Sunday, March 29, 2009

Silk is in

My silk arrived and I love it!! It is so soft, has a wonderful hand and it is a lovely color. Waiting for my new corset is going to be hard now that the fabric has arrived :(.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Texas Books

Today I attended the Texas State Historical Association annual meeting and purchased three books on Texas during the Civil War--1 diary, one collection of letters and one collection of essays, which includes one by Vicki Betts.

When Will the Weary War Be Over? The Civil War Letters of the Maverick Family of San Antonio. The book is published by the Texas Book Club and I cannot find it online.
I'm really looking forward to reading all of these.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ballgown Fabric on the way

If you have shopped through Fashion Fabrics Club at all you know that sometimes your order doesn't get filled as they sell out so quickly of their good deals. Well I'm one of the lucky ones this time; I received an email that the butter yellow silk faile I ordered (see previous post) has been shipped!! Whoo hoo! I was really sweating this one.

When I called yesterday to check the person on the phone said that the computer was telling her "yes" for my order put coming up also "sold out" and she couldn't tell me for sure that my order would be filled. So this sent me on a search of a possible alternative, but all's well that ends well.

I ordered enough of the fabric for the ball gown as well as a bonnet; I think it will make a stunning drawn bonnet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fabric change

Yes, I'm wishy-washy...sometimes...but I couldn't pass this up. A friend found this 100% silk faile at only $2.45 a yard! Had to take it--$35.00 vs. almost $200? Yeah, had to get it.

I think it will be lovely. Still subdued and with the white lace it should be lovely. It was also suggested to use some black accents.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ball gown take 2

Edit: can do pictures and links from work, apparently it's my computer :(

Since there will be a ball at the Harrisburg Conference next year, I get another opportunity to make a new ball gown. I am looking at an antique silver silk taffeta at Renaissance Fabrics.

The dress is the first one I had wanted back in November.

I won't start the dress until after June when I have my new, properly fitted corset from Carolann Schmitt's workshop.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Second housewife

Edit: It's working and I found the other original picture.
I've had this one done for awhile, but just never got around to taking pictures.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Harrisburg fourth and final day

Sunday is a short day for the conference. We started with a wonderful presentation on springs in Virginia. Colleen Formby showed examples of attire, activities, and then and now photos. It was very nice. Then Virginia Mescher discussed the color issues with period photography; always an eye opener. And the last of the original displays.

Nancy and I made our rounds to say goodbye to our friends and boarded the shuttle to take us back to the Harrisburg train station. The train ride to Phillidelphia was nice; saw a few Amish at the station as well as in the fields as we rode the train. The flight back to Houston was full but we were lucky enough to have the seat between us empty so we spread out. The same happened back to Austin.

I really love attending this conference. I will be presenting next year on Texas during the Civil War. We're not sure yet the exact direction, but it will be about Texas at that time. Even my husband is eager to attend next year with the ball.

Nancy and I are going back in June to take Carolann's corset fitting class. I really want to look neat and tidy as a presenter and the corsets I do myself never work or look quite right.

So now on to research, writing the presentation, sewing new undergarments, a new ball gown, and in there somewhere hosting the Grange. Busy year, but I love it. Living history is my passion.

Harrisburg day 3

Saturday at the conference always starts with a presentation of the speakers new clothes. Carolann Schmitt provides each female presenter with a dress length of the same fabric and the men with fabric for a vest. Each presenter then creates a garment. This year's fabric was a stunning shear cotton and there were so many beautiful dresses. The men's vest fabric was a wonderful gold and it looked stunning with the dark frock coats.

The conference is divided into two tracks; one with more of a female interest and one with a more male interest. I attended the women's track so, unfortunately, I can't report on the men's tack. It sounded like such great sessions though. The Household in the 1860s covered topics such as architecture, systems & processes, and the rooms of the house. Nineteenth Century Money and Banking covered, well, money and banking. There was a session on selecting fabrics for men's clothing, and another on the rural architecture, landscape and technologies of the 1860s. I wish I could have been in two places at the same time!

The first session I attended was on the bloomer outfit. K. Krewer presented an entertaining history of the development of the suit and the women most often associated with it. Next Susan Hughes talked on the infamous slave code quilts. This was an extremely interesting talk, pretty much debunking the whole thing, but Susan also spoke on the attitude of the time toward slavery. After lunch Stacy Hampton spoke on hair combs of the 19th century and the Carolann Schmitt presented examples of different sheer accessories. So now of course I need a sheer something to wear :). Photos of the sessions and other things can be found here.

I visited the market place and bought a beautiful reproduction mourning broach, new undersleeve fabric and some bee's wax for sewing. Also spent most of the breaks looking at the originals on display.

Saturday evening everyone is invited to dress in their finest period wear for dinner. Also at this time the winners of the needlework competition are announced and door prizes are given. This year after dinner Michael Mescher had period games out for everyone to play. Carolann announced that next year, in celebration of the Schmitt's 10th year as hosts of the conference, there will be a ball on Saturday night. So I finally get to make the new ball gown!!

I didn't stay too long after dinner as Nancy and I had stayed up way too late the last few nights.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Harrisburg conference day 2

First full day of the conference for me. It began with a workshop entitled "I've Got a Secret". K. Krewer offers pieces of her collection that have something different about them and the participants get to photograph the originals, touch them, measure them, move them around if necessary. Many of the pieces were found to have been altered for a later style, a dress turned to a wrapper, pieces added, etc. I really enjoy this workshop as we get up close to the pieces and can move them around to get photos of the areas that most interest us.

Pictures of the originals.

In the afternoon we attended Carolann Schmitt's presentation "The Artifice of Dressing Well: Selecting Styles That Flatter You and Your Figure." During this presenation, Carolann provided examples of how to accentuate or de-accentuate features such as placement of trim, size of sleeve, necklines, etc. She used period CDVs to illustrate her points. She also spoke on the importance of a well fitting corset to achieve the period look. It was really interesting and I now have tons of ideas I need to put into action.

The conference officially began Friday night. The first presentation was on Phrenology or the reading of the skull. Tom Kelleher of Old Sturbridge Village and ALHFAM member presented the talk. He began in first person as a actual phrenologist of the time. He also read a participant, which was quite funny. He then let off the first person and talked on the history of phrenology.

The second session was "The Influence of Popular Music on Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee" by Douglas Jimerson. Mr. Jimerson has a wonderful voice and has many CDs out, period and modern. They can be found on Amazon and itunes. Mr. Jimerson spoke on and sang some the music Lincoln and Lee would have been familar with. It was a great performance.

Also, the first round of originals were out on display.


Ladies & Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference day 1

What a wonderful weekend. I'm going to divide my blog of this trip into parts as there was so much going on. We decided on this trip to fly into Phillidelphia and take the train to Harrisburg.
All the pictures from day one can be found at the link at the end of this entry.

The flight from Austin to Houston was uneventful. At Houston I met Nancy and we headed out in search of See's Candy and breakfast. Made it back just in time to catch our flight; that set the tone for the day. The flight was full and ran a bit late. Our ground transportation was timed to the minute so the late arrival caused a bit of a rush. We ran to the SEPTA train, the regional that runs from the airport to the main train station in Philly. Just caught that one. Arrived at the AmTrack station just in time to catch our train to Harrisburg; now we could relax. The train ride was so nice; stopping at some of the little towns, the different landscape and architecture. I managed to get just a couple of pictures from the train.

The shuttle arrived to take us to the hotel in Camp Hill, just across the river. There was a little snow left on the ground, but not much and it was just comfortable with a sweater on. Kind of a disappointment as we were hoping to experience winter coming from almost 90 degrees in Texas. We checked in and managed to get a downstairs room, but not one of the upgraded rooms with the sleep number bed and cushy duvets. We settled in and decided to get some food.

We ate at the hotel cafe and ran into Carolann and Don Schmitt, hosts of the conference. They invited us to their table. It was a great time and Carolann and Don told us all about their cruise from London to Boston. It sounded like they had so much fun.

We then returned to our room to get ready for the reception. In recent years this reception has been a chance for participants to wear their wrappers and lounge wear, period and modern. Civil War themed movies have been shown in the past, but this year was a birthday party as it was the conference's 15th year. After cake and fashion show, we participated in period parlor games. One game consisted of a feather that had to be kept aloft by blowing on it. If the feather fell and touched someone that person had to give a forfeit. In our game our forfeits were to complete a task asigned by the rest of the group. One person had to beg like a dog, I had to act like a chicken, another had to go to each corner and laugh, cry, and something else. It was quite funny. We also played a game of question and answers; there was no gentleman in our group so it was not as fun, but we still had a good time.

Then off to bed to make an early start on Friday.


Sunday, March 1, 2009


I finished the housewife I started at the Grange. Here is my version.

And the original I attempted to copy.

I'm working on another, more of a little needle book. A little more involved.