Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rock Ford Plantation Event

Several months ago I attended another lovely 'Second Sunday' living history at Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster, PA. Their next event will be on October 12th and will explore the topic of death and dyeing in Federal America.

For the event I made myself a new sheer dress and silk robe. I wore it with the coral jewelry set that I made for the last event. My mother made herself a new sleeveless spencer to match a bonnet purchased from Jenny D'Onofrio of Mason-Dixon Sewing Co.. We didn't plan to match but I didn't mind that our color palettes were the same.

I draped this pattern to look like the 'Patterns of Fashion' by Janet Arnold c.1795-1803 robe.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Historic Rock Ford Plantation Event

Happy Independence Day! Despite taking a month to post pictures from the last event at Historic Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this post seems timely because the next event at Rock Ford takes place this Sunday. Sunday, July 6th, 11am - 3pm the historic house invites you to come and "experience Independence Day as it would have been celebrated at the end of the 18th Century with music, games, contests, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and other festivities." For more information on this event and others at Rock Ford Plantation, visit the Special Events section of their website.

I have sewn many dresses from the Empire era for customers, but few for myself, so it was time to make myself a new dress. The pattern for this dress is one of my favorites, draped to look like an original dress from Pennsylvania. The original was made of gold silk. The front bodice and skirt is closed with two drawstrings while the back of the bodice gathering is set to the skirt. The original had a fitted lining, although I left that out in this sheer version. A bodiced petticoat is worn beneath. This fabric is a block printed sheer fabric from India.

I made the coral jewelry set - a necklace, two bracelets, earrings, and a haircomb.

My mother's dress was based off of an original dress. The original had been altered from an earlier dress, the waistline raised to reflect the rising waistline coming into fashion in the late 1790s. Here it is worn with a sheer white petticoat.

Hope you have a lovely holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mourning James Buchanan

Wheatland Plantation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the home of the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, and his niece and first lady, Harriet Lane. In June, I participated in a special program bringing to life the days following the death of James Buchanan on June 1, 1868.  My mother, Nancy, her friend Audrey, and I portrayed relatives of Buchanan. It is rewarding to participate in living history scenarios, educating visitors about moments in history.

We are pictured here in the parlor of Wheatland. Period accounts describe this room as having several desks in it - basically a second study. Previously the room was styled as a typical Victorian parlor. Behind us is Buchanan's desk with newspapers scattered about it.

Because I have yet to finish a proper mourning dress, I chose to wear my black plaid wool dress.

This beautiful hair net was created by Beverly Lister. She does lovely millinery work! This is the most recent creation that I've commissioned from her.

This darling bonnet was created by the talented Pamela Robles. I have long admired pictures of her bonnets online but this was the first that I saw in person. It is very beautifully made.

Read more about the mourning of James Buchanan in this June 17th blog post by Wheatland Museum Associate, Jennifer Walton.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Summer Update

1960's Boucle Suit Draped for CMU's production of Lives of the Saints, 2014.

Some time has passed since my last post back in January, and much has happened since. I completed my first school year as staff Draper at Carnegie Mellon University and look forward to returning to the position in the fall. Over the past year I've had the opportunity to pattern and create many fabulous costumes designed by graduate and undergraduate student designers. My online portfolio has been updated with some of this work. I especially enjoyed creating the 1930s bias cut evening gown for CMU's production of You Can't Take It With You.

This summer I had the opportunity to take the summer off - the first time in a very long time - so I have been happily working for myself this past month, busily creating historical reproductions that I've been wanting to make for a long time. It's so rewarding to use fabrics that I've had around for ages. Although it's also given me the excuse to buy more and I've acquired some lovely silks and vintage feathers of late.

I'm looking forward to sharing some of my most recent projects with you in the next few weeks! I've already completed a sheer silk 1860s dress and coordinating bonnet, a regency dress with coral jewelry set, and hosted my mother for a mini bonnet workshop to recover buckram bonnet forms. Next up, another sheer regency dress with silk robe, already half completed.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

1860s Christmas Ball

It was lovely to be able to wear my green silk ballgown for a second time. It was made several years ago for a ball at Remembrance Day in Gettysburg, PA, and not worn since. This time, the bodice was taken in at the side seams and shoulders to support the weight of the heavily beaded sleeves. It fit like a dream. The skirt has rows of pinked and gathered green silk, white silk organza, and hand-beaded purple beads with white beaded rosettes at the point of each row. To add more purple to the look I trimmed the bodice with purple moire ribbons, which brought in the purple from the headdress.

Vince wore his tailcoat made by the talented Kara Bartels of Corner Clothiers, the same outfit that he wore for our wedding.

The train made dancing slightly more challenging - especially rowdier dances. Dancing with a train must take a great deal of practice.

1860s Christmas Ball

We were so happy to have my brother's lovely girlfriend, Amy, join us at the ball. Above (right), she and her friend Becca (left) pose with their tussie mussies and fur muffs at the end of the evening. Because we didn't have time to arrange our own live flower tussie mussies, we engaged the help of a local florist who put together these lovely flower arrangements.

Amy wore my plaid silk ballgown. One that I had purchased on ebay while in high school. She wore matching gold bracelets, a gold necklace and earring set with moon motifs, and a headdress that I had made to coordinate with the dress. The headdress was based off of an original seen in Godeys.

Amy's hair was a dream to work with. Hidden beneath the headdress are coiled braids in a giant chignon.