Sunday, February 28, 2010

Midwinter Ball

Surprise! Event this weekend. Good thing it was an 1860s ball, and I already have a ballgown.

Gwendolyn, Katie, and Mike
February 27, 2010

More after the jump!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Looking forward...

Ideas late at night are hard to photograph...

So, I'm a winter person. I like cold weather, I don't mind snow. Downhill skiing is really the only sport I really, truly enjoy. Even so, these last few weeks of winter--before spring starts to hint at us here in the great white north*--are tough ones. I find myself planning ahead for warmer days in order to cheer myself up.

This is just one thing I've been mulling over; far-off party plans are a fun way to daydream, though, and who doesn't like white china and sparkling glassware? 'Til you have to wash it, anyway.

*Michigan--aka Canada, Jr.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Embroidery, Day 7

One sleeve down, one to go.

A gentle press, and then onto the next one!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Looking Sharp: The Art of Directional Knife Pleating

Please forgive me re: title. I couldn't help myself.

Directional knife pleating creates a lovely cascaded effect with a large geometric pattern.

There are several ways to compress a skirt width to a waistband, but for 1860s, my personal favorite is directional knife pleating. Here's a short how-to on the technique I use.

I started by seaming the skirt together. I use three panels if my skirt fabric is 54" or more, and four if it's 45". I'm using my plaid day dress skirt as an example, so there are three panels, since the silk was a decorator width. To make things easy on myself, I placed one seam at the center back, and used roughly one panel for my front width, so the bulk of the fullness fell toward the back of the skirt.

To prep the skirt for pleating, I hemmed it on the straight grain, so that the bottom is level all the way around. The skirt is then balanced from the waist, much like the technique that Katherine outlines here, though her example is for an 18th century petticoat. For the plaid skirt, I used pinking shears to finish the top edge of the skirt, just so it wouldn't fray too badly.

In the front, I always pleat my skirts the same way. That makes it easy to start there. I mark the center front with a pin and measure half an inch out from either side; that's where the first pleat will fall. This gives you a 1" flat space at the very center front of your skirt. The first pleat from the center is a 1/2" pleat. The "directional" part of directional pleating means that pleats in the skirt front point toward the CF, while back pleats point toward CB.

Half an inch to each side, followed by a half-inch deep pleat.

The rest of the pleats are 1" pleats, side by side. That is, they aren't stacked--each pleat lies next to the preceding one, with no overlap.

One-inch pleats--number will depend on distance between measurement and the side of the skirt.

The side of the skirt is the secret to directional knife pleating. See, the pleats point toward the center front and center back, respectively. The side is where they change direction.

Because of the way the pleats point, you'll end up with a box pleat at the side point of your skirt waist.

The process of pleating the back is significantly more organic. I don't really measure anything, but rather figure out how much space I have to cover and then pleat my remaining width down to fit it. With the large plaid, it was pretty easy to gauge, since the fabric itself acted like a guideline.

When you're done, the back and front will each have an inverted box pleat at the center point. Below, you can see what the inside looks like:

Lastly, don't forget a method of actually getting in and out of the skirt. It's common to see skirts closed at the side front, which isn't always intuitively obvious, especially if you don't have a seam there you can leave open for a faux-placket. For this one, I simply slit the inside of one pleat down several inches and bound it with some bias silk. When the skirt is closed, the back pleat laps over the front one and conceals the split.

Detail of the skirt closure.

Embroidery, Day 4

Right sleeve

Eventually, this will become an 1810 ballgown based on an example from Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail. I've only ever really embroidered one other project, so I'm as interested as the next person to see how this turns out!

Embroidery officially began on February 13, where I worked on it for most of the day at SewFest. I did a little more the next morning, and then brought it to work on Monday, since we had an in-service day. A little more last night, and here's the current state of it. I did not bring it with me to work today, since I'll be going to class and then swing dance after and didn't want to drag it around with me all day. But swing is over at 10, so I'll have an hour or two to spend on it tonight.

My goal is simple: Spend every free moment possible working on embroidery, and see how far I get.

Friday, February 12, 2010

First Regiment Volunteers

Okay, so, I'm really excited about this. I was just telling Mike the other night, "I adore all the people I've met through 1812 reenacting." My friends and I have attended events with the First Regiment Volunteers in the past, and I'm really looking forward to seeing these people again. I've also been working on a couple projects recently for upcoming 1812 events, and I just got some news that's made me even more excited...if that's possible.

The First Regiment Volunteers' website has just gone live--I just got word an hour ago! It's still growing, according to our Capt. Fisher, and I'm eager to see what more is coming. In the meantime, take a look around. From what I've seen and experienced, I can't recommend these folks highly enough if you're at all interested in 1812 reenacting!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sutler Showcase: Spencer's Mercantile.

I first discovered Spencer's Mercantile at the Siege at Old Fort Erie in August 2009. Walking into their tent was pretty much of the most shop-able establishments I've ever been in at any reenactment, and their merchandise!

I turned to Gwendolyn and asked, "If I just hand them my credit card, do you think they'd just let me back my car up to the tent and start loading it up?" They had seemingly everything a reenactor could want, from shako plates to swords and shawls. I managed to contain myself, and picked out only a few things.

Parchment crocuses; one of my purchases from Spencer's Mercantile.

Their customer service was flawless, too. The weather that weekend was hot and muggy, with a smattering of rain every so often. I know I wasn't in the best mood all the time! But they were helpful and friendly, and to my surprise, recognized me when I went back in street clothes the next day, even. That's right, I went back. Parchment crocuses weren't enough! I just had to have that wooden comb, and the turtle charm...

Since then, some of my other friends have discovered them, too. Most recently, I believe they were among the first to stock the new Robert Land 19th century/1812 shoe styles for men and women. I'll be ordering my pair from them shortly!

Anyway, you can bet that if I ever get the chance to visit their brick-and-mortar store, I'll be there in a heartbeat. Until then, or the next occasion I have the pleasure of encountering them at an event, I'll have to content myself with their website!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"I am not playing. I'm accessorizing."

As my dear friend Gwendolyn often tells me, "accessories make an outfit." Above is pictured one of my favorites.

Inspired by this portrait, I wore my coral set to the River Raisin Battlefield Commemoration back in January. The necklace I've had and worn for years; the beads were a gift from my friend Marie. She sent me enough (from Canada--New France, if you will, which makes me geekily excited) for a necklace and then some, but until recently I hadn't done much with the rest of the beads. Most of them became another necklace (for a gift), but I still had a few left over. Add in a couple smaller beads and some silver findings, et voila! A set of matching earrings.

Gwendolyn, wearing the coral necklace and choosing sash colors.