Friday, December 14, 2012


I have not yet finished the redo of the blue plaid--just need to redo the sleeves--and I'm already planning my next dress. When I first started participating in living history, oh who am I fooling, at the time it was reenacting, I made up a "mourning" outfit, complete with the huge black felt sutler's bonnet. Well the bonnet met it's demise years ago, but the dress held on. I took it apart several months ago and put the fabric away; there is enough there to do another, with maybe a slightly smaller skirt.

I have always admired this dress as I don't really want a full blown mourning dress, just a black one. I have some silk velvet that would be lovely.

Then I saw this one.
But quickly realize there was not enough fabric for the flounces and the sleeves. So back to dress number 1, which I have admired for years...until I saw this one...

   Madame Gambart by Louis-Edouard Dubufe Letchworth Museum and Art Gallery Date painted: 1862 Oil on canvas, 129 x 91.5 cm Collection: Letchworth Museum and Art Gallery
OMG! Yes, this is it!! So off to finish the plaid as I would love to have this dress for the Harrisburg Conference dinner in March, which means finishing it by the middle of February. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Missing Event

This weekend is basically the last big event for the Texas reenacting season and I have to miss it. Real life is intruding and all my hobby plans have gone to dust. Hopefully others will have pictures from the event and I will share those links. New dress will have to wait now for the TLHA conference for debut. Bummed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blue Plaid Dress Done

Well it's done, including the trim on the skirt. One day I shall make a dress perfect...this one is not it. Yes, the plaids don't match and the sleeves are too short, I always make the sleeves too short! But it fits.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Texas Living History Association

Living History people in Texas are coming together to form an association to promote education, provide resources and cultivate public support for living history. To this end, TLHA is having a conference in January. There are several great sessions planned.

I am definately going. You can find more information about TLHA and the conference on the association's Facebook page at!/groups/TXLHA/members/

Conference registration information is also available on my website at

I hope to see many of my living history friends in Huntsville in January!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


The bodice fits. I thought perhaps before putting on the skirt I should make sure the bodice actually fits. And it does...well, just slightly big in the waist, doesn't fit as snug as it should but I can live with that. Belts hide all sorts of sins :).

No, my plaids don't match. They did when I cut the bodic out but now they don't. Oh well, I can produce period images of plaids not matching if needed :) Just noticed that the trim on the bodice doesn't sit even either. Oh well, eventually I will make a dress that has nothing wrong :).

On to attaching the skirt.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Texian Market Days 2012

This weekend was Texian Market Days at George Ranch in Richmond Texas. Attending with me were Katelyn Heisch and Paula Frederick.

We were not able to attend the school day on Friday but arrived Friday evening. Paula met Katelyn and I there.  One of the perks of TMD is staying at the Prairie House for the weekend. The three of us shared one of the bedrooms upstairs.

The site is composed of farms from different periods so the event is a timeline event. There are the 1830s stock farm, the 1890s house, the 1930s house, and the 1860s Prairie House. 

Unfortunately, I could not get away to get photos of the other sites, other than a far away look of the 1830s site from the Prairie House.

If you've been following my blog you probably know the weather changed from warm and balmy to a bit chilly. Friday night was drizzly and cold. But we managed to stay warm without a fire. Saturday morning continued the cold and I was glad for the wool dress. Our part for the event was to occupy the front parlor of the Prairie House.
 The house was built in 1851with two rooms down and two rooms up. It is not original to the site; the house that originally stood on the property burned down in the 1880s. However, this house was built in the same year, by the same builder and same architect with basically the same floor plan as the original. The original house had a dining room off the front parlor with a third bedroom over it. The house there now was owned by a doctor who had his surgery in the the main part of the house in what is now interpreted as an office/library.

As might be expected he wanted to keep the eating facilities separate from the surgery and detached the dining room and the kitchen. While a detached kitchen in Texas is quite common, the detached dining room is unusual. You can see the breezeway leading to the dining/kitchen building in the picture below.
 Another group occupied the kitchen area for the weekend.
We spent the day talking to visitors, sewing and reading silly stories from Harper's Weekly and Godey's. What a hoot! One visitor sat and listened to part of one story and then returned later in the day to see how it ended.
Several activites were taking place outside the house including a school room, a military encampment, military drill, a talk on bedding of the time and square dancing.

There was a small Civil War skirmish and I understand that there were ladies on the edge of the battlefield administering to the wounded.
For lunch the site provided a Southwestern chicken soup with tortillas. The day did get a bit warmer and Miss Katelyn was able to change into her new sheer dress. I on the other hand did not even take mine.
The site traditionally provides the volunteers with a dinner on Saturday and presents each with a Texian Market Day pin. This year was no exception. We did change into modern clothes for can only eat so much in a corset. After dinner we returned to the Prairie House, got into night clothes, lit a fire and talked about future events.
TMD is only a Saturday event. Sunday morning meant packing up, stopping for breakfast and the drive home. We all had a great time and are looking forward to next year.



Thursday, October 25, 2012


I've never understood irony or how to determine what is ironic. I could never follow the critizism of How Ironic. So if this isn't ironic, I apologize upfront to those who know.

I've been working on this plaid dress, staying up until midnight, working on it at work during lunch, trying to have it done for this weekend. We haven't seen temperatures below 75 in months, so this light weight cotton would be perfect. It wasn't my best work; I rushed too much on it and just thought I'd wear it and fix it after the event.

Well the gods of self-respect have thrown a lightening bolt and said "Oh no mortal, you shall not settle for barely good enough. It shall be cold this weekend!!" It won't even reach 70 on Saturday. Soooo...I get to wear a wool I will probably not get too wear too often here in Texas.

So instead of frantically sewing and stressing that the dress won't be wearable and it won't be as well done as I know it could be, I will spend the evening making sure I have everything ready for tomorrow, packing things up, etc. The gods have spoken. It may not be irony, but probably exactly what I need.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Plaid Dress Sleeve

Not a great photo; my dress form is out of commission. But you get the idea.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Plaid Dress Sleeve Trim

Not many words for this one. The sleeve trim is done, now to put on the turn-back and attach it to the bodice.

For comparison

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Plaid Dress Update.2

Better picture of the bodice with the neck piping.

Plaid Dress Progress

Haven't written much on this one as the construction of the bodice and skirt were pretty much straight forward, no special techniques or style changes to the basic darted bodice. However, my silk for the trim has come in and I have gotten the bodice trimming on. Next I'll work on the neck piping and sleeves, then the button trim. I'm going to make little pillows of the silk with pearl buttons in the middle for the button trims.

Unfortunately, my camera was left at the in-laws so this is from my phone and not the best in the world. My camera should be back in my possession soon and then will have a better picture.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Museum Day 2012

September 23 was celebrated as Museum Day in Austin. On this day many of the city's museums offer free admission, including the Neill-Cochran House. This house is owned by the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Texas and was built by Abner Cook, the builder of the Texas Govenor's mansion as well as other buildings in Austin and throughout Texas.

During the day, the Dames allow my friends and I to sit in one of the parlors dressed in 1860s clothes and greet guests. The museum director is very gracious and ensures we are all comfortable. There were several visitors during the day but I managed to get the bodice almost done of the plaid dress; more on that later.

Janet Rice

Saturday, September 15, 2012

And the Winner Is...

Dress number 2!

I think I'll make it without the belt. So on the look out for trimmings. I would like to have it done for Texian Market Days at the end of October, but I'm starting a full time job Monday, so won't have as much time as I have the last year (when I should have been working on it!).

Thanks all for your comments!

Save Our History Symposium

Today some friends and I dressed up and added scenery for the Save Texas History Symposium put on by the Texas General Land Office. This year's theme was the Civil War.

Symposium attendees came out during breaks to visit. One woman came out and asked what we were doing and then asked my name. After I told her, she said "I thought so! You're in my PowerPoint!" She is a 7th/8th grade history teacher in San Antonio and uses my website information and various images when teaching the Civil War! She was very appreciative of my site and thought it a great resource.

Always feels good to know things you build are used and appreciated.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Dress Decisions

So picked up this great fabric at the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference this year from Needle and Thread.

I've been looking for inspiration to make it up and I think I have narrowed it down to two and invite my readers to comment or vote or what have you on which they think would be the best choice.

Dress number 1

Dress number 2

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Break

Summer is Texas living history off-season and I took it off. No sewing, no research, a very lazy summer. I spent most of it traveling to visit friends. If interested, you can read about these travels at my other blog, The History Traveler. But it is coming to an end. The fall is looking pretty full of activities, events and sewing. I have added music to my Hoopskirts and Frockcoats internet radio station. I'm also getting back into the Texas 1860 mortality schedules.

 I've added to my stash of equipment from the City-wide Garage Sale here in Austin. I found a new little camp table and silver pitcher, both for under $25.00.

Back to living history soon!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Quick off topic post

This is a selfish plug for my new website and blog, The History Traveler. The new site is where I will post information about my trips to historic sites. I will continue to maintain this blog and my Texas Civil War Living History site for living history stuff, but wanted a place to highlight historic site trips that didn't involve living history (yeah, I didn't think there was such a thing, but there is). History Traveler is a bit bare at the moment as I assemble things, but please pay a visit if you are so inclined.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Battle of Temple Junction Public Day

I and my friend Katelyn ventured back to the Battle of Temple Junction on Saturday, but later in the morning as I had returned to Austin the day before. We arrived about 10:00 when a court martial and execution was to be reenacted; however; it didn't appear to come off. There did appear to be some small skirmish going on though. We wondered around the event site, which didn't take too long as it was a small event and only two period sutlers.

Thank goodness for the big "revival" tent with tables and chairs; we would not have had anywhere to go between activities. This space worked well as we sat and talked and people watched.

The next event was to be a period wedding at 11:00; however, that didn't take place until later. There was a hand to hand combat demonstration.

While we waited for the wedding we decided to have lunch. There was a catering truck offering burgers and other sandwiches, fries, and lemonade. While I waited for my food another reenactor came up to me and said "Now isn't this the way to do a reenactment?" What could I say? So we got our lunch and went back to the tent.

And the wedding preparations began. The year for the wedding was 1862 and period vows were used. It was actually the renewing of vows for the couple.   

The groom and best man.

As the maid of honor and bride came into the tent a local girl, with a beautiful voice sang "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls." She was not in period dress. However, she would like to get involved so I directed her to my website.

The bride's attendant.

And the bride.

After the ceremony the reception became the ladies' tea. They served a ginger ale punch with mint, tea, petite cakes, and Russian cookies. It was all very good.

This all finished up around 1:30 and the battle didn't start until 3:00. So we talked with visitors under the tent. Just before the battle, as the men were preparing, someone's gun backfired or something and we had a medical emergency. There were two doctors on site and they tended to him. He was ok but went to the hospital just to be sure.

Drummer Boy Ice Cream was at the event, so of course we had to have some! Good stuff.

Time for the battle!

After the battle the wounded were helped off the field to the hospital tent. Doc always puts on a good display. The rubber rats on the cast off limbs are a great crowd pleaser.

I left shortly after the battle; Katelyn planned to stay for the dance. However, she said many people started packing up and leaving so she didn't think the dance would be worth staying for. Time Was was to play.
Katelyn went back Sunday but I have not heard how it went. During one of our chats with others under the tent we found out that the City of Temple may not participate in this event next year. There are talks however, with the Robertson Plantation folks in Salado about having the event on their property. This would be a great site and allow for some great civilian and military scenarios.

This event was decidely mainstream. Nothing wrong with that. The participants were perfectly happy with this level of participation. But I need a bit more than camping with a theme; I like interpreting buildings and home front living history. This was a nice little adventure but I'll be staying on the progressive side for awhile.