Tag Archive | Colonial Williamsburg

Introductions… and a bit of back story!

So here we are on the official Day 1 of CoBloWriMo and today’s prompt is Introduce Yourself. Well… I’m not sure I could fit that into a single post, after all, isn’t that the whole point of writing all month long? (And then hopefully beyond then!) But in keeping with the spirit of the group, here’s a wee bit about me.

If we step inside the way-back machine… and take a trip all the way to the few months before the 1990s began, you’d find a younger me busily learning to sew in my Clothing I class at my high school. Yep, I’m one of those rare but lucky few who attended full dressmaking and tailoring classes as electives while attending a public school. And if that wasn’t enough to cement my love of sewing, my teacher, the lovely Mrs. C. was also the advisor for the AFS Club (which ALL the cool kids were in – LOL!) and it was with that same AFS club that I first traveled to Colonial Williamsburg. Now I had always loved historical costumes and had done my fair share of dressing up when younger, but it was that visit to Virginia that really pushed things over the top.

Can you guess where I spent the majority of my visit? (Aside from The Cheese Shop, of course.) Yes, indeed… the Milliner’s Shop. How predictable, right? I apparently was too enthralled to take too many pictures, except this gem… don’t you just love my misspelled but clearly enthusiastic caption?

While not surprising that I loved this shop in 1991, what is so impressive is how much research has been and continues to be done by their amazing staff over the many years it’s been open. The Milliner’s Shop still inspires and enthralls historical costume enthusiasts!! (And probably many other high schoolers on summer field trips, too!)

Fortunately, there are no pictures of me wearing the fabulous pink cotton elasticized mob-cap that I purchased at Yorktown during the same trip. Yep. Times have changed my friends…

Fast forward a few years, and you’d find me making costumes to wear while larp-ing at NERO events. And no, I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit it! (They’re now big enough to have a Wikipedia page – who knew?) To be fair I did prefer dressing as a pretty princess (or rather as one of the princess’ handmaids) to looking all crazy like a giant praying mantis creature. As I look back at my costuming and sewing experiences… this one cracks me up the most – it was silly crazy fun for weekends at a time and definitely led me down the path of immersive costume events. It just turns out I like actual history better than pseudo-medieval fantasy! But sorry… no photo evidence ;o)

By 1999, I had worked for a small costume shop, spent countless hours trying to recreate historical garments (some better than others) for events and outings with friends, switched from LARPing to SCA, started to collect some original historical clothing, amassed a respectable costume library, had a few opportunities to study clothing in museums, and last but not least, joined a RevWar reenacting group. I’m pretty sure it’s been nothing but a slippery slope since then!

My newly tasseled peacock silk parasol in all its glory along the Newport coast.

Not to gloss over the past 18 or so years, but it’s truly been a lot more of the same over these last two decades. I’ve been fortunate to work in history museums as a staff member and as independent costume consultant, my library and clothing collection has only grown larger, and although I no longer do much reenacting, I have expanded my wardrobe (and knowledge) to eras beyond the 1770s. These days I spend most of my time teaching sewing, both modern dressmaking and historical costume. It also seems I’ve gone a bit back to my roots, as ‘pretty princess’ seems to be my favorite type of event to plan, sew, and dress for – whatever the century! There’s always a tiara within reach just in case….

So here we are, back in 2017… and with a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post. I really am all about tassels lately and after having so much fun with my parasol at last month’s event, you can be sure they’ll be making regular appearances in my repertoire going forward.

Stay tuned for further sewing shenanigans, past and present. This little trip down memory lane has reminded me of all sorts of fun projects I’ve done or want to start that I can’t wait to share!