Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wolcott Mill!

Providence shone upon me this year in the form of scheduling, and placed my fall break and the Wolcott Mill reenactment on the same weekend. Usually, Wolcott is the weekend before and coincides with midterms, which puts attending pretty much out of the question. So while I wasn't able to camp this year, I was able to daytrip out for part of Saturday! It was chilly and damp, but I was just thrilled to be dressed and at an event.

Since I haven't done any fall events before, my entire wardrobe is geared for summer weather. I decided to wear the "Black Hole" dress, and accessorized with a pashima shawl, kid leather gloves, a black velvet belt with a mother of pearl buckle, a jet and gold brooch, my little reticule, and my new boots from Jackson. In order to stay warm in my thin cotton, I cheated a bit and layered a black long-sleeved shirt under the dress. I also lived on the scandalous side and went without a bonnet or hat, as it was unseasonably late for straw, and I haven't gotten around to making anything of silk or wool yet. One of these days!

The whole ensemble!

The military portrayed the Battle of Sheperdstown, fought just after Antietam in September of '62. I was there for Part I, by the end of which the Union had swept the field. (According to my history, however, the ultimate victory in Part II went to the South.)

The Confederate skirmish line towards the beginning of the battle.

Overall, it was a lovely event. I hope to camp for this one after I'm done with college and can take a weekend away without worrying about the piles of homework I'm leaving behind. Until then, I'll have to start in on some warmer clothes. My purple plaid is pretty thick. If I let out the hem on that (which I have to do anyhow) and make a coat/cloak, hood, muff, and some flannel underpinnings, I should be ready to brave the October weather!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Corset!

[Sorry for the long hiatus! I've been totally swamped with school, but now have a few posts to put up. This one's been written up in the queue for a while, but I just now finally got around to sticking the pictures in.]

Towards the end of the summer, I put on my corset to get ready to docent at my historical village, for which I dress to the Civil War era. I snapped the busk together and proceeded to pull on the lacing. Without too much tugging it stopped tightening, but wasn't nearly snug yet. I checked in the mirror, and sure enough, it had finally laced up all the way in the back with room to spare. Not good! With the Jackson reenactment approaching (the enormous crowning jewel of the summer reenacting season) I did not want to be parading around in an ill-fitted corset, which correspondingly would not support my back and hoop. So I finally got on the ball, and called up my friend to help me whip up a new one. It was a bit of a whirlwind, (hence scant/nonexistent process photos) but here is the general rundown of the project:

Stage 1: Mockup
Pretty self explanatory. I used my friend's pattern as we're a similar size (I'm a little shorter and rounder, but it worked just the same) and cut out the mockup in a fabric that doesn't stretch. I was confused as to fitting something with two closures with a projected gap in the back. Solution: sew a 2"-3" strip in the back where you want the lacing gap to be, and fit the rest as usual. Brilliant!

Many, many pins in the mockup!

Stage 2: Cut out all 34857 pieces
Seriously, there are that many. Gussets here, gussets there... and every piece needs to be cut out in all of the different fabric types. (Lining, canvas, and outer fabric, with more optional fashion fabric.) Snip away!

Stage 3: Sew all 34857 pieces together
3a. Sewed canvas and lining together
3b. Assembled attached canvas and lining
3c. Assembled fashion/outer fabric... partially.

Stage 4: Boning and Busk
Boned the lining/canvas pieces, then attached the outer fabric and stuck the busk in. Not necessarily in that order. This stage closely resembled total chaos. I wound up with a 12" busk, and I think I ended up using 26 or 28 bones total.

Stage 5: Grommets
Ahh. Something I already knew how to do, at last. I used some borrowed awls to make the holes, to avoid fraying that would come from punching holes. Then I stuck in 30 grommets with the Crop-O-Dile that I have stolen from my mom for a countless number of projects.

Stage 6: TRY IT ON NOW
For real. So important! Mine ended up getting a full couple of inches longer after it was boned. Like, I-can't-sit-down-in-this-long. A few bones also hit in uncomfortable spots. (ie. jabbing me in the armpit and causing me to permanently hunch my shoulders. Not good!) My dear brother and father cut the bones down to the proper length, and I was able to adjust things so that it fit well. Crisis averted... fortunately before there was casing to rip off!

Stage 7: Casing
I admit, I did not do this stage justice. It was the last step and was getting close to the event. (Like, "four hours" close.) So I whipped some bias-cut canvas casing on with the machine, bent two sewing machine needles by going too close to some bones, and got it together enough to wear.

Stage 8: Lace it all up
I like mine laced in three sections, so that I can easily get it on and off myself as I often have to dress without assistance. I'm not sure how accurate that system is, but hey, it's not visible anyhow! I ended up with 15 grommets per side, which neatly divided into sections of 5 pairs per lace. (I ended up using around 8 yards of lacing, but could have definitely gotten away with 7. Better safe than sorry, though... trimming is always an option!)

Stage 9: Look fabulous, in increased comfort!
I love my new corset! It was in places tricky, tedious, and a little frustrating, but all in all it was very worth it. If it comes down to it again, I'll definitely make another one over buying it.

And here, finally, are some photos!

The finished product. Off, it looks pretty shapeless.
But it's not!!

Purple stitching!

Business on the outside...

Party on the inside! I was talked into using my plaid
mockup as a colorful lining. Here, you can partially see
where I ended up putting my bones. 

EDIT: When I made the corset in August, there was a beautiful, perfect 2-inch gap down the back. I have since lost more weight, and now my new corset is lacing all the way up, too! Agh! I'm happy to have thinned down, though... I can always make adjustments. The side seams are still raw, so I'll probably start by pulling those in a bit where they're not too close to the bones.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Evidence of Me in 1861

Hey look: I found a picture of me at Hastings... from 1861!

Strolling down the street, collecting admiring glances
from all the men in uniform. So, business as usual.

Ha! But for real, check out the outfit...

Look familiar?!

This stylish young lady is strolling around Baltimore, MD, boldly sporting a CSA 1st National Flag apron. Adding to her accessories, she has a Colt revolver jammed into the waistband of her apron. I may have to branch out in my accessorizing at events ;)

I was pretty excited when I ran across this in an issue of Harper's Weekly. To see the whole issue and/or a better resolution of this picture, head over to Son of the South here. Or just head over there anyway--Paul has the ENTIRE Civil War run of Harper's Weekly up on his site, among other things. It's so awesome, I have no words for it. Just go.

And while I'm posting about my apron again, I may as well add that it has been updated! I got it some military cuff-size buttons back at Hastings, to add to the Southern feel of the thing.


And I recently found another very similar extant apron, this one being a children's piece made from cotton. It's currently housed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, and there's more info on it here. Also, it lets you zoom in enough to see stitching and construction details. Super helpful!

This seems to be the most popular style of Southern patriotic apron, which makes sense as the flag is so easily adapted to this form. I really love this piece, though!

That's all for now! I'm hoping to still post here and there, but now that classes are in full swing, we'll see what happens. For the immediate future, I'll be posting project wrap-ups from earlier in the summer that didn't fit into other posts, some research and inspiration, and a variety of other things. No brand new projects for now, though :(