Day 2: Stocking Stuffers

Design

We’re moving into day two of our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping series with ‘Stocking Stuffers’ being the topic for the day. Not all gifts have to go under the tree, in fact some of the best presents can fit nicely right inside a stocking. Today’s list will include a handful of gift suggestions in a reasonable price range and then a couple big ticket items, for if you really want to surprise them. I love nothing more than opening a couple little things, like chocolate candies and mitts, only to find buried at the bottom a small box with shiny pretties.

Starting off with sweets because what stocking is complete without candied oranges and chocolate? My favorite quick sweet thing to make during the holidays is candied orange peel, a once popular treat during the 18th century is usually only had in modern fruitcakes today. As mentioned I usually make my own, which you can too – this is my favorite recipe, or if you’re short on time pick up these Italian candied orange peel strips from Market Hall Foods. They’re great for baking and snacking! For chocolates, American Heritage Chocolate is hands down our favorite. Choose from their gourmet hot cocoa or one of their varieties of rich chocolate perfect for nibbling, baking, or the most decadent hot chocolate you’ve ever had.

Hot chocolate not your thing? Try a historically inspired tea from Sense & SensibiliTea, a purveyor of fine hand blended teas which aims to recreate teas from different time periods. Hands down our favorites are Wolfe’s Spice tea and Great Fire of London tea, a 17th Century blend.

No gift of loose leaf tea is complete without a strainer to accompany it. A quick search for antique or vintage tea strainers on Etsy.com can produce a number of beautiful strainers at reasonable prices. If you’re looking for a guaranteed good find without having to do all the legwork check out this Victorian style brass tea strainer from the Madison Bay Company.

Have an avid seamstress or tailor on your list? Check out Burnley & Trowbridge’s selection of sewing tools which make perfect little stocking stuffers. You could even go all out and top it off with a sewing housewife, we like Haydenhill Handmades completely hand sewn 18th Century style housewife that comes with a beeswax cake and thread winder and Wednesdays Child Is offers a completely stocked early to mid 19th century housewife based on the instructions in the Workwoman’s Guide, better order now though to ensure arrival by Christmas.

IMG_4365The next suggestion isn’t strictly historical but is one of my favorite things to pick up before going to special events. I’m late to the party on discovering them, but Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has some incredible scents which can really tie all of the elements of your ensemble together to help create this persona or character. My favorite scents that I’ve sampled so far have been Alice, which to me is a sweet and feminine innocence all dripping in honey and tea cakes, and Hollywood Babylon which oozes with that late 1920s/1930s decadence. If you’d like a scent that is based on historical recipes LBCC Historical has a selection of perfumes that span the centuries, perfect for those who really want to get into character.

Another gift I’d be thrilled to find nearly stuffed in my stocking is this adorably feminine puffed cap ribbon and breast knot set from Fashionable Frolick. She offers a variety of colors and styles perfect for mixing and matching.

IMG_4366Looking for something for the man in your life? If he has a flintlock chances are he could use some flints from Najecki Reproductions, be sure to call for availability as his shop doesn’t appear to have been updated recently. Another practical gift can be cartridge papers, I really like the looks of Samson Historical’s new cartridge paper pads. If you like to save on shipping like I do another perfect stocking stuffer from Samson Historical is one of their fine clay pipes and tobacco. My husband is an avid pipe smoker and of the various clay pipes he’s tried theirs has been his favorite.

Now to the good stuff, if you really want to impress her this holiday season pick up something, literally anything, from Dames a La Mode. You can’t go wrong with the quality of her work and her amazing customer service. Not sure what to get? You can’t go wrong with a simple coral or garnet necklace. Looking for something with more pizazz, try one of the collet necklaces! My absolute favorite is this regency style amethyst necklace.

And for the Gents why not spoil him with a reproduction pocket watch and watch strings. Kim at the Sign of the Gray Horse is offering a wonderful new pocket watch, in both silver and gold, based on an original. It’s a great affordable option for costumers and reenactors alike. Pair it with a set of watch strings from her shop or consult with her on a custom set that’d be perfect for your gentleman’s favorite ensemble.

Alright folks I think that about wraps it up for day two! If you think we missed anything add it down below in the comments, as I’m sure other reads would love to hear your thoughts. Check back here Wednesday for day three which is Gifts from the Heart.

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Day 1: Just the Basics

Design

Welcome its the first day of our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping series and today’s theme is Just the Basics! These are your reliable, go-to gifts that can be enjoyed outside of living history events by anyone. Your best friend in the hobby for the past 15 years? Perfect. Your Aunt Susan who doesn’t understand why you want to wear wool when it’s 90 degrees out? Perfect. Christmas party gift exchange? Perfect. Seriously, these are like the socks and candles kind of gifts you receive from well meaning relatives and new boyfriends except they won’t make you cringe and feign excitement upon opening.

Historical themed soaps can be a useful gift to give since everybody washes their hands, and if they don’t do you really want them in your life? LBCC Historical offers a variety of historical soaps that span the centuries and Living in the Past LLC has a handful of mid 19th century soaps in their shop to choose from. Shopping for the guys? Check out Long Rifle Soap for their great selection of historically themed shaving soaps!

IMG_4362Ok so I said these gifts weren’t going to be cringeworthy like socks and candles but hear me out, these Werther and Gray candles are amazing! These aren’t your mommas Yankee Candles with their interesting (and sometimes dark) historical themes like Film Noir, Reign of Terror, and Industrial Revolution. Plus they’re all made from Parasoy, a non toxic, biodegradable, vegan friendly wax which burns nice and slow so you can feel extra good about your purchase.

Our next gift idea is sure to please those with a sweet tooth. True Treats Candy has an AMAZING selection of candies and treats from the first sweets of the ancient world on up to classic favorites of the early 20th century. You can guarantee that your gift will be memorable in a good way with one of their original candy collections like the Civil War Collection and the Penny Candy Collection.

Looking for a cute way to package that candy? How about tucked in a new themed coffee mug from The Mug Co. We love their Votes for Women suffragette mug as well as their Jane Austen mugs. Just don’t forget to order early to allow for ample shipping time as they are a U.K. company. Want something a little different than you average coffee mug? Try a mug from stoneware artisan J. Henderson Artifacts, perfect for at home, the office, and around camp.

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Mmm…brandy butter.

How about another yummy treat perfect for gift giving? One of my favorite parts of the holidays is getting to eat the delicious Christmas pudding, not a very common dessert in the states any more but something everyone should have at least once. While I prefer to make my own, you can actually purchase a traditional Christmas pudding online! The English Tea Store is a great place to shop for all your pudding needs including delicious brandy butter mmmmm.

Well there you have it folks, day one is in the books with a handful of ideas for when you just need a gift that doesn’t suck. Check back on Sunday for our next post sharing our favorite stocking stuffers this year.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping 2018

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It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again where we begin scouring the interwebs in search of the best gifts for our loved ones, but it is! Seriously where did this year go?! We’ve decided to start a tradition with our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping series as a way to encourage our readers to shop local and support those wonderful small business owners within the hobby. Same as last year we will have a different theme for each day, with those posts showcasing some of our favorite items, artisans, or projects. This year will be a little different in that we’re planning to expand our focus to include other some other time periods alongside our 18th century recommendations. So without further adieu the themes for this year…

Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping

Just the Basics
Stocking Stuffers
From the Heart
For the Littles
Something They Want
Something They Need
Something to Wear
Something to Read
Unforgettable Experiences
Crowd Pleasers
Brittany’s Top Picks
Hayley’s Top Picks

If you’re ready to get your shopping out of the way now and simply can’t wait for our series check out last years Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping posts, you’ll be sure to find plenty to help check off your lists. The first post goes up Friday November 9th and you can look forward to a new post each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday now until December 5th.

Happy Shopping my friends!

What have we learned?

DesignWell here we are one year and one thousand followers into this thing, this quest for knowledge through our own exploration and discovery. It’s still surreal to think we have as many followers and fans as we do. I think if you’d have told either of us that we’d be hosting workshops out of state, planning private events with our Civilian unit and having literally thousand(s) of followers we would think you were out of your mind, but here we are! So what would we say we’ve learned thus far through all of our travels and experience?

We have learned that…

  • This hobby can be as cliquey and cruel as our high school days, but being kind and welcoming goes a long way in making new friends and alliances.
  • Change can sometimes be hard to accept but with patient guidance and determination we can make a difference.
  • The majority of people are eager to learn and improve, but just don’t know where to start and need a little encouragement.
  • There are so many options for interpretations that there is no need to settle for what everyone else is doing!
  • Developing a persona is more important than hand sewing all of your kit.
  • Events don’t have to be military centric in order to be successful and entertaining.
  • You should enjoy what you’re doing and if not re-evaluate, after all this is a hobby!
  • Using period construction techniques is one of the most important factors in putting together a garment, not hand sewing. Don’t feel like you’re cheating just because you machine sewed interior seams.
  • There is nothing wrong with portraying the upper classes of society.
  • We need to see more cultural and socioeconomic diversity in the hobby. Not everyone living in the colonies was British/Anglo-American.
  • With some work the Midwest could have some great events just like our Coastie friends.
  • Hosting workshops, small demos, and classes at events may be an easy way to share our mission with others within the Midwest.
  • There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from sewing and the hobby for sanity’s sake.
  • We can make waves, good ones, in our little corner of the hobby.
  • With any luck we’ll be twice as successful next year!

Thank you all for the love and support over the past year! Stay tuned for our one year/one thousand followers giveaway announcement coming up on Wednesday of this week!

Warm Welcomes and a Workshop!

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998 Followers 🙀

Wow! So what can we say? Life just got a little crazy there for a few months, ok maybe more like half the year but you know what I mean. We finally have had some free time in between project deadlines and events to sit down and play catch up on our sad little blog. If you follow us on Facebook and Instagram I’m sure you’ve seen all of our adventures so far this year but for those of you who don’t I’ll get you up to speed with a little update post here. PS you should totally follow us on Instagram because we are literally TWO followers away from 1000 and ready to do a fabulous giveaway!!!

So the first event of the year we spent shivering, sorta, in a semi immersive experience at historic Fort Wayne in Ft. Wayne, IN. It was an amazing site and we had a large group of new friends to meet and interact with. As the event was set in a military fort we were all portraying camp followers of one degree or another. Hayley put to use her fire making skills and kept our side of the blockhouse nice and toasty all weekend. I was committed to playing a hired cook for the officers of the event and spent the vast majority of my waking hours bent over a hearth and directing the other girls to attend to their duties and ensuring people were fed and warm. In other words I was like the house mom.

Fast forward a few months and we set up at the Lowe-Volk Parks Living History Days

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Draping and cutting a new gown for event organizer Julie Rossington 

to forkick off our summer season. We brought out the traveling dressmakers shop and set out to custom drape and sew a gown for the organizer of the event. We hired on a friend to make a team of three and narrowly missed our deadline of finishing by the end of the weekend due to exhaustion, child tending, and just plain unpredictability of events.

A couple weekends later I soloed a timeline event at Fort Meigs for some working class fun as a tippling house or grog shop for the military.

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Sutler for the military photo credit to B&K Photo

During that event I had the pleasure of first being introduced to Frank and Carol Jarboe, wonderful people with impeccable interpretations. I shot out early thanks to bad weather – it always storms for Meigs, ALWAYS- and rested up for the big fun show in July.

The next few weeks were spent sewing up a storm for the Jane Austen a festival held in Louisville, KY. We had a BLAST and it deserves its own post because I could rattle on all day about how much fun we had and everything we got to experience.

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Sipping lavender lemonade and dishing with new friends at the Jane Austen Festival

Which brings us to our most recent event the Revolution on the Ohio Frontier event held at Fort Meigs sponsored by both the NWTA and the BARs Northwest Department.  Again this is an event that deserves a post of its own just because of everything that went on. So look forward to those two posts shortly ☺️.

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Fashion for the Masses Civilian focused fashion show at Fort Meigs 
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You don’t want to miss this

So that’s been our season thus far. We have one more event left to round out our year in October but before then we have a Beginners Living History workshop coming up on Saturday September 29th. The workshop is set up for anyone who is New or interested in the hobby and for those who are seasoned reenactors but are looking to maybe step up their game or see what’s changed in just the past couple of years. We’re hosting the event with the 1st WAC Separate Battalion, Headquarters Company also located in Ohio. For more details and to register for the event please head over to our event page, sorry guys it’s just easier to keep one place updated.

New sure do hope to see you at our workshop and greatly apologize for the lack of attention to our blog *promise we’ll try harder to keep this updated*

Until next time!

Brittany

Let them eat {tea} cakes! HSM January Challenge

 

Finally after years of following various costume bloggers through the annual Historical Sew Fortnightly (now Monthly) challenges I’ve decided to dive head on into my first challenge, no longer content with just watching the fun from the sidelines. My first challenge entry needed to be something that I could do relatively quickly and something pretty that I could wear for a fun social outing with the other Ohio Historic Costumers. I decided a jacket and petticoat would be an easy project to whip up instead of tackling a full gown this time around, especially when January is still a little crazy from the holidays. The challenge was “Mend, Reshape, Refashion” and while perusing Pinterest for ideas I stumbled upon a pretty pink late 1780s Pierrot jacket and just knew it’d be the perfect quick project for our tea. I love jackets, LOVE them. I don’t know why but there’s just something about a saucy little tail and a well fitted jacket that just screams high fashion to me.
So the basic concept was decided, jacket totally easy and requires little fabric. I knew I wanted to stick to minimal costs after just coming out of the holiday season and still needing to purchase things for the real Season. I turned to my stash and was disappointed by the lack of pretty stuff, bleh linen. I began looking at more unconventional means of fabric yardage, I’ve been on a big minimalist kick with getting rid of clothes and stuff we just don’t need or use anymore, part of said purge revealed a pretty cotton candy pink silk slip from a vintage 1930s evening gown. The gown itself was in too fragile of a state for anything other than being stored in a box which rendered the slip pretty much useless. I know I’m going to ruffle some feathers by confessing this but I talked myself into making this once loved antique into something that could serve a greater purpose than taking up valuable closet space. I took my shears and began cutting into it.
I finished my jacket and quilted petticoat ensemble the week of the event. I then decided the night before that I really needed a muff and short cloak, because why not? Crazy right? So I whipped up the fur muff I had been working on from the new American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking and then kind of just winged the short cloak. I’m happy with the results for the most part. The only thing I wish would have turned out better were the fan pleats on the hood, I think the faux fur lining was just a little too bulky so you don’t get that same full effect of a fan. Even though that little bit didn’t turn out quite right the hood covered all of my hair and the cloak managed to keep me dry so that’s a success in my book!

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So more about the fun stuff, the tea party! This was my first event ever doing something fun and for my own enjoyment. Not that I don’t enjoy being an interpreter but going to an event and being asked fifty times a day if that’s “real fire” just isn’t the same as wearing pretty clothes and nerding out on costume discussions. Plus pretty things! I got to wear pretty things, like all of them at the same time! Annnd I was waited on and served in my pretty things which is a breath of fresh air from the usual experiences.
So Hayley and I arrived fashionably late, as usual, because of stuff and things. Being flatlanders from the country we kind of forgot about the whole limited parking situation and wound up wasting even more time, but we did get to see some cool shops while hoofing it to the Asterisk Supper Club. So we make a grand entrance, squeeze into some seats and find ourselves comfortably at ease with these new found friends from the Ohio Historic Costumers group, this was in fact our first time attending any sort of in person get together. And it was great! Who knew so many other awesome like-minded people lived within a short jog from each other? Seriously. It was great.

 


So we spent the rest of the day sipping tea, mmm cardamom, snacking on tiny sandwiches (thank you Earl of Sandwich), and gabbing about hair, fabrics, patterns, and my favorite: how to keep the girls up without the use of Regency stays, hello bodiced petticoat!

 


After we left and said our goodbyes we decided to pop in an antique shop before heading home. No sooner had we entered the door than a gentleman photog stopped in behind us intrigued by our unusual apparel. We chatted and he followed us through the store snapping photos of us, kind of a strange time warp photo session but it was way cool. It felt like we had our very own paparazzi, and I mean we did look like quite fashionable ladies it’s no wonder!

The Wayback Machine
Photo Copyright 2018 Gary Gardiner. Not to be used without written permission detailing exact usage. Photos from Gary Gardiner, may not be redistributed, resold, or displayed by any publication or person without written permission. Photo is copyright Gary Gardiner who owns all usage rights to the image.

So there you have it folks! Our cupcake gown outing was a blast and we both finished up our first Historical Sew Monthly challenge. Down below you’ll find the details on my project and shortly I’ll get an inspo post going for February’s challenge.
Annnnnd we haven’t forgotten about the Thrifty Reenactress series, although I know it seems like it. Our next post on bed gowns will get posted this week, promise. Colds and life just kind of got in the way of things this month.

-Brittany
The Challenge: Mend, Reshape, Refashion – Mend or re-shape one of your previously made historical clothing items, or refashion a new one out of something not originally intended as sewing fabric.
Material: Jacket is made from an original 1930s pink silk slip, lined in a pink linen and trimmed with white and green silk ribbon. The quilted petticoat is made from a vintage silk satin coverlet, lined in pink linen with natural linen ties at the waist.
Pattern: The jacket is mostly self drafted using the Larkin & Smith fashionable gown pattern as a base for the cutaway bodice style with the jacket skirts and back being self drafted based on extant garments and fashion plates.
Year: Late 1780s through the early 1790s
Notions: Natural linen tape for the petticoat waistbands from Wm. Booth, Draper, and a few yards of silk ribbon in green and white.
How historically accurate is it? Pretty HA I’d say! The fit, fabric, and style are all completely period appropriate. The pastel shades of pink and green were very fashionable as well as the abundance of trim. Both garments are completely sewn by hand using period construction techniques and close using straight pins and ties.
Hours to complete: I didn’t keep track of my hours very well but it was a lot for certain. The petticoat was easily finished in about 4 hours while the jacket itself was probably closer to 12 hours. The trim probably added another 4-6 hours for cutting and sewing it on.
First worn: Just this past Saturday at the Ohio Historic Costumers High Tea event.
Total cost: The slip and the bed coverlet as well as the linen lining, white silk for trim, and linen tape were already in my stash. I had maybe $30 wrapped up in green ribbon and then another $15 wrapped up in a faux fur muff and short cloak I made to go with it.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Our planning meeting today was a success! Here is the official press release that was submitted for the BAR quarterly newsletter about our event. We will share more specific details as they fall into place. This is getting really exciting!

New Additions to Ft. Meig’s 2018 Revolution on the Ohio Frontier event!

This August, a totally immersive experience awaits the public at Ft. Meigs. Local history will be celebrated, and colonial life will be illuminated. Visitors will be swept away in an interactive treasure hunt as they chat with tradesmen, soldiers, and sutlers to find clues to the past. Will the runaways hiding in the fort be discovered? What about the petty sutler who disobeyed the posted orders of the regiment? And who is that thief that robbed the artificer’s tent?

These questions and more will be answered as visitors experience mock trials, learn how to feed an army, and watch a team of seamstresses at work. The fort will also boast an Indian settlement, a handful of immigrants fleeing the ravages of battle, and street criers peddling wares.

In addition, visitors will be able to step out of the hustle and bustle and attend one or more of the educational talks given throughout the weekend. Discussions of fashion across the trades and social classes, how to style your 18th century hair, and the basics of hearth and fire cooking will surely enchant and delight. Children can visit the Indian settlement and learn how to tell stories and trade goods, as well as how candles were made.

We need YOU to help make this spectacular weekend come alive! If you are interested in contributing your skills and expertise to this event, please contact Shelly Wachtman at littleblueschoolhouse3@gmail.com, or the Dutch Milliners on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheDutchMilliners/ Visit the Revolution on the Ohio Frontier: Ft. Meigs Planning/Support Group page for updates on the events, schedule, and to contribute ideas https://www.facebook.com/groups/199016003983586/

-Shelly Wachtman

A Proper Petticoat

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Woman in a Kitchen, Paul Sandby c.1754

The petticoat, or skirt looking thingy, is the basic garment for your bottom half. Every woman no matter her social class or trade wore at least two petticoats, but often times they wore more. They could be left plain or could be trimmed lavishly, could be hemmed or bound with wool tape, and could be printed, solid, striped, or even checked!

For a basic wardrobe for a working class woman you’re going to want two petticoats to start with. These are going to be the easiest garment to sew in your entire kit since they are nothing more than two rectangles of fabric pleated to your waist measurement, hemmed and sewn into a waistband. When selecting fabric we recommend striped linen as it seems to be the most common. Both Burnley & Trowbridge and Wm. Booth, Draper offer a large selection of striped linen perfect for petticoats. If you decide to shop elsewhere for striped (or solid) linen we recommend sticking with shades of blue and brown. If you’d prefer to go with a solid linen we recommend sticking to earth tones, again with shades of blue and brown being the most common. Linen did not take dye colors as well as animal fibers like wool and silk. If you’d prefer a wider selection of colors we recommend looking at worsted wool or even wool flannel for petticoats. Wool petticoats were quite common then, in fact they were so common we need to see more wool gowns/petticoats represented in the hobby than we do now. If you’re concerned with being too hot in wool, do remember that wool like many other fabrics comes in a variety of weights. Tropical or summer weight wool can be so fine and light that you’ll scarcely believe its wool at all. When selecting a wool fabric buy from a reputable seller and pay attention to fiber content. Many wools are sold as wool blends and laws allow for fibers that make up less than 5% of the fiber weight to be simply listed as “other fiber(s)”, so understand what you are buying. Nylon is frequently added to wool to improve durability of the fabric, the NWTA allows for up to 25% of a wool fabric to be made with nylon. Polyester is another fiber frequently added to wool. We believe it’s a decision best left up to an individual as to whether a blend is appropriate. We highly encourage you to research why nylon and polyester is added to wool, how it affects the fabrics wear, and what it means for safety and risk around open flame.

The basic construction of a petticoat is simple and has been covered at length by many before us. We have listed below a number of tutorials as well as relevant research and resources relating to petticoats of the 18th century. The average petticoat requires roughly 2 ¼ yards of fabric, more if you want a fuller petticoat or have a larger waist measurement. The fabric is cut roughly to the length you’d like, which can be anywhere from top of the foot to two inches above the ankle. When

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“Departure from a French Inn”, Grimm, 1775

deciding on the length of your petticoat consider its function and your tasks performed while wearing it. Longer petticoats are easily tripped on when not held out of the way, this could be both difficult and dangerous to manage when hauling wood or water. Both Hayley and myself keep our petticoats right above the ankle bone. Another consideration is how do you want to finish your petticoat, hemming or binding? Binding a petticoat hem with wool tape is a great way to preserve and protect your fabric investment and was a common way to finish a petticoat. Hems of gown skirts and petticoats get a lot of abuse being walked on, drug through the mud, catching on things all will eventually lead to the fabric fraying and even ripping. A binding or tape would take the brunt of this wear, leaving the fabric underneath relatively unharmed. When the binding began to fray or wear excessively it could easily be removed and replaced. When just helming a petticoat the fabric itself is exposed directly to the abuse of daily wear and when it finally gives you’re left with no choice but to clip the ruined edge off. Your poor petticoat would then slowly shrink over time as each successive hem was worn out and cut off again, not a very sound way to treat your investment.

Well, I really think that sums it up for petticoats, they are a pretty basic garment. So rules to remember:

  1. At least two, worn at all times, sometimes more but never less.
  2. Stick to linen or wool for working class. Stripes are your best friend.
  3. Cotton print petticoat only with a matching cotton print gown or jacket (for Anglo descent personas- some ethnic groups through that rule out the window)
  4. Ankle length is a good place to start for working class. Too long and you’ll trip, too short and you’ll look French, Dutch, or German.

-Brittany

Petticoat Research and Resources
https://www.scribd.com/document/173639747/Female-Dress-Petticoats

Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls by Don Hagist

Petticoat Tutorials
http://www.koshka-the-cat.com/18c_petticoat.html
http://blog.americanduchess.com/2011/02/how-to-make-18th-century-petticoat.html
http://fashionablefrolick.blogspot.com/2011/04/threaded-bliss-tutorial.html
http://www.marquise.de/en/1700/howto/frauen/rock.shtml (measurements in metric)

 

 

Our Big Fat Announcement

So those of you who follow us on Facebook and Instagram may have caught our livestream Friday night in which we shared some great news with our followers. If you didn’t catch that now’s the chance for y’all to be in on our, not so little, secret!

So as you may know we are in the Midwest region of the US, specifically Ohio, which is kind of a black hole for Rev War and 18th Century events. We have a few here and there that are sort of close and meh, nothing to get too excited about and definitely nothing close to the scale of events our East coast neighbors tend to put on. We had the opportunity to attend an event put on by both the NWTA and BAR last summer at the historic 1812 fort located in northwest Ohio called Fort Meigs. The event drew some big name vendors including Wm. Booth, Draper and Samson Historical, as well as a number of units and individual participants. The site itself is beautiful and it’s staff and volunteers are amazing, we truly had a wonderful experience. The event however, needs a little umph, a little something to help it grow and become the kind of event everyone has on their schedule. It has so much potential! We saw it immediately and started chatting up some of the staff about the possibility of hosting some workshops and activities there. So that brings us to our announcement…

We want to make the Fort Meigs event AWESOME! We have so many ideas for activities, presentations, and new content for the public – like we’re bursting with excitement and ideas. But, BUT we can’t do this alone. Which is where you guys come into play. You see we’re all in this hobby for a reason, and what better reason to help grow and improve the hobby than to join us in our new venture? After all we’re just two people. So we have created a Facebook group called “Revolution on the Ohio Frontier: Fort Meigs Planning/Support Group” and we’d love it if you would join and help us out, even if you can’t make it there physically we’d love your support and opinions through the planning process.

Right now we need a solid team to help pull this off. We’d like to get together a group of people who can help us achieve our goal, have some rock solid planning in place and then take it to Fort Meigs, the BAR and the NWTA ultimately for their approval of adding these events to the schedule. So are you in?

The Art of Keeping Warm: Cold Weather Clothing

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We received a special request, in light of this recent cold snap, to talk about winter clothing for women of the 18th century and figured what better time than now as we thaw out from these -22 temperatures we’ve been having here in the Midwest. So sit back, grab a blanket, and think warm thoughts as we share some of the best ways to stay toasty for those upcoming chilly events.

Layers are the name of the game when it comes to staying comfortably warm in the 18th century. So let’s start with those toes! Silk works as a great insulator and is still used today for base layer garments. It’s lightweight, easy to layer, wicks moisture away better than cotton and can help you regulate your temperature which makes it perfect for winter events. When getting dressed don your silk stockings first before putting on those wooly ones and your toes and legs should stay reasonably warm.

If you know you’re going to be heading to a handful of winter events I’d recommend investing in a flannel shift and flannel under/modesty petticoat. If you tend to run hot, overheat easily, or know you’ll be frequently indoors/near a fire you may want to consider if a flannel shift is needed. If you’re on a march or doing demos outside exposed to the cold you’ll probably be ok with that flannel shift. Overall, soft, warm base layers can be the difference between shivering at an event and being comfortable.

Speaking of petticoats, layer those up to help keep your thighs and legs warm. Adding a quilted petticoat can help keep the warmth in, it almost creates a pocket of warm air especially when layered with other petticoats on top. On any given day I wear at least two petticoats, sometimes three, but when expecting an event to be chilly I may wear up to five petticoats if that’s what it takes to keep my butt warm.

Next I’d consider adding a quilted waistcoat before putting on my gown. There are a few surviving examples of these waistcoats, which may have been the inspiration behind that mythical (and terribly inaccurate) “bodice” so frequently worn to 18th century events. Sharon Burnston has written a great amount of research on quilted waistcoats for women and has graciously provided a pattern for making one of your own. This garment, like jumps and stays, is meant to be worn underneath your gown or jacket. This is not an outerwear piece like our modern down vests, but more like an 18th Century long john/ long underwear style top.

So now you’re essentially dressed, you have your gown on and the next layer to help keep you warm would be your cap. I’d opt for a cap with long lappets that I could tie under my chin or otherwise use to cover my ears. Atop my cap I’d tightly tie a handkerchief to help block out the wind, again silk would be my top pick because of how great of an insulator it is without adding bulk. Speaking of silk handkerchiefs, I’d be layering my neck handkerchiefs to help keep my bosom warm. First I’d start with silk before adding a heavier handkerchief like one of those nice linsey-woolsey ones from Burnley & Trowbridge. Aside from a hooded cape/cloak/mantelet I’d afix a bonnet, preferably silk or wool to help block the wind from head and face and keep in all that heat.

So now we’re left with exposed lower arms and the upper body to keep warm. Mitts are the most obvious answer for keeping the lower arms warm. We see mitts made of silk, leather, wool, and even repurposed from old worn out stockings. We’ve previously shared a DIY pattern for making your own 18th Century mitts which are a serious must have item for any event. They’re great at keeping the cold and bitter wind away during the winter and perfect for sunburn prevention in the warm summer months (ask Hayley how we know this!). For keeping hands and lower arms warm we’d also consider a muff, depending on the event and what we were doing. Muffs of fur or silk made with a wool or silk lining are perfect at keeping hands warm. They’re great for events when you’re not doing much of anything but seem, IMO, impractical for any event where you’re actually needing to use your hands.

Last layer we’re going to mention is the cloak, mantle, cape or what have you. These often had hoods and were commonly made of wool, most popular color seems to have been a pretty shade of red which earned them the name cardinals. A nice close fitting hood can help keep the heat in around the head and neck area. The cloak itself could be made in different lengths and works the same as a modern coat by acting as the outermost layer to block the wind and trap the heat close to the body. We are working on cloaks of our own using the research and pattern graciously made available by Sue Felshin. We definitely recommend a cloak as the bare minimum for winter clothing.

So there you have folks! Layering up is about the best way to keep warm for chilly events. As with anything we recommend using your best judgement when preparing for an event. If temperatures are in the negatives or with severe wind chills we’d highly recommend the use of modern base layers and hand warmers. These kept out of sight are a compromise I’m willing to make since they don’t outwardly affect my overall interpretation, but that choice is a very personal one to make.

Stay warm and happy sewing!

-Brittany