Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Pincushion Needlebook

Reproduction cotton print needlebook pincushion from Fanciful Utility insruction.
Needlebook with pin cushion.

Between the color combination, and my slight mis-measurement of the pincushion (finished width 3/4", not 1/2") , I've decided that it looks like an ice cream sandwich.  Another Fanciful Utility project.

Needle book interior.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Original: White Sheer Dress, c.1855

LACMA's online collection deserves more credit than it gets. It may be smaller than the Met, but it's much easier to search and sort than many other collections.  And it has some real beauties, like this:

White muslin dress, c.1855
From Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The more I look at this dress, the more it appears an understated masterpiece. No trim, no wild colors or print: just white muslin, made interesting with clever use of fullness--on the bodice, in the puffs, and in the large bishop sleeves. The tiered skirts also make excellent use of the lightweight fabric, for a floaty and cool summer dress.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Photographic Survey: Accessories

Paula started an interesting discussion at the Sewing Academy on accessories, and it got me thinking about how many accessories  (and which kinds) tend to be worn together in the period. So, naturally, I decided to do some statistical analysis of every original image I could easily lay hand on.  As one does.

The full spreadsheet is available here, if anyone else wants to play with the data for fun and educational (non-profit) reasons.

My survey included 436 adult, female sitters.  I excluded images less than half-length, or ones in which the figures' clothing was too small/obscure to see accessories. On the ones that I did use, I erred on the side of hazy items being present, but did not includes fully obscured objects.  This may lead to belts/watches being under-represented, due to a tendency to pose with arms/shawls/children obscuring the waist.  I grouped several types of objects together (such as bracelets and cuffs, or nets and other headdresses) based on location, because it was not always easy to differentiate them.  Where one object indicates another, I used them together (so "watch" includes images where watch chains are clearly visible, even is the watch itself is not).  I did not include white collars/cuffs/undersleeves or self-fabric pelerines for this survey, counting those as 'part of the dress' for the discussion at hand.  In retrospect, this would have a good time to get that information.

Results Summary:
Total accessories: 1215
Average per sitter: 2.76
Median: 3
Mode: 2
High: 7
Low: 0

Total Brooches/Pins: 309 (70.9% of sitters wore one, including wearing with a bow)
Bows/cravats: 88 (20.2% of sitters)
Brooches on bows or cravats: 30 (9.7% of brooches had bows or 34% of bows had brooches)
Belts: 147 (33.7%) including Swiss waists and other shaped belts
Watches: 77 (17.7%)
Earrings: 100 (22.9%)
Necklaces: 37 (8.3%*) includes long watch chain necklaces, pendant and ribbon chokers)
Bracelets and cuffs: 21 (4.8%) includes wristlets, leather/fur cuffs; pair or singles
Coiffures, including nets, bows, an tassels: 155 (35.6%)
Caps: 26 (6.0%) more covering than coiffures, not always easy to differentiate
Combs and similar hair ornaments: 9 (2.1%)
Hats or bonnets (worn or held): 53 (12.2%)
Mitts or gloves: 30 (6.9%)
Rings (total visible): 39, worn by 32 sitters (7.3%) (3 rings maximum)
Outerwear (shawls, mantles, coats, cloaks): 61 (14.0%) these tend to obscure other accessories
Handkerchief: 15 (3.4%)
Parasol: 9 (2.1%)
Others, including muffs (9) aprons (8), fans (6), veils on bonnets/hats (5), glasses (3), purses (3), and pins at the waist, attached to watch chains (2). 

*Some sitters wore more than one of these items (such as a ribbon choker and long watch chain, or two rings). Except for the "other" category,  I adjusted the percentages to 'sitters wearing one or more necklaces' rather than the 'total number of necklaces'.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter

Revisiting Hot Cross Buns (and only two days out of season!).  I used the August* 1857 instructions from Peterson's.
Hot Cross Buns, page 150, August 1857 issue of Peterson's.

For this version, I used about 6 tsp of active dry yeast in warm water, with skim milk for the dairy.  It had a very nice texture--it baked up like a normal bread, much less dense than my last attempt.  The flavor was distinctly less satisfying, however--an aroma of spice rather than a flavor of it.  After applying math to the situation, I determined that I probably used about half as much spice as I should have, and my scale isn't great at such small amounts. I'll use volume measures for the spice next time (7 Tbsp + 1 tsp total spice should be about 1.5 oz; I'll try 4 Tbsp cinammon, 2 1/3 Tbsp allspice, and 1 Tbsp mace).

Hot Cross Buns from 1857 receipt.
Hot Cross Buns, take 2.

They were tasty enough, just a bit boring. Fortunately, I some other baked goods on the agenda, and had some playing around with the decorating tips:

Cake decorated as an Easter basket, with jellybeans and chocolate eggs.
An Easter basket. And a cake. It has many talents.

*This publication date is confusing me. Cross buns are a Good Friday tradition everywhere else I've read.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pillow Pin Cushion

From Anna Bauersmith's recovery pincushion pattern.

Pillow pincushion...well six little cushions.

I used cotton prints from my stash (this is a good project for using up tiny pieces), with wool roving for the stuffing.  As an experiment, I stuffed one of the cushions with emery for sharpening needles--while it does tend to weigh that side of the pincushion down, the effect is less pronounced than I expected.

Another view.
It's a cute little handful of a pin cushion, and made up very quickly.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Rests and Photographic Stands

[This post is a work in progress, to which I will be adding as I find more 1840s-1860s references to the practice of post mortem photography, and to the devices and techniques used to take good photographs of the living. Recommendations for sources and further reading are always welcome.]

Given the large number of photographic portraits arbitrarily called "post mortems" (mostly CDVs, in my experience, but also sometimes dags, ambros, and tintypes), I decided to see what I could find about the subject in period resources.  If a portrait of a person who is standing with eyes open and making hand gestures, is in fact a cunningly posed corpse with over-painting, then there should be some evidence of the method and devices employed.  I suspect, however, from my current reading, that most CDVs of life-like persons are, in fact, pictures of living people who used various stands, head-rests, and strategically placed furniture to hold a still pose that would look natural while photographing clearly.

Stands and Rests
"A head-rest is a very useful adjunct in portraiture, but if not a good one will most likely defeat its own end. The sitters head must never be fixed in this, but when all is arranged to the artists satisfaction it should be applied, and put so that instead of appearing to hold the head may support it and become as its name implies a "rest." Many persons object to the use of this instrument and declare that they can sit perfectly still without it, but this is not the case very few will be able to sit but a few seconds sufficiently steady for a photograph and by its constant use, many failures are sure to be avoided."
-A Guide to the Indian Photographer (1860)
"Of course great steadiness is required on the part of the sitter during the few seconds he submits to the operation of the photographer. It is usual to support the head by a rest fastened to the back of the seat as, shown in fig 82; but where the person can maintain a steady position without this the result is generally the most satisfactory, the rest not unfrequently giving an air of stiffness to the sitter. "
 -Photography (1853)

Head rest, to be fastened on a chair.
Page 302, Photography (1853).

"Head-rests are highly useful when properly managed; the most simple form of rest can be screwed on the back of a chair and easily adapted to the position of the sitter; it should be fastened without pushing the head forward, or otherwise giving the sitter an awkward and constrained appearance "
--The ABC of Photography
New York CDV, man holding hat, posing stand
Unknown gentleman from Palmyra, NY.
CDV. Undated (1859 or later).
Hat held in one hand, the base of a stand is
visible behind the subject's foot.
Collection of E. Korsmo

NY Girl c.1864-1866, posing stand and chair. CDV
Unknown girl c.1864-66.
Photographed by Brown: N.J. or P.A.
Posing stand visible behind her feet.
Collection of E. Korsmo.
NY Girl c.1864-1866, posing stand and chair. CDV
Another unknown girl c.1864-66. 
Photographed by Brown: N.J. or P.A.
Posing stand visible behind her feet.
Collection of E. Korsmo.

Post mortem photography

I've found very few references to photographing corpses in the pre-1865 literature.  Those reference which are given are brusque and/or utilitarian, with no allusions to a brisk trade in lifelike posing or tips for how photographers should achieve such an effect.

"Mlle. Sarah, it appeared, on the death of her sister at Cannes, on the 3rd of January last, caused a photographer to take a likeness on her death-bed. He obtained one remarkable for its exactitude, but it was, as was said, "horrible to witness," inasmuch as it represented her features as they were contracted in the agony of death. As Mlle. Sarah's object in having the photograph taken was to preserve a memorial of the deceased for her family and a few friends, she saw that it would not be possible to offer them anything so disagreeable to look at, and she accordingly employed a photographer of Paris, named Ghemar, to soften it down."
--The National Magazine (1858)

"...They photograph infants and dead people..." The Journal and Transactions of the Photographic Society of Great Britain (1859) One entry of many, in a list of the many subjects and uses of photography.

The Photographic News (1860) recommends that photography be employed in medical training, to take images of patients and corpses.
" Dr. Roulston, of Leeds, recommends that immediately upon a dead body being found, two or more photographs should be taken so that a perfect facsimile of the features, both in full and profile, should remain for the inspection of those who have lost friends or relatives, and who would by this means frequently be relieved from a state of agonizing suspense, when the putrefaction of the corpse no longer permitted of recognition."
-Photographic Notes (1858)

The Photographic News (1859) has a first person account of a photographer attempting to record an execution in Algeria.


For a more thorough look at this topic, see Virginia Mescher's article about how different colors show up in period photography and the pitfalls of attempting to 'read' dress colors. [Scroll down to "The Mystery of Wet Plate Photography"].  Below are a few interesting quote I've come across on the subject. The light or washed-out appearance of the color blue appears to be responsible for those seemingly iris-less Victorian portraits.

The Photographic News opened its July 6, 1860 edition with an article about how colors resolve in different development chemicals.

Other sources warn about how different colors photograph, to allow for planning of the composition and exposure time: 
"...a light colour, in a photographic point of view, is not always what is commonly considered a light colour; yellow is light, but yellows scarcely have any effect on the most sensitive plate, and the result is black; reds are very nearly as dark; but blue, even when deep in tone produces an effect almost identical with white. It being understood that yellow and red draperies develop darker and blues lighter than they really are, and that these three colours are components of all other colours, it is then easy to judge the effect of any compound colour; for instance, light green and purple produce medium tints, unless the yellow in the former and the red in the latter be in excess, in which cases the results will be dark."
--The ABC of Photography
 "unless the picture is painted purposely we cannot realize its beauties, solely in consequence of certain colours, such as bright red, yellow and green, which act as lights in a picture, always appearing dark in a photograph, and blue, on the contrary, presenting a light appearance "
--Photographic Notes (1858)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Costume Society of America: Historic Jamestowne, Day 6

We left Williamsburg early in the morning, hoping to make a brief visit to Jamestown before flying west.  Alas, an hour and a half was insufficient time for even an abbreviated visit.  Bypassing the living history area altogether, we barely had time to look through the two museums at the archaeological site and walk the shorter of the two path-circuits. 

Also, I very cleverly packed my camera, and failed to get any pictures of my own.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Costume Society of America: Williamsburg, Day 5

Saw several more excellent presentations this morning/afternoon, survived my own presentation, dined at Josiah Chowning's Tavern, and enjoyed a splendid musical interlude at the Rayleigh Tavern in the evening.  The five-piece ensemble (harpsichord, viola de gamba, violin/English guitar, flute and voice) performed an hour of 17th-18th century music by female composers, as well as a few pieces known-to-have-been-performed-by celebrated female musicians of the period.

Unfortunately, amidst the excitement, I neglected to bring my camera.

Edited to add:
That should read "to everything after lunch".  I actually did get some pictures of the morning's trade demonstrations, which included the apprentice weavers dying yarn, and a visit to the cooper's shop.

Madder and indigo dye pots behind the weavers' shop.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Costume Society of America: Williamsburg, Day 3-4

Conference sessions + ALL THE HISTORIC TRADES = A lovely, very busy, few days.

Spent a lot of time in this room, listening to all my favorite
living authors talk about their cool new research.

Walking past the Great Hopes plantation.
It's still closed for the season, but the sheep were out.

Also, it has a windmill.

The cabinetmakers' shop has some lovely furniture.
And an honest-to-god HARPSICORD MAKER.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Costume Society of America: Williamsburg, Day 2

Another full day in Williamsburg.  I started with a tour of the textile artifact storage and conservation lab.  It is beautiful, roomy, and I am thoroughly jealous of the space. 

These flat storage drawers are great.

Afterwards, there was a visit to the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, which was everything I hoped it would be.  I especially enjoyed the special exhibition on printed fabrics, copious porcelain, dollhouses both gigantic and compact, and a fun gallery of keyboard instruments.  My favorite staging elements were the recordings of several of the instruments in use (playing contemporary pieces), and the video fashion show, with interpreters (cheekily!) modelling reproduction print garments. 
Then it was back to historic trades--today we got into the foundry, the James Geddy House, and the carpentry shop. 
Spinnet in the Geddy House.
I want a half-green room.

Wares in the foundary--today they were casting brass.
And then, we decided to live it up in style, with a carriage ride around the historic district.

Horses! Also, an open carriage.

In the afternoon/evening the conference programming started. There were some meet-and-greets, a keynote panel, and the opening of the marketplace (wherein, I may have acquired more books than was strictly advisable).

Monday, March 12, 2018

Costume Society of America: Williamsburg, Day 1

Guess who's on the road again?  I'm back on the east coast, this time for my first ever meeting of the Costume Society of America.  And it's in WILLIAMSBURG!

The historic trades tour was lead by the
knowledgeable and well-dressed apprentice tailor.

The master weaver at work on her 8-harness loom.

The wig makers' shop was fascinating and entertaining.
Like the swallows of Capestrano, all chintz and indienne
prints flock annually to the Governor's Mansion.
Scientific instruments in the Wythe house.
Check out the model solar system.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Civilian Symposium, Last Day: Gettysburg

The last day of Symposium flew by.  First off was Hal's discussion of a Texas store ledger--and the research he's done on the community surrounding it--which was exquisite.  I really hope he publishes when he's done transcribing and analyzing it.  The final lecture was Carolann discussing fabric printing technology.  It really helped me conceptualize visual signifies of 1830s vs. 1860s prints (picotage!), and the rainbow box for ombre prints slightly blew my mind.

Front exterior of Christ Lutheran Church, Gettysburg PA
Christ Lutheran Church, founded 1835;

Of course, the down note was the announcement that this will be the last Symposium.  I have thoroughly enjoyed attending it: to have met so many interesting researchers in my hobby, to have learned from them, and to have seen all the great originals shared by Carolann, Kay, and others.  I enjoyed dancing to Smash the Windows, and meeting all the people whose usernames I know from The Sewing Academy.  I liked getting to explore the towns which figure into so many of the primary sources I've read from the period--Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Baltimore, and Washington City.

Thank you, Carolann, for putting on this conference for so many years. I'm sorry I won't have the chance to do it again, but am grateful for the opportunity to have attended the last two.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Civilian Symposium, Day 3: Gettysburg

Classes! Originals! More classes! A ball!

The faculty strut their conference dresses and vests.

Last minute attempt at a cache peigne.
Rushing the hair accessories is better than rushing the dress.
[More ball pictures later, as most weren't taken on my camera.]

Highlights of the day included Cheyney's talk about slave society (most informative), John's talk on peddlers (most energetic), and Mr. Mescher's cravat (most magenta).  Honorable mentions to the final reel of the ball (most puns), and Paula's dress (most ruching).

Friday, March 2, 2018

Civilian Symposium, Day 2: Gettysburg

Workshop day!  Mine started with a walking tour of Lincoln's time in Gettysburg.  It was really windy

Gettysburg train station.
The late 1850s rail station. I probably should have
crossed the street to photograph it.

Next up was a class on trims from Carolann Schmidt.  We learned dagged tucks, reversing tucks, and talked fringe.

Petticoat trim class.
Studying petticoats for trim ideas.

I visited The Button Baron on my way down to the vendors' room. The shop is small (the front two parlors of a house), but completely full of fun things. Highly, highly recommended.  The vendors' room are also Most Perilous to the budget. Fair warning.

Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg.
The vendor's room was on the edge of town--right near cemetery ridge.

In the evening, Annette Bethke gave the first talk of the conference, an hour-long overview of homespun dresses in the Confederacy. I love spreadsheets.  After that came my favorite part: the displays of original garments. There will be different ones out for each of the three days.  So many pretties!

Original Victorian dresses at the 2018 Civilian Symposium.
Original garments on exhibit.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Civilian Symposium, Day 1: Gettysburg

Made it to Gettysburg today. Wandered around the downtown area for a while, including a stop by the David Wills house, where a certain president stayed before delivering a certain well-known 'few brief remarks.'
The David Wills House, Gettysburg
Yep, Lincoln slept here.
I also got to attend a special program at the battlefield interpretive center's cyclorama, which was very fun.  It was also appropriate, since I'm missing a conservation class to attend the symposium--there was a good hour of the conservation researcher discussing the construction, history, and restoration of the piece.  Then she gave us a guided tour of it.
Detail of Gettysburg Cyclorama
Cyclorama at Gettysburg.  The perspective was fascinating.
And the rope on this well sort of stole the show.

It was a very up-close-and-personal tour.  I actually got to duck under the painting and see it from the back, where all the seams are visible (unfortunately, the lighting levels were not good for my camera).

Cyclorama floor view looking up.
But here's a view of the diorama, painting,
canopy, and roof, from below.

Gettysburg cyclorama detail: canon in diorama.
See the road?

"Ground" in the Gettysburg cyclorama.diorama
This is me standing on that road.

Fun fact: the battle detritus in the foreground "diorama" area is donated reenacting gear; they wanted it to needed to look used and weathered.  Apparently, it moves around occasionally as new pieces are added or removed. Also, the plants are all fire-proof. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018 Civilian Symposium, Day 0: Baltimore

Returning to the Civilian Symposium, now in Gettysburg, PA.

Not that I'm quite there, yet. I flew in via Baltimore this time, and took the day to explore a tiny portion of the city.  The history nerd's obligatory first stop, of course, was Fort McHenry*.

Landward view of the Star Fort, Ft. McHenry, Baltimore PA.
Fort McHenry, sans British warships.
As of 1400 hours, the banner was (appropriately) still waving.  Also, the view was spectacular. The buildings reminded me a lot of Fort Snelling, which makes sense time-wise. For future planning, the "Banner" circulator buses which run out to the fort also go past about a million other museums.

My next stop was the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History.  The permanent exhibits on the third floor are pretty. Like, really nicely curated and presented.  I'm not entirely sure where one was supposed to start, but the circuit lay-out ensured I still saw everything, and the internal logic between the cases worked in multiple directions--while covering four hundred years of history.  When I grow up, I want to design exhibits like this.

The second floor has a special art exhibition Reflections, with some stunning photography.  I liked the artist's concept of photographing the work spaces of important figures. Also, the labels told the stories behind the art, which always wins me over.

Exterior of the Reginold F. Lewis Museum.
Reginald Lewis Maryland African American Museum.

The Baltimore Civil War Museum was also on my agenda, but it's apparently closed on off-season weekdays.  However, they did make up for it by having some interpretative signs out in the city. And, since it's in the old President's Street depot and I needed to catch the lightrail from Camden Yards, when I left the museum I ended up following the route of the 1861 Baltimore Riot.  

Outdoor exhibit sign, 1861 Baltimore Riot (Civil War).
A Civil War walking tour coincided with my return journey.

*Also, it is tradition in my family, upon completing an over-night flight, to locate the nearest coastal fortification and giggle at the artillery, instead sleeping or something. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Crochet Shawl

Still here, just busy with school and on-going projects. Also, re-attaching the hem tape on my brown print. Again.

I did complete one project recently: a crochet shawl for a friend.  The yarn is Lion Brand "homespun", worked with a Q hook. It's done in "shell pattern--lacy alternating", from Ryan's The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery.

Shawl in crochet, alternating lacy shells
Matt is pressed into service as a model.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Renaissance Purse

A present for a deserving party, no sow's ear required.

Reproduction Renaissance Silk Purse
Silk purse with pewter frame.

The string is made from a finger-loop braid pattern c.1475-1630.  Both it and the tassels used size FF beading silk from Fire Mountain Gems. The frame came from Billy and Charlie's Finest Quality Pewter Goods.*  Though I do not know the original piece the frame is based on, it resembles some late medieval (14th-15th century) frames, including a few that seem to edge into the 16th century.

*Look them up on Facebook for more pictures and an up-to-date selection.  I was impressed by their speedy customer service.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Dishefull of Snow

Another attempt at an renaissance dish, this time from A Proper New Booke of Cookery (1575):
To make a dishefull of Snow. 
Take a pottel of sweete thick creame
and the white of viij. egges, and beate
them altogether with a spone, then put
them in your creame, and a saucer full
of rose water, and a dishe full of suger
withall, then take a stycke and make it
cleane, and then cutte it in the ende
foure square, and therewith beat all the
aforesaide things together, and ever as
ut riseth, take it of, and put it into a
Collander, this done, take an apple and
set it in the middes of it, and a thicke
bush of Rosemarye, and set it in the mid-
des if the platter, then cast your snowe
upon the Rosemarye, and fyll your
platter therwith. And if you have wa-
fers, cast some in withall, & thus serve
them forth.
A pottel, according to Wiktionary, is probably a half gallon. So, 8 eggs whites, 32 oz cream, generous-but-vague amounts of rose water and sugar; beat thoroughly, and skim off the upper layer as it thickens, and allow that to drain in a collander; arrange over an apple and rosemary.

I interpreted the instructions as using the apple to support the rosemary, which is then covered in the sweet cream-and-egg foam.

Scaling by half, I started by beating 4 egg whites, then added some 16 oz cream*.  I added a splash of rosewater (less than 1/4 cup) and a similar amount of sugar, while beating the mixture until it was stiff.  I then made a number of incisions in the top of an apple, and arranged the rosemary branches therein. I then piled the whipped cream over the apple, making a small rosemary bush in a pile of 'snow'.  I had no wafers to include, but did have the last of my experimental gluten-free krumkake*.  The snow tasted like the whipped cream I usually serve with krumkake, except for the rosewater.

A dishefull of snow, c.1675
A Dishefull of Snow

For accuracy, I suspect that I should have included more rosewater, and possibly more sugar (once I figure out what a "saucer full" means in volume for the 16th century).  I also used an electric mixer--whether this made any difference in the final texture, I couldn't say.

* I picked this recipe because I had a bunch of left-over cream to use.  This amount ended up being too much for my mixer or dish, so only half of it got made up.

**Which tastes exactly like krumkake made with not-gf flour, but was even easier to cook.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

To Seethe Hennes in Winter in White Sauce

Continuing with my Twelfth Night menu, here's my first attempt at a late 16th century dish, from The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1594):
How to seeth Hennes and Capons in Winter in white broth. 
Take a necke of mutton and a marrowe bone, and let them boile with the Hens together, then take Carret rootes and put them into the potte, and then straine a litle bread to thicke the pot with all and not too thicke: season it with Pepper and Uergious, and then couer them close, and then let them boile together, then cut sops and put the broth and the marrow aboue, and so serue them.
I changed two things: omitting the mutton neck as I could not find one, and substituting white wine for the vergious (an alternative given in "to boyle chickens or capon").  I did have some beef marrow bones on hand, and threw them in with the chicken to boil.  The carrots were added later, along with bread crumbs, pepper, and eventually the white wine.

To Seethe Hennes in Winter in White Sauce, 1594
Hen seething in white sauce.

Lacking sorrell, gooseberries, and time (ha), I used plain bread for the sops, forgoing the fancier flavored toast that is specified for chickens:
To make Sops for Chickens. 
First take Butter, and melt it vpon a chafingdish with coales, and lay in the dish thinne tostes of breade, and make Sorrell sauce with Uergious and Gooseberries, seeth them with a litle Uergious and lay them vppon.
With all the departures, this was definitely more of a learning experience/experiment than a proper historic dish.  That being said, it wasn't bad: the flavor was a bit bland, and to my modern tastes, it could definitely use some salt. The sauce was also rather runny, so I suspect there was too much liquid in it at the end.  The bread crumbs used for thickening the sauce were not quite to my taste.

I would certainly consider trying this dish again in the future, ideally with the proper ingredients to get the proper taste of it.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Rocky Mountain Punch

I revisited some old receipts for this past Twelfth Night, and also tried some 'new' ones:

Rocky Mountain Punch (no.43) from How to Mix Drinks (1862):
For a mixed party of twenty: 
5 bottles of champagne
1 quart of Jamaica rum
1 pint of maraschino
6 lemons sliced
Sugar to taste.  
Mix the above ingredients in a large punch-bowl, then place in the centre of the bowl a large square block of ice, ornamented on top with rock candy, loaf-sugar, sliced lemons or oranges, and fruits in season. This is a splendid punch for New Year's Day. 
Twelfth Night is the same week as New Year's , so it's rather seasonable.

Rocky Mountain Punch

Scaled down to 2 bottles of champagne, because the company was less than 20.  Approximately 15 oz of rum, 6 1/2 oz maraschino liquor, and 2 1/2 sliced lemons.  Garnished the ice block with sugar, and orange and lemon slices (this could certainly be done more festively).

The punch is tasty, easy to make, and could be made quite festive by someone with more decorating skills. It's also really, really strong, so be warned.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Review: The American Duchess Guide to Eighteenth Century Dressmaking

I haven't had the chance to make any of the projects yet, but this book has me very excited to try some 18th century styles.  The projects include four different gowns from the 1740s and 1790s: an English gown, a sacque/robe ala Francaise, an Italian gown, and a round gown.  Each includes the supportive petticoats, pads, and/or panniers required to wear it, as well as accessories: kerchiefs, caps, bags, and aprons.  Corsets and shifts are not included, so you'll need to find those elsewhere (Corsets: Historical Patterns & Technique is probably where I'll start, though I'm not sure I have any post-1600 and pre-1800 shift patterns).  In addition to the garment instructions, there's three pages of historic sewing stitches, a page of mock-up advice, a trouble-shooting guide, references, and a few vendor recommendations.  The projects, however, certainly make up the bulk of the book.

This book stands out from other historic clothing guides for the quality and abundance of its photographs.  The instructions contain detailed, step-by-step, photographs, in addition to text. In fact, with half to three quarters of each page being photographs, the instructions are more 'photo-tutorials'. There are also good modern-language explanations of period hand-sewing techniques.  Personally, I found their explanation of the mantua-maker's stitch about four times more comprehensible than the description from The Workwoman's Guide (also quoted here).

A few images of original garments are included, but the vast majority of the photos in this book are reproduction garments and the methods of constructing them.  If you're looking for original garments to admire, this isn't the book for you, but if you want to make reproduction garments, it absolutely is. And, in that vein, I think this volume would pair nicely with all the originals in What Clothes Reveal, (and I'd love to compare it with Costume Close-Up in the future).

Stars: 5

Accuracy: Fairly High.  Well-cited, using many good primary and secondary sources.  I liked that they described which books/garments/paintings formed the basis for each reproduction gown, but would have liked a bit more detail on some of the accessories.

Level: Intermediate and up. The hand-sewing is well-explained, and there's a handy trouble-shooting guide for fit, but you're draping and hand-sewing garments, which are both skills.  The draping comes with some explanations and sample diagrams, but it's nothing like using a commercial pattern.

Overall Impression: The Dressmaker's Guide for the 18th century, but with more pictures.  The authors have done their research, and packaged it up neatly for your use.  The gowns are based on diagrams of original garments in The Cut of Women's Clothes and Patterns of Fashion, so you may find this an interesting/useful companion to those volumes (or those books useful for cutting out these gowns).

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Resolutions

Arthur's, May 1857

My New Year's Costuming Resolutions, aka, all the unfinished projects I'd like to wrap up in 2018:

  • Mid-16th century gown
  • Mid-16th century coif
  • Tablet-woven garters
  • 16th century shoes (ideally with some fabulous chopines)
  • 1850s Plaid Wool Dress
  • Knit undersleeves
  • Three chemises
  • Three pairs of drawers
  • Three pairs of cotton cloth stockings
  • Black wool dress (c.1860) remade
  • Silk convertible day/evening dress c. 1860
  • 1850s Sewing apron
  • Miser's Purse
  • Neoclassical (regency) bib-front dress
  • Two pairs of wool gaiters, with fitting issues resolved
  • 1850s winter coat.
  • Quilted hood, for which I received the materials last Christmas
  • Nelly's Little Sister
  • If the stars align, either the 1890s or 1770s stays I've been meaning to make for several years now.