Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Brick Pincushion

From "The American Girl's Book" by Eliza Leslie (1831; 16th edition 1854).
Brick Pin Cushion, from Miss Leslie's "The American Girl's Book" (1831/1854)

Step 1: Procure a brick.  It should be clean and new; I took a used brick and washed off the surface dirt.  Miss Leslie would certainly not approve.

Step 2: Cut a piece of "coarse linen or strong domestic cotton" large enough to cover the brick.

Brick and 100% cotton for the base fabric.

Step 3:  Fold the fabric over the brick, neatly, and stitch it down.
Fabric folded and pinned over brick for pincushion base.

Step 4: Cut a bag of coarse linen 2" larger* than the top of the brick.  For a thicker pin cushion, cut the bag a little larger still.
Covered brick and upper pincushion bag.

Step 5: Stuff the bag with bran.  Like, a lot--until no more bran will fit, even when pushed down with a spoon.  It took approximately 1 lb. of wheat bran to fill a bag cut 2" longer on each side than a standard brick.
Wheat bran for stuffing the bag.

Covered brick and cushion stuffed with bran..

Step 6: Attach the bran bag to the brick.  It should have a "good shape" with the sides of the cushion sloping down to the brick.  I don't think I quite managed it.
Brick pincushion assembled.
It looks like a loaf of bread.
Step 7: Attach a piece of baize to the bottom of the brick. [Baize, according to Textiles in America is a heavy, felted wool with a raised nap on both sides; it's the fabric used on pool tables.]  Not having any on hand, I used some wool felt scraps from my stash.  This appears to be a cushioning layer between the brick and whatever surface the pincushion is placed on, so I expect different material could serve (a couple of layers of wool fabric, maybe even a thin batting).  I glued the felt into place, though it could also be sewn to the base fabric.

Wool felt attached to the bottom of the brick.

Step 8: Cover the pincushion in "velvet, silk, or cloth" with a "binding of narrow ribbon or galloon" over the seam.  Two colors may be used to cover the top and bottom portions of the pincushion.

Brick pincushion, from The American Girl's Book by Eliza Leslie (1831/1854)

The book illustration showed no seams or binding, just a shadow between the brick and cushion areas (which seems the only logical place for the ribbon).  Unlike step 3, the instructions don't suggest a method for covering, so I just sort of made it up, wrapping the pincushion form like a present, and folding/pinching out the excess fabric.  It resulted in some ugly curved seams at the rounded edges.  Next time, I think I'd make the cover in two parts, folded square around the base, and smoothed over the sloping top, with the ribbon covering the seam where they meet.

Comparing mine to the book image, I see two main differences.  First, the brick used appears flatter and to have a more square footprint.  Perhaps some sort of cobble or small paving stone would give a shape closer to the sketch.  Second, the cushion appears outsized in my version: I now think the "2 inches" difference was meant to be added to the total measurement of the bag, rather than to each side. 

Keeping Busy

Not much to look at, but I did finally finish turning my green plaid:
Green plaid dress, bishop sleeve, gauged skirt, gathered bodice.
It looks rather less ghastly off the hanger.  Disassembled the dress and removed the bias bands around the skirt; washed the pieces; cut a new bodice out of left-over fabric; turned the sleeves inside-out and re-made them with closed cuff; patched a hole in the skirt, and turned the skirt panels inside out and upside down so all the hem stains are hidden on the inside. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Victorian Seed Bead Bracelet

Ok, this is last Harrisburg post for the near future. I promise.  I just had to show off the bracelet I started in Kay Cogswell's workshop.  Kristen of The Victorian Needle was in the same class, and got some rather better pictures of the originals on display.
Victorian Greek Key Seed Bead Bracelet
Completed Bracelet

Greek Key Victorian Bracelet Worn
And it fits!
Of course, Victorians love wearing paired bracelets, so I already started on a companion:
Color-Reversed Greek Key Bracelet on Loom
Most of the original paired seed bead bracelets we saw were
coordinated, not identical. I decided to keep the same design
while switching the colors of the keys and the border.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

HFF 2.6: Juicy Fruits

Lazily Cleverly combined this challenge with Pi Day by making a fruit pie.

The Challenge:  Make something with fruit.

The Receipt: Apple Pie (American), found on page 279 of Sarah Josepha Hale's The Ladies' New Book of Cookery
Apple Pie (American).-- Apples of a pleasant sour, and fully ripe, make the best pies. Pare, core, and slice them line a deep buttered dish with paste, lay in the apples strewing in sugar to the taste, and a little grated lemon peel or cinnamon; cover them with the paste, and bake them in a moderate oven about 40 minutes. When apples are green, stew them with a very little water before making your pie. Green fruit requires double the quantity of sugar. Gooseberries and green currants are made in the same manner. 
Date/ Region: 1852 (5th ed), New York

How Did You Make It: Used the "Family Pie Paste" receipt on page 265 ("Rub half a pound of butter to a pound of flour and add water enough to knead it thoroughly"); the water came out to 1/2 cup. Rolled out half the paste, set it on a buttered pie tin, Sliced three Granny Smith apples (scant 1 1/2 lb) without peeling them, and set them on the crust, sprinkling over them 1/2 c. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. powdered cinnamon.  Rolled out the other half of the paste to make a top crust; pricked the top crust and baked the pie in a pre-heated oven at 350F for 45-50 minutes.

How Successful Was It? Adequate.  Not quite my usual apple pie (which has more spice), but still palatable.  I usually peel the apples before slicing them, but they're barely noticeable here. There was a larger-than-usual amount of liquid in the pie after baking, but it didn't affect the flavor or texture.

How Accurate Was It?  I used the most tart apple in the store, but they were still probably sweeter than heirloom baking apples would be.  Further research may be required.
Victorian Apple Pie Without Top Crust

Victorian Apple Pie
Mmm, pie.

Ball Coiffure With Sword

I've been wanting to try this for over a year, and finally had a chance at the Civilian Symposium Ball.

The inspiration is this 1865 image from Peterson's:

Ball Head-Dress Peterson's Magazine August 1865
Peterson's, August 1865
As far as I can tell, that's a waterfall at the back, with a comb at the top, strands of beads looped over the waterfall and the forehead (with a decoration at the front).  Part of the front hair is disposed in a sort of torsade or coronet above the forehead.  There's no description in the magazine, but the "hair-dressing" section of the fashion notes discusses a revived fad for La Chinoise (a braid or row of small curls worn over the forehead), which fits the image.

Instead of duplicating the exact coiffure, I decided to take the waterfall-with-a-sword element and combine it with some earlier 1860s side rolls and a small coronet braid--aiming for a more mid-war look, when the waterfall is first coming in, but the front hair is still dressed at the sides.

I didn't get pictures of each step, but it's basically the waterfall and side rolls already featured; the coronet was made by taking a small section of the back hair (I used part of the lower right-side), braiding it in a basket plait, and laying it over the head, with the tail tucked under the waterfall.  In retrospect, the basket plait is unpopular by the time waterfalls come in, so mixing them wasn't my best idea.  It looked cool, though.  I added some flowers for continuity between my dress and hairstyle (and because ball coiffures in general seem to pile on the accessories).
Left Side of Coiffure

Right Side

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Tucked Petticoat

I made it for the Civilian Symposium needlework contest--and also to have something pretty to wear.
White cotton petticoat with diagonal tucks.
Some wrinkling occurred
while travelling across the country.
Diagonal tuck insertion between two sets of four quarter-inch horizontal tucks.
A closer look at those tucks.

It's four panels of 44" wide pima cotton broadcloth, which gives a nice full petticoat for wearing either over hoops or over my pile of 1850s pettis. 

The decoration is based on this 1850s original from The Met:
Original Victorian white petticoat from The Met.
Cotton petticoat, c. 1850-60.
Decorative tucks on the original 1850s petticoat from The Met.
Tucked detail on the original.
Unfortunately, my item information request was never answered; so, I used the given center back length (41") to scale the other design elements on the image of the petticoat.  From that, I calculated the following:

Height of ruffle: 2.5"
Ruffle hem: 3/8"
Hem of petticoat: Greater than 9/16" (1.5 ruffle-hem-depths) but less than 2.5" (total ruffle depth), based on the solid, whiter shadow which shows under the ruffle where it stands out, which does not extend above the cord.
Fullness of ruffle: The gathers below the cord are neat, regular, and fairly compact. Without measuring the skirt and ruffle hems I can't know the ratio, but I suspect the ruffle is around 1.5x the petticoat width.
Cord diameter: Less than 1/16" width, looks closer to 1/32" (scaled to ruffle hem depth, at highest magnification).
Distance from ruffle top to first tuck: 1/2"
Width of tuck: 1/4"
Distance between tucks: 1/4"
Distance from top tuck to insertion band: 1/2"
Width of insertion border: 1/4"
Width of insertion between borders: 2.5"
Total insertion width: 3"
Width of diagonal tuck in insertion: 1/4"
Space between diagonal tucks in insertion: about 1/16" (three tucks and the space to the right of each takes up approximately 1").  In some places, this spacing increases to 1/8".
Distance between insertion and next horizontal tuck: 1/2"
Waistband width: 1"
Material overlap in waistband (shadows through): about 3/8"
Waist material controlled with gathers.
Machine top-stitching through tucks and on the insertion edge-bands measures approximately 16-18 stitches per inch.

The width of the petticoat at the hem is not given. The shadow-through of a seam on the right side of the picture suggests that the seam allowances are approximately the same width at the horizontal tucks (1/4").  Interior seam treatments at not visible.

For my petticoat, I ended up reducing the tucked design elements from 5 to 3 (I miscalculated the yardage, and ended up about 20" short on the second diagonal band).  Though I did make a ruffle, I decided not to add it to the skirt, as I didn't think it looked well with the smaller number of tucks--and, honestly, I don't care for it much on the original, either.  The fullness is controlled with stroked gathers at the waist, and fastens with a bone button.

It ended up winning both the faculty and popular ballots in the Needleworker's (open) division of the contest.  My thanks to the judges and everyone who voted. :)

D. C. & Harrisburg, Day 8

I still can't believe it's over.  The Symposium was amazing right up to the end.  Today's speakers were Betsy and Jessica (Planning Civilian Events) and Kay (cultural context of CDVs).  There were, of course, more lovely original garments to view as well.

I'm still overwhelmed by the excitement of the whole conference, so a more complete post will be forthcoming in a few days.

Ballgown Bodice

1860s style yellow taffeta ballgown.
Apparently, orange cashmere goes
with everything.
One of several recent projects: a new bodice for my ballgown.  The pattern started life as the Kay Gnagey Simplicity gown (several iterations back). Minimal decoration: cotton lace, with flowers from Timely Tresses.  Thanks to Nancy for help with fitting the toile, Keturah for dressing me, and Maggie for generously lending her sewing machine when I showed up at the Symposium with a bodice in 9 pieces.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

D. C. & Harrisburg, Day 7

Another busy day at the Civilian Symposium.  In addition to the new display of original garments, there were talks on evolving fashions, furniture styles, lace, insane asylums, and the technological developments underlying skirt supports (Carolann rocked those patent files).  First, though, the presenters showed off their Conference Dress--or Vests, for the gents; before the conference, each received an identical piece of material and instructions to "make a 19th century garment".  The resulting items show an astounding range of style and purpose.
Symposium faculty in their blue dresses.
All the blue plaid--with different sleeves, bodices, and trim.
In the evening, there was a formal dinner and period ball, with live music by Smash the Windows.
Ball and dinner tickets and dance list.

Dancers at the 2016 Civilian Symposium Ball.
Dancing at the ball.

Friday, March 11, 2016

D.C. & Harrisburg, Day 6

Took two more classes today: whittling with Tom Kelleher, and an over-view of women's sleeve variations with Carolann.  The conference also officially began, so the vendors' room was open (very dangerous), and the first round of original garments was on display.  I took about 450 pictures, but won't be posting any at this time as I do not have permission.  The first talk was also tonight, during which Mr. Kelleher enlightened us all about the American ice industry of the 19th century.
Whittled sticks.
I'm not the most promising student in whittling class.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

D.C. & Harrisburg, Day 5

Otherwise known as Day 1 of the Civilian Symposium (or, day 1 of the pre-Conference classes).

No fun landmark pictures today, as I didn't leave the hotel, but I did get to take fun workshops with Kay Cogswell and Janine Whiteman.  The evening Welcome Reception featured period entertainments, including delightful singing by Colleen, Liz, and Betsy.
Seed bead bracelet on loom.
In-progress seed bead bracelet from Kay's class.  There was also
a display of original beaded bracelets.
Three 19th century vests from the PNJW Collection.
Some of the many original men's vests studied in Janine's class.
From the PNJW Collection (used with permission).
Six ladies in wrappers at the Welcome Reception.
Wrappers and smoking jackets were popular attire for
the Welcome Rception.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

D.C. and Harrisburg, Day 4

Not quite so many pictures today, as I spent the morning busing from Washington, D.C. to Harrisburg, PA.

I did, however, make time to visit the National Civil War Museum:
Main entrance to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

Confederate flag in the collection of the National Civil War Museum.
Confederate flag, first version.

Multi-piece tin "officer's mess kit" in the National Civil War Museum.
Officer's Mess Kit.
Stone honoring Civil War volunteers from Dakota, Washington, and Utah territories.
The walkways around the museum have sections for
each state (the territories share); soldiers' names may be
inscribed on the bricks in their home state's section. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

D.C. and Harrisburg, Day 3

Lots of walking today: Arlington House, the Lincoln Memorial (& rest of the National Mall), the Smithsonian Castle, the National Gallery, and finally a concert at the Kennedy Center.
Portico of Arlington House.
Arlington House, former home of the Custis and Lee families.
Reproductions of Robert and Mary Lee's portrait clothing.
Repros of Mary Custis Lee and Robert E. Lee's portrait
outfits, in the archway where they were married.
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial.
Statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial.
Between Springfield and DC, I've basically been stalking him for a year.
"Pacific" portion of the WWII Memorial in the National Mall.
WWII Memorial
Main entrance to the Smithsonian Castle.
Smithsonian Castle.
Smithsonian National Art Gallery (National Mall entrance).
National Gallery.

Fountain in the atrium of the Smithsonian National Gallery.
I couldn't let myself start taking pictures of the art,
but the fountains in the atrium seemed safe.

Monday, March 7, 2016

D.C. and Harrisburg Trip, Day 2

Ford's Theater & the Peterson House:

Outside of Ford's Theater
Presidential box in Ford's Theater.
Presidential Box 
The Peterson Boarding House, across from Ford's Theater.
Peterson Boarding House
Smithsonian Museum of American History:
(Where, naturally I made a beeline for textiles, and HBC stuff).
Red River Cart (HBC) in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
Red River Cart
19th century album quilt in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
Album Quilt!
Mary Todd Lincoln's purple velvet dress.
Mary Lincoln's fabulous purple velvet
dress.  I couldn't get close enough to see it if's
sent into the seams or applied on top (like
the one in Patterns of Fashion).