Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fabric Set Back

Well the perfect fabric wasn't enough; the seller only had five yards. Disappointed but now back on the hunt. I haven't been able to find another pique in an acceptable pattern; the fabric now seems to be primarily solids or in novelty prints like lobsters and teddy bears. So it looks like I will have to settle for a regular cotton and have found a few possibilities. I'm not ecstatic about anything I've found so far; they're nice and will do fine but nothing has really jumped out at me and said "I'm perfect!" I don't plan to make a final choice until I get back to Gettysburg in March to see what Needle and Thread has in stock.

I have started a Pinterest board to keep ones I've found that I like and will continue to add to it as I find others. You can see my collection so far at http://www.pinterest.com/netnet81/day-dress-redo/. Please feel free to leave a comment on this blog if any of them appear to you to be good choices.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day Dress Re-do

I think I found the fabric! As a reminder, here is the inspiration:

Described as an "Outdoor dress for the country; robe of white pique sprigged with small bouquets in brown and pink; edgings of white braid." Godeys September 1860.

Here is the fabric I'm hoping to get:

100% cotton (yes, I did a burn test). It has a wonderful hand and is very light weight, somewhat sheer but not see through; it will make up well, especially lined in pima cotton. It is also a great price :). I have emailed the seller to see how much she has and hope she has at least 8 yards.

I love the planning stage. Now to look for the buttons and edging.  So far I'm thinking white glass or if can be verified, Dorset. The edging is a bit trickier; braid could mean anything; but I think from the picture it will be flat and not too fancy.

I'll need a new chemisette...have to figure out that strange necktie thing...matching button and trim? Is it attached? Oh why couldn't the fashion plates give better descriptions?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Steamboats a-Comin'!

Yes, it's not until October 2014, but this event sounds like it's going to be such a highlight in my living history life that I'm preparing now. At first I had not intended to make anything new. I have the new dress I just made and plenty others, I have a ball gown, so I really don't need anything new. But...how can I pass up such an opportunity to make new dresses. I have about ten months and this is what I plan:

  • A new day dress: this will be a redo of one I made several years ago out of cotton. I love the dress and the fabric design, but it doesn't really fit well, and is not very well made. Did I mention I made this several years ago? Like over ten years ago?

The original plate I based it on describes it as a "robe of white piqué sprigged with small bouquets..." from Godey's 9/60.

So I'm on the look out for a similar fabric design and will remake the dress with my improved sewing skills and knowledge of period sewing.

  • A new ball gown: haven't decided on this one yet. But started a Pinterest board to keep inspiration ideas.

  • Repair undergarments.

  • Two new shirts for husband: hopefully this is all he'll need; hoping his linen suit and dress suit still fit.

Wish list: new hoop, new parasol, new straw bonnet.

Oh I love planning new wardrobe pieces!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Remembrance Day 2013: Part 3


The cold arrived overnight and it was pretty chilly Saturday. It was breezy, but the sun was pretty warm, so if I stayed out of the wind it was not so bad. I was able to pack up, check out, eat breakfast, get my stuff in the car and still meet everyone in the lobby around 10:15. My plan had been to leave the car in the hotel parking lot and take the Freedom shuttle from the hotel to downtown. However, the Martins were kind enough to let me hitch a ride with them. Anne and Lori were walking in the parade so Bob left us off at the Gettysburg Hotel where some of the vendors were located. I didn’t buy anything; I was trying to be very good since I spent a good amount of spending money on my picture and I had very little room to bring anything back J.

We roamed through the vendors and until it was time for Anne and Lori to head to the meeting point for the parade. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the ceremony at 11:30 and missed that. When I left Anne and Lori I headed up Baltimore St. toward the square. It was a very nice walk looking at the architecture and meeting friends.

When I reached the square one of the many military bands was playing on the corner and had a pretty good crowd.



I then headed to the 1863 Hotel on the square.

There I met up with Virginia and Michael Mescher and Carolann and Don Schmitt. After roaming through more vendors I joined the Schmitts in the lobby of the hotel. Really enjoyed sitting with them people watching. There were some very interesting “impressions” in Gettysburg this weekend. In addition to people watching, Carolann gave me her hard sale on Gettysburg J. So many wonderful things there—festivals, films, living history activities.

After awhile we decided to go get something to eat at Flats. This little café is attached to the Majestic Theater, literally…the back exit to the café leads to the theater lobby. Carolann and I went to take a look. The theater interior has been restored to its appearance in 1925. There is a room that features pictures from the 75th anniversary of the battle and other old photos of Gettysburg. The theater is also an Oscar nomination screening venue. They were currently showing 12 Years a Slave. That would have been an experience. I had flat bread chips drizzled with balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese.

We then headed up Baltimore St. to watch the parade in front of Carolann’s office. Don and Carolann were so nice to bring out a chair for me. The temperature seemed to be dropping but that didn’t curb my excitement. I have always enjoyed parades and this one had military band music! Lots of it. This was the best way to view the parade, in the company of locals. Carolann shared with me history on some of the units, the parade, etc. It was a really nice time.

Here are a few photos from the parade. All the pictures I took can be found here.




I also managed to get a picture of the new paletot.

The canon in the sidewalk is Penelope.


I followed the parade up to the cemetery to meet Lori and Anne. The group they marched with, the Dixie Rose Relief Society, were meeting up at the Victorian Photo Studio for a group picture. These ladies marched in the parade representing the Confederate states. The picture was taken outside the Dobbin House Tavern.


The actual wet plate turned out wonderful! You can see it here.

Everyone was getting hungry at this point and we headed back toward the square to find everyone food. I was expected for dinner with Carolann so just went along for the company until it was time to go back to the hotel and Carolann’s. As can be imagined the restaurants were packed. We first tried the Farnsworth Inn, which was packed. So we headed further down toward the square and ended up at Pings. Not busy and very few reenactors. Everything ordered looked so good.

After eating, Bob graciously took me back to the hotel where I dropped my hoop and drove to Carolann’s to change and car pool to dinner. Carolann’s backyard is the battlefield, which is really cool. We spent a bit talking and Carolann gave me a 150th Gettysburg flag, which many businesses in town were flying. Several people from Michigan were joining us for dinner and when they arrived we headed for the Fairfield Inn about 20 minutes from Gettysburg. We were all so busy talking that I completely forgot about taking pictures. The dining room was pretty busy and the service was rather slow, but the food was delicious. I had the prime rib, which came with mashed potatoes and green beans. It was a wonderful ending to my wonderful experience with Remembrance Day.

After dinner I drove back to West Chester and Angie’s house as we visited the Barnes Foundation on Sunday. I returned to Texas on Monday. This trip was a great experience and I’m so glad I have such wonderful friends who helped make it such a great trip. Can’t wait for March!!

Remembrance Day 2013: Part 2


The weather on Friday was still tolerable. A little rain late in the day but not very cold. I ran around most of the day in short sleeves and I know people thought I was nuts J. But for the short amount of time I was actually outside, I was fine. This would change over the weekend.

First order of business on Friday was to pack everything up, put on as much of my 1860s stuff that I could comfortably drive in and head for Gettysburg. I had an appointment at the Victorian Photo Studio for a wet plate sitting. If you ever want a period photo done and are in Gettysburg, visit here; they are so nice and do such wonderful work. I chose a wet plate and a digital. I came home with the tintype and a CD with a scan of the wet plate, a color and sepia version of the digital image and copyright release.
Wet Plate
Color Digital


The plate would be about an hour before I could pick it up, so I went over to Carolann Schmitt’s office to visit for a short time. Carolann is the proprietor of Genteel Arts and produces the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference in March every year. As an aside, this conference is wonderful and I highly recommend attending if you have the chance. It worked out that she was getting ready to go to lunch with her husband, Don, and a friend, and she invited me to join them. We went to Café Saint-Amand, just up the block. I have come to really like this little café. I first discovered it when my friend Nancy and I went to Gettysburg for Carolann’s corset class. I wasn’t very familiar with Gettysburg then. Then when I started visiting more often and meeting up with Carolann and other friends for lunch this is the place we always go. I look at it as “our” place J.

After lunch I went to pick up my image. By this time they had a full house in the waiting area. Next stop Needle and Thread, of course. Needed to pick up some ribbon for my ball gown bodice closure and then headed to Maggie Koenig’s to visit as she would probably not be out for the weekend and I would not have a chance to see her. She had a house full. Since she was not going to a ball that night she was babysitting and Colleen Formby was there getting a fitting for her new dinner dress for the conference in March. So a full day of visiting completed I headed out to the Eisenhower Hotel to get ready for a ball.

When I first planned this trip, I had not planned to attend a ball. My friend in West Chester was to take a Tae Kwon Do belt test that evening and I had promised to attend. But she postponed the test leaving the evening free. And since I was going to be there late I decided to stay at the ball hotel that night as well. The Eisenhower Hotel is ok, a little run down and about five miles outside of the Gettysburg. They provided a special rate for those attending the ball and it saved me from driving in my ball gown. I decided to attend Joy Melcher’s Civil War Lady ball because other friends where attending and it was about half the price of the others that night.

I arrived at the Eisenhower with plenty of time to change and do the hair.


 Since I didn’t have time to make a new ball gown, I had to settle on whatever I had that fit. So the Madame Paul-Sigisbert Moitessier dress returned to Pennsylvania



Lori Martin and Anne Hawley were also attending the ball and staying at the hotel. They came to my room to visit for a bit before dressing and then came back with their husbands, Bob and Vince, to help me lace up my bodice. Vince, being a veterinarian actually did the lacing. Then down to the lobby for pictures before attending the ball.    
Anne and Vince Hawley

We received a nice gold and white button that said “150th”, which served as your ticket and dance cards (gentlemen’s included pencils).




Punch was provided during the ball. The dance masters were members of the Victorian Dance Ensemble. Three sets were planned; but we only got through the majority of the second and one dance of the third. I only danced, or walked, once, the Grand March. A woman that wanted to participate was also without a partner and asked me to walk with her; it was fun and always a great chance to see all the other dresses. I didn’t dance the rest of the night, but enjoyed listening to Beck’s Philadelphia Brass Band immensely.  

The band was wonderful, the venue was great and there were some beautiful gowns. That said, I’m not sure I would choose this ball again or stay at the Eisenhower. The hotel, for me, was too far removed from town. I think I would prefer to stay closer to “the action.” The ball was ok…but I think there may be better and more authentically planned balls for that weekend. I found the inability to complete the dance card and spending more time explaining the dances than doing them disappointing, even when I wasn’t dancing. And again, the distance from town was not too my liking. I understand the Civilians of Gettysburg ball on Saturday at the Lutheran Theological Seminary Refectory is nicely done with experienced managers and dance masters. And the proceeds go to Land Conservancy of Adams County.

The after ball party was at the Lincoln Diner. It is a real 24/7 diner off the square in Gettysburg. A big hit with the college kids. We went in full ball attire and I thought it strange that people looked at us strange: you’re in Gettysburg and you’ve never seen anything like this? Then back to hotel to rest for a full day Saturday.

To be continued...

Remembrance Day 2013: Part 1


As involved as I have been in Civil War living history it may seem odd that I have not attended a 150th event before now; I didn’t even attend the ones here in Texas. A lot of it had to do with money, the lack of desire to camp, and the lack of civilian interpretation planned at the events. But Remembrance Day, the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, the delivery of the Gettysburg Address was a civilian event. So this I had to attend, even though it meant missing one of the big events here in Texas, Liendo.  

I was able to get a great airfare, Pricelined a deal for a car, stay with a friend part of the visit, and it was doable. My visit to Gettysburg was not only to attend Remembrance Day; I have many friends in the area, as this visit proved, and I was able to visit with many.

The trip started with the attempt at packing. I realized early that I would have to check a bag and a big one. Three petticoats, hoops, corset, two chemises, two gowns, shoes, paletot, hair, jewelry, modern clothes…I ended up with a large suitcase packed to busting, a bonnet box and a backpack.  

I left Texas on Thursday morning for Philadelphia by way of Atlanta. I carried my bonnet box as a carry on. Strange looks, sure, but my bonnet arrived unscathed and in the right shape. I rented a car from the airport and drove to my friend’s work in Malvern. But first I stopped at Wegmans. Yes, it is just a grocery store, but we don’t have them here and I like the store. Met up with my friend to follow her to her place in West Chester. I did not realize how early it got dark up north. By the time we were on the road to West Chester it was daaark. This lead to me getting lost as I thought I was following her but it was a different green BMW apparently. My GPS told me to go the way she went, but I thought she knew a short cut so I ended up in Downington. Finally got to her place and started getting ready to go eat.

We didn’t get very far…my wallet was gone. Everything including all my ID, so there went the trip, questionable if I could get home as no ID, I was frantic. The only place I had gotten out was at Wegmans, so my friend calls the store as I search the car. No luck. So we head off to search the Wegmans parking lot. While on the way I get a call from a gentleman who has found my wallet! We met him and I got my wallet with all contents and a lecture about keeping my passport with my ID J.

We finally go to eat. We went to an Italian restaurant we went to last time I was there, Core de Roma. I really enjoy this place. I had Chicken Parmigiana and it was delicious. Crème Brule for dessert. Back to the apartment to rest up for the weekend. 

If you want to skip the text and go right to the pictures you can find them at http://www.pinterest.com/netnet81/gettysburg-remembrance-day-2013/

To be continued…

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Paletot Done

Finally, it is done save the cat hair removal. Here are some basic pictures. I will hopefully have better photos after Remembrance Day.

The picture above is a little hard to tell but it's of one of the pockets.
As much as I enjoy sewing, I'm glad this is done. Now I can concentrate on the trip and not the prep!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The War at Home: 1863...Wasn't

The last three years a group of friends and I have been interpreting the Texas Civil War home front. This year was to be 1863. Well, a perfect collision of mishaps and nature resulted in the last minute cancellation of the event. The site, unfortunately, had double booked the site so there was a film company and a public event scheduled at the same time. Then some torrential rains came through and not only washed out some trails on the site but completely wiped out the native American camp site that was interpreted at Pioneer Farms. I do mean totally wiped out, nothing left. They did find some tepee poles in the creek. So while all this was disappointing it could not be helped so we will look at the first part of May for 1864.

Since we couldn't have an "event" it was suggested that those of us that could should go out to the farm in period work clothes and help where we could with the clean up or staff the buildings. Well I was the only one that showed up. So I occupied the Bell house for awhile today. There are some changes to the Bell house; one parlor is papered and the master bedroom painted. I'm not so sure about the colors, the rooms seem awfully dark for an era with no electric lights.

Gentlemen's Parlor

Master Bedroom
Another change was to the Texian farm; it has been closed off, no longer a dog run. This is for the filming and hope it goes back to an open dog run, which it should be to facilitate the air flow. It looks quant but just isn't right for the structure or time and place.

Unrelated to living history, I released a turtle that washed up on our back porch. He seemed to be very happy; sitting on a rock a short time and then jumping off into the stream. It was very relaxing out there today; a few visitors, great weather, friendly donkeys and I was called a grandma by a little girl (last weekend I was a princess). Not the event I had planned on, but not a waste of time either. I took a few other pictures of the site just 'cuz. You can find them here.

Next stop in the 1860s, Remembrance Day in Gettysburg in about 3 weeks! So back to preparations...so much more to do...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Texian Market Days 2013

This weekend was the 30th annual Texian Market Days event at the George Ranch Historical Park in Richmond Texas. This year marked my 10th year of attending this event. I was even featured in the program for the 1860s programming as a familiar face!

It was a beautiful day, comfortable temperatures, low humidity and a nice breeze. As in past years, we interpreted the parlor in the Ryon 1860s house. We also were able to stay in the house for the weekend. With the windows and doors open we caught a nice cross breeze and were very comfortable. 

They had rearranged the parlor since we were there last and it made the room seem much larger.

A few of my friends were attending this event for the first time this year. Unfortunately I did not get pictures of everyone :( However, I was able to get one of Emma
and Katelyn. Katelyn brought her new shear but failed to try it on with her new corset so opted for wearing her wrapper for the day.
Little Victoria joined us for the weekend along with her mother, Amy (no photo of Amy...)
Amy made Victoria's clothes and her shoes!

You can see Amy's work on her Facebook page and her blog.
Since there were a few of us this year, I stayed downstairs in the parlor to give more room in the upstairs bedroom we occupied. During the day we set the cot up as a bed used for a recuperating soldier in the library.
We had a good steady crowd throughout the day. Unfortunately, they changed things up a bit at the 1860s house and we served as docents rather than doing living history. We had 5 minutes in which we were to tell about the room and answer any questions. Probably not the best use of our participation. The kitchen of the house was also interpreted; however, it was too crowded to get any good photos of them in action.
Other activities around the included quilting, soldiers, paper marbling, laundry, music and children's activities.

There was a battle reenactment and the Yankees overran the house forcing us out. Then the Confederates came to the rescue.
Oh and the first event for the dress:
 All in all it was a pleasant weekend. A pretty strong thunderstorm came through early Sunday morning and we packed up the house early and loaded the cars in the rain. We stopped for breakfast and went our separate ways until the next event.
Favorite quotes of the weekend:
A Ryon House docent explaining to me "unlike other reenactments, this did not happen here." Hmmm, really?
A little girl eagerly waiting for us to finish our talk so she could go up to my friend seated in her hoop, pat her skirt and say "hello princess."
Little Victoria upon seeing the Yankees, run into the parlor and tell us "The Yankees are coming!"
Additional photos of the weekend can be found on Photobucket.