Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Illinois Country : the basics

 After several enjoyable chats with acquaintances about our shared love of research and why it appeals to us in the context of historical fashions, it occurred to me that it's probably been many years since I thought about posting a little recap of my studies in local history. I have photographed a lot of my historical clothing at these places, and am always trying to read and learn more about them!

I feel very lucky as a former avid history major to live in a unique section of the United States -- a narrow corridor along the Mississippi River, far from the comfortable clusters of early colonial cities along the Eastern Seaboard, out in what was considered "the wild" by the more 'refined' English colonists. It has both a rich indigenous and early French colonial history that provides so much room for research and exploration.

My area of the French Illinois Country (which reached from Lake Michigan down to Louisiana, and in fact this area was sometimes also referred to as "Upper Louisiana") consists of a cluster of 18th century villages or settlements along either side of a small stretch of the Mississippi River : Cahokia, Prairie DuPont, St. Philippe, Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher, Ste. Genevieve, Kaskaskia, and eventually St. Louis, and Old Mines, one of the last places that a unique form of French was spoken among the residents. People today are trying to revive the dialect through classes. The French came to this area for trapping and mining, but (unexpectedly to them) became probably the most useful to the Illinois Country as farmers. 

 


The American Bottom along the western edge of these few counties was, for many centuries, possibly some of the richest and most fertile dirt in the world, thanks to the nearly annual floods and nutrient deposits from the then-unchecked Mississippi River (now banked by an extensive levee system). Many of us locals still like to drive along the road beneath the high stone bluffs and look out towards the Bottoms at the almost-black soil when it's turned over by today's farmers.

(photo of our steep rocky bluffs and the fields below from our local nature preservation society, Clifftop Alliance)

Cahokia was a settlement long before Europeans arrived, being a vast site of Mississippian Native culture from roughly 600-1350AD, and is one of only 24 UNESCO World heritage sites in the US. It was remarkably large and could have hosted around 20,000 occupants.

(an envisioning of what the huge main complex at Cahokia Mounds might have looked like in its heyday, from the official website)

The series of earthen mounds are extremely impressive when considering the dirt all had to be moved by hand, likely in woven baskets. However, after a series of floods (always a hazard in this area to this day!) and possibly other factors like the beginning of the Little Ice Age, the original tribe abandoned it and the many mounds in surrounding areas (including downtown St. Louis, where mounds from the culture were razed in Forest Park for the 1904 World's Fair). For several centuries other tribal peoples ebbed and flowed through the Mississippi Bottom.

It was in zealous hopes of proselytizing the Cahokia and Tamaroa tribes that the first French priest established a mission at Cahokia around 1696. By the mission's own account anyway, they were successful in converting some of the tribal peoples, particularly women, and they negotiated binding marriages in hopes of settling some of the voyageurs already traveling up and down the Mississippi with their furs and goods. Previously these trappers were only taking the Native women in temporary concubinage prior to the mission's establishment, encouraged by the tribal leaders as an aspect of trade, and decried by Catholicism as immorality. Kaskaskia, the settlement farthest south in the cluster, was founded shortly after Cahokia in 1703 with similar hopes, and the first Fort de Chartres was erected a distance north of Kaskaskia in 1720. Nearby Prairie du Rocher began in 1722. The first Fort de Chartres...and second...and third (all wooden) either flooded or fell into disrepair, and the fourth and final iteration was built in stone instead, begun in 1753.

(The final stone Fort de Chartres was rebuilt on its original foundations in recent times, starting with the gatehouse in the 1920s and ending with portions of the walls in 1989. Only two of the original long buildings have been reconstructed, the rest are left as either bare cellar foundations or have had platforms with skeleton frames built on them. The powder magazine was the only original stone building still standing on the site. Click for official site information).

France never committed to fully settling the area, half-heartedly sending some soldiers, petty criminals, and a few shipments of women from poor parts of France. Several waves of French Canadiens comprised a good chunk of the early settlers of the villages as well. Some were engagés, akin to the English idea of an 'indentured servant,' and worked their way under a wealthier trade or landowner for a set number of years, upon conclusion of which they were free to go their own way (and were sometimes set up with land or a small house and goods by the person they were working for). There was a smattering of other European nationalities; an Italian man, a few Spaniards, some Swiss, one or two from Holland, a woman from Germany, perhaps others, as some records have been lost.

A significant contingent of those living in the area were the enslaved Africans, many brought by Philippe Renault in his hopes of mining for silver across the river (all he managed to locate was lead) but others were in bondage to wealthier families, generally forced to work in agriculture. Ironically, the Jesuits were the largest slaveholders in the Illinois Country, with their mills and plantation lands. Under the Code Noir in place under French rule, enslaved Black persons were allowed to conduct some business on their own time, and some were able to buy themselves out of enslavement or were released in wills on the death of an enslaver, so some free Blacks also settled and did business in the area. A few enslaved Blacks also liberated themselves by running away to the local indigenous tribes and were presumably assimilated.

The French, unlike the English, saw the mercantile value of staying on good terms with several of the local tribes; there were Native villages very close to the towns, and tribal peoples came and went freely in and out of the French villages for trade. The French bought Native peoples off the tribes who had initially enslaved them (generally women captured in inter-tribal skirmishes) so there were also Native persons toiling in the house-gardens and serving in the homes...sometimes under a fully Native or metis (mixed) mistress who herself had married a Frenchman, though by the second generation, a good number of the prominent men in the French community were technically metis as well. 

The melting-pot nature of these settlements would have been colorful and diverse, though this is not currently well-represented at large-scale local reenactments yet.

The later English and particularly the individualistic American settlers could not fathom why the French wanted to live clumped together in villages with their farmland extending outwards in long, skinny strips (some of which are still obvious on modern county plat maps). But the French settlers were a communal people who loved any excuse for a festival, a Holy Day, a dance, a meal together...and had little desire to grab up thousands of acres of land or rough it alone, miles from your nearest neighbor, as the rugged Americans later prided themselves on. Amusingly billiards was also a popular pastime, if you can imagine such a refined game being played in these small settlements out in the middle of nowhere! Card games, on the other hand, could get rather cut-throat, with at least one dispute turning violent enough to be recorded in the Fort's judicial annals.

(a map from French Colonial Fort de Chartres: A Journey Through Time by Tom Willcockson, a small but excellent illustrated book I helped promote with displays in area libraries when it first came out. This shows the village of Chartres, none of which is still standing and some acreage of which has unfortunately since been lost to the river. The levee now butts directly up to what was the front entrance to the stone Fort de Chartres. A similar thing happened to the larger town of Kaskaskia, plagued by floods over many decades, eventually swept away entirely by catastrophic floods in April 1881 which altered the course of the river entirely by cutting through a sharp bend, and it left a small chunk of Illinois on the west side of the river.)

 
(A sketch from the above book, depicting the individually fenced-in properties, providing each house's garden and fruit trees safety from the village livestock roaming the streets. You can also see the wide, spacious porches that were so common on French colonial buildings, useful for keeping the house cool since your windows could be open yet shaded, allowing air to circulate through the home on all sides through the horribly muggy summer days!)

The fertile nature of the soil meant that even though they were "indifferent farmers" (as one appalled visitor wrote in a letter of their unhurried practices) they still harvested remarkable quantities of grain to send with their furs down the river to New Orleans in Louisiana, which would have struggled to feed its population from its swampy ground. Then back up the river came goods as payment, requested by letter from the habitants, trappers, traders and merchants. 

A new "suit of camleteen" for one man, silk ribbons for the ladies, colorful calicos. Though not exceedingly ambitious, the French colonists were making better profit in the Illinois Country than they could have back in the old homeland of France, where most of the land belonged to aristocrats and the cities were over-crowded. Ever keen on clothing, the French colonists had no qualms about robing themselves in the best they could afford (not surprising, since so much of 18th century European society revolved around how you presented yourself). Though there would have been zero cobbled streets, only dust and then muck when it rained, even so "embroidered shoes" (which would have been high-heeled) were on the must-have list as well. Inventories show men's hats trimmed with gold lace, colorful indienne (chintz) cotton which was often banned in France but easy to sneak through the port of New Orleans, and gowns and petticoats of silk taffeta. Most likely these fripperies were saved for church or parties, and harder-wearing linen and wool would have dominated everyday work-wear, along with wooden sabots (like Dutch clogs) which are surprisingly comfortable, and the souliers de boeuf (moccasin-like leather shoes).

(Me wearing the popular French bibbed apron and comfy wooden sabots, standing by the wall of Fort de Chartres with some oxen in the background. Don't mind the extra long sleeve appearance, my bedgown cuffs had fallen down.)

To my knowledge there are no current extant sketches of local fashions until possibly Anna Maria von Phul in the early 19thc, so some inferences have to be drawn from both working-class French paintings (like those by Chardin) and the few sketches existing from other French colonies like Canada, which mostly seem to echo European clothing trends.

(Canadian Couple (c. 1750-1780) by Anonyme. Source: Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives.)


(Detail view of Genre Studies of Habitants and Indians, anonymous, c. 1780, Royal Ontario Museum © ROM. 969.37.2. I'm always amused by this because I made a blue striped work gown nearly identical to the one above before I'd ever seen this sketch.)

No gowns from the early to mid-18thc era of local French settlement survive, to my knowledge, but the Missouri History Museum has a fragment of an indienne gown passed down through the venerable Chouteau family, and it is very in keeping with samples you find in 18thc merchants' books in its charm and complexity.

 

 
                   (The fragment resides at the Missouri History Museum and is dated ca. 1750. A "wedding gown" also in the Chouteau family and supposedly dating to 1789 is apparently too fragile to be taken out of its box to view, and I have not yet seen that item.)

 

At the loss of the French & Indian war, France was forced to cede its holdings on the East side of the Mississippi River to the English in 1763, and rather than live under their rule, many of the French colonists packed up and moved over to Ste. Genevieve across the river, and then up to what would become St. Louis. Prairie du Rocher was the exception to this -- a number of the townspeople refused to move, and to this day there are many of the original French family names still right where they started in a tiny town set up against the Illinois bluffs. It is the closest French settlement to me and I visit it fairly regularly, although Ste. Genevieve has more and better-preserved French colonial homes.

(The 'Creole House' in Prairie du Rocher - the oldest section on the right was built in 1800)

(The Melliere house also in town under family ownership, parts of which date to 1735...and most likely there are other early French homes hiding under 1970s asbestos siding and sheetrock. Fort de Chartres is just a few miles down the road from the town.)


I hope you've enjoyed this VERY brief overview of the history of this small section of Illinois; I spend a fair amount of my free time visiting parts of it and learning its complex history. If you're interested in further reading (and there is a LOT of it), listed below are a few of the many excellent books I've read that give further details of the lives of the indigenous peoples, the enslaved Africans, and the French habitants in this area and other parts of the Illinois Country.
 
 
 French Roots in the Illinois Country : the Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times. University of Illinois Press, 2000, by Carl J. Ekberg
 
 History as They Lived It: a Social History of Prairie Du Rocher, Illinois. Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 2013, by Margaret Kimball Brown
 
 Kaskaskia under the French Regime. Southern Illinois University Press, 2003, by Natalia Maree Belting
 
 Lives of Fort De Chartres: Commandants, Soldiers, and Civilians in French Illinois, 1720-1770. Southern Illinois University Press, 2016, by David MacDonald 
 
 Stealing Indian Women: Native Slavery in the Illinois Country. University of Illinois Press, 2010, by Carl J. Ekberg.
 
 Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians : Material Culture and Race in Colonial Louisiana. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013, by Sophie White
 
 





Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The dreamy pastel Pet En L'air gets some sunshine

It's a joy to have finally gotten to photograph this ensemble, and between the dress and the much-improved camera of my newer phone, I finally got some pictures of myself in 18thc clothing that I'm quite proud of. This photo is probably my favorite, just for the soft, artistic quality of it: 

For more details, read on!

This fabric was pointed out to me by a friend who noticed it on clearance on Hallie Larkin's website, "At the Sign of the Golden Scissors." Though the rest of the site is now defunct, Ms. Larkin (or somebody) still seems to de-stash material there from time to time; I recently got a large bag of various sheer silk remnants for trims, caps, etc. I've also gotten from her clearance an incredibly discounted remnant of Scalamandre yellow silk with birds and bouquets that hopefully will some day go into a Dangerous Liaisons-inspired 18thc riding jacket like the one worn by the Marquise when she arrives at the country estate to 'comfort' Cecile.

But this striped taffeta (technically a lisere, I think, due to the woven nature of the botanical border) was love at first sight, and the first piece I got from there. As there were 7 yards, at first I thought "oh I'll just do a delightful sacque" but of course, there could be no matching petticoat with that short of a length of silk. Since the stripes, a dusty pale blue and indescribable smoky cream, were both proving difficult to match for a solid-colored petticoat, I decided against a full Robe a la Francaise, and instead cut out a pet en l'air. This I did two years ago, roughly around the same time I cut out both my black sacque and the bronze one, which both then went with me to Costume College. So the Pet just languished in a zipped clothing bag for over a year, waiting to be tackled.

For me, the JP Ryan pattern always goes together fairly smoothly (although I always have to refer back to AJ's deciphering of the robing folds because WHAT THE HECK JP RYAN. How did you think those directions were clear?!).  Now, unfortunately for me, the almost satin nature of this particular taffeta made it work loose from its ironed robing pleats down the front while I was trying to fit the outer fabric to the lining. If I had stopped and taken the time to re-pleat them, it would have been far better, but I charged ahead with reckless abandon and then had to tack down a LOT of stray fabric. At some point it'll have to be redone, as it's affecting the fit of the torso too loosely.

Fit issues aside, before even sewing up the gown, I had been busily making trim for it at nights while watching tv. I was somehow able to get the exact colors from a cardmaking trim shop on Etsy, and painstakingly cut and tied little bows of the blue onto the cream. Actually it went quite a bit faster than I was anticipating, but I wanted something that looked like fly trim.


 
Because I didn't want to be making it for forever, I did just enough to go along the edge of the sleeve ruffle, in the center of my trim around the neck/robings and on the stomacher.
 
 
The back pleats are always my favorite part.


 
My sleeve ruffle lace (engageantes is the French term, I think) is vintage, probably Edwardian...I try not to cut nice lace up, but a lot of what I intentionally buy is in poor condition and needs mending of good-sized holes, or has stains that have to be hidden. Not only is it usually less expensive, but that way I don't feel guilty actually using lovely old lace. I make all my engageantes on white cotton bands, so that the only thing I am basting through when attaching the ruffles to the gown is the band, rather than the fragile lace. This way too I can swap them in and out of different dresses. I think I have four interchangeable sets now!
 
The earrings are from an Etsy shop called EverThineCo. and I just HAD to have them when I saw them. They're usually quite pricey at $80, but you can often catch them on a half-off sale if you wait long enough, which is what I did. I think they're replicas of a famous pair that Liz Taylor had commissioned, but clearly modeled off a Georgian girandole.  My brooch was an incredibly lucky vintage Etsy find...it's a copy of an 18thc Saint Lô cross from France, and it has a hidden bale on the back so you could also wear it as a necklace pendant. The original is at the Met Museum and is silver as most of them were, but I quite like the gold.

Juvenile-me gets a kick out of the fact the Pet en L'air in some instances in the French of antiquity means literally 'fart in the wind' (yeah I know, I'm supposed to be GENTEEL musings, sorry, I have to suspend that for a sec) and this picture fully illustrates why, lol.  WHEEEEEEEE (ok I'm done).


 
I'm in love with the powdery sky blue against the gentle cream...it just does everything for my pastel 2006-Marie-Antoinette-film-worshipping aesthetic, haha. 

The other thing I was really pleased about was my hair cooperating, for once. I have extremely long hair, down to my waist almost all the time, and you'd think "oh that's great for historical styles." Nope. I'd probably be better off with mid-back-length hair for workability. But in this case I started with day-old hair, slightly oily like mine often is, and I powdered the heck out of it with my favorite rose powder from Colonial Williamsburg. That gives my very fine, slick, straight hair enough body and grip that I can start to shape it. Then I section off the hair around my face and comb it forward over my face, secure a rat behind it (in this case, a fist-sized amount of my own washed hair from many daily brushings) and sweep my hair back over the rat. This gives me enough height that I can then gently curl and twist the rest of my hair up and keep pinning here and there. 

 I have two buckles on either side -- these are easy to make with strands of faux hair...cover a 1" dowel (or even a broomstick) with waxed paper, and dab a little craft glue onto the waxed paper. Take your strand of faux hair and wind it over the glue. I kept painting glue onto the hair as I wrapped it, until I had a good tight roll, and slid it off the end of my dowel to dry. This did take some finagling, and don't be surprised if your craft glue collects some wax paper when you finally peel it off the curl/roll, but the point for me was to get some 'invisible' forms over which to roll small strands of my own hair, which is exactly what I did here, then pinned the full buckle onto my head through each end of the roll.   

Once I had done as much with my hair as I cared to, any spots that looked a little flat or lacking benefited from a few faux flowers artfully stuck in there.

And voila, the finished pet en l'air with fully dressed hair and very 'extra' accessories!



Monday, May 10, 2021

Regency versatility: 1 gown, 2 looks.

 Oops it's been a while, and there's a striped silk pet en l'air between this Regency gown and the last post about my quilted hooded jacket, but I haven't taken any good pictures of that yet!

Before I get too much farther into this, I'm just going to say right off the bat that I used Laughing Moon #130 for the gown and I do NOT recommend it without a great deal of alteration. The way it ties is frankly bizarre and not secure without a lot of pins, and it caused me a great deal of angst about the frumpyness of the silhouette. Even with pandemic weight gains, I didn't feel like I should look like that much of a potato (however excellent and boiled): 

 
This pattern does something bizarre at the waist...the apron front wraps around and ties UNDER the back of the gown, behind the back skirts. I read the instructions over and over but the pattern picture also makes it very clear that's what you're supposed to do. So I definitely changed that by adding self-fabric belt loops and tied around the outer back like I'm used to. I also strongly disliked that the bodice is so unsecured to anything (the little crossover flaps just supposedly tuck into the waistband and that's enough? Not for me!). I tacked down one side of the wrap-front to the apron waist to at least give me a little more security because pins just were not doing it for me. Love my fabric though, which was silk bought during a sale from Ensembles of the Past! Sara is lovely to get things from (and just as sweet in person).


So after making the gown FEEL a little more secure, I turned to extants to help me jazz it up a bit. Because of my long-term costuming goal of trying to make one outfit from each decade of 1620-1920, I wanted something from the 1820s as I already had other gowns to fit other Regency decades. Luckily, this beauty had popped up from the Cora Ginsburg Spring catalog.

Gauze Evening Dress with self-fabric trimming
(English, ca 1823-24)
 
Evening gowns in the early 1820s frequently had cross-over style bodices, puffy cap sleeves (often with a tulle or gauze overlay to make it look even more like a soft frothy cloud) and a design at the hem, also usually puffy. Because I was already starting to think of versatility, I decided against the hem design in case I wanted to dress it down for daywear, but felt the sleeves were a must-do.
 
Fortunately Sara also had an interesting sheer window-pane fabric in her shop as well and she was happy to match it to her remnant of the plaid silk I bought, and reassured me that it would work. I decided to make a detachable overlay that could be easily basted over the existing plain puffed sleeve for a little extra drama. They ended up looking like little dirigibles, which amused me greatly.
 
 
 
While the ribbon banding at the armscye is more fanciful than historical from this time, it does add a little glitz by candle-light. I also added a gold/olive/beige Indian-style ribbon trim to both sleeves and neckline: 
 
 
And the finished result for evening wear came out like this!
 



 
 
The tiara is from BeElemental (but I don't recommend them unless you're willing to wait months for shipping overseas) and the long pearl and moonstone earrings are from Lady Detalle.  I need to find some over-elbow gloves but I've been searching for ages with no luck, so I may have to eventually make my own. I also had to buy more trim for the waist because I liked the look of it on the Cora Ginsburg extant, but it hadn't arrived by time I was taking photos.

But wait, there's more! 

This gown was also begging to have a day iteration, and luckily I had just the extant gown in mind! 





 
The extant is cotton, but the color and the plaid made me feel confident this style would work fine with my current project. I think it works!
 


 
As you can see, I removed the evening gown's sleeve overlay (which was intentionally barely basted in) and added sleeve extensions. I also added a shawl collar with ruffle, which I tacked in very lightly with stitches that will be easy to remove. The shawl collar then hides the fancy trim of the evening gown version, which I left intact underneath.
 

In this way I have two gowns for different times of the day, and it only takes about a half an hour to switch from one to the other by removing or adding components. This was really an enjoyable process once I figured out where to go with the project!



Friday, January 22, 2021

An 18thc hooded jacket

 Aha, I am back after the holidays! Frustratingly, I have been dealing with a lot of joint pain, mostly in my hands, since March of 2020, and it comes and goes, but I think the cold weather has really slowed me down. Lots of visits to the rheumatologist with no clear answers other than 'maybe RA' and definitely mild carpal tunnel after a very expensive nerve study, so I need to be more diligent about wearing braces, resting adequately, and learning better hand and arm stretches.

But I really enjoyed making this quick and easy (mostly) hooded jacket out of pre-quilted silk! 


I started this with a couple of inspirations in mind -- one from a portrait, one from an extant, and something sort of in-between happened! 


Here's the portrait I really liked, "Baroness Magdalene Charlotte Hedevig Løvenskiold, nee Numsen" by Jens Juel, 1772. I definitely borrowed her blue bow, plain stomacher, and the sleeves that end right at the elbow with trim before the lower sleeves are added.

 

 

The extant that I loved is at The Met, and is not hooded, but is quilted! It's just labeled "Ensemble" from 1760ish.



Because I didn't want the hassle of constructing a full button-front waistcoat, I decided against doing a true Brunswick jacket. Often those are a bit longer, have more details, and usually have longer sleeve ruffles which I struggled to envision working in quilted fabric. But there are so many portraits with stomacher-front hooded jackets that I felt that was a better fit for my medium this time! 

It actually turned out to be super simple to take the longest jacket from the trusty J.P. Ryan "jack-pack" (as I like to call that delightfully useful pattern set) and attach the pleated hood from the cape in the book "Fitting and Proper" by Sharon Burnston.


 
To me, the silhouette is quite pleasing, and it went together extremely quickly!

 
I loved how the fan pleats in the hood turned out...you can see what body this fabric has to it because it turned out I didn't even need my styrofoam head to keep it up, haha!

 
And it's hard to see here but I just mirrored the same hood pattern for the lining, only in a rose-gold dupioni I had lying around. Dupioni is too slubby to be accurate for the 18thc, but as I machined most of the gown's unseen seams to save my poor hands, and the silk itself is clearly machine-quilted, it seemed ridiculous to then obsess over such niceties as a slightly-off silk weave for some hood lining. I wanted a color that would flatter my skin tone when the hood was actually up, too, and this was good stash-busting because I didn't know what else to do with dupioni.

 
The contrast of two golds is something kind of fun yet true to many 18thc ensembles in portraits.
 
 I can't remember now what went wrong with the sleeves that I discarded my first set, thank goodness I had lots of this quilted silk! But the discarded set actually turned out perfect to become the lower detachable sleeves of the jacket...I simply finished them off with a sheer white cotton ruffle and then basted them into the jacket at the elbow. 

The trim, on the other hand...ha. So here I was congratulating myself about how much time I'd saved by getting pre-quilted 100% silk. It was just $10 a yard when I bought it (FabricGuru has absolutely ludicrous deals sometimes, y'all, it just takes regular searching).  
 
But I somehow never stopped to think that if I wanted the pretty ruched or ruffled trim of both my inspiration portrait and the outfit at The Met, I might need a solid UNQUILTED silk. Good job, Anna. After trying swatches from various silk sellers like Renaissance and Silk Baron, I just couldn't get a good match in any taffetas out there; this is a true bright goldy gold.

So I had to start cutting strips and using a seam-ripper to UNPICK all the quilting for the trim. 
 
*Facepalm*

Anyway. Hours of unpicking later, I lucked out that with a little fingernail scratching and hot ironing, the holes from the machine quilting are unnoticeable, especially being gathered. But I don't have the trim done around the bottom of the jacket yet like I'd planned, nor any trim on the petticoat...I doubt I'll do a deep ruffle like The Met's petticoat, I have a hunch that the leftover unpicked diamond pattern holes on the fabric will probably be too obvious for that. But maybe a nice row of ruched or pleated trim will add just enough interest for my taste. Eventually, when I have more patience.

My lovely friend Emily (@historicthimble on Instagram) talked me into coming out of my hole for a socially distanced walk in historic downtown St. Charles; it was delightful! I had no idea how many beautiful old buildings still stood. And the fact that many of the Christmas decorations were still up just lent extra cheer to the outing.






Emily whipped up a red wool cloak to go with her beautiful Italian gown, and looked so charming next to all the red ribbons and greenery: 


(Such wealth, a pineapple!)



It was below freezing and I was SO grateful for being able to put some underlayers on beneath the quilted jacket! Actually at some points, we were both HOT in our respective outfits!





 
My fur muff was perfect for hiding my phone inside the whole time, lol! And much appreciated on the hands when the wind blew. It's made out of strips from a vintage stole I found at the thrift store.


 
I did NOT have a bum roll on and you can see how poofy the quilting makes this whole ensemble! The cap is made of silk gauze, also a recently finished project, from the J.P. Ryan Dormeuse pattern which you can find at Burnley & Trowbridge right now. I highly recommend it, I thought it was really easy and turned out a super cute cap. It'll look even better when I put some height in my hair! It's generally got more floof at the front around the face but I was having issues keeping it on with my slick hair so I pinned it in a couple of spots.



So that was my December make. On the first day of January I started a striped silk taffeta pet-en-l'air/short sacque, and it should be done by the end of this month! Here's a sneak peak of this gooorgeous striped blue and smoky cream silk I got from a remnant sale from Hallie Larkin (aka At the Sign of the Golden Scissors)!



Till next time!