HSM 2015 #4: 1779 Virginia Regimental Coat

I struggled with an appropriate project for HSM #4 (War & Peace) until the perfect opportunity fell into my lap. My boyfriend has been in need of a properly fitted regimental since he started reenacting and decided to pony up the money for a Henry Cooke workshop that was being held in Winchester. Which of course really meant that I was taking the Henry Cooke workshop. I have to give him credit here though; he did quite a bit of the grunt work on the internal seams.

With “A Call to Arms” at Mt. Vernon scheduled for the first weekend of May it was the perfect deadline. I finished putting on the buttons the Wednesday before. Confession: the buttonholes have not been finished. They’re not even whipped. But the coat is 100% functional!



Girl’s Gown Pictures

I FINALLY got around to taking pictures of my sister’s kit.

Caveat: I’ve taken these pictures on a woman’s (albeit a small woman) dress form. My sister is 11. The clothes fit but not particularly well on this dress form so please ignore any oddities that are a result of this.


Burnley and Trowbridge Workshops

If you are even remotely thinking about taking a workshop given by Burnley and Trowbridge DO IT. Totally worth the money, time, inconvenience, whatever excuse you have.

I was able to participate in the gown draping workshop this weekend which was taught by Janea Whitacre, the mistress of the Miliner/Mantua-maker shop in Williamsburg. We learned how to drape a gown directly onto the body using 18th century techniques. What an awesome experience!! Best of all I learned how to do sleeves! And now I have a gown that fits like a glove. Best fitting garment in my entire wardrobe (all centuries included.) Pictures can be found on Burnley and Trowbridge’s Facebook Page. My gown is the burgandy wool one. I’ll post photos of the finished product once I actually finish it.

Photo taken by Angela Burnley

Also, the Threads of Feeling exhibit from London is coming to Williamsburg next year. If you haven’t heard about this before it is an exhibition of the billet books from the London foundling hospital. VERY interesting. It will possibly change your entire view of 18th century fabric. Check out their slide show presentation on their website.

In other news, American Duchess just announced pre-ordering for her new 23Skiddoo shoes! These are 1920s/30s shoes. They come in white/ brown or simply white which you can dye if you desire. Pre-orders open from 1 Novemeber to 19 November. Go here to order!



One project down…

If you ever think about taking an ill fitting francaise and try to make it work, don’t. You are much better off starting completely over and you’ll most likely like the result better. I FINALLY finished my redo. I’m happy enough with it as a redo but as a completed garment… not so much. Last night I was a hair close to tossing the entire thing.

But it IS done. And it’s wearable. Now I can go work on something fun.

Francaise Update

 I finished the bodice of my francaise. Now to put the skirt and sleeves back on…

The back

Up close of the lacing

Ignore how the bodice wraps around my dress form. This dress form weighs about 50 pounds less then I do.

Georgiana shoes. They were on sale so I couldn’t help myself. I’m going to dye them green but I’m not sure which shade. Which one do you like better?

Or these…
Or these….
The buckles

Completely off topic but my friend gave me this sweater. Wouldn’t it be perfect with a poodle skirt?

Pretty things and an the Gown of Despair

My francaise is still in pieces. I’m officially naming it the Gown of Despair.

I managed to save the back pleats and do a first mockup of the rest of the bodice. I love the way the fabrics falls… I can’t decide whether I want the bodice to be two pieces per side or just one.

In other news, I was reading my book of 18th century embroidery and I’ve become obsessed with Dresden Lace like this 1700s apron and handkerchief from Stella’s Blog. I might try it. I’m having a hard time finding good instructions on the web (and I’d rather not buy a book) so if you know anything please tell me!

For those who don’t know what this is, Dresden Lace was called “poor man’s lace”. It’s actually a style of pulled thread white on white embroidery on very fine muslin (or linen or silk but muslin was more common). Fashionable women would have a suit of lace which consisted of a cap, sleeve flounces, and a handkerchief (a large one for around the neck). Hand made lace was so expensive that women who couldn’t afford it would use this instead. It’s really quite impressive how much like lace it looks.


My life is full of rework. At my job we continuously rework documents just because the desired format changed and now at home I continuously rework garments that I “finished” but aren’t really up to my standards. When I was a little younger I was so excited to have historical clothing that I really didn’t take the time I should have to properly fit and finish certain items. And then recently I read The Aristocat’s Blog which made me feel like a monkey with a needle. Her execution is, in a word, impeccable.

So in this spirit of rework I’m taking my burgundy silk Robe a la Francaise I made forever ago and trying to make it better. My original intention was to just reset the sleeves since it pulls at the shoulders. But then I tried it on and the back pleats fell rather oddly. So I picked out the stitching holding the back down and now the pleats at the waist are all screwed up. I might as well take the entire thing apart and redo but I hate to mess up the box pleats trimming the front. Then again, it would probably take considerably less time to take it all apart then it will to try to preserve the trim.


My annoying sleeve

Update: It’s a done deal. My Francaise is coming apart completely. Once I started tearing out seams I couldn’t stop. I can still use the back pleats but the bodice and the lining have to be redone. I’m just going to do another mockup and go from there. I have enough left over fabric to do a new bodice but not enough for new sleeves so I have to make my current sleeves work. If nothing else I’ll put a gore in them to give me more room at the shoulder. It’s like having a whole new project to do…