Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fancy Dress Party

What you all have been waiting for!!

My roomie, Lisa, came as a Tudor lady.

This was so much fun and so many great costumes from fictional characters, historical persons, allegorical, lots of 18th century. Here are a few pictures but more can be seen in my Flicker albums.

Yes that is a reproduction of the historical photo we have see of "Photography". She did a great job!

After the costume parade Mike Mescher put out period games. Our table tried Jack Straws. 

Such a great time. There was no needlework competition this year; instead the costumes were the competition. There were several winners of various categories and I won one! The Saturday night entertainment after dinner is always fun.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Symposium Saturday

Yes, I am dragging butt getting these posted...real life just takes up so much of my time.

Saturday. This is the first full day of presentations of the symposium and starts early. Breakfast Saturday and Sunday is included in the symposium fee. Saturday breakfast is the first time we get to see the faculty's dress and vests.

The first order of the day is basic housekeeping issues and then presentation of the symposium fabrics.

This is a long standing tradition with the event. Presenters are sent a length of the same fabric and asked to make a garment from it. It is always fun to see the different interpretations of the fabric. It is unknown how much longer this wonderful part of the symposium may continue as Carolann is finding it more difficult to find appropriate fabrics in the yardage quantities she needs.

After the fabric presentation and before the next sessions begin we get a break to go shopping and view the originals on display. Again, rather than posting all the originals here you can visit my Flicker page and see the pictures I took.

The presentations are on two separate tracks--one more female oriented and one more male. Thank goodness the workbook has the handouts for all the presentations as there were several on the "other" track that I was interested in. 

The first presentation for me was Wrappers Redux and a Second Helping of Sheers by K. Krewer. I love K's presentations; she puts so much research into her talk and she is a great speaker. Her handouts are wonderful and full of illustrations. K examined wrappers and sheer dresses in great detail during the presentation.

The next presentation was Following the Drum: Regular Army Officers' Wives 1840-1870 by Kimberlee Bruce. Kimberlee was a new participant at the symposium and it was nice to hear more on army wives experiences; it's not something that is usually portrayed accurately at events. 

Before lunch we heard from Colleen Formby Little Things Mean a Lot; a discussion on the little things that can make such a difference in a woman's dress such as buttons, garters, collars and cuffs. Colleen is a reference librarian and her handouts are full of great references.

After lunch we heard Cheyney McKnight's presentation In Their Lap: African American Slave Medicine. Cheyney was also a first timer at the symposium. She gave such a great presentation! Wonderful presenter and it was great to hear a topic addressing African American lives at the time. Cheyney discussed the health issues of slaves and how they were treated by the enslaved healers and white doctors on southern plantations.

The final presentation of the day was An Extreme Curiosity: Solo Women Travelers in the Mid-Nineteenth Century by Carolann Schmitt. Besides being a lovely and gracious woman, Carolann is a great presenter and researcher. Her topics are always well researched and presented with enthusiasm and peppered with great illustrations. This presentation focused on the mid-19th century solo travels of two women, Ida Laura Pfeiffer and Isabella Lucy Bird. These women didn't just travel to different cities or states, they traveled internationally at a time when few women traveled very far from home alone. I can't wait to read up on these ladies myself.

This was the end of the presentations for the day. We were now at our leisure to visit the exhibits, the marketplace and then get ready for the Fancy Dress party!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Symposium Friday

Friday we had a heck of a snow storm. Stormed all day. Many had to scrap their plans for off site visits. My first workshop was a bonnet frame workshop with Maggie Koenig. She provided us with patterns and instructions on how to size the frame for ourselves.

Rather than construct a full size frame, we worked on mini versions for practice. We blocked the back and bound the brim edges. I really enjoyed this session. It helped me really understand how to put my own frames together.

The workshop lasted until lunch.

 In the afternoon I attended Carolann's talk on mid 19th century fabrics. This presentation covered the patterns, colors and production of fabrics in the mid 19th century. These sessions are always helpful when trying to decide if a contemporary fabric is "close enough". Unfortunately, so many of the great fabric patterns are not produced any longer or are produced on a different fabric. Carolann's sessions are always a great resource.

There were several other wonderful workshops Friday and I wish I could be in more than one place at a time: mourning cockades, woven buttons, eyeglass many to choose from.

Between sessions and lunch I went shopping. The Market Place always has a great selection of vendors. One of the items that I have been coveting for a few years now are the shawls. This year I finally splurged and bought one.

I also bought a vulcanized belt buckle. Sorry the picture is sideways.

I was very happy with the purchase, especially after the first presentation of the evening on rubber and pre-plastics in the mid 19th century by Michael Woshner. The presentation was great; there were several items from his and Carolann Schmitt's collections of rubber and pre-plastic items. 
Of course the major highlight of the Symposium is the original displays. Rather than post all the pictures here, please visit my Flicker page that includes albums of all the different collections on display. However, there is one I must post here. I have adored this dress for years; even purchased fabric to reproduce it but never did for one reason or another. The dress belongs to K. Krewer and she brought it this year for display. I'm sure many of you will recognize it. 

I just love this dress!

One of the wonderful experiences this year was to be able to help Janine Whiteman change out her display of originals. She and Philip have an amazing collection of items and I was privileged to help her with the dresses. She has a couple of dresses in which the sleeves were lined with flour sacks.

So ended Friday.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Better Late Than Never: 2015 Symposium Post 1

Yes, I am finally posting about the Civilian Symposium (previously known as the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference)  held March  5-6, 2015. I apologize for the delay in posting my AAR; however, I came home with the flu and am just now getting over it.

I drove over to Camp Hill on Wednesday night. I had arranged to room with Lisa Jackson from England. She arrived later into Harrisburg on Wednesday night so I picked her up at the airport. While we were waiting for her luggage we ran into Heide Presse who was also attending the Symposium. We had a car full on the way back to Camp Hill.

The weather was expected to be nasty on Thursday and we were not disappointed. Several inches of snow fell all day Thursday.

This kind of wrecked havoc with the off site tours scheduled for that day as travel was a bit hazardous. I only had one workshop planned for Thursday so had a very nice leisurely morning sleeping in and ordering room service. 

My first workshop was a fichu workshop with Carolann Schmitt. She shared many of her originals as well as presented information about the development of the accessory. Carolann had "kits" available that included lace and trimmings and she provided the pattern for a simple fichu.

I don't have progress pictures as I started out putting the lace on the wrong side so had to take it all off and start over. But I did finish it recently. At the marketplace I found some cotton velvet trimming at the Needle and Thread booth to accent the trim from Carolann. I really enjoyed making this. It is simple handwork that can be picked up and put down and picked up again. It was relatively simple, although there are some obvious corrections on my part needed next time. If you have a chance consider attending this workshop; Carolann is having another in November in Gettysburg. Visit her website for the exact information. More pictures from the fichu workshop can be found here.

Thursday night is traditionally the wrapper and smoking jacket party. There were several wonderful pieces this year. I didn't even start my new one and forgot my old one so I was only an observer this year.

The evening would not be complete without entertainment; this year we watched Carol Burnet's Gone With the Wind parody and Things Museum People Say; you should be able to find both of these on YouTube if you are interested in them. Additional pictures from the party can be found here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fancy Dress Skirt

The skirt is done. I chose to make the front and back of the skirt a yellow, fake taffeta. The side panels match the jacket to imitate real matador suits of lights.

A note for future projects: spring for the good fabric, not the fake stuff. It was such a chore to sew; my needle barely went through the fabric.

The waist sash is also done and is red. On to the cape, which will be the yellow taffeta with red lining from which the sash was made. No more pictures until after the conference.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


The Chaquitilla is the matador's jacket. Keep in mind as you go through this and the related posts that the point of the fancy dress was to develop an impression of the intended subject not to necessarily replicate it. Also, I am using non-period fabrics as stated in previous posts.

I used a brocade fabric that would mimic the designs on an actual jacket. I did not want to stitch on all the necessary trim so only added trim to add dimension. I used the bodice pattern from my last project and kept the basic period traits such as the dropped shoulder and the shoulder seam toward the back. Since this is a period fancy dress party I made the assumption that these traits would have been incorporated into any costume made at the time.

The sleeves were another issue. I picked from my patterns one I thought was from regular coat sleeves and ended up with shorter sleeves. So, ok, just an impression, right? I think with undersleeves it should be fine. I decided on coat sleeves to keep the period traits.

I then added the shoulder shields. I am going to change the tassels, removing one and placing the other to dangle from the center of the shield to be more in line with an actual jacket.

On to the skirt next. I plan to make a period pleated skirt with solid panels in the front and back and panels of the brocade fabric on the sides to represent the matador's pants. The skirt will only reach to the bottom of my hoop.

Monday, January 19, 2015


I started working on the fancy dress with the matador hat, called a montera. I stated before I am not using period correct fabric as this is a costume and will probably not be worn more than a couple of times.

Here is a picture of an original montera. Mine does not look quite so good; more like a smoking cap with bulbs attached to the ends.

I started with a buckram band covered in black fabric.

I then added the top. It is a bit bigger than the top on the original and I did not decorate it as other originals have been. The top was based with buckram as well.

I then added the bulbs. These are supposed to represent the bull's ears. I stuffed these with fiber fill.

It's not perfect by any definition, but it gives the impression of a montera and the impression is really what is important for this rather than an accurate, exact copy.