Monday, July 29, 2013

My Chemise and Split Drawers! (And a Dress form)

If you have a Civil War dress, you also need all the correct undergarments to go with it. When I first made my dress, I had no clue about the correct 1860's silhouette, so recently I've been filling where I missed. A chemise and a pair of split drawers were the final pieces to complete my outfit.

I happened across a pattern for an 1850's - 1870's chemise in the Chapman Historical Museum that Cassidy from A Most Beguiling Accomplishment drew up. I thought it looked fairly simple, giving that it was all one piece (except for the gussets), so I decided to give it a go. I bought a plain white sheet. I thought it was cotton, but then I saw the tag said muslin. It feels thicker than most cottons to me.

Here's her sketch:

It took me a while to figure out how big to enlarge the thing. I ended up around 27" wide and while it isn't uncomfortable to wear, I think next time I'll make it a few inches wider. I was going to model it for you myself, along with my drawers and corset, but lately it has been quite chilly and I didn't really feel like walking around in my undergarments. :) My new dress form will model it for you instead. (Read more about her below)

There is some excess fabric below the arm, because of the way the pattern is, but it really doesn't bother me. 

The gussets
I used a self-drafted pattern for my split drawers, found at Auntie Maude's Compendium. They were fairly easy to make up and are very comfy! You can somewhat see them on my dress form, but they don't look very nice because she doesn't have legs to fill them out. :)

On to my dress form! I had been wanting one for some time now, but I waited until I made my corset so I could fit my historical dresses onto the correct silhouette. I started out with an old t-shirt and, with Mom's help, started slathering. You pretty much have to have someone help you, otherwise you can't get your shoulders correct. 


Once I had a solid base, I cut it carefully off and taped it over a wooden frame made with Dad's help. Newspaper inside and more duct tape up the cut finished her up. Then I used my newest flower duct tape to cover her with. 

I think she turned out quite nice. I've named her Mabel. I haven't used her a whole lot yet, mainly just for modeling.

Hope your summer is going well!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Charlton Park's Civil War Muster

This weekend was the Civil War Muster at Charlton Park. After sewing madly for about a week before hand, I finished re-fitting my dress and making it more historically correct. I originally made it for Halloween two years ago, and believe me, it showed. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about either sewing clothing or 1860's dresses, so it came out way too big on me. With the help of an experienced reenactor, I took my bodice off the skirt and completely re-fitted it to my now-corseted body. I also re-hemmed the entire thing. I still need to do a bit more work on it, but it looks so much better now.

Anyways, as soon as I got off from work, I dressed up and did my hair, then squished my hoops in the car and headed over to Charlton Park.

All pictures are taken courtesy of my mom, except for one. :)

Part of the civilian camp

Various pieces of artillery
 I got there just as the battle was ending. I wandered around most of the afternoon, visiting the old buildings again and meeting up with a few friends. There was a traveling tin-typist there as well, so I posed for my picture.

Those of you familiar with the process of making a tintype will know that they are reversed horizontally. I wear my ring on my left hand in real life, but in the picture it appears to be on my right hand. I just wanted to point that out. The tin-typist said the reason why my dress and hair turned out so dark was because they both have a reddish tint to them.

After my picture developed, I went home for a quick dinner before heading back for the ball in the evening. It was very warm dancing, but there were refreshments and outside of the barn it was cool, so it wasn't too bad. Mom took a lot of pictures during the dance, but every single one of them are blurry, due to lack of light and moving people. :)

After we danced for an hour or so, there were lantern tours of the village. There were different scenarios set up - a church converted into a hospital, a saloon, letters from one cousin to another fighting in the war being read by candlelight, and a family packing because the enemy soldiers were minutes down the road, among other things.

The blurriness was due to the time warp back to 1863. ;) Note the white cartridge papers on the ground from the battle earlier.
After the tour was over, a few of us stayed to see the night artillery firing over the river, which was very interesting. When it's dark out, you can especially see all the sparks that come out of the cannon's barrel. 

Picture taken by Roger Smith, Charlton Park staff member.

The next morning brought a beautiful sunny day. I did some shopping (picking up an 1858 etiquette book!) then explored the village again with a friend until the fashion show.

There were a variety of looks, from the very wealthy... the middle class... the working class.
There was also an adorable little boy modeling his dress and pinafore. Isn't he cute?
Later in the afternoon the cavalry gave a demonstration.

After the cavalry demonstration, they cleared out of the village green. Some lovely southern ladies strolled around under the massive oak tree, enjoying the warm day...

...until the Union cavalry rode into town, causing the poor ladies to flee to their homes!

A Union artillery crew also rolled into town.

The Southern boys on their way to defend their town and families.

The Northern infantry met them in the green.

The Union troops fought valiantly, but were eventually surrounded and forced to surrender.

After the battle, the rest of my family went home while I stayed for the medical demonstration. I even got to help out, by comforting the poor private whose leg was being sawn off.

I was a bit sad to take my dress off at the end of the day. The next day I donned a modest (for the 21st century) blouse and my split skirt. I kept feeling like I was too immodest, with my arms half bare and my skirt only going to mid-calf. Going to reenactments really makes you realize how many people walk around now with exposed skin for no reason that could be covered up.

The old oak tree in the center of the village green. I wonder how old it is and what it has witnessed over the years?

All in all, I had a wonderful time. The next reenactment I am planning on attending will be the Jackson one. I'm already counting down the days! I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Trip to the Bernard Historical Museum

Sunday morning saw us heading to the Bernard Historical Museum about thirty minutes away from us. While the museum grounds are small, they have seven or eight buildings clustered together and have made use of nearly all the the available space. They have a nice collection of everyday items - my favorite kind! :)

A replica kitchen was one of the first rooms we came across. 

In it were some canned cherries...
'These cherries were canned in or before 1891.'
A lovely dress from the 19-teens or slightly before, I'm guessing.
A huge hat pin that must have been two inches across!
An amazingly plaid bustle dress! Even the bodice is a tiny plaid!

This was about a third of their collection of arrowheads.
A lovely carved wall pocket.
Wall pockets were a handy way to keep your paper or magazines handy, yet off the floor and furniture. I think they sound very handy and I would love to find one!

Radios from the 1930's - 1940's
Magazines showing the latest styles. I'll take one of everything please!
Different types of barbed wire.
Those were a small selection of all they had on display. We had a guided tour of all the buildings, the blacksmith's, the general store, the school house (where we even got to ring the bell!) and the rest of the buildings. I think with twice or thrice as much space as they have now, they could have amazing displays of the most important part of American life - the home.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Corset and Pleated shorts - Done!

Sorry for not posting pictures of my corset and my pleated shorts. I have had both done for a week or two, but with graduation and fair approaching, I have been very busy lately. I have pictures of them both, I just need to upload them.  I do have, however, a picture of my new hat I made. I did end up finding a straw hat frame I liked, so I bought three of them. I've only decorated one so far. See what you think:

I calculated the cost of it all and it came to around five dollars for this hat. Sounds good to me! I want to get one or two more to decorate. One will be covered plain black with maybe a black or muted ribbon for trim (for funerals and such), one will be white with loads of ostrich feathers, one will be straw with white tulle and either white or yellow flowers or a mix, I'm not quite sure yet.

I wore my pictured outfit out in public to church the other morning and people seemed to like it. I don't think I scared any little kids or anything. :) I also wore my outfit to Charlton Park's Old Fashioned Fourth of July, although their idea of old fashioned isn't as old as mine. ;)

Anyways, just a quick post to let you all know I'm still here. I'll try to get the pictures of my corset and pleated shorts up in the next day or so. Hope your summer is going well and Happy Independence day!