Historical Sew Monthly: March 2019

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I feel like I’m cheating with March’s challenge of  “Sewing Kit” but honestly my sewing kit is a bit sparse so there weren’t many tools to choose from. The challenge calls for you to make something with your favorite tool or gadget from your sewing kit or make something for your historical sewing kit, like a housewife or pinball. 9EC540EE-2833-4CB6-8497-2CC1E3143468Since I have my historical sewing kit in order already, I turned to my favorite tool: the Bohin needle, a French company in business since 1833 and manufacturing needles since 1860. In this day and age it can be difficult to find sewing tools and notions that are produced by manufacturers that are focused on quality and not quantity and cheap labor. I love these needles, they glide like through fabric like butter; yes even that tough K&P wool doesn’t stand a chance with these and I gladly pay to have these little fellows shipped to my door from Burnley & Trowbridge.

 

For this challenge I am entering my Barbara Johnson fine white muslin apron which was all completed by hand, using period techniques, and my favorite french needles. This post will be short and sweet since I’ve already detailed the project in this post here, so let’s get down to business.

The Challenge: Fine white ruffled apron

Material: Fine cotton muslin “mull”

Pattern: None, self drafted based partly on the American Duchess Guide to Sewing

Year: 1780s

Notions: Thread and beeswax

How historically accurate is it? Nothing will ever be 100% accurate so let’s put this at a close 95% accurate.

Hours to complete: Honestly not as long as I thought, I didn’t keep track very well because I was sick but realistically maybe 6-8 hours.

First worn: Hasn’t been worn yet but fingers crossed we’ll have a photo shoot in a couple of weeks. If the weather doesn’t cooperate then it will make its debut at the Crabill Homestead event the last weekend of April. 

Total cost: About $36 in fabric between the apron and the handkerchief

From Book to Barbara Pt. III

The last time we updated you on the Barbara Johnson gown the project was still in the fitting stages with a muslin mock-up. I’m excited to report that over the past couple of weeks, in between other sewing projects, I have finally finished the c. 1781 red and white chintz gown that may have been in the style that Barbara Johnson had made for herself when she purchased the original fabric and lovingly pasted the swatch into her album.

If you recall in the last update I shared with you some of the details of gowns in a

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The half Dress of the year 1782. Anne Frankland Lewis.

handful of fashion plates dating to 1780-1783 to reference for this gown. As I worked with the lovely printed fabric I instantly knew that I wanted long sleeves to fully show off the beautiful print and the changing style seen over the early 1780s. I also knew right away that I wanted full gown skirts that could be stylishly “rucked up” or worn down long on the ground almost like a train, as seen in the watercolor by Anne Frankland Lewis for the “Half Dress of Year, 1782”.

I first cut the bodice pieces and began construction on them right away using the 18th century techniques I learned through the Burnley & Trowbridge YouTube channel and the Larkin & Smith patterns. Once the bodice was basically finished I cut the petticoat panels, opting to use only 2 yards to ensure I’d have nice full gown skirts like I had originally planned. I next cut my sleeves from the 1 yard remnant from which I cut the bodice. Having forgotten that I had wanted to have long sleeves I put aside the rest of the fabric almost a full 4 yards for the gown skirts. It was at that point I realized I’d have to do some piecing to get the sleeve length I wanted.

I pieced in the top of one upper sleeve cap, thinking it would be more easily disguised

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Pieced sleeve cap with tiny stitches

with the shoulder pleats and less likely to be at a stress point than if I tried to hide it in the underarm piece. The sleeves were made using two pieces, upper and under arm, and were self drafted using directions from the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking. I was so surprised at how easily they went into the armscye and how comfortable they are to wear. I fitted the bodice really so the underarm is right up in my armpit, but not digging in, and yet I have a full range of motion! I love it!

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Ready for the gown skirts!

After the sleeves were set it only took me a couple of hours to pleat the gown skirts and attach them to the bodice. I managed to save myself some time by using the selvage edge for the hem (plus the other selvage side provides a nice and sturdy side to attach to the bodice) and only had to narrow hem the sides of the skirts. Go me for working smarter, not harder. So shes finished and completely wearable as is, but I can’t help to think that Barbara would have some stylish all white accessories to pair with this new gown and let’s be honest, I’m a glutton for punishment.

I decided that I really wanted an all white ruffly apron and handkerchief as seen in several of the early 1780s fashion plates to pair with this gown. I ordered the sheer cotton muslin “mull” from Burnley & Trowbridge and have already cut out the apron, handkerchief, and SIX YARDS of ruffle fabric. SO MANY RUFFLES.

I also can’t imagine Barbara Johnson wouldn’t have an updated cap or pretty silk hat so a new cap is in the planning stages – toss up between organdy or silk gauze, and a straw hat is currently being covered in white silk taffeta, to be trimmed with white moire silk ribbons and white silk gauze. Nothing says the 1780s like white frothy confections on top of the head!

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Accessory Goals = ALL THE RUFFLES, also cute doggo!

18th Century Reenactor Survey Results

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‘The Studious Fair’ Lewis Walpole Library 

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.

18th Century Reenactor Survey Analysis 

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.

 

The Pinterest Gown of Craziness

IMG_4418There 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. 

The Challenge 

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. 

The Solution

B877E2DE-62B8-432C-973B-B270B247CFC3Digging 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. 

 

60FB3AF4-15CC-4CA9-8A93-0B6B36D71F0EI 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 😬

-Brittany

From Book to Barbara: Recreating Barbara Johnson’s Red and White Chintz Gown

F2C9BCA1-4F7A-4CC3-85E5-19A7CFD6325EIt 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!”.

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Comparing designs

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.

A7CEF5E1-425F-49D7-B7F5-A1CF5B7B4B47The 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! 

-Brittany 

Day 5: Something They Want

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Hey guys sorry we’re a little behind in getting this blog post up. I won’t lie the closer we get to Thanksgiving the more difficult it is to find time to sit down and write. So today is day five and the theme is “Something They Want”, to those of you with children this theme may look familiar as it’s part of the “Four Gift Rule” which has become a recent trend in some parenting circles. For those of you who are still in the dark the “Four Gift Rule” aims to cut down a bit on the commercialism of the holiday and bring more focus to the true reason for the season. The idea is that the recipient will receive only four gifts – something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. This is a rule our family has instituted with our three boys, because let’s face it three kids can make Christmas extremely expensive and we’re not willing to go broke just trying to prove our love.

IMG_4402So anyways, the first rule is probably the easiest and by far the most favorite rule when it comes to creating your Christmas list. If you’re shopping for someone like me who has interests all over the place ask them to make up an easy to follow wish list on Gift Hero, it takes the pain out of trying to track down what they want from the correct retailers, plus they can leave little comments on size and color preferences – my husband loves that feature!

Shoes! Most women love shoes, can never have enough shoes, and when American Duchess released some of their favorite styles in new colors you can almost guarantee that your sweetie has at least one pair in her wish list. I’m in love with their dark green Kensington and the new 1830s Eliza. Both have wound up on my wish list along with a couple styles from Royal Vintage Shoes including the red and white 1930s Ginger which is simply too cute for words! If she does a military impression for WWII I bet she’s drooling over the new classy service shoes by All Heels on Duty, a grass roots style business created and run by an all women team. Hurry up and order before their presale ends on December 10th to guarantee that your shoes arrive and to help cover their manufacturing costs to ensure they’ll be able to offer these for years to come.

New shoes require new stockings, sorry Gents they just go hand in hand! I love silk stockings, they’re honestly my favorite to wear and I can’t resist a great colored stocking like those offered by Virginias Scarves which are all hand dyed and match some of her beautiful handkerchiefs, plus they work for a variety of time periods. When looking for something to pair with a vintage styled shoe I turn to What Katie Did and Secrets in Lace for high quality, seamed stockings with a reinforced heel and toe. Both companies offer a variety of colors and styles and even some hose or tights options for wearing without a garter belt.

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Secrets in Lace, Rago full body girdle

So when I’m not dreaming of new shoes I’m drooling over undergarments. I’m an undergarments whore but I’m too lazy to want to sew my own, I’ve done it and I just hate it so kudos to you folks who do it and enjoy it! It’s always nice to have a new set of stays, I really can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t want another set of them! If you doubt the fact that a woman may want two sets of stays for the same period maybe find out if there is another time period she’d like to try out. Chances are she’s secretly longing to dive into another era but the daunting task of putting together an entire set of new undergarments has stopped her. My list includes a simple 1830s set of stays and sleeve supports from Workshop Karina Fienn on Etsy. Check out Redthreaded for a variety of stays and corsets styles, they offer both off the rack and custom designs so there’s sure to be something your sweetie would love. If she’s dreaming of a more modern style look no further than What Katie Did they have some amazing choices if your lady lives for WWII living history. If you’re shopping for the man in your life, maybe consider a new hand sewn shirt for him, they’re technically undergarments, from Anna at the Sturdy Stitch. She does amazing handiwork at very reasonable rates, and really its next to impossible to find nice hand sewn shirts for men so we’re glad she’s filling that void.

From head to toe we can think of at least one gift your sweetheart probably desires, we’ve covered toes and everything underneath so bonnets and headwear is the obvious next stop. The accessories make an outfit, it doesn’t matter the time period but without the right headwear your look can be left a little blah. If your lady is crafty check out a deluxe bonnet kit from Timely Tresses. They come in a variety of time periods and styles spanning the early Regency through the late Victorian. Deluxe kits include a premade bonnet frame with the pattern whilst standard kits include the raw materials and pattern. Millinery not her forte? There are a varieties of bonnet retailers in a myriad of price ranges. Regency Austentation offers some adorable basic regency styles perfect for those on a budget. Regency Regalia has a beautiful selection of Regency and Victorian styled bonnets, for those with a slightly bigger budget. Virgils Fine Goods offers quality custom hand sewn caps for the 18th century. She currently has a waiting list but how sweet would it be to have your sweethearts favorite cap in portraiture reproduced and offer her a small framed print of said portrait with a note to open on Christmas Day? If this is the year you really want to treat her check out Lydia Fast LG Studio for the absolute gold standard when it comes to Regency bonnets and vintage style hats. There isn’t a woman out there who doesn’t dream of having a Lydia Fast bonnet. Again if you’re shopping for the man in your life maybe consider treating him to a new hat, perhaps a fine fur felt style from Geo. Franks?

Lastly what else could be on her wish list this year? Fabric. Seriously everyone has some fabric saved to their shopping cart they just haven’t purchased yet but still madly desire. Expensive silks or fancy reproduction cottons can be crowd pleasers in this department as those are usually things we don’t like to splurge on. Need ideas of what she might be dreaming of? Ask her friends and check out her Pinterest inspo boards. If she’s like me she probably has at least one for each time period she enjoys. If those sources don’t garner any help opt for the ever favorable gift card. Burnley and Trowbridge, Wm. Booth, Draper, and Renaissance Fabrics all offer gift certificates or get her a basic Visa gift card which can be used anywhere, like Etsy my favorite place for vintage saris, credit cards are accepted.

Well I hope these ideas have helped a little, and remember there is nothing wrong with asking her to create a wish list with her unbridled desires. A lot of women feel guilty asking for these, sometimes, big ticket items but we both know she deserves to be spoiled with something she really wants for the holidays.

Day Three: Gifts From the Heart

I love surprises.

I am a twenty-eight year old woman, and if you mess with that couple seconds of unbridled joy as the wrapping paper comes off–you are dead to me.

Or at least, not my favorite gift giver.

Accordingly, gifts that have significant sentimental value will always win me over. I am about 75% sentiment anyway. This doesn’t release the giver from applying good taste, mind you! Which is where day three comes in: gifts from the heart. If you are looking for sentimental gifts that will hold up to the test of time, this is the post for you.

1. Hand Decorated Busks

Busks have much lore wrapped around them, and if you wish to read more, the always lovely and fabulous Julie has plenty of additional commentary here that I don’t have the space for in this line up. Suffice it to say that they are insanely practical for avoiding the dreaded sneeze-pop. If you are unfamiliar with the sneeze-pop, it’s that moment where you sneeze and your stays go, “pop!”

Fortunately, I haven’t had a pop turn into an actual crisis, but the busk keeps my piece of mind… and belly, right where they belong.

If you are a XXLCrafty™ sort, you can find a nice piece of wood, carve/cut/sand it to the size and length of your dearest’s needs, and decorate it to taste. This could be anything from carving to wood burning–even painting! Be advised that Dearest will be doing a considerable amount of sweating, so if you decide to paint it, seal it well with polyurethane or a similar sealant.

If you are only ModeratelyCrafty™, both William Booth Draper and Burnley & Trowbridge have simple, unadorned busks that can be wonderful starting points for a very sentimental gift. I find the B&T busk to be more appropriate for early 19th century, whereas the Wm. Booth Draper busk more accurately fits the later portion of the 18th century. Both would be easy enough to simply inscribe a simple message on, or even initials.

If you are NeverCraftsLLC, you will find that either busk above combined with a sweet note is still a very sentimental gift that hearkens back to lovelorn couples from centuries ago.

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Busk, 18th century French, metal; [no dimensions available] The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1930 (30.135.36) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/85408

Keep it simple or go crazy! It’s the individuality of this gift that makes it special!

I definitely want one with a mermaid on it. Heck, if you’re into casting metal, give it a go! Whale bone is not advised.

2. A Portrait

Now, you’re going to have to stick with me through this one. We, interpreters/nerds/buffs/costumers are an interesting bunch. If we wanted something fast and easy, this wouldn’t be the hobby to find it in. In keeping with that, it’s only appropriate that I include one gift option that’s just a little bit extra.

I dug around, trying to find portrait painters, but even if I had found one that had serious acclaim, they would be out of the financial reach of 90% of the people reading this post. If you can afford that, you’re not reading this blog for gift ideas! So, I’ve ultimately settled on suggesting a few, slightly more realistic options.

Firstly, find an artist you like! One only has to peruse Instagram for a few moments before you can dig up a full spectrum of artists. If you want something that can be utilised in your interpretation or persona, commission a watercolor miniature or an oil painting.

Secondly, having a piece done in your historical duds, but with a more modern style can be a fun way to incorporate your hobby/career into your personal decorating. Some of my favorite artists on Instagram right now are Chelsea Dawn Leopold, Elena Corradino (not so much for portraits, but her abstract/mixed media is really cool, and incorporates historical elements), and Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk–these photos… I mean, they are unreal. I have no idea what her waiting list is like, but if I had some $$$ to spare, you can bet she would be doing some Flemish inspired sesh’s on me ASAP.

Thirdly, if you are fortunate enough to dabble in an era where photos were historically possible, a daguerreotype or vintage photo shoot can be a great way to freeze a memory with a little twist As mentioned earlier, these images can be a great asset to your persona as well! To give and keep on giving, consider shopping around places like thrift stores, antique stores, Ebay, and Etsy to find a vintage or antique camera that still works!

3. Bespoke Jewelry

This can seem like a tall order. However, custom jewelry doesn’t have to break the bank!

All the women in the historical jewelry community that I have interacted with are so obliging and sweet! K. Walters could turn your freshly painted miniature into a beautiful piece of jewelry. (P.S. you’re going to want to follow that link).

For that matter, the jewelry doesn’t have to bespoke. Dames a la Mode has some of my FAVORITE rings. She keeps a steady collection of antique conversion pieces in stock as well. Who knows, maybe she could make a ring with some locks of a loved one’s hair?

I have mentioned in passing on multiple occasions that I am not the biggest fan of the Victorians and their copious amounts of fabric. But guys.

GUYS.

Lady Detalle's Black Victorian Hand Earrings
Lady Detalle’s Black Victorian Hand Earrings

I would wear these earrings every. single. day.

If you desire simplicity, (I mean, I guess hands aren’t for everybody.) Fleur de Lys Originals has beautiful, real gemstone options. I have never been a huge fan of my birthstone, but if someone were to gift me this Citrine necklace, it would hit me right in all the sentimental feels.

Remember that men all throughout history have loved to accessorize as much as any fairer heart, (puka shell necklaces, anyone?) But let’s leave the pukas for our descendants to dig up and offer our gentlemen some shiny, new sleeve buttons. I love the oval versions from Wm. Booth Draper. I honestly would buy one of each design if I could!

4. Little Bits

I find that little tokens sometimes have the biggest sentiment pay-off. There’s something special about an understated, “I’m thinking of you.” versus a more grandiose offering.

I do still realise I am the same ninny who suggested commissioning a portrait two options ago.

But if funds are tight, or you’re looking for a sweet and simple way to show you care, these little tidbits might just fit the bill. They might even fit in the bill. Garters are barely there, but boy do they impact your stockings’ ability to stay up! I suffered lived in obstinacy without garters for two whole seasons before I finally gave in and just bought the darn, wool tape. Praise be.

I am very inspired by Katherine’s multiple garter projects–and honestly, if you have a hand for a needle and a good handle on Youtube, you could have your own custom set done in no time. If you have no needle nor time–just buy the darn, wool tape.

If you want the embroidery without the fuss, Penny River Costumes always makes life easier. I think these lizard stockings give the perfect example of how much meaning a simple gift can hold. Honestly, Jess’s stockings are some of my favorite accessories on the market right now!

Speaking of Little Bits, how fun is this rose scented ink from LBCC?! Nothing defines sentiment better than a letter scented by the sender. It’s the perfect way to leave a unique calling card on all the gifts you give this season.

AND FINALLY….

Number Five

So many of my favorite stories growing up included a moment where the heroine receives a pretty package from Paris, (or anywhere chic) but mostly Paris, and she excitedly tears into and finds the prettiest, most perfect, immaculately fitting gown that could be procured for her. Call it the patriarchy, but I love the final stitches when a gown comes together and you stand connected to a moment that’s been shared for generations. We want to help create that moment.

The Dutch Milliners accept a limited number of bespoke gowns per year, and we still have some spots open! Let us help you give a gift from the heart.

-H

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.

Day 1: Just the Basics

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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!