Get Organized: Utilizing the Airtable App for Living History and Costuming

The Spring Collection

If you follow us on Instagram then you’ve probably seen us talk about the app and website called Airtable. If you haven’t, Airtable is basically a spreadsheet that also works as a database, so not only can you input information into an easy to read platform, you can organize it in a bazillion different ways to make it work for you! I’m low key obsessed, ok maybe not so low key lol.

I was first introduced to Airtable last summer when working with Molly Cooper of the 1st WAC Separate BN, she’s the queen of organization! It wasn’t love at first sight, but I did see the usefulness of the program at the time. I started setting up my first database to help me plan out projects and stay on top of them – something my UFO pile would love me to do. I planned about three projects and then forgot about it. Between the holidays and the general feelings of meh after The Season I kind of just wasn’t feeling it and the Airtable app just wasn’t working for me with the magic and wonder that Molly insisted it had for her.

Fast forward to this January, I had a slew of projects lined up in my head in multiple time periods. Add on to that the normal day to day things I have to remember between keeping the children alive, schooled, and the house from catching on fire. I was mentally fried and project pieces and deadlines were beginning to slip through the cracks. Thanks mom brain. I decided to sit down and force myself to make this Airtable app work the way I wanted it to.

First I decided I needed a database just for my sewing projects, something where I could easily see all of my planned projects, which time period they were for, which stage they were in, and what their deadline and priority level was. I started using the “Simple Project Tracker” database template in the app and then began customizing the fields.

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Simple Project Tracker template
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The modified template for my sewing projects

I left the first column (name) the same, copied the ‘Stage’ column and used it to create the ‘Time Period’ column, changing the options to 18th century, early 19th century, mid 19th century, and WWII. I kept the ‘Deadline’, ‘Priority’, ‘Photos’, and ‘Notes’ sections the same, just shuffled them a bit more to my liking. I also kept the ‘Tasks’ column which is a neat little way to connect to another spreadsheet all within the same database. Above you can see what the database looked like as the Simple Project Tracker template and what mine looks like now. Since Hayley and I use the same database for all of our reenacting stuff I copied my customized spreadsheet and just updated the name to differentiate between them, it now sits as the second tab in the Sewing Projects database with the Tasks spreadsheet as the third tab. The ‘Tasks’ spreadsheet is linked to both of the individual tables for our projects. As we enter tasks into our entries they generate here in the table. Below you can see what the ‘Tasks’ spreadsheet looks like, I only changed a couple of things on this spreadsheet.

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The ‘Tasks’ spreadsheet

I love that I can easily track each stage of my projects – no more forgetting to order swatches for weeks at a time. I also love the option of being able to attach photos or other media which is great for tracking inspiration for costumes. I’ve also found that there’s something superbly satisfying about getting to check off a box while in the midst of a project. Things like gowns and jackets and kids clothes (basically anything that isn’t a cap) seem to take forever and I’m definitely an instant gratification kind of person.

 

Now the next database was even more fun to create! I started with the Camping Trip Planner template and quickly started to customize the fields in the first spreadsheet. You can see below how much I changed things! We wanted to use this database as an easy way to organize the events we were attending and keep track of what exactly we were doing at said events since we tend to switch things up a lot. We kept the first column the same but then added a ‘Date’, ‘Prior Attendance, and ‘Registration’ field. I handle all of the administrative stuff so not overbooking us, ensuring we’re registered before deadlines, and have a general idea of what the event is about is something is something that can make my life easier. The next fields handle ‘Interpretation’, ‘Persona’, ‘Research’, and ‘Gear Needed’. The ‘Gear Needed’ field links to the existing ‘Packing List’ spreadsheet which currently needs some work. The ‘Persona’ field is linked to another spreadsheet that details all of those important things you need to keep straight when you do first person interpretation. The ‘Research’ field utilized the existing ‘Link’ field and is where we attach any research or resources related to the event and our interpretation.

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Camping Trip Planning template
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Newly customized and ready to go!

Ok so the last little bit I’m going to show you is a detail of the Clothing and Accessories spreadsheet. I kind of figured the Persona and Gear and Kit spreadsheets you could figure out on your own or eliminate entirely, but this one is neat. So I struggle with wanting to make a new outfit for every event. It’s just my thing and it needs to stop. I also struggle with remembering what all I have tucked away in storage, out of sight out of mind. So the weeks leading up to an event I inevitably forget what all I own and try to crank something out – enter this spreadsheet! This one tracks all of my outfits and the interchangeable pieces, like petticoats and caps, and all of those fun accessories. I can even go in and link an outfit to a persona so no more scrambling trying to remember if my cotton print gown is appropriate for a particular date/event or social class because its all right there! I can even electronically “pack” my clothing for an event by linking it right to the event spreadsheet! Voila! When I have 1000 other things to remember this one is going to save me from a mental breakdown and keep me in good graces with my hubby if I’m not buying fabric and sewing into the wee hours before an event. Below is an example of my fabulous table which is desperately in need of being updated – I meant to do it when I put all of my stuff away but you know, forgot.

clothing

 

So there you have it folks! This is just an overview of what I’ve done with the Airtable app and how it works for me. As a note all of the images are views from the Airtable website whereas the mobile app has a slightly different layout. If you want more pictures or details on how I set up the other spreadsheets just let me know and I’d be glad to help! I hope this inspires you to get organized and take control of that UFO pile – or at least organize it a little lol.

-Brittany

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 Great Project List of 2018

The Great Project List 2018

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I’m going to try really hard to be more organized with my projects and a big part of that is thoroughly planning out a project before I even think about cutting out fabric. You’ll notice this year my list includes a lot more “fun” projects and in a few other time periods as well, all a part of my goal to have more fun this year and really enjoy myself and my sewing. As an added bonus the majority of my planned projects fit nicely with many of the themes for this years Historical Sew Monthly challenge.

  1. 1780s Blush Pink Silk Pierrot Jacket with White Silk Quilted Petticoat
  2. Regency Underthings: Stays, Bodiced Petticoat, and Corded Petticoat
  3. 1770s/1780s Chintz Italian Gown
  4. Early 1800s Roller Print Muslin Bib Front Gown
  5. 1810s Green Polka Dot Over Gown with Brown Bodiced Petticoat
  6. 1790s La Femme du Sans Culottes
  7. 1830s Roller Print Day Dress
  8. 1760s/1770s Gold Embroidered Navy Silk Pet en L’air
  9. 1780s Dutch Silk Mitts
  10. 1790s Hand Painted Leopard Print Muslin Round Gown

 

1780s Blush Pink Silk Pierrot Jacket
IMG_2873As part of my resolutions for 2018 I wanted to have more fun and go to some social events rather than focusing strictly on living history. I did some digging and joined the Ohio Historic Costumers, which is a group of like minded individuals who basically get together to wear all their fun costumes they make. The first organized event of the year is high tea at the Asterisk Supper Club in Columbus. Obviously, I needed a new outfit to wear, because goodness knows I can’t wear the same boring pretty gown over and over. Where’s the fun in that? I mulled over my stash not wanting to spend too much extra and figured a jacket could be made out of something I had laying around. I found a silk slip, which I had unfortunately outgrown, that was made for one of my early 1930s gowns and figured that’d be the perfect material for a new little jacket. I’ve been busy working on the construction but it’s been a slow process, for which I will save all the details of for another post! But check out these inspiration photos and my progress.

 

Regency Underthings: Stays, Bodiced Petticoat, and Corded Petticoat
This year I’ve decided to take part in a couple events that take place during my favorite time period, the early 19th century. I’ve been dying to go to the Jane Austen Festival at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville, KY for years and this will be the year I go! Naturally new undies will be required and since both of these regency events will be during the early summer I need to get to sewing on them soon. I’ve decided to go with a set of long stays to help smooth out my fluffiness and better support the girls. I’ve worn them before and much prefer them to short stays or the weird wrap bra/stays thing from the Kyoto collection. I need to whip up a bodiced petticoat in chocolate to go with another project and then a white corded bodiced petticoat to wear underneath the chocolate one as well as the round gown I’m planning towards the end of the year and the bib front roller print gown. More details on these undies coming soon!

1770s/1780s Chintz Italian Gown

Our big family event this year is shaping up to be Mount Vernon. Our eldest son ha been begging to go for about eight months now so we decided to add it to our calendar and see what happens. Turns out the fabulous Eliza of Sass and Silk will be in attendance as well, so yet again I obvs need a new gown (or three) to wear for the weekend! I’m planning on taking my silk jacket ensemble but I need a new gown, preferably using my huge length of Ljusöga cotton print from IKEA.

To be honest I’m not quite sold on the idea of an Italian gown, I just bought the new American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking and their Italian gown is very pretty and made with a very similar print to my fabric but I don’t know if it’s fabulous enough to wear when out with Miss Eliza, the Queen of 18th Century Fashion. My second thought was how about a robe a la’francaise? I’ve seen a handful of extant examples of pretty cotton prints and chintz done up as sacque backs and they just look so feminine and pretty. So right now I guess you’d say my third project is still undergoing planning but I’d love to hear your opinion, so in the comments vote for Italian gown or Robe a la ’Francaise!

Early 1800s Roller Print Cotton Bob Front Gown
My first Regency era gown of the year is going to be my rendition of this extant bib front gown. I’m not sure exactly how it happened but I’ve had this fabric in my stash for over a decade and somehow, while perusing Pinterest, found this gown and the similarities were so striking I knew I had to make it! I’ve actually done quite a bit of planning for this project and I’m going to use the pattern from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion, which will also be my first attempt at scaling up a gridded pattern that is more involved than a cap or simple bedgown. This will also be one of the gowns I plan to wear at the Jane Austen Festival!

1810s Green Polka Dot Over Gown with Chocolate Bodiced Petticoat
So this outfit is one that I am pretty excited about and is probably the most simple and only working class outfit on my project list thus far. In July we’ll be headed to the Historic Daniel Boone Home in Missouri for their Independence Day Weekend event to join up with the Ox Bow Tavern for some fun dabbling in early 19th century interpretation. Mr. Frederick will be working in the woodworking shop as a carpenter and I’ll be spending my time helping in the bakery. I’m still working out the cap she’s wearing but overall this should be an easy and quick project. B1C9B324-A190-4589-AABF-4CF02CC5C814

We’re going to stop here for today and wrap up the rest of my “Great Project List of 2018” next week. So until then, let us know what projects you have in the works and whether I should choose the Italian gown or the Sacque back gown.

Brittany

New Year, New You

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As we ring in the New Year talk of resolutions, diets, and turning a new leaf are as common as bottles of bubbly and noise poppers. It’s this time of year when it always feels appropriate to sit down and set some goals for the upcoming year and reevaluate our previous ventures. This year I’m doing things a little different and have decided to share with you all my goals for the upcoming year, if only to encourage you to set your own. You know that whole “new year, new you” thing! So without further ado my goals for the 2018 year.

  1. Thoroughly Plan Projects
  2. Personal Persona
  3. Engaging the Public
  4. Have More Fun!

Thoroughly Plan Projects
So I have this habit of getting really excited about a project, working on it for awhile, then getting bored or frustrated and tossing it aside for a new shiny, exciting one. Sound familiar? Yeah, my UFO pile is about as tall as my toddler so I really need to break this habit and what better time to begin than at the start of the new year. My goal is to thoroughly research a project before beginning it, starting with compiling my personal documentation papers for the piece along with inspiration pictures and fabric swatches to put in my resource notebook for events. I will gather all of my materials needed for the project beforehand to help stay within budget and avoid delays and if using a new pattern, I will look for multiple reviews online to familiarize myself with any common issues. I’m hoping by instituting this “rule” I will stay on task better and actually complete more projects than I did last year.

Personal Persona
Having one full year of 18th Century living history under my belt now I’m ready to fully commit to my two personas. My goal is to finalize all of the details for my two separate personas which will make them distinct characters but not so different that it becomes confusing or overwhelming to remember. I’ve based both of my personas on my personal family history of the time and have added details and changed some dates to make them fit with the scenarios we often play out at events. From experience building a persona that closely resembles your own life makes it easier (and more believable) when actually portraying said persona. I’m planning to type up my personas’ life story and include it in my resource notebook with all of my documentation papers I mentioned in my first goal. These two personas and their accompanying documentation will be divided in the binder for easy organization. To build onto this goal I plan to continue developing skills that will further prove my persona such as continuing to learn the Dutch language.

As a heads up for inquiring minds, I’ll be doing a post in the near future on building a persona and will share some more details about my personas and some awesome worksheets to help you get started on building your own!

Engaging the Public
Ok, this may come as a surprise but I am a huge introvert; like near debilitating social anxiety kind of introvert. So why in the world would a huge anxious introvert decide to take up a hobby that involves actually engaging with strange people? Yea… I have no idea either but here I am! Thanks to years of working in retail and customer service I’ve become so much better about having to engage with strangers but sadly still have a lot of anxiety surrounding talking to people at events especially when they see me as the “expert”. I know from personal experience as a spectator that interactive and engaging living historians are a lot more interesting than static displays or those who simply ask , “do you have any questions?” , which usually elicits a shake of the head or a grumbled no before moving on. I also know as a spectator there is nothing worse than being asked a question on the spot, especially if it’s something you know nothing about (please don’t ask me anything about the ACW!?!). So my goal this year is to come up with a list of ways I can comfortably (for me and them) engage the public and draw them into my area and activity. As of this exact moment in time I think this will be my most difficult challenge and to be completely honest I don’t even know where to start, so maybe in the comments you could leave me a tip about your favorite way to engage the public?

Have More Fun!
So this really seems like it should be a no brainer, hobbies are meant to be fun and enjoyable but I realized after this year I didn’t actually enjoy or have fun at a handful of the events I went to. Stress to “perform” to certain personal expectations, a few high traffic events with little rest from the public eye combined with too many camp responsibilities altogether made for less than fulfilling engagements at too many events. I enjoy meaningful engagements with the public, the kind that bring about thoughtful conversations and active, willing participants. On the whole I had that happen at only three events of the season and coincidentally those were the three events that really made my season. By the end of the year I realized I was burned out and needed to decompress from the 18th Century for a good month before I could even stomach to begin preparations for next year. This year my goal is to make more time for fun events where the focus isn’t on performing for the public. I want to attend a ball, maybe a few social outings in pretty cupcake gowns, and even try out a few other time periods like going Regency for the Jane Austen Festival at Historic Locust Grove. I think taking some time for selfcare while still being active in the hobby will be a great way to keep my spirits up and remind me that this isn’t a job and it’s meant to be fun, even though I take it seriously.

So as a final word before we ring in the New Year, take some time this week to think over the previous year and come up with your own list of goals and resolutions. If you’re a newbie now is the time to think about what you’d like to accomplish in your first year, start small and be kind to yourself. I’d love to see your resolutions and goals so list them in the comments below!

– Brittany

ps. As a special bonus post I’m going to share my sewing/costuming goals for the New Year along with some of my inspiration for the various projects I hope to accomplish.