Tag Archive | museum collection

Girls 1830s Dress

I’m looking to the past a bit for today’s feature while I do my best to play into the #CoBloWriMo Day 7 prompt: Made for Someone Else. I actually spent this past Friday at Old Sturbridge Village where I introduced my 9-year old niece to the joys of a living history museum. On the ride home I asked her what she would tell her parents about our visit. Her words?

This was one of the best days of my life!

The charming Miss M wearing her frock, petticoat, and pantelets as she volunteered with me at a living history event in Andover in September 2015.

Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet kid! (And I’m pretty sure I scored some good-auntie points…)

Neither she nor I are quite ready to attend events together, but I do happen to have a lovely 1830s girls ensemble that was made for the delightful Miss M two years ago and is now just the right size for my young niece, Miss S! I shared numerous pics on Facebook and Instagram but I’m just now getting to write a bit about the outfit.

This dress was made from a combination of two patterns: Sense & Sensibility’s Girls’ Romantic Era Dress and Rocking Horse Farms’ Dress with Pantelets – plus a bit of pattern mashing & redrafting to get the exact size and shape I wanted. The frock fabric is still one of my favorites and is from the Mill Book Series Collection by Howard Marcus fabrics. Its worn over a loose bodiced petticoat and pantelets, both made of plain white cotton. The petticoat and the frock both button at the center back between the waistline and neckline.

As is typical of most of my made-for-others costuming efforts, the interior seam were sewn by hand but all hemming and seam finishes were completed by hand. In this case, that meant miles of narrow hemmed ruffles and self-fabric binding at the neck, among other details. Since this was being worn to an event that had historically seen hot weather, the frock is unlined, and the cotton for the petticoat and pantelets was quite lightweight.

A close-up of the neckline and sleeve with a small bit of the miles of ruffling.

So much hemming… But also a great close-up of the fabric.

Ruffes! And more ruffles… and more… and more!

And while a small number of original children’s gowns do exist in museum and private collections, it’s also fun to peruse fashion plates to look for the occasional appearance of younger models among the well-dressed adults, like this one:

Aren’t they both charming? This rather extravagant scene dates to 1833 and is from a French fashion illustration.

I still need to work on accessorizing our ensemble with a child size bonnet, some boots, and perhaps a dainty collar, but Miss M looked lovely just as she was for our event two years ago!

Later this summer, I’ll do a photoshoot with my niece and really test out her potential to be a mini-me at upcoming living history events. On a related note, I’m taking it as a good sign that she enjoyed our visit to OSV last week, and that she even found the museum display of children’s items interesting – even though there wasn’t actually anything interactive in that building!

And what was her favorite part of the display, you ask?

A mid-1830s childs gown, on display at Old Sturbridge Village

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Plimoth Jacket Memories

While this is likely to be subject of many more blog posts to come, I couldn’t let the day (or night) go by without writing at least a few words about the rather amazing memories that were recently dredged up! Why is that, you wonder?

Because of this:

plimoth jacket combined

Swoon! It’s not often that my breath is taken away by a historical costume reproduction, but in this case, I pretty much stopped breathing when the lovely interpreter & jacket model Natalie walked into the room wearing this stunning garment. And with no pun intended, I’m pretty sure you could have heard a pin drop in the room – that’s how awestruck we were.

embellishing17thcdressNow to back up and tell a bit more of the story! This past weekend, Saturday and Sunday to be specific, I celebrated my birthday in a rather fabulous way by attending the Embellishing 17th-Century Dress Conference at Plimoth Plantation. There were two full days of workshops and discussions and demos of all sorts of techniques – both English and Native – and all the teachers and presenters were fantastic. An extra bonus was getting to spend the weekend with my friend, Jenni of Historically Dressed– it’s always so much better to share costuming adventures with friends!

The workshop focused heavily on details related to the embroidered jacket project that was completed in 2009: The Plimoth Jacket – A Paradise of Silk and Gold. This 3+ year project was a tremendous effort that eventually involved over 200 volunteer stitchers, dozens of lace makers, several technical and historical experts, and thousands of yards of silk thread.

plimoth leaves

I worked on the wings of the jacket – which is pretty exciting because it means it’s easy to spot my stitching on the finished piece! My detached buttonhole stitching is still looking good nine years later ;o)

But let’s back up even earlier to when the first embroidery stitches were added to the jacket… June 2007. I  was one of about 10 stitchers who attended the first volunteer session and who had the privilege of being the inaugural embroiders on this amazing jacket. Can you tell I’m still excited about this? I hope so… because then you’d understand why when this conference was announced and included the opportunity to see the jacket… I was all in!

Sadly, it seems that most of the story and blog that traced the progress of making the jacket seems to have disappeared from the web but some traces can be found by searching the Internet Archive or doing an Google Image search.

And although I have been back to Plimoth Plantation several times since 2007, it was a huge treat to return for another does of hands-on history. And while it’s true that much of the staff has changed during the past nine years, everyone involved (then and now) went above and beyond to provide a fantastic experience. So thank you, Plimoth Plantation, Jill Hall, Tricia Wilson Nguyen, and countless others who made the jacket project a reality nearly a decade ago, and thank you also to Demetra and Dan Rosen, Kristen Haggerty, and the many other staff members who made me fall in love with 17th century costume all over again during the past few days.

P.S. If you’re keeping track, I’ve been a bit behind on my CoBloWriMo-ing due to the traveling and conference, lol! However, I thought today’s prompt – Give a progress report on your current projects – was oddly fitting even if my current project stretches back nine years! It’s also a good time to mention that the conference gave me the chance to meet and stitch with Mem of Star and Scissor… who is also the driving force behind CoBloWriMo!

P.P.S. My head is literally exploding with other non-embroidery information learned this weekend and with ideas for future costuming. So many more blog posts to follow…

Late 1820s Day Dress

So although my mind is still spinning with thoughts and memories of revwar reenacting and 1770s dressmaking, I particularly like the Day 5 CoBloWriMo prompt (write about a favorite project you’ve done in the past) and it brings to mind a very plain day dress I reproduced a few years ago.

osv 1820s

Posing (and even smiling) in the Towne House Garden Arbor at Old Sturbridge Village. And yes, I have fixed the hem since this picture was taken!

The blue-grey cotton dress in the photo is loosely copied from one in the collection of the Andover Historical Society.

front detail sm

Detail of the original silk dress with interesting pleating at waist and sleeves.

The original dress dates to right about 1830, maybe a tad earlier, and is made of lightweight brown silk taffeta. My favorite construction detail is the skirt pleating with the stacked box pleats.

From a fashion history standpoint it straddles the 1820s & 1830s by being able to hang relatively straight rather than being gathered all around the waist. The skirts of both the original and the reproduction do form a slight bell shape if enough petticoats are worn or displayed underneath to give it a more 1830s feel.

The detail at the top of the sleeves is more typical of the 1830s with rows of parallel knife pleats to control the fullness before being released into full gigot sleeves.

For my repro, I was a bit limited on fabric and was also trying to create an 1825 appropriate look for a particular event I was attending. I reduced the fullness of the gigot sleeve and skipped the pleating at the top of the shoulder but I did retain the false cuff detail. My false cuff falls straight across the sleeve rather than at an angle like the original, but I still like the overall effect.

sleeve detail

Sleeve detail

Only the bodice of the original dress is lined and it’s a lightweight unbleached linen or cotton that acts as support for the fan pleating/gathering at the waist and neckline. The neckline on the original is piped as are the back bodice seams. It closes with hooks and eyes at the center back with only the lining being fully closed. The silk fabric is gathered in such a way that it meets when the lining is hooked shut.

I did the same (lining, piping & back closure) on my cotton version. The fabric I used has much greater drape than the original and may in fact have some rayon or even silk blended in. I don’t recall purchasing it with that knowledge but after years of wearing it, I’m not convinced it’s 100% cotton. In any case, it’s been one of my go-to dresses for working in an 1820’s historic house, attending events at Old Sturbridge Village, or going to other big-sleeved costume outings!

osv chickens

Sometimes I even get to hang out with chickens while wearing it! And for the record, this is probably the best detail shot of that bonnet that I have ;o)