Monday, March 21, 2011

Wouldn't you know it.

Just as I'm gearing up for sewing and excited about a new dress I come down with meningitis; not the deadly kind, just the viral but it still hurts. It's been a week now and I'm ready to be over it. I have never experienced such terrible headaches in my life. It has seriously put a damper on plans.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New direction

For a long time I have been in love with this dress. I even found similar fabric and trim lace. However, I've changed my mind now. I don't know why, maybe it's been on the drawing board too long and I'm just not that excited about it now. There are also several of them out there, made very well and I just don't think I'm skilled enough to draw the pattern for an asymmetrical bodice with all those pleats!

So, same fabric, new inspiration without the lace trim. I'll use that on a bonnet or something.
Godey's July 1861. I love the idea of a square neck. There is a picture at the Alamo from the 1860s showing a similar dress but no undersleeves and no chemisette. In Texas, that is believable, so this is my first (can you believe it) summer dress.

Right now I'm making stockings but will be done soon and then on to the dress.

Monday, March 7, 2011

17th Annual Ladies & Gentleman of the 1860s Conference 2011

First I must say I LOVE this conference. I have so much fun and experience serious blues when it is time to leave. Especially this year as it was a short visit, arriving Friday afternoon rather than Thursday.

My trip started at 4:30 am on Friday as the alarm went off. My flight left Austin at 6:30 for Newark. Landing in Newark is an experience. The New York skyline from the plane is amazing and you can see the Statue of Liberty in the harbor. I bet it is wonderful to fly in at night. My friend Nancy met me in Newark with the news that our flight to Harrisburg was delayed two hours, originally scheduled for 12:30 . Then delayed 2.5 hours. This was a bit worrisome to me as last month my flight kept being delayed and then canceled. Nancy had passes for Continental's President's Club so we went there to wait what we thought would be about 2 hours. As we sat enjoying drinks, snacks and comfy chairs, Nancy decides to check the status again of our flight at about 12:00. Our flight is now on time and at a different gate! We run down to the gate and now it's delayed about 15 minutes. The plane was a little puddle jumper; not only was there no jet way but there was no stairway to the plane, it was one of those with the stairs in the door. It was still a great flight and I sat with a woman from Mason, Texas, where by coincidence I'll be in a couple of weeks for a cemetery workshop.

The flight was just fine and we called for the shuttle to the hotel. It was going to be a bit so we sat in the rocking chairs that the Harrisburg airport has scattered around. Harrisburg airport is so cute. It's not very big, but it's efficient.

We arrived at the hotel, got scheduled for the Sunday shuttle and a late check out for Sunday. The hotel had upgraded the lobby with a more modern look. The rooms all had Sleep Number beds, not a big fan but a nice touch anyway. There were also a frig and microwave in the room, an Ipod docking radio, and a larger bathroom. Nice touches.

We put down our things, unpacked some and headed over to check in for the conference. With our badges in hand we could now go to the market place! All the usual vendors with great stuff. I picked up a slat bonnet from Lynette Miller for one of the woman coming to Into the Fray and three books for myself: Victoria's Trims by Marge Harding all about ribbon trims with pictures and instructions, American Civil War Era Fashion Plates Godey's 1860-1865 by Timely Tresses, and Textile Designs. I really wanted to buy a shawl from Caravan of Kashmir but they didn't take credit cards so I didn't get one. They are beautiful and so soft. Next year?

Once shopping was done we went to get some dinner. The first session of the conference started at 7:00 with Colleen Formby and Oh! How Full are the Hearts of All: Expressions of Patriotism.

This was a wonderful talk on expressions of patriotism such as cockades, aprons, and flags. To go along with the talk Colleen brought reproduction items to illustrate.

During the break there were originals out for display as usual. This is one of the greatest parts of this conference. Not only do you get to see them up close, but you can take pictures and in some cases the owners will maneuver the items to allow you to photograph the inside, close ups, etc. See the link to my pictures at the end of this post.

The second presentation was from Brian Egan. He is from Greenfield Village and discussed their Civil War presentations. His handouts included samples of the forms and communications they use for the event. Long day, off to bed and rest up for tomorrow.

Beginning Saturday, meals are provided with the conference. Breakfast began at 7:00 and the conference at 8:00. The first session of the day was the presentation of the conference dresses and vests. Each year Carolann sends the conference presenters a length of fabric for a dress or vest, each the same. The faculty are then asked to make up a dress or vest with the fabric. This year's fabric was a red, blue, black striped sheer cotton for the dress and a plaid woven silk for the vest. I was sitting back a bit so you can't really see the fabric very well.
The conference then splits out into different tracks; I choose the women's track, but the other had some great sessions too. I was really torn on which to do. My first session was Improving your Mileage with Convertibles and Transformers by K. Krewer. Loved it. She provided documentation of dresses that had multiple bodice styles and others that had additions such as sleeves and pelarines that could be added or taken away to change the look of the dress. As always, she provided a disc of the presentation. Then a break and more originals.

Next was Catherine Wright from the Museum of the Confederacy talking on the quilts in the MOC collection. Even had one from Texas. They have some beautiful quilts and she invited anyone to contact her or visit the museum for research. They are very happy to assist and share their collection.

Lunch, shopping, hanging out until the next session in the afternoon. Katherine Carroll presented Beyond Little Women: Family Life in 1860s. Very interesting talk on everyday for woman, including marriage, child birth, and activities. Some great statistics: did you know that the average age of the onset of menses in 1860 was 16.9 years?

After the break was Janine Whiteman's presentation on children's clothing. Lot's of originals and great CDVs.

Now it was time to get ready for the ball. Thank God for Nancy; I would never have been able to get dressed and do my hair without her.
Dinner was wonderful; I sat at Carolann's table with Martha McCann and her husband, a first timer for Davis, California (very close to my home town) and a woman and her son from Australia. It took them 30 hours to get there. There are so many beautiful gowns at the ball. We had a blast. The music was great and the dance leaders very patient. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. There are pictures at the link at the end of the post.

Sunday started as a gully washer. The sessions started with Carolann's presentation Steel Mills and Steel Petticoats, a discussion on how the industrial revolution changed clothing and the way we dressed. Very interesting topic and very intriguing to see how the industrial revolution and the inventions it spawned trickled down to things a mundane as clothing and style. It was a great presentation.

Following the break we listened to a first person presentation Soldiers at War, Women at Home. This consisted of four individuals, 2 women and 2 men. Each person developed a story within set perimeters and delivered it in first person. None of the group knew what the others were developing. The presentations were set on 3 different days of the war. One women interpreted a woman in Atlanta, another was a Quaker in Indiana, one gentleman was a CSA soldier, slave owner and strong supporter of secession and the last gentleman was a Mainer who had fought on the Mexican war and had no intention of entering the Civil War. It was very interesting to hear the different points of view.

Then it was over. I pushed off the post-conference depression by helping Carolann pack up. Nancy had left at 12:00 and I didn't have to leave until 3:00. So I helped clean up and pack up and joined Carolann and her "staff" for lunch.

The trip home was uneventful other than the little hamster powered airplanes; I slept most of the time. I've decided I don't like O'Hare airport. I'm not sure why, I just wasn't comfortable there. So home for another year. Planing already for next! The next conference dates are
March 1-4, 2012.


Finished ballgown

Here is the finished ballgown. A little gaposis between the bodice and the skirt. Oh well...

175th of Texas Independence

Whew. Back from the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Conference in Harrisburg. But before that I attended a Texas Independence event at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The year 1836. It was a great time. We served as docents for a structure interpreting Lott's Tavern, which actually existed in Washington in 1836. There was a steady stream, sometimes flood, of people all day long. There are some photos in my last post and here is a link to a few more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sewing, sewing, sewing

Sorry for the lack of entries and photos. I've been very busy trying to finish the ballgown for this weekend. I promise pictures of the finished project but probably not until next week when I return.

In the mean time, check out these from the 175th celebration of Texas' Independence held last weekend at Washington-on-the-Brazos.