We’ve received a great response to the 18th century reenacting survey , which we posted about last week, and already people are asking more questions about the themes presented and are beginning to come to their own conclusions. We love it! Its getting people talking and not only is it getting them reflecting on their own experiences, but many are beginning to consider how others in the hobby may perceive them and their actions, whether intentional or not.
Some great observations about authenticity and attitudes have been made that may account for the feelings of bullying and cliquey behavior, not discounting peoples feelings at all but simply trying to make sense of the big picture – is this an issue of true bullying or more of an issue of unwanted criticism or poorly worded, yet well meant advice? The truth is we’ll probably never know (unless of course we do a more in depth survey on bullying, but we’ll save that for another day) but there are some things we can do now to help change these perceptions of bullying and cliques within the hobby. Below are several suggestions that were presented in response to our prompt on “how to be accessible and build a stronger community”
Be the unofficial welcome wagon for events. Take your posse around to every camp, introduce yourself and invite them to stop by your camp sometime for refreshments.
If you’re a more experienced participant go out of your way to greet new faces at events. Being the newbie can be intimidating and a friendly face can make the difference between someone really enjoying the event or hating it.
Don’t give criticism unless specifically asked, pay compliments instead.
Try sharing your favorite resources freely and encourage others to get as excited about them as you are. Show the process behind the research instead of quoting the hard and fast rules.
Welcome interpretations and views that may differ from yours. Its ok to agree to disagree sometimes.
Don’t be afraid to call out obvious bullying.
Be thoughtful about the words you use when communicating online. Its easy to misconstrue text, to avoid misunderstandings and further problems be thoughtful and consider how someone else may read into what you’re typing.
Inspired partly by a survey recently conducted by the 1st WAC separate battalion living history group, in an effort to create a better environment for female reenactors in the WWII community, and partly by our own feelings of unhappiness within the 18th century reenactor community we decided to conduct our own survey using the ever handy Google Forms app.
Our goal was to get a better understanding of what the general perception was of the 18th century reenacting community with some specific focus on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the community of women and non military/civilian interpreters. We had 230 participants from across the US, Canada, and parts of Europe respond and have compiled the data to the best of our ability identifying trends as noted.
The results were eyeopening, to say the least, and they validated a lot of the feelings held by several female and civilian reenactors I am acquainted with. In the next few days we will be posting prompts, here and on our Facebook page, that coincide with the data in an attempt to work towards correcting the issues identified through the survey. Ultimately we hope this will be used as a tool to open up dialog in the community and enact positive changes to create an inclusive environment for all participants.
There are times when I feel like I’m in a sewing funk and can’t stomach to make just another plain ol’ robe a l’anglaise so I turn to Pinterest for some inspiration. That’s where crazy ideas come from, Pinterest. I know you’ve seen that meme floating around about eating salads out of mason jars, that’s what Pinterest does to you! It just puts these ideas into your head and you’re like,
“Yeah let’s do that! It’ll be so easy and I’ve never seen anyone do that before so it’ll be way cool!”
but really it’s totally crazy.Oh and we can’t talk about Pinterest without mentioning the unwritten rule: Pinterest projects can go one of two ways, you either knock it out of the park or it becomes a dreaded Pinterest fail.
So a group of costuming peeps are heading to the Valentine Theater next month to hear the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for Mozart’s birthday and I needed something new and appropriate for the symphony. The challenge is it has to be a stash busting project because holidays mean spending my money on other people instead of buying myself more pretties to hoard away. It also has to be something amazing and right around the 1780s, just because.
Digging through my stash was sad, there really isn’t a lot left that would be appropriate for an 18th century upper class evening wear ensemble that hasn’t already been earmarked for another project. Aside from bits and pieces of silk from various projects the only useable length of fabric I have is a navy blue silk saree embroidered with gold thread in a basic polka dot and club motif, so it’ll have to do! I have roughly 4 1/2 yards of the plain blue embroidered fabric with a small panel of blue and gold striped that is a little over a yard, so gonna have to get creative here ie. head on over to Pinterest.
I just start typing in really random and vague search terms like “1780s fashion plate” in hopes of finding a rabbit hole to fall down that will lead me to “the look”, whatever that may be. I don’t even know how long it took but once I found it I knew it was “the one”. A striped bodice with big ruffly white sleeves and this plain skirt trimmed with more stripes and ruffles, hmm this fits the bill it’s visually interesting, something I’ve never seen done before, and it uses stripes!
So now we have a plan and we have a bodice mock up already in place – I cut two when first working on the one for the Barbara Johnson gown, time to start cutting up some silk 😬
Things are beginning to take shape with Barbara Johnson’s “red and white chintz gown” based on the description from her album of swatches currently located at the V&A Museum. I worked with Jess, of Penny River Costumes, to come up with an idea of what type of gownBarbara might have been describing in the early 1780s when she first pasted in this pretty printed swatch.
May, The Twelve Months 1781
The half Dress of the year 1782. Anne Frankland Lewis.
Summer. 1783. Published by Carrington Bowles.
Three fashion plates dating to 1781-1783.
Based on fashion plates and extant gowns dating approximately to the same decade, we think Barbara most likely had her mantua maker make her a robe a l’anglaise with a low cut “v” shaped back piece, sometimes referred to as an “Italian Gown” with a coordinating petticoat. Sleeve length during the decade seemed to vary and could be anywhere from the elbow to the wrist. They also could be trimmed, left plain, or with a set of fine white sleeve ruffles. The fashion plate Barbara carefully placed on the page accompanying her “red and white chintz” swatch appears to have a gown with sleeves just past the elbow, perhaps a shaped sleeve which had started to rise in popularity?
Now knowing what type of gown I needed to recreate it was time to begin drafting a pattern and creating a mock-up of the bodice. To create the pattern I decided to work from an existing gown that I finished earlier in the year that features the same deep “V” shape in the bodice back and fits perfectly over my false rump.
The blue silk Levite gown was franken-patterned using the Wingeo Levite pattern, the fashionable gown pattern from Larkin and Smith, and my standard bodice sloper. Combining these three patterns I was easily able to create that desirable 1780s back, having done it once already I’m hoping the mock up process will go quickly this time around.
First, I cut out my lining pieces for the bodice back and fronts using the Larkin and Smith Fashionable gown back and my bodice sloper. I’m always up for shortcuts so I’m going to use my lining as my mock up just to save some time. Even though I’ve made gowns from these particular pattern pieces countless times I always start with fitting my lining EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. no matter how many times I’ve made that particular gown. It never fails that if I skip this step something will go terribly wonky for some unexpected reason.
1. Uncut side, too low at the waist and hips.
2. Center back nicely trimmed to fit over false rump without any wrinkling at the waist.
3. Detail of one side trimmed out over rump at hips.
As you can see here I have my mock-up sewn together and mounted on the dressform with one side cut and pinned into the shape I’m looking for. Now I just have to do the same for the other side. Is this method historically accurate? Meh, I can’t vouch for that but it works for me and that’s all that matters right now.
For the back, I added length to the Fashionable Gown back pattern piece, just guesstimating how much to add to make the dramatic point. I’ve trimmed it away a little starting at the center back point to gradually sit just over the hips at the side back, this smooths out any wrinkles at the waist. Once the back is cut and looks even
I move onto the fronts. For this part I used my basic sloper for a center front closing bodice and cut the hips out slightly higher, just enough to accommodate the extra padding provided by the false rump. The center fronts are pinned closed and trimmed and then the bottom is shaped to meet with the cut-out sides. Once I’m done trimming I spin the form around to double check for any wrinkles or bubbles. What’s left should smooth out with the weight of the skirts and the extra stability of the fashion fabric. One of the curses of working with soft, buttery linens is its ability to wrinkle, bubble and stretch without that added foundation.
Now it’s time to try it on over my stays and fix any fitting issues! This process usually takes a couple tries so I was going to save this for another post but surprisingly enough it only took one fitting this time. I just need to trim a little under the arms to release just a bit of that wrinkling and it should be just about perfect!
Ps. Ignore the crappy fitting selfies, tiny bathrooms and stays making selfies difficult.
It all started with a book of sorts, Barbara Johnson’s album of textile samples and fashion plates, to be exact. While perusing the V&A Museum’s digital collection this past summer, Jess Young, owner of Penny River Costumes, stumbled upon the newly released images of a number of pages from Barbara Johnson’s album made over the course of her life from age eight in 1746 to 1823, just two years before her death. She says,
“I saw the swatch and it struck me as almost contemporary looking. It was so unusual with the color and motif. I hadn’t seen anything like it!”.
Enamored with the swatch, she sent the image to her sister in law, a graphic designer who has always shared an interest in the work that Jess does. The small swatch was then digitized and sketched to form a complete pattern.
From that complete digitized pattern Jess was able to collaborate with a traditional textile manufacturer in India on the rest of the process. From image to fabric in hand, Jess says her favorite part of the entire process was the making of the wood block for printing, “the idea of hand carving the wooden block still makes me giddy”.
Thanks to our highly connected world she was able to watch the magic happen as her digital image was brought to life, “it seemed like such a massive creative undertaking, and the printer was able to do it in about two days and now it exists”.
The moment I saw what Jess was doing by creating this exciting new reproduction fabric I knew I wanted to be a part of it in any way I could. I reached out to her and we began talking over gown styles that Barbara may have used this fabric for.
The original swatch comes from a page with a couple of other colorful printed fabrics dating 1780 and 1781, along with a fashion plate titled ‘Dress of the Year 1783’. Barbara would have been in her mid 30s by the early 1780s and we can assume by her album entries late in life describing new pelises and other fashionable garments, that she was probably fairly fashion forward in her style of dress. After some perusing of various museum collections, fashion plates, and engravings we decided that a fitted back, center front closing robe a l’anglaise with matching petticoat would have been the most likely style of gown this fabric was made into.
Digging deeper into extant garments we both fell in love with the details on this Indian inspired chintz, or Indiennes, robe a l’anglaise dated 1770-80 located in the Mode Museum. The ruched cuffs and deep cut bodice back with its hundreds of tiny pleats makes it visually interesting compared to dozens of other surviving cotton print gowns.
Another prime example, dating about 1785-1795, residing in the MET shares many of the same details with its striking deep “V” cut bodice back and meticulously pleated skirts meant to be worn over a false rump. Instead of ruching at the sleeve we see one gathered ruffle, presumably of a once fine white muslin or organdy. These two gowns along with the fashion plate for 1783 will be the basis for recreating Barbara’s red and white chintz gown and petticoat.
In the successive posts I plan to detail the undertaking of mocking up and creating Barbara’s gown and accessories as she may have worn them in the early 1780s. With a vague description and only bits and pieces of her favorite period prints to piece together her personal style I hope that you’ll enjoy the process just as much I do!
Sorry I dropped the ball on my blog posts for our 12 days of Christmas! I don’t know about you all, but I haven’t finished my own shopping. At all.
My gift giving also tends to have a domino effect–If I buy George a gift, you can bet I have to get Mary one too. Then the kids would get involved and maybe even the Adams-es.
Sometimes, you need a gift that works for a group of people! Or at least, a gift that could please a group of people.
1) Canvas. Did all of our historical predecessors live in tents? No. If we want to attend events, do we usually need some canvas? Yes. Unless you like getting eaten by bugs and soaked by dew, you might want a shelter to protect you from the elements or hide in for a quick siesta during the midday slump.
The Tent Smiths have many options large and small of you’re looking to get something for a family, a couple, or a gift that a couple of friends can go in on together!
2) This next option is a little steep as well, but I’m actually a fan of gifts that several people can purchase together. If you have someone tough to buy for, (my father) sometimes it’s easiest to just all pitch in. For the vintage lovers on your list, a beautiful gramaphone could be a great way for them to listen to their vinyl collection (which they probably have). I find that music, not streamed through earbuds, has a way of bringing people together!
3) Have a family that loves to let everyone know how much they love their hobby? Penny River’s Time Traveler tee shirt is a great unisex option for a whole crew! Maybe even gift the whole unit!
4) As a child I love being read to. I finally bit the bullet on an Audible subscription, and well, let’s just say anybody who rides in my car had better like books on tape. It’s not common to do anymore, but if you’re interested in unique ways to entertain a crowd, reading a book aloud might be just the right alternative to a Netflix binge. Grimm’s Fairytales are good for a chuckle, and a way to connect with many generations past! How beautiful is that copy!?
5) Have a group of gal pals to gift? Make it a date and get 1940’s themed manicures!
Do some calling around to local salons, and ask them if they can accommodate a group, and ask about this style of manicure. Optional: go out on the town in your best vintage.
There it is friends! Some last minute options for the masses.
We’re winding down to the very end of our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping series and what better way to end than with our top pick gifts to give this year? So far we’ve covered everything from pretty jewelry and fun weekend getaways with our themed posts but this one will have a little bit of everything and, fingers crossed, nothing here will have shown up in any of our previous posts. So without further adieu my top six picks…
I’m an avid tea drinker and drinking tea from a fancy cup makes it all the more fun! Ever the fan of girly frou-frou things I am in love with this gorgeous teacup and saucer which comes in either pink or mint green with gold details. Pick it up here on etsy by AngiolletiDesigns.
It’s no secret, I LOVE big 18th Century hair, but not everyone is blessed with super thick hair like mine and that’s where hair cushions come into play. We’ve preached a hundred times over that hairstyles have a huge impact on the overall look of an outfit. Simple and easy hairstyle don’t usually need any kind of support but when you really want to make an impression a hair cushion can help. Crafty folks with access to things like wool roving or horsehair can easily make their own, for everyone else look no further than the very affordable pieces offered on Etsy by JennylaFleur.
Vintage Clothing. Who doesn’t love vintage clothing? I know that I’m obsessed with vintage styles, specifically the 1940s and 1950s looks, because they tend to just look better on my figure. Clothing is always nice to receive as a gift but nothing is better than getting a one of kind vintage piece and one of my new favorite places for vintage styles in a wide range of sizes is OverAttired Vintage on Etsy.
Ok so maybe there is a gift a little better than vintage clothes, reproduction vintage patterns. We’ve dished on our favorite patterns for the 18th and early 19th centuries and really not much has changed since then. When it comes to vintage patterns it seems the sky is the limit thanks to a number of small businesses scanning and meticulously translating and formatting patterns from the late 19th century through the mid 20th century. My favorite is Mrs. Depew Vintage with her huge selection of 1930s patterns (like 170 total!) plus around 60 children’s patterns!
In a previous post Hayley suggested having a portrait made for a loved one, which is totally awesome but can be pricey and a lengthy undertaking depending on the artist’s turn around time. Instead consider a more affordable, but equally awesome, option of having your silhouette cut. My husband and I had ours cut for our anniversary this year, it was a lot of fun sitting for Lauren, the artist, and everyone who sees them hanging on the wall remarks on how neat they are especially with the amount of detail captured. While sitting for a silhouette cutter is half the fun and it being so close to the holidays it’s probably too late to arrange that now, but Lauren of Silhouettes By Hand will cut them from photos and send them via snail mail.
We have shared tons of beautiful jewelry in many of our previous posts so by now you should know exactly where to shop for awesome sparkly things. Now when you get to the point where you own multiple pieces of pretty things you need an equally pretty place to store them which brings us to my next top pick; pretty jewelry storage. One word- Victorian Trading Company. Ok that was three but it’s one amazing company and I literally want one of everything in their catalog. They have a wonderful selection of pretty little jewelry storage boxes, I actually have the Blue Skies Footed Jewelry Box which I keep some of my favorite paste jewelry in for display.
Finally we’re to Day 9: Unforgettable Experiences! Secretly I’ve been super excited to write on this theme since we started this thing. While stuff and things are nice to get, I live for the experience gifts! To me nothing is more thoughtful nor more memorable than the gift of going somewhere and doing something. In fact I make a point to treat my family to one experience gift every year, this year we opted for a family flex membership to The Henry Ford Museum so we can go hangout in the Greenfield Village as often as we want. So let’s get to it!
The older I get the more I appreciate staying in a hotel for certain events, especially when doing anything that is upperclass oriented. I mean have you tried styling a high roll when you’re stuck sleeping in a tiny wedge tent?! It’s next to impossible! Consider treating your favorite lady to some nice accommodations for one of her favorite events. Events like D-Day Ohio have limited period camping space and it’s always bloody hot in the middle of August in Ohio so an early reservation to a local hotel or bed and breakfast could really make her year.
The Third WAC Training Center event running March 23-24, 2019 which takes place in Fort Oglethorpe, GA would be the perfect reason for a special experience gift. Treat her to a nice hotel, maybe even consider a rental car or airfare depending on your location, and if you really want to go all out maybe throw in a prepaid Visa card to be used for gas and other travel expenses like parking and tolls. Don’t wait long to book accommodations if you’re hoping for a deal, a quick check shows that many of the local low rate hotels are already booking up!
The annual Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY is a must attend event for reenactors and costumers alike and would be the perfect gift to really go all out on. In fact you could focus all of your gifts around this one event to make a big impact. I mean how fun would that be to open up a silk sari followed by some coordinating jewelry, a shawl, and then an envelope with gas gift cards and a hotel reservation? The cherry on top could be a prepaid visa card tucked into a Jane Austen themed card with instructions for its use on event tickets and workshops. I would die. Seriously I don’t think words could express my happiness if I had received something as thoughtful as that. If your budget is a little too tight for something that over the top just opt for the tickets and/or workshop admission on a gift card, it will be just as appreciated, trust me!
Looking for something a little more low key and exclusive? Maybe consider the annual Francaise Dinner held at the historic Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, VA in early March. Tickets to the event cover a three course dinner, a champagne toast, and non-alcoholic beverages, the cash bar is extra obvs. There’s a bevy of affordable hotels in the area and cheap parking which makes this a little more affordable weekend get away. Add in some pretty jewelry or splurge on some fabric for an extravagant sacque back gown and it’s the perfect Christmas that any woman would appreciate.
Another great event in March, which would be the perfect experience gift for the ACW enthusiast, is the Citizens Forum of the 1860s. This weekend long conference offers three free seminars plus a Saturday evening soirée at the historic Wolcott House all included in the registration fee. Each day is jam packed with multiple workshops from presenters like Elizabeth Stewart Clark and Cheyney McKnight which can be added on for a small additional fee, plus many high quality vendors will be in attendance- perfect for spending the last of that Christmas money! Register now and put the printed confirmation email with a sweet little note into a Christmas stocking and voila you’re golden!
Want to go all out? Consider splurging on registration for the 2019 Bomber Camp in Stockton, CA. Who hasn’t dreamed of flying in a B17 or B24? Well this amazing camp does more than that, you actually get to experience what life would have been like for a cadet at the Stockton Field Air Corps Advanced Flying School in 1944. Your day starts with induction and orientation before breaking out into gunnery class. Later in the day you head to bombardier class, participate in ground training activities like radio operation, and then fly your mission with your 7 person bomber crew. It should come without surprise that this once in a lifetime experience is pretty costly so maybe consider wrapping this up as a Christmas, birthday, and anniversary gift or even better yet put it in the back of your mind for next years gift and start saving now. I know if we weren’t a single income family with young kiddos I’d be squirreling away my pennies to send my hubby there.
Experience gifts don’t have to be limited to special events and extravagant weekends. Workshops make an excellent gift and Burnley and Trowbridge does a great job of providing high quality yet affordable 18th Century clothing workshops. They tend to fill up fast so either register early or set aside a registration fee on a visa gift card to be used for the next session of workshops.
For an even more affordable option for experience gifts look for a quality hairstylist or nail salon that specializes in historic or vintage styles. If you’re like me and live in BFE reach out to stylists and see if they’d be willing to try out some simple historic updos. You’d be amazed at what a good stylist can do, especially if they have an interest in period dramas. I had this Regency inspired hairstyle done for a Christmas party over 10 years ago and I’m still thrilled with the job she did, plus its kind of nice to be pampered every once in a while.
Toss the salon gift certificate and a note with instructions on who to see and when into their stocking, and make it a date night!
Speaking of date night, experience gifts don’t have to be limited to hobby specific events. Check into your local theaters and see if they mind costumed audience members attending shows. Two tickets to the theater or opera, plus a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant can be a magical, yet affordable, evening that anyone could appreciate. Just remember to double check with policies regarding dress, don’t assume your costumes will be loved and accepted everywhere.
Well I certainly haven’t run out of ideas for special experience based gifts, but I think you should have plenty here to work. I mean there’s nothing like writing a novel lol. If you’re still not convinced that an experience gift is in your budget send us a message, we’d love to help you find something that would work for you!
We’re moving right into Day 8 of our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping with “Something to Read”, this is arguably one of the easiest themes for shopping with a whole plethora of books out there for costumers, historians, and reenactors alike. With so many choices we’re going to share just a few of our favorites that we’ve encountered over the course of this year.
If you have a Janet Arnold fan on your shopping list this year chances are they’ve been wanting to get their hands on the new Patterns of Fashion 5: The content, cut, construction, and context of bodies, stays, hoops, and rumps c. 1595 – 1795. The book is currently only available for order through The School of Historical Dress and at this exact moment their store says they are out of stock. According to their Facebook update of Monday November 19, 2018 “when our web shop page for PATTERNS OF FASHION 5 reads ‘Out of Stock’ what it really means is ‘We have taken as many orders as we can dispatch tomorrow’. When they are processed we will add another 100 copies to the shop. We will proceed in this way so that we keep up-to-date with the orders.” We recommend checking in daily to snag your copy.
The next much talked about book is The Victorian Dressmaker by Izabela Pitcher of Prior Attire. While the Dutch Milliners events don’t typically take us into the Victorian period I’ve begun to slowly work my way into the 1840s and this book is on my wishlist. It covers a wealth of information on patterns, cut, and assembly of women’s clothing from 1838 to 1902 and includes both modern and historical sewing techniques, tools, and materials. It sounds like a veritable bible for anyone interested in Victorian costuming and clothing.
Our next recommendation is Strano Books, whom we had the pleasure of meeting at Locust Grove’s Jane Austen Festival this past summer. His hand bound blank journals are breathtakingly gorgeous as are his bound copies of various Jane Austen novels we had the opportunity to see in person. At the moment he doesn’t have an Etsy shop but you may contact him through either his Instagram or Facebook for more information on ordering and custom works.
The last suggestion for our ‘Something to Read’ theme is not actually a book at all, but more of a clever way to disguise your phone while in costume. We’ve all been there, needing to check our phone or at least have it easily accessible while at an event but trying desperately to keep it out of site. These leather book phone cases from JTB Company iPhone Shop on Etsy are a really great option for those wanting a close enough phone case that isn’t glaringly modern. Bonus points they can double as a wallet for making cash and cards easy to reach. For a little more you can find similar wallet/phone case options on Amazon that have that great leather bound book look to them, I especially like the BookBook brand. For cosplayers or history/literary enthusiasts, they might enjoy a monthly phone case gift box from Once Upon a Bookcase designed to look like popular book titles like ‘The Handbook for the Recently Deceased’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice’. If a monthly subscription is more than you’re looking for, instead pick out just the right literary case from CustomizeMeAZ or ChickLitDesigns.
If you want something that is going to pass muster a little more than these cases you might want to consider a DIY phone book case using the tutorial by Kozy Kitty. I picked up an old book from the local museum with a good solid spine and binding for only .50¢ and created my very own hidden phone keeper which is perfect for events when you need to fool the public.
That’s a wraps for our book suggestions this year, as we’ve mentioned before there are countless titles that you can find on Amazon perfect for costumers, reenactors, and history lovers but we don’t have the time to list them all. Check back on Wednesday for my favorite theme this year, ‘Unforgettable Experiences’. As always happy shopping!