Wednesday, January 15, 2014

HSF Challenge #1 -- "Make Do And Mend"

The Challenge: #1 – Make Do and Mend
I’ve recently joined an F&I era group and the one winter event I went to, they just could not seem to leave me alone about not having cold-weather clothing (albeit in a very sweet and kindly way). I had mitts and a thick shawl and lots of petticoats, but I’ll admit my torso was a little chilly in the evenings with just a corduroy jacket. So my “make do” was to cut up an old wool blanket, line it with warm fleece (I know, cheater cheater), and make a very heavy bedgown to go over anything.

Honestly, I can't say for certain if that is something the French Colonial women around here would have done. Still, it makes sense...goods came up the Mississippi River infrequently in canoes, and somehow I don't think the women, when they first arrived in "New France," would have been adequately prepared for the sometimes frigid winters. I could see them whipping up a rough bedgown out of a blanket to throw on over many layers of clothing.

Fabric: Old grey woolen blanket, grey fleece

Pattern: basic “T” shaped garment, hits just above the knee. I know the sleeves look lopsided, but they're not...and I probably won't leave them rolled up and showing the fleece like that when I wear it. The back has a seam down the center until about waist-height, then releases to leave a little bit of a pleat and fuller appearance to the bottom half of the garment.

Year: 1720-1780? You might find something like it in just about any art depicting the lower class of the 18th century I guess, shapeless sack that it is.

Notions: Just thread

How historically accurate is it? I left the typically-seen shawl collar off of the bedgown because my skin doesn’t tolerate wool and even with a neck handkerchief I just KNOW it would end up rubbing against my skin and driving me insane. It’s entirely hand-sewn, but I think the fact I lined it with Wal-mart blanket fleece kind of negates that. But I think with my grey petti, an apron tied over it and the handkerchief, it’ll look very passable.

Hours to complete: Probably around seven

First worn: Not yet! This weekend at a women's event.

Total cost: The blanket was probably around $20 when I got it a few years ago, the fleece was about $6.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tiny Treasures

Working at a library, sometimes I run across sources for 18th century details I would not have expected to find; my co-worker found this one for me when she weeded it out of the collection due to dis-use: "Classic Dolls' Houses" by Faith Eaton.

 The sweet little Delft tiles in this 18th century kitchen! Adorable!

It details several doll houses; "Mon Plaisir" - an 18th-century German court, the 18th century Dutch doll house of Sara Ploos van Amstel, the 20th century fairy castle of Colleen Moore, West Wood House - a 20th century English dollhouse, and the Thorne and Carlisle Miniature rooms.

The 18th century houses were of course of the most interest to me, but all the houses were beautifully crafted...I remember seeing Colleen Moore's fairy castle in Chicago once, came home with a beloved coloring book of it and built my own equally grand house (so my eight-year-old-self thought) out of shoeboxes.

I would definitely recommend that you try to get this through interlibrary's probably not worth shelling out a whole lot of money unless you really love historical dollhouses, and in fact I couldn't even be sure I found the correct title on Amazon. However, the textiles and color combinations and accessories on the 18th century dolls are extremely valuable in my opinion because they haven't been disturbed or re-dressed based on some well-intentioned museum director's best guesses...they are perfect representations of what was worn at the time by various classes. My pictures here don't even begin to capture the detail - it's quite crisp in person.

 ^Can you believe this is a miniature? It looks like a real room in a colonial house!

Also the tiny dishes and furniture, bed-hangings and curtains, miniature artwork and other housewares are wonderful sources of detail for any re-enactor, arranged just how they would have been used in a domestic setting. Worth a look!