Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Dress Update and a Freebie

I mentioned before that my dress fits well, but is impossible to get out of because the sleeves are way too tight. I decided to take out my sleeves and add in a gusset-type insert so that they won't be so darn tight. I couldn't bear to undo my nicely finished sleeve ends, so I figured taking the sleeves off the shoulder and ripping the sleeve seam down the length was much easier. So, that is the state they are in now until I can figure out what size of "gusset" I want to put in there without altering the look of the sleeve too much. I may just have to experiment. It makes me a little nervous because I don't have a lot of fabric left. And I don't know if I should cut the new piece on the bias or not... Stuff to figure out, that's for sure!

photo from Lucky Lucille

The freebie mentioned in the title is an exciting one via Lucky Lucille. She's offering a free pdf or ebook download of an original 1944 issue of Butterick Fashion News magazine that she owns. Pretty sweet! Check it out here.

I've considered doing the same thing myself with some original pamphlets and things I have, but I'm not sure about how copyright laws apply, so I don't know... It's something I need to look into.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nearly Complete!

My Regency drawstring dress is nearly complete! I haven't done the skirt hem yet, but I had to try it on. I really like this style, though I do need to make the sleeves a little bit bigger as they're tight on my arms. It was a nearly impossible workout to get the dress off! My husband, who was helping, just mumbled that I should put in a zipper up the back. I, of course, looked at him in horror and cried, "No!" haha!

Here are some pictures: (And please forgive the ridiculous sideways pictures. Blogger is being stupid about unrotating my pictures again!)

This is the drawstring that gathers the front bodice.
I also opted to put all the back skirt gathers between the side back seams.
I think it's one of those cool fashion details from the Regency.
I found myself in Gettysburg yesterday, so I stopped at the fabric shop (as always!) and picked up a lovely window pane sheer cotton for an apron and an embroidered cotton for a 2-piece bonnet, along with a packet of 1790-1820 bonnet patterns. Hooray!

I was excited to find some websites about making Regency bonnets:
How to Make a Regency Era Bonnet
A Quick Regency Poke Bonnet
Hats by Leko
Trimming a Regency Bonnet by Jennifer
Regency Hats & Bonnets
How to Make a Regency Bonnet
A Regency Poke Bonnet in 10 Steps

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Progress on the Regency Dress

I've nearly finished the bodice of my Regency drawstring dress. I still have to put the sleeves on, but so far it looks really cool! I've decided to go with this fabric:

and I'm really glad I did! I have the perfect velvet blue ribbon to match the blue flowers and I'm hoping to get some rust silk for a bonnet and making my rust-colored linen spencer. I don't know why this picture is sideways - how frustrating! Anyway, it's the best picture I have of my progress so far.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Top 14 Historical Movies According to Me

I just finished watching the 2009 version of Emma while working on my Regency pattern pieces. It was a good choice to watch, as the movie was full of inspiring early 1800s dresses! I loved that they were mostly simple with good examples of trimmings and bodice styles. And the best part was that I saw several plain linen dresses! This gave me some hope in regards to my lovely green linen as a potential dress.

Well, watching this movie got me to thinking of other influential historical movies that I've watched, and like any self-respecting blogger I had to make a list. haha! Now this list may not be what you're expecting. The movies I've chosen are ones that have had a huge influence on me, starting as a young teenager. Some of them may make you laugh... but don't! Okay, you can, but do it quietly when I'm not looking. ;-)

Choosing was harder than I expected, because obviously there are a thousand movies I could have chosen, but these boil down to ones that have influenced me the most personally. To me these movies are timeless and I've watched them all at least twice (and one movie maybe over 40 times... but don't ask me which one! It's highly embarrassing!) I apologize if this post is unusually long... There's just a lot to say!

My Top 14 Most Influential Historical Movies

1. The Secret Garden
I love so many things about this movie - the costumes, the beginning segment set in India (even though her parents did not die in an earthquake, but of a sickness), the castle, the actors. Most of all, this film made me fall head over heels in love with the land of England and fueled my beginning desire to go there. The wild loneliness of the moors was such a fascinating place to me as a girl. When I did my study abroad to England, my visit to the moors was top priority and it was a wonderful experience - I even took a steam train to get there! It was almost like coming home, because dreaming of it had made up such an important part of my childhood. Someday I'd like to go back and visit the house that this movie was filmed at. And maybe take a ride across the moors on a moor pony like Dickon. :-)

2. The Journey of Natty Gann
Aah, "The Journey of Natty Gann"! I remember watching this with my mom as a teenager. I had decided that I was going to be a film maker and I remember watching this movie with a notebook and pen, totally serious about taking film notes. Not only did I fall in love with the story, but this movie was a huge influence in my becoming a tom boy. (And developing a major crush on John Cusack at the same time!) This movie is set during the Depression, and I love how the film has a dark, gritty feel to it. I remember loving the clothing and Natty's spunk and determination to find her father. Nothing got her down and while she wasn't totally fearless, she was driven by the hope that her father was waiting for her, something I related with a little. I was estranged from my father at the time.

 3. Bugsy Malone
Not many people have heard of this movie, and even less people knew that Jodi Foster and Scott Baio (from "Charles in Charge") were in a movie together, or that it was a musical! I 100% absolutely adore this movie. The movie is one big stereo-type; only the gangsters sing and dance. Their rivalry is very serious, but it's hard to take it very seriously with marshmallow-shooting Tommy guns. Not only that, but the entire cast is made up of children and their singing voices are dubbed over with adult voices. This is one of those movies that is so bizarre and off the wall that it's hilarious. How did this movie influence me? It gave me a young, humorous appreciation of the '20s, Prohibition, and gangsters. haha!

4. Back Home
Hands down, "Back Home" is my top favorite WWII movie. Hayley Mills is wonderful as the mother of a girl whom was sent overseas to America for the duration of the war. It's wonderful and poignant how Rusty's transition home is rocky, but she does her best to fit back into a culture she barely remembers. Another vital aspect to this story was how they show the father's rough transition back home from being at the war front. Not many films show that aspect of the war. This was one of the movies that hugely impacted my love of England, British culture, and WWII.

5. Newsies
Okay, so most of you have at least heard of "Newsies", and those who haven't seen it ask, "What's the big deal?" I have two words for you: Spot Conlan. And if that doesn't mean anything, then you need to watch the movie. haha! But seriously, this movie just stoked my already budding tom boy tendencies. The music is memorable, the dancing is pretty amazing, and the costumes aren't bad! I even met the actor who played Snitch. I have to say, though, that this movie was probably the most impactful to me because it was based on a true story. When I was a nanny in New York (on Long Island), I didn't spend my time going to Broadway plays or the Met or even Central Park. I spent my time (countless hours!) at the New York Public Library doing research on this story and spending a fortune on microfilm copies. I probably have the best research on this topic of anyone out there and I even wrote a paper about it in college. I already had an interest in child labor, but the fascinating thing is that I could really read about Kid Blink and Racetrack in 1899 issues of newspapers. To me, it was mind blowing, and I learned a lot about doing research that hugely impacted my future college career in History. I doubt Disney had that in mind when they made this movie! (They messed with the story by the way...surprise, surprise.)

6. Pride & Prejudice (1996)
I think we all know why this movie is amazing. Awesome costumes, sweeping, glorious love story set in the thrilling Regency era, and it's 5 hours long! Yippee!

7. Joan of Arc
The story of Joan of Arc is very captivating, but this movie hit me big time. I do like the costumes, but I think Leelee Sobieski really captured Joan's vulnerability in convincing people of her vision and her drive to accomplish her mission, however crazy it seemed to others. I watched this as a teenager and her story really touched me, even inspiring me to wade through Mark Twain's Joan of Arc, which I highly recommend to anyone!

8. A Little Princess
I love the time period this movie is set in London. I think it is a very good example of children's fashion of the late 1800s (maybe the early 1900s?) which is absolutely wonderful. This movie was also fascinating to me as a teen, because it was the first time I was introduced to that British film feel of watching a play instead of a movie. I have yet to see as good of an adaptation of the book as this film. It stays very true to the story.

9. The Happiest Millionaire
This is another film that not many people have seen, much less heard about. It is set in the 19-teens just before the outbreak of WWI. The music is awesome and Leslie Ann Warren is wonderful along with her co-star John Davidson who has an incredible voice. Tommy Steele is fantastic too! This movie entertained my siblings and I many a time and it is always a delight to watch.

10. Saints & Soldiers
I first saw this WWII movie at a film festival in Indianapolis. The director, Ryan Little, was there whom I got to meet and chat with afterward. The story is simple, but impactful, and watching this movie changed me in a huge way. I knew right there in my seat watching this film that I needed to become a film maker - my teenaged dream was rekindled. And I did go to college with that aim. The Lord had different plans, but I still owe watching this film to my paradigm shift. It sounds hokey, but it's true.

11. North & South
I love this book by Elizabeth Gaskell and I love this adaptation. This movie got me super excited, not just because the story is great, or that the costumes are lovely, but because they showed an actual textile mill with working machinery! I have never seen a movie where they showed that and it was something I had been longing to see ever since reading Lyddie, one of my all-time favorite books. The moment when Margaret walks into the mill is breathtaking and beautiful, with tufts of cotton floating everywhere like snowflakes, which of course have a darker side. I am totally fascinated by Industrial Revolution technologies, so this was just so thrilling to see! Of course the romance with Mr. Thornton is pretty smashing too. :-)

12. The Greatest Game Ever Played
Really? A sports movie about golf?! Oh yes. My husband and I have watched this movie at least a dozen times. Not only are the costumes fantastic, but the story line is so sweet and timeless - a boy who has a gift and who is torn between how to pursue his love and pleasing his father. I also like his friendship with Sarah who is a potential love interest, but is mostly encouraging of his dream. Gosh, I could watch this movie a lot more times than I have already, I think it's that good!

Almost done!
13. October Sky
This movie is set in a 1950s mining town and is about a boy who pursues his dream of rocketry against his father's wishes. I love that this is based off a real story which is truly captivating. I also like that it's about a group of boys. So many of the historical films I love are about girls, so I loved seeing a movie that was a success story of a boy pursuing a seemingly impossible dream. I love the time period too. It's 1950s, but it's not the typical, stereo-typed 1950s. And the music is pretty sweet too.

14. Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea
How could I forget this Canadian film classic? I have loved this story since I first saw it. Anne made me even like puffed sleeves the way she talked about them despite my stubborn prejudice against them. The fashions in Anne of Avonlea are superb! I always wanted to be dressed as stylishly as Anne. This saga is divine and like no other. I was a bit disappointed in the 3rd installment when Gilbert and Anne finally marry, so I guess I'll just have to finally go and read the books. I've tried to, believe me, but she does chatter on so! ;-)

Whew, that's quite the list and they are pretty far ranging in time periods! Any historical films that were particularly influential to you?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Choices, Choices

I'm about to get started on my Regency dress - finally! First I have to piece together the pattern, then trace it out on interfacing since I bought the e-pattern from It's a pretty intense process, but that's the price to pay for the cheaper cost to purchase and instant delivery with no shipping!

I've recycled a few of my Civil War dresses, which have at least 4 1/2 yards in each skirt. But now I have a dilemma. I have a few fabrics to choose from and I don't know which ones are more period correct, especially as I did get most of the fabric with the 1860s in mind. I can't afford to get any new fabric right now, so here's what I've got:

This used to be a pretty Civil War day dress.
From a distance the stripes are more pronounced.

I originally bought this with a Rev War dress in mind, but now I don't even know if it's accurate!
It reminds me a little of a rolled print.

A pretty white floral print
This rust-colored linen would go well with the white floral print as a spencer jacket.
It's darker and richer than the picture shows.

I was surprised to discover I have 3 1/2 yards of this nice blue print.
I originally bought it at least a decade ago to make a Civil War shirt for any future children of mine.
Instead, I got our boy a different fabric altogether. Oh well! I guess I could use it for a Regency dress for my daughter.

This is a gorgeous green, delicious-feeling cotton/linen blend. I would love to make a dress from this, but it's just so plain.
I'm not the best at trimmings... I would need some contrasting color. Is a plain linen even appropriate for an entire dress?

Any opinions out there would be welcome!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

150th Gettysburg!

Yesterday at Gettysburg was awesome! And it was tiring, hot, humid, and it reminded me of all the reasons I stopped reenacting. Ha! One wonderful advantage was meeting up with a very old friend and having his tent fly be a refuge from the sun.
The kids relaxing in my friend's camp. He was camped as an aid to the generals.
This was my first time going to an event in costume with children and that was an interesting challenge. I felt like we were wandering in circles and only taking short little trips to explore which was a little frustrating, but it was what we could handle. We spent a fortune on ice cold lemonades, but we were grateful for the kindness of strangers including a ride on the Confederate tractor shuttle when we accidentally went to the wrong camp waaaaaay on the other side of the event when looking for my friend.

Definitely a Confederate Tractor. Haha!
The variety of sutlers was great and I was thrilled to see a dulcimer/old banjo sutler, an old-fashioned toy sutler, and a lady with a nice deal on bone buttons and hat pins which I needed sorely! I was very grateful for the almost constant breeze, but my lovely straw hat took a buffeting. I really needed ribbons on that thing to firmly tie it down as a total of three hat pins was not enough! I really did not get enough time at the sutlers which is a regret, but I suppose it was a sacrifice on my part. I didn't want to abandon my poor husband in the heat with two rambunctious kids, and I suppose I didn't really need to buy anything. Looking is half the fun though! Aaah, well. I did make off with 5 sets of bone buttons, 2 straw fans, and 3 new hat pins! :-)

It was my first time actually sitting down and watching a battle after nine years of reenacting. I was almost always apart of the battle in some way either carrying water buckets or the one time of being a powder monkey. It was pretty enjoyable and it was fun viewing it through the eyes of our 6-year-old boy who was mostly interested in the wide variety of flags. I only regret that we didn't stop by the tent of the U.S. Signal Corps so he could talk with the soldiers there about signalling.

An interesting thing is that a photojournalist from the New York Times came around taking pictures and snapped a few of our kids. He got their names and asked a little about them so... Who knows?! They may be in the New York Times? We'll see. Actually a lot of people took our kids' pictures. I actually did not see that many kids as young as mine in costume, so I suppose they were a novelty. The funny thing is that my son who was the most covered never complained of the heat once and he was the only one that did not get sunburned! Ha! That just shows you that historical fashions were very practical in some ways. Both kids were little troopers and I was pleasantly surprised by how well they did.

Here we are!
It doesn't look like it, but I'm definitely wearing a corset.
I've decided I have a strong dislike for this workdress. Fitted just looks better.

Then after the battle in the evening we drove over to the Confederate camp side of parking (which was on the other side of the road from the rest of the event) to see another old friend and as everyone was going the opposite way trying to leave, we had to park and walk the rest of the way up the hill. Luckily we found him and his wife easily and had a lovely chat. (His late wife Suzanne, was my sewing mentor that I mention occasionally, and they were both like a surrogate aunt and uncle to me during my teenage years.) I was so glad I got to meet his new wife too as she is such a wonderful lady. I hope we get to see them again soon.

Overall, we had a great time and the crowds and parking weren't too bad! Going home felt like it took forever, but then again I was hot, my corset was ill-fitting and kept poking me and I was exhausted! It was a nice day-trip down memory lane and best of all, we made some great memories for our kids, I kept a 15-year-old promise, and we got to see some old friends from Indiana. Not a bad way to spend a Friday!

A super amazing camp kitchen that I fell in love with!

Taking refuge from the sun with my napping daughter. I'm wearing a baby sling that I whipped up the night before, and boy was I glad I did!
The lady I bought my hat pins from said that she has had people tell her baby-wearing was not period correct, but after doing some research she has found photo documentation of baby-wearing in the 1860s! Pretty awesome, huh?!

The most interesting dress I saw at the event.
I love the peacock blue and that sheer 2nd layer is gorgeous and fascinating!  I think she did a good job on this dress and she has a lovely silhouette. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Preparing for Gettysburg

Happy 4th of July!

Tomorrow is the day we will be heading up to Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary event! I am a little anxious about the crowds and finding out where to park (they neglected to say anything about it in the packet they sent with the tickets - arrrg!), but I am excited to finally be going after making a promise to myself 15 years ago that I would go.

Not only that, but we'll be going in costume! Okay, so my husband will be going in a 150th Gettysburg t-shirt I bought online in advance, but our little 3 year old girl will be going in her Boone dress. When I made it before she decided to hate it and refused to even try it on. When I showed it to her again yesterday she gasped and said how pretty it was and even gave it a hug! Sheesh! :-) Our 6 year old boy will be going in an outfit I'm pretty proud of. I just finished his pants yesterday. We had to fit on grosgrain ribbon for suspenders since the pants were still too big for around his waist. Overall, though it turned out awesome! And, yes, even I will be going in a workdress and my lovely straw hat.

I had to tell myself a few times that it was okay that our daughter was not going to be wearing a chemise or a petticoat (striped cotton capris underneath!) and that both kids will be in their matching leather brown sandals we got at Walmart, etc... I am just happy that we will have something fun to wear and that we won't have to look like the rest of them. I dearly detest being a "spectator", so going in costume will make me happy. The kids even have straw hats, because I had to draw the line there. There was no way I went to all that trouble to make a costume and my son would only have a baseball hat to wear on his head.

For my son's outfit I purchased the plaid linen and cotton print at my favorite fabric shop in Gettysburg.
I used a Period Impressions pattern and while it seemed fairly straightforward, the directions were horrendous! I ripped out a minimum of 15 seams. It was ridiculous. If it weren't for my years of previous historical sewing experience I would have been totally up a creek. The drawings were vague without the right or wrong sides of fabric marked in the pictures and some of the directions seemed incomplete. Nevertheless, I triumphed and the pants are complete!

My first ever mid-1800s boys pants!
And my first fly ever. Don't tell anyone I used coconut buttons. They do not have pewter at JoAnn's!

My first ever pockets. I may not wish to talk about them anymore after this for at least a few months...

My handsome kid in his new outfit!
His sleeves aren't buttoned so pardon his missing hands. haha!

My sweet little girl in her Boone dress and straw hat. 

 Gettysburg, here we come!