Monday, July 20, 2015

Gettysburg National Base Ball Festival and the Base Ball Dress

Last weekend was the Gettysburg National Base Ball Festival. Sixteen teams from Tennessee to Maine playing various versions of 19th Century base ball. I had planned to attend this event for about a month and a half with a new sheer dress. A friend draped a bodice block for me so I waited for the pattern to arrive before starting, not a smart choice. I should have at least started the skirt. As it was I started it with only a couple of weeks lead time. Should have been enough but...

I had the fabric already and thought I found my inspiration; see my previous post. However, that was not the case. I found another dress I really wanted to make.

It was perfect for the event. I didn't have fabric for the lower sleeves so I took a weekend and went to Gettysburg and Needle and Thread. I found a sheer cotton and thought it would be perfect. But when I put it together it just was not sheer enough. So I then changed gears and decided on open sleeves with under sleeves, not pagoda, just open. I used this dress from K. Krewer's collection as my inspiration for the trim.

I spent a week of the midnight oil working on this dress. The trim is on, but the the bodice didn't fit. Readjusted, still didn't fit. I finally had to give up on it and ended up wearing an older dress sheer. It was too big but was able to move the eyes over to do for the day.

And since I moved over the waist closure the front overlapped and I didn't need the scarf in the front. Of course I have no photos of me from the base ball festival.

The original dress will get done eventually. I will just need to sit on it for a bit and let the frustration fade away :).

Enough dress drama, on to the base ball! The Base Ball Festival is in it's 6th year and this civilian spectator picnic scenario was organized by Elaine Kessinger of the Atlantic Guard Soldiers Aid Society. I arrived early with the rain. I was instantly glad I was not wearing a new dress as it was wet and muddy. Other members of AGSAS arrived with a fly and we had a great little civilian interpretation.

Lunch was cucumber salad and a chicken salad made from an 1854 recipe.

The games were great fun and I think the teams really appreciated our period appearance. Despite the rain and the heat we had a great time. The fields are in a beautiful location, a bit out of town with green hills and barns surrounding. It was a very entertaining day and I was very happy to finally get out to an event again and visit with friends.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Chester County Choral Society and 150th

The Sunday after Hopewell I attended the Chester County Choral Society's Civil War 150th Anniversary of Retrospective concert. The event featured Beck's Philadelphia Brigade Band.

The band and Choral alternated and only played together for one piece. They played Northern and Southern pieces.

I really enjoyed the concert; they did play a few modern pieces. It was strange to hear Follow the Drinking Gourd sung in traditional choral style. There was also a piece with the Gettysburg Address set to music.

They ended with a strong rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic with band accompanying. I heard about this concert by chance and I'm glad I did. 

After the Storm 1865: Hopewell Furnace

So the 150th cycle is basically over. I commemorated the event at Hopewell Furnace and the After the Storm: 1865 event.

A wonderful woman, Jessica Craig, organizes this event every year. It is held at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site outside Elverson, Pa. I look forward to this event. Even when I was in Texas, I traveled to this event. It is so much fun and everyone does their best to maintain first person. Although overnight housing is available for the event, I decided to only day trip on Saturday due to pre-moving chaos.

Because of the immersion style of this event I was only able to get limited photos; however,  Jessica served as the official event photographer and took many wonderful photos from the event. You can find them and those taken by others on Jessica's Facebook page here and here.

My back story was as a Unionist Texan who had left Texas at the beginning of the war due to my and my husband's Unionist leanings. With the end of the war my husband returned to Texas to see to our property and removed to the country, stopping in Hopewell to visit friends. Jessica assigns goals to participants to encourage interaction. My goal was to discuss living in Texas and to convince others to relocate to Texas.

I reached the site about 9:30 and found the village just finishing up breakfast. The cooks were clearing up and the men preparing firewood.

The day was full of activities. Mrs. Kessler, Mr. & Mrs. Groff and I visited on the porch of the iron master's house for a bit on the porch.

While visiting, Mrs Kessler invited me to a lunch she organized at the boarding house, set up by her maid of all work, Maggie. The food was delicious! Apple sauce, goulash of sorts, sweets...yum...

During the lunch and after the men left, the ladies gossiped. This was really a lot of fun. We stayed in first person and it was period gossip. It was really a great experience and I applaud the ladies for their commitment to first person. We discussed Mrs. Groff's likeness to an unseemly photo her husband was in possession of. We questioned how the contraband woman who was in the village this time last year has returned and as the proprietress of an ice cream shop in Philadelphia. Not sure how well she will do as she had a flavor called Squeal and Moo...bacon flavored ice cream? We shall see. 

After lunch we had a chance to try our hand at archery. I epically failed :)

There were several kids at the event this year, from little babies to 'tweens. They ran around all day and wore themselves out.

Many of the structures were draped in bunting and pictures of Lincoln were in windows. Later in the afternoon we attended a memorial service for Abraham Lincoln. Even though we were in May, the service followed the order of Lincoln's actual funeral.

Since few if any of us knew the tunes of the hymns, they were read rather than sang. Before the service, Mrs. Kessler passed out memorial cards.

When the service was over, we took a group photo. The photographer is J.R. Pfeiffer from Gettysburg.

He had taken appointments for individual photos but I didn't make one in time. But...after the group photo he was taking walk ups as the sun allowed. I was lucky enough to get in. I don't yet have the image as I was not going to be there on Sunday to pick it up but here is a modern view of the pose.

I wanted to imitate the fashion plate the photo came from.

Guess I didn't remember quite how the fashion plate was posed :) But the photo turned out so well!! I will post the image when I receive it.

Dinner was served shortly after this and again was wonderful! Chicken curry, pork, peas, macaroni, yum again. After dinner we gathered around the campfire and played a game of Questions and Answers. Some very funny situations occurred.

Once it became to dark to read the cards I took my leave.

Another great Hopewell furnace. We made at least one newspaper. Really looking forward to next year!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Corset Worshop

I have needed a new corset for some time. The corset was produced in one of Carolann Schmitt's workshops several years ago; the first of her workshops I attended. I have been waiting for a time I could attend again. On April 24-26 I finally got the opportunity. The workshop starts on Friday evening with historical information, measurements and cutting out of the pattern. Unfortunately I had to work all day and wasn't able to make it to Gettysburg until later in the evening. I did manage to get my measurements, pattern cut out, and partly sewn together.

Workshop picked up first thing Saturday morning. We put the first layer of pieces together to size it. Once sized we mark the new sewing lines and cut the corrected pieces for the next layer.

In between the sewing we were able to examine some of Carolann's originals. More pictures of the originals can be found on my Flicker album.


As a side note, Carolann is putting on a workshop on making this mantle in June. Visit her website for registration information.

Once we got all the pieces cut we started construction of the corset.

Carolann fitted it for me and then laced it up.

And the finished product. Well...almost...I finished the bottom edging, tension hook, top hook and drawstring at home.

I really enjoy Carolann's classes. She is a great instructor, patient and very knowledgeable on the subjects. 

Symposium Sunday

Sunday was the last day of the Symposium. Sunday is only a half day but we had two presentations. The first was Arlington House: The Last Battle of the Civil War by Ron Beavers. Very interesting history on the house. Then we heard from Nicki Hughes and The Humors of the Day: What Made our Ancestors Laugh. Entertaining talk and very corny jokes. No photos from Sunday. After the conference, I took Lisa to Gettysburg and we explored the Visitor's Center, the battlefield and finished with an early dinner at the Dobbin House.

The Symposium is such a great resource for those interested in Civil War era material culture. It really should be on the must do list for serious scholars of the period.

Next year the Symposium will be held on March 10-13, 2016. Keep an eye out on the website for information on next year. Plan to attend!

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!