Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cornwallis' Advance on Yorktown

In the summer of 1781 the British troops were advancing towards Williamsburg.  Just across the river from Jamestown is a plantation known as Smiths Fort (built in the early 17th century with some evidence still visible).  It's owner, Mr. Faulcon, was a patriot who helped the troops by allowing them to stay on his land after the British burned much of Cobhams Wharf.  I went out to show the shoemaking trade.
It's a beautiful museum inside- one of Virginias hidden treasures.

Mr. Balances coat I made up this week- based on the unlined extant at CWF.  The Virginia cloth used was very easy to work with, and very light!  The front has facings to cover the buckram layers and the back has a small section up at the shoulders to finish the collar, but the rest is unlined.

The Faulcons out for a light picnic (Bryan Kennedy and Taylor Shelby).

Dinner on Sunday was fresh corn and fish breaded with cornmeal and grits.  The day before we had a ham and vegetable stew.  Of course, there was plenty of bread, cheese, fruit, and spirits to go around as well!

I finished my new summer round gown just in time.  It's from B&Ts figured muslin (white with a tiny red stripe).  I made it unlined, based on a 1785 muslin gown at the Met Museum.

The kerchief is cotton lawn, on which I still need to put a few more tucks at the edges.  The hat is based on images like this and this.

Thank you to Kelsey Freeman for taking my picture!

There was, of course, shooting.  Although no one thought to bring any ammunition, so those turkeys we scared up in back of the house got away.

I just wanted to add this photo Kelsey Freeman shot of me working on Saturday- it's just too beautiful!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Louis XV Shoes 2

I had an idea during this past weekends events (which I'll talk about shortly).  I found that people were extremely curious about shoemaking.  It's not something on which there's a lot of information floating about.  There were many misconceptions and questions.  It helped me to push what I know by trying to teach it to others and finding out what areas my knowledge lacked in.  So, what I would really love is for you to post any and all shoe-related questions here or on my facebook.  It doesn't have to be 18th century.  Technical, style, history, anything is up for an option.  Don't worry about sounding silly- I'll leave the Anonymous option open for comments and remember that I guarantee I got worse questions this weekend (No, the giant 1" nails don't stay in bottom of the shoe....).

This past weekend I worked as an artisan at OpSail in Norfolk.  The event was meant to be 1812 themed, because of the anniversary.  I brought a huge amount of millinery items on Friday from the time, but I had a number of people curious about my progress in shoe-making.  I had originally intended on bringing that instead, but the plans to order Regency shaped lasts were postponed.  Regardless, I gave in and brought shoe work on Saturday and Sunday.  Gwendolyn also attended showing miniatures and portraiture.  Samantha also joined us on Sunday.  Yes, that is a new dress I'm wearing.  No, I didn't get pictures of it (whoops).
Photo courtesy of Mark Schneider

I cheated a bit an worked mostly on my Louis XV shoes.  Wrong style and wrong construction method, but it seemed to be the technical aspects that were most interesting to people.  I made the second upper, skived down the second sole, and started stitching the first sole on.
The sole is now stitched on to the rand, but I need to take a hammer to the edges to make them look less messy.  This is also only a stand-in heel- I have to make mine from scratch since they're larger (off to find some beech wood later!).

Don't look to close at my horrible stitching.  Hopefully the right shoe will be better!  This technique is a very different movement of the awl than I'm accustomed to.

Brand-new (to me) french-pattern hammer Mr. Walker gave me!  The top is 18th century while the handle is a reproduction.  I think I love tools as much as my husband does now....

These are the pieces for the second shoe- upper lined in linen and bound with silk, insole with holdfast already in, and the out sole skived down so the edges are thin while the middle is still a good 1/4".

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hawaii 2

I fixed the previous post (somehow it had posted, but then reverted to being a draft) and am finally back to finish up the trip.  There's a lot going on over the next month, so there should be some fun posts soon.
I can't pinpoint exactly what this dress is based on- more a combination of three or four images.  The fabric is another vintage something-or-other.  The buttons and belt buckle were purchased as a set (why don't they do that anymore?). 

 Beach Pajamas!  Seriously, the most comfortable outfit ever.  The trousers are a suiting weight while the top is silk (and only took two hours to make).  Based mainly on photographs of women on the beach.

I promised a few beautiful island shots, so here is 'Akaka falls near Hilo, Hawaii.  

Our tour on Maui took us to a plantation, which just happened to have an old 1931 Woody.

Ever wonder what pineapple plants look like?  Each one only grows a single large pineapple. Some have smaller ones to the side that are used as canned or pre-cut.

I had been to Honolulu before, so we took a tour to the North Shore of Oahu.  This is the Byodo Temple.

This little island has been nicknamed Chinaman's Hat.

There was also a beach which so commonly has sea turtles, there are people who volunteer there every day to make sure they stay safe and no one gets too close.  This little lady weighs over 200 lbs!

Our last island was Kauai with a stop at a 1930s plantation.  This ensemble was made from a couple of original patterns.  The skirt, made from a herringbone cotton, has a matching pair of shorts under it.  The shirt is a white figured muslin with red pinstripes.

The tour of the grounds was by train!

This suit was based on a pattern image.  It's made from the same corded linen as my black and white dress from the last cruise.

Another combination of inspirations on this dress.  The fabric is a dotted cotton with some bias tape trim and big mother of pearl buttons.


I just got back from almost an almost three week trip- out to LA for a visit to Disneyland followed by a 15 day cruise to Hawaii.  I've always wanted to go on a cruise and wear nothing but 1930s-style clothing.  Somehow, crazy me decided this unusually long trip would be the perfect time.  I started pulling together patterns, ideas, and fabric in the fall and officially began sewing in January.  Much of the inspiration came from The Painted Woman in a number of posts specifically about cruise fashion in the 1930s.  I ended up making 4 dresses, 4 pairs of pants, a sports skirt/shorts, a linen suit, an evening gown, a sweater, 5 blouses, a hat, and 3 slips.  I tried to get pictures of most of it on the trip- I found a few things that slipped through the cracks, but I'll get those later.
I didn't get a good shot of travel day, but all but a white blouse shows up later.  So day number 2, going into the parks (it was a little chilly):
 I made the trousers from Eva Dress' 1934 Lounging Ensemble pattern.  It's just a very lightweight cotton I had in my "Grandmothers stash".  The blouse will show up again- a white cotton with a red pinstripe from B&T.  The sweater was a last minute addition due to weather, so it's just a modern linen.

Day 3 was also in the parks.  I drafted a pattern for the trousers and made them from stash denim.  You can't see it, but the left side buttons up with red buttons, so I used red serging to tie it all in.  The blouse is a yellow printed cotton lawn from Jo-Ann's, accented by a few vintage buttons.  The shoes are one of the most comfortable pairs I've ever owned- part of the 1958 collection from Hush Puppy (resisting urge to buy red ones).

Day 4- first day on board.  The dress is a vintage blue print fabric of some magical content that acts like cotton but never wrinkles.  It was made from a VPLL pattern.

Day 5- finally out to sea and a bit wobbly.  Thank goodness I don't have any sea-sickness or this would have been a horrible cruise.  Most of the crew was saying it was the worst they'd ever had.  The trousers are from a silk herringbone from the stash made from a 1930s pattern.  The sweater I knitted from old instructions from a fingering weight bamboo/wool.  Oh so very soft.

Day 5 was also the first formal night.  I fell in love with this dress from the Met.  I couldn't afford silk jersey, so I went with silk charmeuse instead.  There are five inserted pieces that flare out towards the hem.  They allow for shaping around the hips.  There's a narrow welt of contrast inserted in each seam.  I didn't order enough yardage, so to save I cut all of those  pieces in back cross-ways, meaning I couldn't do a longer hem.  Means I can dance in it though!  Which I did later in the cruise when we had ballroom dance classes/practice.  Also, don't ask how I made this thing.  I had three days and I still don't know how I managed to make it work.  A lot of guessing and hope.  I got to wear my wedding shoes again and the earrings are vintage- a gift from my husband for our anniversary last year.

I still have six more outfits to post about later.  And don't worry, there will be some pictures of lovely Hawaii as well.