elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
We had our I-guess-it's-annual-now 18th century picnic today! Great turnout, lots of friends, but boy was it HOT. And I don't mean my wimpy up-North definition of hot. It was 95 and muggy as hell.

Still, we managed to have a lovely time anyway. I wore my curtainalong dress and I finished my HB's new cotton coat. We tried our new wooden folding table and chairs set and I like them.

I am totally wiped out now, but so happy and grateful for the opportunity to do such great dress up events! Pictures when I get around to it, but some are already floating around facebook if you are really curious.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Today The Girl and I went to Grand Old Day, our local street festival on Grand Avenue, and on a whim we decided to dress up.


I am more in love with this green calico all the time. It did bother me slightly that my dress was 12 years later than hers, but I am sure I am the only one who noticed! It's just nice to have something casual and easy that still reads as Victorian.

We enjoyed the parade and got lots of candy thrown to us. We saw a bunch of fun local mascots and art cars. And of course we ate a few treats! But we didn't stay much after the parade because lines for everything are so long and it gets so hot and tiresome. But we really enjoyed our morning! Dressing up makes everything more fun!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I have finally caved to peer pressure and registered for Costume Con Madison. It seems that everybody in the city and her sister is going, including a bunch of my Treadle students and my Victorian friends.

I have nothing new planned for this, but I have lots of old dresses and I am not stressing. I do have one new thing I am pondering, but it's staying my secret until I can figure it out a little better.

I don't know if I will enter any competitions. I am not a very competitive person, but it would be quite fun if I won. I have no idea what people enter so I don't know if I have a shot. Probably my best thing is my handsewn orange silk anglaise. I like the idea of my seaside dress being a copy of an extant garment but I'm not super proud of the interior construction.

Anyone else planning to go to this? Super fun times in Wisconsin? Cheese curds?

LHS ball

Feb. 29th, 2016 12:53 pm
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Last weekend my sister and her fiance flew into town to spend her birthday with us and attend the Living History Society's winter ball. The period was civil war era. I loaned her a dress which meant I had to scramble to come up with something for myself. I sewed frantically until the last minute as usual, but we made it to the ball!

lhs ball 2016 010

I had just enough fabric left from my purple plaid dress to make an evening bodice. I had a half yard of acid green silk/cotton satin to work in somehow. I originally bought it to go with the day bodice, for covered buttons and trim. That didn't pan out, but I still loved the bright green with the purple.

I bought some more of the same satin in white and some gorgeous wide lace from work. With these I made a bertha with ruching and piped edges with green bows in front, back, and shoulders. I absolutely love the look of this, but it did seem to gape away from my body slightly. It didn't feel slippy but you can see it in photos. Alas. I suppose I just sew a tucker to it. I suppose this is the danger of making a separate bertha rather than just sewing trim directly to the bodice, but I like how a separate bertha conceals the closure and looks seamless.

I also made a sash with long tails in back. The sash ended up slightly tight, which made it wrinkle more than I wanted, but I can move the hooks and eyes for next time.

lhs ball 2016 021

I really didn't get any good dress shots. We were in such a hurry getting ready, and then I didn't take my camera to the ball with me.

The ball was a lot of fun. The dinner was delish and the dancing was wonderful. I think my sister had a blast! It was so nice to have her at a costume event. And my future brother-in-law is a great dancer!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Sunday we had a Victorian tea to attend at the LeDuc house to celebrate the birthday of one of the costume group gals. I decided I would try some rag curls in The Girl's hair. She just had two little braids for skating but the curls are fancier!

I didn't want to make her sleep in them so I started them during morning cartoons. I dampened her hair with half and half Lottabody setting lotion and water, and wound up locks of hair on strips of muslin. I tied the muslin in knots to keep it on. I remembered reading something about rolling the hair away from the face in front, so I did that. For the rest of her head I was just winging it.

tea 028

She wore them all day, even on errands and to play in the yard. At around 2:30 I gave them a just-in-case blast with the blowdryer, let the hair cool, then unrolled them, nervously. Aaaaaand... they turned out okay! Not perfect, but if I'd wanted perfect I would have used rollers instead of rags. And gotten someone else to do it.

tea 030

I tied a nice cotton sateen ribbon around her head. She chose white. The curls stayed in very well and felt so very soft and touchable. I kind of couldn't stop playing with her hair.

tea 032

She wore the red plaid again, her only currently-fitting Victorian dress. I think this may have been the last wear for this one. Our next Victorian event is probably not until summer, and I doubt this dress will still fit when cold weather comes around again.

tea 037

And her new tweed coat. Hopefully not the last wear for this!

tea 033

I decided to wear my green calico. Everything else I have seemed either too summery (the Renoir or the seaside) or too dressy (the green and blue taffeta ruffle dress). So it was down to the green calico or the brown wool, and I am getting a little tired of the brown wool. Plus I feel very like myself in the green calico, and I guess yesterday I just wasn't in a mood for fussiness.

I spruced up the calico with a new ribbon, another one of the cotton sateen ribbons from work. I tied it in a bow and pinned it in place with this antique pin my HB gave me. It's very dark green glass in a gold-tone setting. I also had my winter bonnet and buff-color gloves. I took this photo at home afterward so it's a mirror shot!

tea 046

My HB wore his 1840s suit that he bought from a company in Canada. He also wore the new top hat which I need to remember to re-shape a little with the hat jack.

There were 8 of us total in attendance. I didn't get photos of everyone but here is the tea table!

tea 041

I made two plates of sandwiches: egg salad on soft whole wheat (we don't keep white bread in the house, generally) and smoked trout spread on very dense, very thin German pumpernickel. One of those loaves that comes vacuum-sealed like a little brick. You know.

There were also deviled eggs, raw vegetables, brandied carrots, crackers with goat cheese, apple crisp, three kinds of cake, lemon tart, and a cold joint ("for the men," as Mrs. Beeton puts it). With so many sweets I wish I had made more sandwiches! Or even just bread-and-butter! There was also tea (of course) but mostly we drank champagne, and a teeny pitcher of orange juice was arranged for F.

The Girl behaved very well and her good manners were remarked upon by the tea guests. She LOVED exploring the LeDuc house and pretending we lived there. And she sat very nicely at the table and said please and thank you and was very nice about the food, even for being as picky as she is. I was very proud of her. Of course, she did get restless by the end of the day but that's okay because we knew it was time to leave! So, overall, a lovely event. SO glad we all went.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Yesterday we had our Victorian Ice Skating event downtown at the Landmark Plaza rink. It was PERFECT weather, maybe even a little warm at 30 F, and no wind. The Girl and I were joined by Miss French and Mr. Geraghty on the ice, and Ms. Low attended and took photos.


I made The Girl a new coat and muff. She wore last year's dress and hood.

skating 001

Miss French was a little timid, not having skated in years. But I think she did wonderfully!


We skated about an hour and then headed to the St. Paul Grill for drinks and desserts. Lots of chat about the next events we want to do, as usual! Looks like Victorian bathing is going to happen for real. So I need to get cracking on historic swimwear that I can actually swim in! Or wade, anyway.

I am so glad that this ice skating event has finally gained a little momentum. I really want to keep it going and do it every year! Now if only we could convince the skating rink to play waltzes.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Took a quick picture at home before we left. We were running SO LATE and I couldn't be bothered to make the camera cooperate any better.

ball 002

I wore my green ruffle dress. HB is in his very non-perfect tailcoat. I bought him a top hat for christmas this year and I think it's quite dapper. It's this one on Amazon and it's not super fancy, but pretty nice wool felt.

I fussed over that neckline so much and for nothing. Still no idea what, if anything, I will ever do to trim it. But I didn't mind too much. We had a lovely time!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
For the last two years, my sewing goals have been completely vague. This year I have am going back to a more specific list. My focus is still going to be heavier on historic sewing and lighter on modern. I have 4 dresses planned for me and at least 2 new suits for The Man, plus some kid-costumes.

Finish all the ufo sweaters
Make HB a new sweater
Jammies and everyday skirts
Winter coat
Quilt the Amy Butler quilt
My sister's WEDDING DRESS!!! (This is actually not going to be too huge a job. She is the opposite of me and has very simple taste; I am basically just making her a normal, knee-length modern dress, but in white satin. Maybe a couple fabric flowers.)

Trim the green ruffle ballgown bodice
1860s plaid separates for the HB
Summer Victorian for HB
Summer Victorian for The Girl
Sheer cotton 1870s dress
18th century summer suit for HB
Wool kirtle from the Tudor Tailor (all handsewn)
Pink cotton 1860s dress
Winter Little House dress
Winter Little House dress for The Girl
Winter Victorian wraps
Lots of accessories for everybody

Events to Attend (I will update this list as needed)
Jan 16 1870s ball
Jan 24 Victorian Ice Skating
Feb 27 LHS 1860s ball
March 20 Ladies Luncheon at Leduc
May 6-9 Costume Con Madison
June 25 18th century picnic
August 13-14 Pipestone Civil War Days
August 18-21 Tall Ships Duluth
Nov 18-20 Victorian Christmas at Stillwater Courthouse
Prep for Little House Party January 2017!!!!

And finally, the Historical Food Fortnightly! I know I pooped out halfway through the year last time, but I am excited for a new set of challenges, and if I don't finish, then I don't finish. I would also like to plan better to coordinate the cooking challenges with dress-up events, like cooking for the costumed picnic.

With The Girl going back to school in a few days, I am going to have a little more time to sew. Getting back to that focused, task-oriented mindset is not going to be easy, but I am going to try to do it. I know I can get so much done if I just start.

I still have all the same general goals as last year, too:

Attend local costume events
Accessories, shoes, and hair
Maximize sewing time
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
We got up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. I hated getting up early but if you leave your house after 9:00 a.m. it adds an extra hour to the drive, because you are sitting in traffic the last five miles before the festival. So we left at 8:15 and got there just after they opened at 9:00.

I didn't get any photos because my camera battery died after taking ONE picture of The Girl in the parking lot. :P So these are almost all from my HB's phone.

Here is the new dress.


You can see more dress details in the dress post. I love way it turned out! Everything is drafted from The Tudor Child and I made most of it over a couple days.

We danced with the court dancers.


Then later we danced with the Scottish dancers.


We met Twig the Fairy.


My favorite thing was talking to Felton, this hilarious and adorable puppet in a booth marked "conversations." Spin the wheel and get a conversation!


As you can see I wore the same old thing.

We also saw Dr. Pandora's science show for kids, a little bit of a juggling show, met some huge puppet people, and hung out in the Princess Garden.

The weather was cool and pleasant in the morning and just verging on hot by midday. I ended up taking off her sleeves and tying them behind her arms to just hang there, which still looked kinda neat.

We were pooped by 3:00 and went home to eat takeout and loaf. It felt like a long day!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Tomorrow is our last chance to attend the local Renaissance Festival, and the weather forecast is looking good. I finished The Girl's new outfit this morning before work, and it's so freakin cute I just wanna burst!

The HB and I are wearing the same old. I just need to replace a hook and eye or two before bed. So everything is fine except. . .

I don't have a shift. I used to have one. I used to have a few. They were old and crummy and machine sewn with big raw seam allowances and made from unbleached cotton muslin with all the big brown flecks in it. I threw them all out during my last closet purge. And I was so sure I would make new ones!

So of course I forgot. I really shouldn't be allowed to throw things away until I have a replacement. I thought getting rid of old stuff would motivate me, but I guess not.

So after a slight panic, I decided that for tomorrow I am borrowing one of my husband's shirts. And if it's roomy on him, it's HUGE on me. But I can make it work for a day. I just hope I don't ruin it.

Once again, I really wish I had gotten my act together for some new costumes this year, and I am going to try to make it happen again next year. But I am still looking forward to a fun day tomorrow!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
We had such a lovely time last weekend at our picnic! We had 20 people altogether (21 if you count the baby!) which is an amazing turnout, considering that 18th century is not nearly so popular here as it is other places.

We arrived at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum around 11. The gardens were already mobbed. We found a shady spot and laid out our picnics.

18th c picnic 6 2015 011

Debbie was period perfect in her handsewn shortgown.

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18th c picnic 6 2015 009

Gary, Sue, and Erin had such an amazing setup, with china, pottery, and homemade period-appropriate food.

18th c picnic 6 2015 016

Lot lots more! )

We had a fabulous time. I wish we could have stayed all day, but by 4:00, I was pooped. That hot sun just sucks the energy right out of you! Can't wait until our next one!

p.s. for the curious and dress-obsessed out there, I plan to spill all the dress details in a separate "new dress!!" post.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments on my orange gown progress! I've been stitching away like a busy little bee here, but I still have a ton left to do.

Tonight before bed I hope to have both sleeves set in, then tomorrow I will pleat the skirt, attach it, hem it, and the gown will be done and wearable. Then Wednesday some trim; just at the neckline and sleeve ends.

I've also been playing with hair. I used some store bought rats to make my hairdo frame today, and tried making some false buckles with glue. We'll see if they hold together when I unwrap them in the morning. Whether they work or not I still need to make more.

For accessories I have my plain cuff ruffles, plain neckerchief, and a couple necklaces to choose from. I might put a ribbon bow on the dress bodice, but a bright fake flower would be fun too. Still hoping to magically pull off some headwear.

The only thing left (besides actually DOING all the stuff above) is to figure out a rain plan. The weather has been wet and unpredictable. Just like every June. Maybe I should stop planning picnics in June? But anyway, I want to have a Plan B in place.

If it's VERY wet Saturday I might not risk this dress at all, and fall back on my caraco instead. At least I would still have new hair.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
A lady in my local group emailed this out a couple weeks ago, and I need it here so I can refer to it. Also for the benefit of anyone local or semi-local!

May 16, 2015 to July 6, 2015 Wisconsin Women of Style, Prairie du Chien, WI
This clothing exhibit will showcase garments and gowns from the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society in the various rooms of the Villa Louis Mansion.

June 20, 2015 to September 20, 2015 Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times,
Paine Mansion, Oshkosh, WI

Thursday, July 16th 4:30-Dusk on the lawn of the Stillwater Courthouse Ice Cream Social and Amatuer Talent Show

June 27, 2015: 18th Century Picnic, 11 AM to 4 PM, MN Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, MN
Pack a picnic lunch and join us for a delightful afternoon in the gardens.

August 13-14, 2016 Pipestone Civil War Days, Pipestone, MN
The Pipestone Civil War Days brings the Civil War to life for visitors of all ages.

August 15-16, 2015 Home Sweet Home, Fort Snelling, MN
Recreating the Civil War troops coming home in July of 1865

September 12-13, 2015 Civil War Weekend, LeDuc House, Hastings, MN
Civil War reenactment weekend

September 19, 2015 1890's (probably) Ball presented by the Historic Recreation Society, Triune Masonic Temple, St. Paul, MN
Dinner and dance in period clothing. More information to follow.

September sometime Constitution Day 18th c event at the Leduc house.

Victorian Christmas Friday, November 20th 6:30-9 pm Saturday, November 21 10am-4pm Sunday, November 22 11am-3pm.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
On Saturday afternoon a small group of ladies gathered at the LeDuc house in Hastings, MN, a charming house built in the 1860s and now preserved as a historic site.

One of the best things about the house is that none of the furnishings are original (stick with me for a sec) which means we can actually USE the place - eat off the tables, set glasses down, lounge in the chairs, and so on.

It's a short drive out of The Cities, and when I arrived I was greeted, given a short tour, and invited into the parlor for sherry. I was a bit early but the other ladies joined me shortly.

photos! )

So glad I was able to attend this great event!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
A few local folks organized a very informal Victorian tea outing for yesterday, just a meetup at a cozy local place for a snack and a chat. Of course, I needed something new to spiff up my brown wool.

I desperately wanted a nice wintery hat. I have a couple of cute little summer straw ones, but nothing even close for winter. I realized I could never make a whole new hat that quick, so first I tried to cover an old straw frame with velvet, which failed, because I was trying to do it the cheater's way, which, for me, always fails.

Then I remembered I had a tiny little round hat I made years ago for something 1560-ish; it had a small, narrow brim and a soft, pleated crown. I made it but never wore it because it didn't work out perfectly and came out a little small. So I thought I could trim it up to look Victorian.

First I bent the brim into a nice curve. This is basically the "before" shot.

hat (1)

Then I started adding trims. I had a very small piece of striped silk in a taupe-y grey with black stripes that I wound around and crunched up around the base of the crown. A small remnant of wide, chalky brown petersham became a bow, and I sewed several white feathers with a couple black ones and stuck them behind the bow. I had some wonderful picot-edged black velvet ribbon (that someone gave me) to make chin ties.

I forgot to take a picture of it on the styro hat head but here it is on me.

hat (9)

winter (1)

I had a little bit too much fun taking backyard tripod photos.

More! )

I have realized that these tiny 1870s hats really don't look right unless you have the right mountain of hair to prop them up. Since I generally fail at hair, I wasn't optimistic but set aside an hour to try anyway. And I think I came up with something okay! Here's what I did:

Hairdo details )

The "tea" turned out to be drinks, dessert, and champagne. My kind of tea! It was fun and I was glad to get out in costume. I am really enjoying doing more costume events but of course it does make me feel like I NEED MORE DRESSES NOW!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Or, as I couldn't help but think of it, Dress-Up Ice Skating.

I was right that it turned out to be just me and my fam. One woman from the group did come, but she wasn't dressed up and she didn't skate, she just wanted to take a couple photos (including this one).


But I didn't care because I love skating and the weather was great. The rink was totally deserted which surprised me because last time it was mobbed. And on a Sunday afternoon! But it was nice to have plenty of room. This rink is on St. Paul's Summit Avenue, where all the beautiful historic mansions are. Lovely!

While my husband can skate he didn't yesterday, he just helped The Girl a little.

skating (1)

She doesn't need much help, though! She is already learning to stay up quite well on her own!

Believe it or not, I am going backwards in this one.

skating (2)

I am not a great skater by local standards but I do have a lot of fun! And I didn't fall down, thank goodness! Trying to get up in this dress would have been challenging. I thought of that little poem from Punch (I think this is quoted in The Cut of Womens' Clothes) with the woman who falls down skating.

Ok, I think she is roller skating, and it's more a comment on tight natural form dresses, but whatevs.

We skated for about 45 minutes (I could have stayed for hours, but my fam was getting cold) and then went to French Meadow cafe for coffee. F had a cup of hot chocolate with a HUGE mountain of whipped cream on top and somehow managed to keep her dress spotless.

More about What We Wore )

I have been wanting to do an event like this for so many years. I am glad we finally just did it! Maybe next year we can get a few folks to join us. Because I am definitely going to make this an annual thing.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Last weekend, The Girl and I had the opportunity to attend a Victorian-themed Christmas market at the historic courthouse in Stillwater, MN. For the event I made her this dress, based off of images for a "child's plain waist" and 4-gore skirt from this book of Butterick pattern catalog reprints.

red check dress (1)

red check dress (2)

I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. It's definitely the best historic dress I have ever made her. The one thing that bugs me is the yoke depth; I could have made the yoke portion much lower.

The original trim plan included more pink ruffles at the hem, but F asked me to leave it off and said, "I'm not particularly fond of pink." I love this for so many reasons.

I wore this old brown wool dress from back in my dinosaur days. It was a little tight but I just suffered through it. :)

stillwater nov 2014 (3)

yes, there's more )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
So, it's Tuesday, and I feel like I am the last person to get my weekend photos up. How weird is that? Modern times.

We went to the Netherfield Ball this weekend organized by the Historic Recreation Society. I wore my green voile from last year. I had big plans for a new yellow silk dress but after making Glinda and the purple plaid I was a little burned out and postponed it for another time. I also had plans for the HB but I decided to wait until I have the new-ish Laughing Moon men's regency tailcoat pattern so I can do it right. So her wore his blue 18th century suit from last spring.

It was really cold and snowy that night, and my HB asked me if I was sure I would be okay wearing that thin dress. Silly man! At least I didn't dampen it, like a certain hardcore reenactor in attendance.

Anyway, pictures!

A goofy selfie was required.


The ball was pretty well attended. Lots of lovely ladies and dapper gents all dressed up! Not everybody was perfectly in period; a lot of the men were in their Victorian evening wear, but who cares because they like to dance!


Lots more! )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
So I finished this in time for the 1864 tea last weekend. Here I am in front of my house with my friend Sarah when she picked me up.

plaid dress 009

This is the first 1860s dress I have made. I made up the skirt (of course) and the bodice is Truly Victorian 443, the 1861 Dress Bodice. It fits well enough and I like it, though I had to do my usual alterations (all TV patterns are a bit generous in the sleeve and upper chest for me). My only complaint is that the points in back, while being quite adorable, are also very distinctive, giving the bodice a bit of a cookie cutter look when 3 ladies all wear it to the same event, which happened on Saturday.

The collar is linen and I spent about 10 minutes on it, from drafting to done. I accesorized with my mother's cameo pin and pearl earrings. I did my hair simply, over my ears with a center part, and this is seriously as low as I could get it while still making it attach to my head.

Here's the back.

plaid dress 013

a couple more )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Oddly, I was the one taking most of the photos yesterday, so there aren't many.

I think the suit deserves its own post, so more on that (and the other costumes) another day.

More!! )

Well, it wasn't perfect, but we had fun. I hope we can keep doing this event and make it bigger and better every year!
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