Friday, September 19, 2014


Today I took a little break from my dress and finished up the undersleeves I started at the Sleeve workshop in Gettysburg. Over that weekend I picked up some whistle buttons; I don't think this is a period term, but what is being used today to describe these buttons.

I decided to use them on my undersleeves. I just love them!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sleeve Workshop

This past weekend I attended a sleeve and undersleeve workshop in Gettysburg put on by Carolann Schmitt through her company, Genteel Arts Academy. In addition to these periodic workshops throughout the year, Carolann produces the Civilian Symposium at Harrisburg in March.

The workshop is held in the community rooms of the Gettysburg fire station. There is plenty of parking and lots of room for sewing machines and ironing boards. Since I live about two hours from there I went ahead and decided to stay over for the weekend. I stayed at the Days Inn just outside of town on Highway 30. It's a fine, standard hotel, but the breakfast left a lot to be desired--no protein at all. If you have time and really want breakfast go the Perkins just in front of the hotel. I roomed with Polly Steenhagen and we had a great time.

I really love going to Gettysburg, even if I don't make it to the battlefield. It's a lovely drive and I just like the town. I decided to take the long way on Highway 30. It's a bit more scenic than the tollway, but goes through a lot of little towns with stop lights, traffic and low speed limits.

When I arrived in town, I went to the hotel and checked in and made sure Polly would have no issues when she arrived. I then headed to Needle and Thread. I decided I really want a new ballgown for the Steamboat ball in October, so I went with the intention of getting ballgown fabric, which I did and so much more. So here is the silk taffeta for the ballgown.

I also found a silk/cotton blend fabric for undersleeves. I had brought some fabric with the intention of using it for the undersleeves, but this new stuff is beautiful. Such a soft hand! I wasn't sure it would work since it was so airy and not very stiff, but they turned out beautiful!

Polly also arrived at Needle and Thread while I was there. She also bought fabric and trim for undersleeves. After leaving there we decided to drop in at the Button Baron. Their storefront in Gettysburg is only open by appointment, so we called first to be sure they would be there. They were in the process of packing up for Pilot Knob, but there was still plenty of things in the shop...and TONS of buttons. Polly and I each found buttons we had to to have. I found four gold plated buttons and four small black whistle buttons. If you don't know what whistle buttons are, they only have one hole on the top and then two on the bottom.

I will use the whistle buttons on my undersleeves. I also picked up some beeswax for sewing. I much prefer the homemade cubes to the stuff you find at fabric stores.

Polly and I had dinner at the Farnsworth House Tavern. The food is pretty good and there are props from the movie Gettysburg. They also play the movie like other bars play sports. Poor servers there must really be tired of that movie. All the servers are dressed in pseudo Civil War clothes, long skirts, white blouses, pinner aprons with safety pins and snoods. But as I said the food is pretty good. We then retired to the hotel to sew, knit and read.

The workshop hours are 8:00 to 5:00 both Saturday and Sunday. Carolann starts the workshop with a lecture and slide show on different kinds of sleeves and undersleeves. She then brings out originals for us to look at. Lori Martin had also brought some of her original undersleeves. Serious eye candy time. Below are only a few of the originals we got to get up close and personal with.

Carolann also brought several examples of different styles of dress sleeves.

Our handouts included instructions for making all these different sleeves and undersleeves. Maggie Koenig also drafted patterns from the original undersleeves and the different bodice sleeves, which we could purchase. I bought all the patterns.

I decided, based on the fashion plate I'm using for my Steamboat dress, that a simple cuffed, full undersleeve would be best. There is no pattern for these included as they are basically two rectangles; however, the instructions to create the "pattern" are included with the handouts. I also choose my ball gown sleeve, which was included with the patterns. The patterns are sized from the original so they must be resized to fit. Maggie is very good at this as it is what her degree is in, so she was a big help getting the ballgown sleeve resized for me.

The rest of Saturday was taken up sewing on the undersleeves. I decided to just gather them into the cuff, again keeping it simple, and using elastic in a casing at the top. Carolann mentioned during her talk that thin elastic was used in undersleeves to keep them up. I was very glad to hear this as I really hate basting or pinning them in.

Saturday evening a few of us went to O'Rorke's for dinner, visited the chocolate shop across the street and wandered down Steinwehr. Then back to the hotel for more sewing and reading.

Sunday started at 8:00 again. Carolann brought a few of her original dresses for us to look at. Sorry, I did not get any pictures as I was busy sewing to finish my undersleeves.

I still need to make the button hole, add the button and insert the elastic in the upper cuff. I think they will work very well with my Steamboat dress.

Carolann's workshops are so much fun. Could I have done this on my own? Probably, but I wouldn't have the patterns, nor the face to face assistance with suggestions and encouragement available at the workshop. I know I was not the only one there that found this very helpful. I highly recommend these workshops for anyone interested in sewing period clothes, whether you are a beginner or experienced.

I am now going to be working on my Steamboat dress and ballgown full steam but will return to Gettysburg in October to take Carolann's cage crinoline class! No more duct tape for me!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bodice Done

...except for the trim. Now to the skirt.

Coming Together

The bodice is shaping up. Need to put in the sleeves, but first need to make piping. The trim will be added to the bodice once the skirt is attached so that it is one continuous piece. I really like how this fabric is making up for this dress.