Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New Blog Location

I have been thinking of moving my blog to my website for some time. Now seems to be the time. All previous posts will remain here; however, posts after Civilian Symposium part 2 can be found on my website at www.txcwcivilian.org on the home page.

I hope my followers will continue to enjoy my blog at the new location.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Civilian Symposium part 2

The 2016 Symposium offered so many different presentations; physics is not our friend at this event as we cannot be in two places at once. The Welcome Reception and Social is always fun to see the different wrappers and smoking jackets.

 There was also entertainment with singing and music:



The first presentation of the Symposium was Friday night "Frozen Assets: The Ice Industry and Ice Harvesting in 19th Century America". It was very interesting; a topic I had never given much thought to. In fact I was just reading a diary that mentioned how much ice they had in storage so I'm glad I was able to hear this particular topic.

Of course the marketplace was open and the first set of originals were up. Unfortunately my photos of the originals got mixed up with other photos and I can't distinguish which were from 2016. It will take some time to sort them all out; I apologize as I know the originals are what many of you enjoy seeing.

Saturday is conference fabric day. I posted my dress previously. Since I was on stage I did not get any pictures of any of the others as a group.

The first presentation was K. Krewer's "For the Fashion of this World Passeth Away: Identifying Changes in Mid-Victorian Clothing Styles for Women". As always, K's presentation was fantastic and included wonderful handouts and a CD of images. Next was new speaker Sally Ryan and "Readin’, Ritin’, Rithmetic, Reality: Education in Mid-19th Century America". Another topic I knew little about and Sally did a great job with her presentation. The morning finished out with “Lace is Always Handsome and Fashionable” presented by Beth Chamberlin. Beth is extremely knowledgeable on lace of the time and gave a great presentation on it's production and uses.

My presentation came after lunch. As I said before, I was not pleased with it as I ran out of time. I had timed it before hand, so it was a disappointment to me and the audience. Carolann finished up the afternoon with "Fashion Meets Technology: Skirt Supporting Petticoats", which addressed the evolution and manufacturing of hoop skirts.

Saturday night included dinner and a ball. I always enjoy these events and listening to the music. Smash the Windows was the band and they are always a pleasure to hear.

As happens occasionally at the conference, Daylight Savings Time started over the weekend, so up early for breakfast the Sunday presentations. The first presentation of the was "You Can Do It! Developing a Toolbox for Planning Civilian Immersion Events" presented by Jessica Craig and Betsy Connolly. This was such an informative presentation and well done. Although I have not been able to attend any of Betsy's events I have been to a few of Jessica's events and can vouch for the fact that she really knows this subject matter.

To finish out the event Kelly Dorman presented "So Much More Than a Research Tool: Taking a Closer Look at Cartes d’Visite". Kelly discussed the CDV as a cultural artifact rather than just a research tool. Sadly, Kelly passed away from cancer not too long after the conference. I'm grateful to have been able to know her and learn from her one last time.

I heard that the other track of presentations included wonderful presentations as well. "The Animal that Forged America: The Indestructible Mule" by Vince Hawley DVM was apparently quite entertaining and I wish I could have hear it! Nicky Hughes, as always, was very popular speaking on "The Other Side of Temperance: The Manufacture, Sale & Consumption of Whiskey in Mid-19th Century America". It probably didn't hurt that samples were part of the presentation!

So ended the Civilian Symposium as we know it. I so wish I was able to attend each presentation and all the workshops! The end of conference is always emotional for me, especially when I lived so far away. Even now, living so much closer, it is still sad to have to end the weekend. I so much enjoy the comradery of like minded people and learning about the 19th Century. So...on to 2018! I can't wait to see what Carolann has in mind!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Civilian Symposium 2016

Yes, it has been quite awhile since I have posted and I apologize for that. Real life got in the way including a new job and moving to a new state...again. I have a lot of catching up to do so please be patient. I'm sure I will forget something, but I'll cover the big stuff for sure. So to start: The Civilian Symposium 2016.

The 22nd Civilian Symposium was held in Camp Hill Pennsylvania in March. As always, it was a wonderful experience full of great workshops, lectures and originals. I was privileged to speak this year. My topic was "To the Madhouse: Female Incarceration in 19th Century Lunatic Asylums". It was very well attended. I was not happy with the presentation as I went over time and did not get to cover some of the topics I wanted to. One of the perks of speaking at the symposium is getting a dress length of fabric from which to make a dress.

Here is my inspiration:

 I attended the Fur Cuffs and Seeded Bracelet workshops.

This was really fun. Working with the fur can be a challenge though. I have not yet finished my cuffs with everything else going on but I plan to.


This was another fun workshop. I had done beading like this before when I was in Camp Fire Girls; I always enjoyed it so it was nice to know that it was a period skill.

2016 was the last Civilian Symposium as we know it and the last at the Camp Hill location. A symposium will not occur in 2017; however, a rebirth will occur in 2018. I have enjoyed my attendance at the symposium over the last 10 years or so but I am very excited about what is in store in 2018!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fold Over Shawl

This past weekend I attend another Genteel Arts workshop. This time was a fold over shawl. I drove out to Gettysburg after work on Friday and made it to Needle and Thread in time to pick out my fabric. It was a difficult choice; they had a lot of wools. Thank goodness because I could not find any wools in my area. I decided on these

The gold is really darker than what appears in the photo.

The shawl is comprised of a central square of a solid, which is trimmed with a print. The print is applied with two sides right side out and two sides wrong side out so when it is folded over the right side of the trim shows on both layers of the shawl.

The print is then trimmed with a band of solid, which is fringed.

Here are a couple of photos of my completed shawl, except for the fringe, and another from the class.

I really enjoy these workshops--spending the weekend learning, sewing and enjoying the company of other like minded people!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Remembrance Day 2015

Every year around November 19th, Gettysburg celebrates Remembrance Day. Abraham Lincoln dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863 with the Gettysburg Address; this date is technically called Dedication Day and the Gettysburg Address is read on that day. The Saturday of that week is Remembrance Day to honor the soldiers who died during the Civil War; this has occurred since 1863. The modern celebration weekend includes a parade, vendors and several balls.

This year I stayed in Gettysburg for the whole weekend at the Brick House Inn on Baltimore Street, right on the parade route. The Brick House consists of two houses actually. One built in the 1890s and another built in the 1830s and was there during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Civil War House

Our room was in the Civil War house; unfortunately, the inside of the house has been completely redone for bedrooms so very little of the original interior still exists. But our room was really nice and looked out over Baltimore St.

My husband came out for the event so this was nice for the two of us. He flew into BWI, so we didn't get to Gettysburg until around 4:00. He had never been to Gettysburg so I tried to introduce him to the various things I like about the town; the Inn was a good start. By the time we got checked in and settled in we were both starving. Getting into any of the main dining rooms was impossible at this late stage but we walked down to the Dobbin House and ate in the tavern.

We originally had not made any plans for Friday night; however, before the weekend I was able to get tickets for Joy Melcher's Remembrance Day Ball on Friday night. My husband only dresses out for the balls. This ball is held at the Eisenhower Hotel a bit out of town in a modern ballroom. The band was Beck's Philadelphia Brigade Band. It was the same band that played with the Chester County Choral Society at their CW 150th event. The only problem I find with Joy's balls is the way the dance master calls the dances. We are shown the dance, we are walked through the dance and then finally we get to dance; the majority of the time is getting to the dance rather than dancing.

Saturday was a  beautiful day. A bit chilly but not bone chilly cold as other years.I wore my very first conference dress and the paletot I bought from a friend and was plenty warm enough.

The breakfast at the Inn is amazing. It includes a dessert as well. Once breakfast was over we headed out to see the town and of course shop. My husband bought me some wonderful earrings.

As usual there were Confederate musicians playing on the square. These guys are really good.


We headed back to the Inn to secure seats on the porch for the parade. Along the way we met friends and invited them to join us at the Inn along with others also staying at the Brick House.

The Inn is a wonderful vantage point to watch the parade.

Additional parade photos can be seen here.

After the parade some of the us took a "pretty on the porch" photo.

Saturday night we attended the Remembrance Day Ball at the Lutheran Seminary Refectory.

This ball is hosted by Gettysburg Civil War Dance, Norma Calhoun and Wayne Belt. The proceeds from this ball go to the Land Conservancy of Adams County. This ball is smaller than most during the weekend; however, I really enjoyed this one. Period dress is not required. Smash the Windows played and was wonderful.The caller could be a bit gruff and a bit of a perfectionist. He walked us through some of the dances, but only once and then it was danced. There were several there who knew the dances and that really helped keep things going. They host dances in Fairfield on a regular basis to teach period dancing.

We finished our weekend in Gettysburg with lunch at Garryowen's, a visit to Needle and Thread (of course), the Visitor's Center, and a special drive through the battlefield with Don and Carolann Schmitt. We had a great weekend and were sorry to see it end.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Braid Work

My next Genteel Arts workshop was held in Hamden, Connecticut. I have a good friend that lives in Hamden so it was a must attend. This was a great class! Learned several techniques I wasn't familiar with.

Carolann started with a lecture with images of various uses of braid work as well as a display of originals. The following are all from the collection of Carolann Schmitt.

Carolann provided us with a kit that included all the threads, fabric, and paper we would need. Our handouts included braiding patterns. Also included with the kit were these really cool FriXion pens from Pilot. They erase with heat so can be used on most fabrics and the lines disappear when ironed.

The first project we worked on was braid work appropriate for cuffs and collars. We traced a pattern onto lightweight fabric using the FriXion pens.

We then filled the pattern using our sewing machines and different weights of thread.

When completed we ironed over the design to erase the tracing marks.

I really like the way this turns out. The little curly ques can prove to be a challenge, but I think with practice and a bit more patience I could do an acceptable job of this. 

The next project was a small pillow top or pin cushion. The tracing technique was using chalk and paper piercing.

After pricking the paper, it needs to be smoothed on the back side.

The pattern is then laid on the fabric and chalk powder is used to mark the pattern. Be sure to test any chalk you use to ensure it will brush away completely. We used cotton balls to gently brush the chalk over the design so it will transfer through the perforation onto the fabric. 

The rest of the work is done by hand. The pattern is filled in with cording sewn down with evenly spaced stitched. My thread broke during this part so my design is a bit cock-eyed.

Contrasting cording can be woven through the first cording to enhance the design.

The next process was using stitch and tear. We traced our pattern onto tracing paper and then pricked it as above. Rather than using chalk to make the pattern we sewed the paper directly on the fabric. This can be done by machine or by hand as in the project above. I chose to sew the cording down by hand.

We worked a little with satouche braiding as well.

And we learned to make twisted cording; unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of that.

This was a wonderful workshop! I learned so many new techniques, as embellishment was not a strong point for me. I hope to use some of these newly learned skills soon.