Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ballgown mock up

Thank you so much to K Krewer, Carolann Schmitt and Beth Chamberlain for sharing photos with me on the bertha. I've decided to go with the split bertha for no particular reason than I think it will be easier to do...lazy, I know.

Here is the completed mock up; please keep in mind it is only basted together so nothing is really laying right on the form and nothing is hemmed. It does meet in the back, I just didn't pin it close enough. I'll need to try it on me with the corset in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Help with colors

I'm having a heck of a time deciding on the ribbon for this fabric. Obviously, I don't have access to custom matching ribbon so I'm trying to find something but can't decide on color, solid, woven?

So, here is the fabric and the inspiration. Any suggestions would be welcome, especially on ribbon color!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Had a great day with my husband's family. One of my presents was sorta kinda living history related: Cooking in American, 1840-1945 along with the ingredients for one of the recipes. Anyone for fried squirrel? No, I didn't get squirrel road kill; I have ingredients for a bean dish. But the squirrel is one of the recipes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ballgown progress

I have the bodice mock up done. I've compared it to pieces I know fit and it fits the dummy. Once I have the sleeves and the bertha mock up done and the whole thing put together I'll try it on me with the corset.
I used a couple of different patterns; Simplicity 2881 for the front. I really don't like the back of that one so took the pattern from my conference dress and modified it. Seemed to work fine.

Here a picture of the fabric.I found some great fabric for the tucker. The painting appears to have a bit of a pattern in the piece of the tucker in the front. So I found this.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Moving on...

My ballgown fabric arrived yesterday. A little more pink than I expected but still nice. Since the San Antonio ball was canceled I have a bit more time and will plan to take it Harrisburg. After Christmas the construction will begin.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Unauthorized use

Today I came across a blog that not only used quite a bit from my website but also a picture of me taken by a friend. These were posted without my knowledge, permission, or credit given. It is a very mainstream group and it really bothers me that a photo of me is being used in connection with this site, especially in discussing "costumed interpretation."

I want to be very clear that I am in no way associated with this group nor do I endorse their standards of authenticity.

I have contacted the blog owner but as yet have received no response. I suppose I should see it as flattering. But jeez have the courtesy to ask!

Ball canceled

The ball in San Antonio has been canceled. Major bummer. I'm still going to make the ball gown so I'll have it for the conference in March. There is another ball in January but I'm leaving shortly after that for a trip to California so it might be a bit much to get things together.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winedale Christmas

Sorry, no pictures. Didn't expect to have an opportunity. This was a nice little festival event. I was stationed at the McGregor House. I love this house! Built in 1861, Greek revival and well restored. I wish I had my camera to show the inside. The size and lay out of the house reminded me a bit of the Prairie House at George Ranch; although, the McGregor is definitely Greek Revival. It has some wonderful stenciling on the ceilings. Also rode in a stage coach, which was great fun and I think much more comfortable than they were in the 19th century.

There were a few "docentisms", a few bad prop choices and seriously bad costuming. I was not dressed in hoops as I expected to be at a different station so felt rather out of place in my homespun and petticoats. The other docents kept saying I could be the lady of the house and I trid to explain I was not dress appropriately for that to which the reply was "no one will know the difference anyway." While I know this is true I still felt I would be cheating the public with incorrect information. So I spent the afternoon wandering around the house, watching that things weren't sat on that shouldn't be, answering questions about bedding, flooring, etc. I let the ladies who were obviously very proud of their position as "hostesses" do the talking about the house and families who lived there and tried not to cringe when the "they were shorter back then" stories came up.

The site is working on education modules and may be interested in having some living history there. It's a wonderful site and would make a great "playground. " So we'll see what comes of it.

So, living history break until February and the Lace and Sabors Ball in San Antonio, then Harrisburg and gearing up for Henkel Square in May.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hearth Cooking December 4, 2010

On December 4 a few of us in Texas gathered at Henkel Square in Round Top for a hearth cooking workshop.
The instructor was Hal Simon. Hal has nearly 20 years experience in historic cooking and served as the curator of a living history museum in Texas for over a decade where he managed both open hearth and wood stove cooking programs. Hal is very knowledgeable and freely shares this knowledge. We were very lucky to have him for our workshop.

The weekend began on Friday; some of the participants came for some distance so we stayed over at Henkel Square to be ready Saturday morning bright and early. I decided to stay in one of the Zapp-Von Rosenburg stranger rooms. These little rooms are surprisingly comfortable.

Vicki Betts had a hearth crane made for "her" little cabin at the site. We were very disappointed to find out that it didn't fit by just a few inches. We had planned to use the hearth in her cabin with the crane. So we now changed over to the Muckelroy kitchen sans crane. However Scotty, the site manager, offered to grind down the little bit needed so the crane will be available for other events.

In the evening we went to dinner at Scotty's restaurant in town, which is really good. After we went to the church to utilize the electricity to peruse over Godey's 1862, CDVs, and other pictures of original garments. We decided to call it a fairly early night so that we would be ready for Saturday.

Hal arrived early Saturday, unloaded equipment, and started the fire. Hal provided great handouts. Not only did we have the recipes for the day but he also included an extensive bibliography, a listing of vegetables and fruits that were grown and available in Texas, weights and measures equivalents (IE: 1 lb. of wheat flour equals 1 quart), recipe comparison between period text and modern redaction, internet resources, period table setting diagrams and photos of the use of hearths for cooking. In addition he and Vicki brought several reproductions of period cookbooks and other books on hearth cooking.

First, Hal went over the handouts and made some interesting points. In the redaction section he talked about being careful when using a modern redaction as sometimes the modern chef might make some changes in the "translation" which will actually create a different dish than what the period recipe was for. In the measurements section information was provided such as "a common tumbler holds 8oz." or "a common teacup holds 6oz." Hal double checked these using period reproductions and they were spot on.

Our lunch was to be onion soup and Gaspacho-Spanish or bread salad. Both were very good. The onion soup was divine and as the onions were browned in 2 sticks of butter, it had a wonderful buttery taste.

After eating we prepared the bread pudding as it had to sit a bit before cooking. Then on to the forced meat balls (that's Forced, with an F). This required the dicing and pounding of beef and suet together.

Once the herbs were added the meat was formed into balls, rolled in bread crumbs and pan fried. The potato balls were basically the same but with mashed potatoes. At the same time this was going on cabbage was being sliced and dressing made for warm slaw.

We had a bit of a problem with the bread pudding as the dutch oven we had was too shallow for the pudding dish. We found an oven on site that was deep enough but it had no lid so we improvised. But the lid was too thin and caused the top of the pudding to burn. Oh, but it was still so good. We did not put on the cream as it was too warm by this time to froth the cream. The pudding had suet in it! Beef fat in a dessert! It was the strangest sensation to bite into this sweet pudding with fruit and get a piece of the suet. The textures just didn't match :). It was delicious though and can only imagine how it would have been with sweet cream.

Hal had intended to also cook biscuits and a roast or mutton; however, by this time everyone was full and tired so we called it complete. Now remember this workshop was on December 4; the week before the weather was wintery barely getting out of the 50s during the day and down to the 30s at night. But on December 4 it was almost 80 degrees. You can imagine with such a large fire, only a couple of windows that didn't open all the way and the heat outside, we were all very warm. Poor Hal was soaked. The first comment from visitors was the heat, then the smell of the food. This workshop really brought to life what was required in the 1860s to produce a meal. Obviously the ordinary person did not cook such a large meal or perhaps not as fancy but still the work, time and discomfort involved was amazing. We were at this practically all day long; when would a person get the rest of their chores done? Take care of the children, etc. ? These types of workshops really put a new dimension to Living History.

Since we ended earlier than expected Vicki decided to head on home but Penny, Elin and I stayed on site for the night. We spent the evening with wine, grapes, cheese, cookies and conversation. Then, guess what arrives...a norther! Gotta love Texas.