Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Epic Striped Wrapper, Part II

My Epic Striped wrapper made its debut at Jackson. I am a big fan! The frogs are a nice closure, and I'd use them again in a heartbeat. They went on much faster than buttons/buttonholes, and were secure yet easy to get open and closed. It also fits neatly over my hoop, which is a bonus. 

The top. Imagine frogs going all the way to the floor...
Also, it fits me better than my dressform!

I am planning on adding angled welt pockets using the tiny bit of yellow fabric that I have left, and trimming it with the thin navy cording from the sleeves. I also picked up a few more yards, so that I can line the edges of the front panels in the same. And I'll keep on the lookout for a nice navy upholstery cording to replace my improvised ribbon belt. If I can find more of it, I'd eventually like to add a bottom border in the yellow cotton, too.  So while it's not 100% done yet, it's in very wearable condition! It was super comfortable, and I loved the cut of the sleeves for both coolness and practicality.

If you don't have a wrapper already, I can't recommend one enough! They're a must for reenacting, as a state of half-dress is very handy when getting ready can take so long. On top of that, they're fairly easy (depending on the style you choose), and you can pick the craziest fabric your heart desires!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Remembering Antietam

**I realize that I've missed the Anniversary by a few days. I regretfully had too much homework to do a proper write-up at the time, but am posting it now.

Antietam. It's the battle I've studied most, but I still get a bit of a gut-wrenching shock when I hear the word. There was so much death in so little time, on so little land. Granted, the entire war was bloody. The entire war was tragic. One casualty is too many, because that's a home without a father or a son or a brother. But at Antietam, 23,000 men fell in under 12 hours.

The eastern edge of the Bloody Cornfield

The sun rose over a heavy fog on September 17th, 1862 in Southern Maryland. By the time it set and the fog had burned off the land, it had taken its place as the bloodiest single day in American history. Between a cornfield, a sunken farm lane, a little church, and a small stone bridge, 23,000 casualties were inflicted between the two sides, leaving both armies badly battered. Tactically it was inconclusive, as neither the attacks nor the defense had gone as planned. Ultimately, George McClellan was able to claim a strategic victory for the Union, as Lee's army would withdraw from Maryland in the days following. Years later, history would regard the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg to be a major turning point in the Civil War for having shifted the advantage to the Union, and boosting their flagging morale. It opened the door for Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, changing the very face of the war itself. History's course was altered dramatically, yet again.

Burnside's Bridge, site of the third and final phase of the battle.

As we mark 150 years since that warm September day, I propose that we take just a minute to think of those 23,000 men as more than a number. Some fought for ideals while others fought for pay, but by and large, ordinary soldiers on both sides fought not primarily for politics, but for country, family, honor, and loyalty. The soldiers and civilians alike of the War Between the States deserve more than a mention in a textbook here and there--their legacy is a part of American today, whether it's realized or not.

The Bloody Lane in the evening

"History never looks like history when you are living through it."
-John W. Gardner

Friday, September 7, 2012

Surprise!! A Shot of the Finished August '62 Outfit!

You thought I forgot, didn't you? Well maybe I did. Of course I didn't! Here, at long last, is the Plaid Skirt/Swiss Body/Garibaldi Blouse outfit all together!

Lookin' a little rough at the end of Jackson, there...

I finally got an okay shot of it all together. (It's pretty impossible to assemble correctly on the dressform, as the Swiss Body is so exactly shaped, and my form has no shoulders.) The other times I've worn it, the sleeves were rolled down and buttoned, and I had a little burgundy velvet bow at my neck like in the original plate. (In other words, it looked a lot closer to the original inspiration!)  Also, the picture makes the skirt look oddly small, whereas in reality it's HUGE. But here you can get the idea!

Verdict: LOVE IT!! It's a comfortable, fun outfit to wear. The taffeta in the skirt is stiff enough where if it's hot, I can get away with no over-petticoat. The waist is only about half-boned, but at that it lays nicely and I have no bunching problems. Next time I'm going to pin the blouse down to the skirt though, as it kept bunching up when I raised my arms. (Hence, the bunchy top of the blouse sticking up in the photo.) All in all though, I'm a major fan. I made the swiss body by making a toile of my ballgown bodice and doing some serious carving to get down to the shape I wanted, and shifted the lace-up to the front. Worked like a charm! You can't see it here, but the blouse is a sheer and solid white stripe, which was a curtain in a previous life. Nice and light... but I really should make a corset cover to go with it. *Adds it to the list*

Total project cost:
Old curtain: $2 at a garage sale
Buttons: Stash
Total: $2 and change
Swiss Body:
Burgundy/Black shot taffeta (stash, originally around $6 at Jo-Ann's red tag sale)
Grommets (also stash)
Ribbon lacing (also stash)
Boning (also stash!)
Total: Free from the stash!
Plaid Taffeta Skirt:
Taffeta: Jo-Ann's red tag again! $16 for 4 yards
Velvet Trim: Some stash, had to order about $4 more
Hook and Bar closure: (stash)
Total: $20
Outfit Grand Total: $22

For all of the pieces that it needed, this outfit went together very inexpensively! Here's the original fashion plate again, from August of '62. I was in high style sporting something out of this month's Godey's!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


The Jackson Civil War Muster is the biggest event in the state (maybe even Great Lakes region?). It's big. And fun. While it isn't as picturesque as Greenfield Village, or as across-the-board accurate as Charlton Park, it's still a great event. It's the place to be if you're looking to do some shopping at the sutlers. And the battles... aghh the battles! They definitely rank at the top of the local events I've seen. The park re-landscapes the field each year for the selected engagement. In years past, they've grown corn and wheat, dug out huge embankments, and lined up trenches to name a few things. This year the landscaping was pretty tame. The battles represented were 2nd Manassas and Stones' River. New as of this year, they split the battles into two phases, one early in the action and the other showing the conclusion of the conflict. It was a nice effect, as it gave a better feel for the whole thing and how it was won or lost. My favorite part was during 2nd Manassas, when the Confederates ran out of ammunition and repelled a charge by throwing rocks, which was a first among the reenacted battles I've seen!

The guest of honor on Saturday was Mr. Harold Becker, whose father fought in the Civil War. Nope, that's not a typo: his father was in the war 150 years ago. "How?!" you ask. His father, who lied about his age in order to enlist, was 71 years old when Mr. Becker was born in 1917. Thus, the 150-year bridge. Awesome? Awesome.

Mr. Becker, me, and my handsome bro-han.

As I mentioned, the sutlers at Jackson are quite numerous. I didn't do too much in the way of purchasing, but did get a new pair of boots which I have been badly needing, and a small gold [can't remember name!!] to fill with lavender and hang from my belt :)

Aren't they cute! They're quick to get on and off, too :)

It's pretty tiny--only about 1" across!

And now, I can't wait for the next event! I was hoping to hit Wolcott Mills in October, but it's not looking good judging by the syllabi I have been receiving this week. Hopefully I can still at least daytrip!