while shot gunning. Sorry, but I took a lot of photos and the following are only a few. The jacket looks amazing in the wind and with his movements while shooting.

 Time for a quick selfie while waiting for Nic's next shot.... I love how I have colour matched my glasses and earmuffs. Very traditional as well.....

While we were in the clubhouse, we also noticed that someone had put a copy of a newspaper article advertising the Adelaide Regiment on the bulletin board. It was a very nice article with really nice photos of the group.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Waistcoats

I have recently been cross dressing and acting as the Ensign and Flag Bearer for the Adelaide Regiment 1862. A few things are not included in the standard issue uniform. One of these items is a waistcoat. Dad has started sewing recently, so I held a few sewing sessions with him to help him sew a waistcoat. He ended up with a really nice grey woolen waistcoat and I made a lovely waistcoat using a wool that came labeled as Highland Light Infantry. To make it less military, I put the plaid on the cross as I have seen done with some originals.

I am very happy with my new waistcoat. It is a little longer in the waist, but that is because my trousers sit lower than the men's due to my leg curves and I needed the waistcoat to cover waist padding and sit over the trouser waistband.

While the waistcoat is not visible, I was wearing it at our 150 yard standing shooting practice day at Monarto Rifle Range. This was a great way to spend the afternoon, even if I spent the day as official and scorer, instead of shooting. The men did an amazing job at that range, especially as two members had not shot before.


1850s Silk Velvet Evening Cap

I think that most people would have seen this beautiful cap in the mfa museum. I also think that a lot of people have already tried to create their own version. For once this did not bother me. I love the fact that it is one of the few non floral head dresses online.

I was able to pick up some scrap blue silk velvet that was left over from a cape that Jessie made. I also made a millinery wire frame and the lace that was a part of the shoulder caps which I removed from my wedding dress. Sorry the photos come up very dark. On one side I copied the ribbon tuft in the original, but on the other side I made a decorate twist with braid and tassels to add some extra detail and interest. I look forward to the next event in which I can wear it with my blue silk evening dress. Hopefully it will look stunning on.


1890s Victorian Suit

This year there are many anniversary's of townships and settlement in our state. While most are 175th and 150th, there are also some later ones. One township has asked us to take part in a reenactment at town hall that is set in the 1890s. This is not one of my time periods, so I wanted an outfit that would be easy, fairly period correct and still stand out and be different. My final chose was inspired by this red linen dress from Antique and Vintage Dress Gallery.

Jessie had given me a length of red cotton drill that she purchased from an opportunity shop for around $5.

Out of the drill I was able to make a full skirt and still have enough left over to make a matching bodice when I have more time. To decorate the bottom, I just used the sewing machine and some ivory poly thread that I purchased in bulk for $3. Sewing the lines on using a decorative stitch on a sewing machine worked wonders as it covers the extension panels that I had to put on the bottom of the skirt for added length. If I had cut the skirt out at full length for my 6 ft body, I would not have had enough fabric to complete the skirt on its own. Cutting and piecing fabric is an important skill in saving fabric and money.
 I really like the completed effect of the sewing as a bonus. It adds interest to what could be a very plain skirt. It also draws the eyes down and away from my height.
As I did not have enough time this holidays to complete the bodice, Jessie gave me this old blouse that she used to wear for 1890s. I was really not a fan of the colours or trims. I pulled all of the trims off and reused all of the lace to redesign the front of the blouse. Reusing items is also an amazing way to save money. Some items also have some very nice and good quality laces that can be salvaged. to finish I also replaced the plastic white buttons in the back with tortoiseshell buttons that I took off a modern shirt that I was being disposed of.
 The finished remodeled blouse.
 The outfit as it currently looks. Not bad for opp shop fabric, remodeled costume and salvaged parts.
The Challenge: #13 Under $10
Fabric: Free Cotton Drill (but costing Jessie $5) and Free Blouse
Pattern: A pattern that I borrowed from Jessie, but did not note the maker.
Year: 1890s
Notions: recycled tortoiseshell buttons. salvaged lace, poly cotton
How historically accurate is it? not very as it is not a time period I have researched or that I am interested in investing in
Hours to complete: about 20, the machine sewing of the hem took about 12 hours to complete on its own
First worn: Not worn yet
Total cost: $8 total, but $3 for myself

1850s Quilted Petticoat

For a while now I have dreamed of making a quilted petticoat. We may live in Australia, but in my house it has very regularly been below 0C. We also do a lot of camping in winter conditions.

One of the reasons that I put this off was the cost. Finances have been a lot tighter this year. Cotton and wool quilting are very expensive. We recently decided to turn our guest bedroom into a sewing and storage room that is cat free. We sold our guest bed and as a result, I had a 10 year old woolen quilt that I could strip and cut up. There was enough of the wool that I was able to give half of it to Jessie, so that she could also make a petticoat. I had also found a perfect plaid cotton at an opportunity shop for 50 cents.

The petticoat has a 90 inch diameter and is quilted 3 thirds of the way up. It is amazingly comfortable to wear. I wore it 3 days straight last week. Even my cats love it. It provides great shape with just a petticoat and skirt and also sits beautifully under a crinoline.

The Challenge: #12 Shape and Support
Fabric: Cotton fabric and wool inside
Pattern: None, inspired by the various originals available in online museum searches (Pinterest)
Year: 1850s
Notions: Cotton Tape, Cotton Thread
How historically accurate is it? maybe around 90% only concern was that I sewed it completely on the machine using a quilters walking foot. I really should start using my period correct treadle machine.
Hours to complete: about 12 hours
First worn: 2 weeks ago for warmth around the house
Total cost: about $5

Completed Plaid Bodice and an Ice Skating Event - Updated

Well I know it has been a while since I posted, but I have been very busy with work and I got a nasty virus on my computer. Nic has very kindly let me his to update a few of my recent projects. I am sorry as I will be putting up a few posts, as I have been making the most of the school holidays.

After a year of planning we finally made it to the ice rink. There was meant to have been a few of us attending, but we had a lot of cancellations in the days leading up to it. Some people had injuries, others were more drawn to attending Avcon. Those of us that did attend had a great time. In the end it was Nic, Myself, Trisha, Kay and her daughter in modern clothing.

For the event I finally finished sewing my 1850s sporting attire. I had completed the skirt about 4 years ago, so it was nice to finally complete the bodice to go with it. Nic was kind enough to fit my toile, and he did an amazing job. It fits beautifully. I did not get enough time to complete the petticoat to go with it, but I do plan to have it made in a dark blue shortly. I also made the skirt lifter published in Godey's Magazine in 1862. I used black velvet ribbon as an option given on the description. While it looked very nice when first draped. it encouraged the skirt to pull and move, which resulted in the front and back pulling under the crinoline after some movement. Another shortcoming is that the ribbon was constantly catching on objects as I went past them. I have now been supplied with an alternative internal lifter pattern, which I hope to create later this week. I will post more photos and details once the adjustments are complete.

These are the two dresses that I based the design of my sporting attire off. I am still considering adding fringing to my bodice

This dress is from the MET Museum, Pintrest Link.
Completed outfit with petticoats only

 Completed outfit with crinoline.

 Now for the ice skating.....
 Myself, Nic, Kay and Trisha
 Nic had never skated before and he only had one small mishap.
 Us together, we look relaxed for being scared and holding each other up.

Men look so much more handsome in period attire, but I could be prejudiced.
The Challenge: #14 Paisley and Plaid
Fabric: 100% cotton Black Watch Tartan (Tartan is a kind of plaid isn't it?)
Pattern: Drafted using prior toiles
Year: 1850-1855
Notions: Cotton Tape, Cotton Thread, Hooks and Eyes, Black Lace
How historically accurate is it? About 90%. the lace is synthetic as I have been unable to get any cotton black lace. I did try some antique lace, but it was too heavy.
Hours to complete: About 40 hours
First worn: Today
Total cost: $50