Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Historical Sewing Challenge #4 - 1770s Boy's Waistcoat

Haha! I caught him when he was yawning.

Yes, I'm doing these projects out of order! I have to allow myself the sanity of doing that since I'm still trying to get together our outfits for upcoming events.

April's Historical Sewing Monthly Challenge was "Gender Bender", so making something for the opposite gender, or something that was inspired by the opposite gender's clothing trends. I decided to make a waistcoat for my son to complete his outfit. He already had the fall-front breeches, the shirt I made last month, and now he's fully dressed with the waistcoat! I couldn't have him running around in a state of undress (namely just a shirt and breeches), now could I?

Here's the info:

The Challenge: April - Gender Bender

Material: 100% brown linen, 100% tea-dyed cotton for lining

Pattern: Mill Farm (This pattern had super basic instructions which led to frustrations with the pockets and the vents in the back. I had no idea what I was doing, but luckily it turned out okay.)

Year: 1770

Notions: cotton thread, horn buttons

How historically accurate is it? 95% Still not sure about cotton thread in that time period, but it's what I have. I sewed most of it on the machine too. All the button holes are hand sewn though - all NINE of them. The horn buttons are so pretty!

Hours to complete: approx. 12 hours

First worn: Made for the 18th Century Market Fair at Ft. Frederick, MD in April 2016

Total cost: about $9 for the horn buttons. I've had the cotton for ages, and I got the brown linen as part of a bundle of free scraps from Jas. Townsend & Son's shop in Indiana! (I love their shop!)

I've also had somewhat of an epiphany this month. I've been working to get involved with some WWII reenacting groups and have had wonderful success with a fabulous facebook group of ladies devoted to that hobby. They have been so helpful and welcoming, and I get so giddy and excited thinking about dressing up for the 1940s and teaching people about WWII. Other time periods pale in comparison really.

I've been trying to be honest with myself and we only have so much money in our budget to devote to reenacting. So, I've been thinking that I won't devote any more money towards Rev War. It makes me sad, but I think it's realistic. I've even been wondering if I should go to the trouble of making my own outfit since it takes so much time. I do have all the materials, but time is the biggest issue. It's frustrating since I've already put money into it, especially my custom-drafted corset pattern. I guess time will tell. I'll have to continue thinking about it. But it also means that I might be adjusting my sewing challenge ideas to go more with where my heart is leading. They're not focusing on the 1940s or later for it, so I might have to just post them on here and not be able to share them in the official group, but that's okay. My goal was to do more sewing this year and that sewing challenge was just a vehicle for that goal. I look forward to my new sewing adventures ahead!!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reading on a Theme: WWII Week at Intellectual Recreation

My friend, JoLee, who blogs with her sister over at Intellectual Recreation, is spending each day this week talking about books set in WWII. She covers different themes within WWII each day. Today's theme is about displaced children. I love her "reading on a theme" series and am always interested to see the books she discusses. On Friday she'll be featuring my book, The War Between Us, which is quite exciting!

Go on over and check it out!

Click here to see the introductory post from Monday.
Click here to see today's topic about displaced children during WWII.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

WWII Ration Recipe - Armenian Dessert

It's time again for another recipe from Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills! Hooray!

Armenian Dessert

When originally going through the book when I first bought it, the recipe for Armenian Dessert caught my eye. Sounds exotic, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't really. At least not if you've tried shredded wheat before. haha!

This recipe made an interesting, simple, and inexpensive little dessert that would be easy to increase or decrease the amounts to fit any occasion. The main ingredient is large shredded wheat biscuits. It's amazing that they still make them, because I don't know anyone that eats them for breakfast. Do you?

Shredded wheat biscuits with filling awaiting a bake in the oven
You can see the honey glistening on top!
Anyway, I was excited to try the recipe. All you do is dip the shredded wheat biscuits in hot milk, cut open the top half, spoon on the filling of chopped raisins and nut meats, replace the top, drizzle honey over the top and then heat them until warmed through. Super simple! I wasn't sure how they would taste though. Shredded wheat is pretty blah on it's own, but with the honey drizzled over the top along with the filling, it added the touch of sweetness the biscuits need. The raisins and nuts gave it a nice texture too. The recipe said to serve with cream or rich milk, but I had some leftover whipped cream so I put that on there. It was just the right touch of sweetness and fat.

Overall, this dessert was nice! Maybe not my favorite, but easy and adaptable for your preference too. I bet spooning some jam or marmalade inside would be a nice  alternative to honey.

Now the real question is: Do they really serve a dessert like this in Armenia? It might be along the same lines as the Chinese Chews. Who knows? If you do, let me know!

You know, it's a little reminiscent of a bizarre version of baklava...

from Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills

Update! My friend Rachel did a search and found that there actually is some basis to calling this dessert Armenian. Apparently, it's made using shredded filo dough and sometimes shredded wheat can be substituted (though I imagine it wouldn't taste as good as filo!)
Here is a link with a recipe for the more authentic version called Ararat Home Kadayif. Goodness, it looks delicious!
And here is a link for a blogger's memories of her grandmother's Tell Kadayif

Hooray! I'm so excited to find an authentic reference to this ration recipe!

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Snapshot in Time - 1930s Signature Quilt

Ruby's Signature Quilt ca. 1931 
Photo courtesy of Katherine N.
I am so excited to share with you some of the fabrics from this fabulous 1931 signature quilt owned by my long-time best friend Katherine. The quilt originally belonged to her grandmother, Ruby, who was from Kansas, where the quilt was made. The quilt was made for Ruby's 16th birthday, possibly her graduation, and includes embroidered signatures of brothers, sisters, parents, school teachers, and friends of Ruby. It's a wonderful piece of family history for Katherine's family.

What I love about this quilt, besides all the cool, embroidered signatures, are the fabric prints - which are what I wanted to showcase. What a great snapshot of fabric from the time! When I want to learn about the fashions of a particular time period, I think the hardest part is wrapping your head around what was in style for the types of fabric and prints, and understanding the ebb and flow of fashion through the decades. It's hard keeping it all straight! I am so happy Katherine agreed to let me share these wonderful fabrics from her heirloom quilt.

I think there are about 45 different fabrics used in the quilt, and I show most of them down below except for a few gingham checks which are pretty basic and still around today. You'll see I used a penny on each fabric to give a good sense of the size of the prints.

This yellow, green, and red one is my absolute favorite!



Aren't these amazing? There are so many delicious prints. From these examples here, we can see that the late 1920s to early 1930s cotton prints were characterized by small sized prints, florals, geometric designs, foreground shapes with different textured backgrounds, and a softer color palette. Red is about the brightest color, and many of these are earth tones. Collectively, these are a great way to study what was popular at the time.

Quilts & fabrics in general are a great way to preserve history. I talked with an owner of a lovely antique mall in Ellicott City, Maryland, who told me of her mother's quilt that she made at the start of WWII. For every new thing that happened in the war she made a new square, so the whole quilt is a fabric documentation of the war! Isn't that fabulous! I would love to be able to see it.

I hope you enjoyed this snapshot in time for 1930s cotton prints. A big thanks to Katherine for her willingness to share her incredible heirloom quilt!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Historical Sewing Challenge #1: 18th Century Boy's Shirt

He's so cute! And the shirt looks great with his fall front
breeches. I'm going to be making him a brown linen waistcoat soon.

I finally finished my son's 18th century work shirt! We are both really excited. I actually can't believe I finished it - and it was all hand-sewn! As soon as it was done I told myself that I won't be doing that again for some time. I do love my sewing machine! I know it's not accurate, but all of my own 18th century clothes will be done on my sewing machine. Kids' clothing aren't as bad as they're a lot smaller, but I don't think my fingers could take hand-sewing adult-sized clothing.

Anyway, this was a great learning experience! I used a pattern company I'd never used before. Their patterns are very well-researched, but I think this particular shirt pattern is more complicated than some. It's a very nice one, though, and the shirt is very sturdy.

Here's all the info:

The Challenge: January - Procrastination

Material: 100% checked linen

Pattern: Kannik's Korner 2nd half 18th century boy's work shirt

Year: late 18th century

Notions: cotton thread, shell buttons

How historically accurate is it? 95% I'm not sure if they used a lot of cotton thread back then. I didn't have any linen thread that was fine enough. And I think they only used 1 or 2-holed buttons, as the ones I used have 4 holes. It is entirely hand-sewn, and the pattern has some excellent research.

Hours to complete: approx. 20+ hours

First worn: Made for the 18th Century Market Fair at Ft. Frederick, MD in April 2016

Total cost: about $25