Monday, April 28, 2008

Fort Frederick 18 Century Market

I'm still waiting on my sewing stuff to show up, but my husband was really great and packed an outfit for me when I heard about the Fort Frederick 18th century fair. That was a really funny international call - my poor husband overseas, digging through my costume bins, trying to figure out what on earth I meant by 'curacao.' He did a beautiful job, and I had everything I needed to be period from head to toe (I got to wear my new silk stockings, silk kerchief, and shoes).
I was happy that everything still fit. I haven't worn it since I sewed it way back in 2004. It was about time this costume had an outing! I love the picture (above) that shows off how I'm wearing my hat turned up.
My friend Missy from college came with me to the fair (along with poor Dave who was a very good sport the entire day...though we did find some powder horns and bows that struck his interest). It turns out that Missy is a big history buff, and a blossoming period fashion enthusiast (I think her preferred eras are medieval and civil war). It was wonderful to have someone with me to ooh and aah over the craftsmanship that we saw.
The fair was an enormous gathering of 18th century vendors, known as 'sutlers.' It was hosted on the grounds of Fort Frederick. The Fort was open, and we really intended to see the fort as well, but frankly there were so many tents to see that we didn't get a chance. There were some amazing dresses, accessories, fabrics, and patterns. It was a bit overwhelming at times. Above, I'm admiring hand quilted petticoats and pockets.
The really neat event of the day was meeting the Silly Sisters. I have admired their work and website for many years. I always look at websites when I'm looking for ideas, and they always had wonderful 18th century clothing. I was standing in line for drinks when I noticed the amazing quality and workmanship of the woman's gown, in line ahead of me. I told her how wonderful it was, and asked if she had made it. It turned out she was one of the Silly Sisters. I promptly tracked down their tent so that I could be photographed with both of the sisters. There business was hopping, but they were very kind and even answered a few questions I had about costuming for business instead of pleasure.
Finally, I just had to put up a few of the neat things we saw during the day. There were quite a few little ones in costume (one as young as three months). It was adorable seeing them toddle around in their long gowns, but I thought this shot was priceless. What a neat way to ride around and keep the sun off.
This woman was selling pottery, but it was her spinning that drew us to her tent. She was spinning a very fine grey wool, and then showed us a finished pair of thick wool socks she had made from the yarn. She had a partially knitted pair of socks sitting next to her as well. There's something very soothing about sitting and watching spinning.

I managed, for the most part, to contain myself and avoid purchasing everything is site (no easy feat...a lot of the period organdy coifs were very tempting). I came home with a pattern I'd been looking for ( shipping charges), enough batiste to make my regency chemise, and a clasp for my black cloak. Our stuff arrives this week, so once we sort out the chaos, hopefully there will be some sewing to show.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

2008 Costume Planning

I've been doing some long term thinking about how I would like to add to my costume wardrobe this year and further in the future. Regency is obviously first on the list because that's what I'm currently working on. I thought an overdress would be nice to add some color to the plain white day dress I'm going to make:When the dresses are done, I would like to make a Spencer jacket. I already have a regency straw bonnet waiting to be covered with fabric and have ribbon added on.Next, I would like to move on to my late Tudor gown. I have already purchased the fabric, and researched the French kirtle and gown in the newly released Tudor Tailor. You might remember that I had already purchased a pattern for my Tudor gown, but the fit was all wrong (five inches too big on each side up top, and a 2 inch gap at the waist...makes no sense given how large chested I am). I had lofty ideas of trying to draft a pattern from the Tudor Tailor graphs, but having no pattern drafting experience whatsoever I thought this might not be a good idea. So, I'm hoping a birthday present from London will rescue my efforts. It would be great to have this done in time for the Maryland Renaissance festival in the fall.I have plenty of silk for a Civil Way visiting dress, so I think that should be my next project. I haven't decided for sure on which pattern I will use, but I'm leaning towards this one:Vague notions for beyond 2008:I was thinking I should make a new set of 18 century stays. I was never pleased with the way my strapless set turned out, and I like the Reconstructing history pattern.Next up is a Robe Anglaise. I'm having a love affair with the 18th century, probably fueled by the costumes in Marie Antoinette, but also because they tend to flatter my figure. I also have a place to wear them since I live near Williamsburg.I would like to make a chemise gown from the 18th century, also known as a Gaulle or a Chemise a la Reine.I might make a riding/hunting gown in red or hunter green wool or velvet. I've always loved this style since I saw Dangerous Liaisons and The Brotherhood of the Wolf. It would be better for outdoor events. I always worry about trudging around outside in my silk gown.

In the much more distant future, I hope to move into Venetian and Italian Renaissance dresses (I've got to learn how to draft patterns before launching into that), medieval dresses, and bustle dresses. The bustle era is actually my favorite. My reasoning for putting it off is I want to hone my sewing skills before making my dream gowns.

Regency Underthings

It's been too long since I've had anything to blog about. It's certainly not because I haven't had an interest in sewing. Since my last update, my husband and I have relocated twice (both moves were international moves. My sewing machine and projects can't exactly come on the plane with me when I'm limited to 50 lbs of luggage for the 3 months it takes for our stuff to catch up with us, so I have been missing my favorite hobby. It's given me lots of time to plan and think ahead.

I'm now back in the US...waiting still on my sewing supplies to arrive. I'll then have to figure out how I'm going to set up my sewing area and get everything organized before I can start sewing. I'm thrilled, though, that for the first time in about three years I can just pop out to my local sewing store if I run out of something, instead of having to wait three weeks while I order it online. My favorite fabric store is even nearby. Yay!!

So here are my current costuming priorities:

#1. Fix my regency corset. It's still not quite right. Thank you to Jessamyn of the Regency Costume Companion for her helpful suggestions on how I might correct the fit. I was thrilled to see that she had visited my site - I have consulted her website many times while researching the Regency Era. She suggests that I turn the corset straps to an angle so they will not cut into my shoulders, and will stay put a bit better. I'll give that a try and see what happens.

#2. Given how rigid the long regency corset is, I'm going to try a short version of Regency Stays as a back up. Simplicity had it's annual .99 cent sale, and I snagged their Regency undergarments pattern.Since the pattern comes with a chemise, I'll go ahead and make it up, along with the bodiced petticoat, and then move on to the two dresses I would like to make. I have a friend who really wants a regency outfit for Jane Austin outings, so this will all be good practice for her gowns.