Week 1: Regency Regimen Recap

We are like snowflakes, all different in our own beautiful way.

Today starts week 2 of the Regency Regimen experiment and we figured we’d recap week 1 for you guys and share everything we’ve learned so far through doing this experiment. 

So far I will say the biggest thing I’ve learned is I just don’t have the amount of down time to take 3 mile walks daily followed by all of the skin brushing and sponge bathing. My lifestyle isn’t necessarily crazy busy but not having a staff to take care of things like housework, meals, and educating the children I just don’t have the time for it all by myself. This type of schedule is much more suited to a lady of leisure and I’m sadly not a woman of leisure. 

I struggle with getting to bed before 10pm. At first it was really easy, I was exhausted coming down from two weeks straight of events and welcomed the idea of getting to bed on time, but after a few days I began to struggle with it. I enjoy having a few hours of me time after the kids go to bed which usually results in me staying up closer to 11pm or midnight. After years of this being my schedule I think I’m just naturally a night owl now. Even when forcing myself into bed by 10pm I don’t find myself getting any more restful sleep than normal. 

Broth before bedtime is weird. It’s comforting and I guess it works like a glass of warm milk before bed. I can’t vouch for its effectiveness but I guess at least I’m getting a good dose of vitamins and minerals every night. 

I’m not actually in the best shape and should probably stretch more. There once was a time where I ran track and danced and was generally active. That was many, many years ago. I am definitely not that person anymore. After three kids, some injuries, and major body changes I’m just not as limber or fast as I used to be. I try to remind myself while walking that these Regency ladies weren’t sprinting for 3 miles, they were leisurely strolling, admiring the flowers and countryside. It wasn’t a race, it was more about actually being active. 

Ive been using hair powder to brush my body after walks and now my skin is weirdly soft. I’ll be sharing a recipe this coming week on how to make your own friction oil from an 1825 guide using neatsfoot oil, alkanet root, and palm oil.

I like butter and spices. A lot. I have a really hard time shying away from the butter and I’m a sucker for curries and spices at dinner time which combined were thought to cause bilious disorders and were big no-no’s. Seeing as I have no gallbladder and already have liver and pancreas problems I’m probably the last person to ask if bilious issues are caused by spices and curries. Spicy foods can irritate an already cranky gallbladder, which stores and releases bile, and fats like butter are also no good for inflamed or diseased gallbladders so they were kind of on to something. They also recognized that waiting too long between meals wasn’t great for digestion and suggested taking small meals throughout the day, something we now know to be best practice. 

So far it seems like they had some pretty decent thoughts on health even if the whys and hows weren’t exactly correct. I’m excited to see what next week brings. 

 

1810 Demeter Masquerade Costume

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I had begun planning my evening wear for the Jane Austen Ball at the beautiful Pendennis Club well before I even had my tickets purchased. Cart before horse? Maybe just a bit, but as soon as I found out that it was a masquerade ball my choice in fabrics and the fashion plate inspo somehow worked magically together to become the perfect base for a Greek Goddess costume! Yay, because really how often does that happen?

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After a refresher in Greek Mythology I settled on Demeter since I had a pretty green dupatta to use as the overdress and it really worked for the whole fertility and agriculture thing she was known for. Obviously I needed some sort of pretty diadem, wreath, hair piece thing to play up the whole Greek Goddess thing so I began searching for some inspo on Pinterest and Etsy. I didn’t want to do just a plain gold laurel wreath — I needed something with some real wow factor. That’s when I found some awesome images of her in ancient art, and even a few early 18th century pieces, wearing a crown with wheat and poppies — both symbols that she was associated with, again the whole harvest thing.

I dug around on Etsy determined to find some things to put together my own bejeweled crown of wheat. I started with a base of golden leaves which I wired and wrapped on a gold plated headband. Next I found some sprays of wheat made from beautiful glass beads — plain clear beads and then multi-color browns just like actual wheat. I added them to the crown along with some sprays of wired pearls in various sizes. The last piece to find were bejeweled poppies. I scoured, and I mean scoured, the internet but could not find a thing, at least a thing that fell within my price range for this project. I resorted to making my own — because why not? I’m already DIYing an entire tiara thingy whats a few extra pieces. I found some sprays of red paste stones and when wrapped around an onyx bead that had been wired to a stem they looked perfect. Finally Demeter had a headdress fit for a Goddess.

I did an impromptu photo shoot at the edge of the beautiful wheat field behind our house, just in the nick of time since they took in the field just the very next day. After seeing it all put together I couldn’t wait to show it off at the ball.

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Obviously when it came time for the ball I couldn’t resist taking a bajillion pictures, especially with the beautiful columns.

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An Accomplished Lady Workshop

The Dutch Milliners

Step back in time with the Dutch Milliners as we transform into the Landrum sisters, proprietors and teachers at the Landrum Ladies Academy at the 2019 Jane Austen Festival hosted by the JASNA – Greater Louisville Region. 

Workshop Details

Cost: $45/ plus cost of admission 

Friday: 7:30p – 9p and Saturday 1:30p – 3p

Our workshop aims to round out the immersive experience of the Jane Austen Festival by teaching participants how to navigate polite society by making introductions and good acquaintances, demonstrating the skills and abilities needed to be considered accomplished without looking like Mary Bennet, knowing the in’s and out’s of this social hierarchy, and why all of this craziness was crucial to the success and livelihood of many unmarried women in want of a single man in possession of a good fortune. Each workshop will run for one hour and thirty minutes and both will cover the exact same material and include the same experience regardless if you choose workshop Part I or Part II.

What You’ll Learn

  • Dukes, Earls, and Esq.: Social Hierarchy during the Regency Era – A look at the
    social hierarchy of Regency era England. We will look at what exactly makes a gentleman a gentleman, how this hierarchy could effect your future, and the differences between the Gentry class and the Peerage.
  • Match Making for Success – How you could better your social standing by marriage, why money wasn’t everything, and why finishing schools became a popular tool for the daughters of the newly emerging middle class.
  • Coming Out in Society – A primer on all things proper concerning introductions, from how to introduce oneself and be presented to others, to how to properly use titles and show deference in curtsies.
  • Making Conversation – An exercise in polite conversations, including topics to discuss and topics to avoid, popular opinions of the time, and how to remain respectful and deferential during conversation.
  • An Accomplished Lady – An overview of the various skills attributed to accomplished young ladies of the time and a series of exercises to practice three of these skills.

What You’ll Get

  • Each participant will receive the aforementioned knowledge through an interactive lecture (read: Not Boring!)
  • The opportunity to make their own calling cards, necessary for making all of those important acquaintances.
  • A letter of introduction to the fine ladies of Spring Grove Cottage, securing you an invitation to their parlor for refreshments, cards, and agreeable conversation.
  • The opportunity to practice the accomplishments of art through sketching and watercolors, botany, and poetry in the creation of a ‘friendship journal’ based on several extants from the Regency era (check one out here!)- the perfect memento for your experience at the Jane Austen Festival!

 

Meet the Landrum Ladies

estherEsther Catherine Landrum was born in Chelthenham, her father the proprietor of the George Inn a well established coaching inn on the road to Bath. Coming from a genteel family she was sent to school in Bristol as a young girl where she became known as an accomplished singer and pianist. She returned home at the age of 17 after the unexpected death of her father. It was then that she begin to receive pressure from her older brother to find a suitor and settle down. After many unsuccessful attempts to marry her off he finally resigned to the fact that as long as the inn was prosperous she would not be a burden.

lydiaLydia Maria Aldridge Landrum was born in Bristol to a family with no particular fortune and only their name to recommend them. Her father inherited their meager estate and a pittance which allowed them to live in some comfort. Her aunt took pity on their family and agreed to pay for her schooling in Bristol as they could not afford the tuition for both her and her older brother. Upon returning from school she soon made the acquaintance of Thomas Landrum, a schoolmates brother and young officer in the Army. They were wed and soon she was moved to her new home in Chelthenham.

In 1812 the news came of Thomas Landrum’s death and the Landrum ladies were left with an uncertain future. Advised by their lawyer, and close family friend, the ladies agreed to sell the George Inn to Mr. E. Hughes in 1813. They received a substantial sum for the bustling inn and moved to Bristol where they later opened the Landrum Ladies Academy to teach young girls in the town and pad their modest income.

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For more information on the Jane Austen Festival and how to purchase tickets for the event and workshop please visit http://jasnalouisville.com/2019-jane-austen-festival-info

Historical Sew Monthly: February 2019

 

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I’m a horrible blogger. I repeat, I am a horrible blogger. As you can tell from the title this post is all about the February HSM challenge, I actually did complete this in February, I just suck at blogging – in case those in the back didn’t hear me the first time. February’s HSM challenge was “Linen/Linens” as in make something out of linen or as in the other use of the word, underclothes. After the 1850 Winter Evening event at Cobblestone Farm, for which I made the last HSM challenge, I had already fallen in love with this new time period and volunteered my children to come with me for the next event at this beautiful site, the Spring Fling to be held on Sunday May 5th. This meant not only would I need another dress suitable for the warm weather, but my three boys would all need full outfits. GULP. That’s a lot of sewing! I’m probably crazy.

I started researching little boys clothes for the 1850s knowing that my youngest (just turned 4 at the end of February) would still be in frocks I decided to start there as information and patterns seemed readily available and easy enough to understand. I dug into Pinterest to look at extant frocks in museums and darling little boys in daguerreotypes (pro tip: center parted hair indicates a girl, side part a boy) and read as much as I could from amazing sites like Elizabeth Stewart Clark’s The Sewing Academy and the blog by Romantic History. I settled on the pattern the Elizabeth puts out, seeing as it seemed the most well researched and with a lot of bang for your buck in terms of everything you could produce with it.

Knowing that every time period requires the use of proper undergarments in order to achieve the look you want, I began drafting up a bodiced petticoat for my little Bug. To be honest this was one of the easiest little garments to make…ever. I measured the munchkin and using the bodice pattern I cut straight into my white linen, no time for mock-ups it’s a simple garment who has time for that lol. Once the bodice was sewn up and was semi-wearable I fitted on the Bug and realized hes actually a lot tinier than said bodice. Facepalm. Not wanting to make another and realizing eventually he will grow I made two vertical tucks at the center back closure of the bodice to take in the extra – when he outgrows it simply remove the tucks!

With the crisis averted I moved onto the skirts. I did some crazy maths and calculated how long the skirts should be and how many panels I wanted. I began sewing them up, hemming and working on the two tucks I had accounted for. I hastily gauged the skirts – no dread and terror this time- and was proud to have finished the petticoat in less than a day. I tricked my little guy into putting it on and SURPRISE I did the math wrong and his skirt was longer than I wanted. GRR.

So now I had to fudge another set of tucks while the skirt was attached to the bodice, what a pain. I managed to finagle it more quickly than I was expecting and decided to give everything a nice pressing – seriously is there anything more satisfying than freshly pressed tucks on a petticoat? **Note that the following images do not depict a satisfyingly pressed tucked petticoat**

With how quickly I put this together I immediately cut out a sweet frock for him and had it finished in another day. Seriously, this thing is darling. I decided to go with a lightweight cotton plaid/check because 1. it was on clearance 2. it’s always dreadfully hot during the summer events and 3. I saw a lot of boys wearing plaids and checks in dags. Once the gown was finished we sat down together and looked at how some frocks were trimmed – plain frocks are no fun and my little man isn’t afraid to be EXTRA. He really enjoyed the sash and belt look on a few extants so we went with that using some scrap brown worsted wool I had from another project. We decided to use that same wool for contrast piping and for a sweet little dagged trim on the sleeves. I think it really gives the frock a more masculine feel.

I’m really excited about the finished project and I can hardly wait for the event next month. I definitely think he’s going to be irresistible to photographers.

PS. Enjoy some photos of him in his adorable outfit, I couldn’t resist sharing them.

 

The Challenge: 1850s linen bodiced petticoat for a child

Material: White linen

Pattern: The Sewing Academy 220: Little Boys Wardrobe and Romantic History tutorial

Year: 1840-1850s

Notions: Metal hooks and eyes, beeswax, and thread

How historically accurate is it? It’s mostly machine sewn and it seems that cotton was a more popular choice for undergarments in the mid 19th century so I will say its 75% accurate.

Hours to complete: Total was probably less than 4 hours

First worn: Aside from pictures for this post and Instagram last month it hasn’t been officially worn yet

Total cost: $25 for pattern, linen fabric was from the stash

Historical Sew Monthly: January 2019

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Ok, so I think by now we all understand how bad I am at keeping up with blogging. To be honest though, if I blogged as much as I wanted I probably wouldn’t get half as much sewing done as I’d like to. Vicious circle. Anyways, for the second year in a row I am casually participating in the Historical Sew Monthly challenge hosted by the lovely Dreamstress. If you’ve never heard of the HSM challenge definitely check it out, I love seeing all the cool projects people turn out to fit the challenge themes! This year I managed to inadvertently knock out the first two challenges with little effort as they fit right in with my  sewing plans. #score!

The first challenge of the year was “Dressed to the Nines” and costumers were encouraged to create something fancy to be “dressed to the nines” or create something from a year ending in 9 (like 1849), or incorporate the number 9 into the design elements, like 9 buttons. This was perfect as I need to whip together a dress for an event in February that was set in 1850.

I decided to start planning my project by perusing Pinterest for some inspiration. I was still really new to this period and learning exactly what shapes and details were appropriate was daunting, fortunately they had photography! During a random search I came across this dress and then this fashion plate and finally this dag.

Hmm, look at all that blue changeable silk! Funny thing is I have an entire bolt of that very same fabric sitting in my sewing room – sometimes things are meant to be!

So with the fabric decided upon I began looking at elements I liked in these dresses, namely the tightly gathered bodice front and the tight sleeves, and chose the Truly Victorian pattern 454 German Day Dress to work with. I had heard many great things about the Truly Victorian patterns and figured I couldn’t go wrong with them especially when working in unfamiliar territory. I really enjoyed working with the TV pattern, but not going to lie the sizing chart was crazy. I might just be really unproportional but I had to fudge some numbers to get to a size that made sense. I really had my doubts about the fit when sewing up the mock-up but amazingly the crazy maths and head scratching worked! I had to make zero adjustments! Seriously when does that ever happen, especially on an unfamiliar pattern in a new time period? Truly Victorian patterns I AM SOLD!!

After whizzing through the mock-up I whipped together the bodice in no time – seriously flat lining is my new favorite thing, WHY AREN’T WE USING THIS MORE OFTEN???

With one week before the event all I had to do was gauge the skirts and attach them – cue terror and dread.

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Holy Crap I can gauge skirts!

Pleating skirts is second nature for me, when it comes to knife pleats that is, but throwing in a new technique like gauging (or cartridge pleating) and you have me shaking in my boots. I don’t do well with change. I think I spent more time researching how to gauge skirts than I did actually gauging them. Not even joking.

The week of the event and after 2 cups of coffee, 4 pep talks, and like 7 internet tutorials I finally bit the bullet and gauged the darn skirts. It took me approximately the entire season of BBC’s The Living and The Dead (I don’t suggest watching this before spending an evening in a dark and haunted Victorian home) to finish the skirts and attach them to the bodice, essentially making the thing.

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Ta-Da! Ignore my shrinking dress form, that girls got problems

The day of the event we met up early to do a mini photo shoot, because that’s what you do when you make a new thing you’re proud of right?

The event was focused on recreating some of the activities that would occur around a house during a winter evening in 1850. The 1850s girl gang decided to reenact a parlor scene by taking tea, reading and discussing current events. We took advantage of the gorgeous candlelight to snap a few haunting images. Overall the event and the gown were a huge success.

HSM challenge #1 = Accomplished!

The Challenge: “Dressed to the Nines” an 1849 day dress

Material: Blue and black changeable silk, black silk, and green cotton twill lining

Pattern: Truly Victorian #454 German Day Dress

Year: 1849

Notions: Metal hooks and eyes, beeswax, cotton cord, blue linen thread, and blue silk thread.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is based off of an original tailors guide written c. 1843 and the fabric and styling matches extant gowns and those seen in fashion plates and daguerreotypes, however the gown is mostly machine sewn (its an antique machine if that helps recoup points), so I will call it 90% accurate.

Hours to complete: I’m terrible at tracking hours but from mock-up to finished product there is probably 24 hours of labor involved.

First worn: Saturday February 9th, for the Winter Evening event at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor, MI.

Total cost: Less than $25, fabric and almost all notions came from stash. Pattern and cording were the only purchases.

Authenticity and Attitudes

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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.

What other ideas might you add to our list?

 

 

From Book to Barbara Pt. II

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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 gown  Barbara might have been describing in the early 1780s when she first pasted in this pretty printed swatch. 

 

Three fashion plates dating to 1781-1783.

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Is that a shaped sleeve I see?

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?

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Ignore the lumps and bubbles 😑

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

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Time to fix up the fronts!

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.

-Brittany

Day 9: Unforgettable Experiences

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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!

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Kicking off JAF 2018 with hotel selfie 

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!

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.

busk
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.