Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to be a Lady

Yes, I know. Two posts in the same day! I found this on a southern woman's website (take a look at her petticoats!) and thought it was too good not to share.

A woman of 'quality' was expected to look as though she didn't do anything except needlework and wait for her man.  When in reality, she worked as hard as any field hand!!  She had to be able to run a household of many members so seamlessly that no-one knew she was doing it.  She had to make sure there were sufficient staff to do the required housework, and she had to make sure each of them was properly trained and clothed.  She also had to manage accounts, schedule and plan for supplies and deliveries and meals, not to mention parties, balls, etc.  She also had children (whether her own, the children of the household or family) to look after and arrange for their education, and she was expected to be the first to administer medical care in times of illness and injury.  All of this means she had to have a good education, she needed to be knowledgeable about general health and first aid. 


She was never to be seen doing any of these things!!  She was the force behind the scenes.  The quiet voice of reason, the iron rod of discipline, the keeper of the purse, the manager of the staff.  To any who might see her, she was the languid, helpless, softly, feminine flower of the south.

She had white, soft skin.  Glossy hair, and bright, shining eyes.  She never raised her voice and she was never in a hurry.  If you listen to older ladies from the south, you'll find they speak, softly, and with a gentle, measured cadence.  Being reared in the deep south, I was taught that a lady never causes a scene - no matter what!  If attention is drawn to one, it should be for the proper reasons - deportment, dress, manners (not the lack thereof!) charity and good taste.

And to finish, one of the ruffled petticoats she makes. Isn't it just divine?

Petticoat - Finished!

I finally finished my first petticoat last night! I've been working on it for a few weeks. I found a pattern online (can't remember where now), which is basically triangles sewn together with a ruffle on the bottom. It was very easy, and the lady who drafted it did a step-by-step tutorial on her website. I'll have to see if I can find it.

When I first started making historical clothing, I doubted how much of a different a petticoat would make. After all, we don't wear them very often - if ever! - nowadays. As I read again and again how important it was to make the correct undergarments to complete your outfit, I started looking around and finally found a free pattern that didn't look too hard. The original petticoat was made from 6 yards of a cheap cotton, but I repurposed an old sheet (two, really) for the job. It's a bright pink, purple, and green Mexican-ish looking print, but both my Bustle dress skirt and my Civil War dress skirt are dark, so it showing through shouldn't ever be a problem.

There is one long ruffle around the bottom. I think it measured 150 inches, post-ruffling. My hoops are 120 inches at the bottom hoop, so it fits nicely over them.

I originally planned on making ruffles all the way up it, to smooth my Civil War skirt out over my hoops, but when I saw how much it took to make one ruffle around the bottom (four lengths of sheet - the long way!), I gave up on that idea pretty fast. I still have parts of one sheet and another sheet (though in a different print), so I'll see if my dress really needs it. Otherwise, I may just cut the extra sheet up for another plain petticoat.

I tried my petticoat on last night over my hoops with my Civil War dress on over it all and was pleasantly surprised how it got rid of my "lampshade hoop." Yay! :) Now I want to go take lots of pictures in my dress. Too bad it's so snowy out.

As lovely as this lady's dress is, it could benefit from a petticoat or two!

I'd like to have my petticoat the right length so I can wear it with my bustle dress skirt too, but right now it's way too long. If I put the waistband lower (pulling the whole petticoat up), it will be too short for my hoops... Hmm. What to do. I might try making a second waistband so I can put the drawstring into whichever one I want, thus making the petticoat two different lengths and just fold down the excess fabric. It does wonders for my bustle dress skirt as well, plus it's just so fun to wear! I'm always watching in movies now to see if I can tell how many petticoats the actresses are wearing, if any! Yes, I'm a bit obsessed. :) I'll try to get some pictures of it to show you all.

If you ever get the chance to wear a petticoat, try it! It might do more than you think.

*On another note, I turned anonymous comments on, so now anyone should be able to post a reply.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My First Post (Hair)

I finally have made a blog. I've been wanting to for a while but just got around to it. I have very little clue as to what I'm doing, so bear with me. I recently co-hosted a tea for our friends, so I thought I would show you how I did my hair. The second dress I ever made was an 1880s bustle dress. Now that I've researched that period more I realize it may not be the most historical, but it's fun to wear, so I don't really care. Plus it's just nice to have a modest dress made in a style and in colors that I like. :) Pictures!

First off, my dress:
I really need a petticoat or three...someday!

And then my hair. I had put it into bandana curls the night before. It's a bit uncomfortable to sleep on, until you learn how to lie on it, but the curls totally make up for it. I had four curls (from four bandanas) when I took the bandanas out, so I took the back two and put them into a high pony tail at the back of my head. I took the other two and draped them over the hair band, pinning them in place with a few bobbie pins. I like how it turned out. Lots of draping curls.

The color of my dress is more correct in the two hair pictures. It's a deep forest green. The bustle/accents is the same green with lime-ish green leaves and mauve flowers on it.

Now just to figure out how to post this...