Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Remembrance Day 2015

Every year around November 19th, Gettysburg celebrates Remembrance Day. Abraham Lincoln dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863 with the Gettysburg Address; this date is technically called Dedication Day and the Gettysburg Address is read on that day. The Saturday of that week is Remembrance Day to honor the soldiers who died during the Civil War; this has occurred since 1863. The modern celebration weekend includes a parade, vendors and several balls.

This year I stayed in Gettysburg for the whole weekend at the Brick House Inn on Baltimore Street, right on the parade route. The Brick House consists of two houses actually. One built in the 1890s and another built in the 1830s and was there during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Civil War House

Our room was in the Civil War house; unfortunately, the inside of the house has been completely redone for bedrooms so very little of the original interior still exists. But our room was really nice and looked out over Baltimore St.

My husband came out for the event so this was nice for the two of us. He flew into BWI, so we didn't get to Gettysburg until around 4:00. He had never been to Gettysburg so I tried to introduce him to the various things I like about the town; the Inn was a good start. By the time we got checked in and settled in we were both starving. Getting into any of the main dining rooms was impossible at this late stage but we walked down to the Dobbin House and ate in the tavern.

We originally had not made any plans for Friday night; however, before the weekend I was able to get tickets for Joy Melcher's Remembrance Day Ball on Friday night. My husband only dresses out for the balls. This ball is held at the Eisenhower Hotel a bit out of town in a modern ballroom. The band was Beck's Philadelphia Brigade Band. It was the same band that played with the Chester County Choral Society at their CW 150th event. The only problem I find with Joy's balls is the way the dance master calls the dances. We are shown the dance, we are walked through the dance and then finally we get to dance; the majority of the time is getting to the dance rather than dancing.

Saturday was a  beautiful day. A bit chilly but not bone chilly cold as other years.I wore my very first conference dress and the paletot I bought from a friend and was plenty warm enough.

The breakfast at the Inn is amazing. It includes a dessert as well. Once breakfast was over we headed out to see the town and of course shop. My husband bought me some wonderful earrings.

As usual there were Confederate musicians playing on the square. These guys are really good.

We headed back to the Inn to secure seats on the porch for the parade. Along the way we met friends and invited them to join us at the Inn along with others also staying at the Brick House.

The Inn is a wonderful vantage point to watch the parade.

Additional parade photos can be seen here.

After the parade some of the us took a "pretty on the porch" photo.

Saturday night we attended the Remembrance Day Ball at the Lutheran Seminary Refectory.

This ball is hosted by Gettysburg Civil War Dance, Norma Calhoun and Wayne Belt. The proceeds from this ball go to the Land Conservancy of Adams County. This ball is smaller than most during the weekend; however, I really enjoyed this one. Period dress is not required. Smash the Windows played and was wonderful.The caller could be a bit gruff and a bit of a perfectionist. He walked us through some of the dances, but only once and then it was danced. There were several there who knew the dances and that really helped keep things going. They host dances in Fairfield on a regular basis to teach period dancing.

We finished our weekend in Gettysburg with lunch at Garryowen's, a visit to Needle and Thread (of course), the Visitor's Center, and a special drive through the battlefield with Don and Carolann Schmitt. We had a great weekend and were sorry to see it end.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Braid Work

My next Genteel Arts workshop was held in Hamden, Connecticut. I have a good friend that lives in Hamden so it was a must attend. This was a great class! Learned several techniques I wasn't familiar with.

Carolann started with a lecture with images of various uses of braid work as well as a display of originals. The following are all from the collection of Carolann Schmitt.

Carolann provided us with a kit that included all the threads, fabric, and paper we would need. Our handouts included braiding patterns. Also included with the kit were these really cool FriXion pens from Pilot. They erase with heat so can be used on most fabrics and the lines disappear when ironed.

The first project we worked on was braid work appropriate for cuffs and collars. We traced a pattern onto lightweight fabric using the FriXion pens.

We then filled the pattern using our sewing machines and different weights of thread.

When completed we ironed over the design to erase the tracing marks.

I really like the way this turns out. The little curly ques can prove to be a challenge, but I think with practice and a bit more patience I could do an acceptable job of this. 

The next project was a small pillow top or pin cushion. The tracing technique was using chalk and paper piercing.

After pricking the paper, it needs to be smoothed on the back side.

The pattern is then laid on the fabric and chalk powder is used to mark the pattern. Be sure to test any chalk you use to ensure it will brush away completely. We used cotton balls to gently brush the chalk over the design so it will transfer through the perforation onto the fabric. 

The rest of the work is done by hand. The pattern is filled in with cording sewn down with evenly spaced stitched. My thread broke during this part so my design is a bit cock-eyed.

Contrasting cording can be woven through the first cording to enhance the design.

The next process was using stitch and tear. We traced our pattern onto tracing paper and then pricked it as above. Rather than using chalk to make the pattern we sewed the paper directly on the fabric. This can be done by machine or by hand as in the project above. I chose to sew the cording down by hand.

We worked a little with satouche braiding as well.

And we learned to make twisted cording; unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of that.

This was a wonderful workshop! I learned so many new techniques, as embellishment was not a strong point for me. I hope to use some of these newly learned skills soon.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Berthes, Fichus and Pelerines

So began my busy Genteel Arts November; or so it seemed. My first workshop was in Gettysburg, Berthes, Fichus and Pelerines. These items are dress accessories that can be used to change the look of a dress.

A berthe is a large cape-like collar falling over the shoulders and bodice of a dress (Schmitt, Carolann. Berthes, Fichus and Pelerines, pg. 3) and is usually a separate piece from the dress. We see these often on evening gowns.

A fichu, alternately was more shawl-like and comes over the shoulders to the front.

Collection of Carolann Schmitt

Then there is the pelerine. I really think this is what the "dreaded triangle thingy" is attempting to imitate. A pelerine is more cape-like and can match the dress, changing a bodice cut for evening to something more appropriate to day time.

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
Pelerine 1855-1860

I had taken Carolann Schmitt's Fichu workshop at the Civilian Symposium in March and thought perhaps I would like a pelerine. But I looked at my wardrobe and decided another fichu would be better, one with long tails.

As with all of the Genteel Arts classes, a well researched handout was provided that included period descriptions, illustrations, bibliography and instructions for constructing the chosen garment and, of course, the patterns. Before we started sewing, Carolann gave a lecture on the different accessories including more period photos and originals; she had a few originals with her to show as well.  You can see these in the Fichu workshop pictures here.

I did not have enough of the netting I chose to cut the pattern exactly as the pattern called for; the pattern being one piece over the shoulders, so we altered it a bit, adding a shoulder seam to accommodate the size of the pattern.

Once the pattern was cut and the pieces sewn together, I added net ruching.

Once the ruching was in place I will add a narrow black velvet trim down the center of the ruching; this I still need to finish. I will probably also add a small hook and eye at the waist to hold it as I do not want to wrap it around the back although that is an option.

These pieces are really quite easy to make and can add so much to your period wardrobe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Welbourne 2015

I have waited so long to be able to attend this event. The participants staying in the house are limited and those who have been before get first right of refusal to stay on the property. It can take some time on the waiting list to get in, but it is worth the wait! This is the type of event we all dream of - period building, few intrusions - period moments abound.

Welbourne is in Middleburg Va., Loudon County, horse country. It is beautiful! The drive down from Pennsylvania was very nice with all the trees in full Fall color, and the weather was perfect.

The house was originally built in the 18th century and added on through the years and remains in the same family. It is also on the National Register and the land is under a conservation easement. The house serves as a bed and breakfast on a regular basis.

The organizer of the event requested little or no photos so I tried to abide by the rules and personally have very few photos; however several others did take photos and Jim Pfeiffer was on hand to take tin types. You can find links to the various collections at the end of this post.

I arrived on Friday evening although several had been at the site since Thursday. My roommate for the weekend arrived at the same time and we were shown to our room. We stayed on the second floor and shared a bed, being good friends that wasn't an issue. We quickly changed as dinner was just about ready. 

During dinner, I think, we maintained first person very well. We discussed our experiences through the war and what the future might hold. 

At this event we were lucky enough to have two wonderful African American interpreters, Cheney McKnight and Anita Henderson. Cheney cooked lunch and dinner for us and Anita served. The food was wonderful and period.
Tin type by Jim Pfeiffer
Saturday evening after dinner we sat in the parlor and talked, read jokes and other pieces and had Pimms. I had never had Pimms and now I think I'm addicted. There was also a piano in the house so I attempted to play a bit. I need a keyboard again and practice!

Saturday was my first full day at the event. Breakfast was cooked and served by the bed and breakfast staff and was very good, a full American breakfast. After breakfast I sat with some of the other Pennsylvania ladies for a tin type on the porch. We were all in our wrappers. Jim also made a group tin type and I had my own done. 

Tin type by Jim Pfeiffer
After photos I spent some time making a sewing box. As usual, though, I didn't finish it. It would make a great conference workshop, so I'm researching the design for how period it is. It came from a modern book on Victorian projects but it did not have any documentation on it's use during the period. It's a cute little box though.

One of the activities for the weekend for the weekend was a Friendship Album. These were popular during the mid-19th century and included verses or little tokens. We hope to continue this into the next years' events and have a record of our event.

Later in the afternoon some of us went to visit the horses. Welbourne also serves as a retirement ranch for horses. We brought apples and they were a bit skittish at first, then they realize we had apples and they wouldn't leave us alone.

I also played more piano and enjoyed tea on the porch.

Dinner was great!

After dinner we had some entertainment in the parlor with a play from a ladies' magazine and other readings. 

We made it an early night though after such a packed day.

Sunday was a laid back day. After breakfast there was a prayer service.

Following the church we had a reenactment of Garner Peters and Scrivington's return. Garner Peters was a slave who left his owner during the war and taking a prized horse, Scrivington. After sometime, Peters decided to return and brought the horse back with him. It was quite an event at the time.

Many of us then took carriage rides.

After the rides everyone began packing up and leaving. It was a great weekend! Jessica Craig does a wondrous job organizing these events! I can't say enough for her knowledge and thoughtfulness in providing us such amazing events in which to play. Eagerly looking forward to the next ones!

Additional photos can be found in various places throughout Facebook; here are a few links:
Day one, Day two, Day three