Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New Shoes from American Duchess

Have you heard the news about the new shoes from American Duchess??!! They are now offering a wide range of colors and sizes of their popular Kensington style 18th century shoes.

The Kensington shoes are now offered in pink, light blue, navy blue and dark green. They also have black in a vegan option. In addition to the new colors there are also new size and width options.

Kensington in Pink

Kensington in light blue

Dark green

Navy blue
Hard to pick a favorite isn't it?? I love them all but happen to be partial to the navy blue leather, new pretty! The pre-order for these new shoes is now open and runs until June 21.

Disclaimer - This post contains affiliate links. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

1770s Fashionable Gown - In Progress, Part 1

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, I have jumped head first back into historical sewing. The fabric, pattern and bodice mock up had been sitting in the stash for over a year now. So when my friend planned a sewing weekend with some of our reenacting friends early this spring, I figured it was a good excuse to pull out the project and get back to work.

I'm using the 1770s Fashionable Gown pattern from Sign of the Golden Scissors. This pattern is fantastic and has needed only very slight alterations to make it fit. While some may raise an eyebrow at the price of this pattern, keep in mind you are getting A LOT for your money. All Smith and Larkin historical sewing patterns are essentially one of their two day sewing workshops in an envelope. It's not just the paper pattern for the gown and bum roll, but historically accurate sewing instructions, notes on fitting, fabric choices, stitches, etc. as well as historical information on the particular garment you are going to recreate. Included is a colorful documentation card that you can carry with you if you choose. The instruction booklet for the 1770s gown is 35 pages with color photographs to help you with each step. 

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When making an item of historical clothing, it's important to make a mock up. Especially if you have never used the pattern before. I've made a few 18th century gowns before so I'm pretty familiar with the steps involved. However, the fit of this particular gown is very different from my other gowns. First off, it's important to note that this style of gown is high fashion for the mid 1770s. The neckline and placement of the shoulder straps reflect that, as well as the looping of the gown skirts. This gown would not be appropriate for my normal middling class or British camp follower impressions. I'm not making this for any particular event, but rather more of a "just because I can" kind of project. And yes, it's going to be entirely hand sewn for the same reason.

Fabric choice is super important, I went with a lovely striped silk taffeta that is similar to what I've seen in period portraits and original gowns.

I used some miscellaneous fabric in my stash for the mock up. There are two sizes in each envelope so I cut the 34 bust as it seemed closest to my size when wearing my stays. The only adjustments I found were needed were to shorten the shoulder straps a bit and to lower the arm holes just a touch. After that I moved on to cutting out my lining and silk bodice.

During my friend's sewing weekend I completed my bum roll, assembled the linen lining, minus sleeves and shoulder straps, and cut out all the pieces for the silk bodice. I even finished sewing the pleats into the gown back pieces.

The side seams of both the linen lining and the silk are constructed with lapped seams. The sleeves use the same period technique but require an extra step to whip the lining into place. For those that have the new American Duchess kind to 18th century sewing the lapped seam in shown on pages, __.

Here is what the sleeves look like prior to stitching. I posted a live video on my Facebook page talking about this if you would like more details.

I spent one evening cutting out the panels for my gown skirts. Originally, I thought would skip the step of cutting my silk into period correct widths and save a little sewing time. The gown skirts are made up of two front panels, two sides, and one center back panel.

As it turned out, given the actual width of my silk and not wanting to waste any, it was actually easier to follow the instructions and cut multiple widths and then tapper the lower edge of each panel as needed. (Because bum roll!!) The instructions called for each panel to be 23 inches wide, as that matched the width of the original gown the pattern was based on. My silk was 50 inches wide so my panels are actually 25 inches wide. I will be able to incorporate the selvedge edge of the fabric into the gown fronts which will be nice. And of course I had kitty "help" because no sewing project would be complete without it!

With help from my husband, I tired the linen lining on to test the fit again. Then had him help me pin the silk on top, again to test the fit. Something just seemed wonky with the fit but was excited to see the gown taking shape. I suspected the fit issues had to do with the waist placement so I consulted the fitting section of the American Duchess 18th Century Dressmaking Guide. Turns out I was correct so I will need to bring the lower edge of the waist up just a bit before adding the skirts to get rid of the bodice wrinkles. Once I attach the skirts the weight of the silk will help smooth things out as well.

So, my next steps with this gown will be to pleat the skirts (SOOOOOOOO MUCH PLEATS!) Make my adjustments to the bodice and reattach the linen shoulder straps so the skirts can be attached. Then assemble the bodice lining and fashion fabric. Once that's done I can set the sleeves (again with help from the husband) and add the silk shoulder straps. The only thing left from there will be hemming and trimming! 

  • This pattern was created as a one for one copy of an original in a private collection. The bodice fronts were pieced on the original gown so a pattern piece is included for the "bodice front extension." Instructions for the gown trim are also based off the original.
  • This gown is designed to wear over period correct undergarments i.e. shift, 1770s/80s stays, bum roll and, if you wear one, an under petticoat. Pick you pattern size based on your measurements while wearing proper undergarments.
  • This style also requires a bum roll to help give the gown it's "fashionable" shape. The pattern and instructions for the bum roll are included.
  • The shoulders may feel very restricting at first. I found when I first tried the mock up on that I had to rotate the whole bodice further back then I thought. Then the neckline, which is lower and wider than my 1750s/60s gowns, sat where it needed to which should be just above the top of the stays. 
  • The arm holes are meant to be high and snug and the sleeves should fit closely as well. You will want to make sure your shift is a mid to late 18th century style with close fitting sleeves to eliminate bulk.
  • The lower back section of the bodice is not meant to sit flat against the back, it needs to have some "space" if you will, to fit over the bum roll.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Playing Catch Up - What's been happening

I'm finally sitting down to write real blog post. I have so much to share! I had not really realized how busy things have been until this week when I actually found myself with some much needed down time.

Most of January was spent finishing up some long neglected projects in the UFO pile, and I'm pleased to report I've made it through about half of the pile. The items that are left will need to be reevaluated so I can reside what's really worth finishing and what can be reused for other projects or just tossed. I'm at the point where I really want to clean and organize the sewing room and the UFO pile is a great place to start.

Here's a look at what I've finished!

At the end of February I attended the Northeast Reenactors Fair and set up a booth for Emily's Vintage Visions along side Joani from A Timeless Collection. I had heard good things about the fair in the past but never had the change to go. This was a new experience for me as I've only done a handful of displays and vendor shows. Overall it was a successful weekend but I think I'll plan my set up a little differently next time. The Reenactors Fair was a great opportunity to meet and visit with people. One of the highlights was actually getting to do a live FB video at the end of Saturday with Joani, even if the video was sideways! Ooops!

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The first weekend of March was the GBVS's White Lightning Ball. Another fun event and one I look forward to each year. I was super excited (but also really nervous!) to debut the 1920s style head pieces I have been working on. They are made from vintage, and in some cases antique, trims and feathers in my stash. The two silver head pieces with the feather sold right away! I couldn't believe it!

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Over the last couple of weeks I picked up a sewing project I first started well over a year ago, a new 1770s gown!!! I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to dive head first back into historical sewing!! It's really my zen sewing, and yes, I'm doing all by hand. I'm using the Fashionable Gown pattern from Sign of the Golden Scissors. I've posted a few pictures on my Instagram account as well as on Facebook. There will be a proper blog post, or two, on the gown. So far I'v been good about taking construction pictures.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Your Bombshell Boudoir Shoot with A Timeless Collection

Have you heard about the Bombshell Boudoir Shoot with A Timeless Collection? I've posted about it on my FB page but figured I would share it hear as well. I know there has been a lot of interest so here goes!! I'm told there are only a few spots left so book yours today!

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These special photo sessions are open to EVERYONE! You don't have to be a reenactor or regular vintage wearer. The package is a great gift for someone you love or just something special for yourself. Joan is amazing to work with, will make you laugh and make sure you feel completely comfortable during your photo session. Have a look at the rest of the Bombshell Boudoir promotional photos here.

So, what does the package for the Bombshell Boudoir Shoot with A Timeless Collection include?
  • Your location of choice (you'll discuss this with Joan when you book your package)
  • Professional vintage styled hair and makeup done on location with hairdresser/makeup artist Whittney Chaplin
  • An outfit change if you want switch things up
  • Post processed images
  • Total package cost is $200
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Don't feel like you must pose in your undergarments. The Bombshell Boudoir Shoot can be any as intimate or relaxed as you we want it to be.

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Need some help with your outfit or looking for fun vintage accessories? Let me know! I'm working with Joan and Timeless to create a rental "dress up" box for special photo sessions. :) Timeless is also booking spring photo sessions for vintage couples and reenactors. These particular sessions are free, so don't miss out!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Union Station - Deployment December 1942

I am SOOOO excited to share these photos with all of you today! This photo shoot with Joan Jasset of A Timeless Collection had been in the works for literally months!!! Lots of planning, scouting locations and coordinating schedules with everyone involved but I think it all came together beautifully! I would love to hear your thoughts.

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The inspiration for this particular photo shoot came from at set of photos originally published in Life Magazine in 1943. They were taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt at the Pennsylvania Station in New York. One of Eisenstaedt's most famous photos is the VJ Day kiss in Times Square. You all know the one.

We wanted to recreate that same feeling, of soldiers and sailors leaving for war that Eisenstaedt captured in his now iconic photos. Union Station in Worcester, Mass was the perfect location. It had the right look and feel of the era we wanted and, for the most part, was a central location for all of us to meet up.

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Photos by Alfred Eisenstaedt at the Pennsylvania Station in New York 1943
Union Station c. 1920 - Photo from Wikipedia
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Photo from Wikipedia 
We had five couples participate in the shoot, including my husband and myself. Most, but not all of us, are couples in real life so it made for an interesting and very fun photo session. Some people had only met a few time before and one of our couple had never dressed up in vintage or participated in something like this before. We all came to the shoot with different backgrounds and ideas and it all came together beautifully!

We talked quiet a bit ahead of time about the feelings and emotions we wanted to show through in the final photos. What would it be like as a young couple or newly weds saying good-bye for the first time? How does the married couple react to yet another deployment? What happens with the husband and wife who are both in the service? What do friends and family say and feel during what might be your final moments with a loved one?

Although there were ten of us dressed up, the space we were working in was massive! Anyone passing through the train station at the time likely wondered what the heck we were doing because we spent a good chuck of time milling around so that close up shots of couples had that "busy station" ambiance in the background. I'm sure we looked rather silly at times to the outside eye. If you watched my Instagram story the day of the photo shoot you got to see a little of this.

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Joan took charge of the photo session but we were very fortunate to have two additional friends, Neal Howland and Thuy Pham taking some photos and video for us as well. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they create with their video footage.

I think these are my favorite couple photos from the session.

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The weather cooperated so we were able to take some photos outside! It was wonderful having a group of sailors, normally it's just Cori and myself. I chose to wear my WAVES uniform to put a twist on the married couple saying goodbye. One of the things Timeless is working on is building a story of individuals and couples as they "travel through time." In our very first photo session with Timeless Cori wore his Navy blues and I wore a 1940s suit. We looked at the Union Station photos as a continuation of "our story" during WWII.

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We couldn't resist to opportunity to take some fun photos as well.

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You can see the entire selection of photos from the Union Station - Deployment 1942 session on Facebook. I would love to hear your thoughts on these photos and if you have ideas for future photo shoots with A Timeless Collection. If you are in the New England area don't hesitate to contact Joan.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Northeast Reenactor's Fair

Hello everyone! I am very excited to announce that I will be attending the 2018 Northeast Reenactor's Fair later this month. The location of the event has changed. This year it will be held at the Eastern States Exposition in the Mallary Arena. They are expecting 40+ vendors offering good from a variety of time periods as well as guest speakers and workshops. 

"The Northeast Reenactors Fair was started in 2011 and has been growing ever since. The fair began as a way to bring historical vendors together with re-enactment groups. We hope that this event will allow more connections between vendors, re-enactment groups, museums, schools, and libraries. We try to include all time periods and to make it a welcoming environment for everyone.

The Northeast Reenactors Fair (formerly New England Reenactors Fair) would like to welcome you to our upcoming event on February 24th and 25th, 2018. It will be held in our new home, The Mallary Complex, Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA. With 40 + vendors lining up to represent timelines from WWII to as far back as you can imagine, this is sure to be a truly amazing event. Continuing with our great lecture series, this year’s Fair will have something for everyone!"

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For more information on the fair, including admission and driving directions, check out the main website. northeastreenactorsfair.wordpress.com

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

WAVES - Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (Blog Series)

Hello all, 
Wow, is it really February already? I'm OK with that because it means spring is just around the corner, and I'm ready for some warmer weather. One of the things I mentioned in my last post, one of the things all be working on in 2018 is sharing more information about the WAVES during WWII.
This is the first of several planned posts. To start, I thought I would give a brief overview of the WAVES and some basic facts. Later on I will have some more in-depth posts that discuss uniforms, various jobs, personal experiences of WAVES as well as what it is like to be a WAVES reenactor. I will be teaming up with my friend Sara from the Canteen Cowboy on some of these. I hope you will follow along!  

Recruiting poster for the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during world War II. Illustration by John Falter, 1943.
LCDR McAfee while director of the WAVES - Source
The WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) program was created in July 30, 1942 as the need for additional military personnel grew during World War II. The WAVES were an all-woman division of the U.S. Navy with its members holding the same rank and ratings as male personnel. WAVES also received equal pay and were subject to the same military discipline as male personnel. 

The Women's Reserve of the Coast Guard (SPARS) was created on Nov. 23, 1942 "to expedite the war effort by providing for releasing officers and men for duty at sea and their replacement by women in the shore establishment of the Coast Guard". The first 153 enlisted SPARs and 15 SPAR officers were former WAVES who agreed to be discharged from the Navy and join the Coast Guard.

WAVES and SPARS duties were restricted to the continental U.S. until late in 1944, when overseas service was finally authorized for the WAVES. Even then the WAVES were restricted to the U.S. territories of Alaska and Hawaii. While many WAVES filled traditionally female secretarial and clerical jobs, thousands more served pushed the gender barrier and took on duties in the aviation community, Judge Advocate General Corps, medical professions, communications, intelligence, science and technology.  Aviation Machinist's Mates, Aviation Metalsmiths, Control Tower Operators, Aerographer's Mates, Link Trainer Instructors, and Parachute Riggers are just a few of the duties performed by WAVES during the war.

At the end of World War II, there were over 8,000 female officers and as many as 80,000 enlisted WAVES, equaling roughly 2-1/2 percent of the Navy's total strength.

Fast Facts
  •  In August 1942, Mildred McAfee, was sworn in as a Naval Reserve Lt. Commander, becoming the first woman commissioned as an officer of the U.S. Navy. 
  • Within the first year, over 27,000 women joined the WAVES. 
  • The notable New York fashion house, Mainbocher, designed the WAVES uniforms. The design services were secured through the efforts of Mrs. James V. Forrestal, wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. 
  • By mid-1944, the WAVES began accepting African-American women. Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Wills became the Navy's first, and only, African-American WAVES officers in December 1944. Approximately one in every 36 women who enlisted and trained for the WAVES was an African-American. 
  • As many as a third of all WAVES were assigned to naval aviation. These women fixed aircraft, packed parachutes, provided weather information, served as link trainer instructors, gunnery instructors, coordinated air traffic from control towers and a performed host of other aviation-related jobs. 
  • By 1945, enlisted women could choose from a total of 38 different ratings in the Navy. Almost every shore establishment had WAVES on active duty fulfilling necessary military work of every kind, from general office workers and supply accounts specialists to film projectionists and drivers to dental prosthetic technicians. At the Navy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., over half of all service personnel were WAVES. Approximately 70 percent of the Bureau of Naval Personnel was composed of WAVES. Large numbers of WAVES were assigned to the Hospital Corps where they participated in Navy recovery, therapy and rehabilitation programs. 
  • By the end of World War II, the WAVES consisted of 8,000 female officers and close to 80,000 enlisted women.
  •  By September of 1946, the majority of WAVES were either discharged or released to inactive duty. 
  • Despite their involvement in World War II and post-war, the organization was disbanded in 1948 when the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was passed.  This new law permitted women permanent status within the armed forces.  Despite this change, the acronym WAVES continued to be used for almost 30 more years.    
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