Sunday, March 22, 2015

1815 Pelisse

Realizing today how much my list of un-blogged costumes is piling up, I figured I should at least try to get through New Orleans before I forget too much about it!

First up is my very warm Pelisse. I'm so so so glad I made this garment, as the event was nearly freezing cold (I got wind-burn on my face!). The main fabric is a lovely butter-yellow camlet trimmed in green silk velvet and lined in bright yellow silk taffeta. I based the design on these two fashion plates. I didn't use a specific pattern, but took inspiration for the right shapes of the time from Janet Arnold and Norah Waugh.

One of the hardest parts of the piece was getting the silk velvet to lie flat even while working around so many curves. The front closed by way of tiny button/buttonholes and a large hook under the belt.

Each one of the capes was made up separately, lined and trimmed. This put a lot of bulk into the neckline and if I did this again I'd actually work the seam allowance there open rather than folding it all into the bodice.

The collar itself is two pieces and velvet on the underside. The hem actually sits a few inches above the ground, the back is held out slightly by a small pad at the waist but is longer than the front.

Thankfully I thought ahead and co-ordinated my entire wardrobe so I could wear the pelisse over my other ensemble the next day. Just a change of hat and gloves to bring it all together.

I really did mean a "bright" yellow silk lining!

Construction was very simple. The bodice, skirt, and sleeves were made separately and I left the edges raw inside. If I was going to wear this often I might whip over the waist seam, but I've never had problems with raw armscyes unless the fabric is prone to bad fraying.

Up close there's quite a bit of visible stitching. I found I had to top stitch the velvet on otherwise it rolled and tricked me into thinking I had it flat.
Samantha and I posed on the front balcony of a lovely museum house.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Everlasting Ringlets

Earlier this month I attended the Battle of New Orleans bicentennial event. I spent two days in costume wandering about the battlefield as well as the French Quarter, including a lovely ball I attended the second evening. I made quite a few new pieces, which I'll get to soon, but first I wanted to talk about hair! It's constantly a problem to keep those beautiful curls bouncing for an entire day through all of the abuse. Usually I use a modern setting lotion, wet set pin curls, and a good shellacking of hairspray to keep them from sagging. But this time around I left the modern methods at home and took the opportunity to experiment with the method women of the time were using.

My friend, Abby, has been studying haircare of the 18th century, particular the use of pomatum and powder in both styling and cleanliness. So, I brought with me a bit of both to put them through a trial by fire.

I wet my hair the evening before, worked the pomatum through, and put my whole head up in pin curls. That morning I took out the curls and found they were so well ensconced I couldn't get them to do the spiral fall I was looking for on the sides. I think the problem is in my short hair and the lack of weight needed. So, I pulled out a small barrel curling iron (something they would have had, but I don't think the hotel would have appreciated a brasier being lit in the bathroom) and encouraged some of the curls into the proper shape. The curls on top I left alone as they seemed to lay well. I also decided to forgo the powder since the finish already looked very similar to portraits of the time.

This was soon after arriving to the site, with brisk winds that actually gave my face windburn that day. Despite all of the tousling, the curls were perfect.

A few hours of walking about the site later, still no loss of curls!

The next day I used the same technique, only rinsing my hair and adding a bit of pomade to achieve the wet set pin curls. However, my other hat sat much further down on my head (something I need to fix), so it spent almost all day squashing the poor curls I had so tediously set!

But all was not lost! I reset the curls for a couple of hours before the evening event and fixed up a bit with the curling iron again. Mind you, the most squashed part (the top), I never used the iron on and it still bounced back with just a bit of pinning while dry. So, after at least 15 hours my very straight hair was still very willing to curl just perfectly!

Prior to the event I tried a few small curls set for three hours that I then brushed and ran my fingers through and this is what resulted after all of the abuse. Needless to say, taking my hair down after the event I looked like orphan Annie. 1780s hedgehogs anyone?

I've still got a number of tests I'm planning to put this system of haircare through, but I hope you will too! Check out Abby's Etsy shop here!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

1670s Gown

I realized I never quite got around to posting about the 1670s gown I made earlier this year. It's mostly based on the satin bodice in Seventeenth Century Women's Dress Patterns. The instructions and patterns offer so much detail there wasn't much else to research in terms of construction. This was for a film shoot at Bacon's Castle, and it didn't seem like the lady of the house would need something quite so elaborately trimmed. I also needed something slightly later in date than the extant in the book, the event occurring in 1674. I settled on the look of these gowns, the bodice being untrimmed with split sleeves, a style seemingly common in many 1670 portraits. I didn't want to be too far ahead with the fashion.

Margaretha Van Raephorst by Johannes Mijtens, 1668

Portrait of a Lady by Adriaen Backer, 1676
1670 Dudleia Cullum, née North, Lady Cullum by Sir Peter Lely
Lady Cullum by Sir Peter Lely, 1670

Lady Mary Gough, attributed to Mary Beale, ca 1670, Tamworth Castle
Lady Mary Gough by Mary Beale, 1670

I already had just enough red silk taffeta for the project, swaying me to not purchase yards of expensive silk satin. I did decide to do the entire project by hand (despite the time crunch) because the boning channels were running stitched rather than back-stitched. So much faster. I know I made some minor alterations, particularly to the seams because of lack of trims, but most of the steps were closely followed.

I made the chemise for it as well, though to be honest neither it nor the gown are fully finished in the pictures. I still have to bind the lower tabs and fell the chemise seams. It's still wearable! I have something I'm wearing it for in November again, so perhaps by then. I'll also need new hairpieces as the ones I used then were barely passable and I'm now almost a red-head.

Friday, July 18, 2014

1820s Trades Fair

Last Saturday I was part of a group of tradespeople showing our skills and wares in Brentsville, VA at their historic court house. It was a lovely day and we got to tour the court house, newly restored, as well as the in-progress jail next door. If you live in the area and missed us, don't worry, the plan is to make this an annual event (though perhaps a little earlier in the year). The site dates to the 1820s, so we all had a small shift in our normal apparel.

Samantha brought a large assortment of Millinery wares, including the worlds largest hat.

I had my shoemaking set up, attempting to keep the sharp bits out of the hands of guests.

Joseph kept us very well fed; roast chicken with bacon, pork chops with onions and apples, and cucumber salad just to name a few items on the menu.

Michael set up on the tailors board, and Jay (hiding behind the tree) talked about the work of artificers and leather breeches makers.

I constructed a mid-1820s style gown from B&T lavender muslin based on an original at Snowshill (also in Costume in Detail). The fabric pleats so easily! Honestly, I didn't even iron the pleats around the hem. Also, I swear the hem isn't too long when I'm not standing in grass. I do NOT need to sew another pleat. Really, I don't.

The back fastens with hooks and eyes, the bodice and sleeves are lined in white cotton. The kerchief wrapped around the cap seems to be a common thing in images of tradeswomen.

A glimpse of my new shoes- so comfortable I wore them all weekend until it started raining!

And a glimpse of another pair of 1820s shoes, though this pair has a different owner.

Trimming down the insole for a future pair of boots.

The three ladies of the day: Sarah, Samantha, and I.

And our dapper tailor, Michael. Check out the fancy Morocco leather slippers Samantha made for him! I got to play teacher for that process.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Closet Sale

These are all quick descriptions of what I'm selling, linking back to their Etsy page. Except for the shoes at the bottom, which I can't sell on Etsy. If you're interested in any of those three pairs send me an email at goldenhindshoes at
I have more I'll list over the next week if this sale is successful!

Sold! Pearl Green 1770s wool riding habit. All hand-sewn. Coat is lined with silk taffeta and white linen, trimmed in silk velvet, and fastened with silver thread deaths head buttons. Waistcoat is silk taffeta with covered buttons. Petticoat hem is faced with wool tape. $425

Sold! 1770s Camblet gown and petticoat. Closed front, English pleated back with polonaise ties. Self trimmed around neck and sleeves. Beautiful copper toned fabric, a mix of silk, wool, and linen. All hand-sewn. $240

Sold! 1770s Olive linen gown and petticoat. Closed front, Quartered back. Heavy-weight twill linen, surprisingly warm and very durable. All hand-sewn. $185

Sold! 1810s cotton print day gown. Made from a beautiful figured and striped lightweight cotton, this classic Regency style gown is perfect for warm days. $175.

Sold! 1913 style evening gown. Pink silk charmeuse base with gold worked silk net, silk chiffon, and silk velvet. $245

Early 19th century cotton print jacket. Constructed from Duran Textiles printed cotton, all hand-sewn.  A channel around the neck and under the bust allow for adjustment to fit. $120.

Flowered and spotted sheer cotton swiss fabric, 8 yards available at 52" wide. Appropriate for mid-19th century gowns. $10 per yard.

Black and white floral cotton print, 7.75 yards and 14 yards available at 55" wide. Glazed finish, mid-weight. Perfect for a mid-19th century half-mourning gown. $7.50 per yard.

Sold! Grey and Cream striped silk taffeta, 2.5 yards at 54" wide. This is the same fabric my cut-away gown was made from. The grey is a very dark charcoal with a slight greenish hue, very beautiful. It's just slightly slubby, but no where near enough to be a shantung. $35 ($14 per yard).

Sold! Pumpkin and cream striped silk taffeta, 2.25 yards & 2 yards available at 54" wide. While not a period appropriate fabric it's perfect for home decor. Some of the stripes have a satin finish that gives this silk a very rich appearance and great weight. $10 per yard.

Burgundy and gold damask polyester? fabric, 7 yards available at 56" wide. It isn't silk, but it doesn't have a bad shine and it's a beautiful design and color, as well as being reversible. $6 a yard.

Robert Land black and cream 1860s boots, size 7 1/2. Worn once, almost no wear. $110

Burnley & Trowbridge early 19th century shoes in tan, size 7. Very light wear. $75

Modern shoes with 1790s trimmings, size 7 1/2. $45