1812 Mourning Gown "Black Widow" :: Part 1

Last year at Baltimore Comic Con, a friend of mine asked me if I was interested in joining her and a few friends in possibly doing a federal period variant of the Marvel Avengers. Excited, I immediately knew who I could cosplay as: Black Widow. 
To give you a broad idea of customs in the 18th and 19th century, when a loved one died, the people closest to the deceased would go into a period of mourning. While we still traditionally will wear black at funerals, we'd only wear the outfit for that one day. In the time of our ancestors, they'd wear black, gray, or purple for months-sometimes years. Case in point, when Queen Victoria's husband passed away, she wore her mourning clothing all the way up until her own death. Mourning clothing was also very expensive; having all of your clothing either overdyed black or had to buy a new wardrobe of mourning clothing was very financially taxing (especially for those who were in the lower class). 
Full Mourning
The wearing …

Mini Millinery

Looking back at my internship last month at Margaret Hunter's Millinery Shop in Colonial Williamsburg, I recall seeing a lot of beautiful silk and decorated straw hats and bonnets. There was even this peculiar-looking bonnet called a Calash Bonnet which was modeled after a french 18th century convertible carriage with the same name.

This Summer, I decided to give one of my straw hats a makeover. I removed the red ribbon from my straw hat and replaced it by adding trim with some white tape and green bows made from fabric. I also added some paper flowers that I got from the Francaise Ball the year prior. I really love how this hat turned out. With using just fabric instead of ribbon, it gave the hat a new personality and I can wear it with most of my outfits rather than just one or two jackets.

1885 Victorian Day Bodice

Happy 1st Day of Summer! And to celebrate the Summer Solstice, today, I'm attempting to make my very first Victorian bodice. The jacket I am working on is from the Truly Victorian patterns (TV460).

A little bit about Truly Victorian patterns. While this is my very first time working with this brand, I will definitely say that the instructions were very easy to follow and had illustrations so I would know which piece was supposed to go where. And just like J.P.Ryan's patterns, I liked the fact that this set of patterns were on the thick butcher's paper rather than tissue paper; Simplicity and McCalls is best known for that, and given that I have a cat who likes to "help" whenever I'm sewing, tissue paper patterns is a no-go. 

Anyway, now that everything is sewn and pinned together on the mock-up, now comes the decision of whether to add real or false buttons to the front of the actual jacket, to make it long sleeved or 3/4 sleeved, and most importantly, what f…

1785-1790 chintz jacket & Petticoat

As a side project, I've decided to visit the style of the early 1790's, just for fun. While it's very similar to the rest of my gowns I've sewn, this one is a bit different. Unlike most of my gowns, this one will have long sleeves and the second of course is the matching chintz petticoat, rather than a solid petticoat to compliment the jacket or gown. After sewing together the petticoat using 2 yards of the CW "wavy vines" print, I remade my jacket with the same print by recycling the train from the original gown. 

I still have a few things I want to touch up on the jacket. Case in point, I'd like to maybe add some ruffle to compliment the petticoat and perhaps sew lace around the neckline (or a ruffled neckerchief). In retrospect, I'm very happy that it turned out looking pretty good.

Afternoon Tea (Knitted cozies)

Being an avid tea drinker, I have accumulated a good collection of herbal and floral teas over the past few weeks. I have also accumulated a LOT of yarn over the past several years that I'm still trying to knit down or get rid of. So that brings me to getting in the spirit of making cozies for all of my mugs and teacups and my 2 tea pots (not pictured).

Looking in my stash, I came across some 2 types of roving that needed to be spun into yarn (to help with destashing). They turned out to be a beautiful dark purple, and peacock-blue. Afterwards, I spun them both together in 2 ply to make them a thicker fingering yarn rather than cobweb.

If you'd like to make your own cozy, here is the link. The needles I used was a size 3 to make the gauge a lot smaller, rather than the larger sized needles the instructions calls for. 

1770's Chintz Pinner Apron

Reflecting on my recent trip to the DeWitt Wallace museum, I couldn't help but to be enamored over this beautiful apron. While I'm not 100% certain if it's an original piece or a very good reproduction, the description on the side, showed that that the chintz print was mostly preferred however there is documentation and fashion plates of women wearing pinner aprons made of other fabrics such as black silk or cotton fabrics (striped, checked, or a solid color). This particular apron is a medium block print that a middle class woman could easily afford and construct on her own if she could sew. Like all fashionable aprons, the pinner apron had a duo purpose: to protect the lady's garment and to be a fashionable accessory. The more I looked into it, the more I became interested in making it my next sewing project.

Pinner Apron Examples

Considering the lack of using any paper patterns and a sewing machine, I had to rely on what I learned during my internship; what would be…

Colonial Williamsburg Internship Week 4

It's been an interesting lesson this week, and surprisingly it didn't come from the Milliner shop.

What did I learn you ask? 
I've learned that during summer, Virginia's heat and humidity will get the best of you if you do not stay cool and hydrated. I learned that lesson the hard way, this week.

After days of not properly hydrating (drinking water) and only drinking teas and not being in the A/C as much as I should have been, Thursday's hot temperature took a toll on me. Even though the shop had the AC running, we had at least 20-30 bodies coming in constantly, making the shop hot. I began to feel sick and weak and overheated. Eventually I ended up going home and spend several days recovering and rehydrating. I immediately called my husband who was away on a military exercise, and was given plenty of information on what to do and what else to look for symptoms wise.

I think the lesson from this week, is to stay hydrated even if your'e not thirsty, and to alway…