Saturday, May 19, 2012


1 week. 1 yard of denim and twill. 3 yards of linen. Grommets.  Some ribbon.  Result?

A rockin' Renn Faire!

(Hopefully this is a good omen for the rest of my projects this year . . .)

Did my cutting out while watching BBC's "Robin Hood"

Cap was whipped-up by Sami in the car on the way :-)  Red petticoat was finished Monday night.  The vest, with green edging and yellow ribbon over the boning in the front, was finished at 9am the day-of ;-P

Monday, May 14, 2012

This Year's "Laundry" List

By December 16th: A 14th-century gown worthy of a lady of Laketown

By November 17th: 1 1860s mourning dress + bonnet w/veil + 1 silk ballgown

By September 1st: Redo skirt on 1860s navy gown, finish trim on top of navy gown.

By July 8th: 1770s stays + take-in 1770s short-gown

By June 22nd: 1 1950s dress for my sister (Happy 25th, kid!)

By THIS SATURDAY (May 18th): 1 Renaissance bodice + under-petticoat COMING RIGHT UP!!!!

[Maggie to Sami: "WHY ARE WE CRAZY??!!"  Sami to Maggie: "Because we're awesome!"]

See y'all on the other side! (I'll try & post pics . . . :-/)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Posts at The Winchester Canon!

It's been quite a few months since I was last able to update the adventures of our intrepid Winchester ladies Adah & Margaret-Ellen, but if any of y'all are interested there are 2 new letters waiting at The Winchester Canon.  Margaret-Ellen is well-recovered from her pneumonia scare, and now both ladies watch as their families are sundered in the beginning months of the War Between the States . . . *cue melodramatic music*

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gettysburg Tintype

Adah Ridenour & Margaret-Ellen Copeland, Gettysburg, 1863.
Tintype taken by Dell Hillpert at Victorian Photography in Gettysburg. 

(My scanning machine at work is worthless, so, sorry for the wonky reflections ;-D A better version can be found on Samantha's blog.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Navy Dress

When Sami left us for Michigan in August, I remember standing out on the street saying a tearful goodbye at 2 a.m.  "Don't worry," she said, "you have a dress and a bonnet to finish before we see each other in Gettsyburg in November.  The time will fly by!"

Boy, was she right!

I had finished two 1860s dresses before this one - a green work dress that was unlined and only slightly fitted, and a cotton ball-gown with a lined, fitted bodice.  So, having done it once, I figured I had it down.


After an evening mostly spent cutting-out my navy wool and my cotton twill lining and then crying when I couldn't figure out how to get the right "fit,"  (and missing Sami-My-Sensei immensely), I made a pair of undersleeves and embroidered them 'cause, dammit, I'm good at SOME things.

Then I gave a call to good ole' Niamh O'Conlon.  She had me fitted in no-time, though truth be told we were probably a little too enthusiastic getting a snug fit.  More on that later.

My problem, of course, being that whenever I need help sewing, the person helping me ends up doing most of it, and I just end up making the same mistakes later . . .
My wonky by-hand running stitch on the darts . . .  Had to restitch the day before the Gettysburg event b/c the wool had pulled out of the seam.  I backstiched it that time around . . .

With the piping added, it takes shape!

That done, I decided I wanted to line the sleeves with this lovely rose silk I found at Joanne's.  From there I figured it would be nice to make some silk-covered buttons and a matching belt as well.  Luckily, I didn't take any pictures of the how wonky the wrist-edges of the sleeves ended up.  And the trim (finished in the car on the way to Gettysburg) covers it up pretty well . . . ;-)
Next time I'm going to ignore the pattern and make the sleeve, modified pagoda-or-not, much roomier.
You know, one of these days, I'm gonna learn how to effing sew . . .
Once I procure more ribbon, I'll be doing this same idea around and then up the side-seam of the sleeve to the shoulder.

It took a couple more sewing sessions with Niamh before the sleeves were attached well (it took me a couple tries) and we'd figured out the waist treatment.  I decided to defy historical accuracy and go for large, dramatic box-pleats, a distinctly late-60s style.  At that point it was starting to actually look like a dress, though the closure, as you can see, was ominously snug!  I think this pattern needs some serious re-adjustment next time I make it.  I think I'll go for the B-cup pattern, the C was too baggy, and tightening the darts didn't seem to help much.

I put my hand to the details, and came up with a collar, belt, and buttons.  Pinned-in, I could feel the excitement/panic rising!

I made the collar from scratch - I'd like to find a good pattern to work with next time, because it really does fold weird around the curve.  I should have cut it out on the bias, methinks.  Live & Learn.

Embroidery to match the undersleeves - just for the fun heck of it and it to make me feel better for being incompetent with the larger concepts of seamstress-ry.

I don't think it was 'til I took this picture that I believed I could finish the thing on my own.

A hop, skip, and some frantic car-sewing later, and I had finished the belt, bow, and minimal trim on the sleeves.  I'd also managed to make some hat-pins, a matching reticule, and trim a straw bonnet Samantha bought for me last summer, which I think I will put in a different post.  It's amazing what an immovable deadline can do for a project!

Gettysburg was fantastic!  An amazing time-traveling adventure with Samantha and her lovely friends - so much inspiration for later!  My dress was definitely not in the same league as those of the costuming-geniuses I got to hang with, but I was proud of it, and proud that I'd paid attention to period construction and trim tips so that I could hold my head high and help contribute to the 1863 atmosphere with the best of them :-)  All thanks to Sami's inspiration!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Halloween!

For your spookification and amusement: some set-pieces I put together for my department's Halloween Party, which had a Haunted Hotel theme.  Too many Dr. Who in-jokes for my own good, but, what can you do?
Nice to have a creative outlet, for a little while, that doesn't involve thread [well, okay, I did whip out my handy dandy sewing box to stitch garland to a curtain and hand around pins to secure signs to said curtain . . .  once a crafter, always one, I guess ;-P]

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Miniactment - July, 2011

In honor of my new blog-look - a new post!  This is one I've been meaning to write for . . . months.  Since, July, actually.  In my defense, I recently finished a 12-week commitment to a play (acting & costuming - I'll see if I can get my hands on any pictures of my slap-a-dash creations) that allowed time for little more than driving 2-hours-a-day to Hollywood & back.

Over the past couple years, our reenacting troupe has grown and shifted in demographics - from mostly families to mostly teenagers.  With so many new recruits, the more "progressive" members were eager to put together a low-key, costume-optional, weekend troop-event to help the "young'uns" (and the "elders" - everybody could always use a brush up!) develop their impressions, learn more about the history of our regiment and grow more familiar with the specific area that they would have lived and fought within.  So, after kicking the idea around for a few weeks, I agreed to take on the bulk of planning for the 18th VA's First Annual Miniactment.

Near Casper's Wilderness Park where we held the event

I finished reading Beleaguered Winchester, put together a class on the 18th's hometown during wartime, and trekked down to Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano to talk to the rangers about holding our event there. Sami agreed to teach about historical sewing and help with food & set-up duties.  Cpl. Tim planned a singing workshop and a class on the military record of the 18th VA.  And after some gentle coaxing I convinced the indomitable Logan Creighton to speak on putting-together and maintaining a first-person impression in front of the public.

Of course, nothing ever goes exactly according to plan, so when none of the 18th's young troopers could show up, the weekend became more of an "Officer's Retreat." This turned into a blessing: giving the opportunity for our newly-appointed officers Lieutenant White & Sgt. Ridenour to plan out the year and brainstorm about the direction of the troop.

Logan's class was especially inspiring & interesting, and even gave the group an opportunity to try out their first-person skills on a passing group of curious campers.  We showed them our camp & tents, answered their questions, and brought out a jar & heavy cream to show them how butter is made.  It was really the perfect match-up! Of course, Sami & I (and the next night, Marissa & I) as event-coordinators made it an adventure all their own: proving ourselves in tent-setting-up skills, the fighting off of rampaging squirrels, and making fire without a guy around - sporting our battle-wounds under matching Charlie-Brown band-aids.  A smashing success, in impact, if not in numbers!

Our new Sergeant teaches us about the 18th VA

I guess you could call these the nosebleed seats ;-)

It's thanks to my bug-out bag I even had these . . .

A mess o'biscuits with sausage an' apple hash served fer dinner

Filling out character-worksheets by firelight

Me with my teaching materials

Samantha decided to switch eras on us halfway through

Our campsite offered the perfect big tree to hold classes under

I HAVE MADE FIRE!! (Without setting my hoopskirt or the surrounding brush aflame.  *Phew!*)