Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4, 1852

"What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy--a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and more bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour. "
--Frederick Douglass, "The White Man's Fourth of July", reproduced in Frederick Douglass the Orator (1893)

[Full text at Teaching American History.]

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Findings and Sewing Implements, Renaissance Amsterdam

First off, I want to applaud the design of Amsterdam's Below the Surface online exhibit. It has a really nice chronological listing of all the artifacts (with an intuitive and powerful search functionality), as well as a virtual copy of the exhibit with tour. So, you can float around looking at the different objects, or follow a highlights tour with labels, or click any item you like to more information, or skim through a time line (and click any item you want for more information). The integration of these different parts--chronological organization, object type display, and a text search function--make it very versatile, and a power research tool.

Anyway, I was browsing artifact timeline, and stumbled upon something very familiar:
Iron garment hook, dated 1350-1650.
A timeless design. I've read about hooks-and-eyes/thread-bars being in use back to the 14th century, but was surprised at how modern the round-wire hook looked (compared to the 19th century versions I've seen, which tend to be flattened rather than truly round).  A moment later, I came across its buddy:
Iron garment fastening eye, dated 1350-1650.
 At which point, my browsing became a scavenger hunt for garment findings and sewing implements.  Like these alternative eye designs:
Iron garment fastening eye, dated 1350-1650.
Brass garment fastening eye, dated 1300-1700.
And some sewing tools:
Brass thimble, dated 1450-1550.
Brass sewing ring, dated 1450-1550.

Silvered brass pin, dates 1400-1700.

Bone needle case, dated 1300-1700.
Iron needle, dated 1300-1875.

Iron scissors, dated 1400-1600.
There are also all manner of buttonsshears, buckles (with and without leather belt fragments), garment hooks, and purse frames/fragments.  It's a really fun, varied exhibit of the detritus of ordinary life from about 1350-2005.  Now if only the Arabia had a similar website...


Monday, July 2, 2018

Lacing Kirtle Eyelets

I finally added the rest of the eyelets to my kirtle--being pinched for time at first, I only made every other intended eyelet, leaving them spaced twice as far apart as they should have been. This did give a functional garment, but one apt to pull and pucker awkwardly (finally adding the boning helped a little). The new eyelets actually turned out decently, but I'm more excited about my work-around for putting the lace through.

So, if you ever find yourself without an appropriately-sized bodkin or needle (ie, one with an eye large enough for your lace, cord or tape, and a maximum diameter smaller than your eyelets), here's how to insert the laces with a smaller sewing needle and some thread:

Hand-stitched eyelets on a reproduction 16th century kirtle; step 1, tutorial for lacing with a sewing needle, without a bodkin.
1. Cord on inside (lining side) of kirtle.
Step 1: Lay the cord next to the eyelet, on the side you want it go into. Here, I want the lace to enter the eyelet from the lining side of the garment, and come out on the right side; the cord is therefore on the lining side of the garment.
Step 2 tutorial for lacing kirtle with a small needle.
2. Threaded needle inserted into eyelet.
Step 2: Put your threaded needle through the eyelet, on the opposite side from your cord. I want the cord to end on the garment's outside, so the needle starts on the "right"/outer side and the cord on the inside/"wrong" side.

Step 3, how to put cord or laces through eyelets with only a sewing needle and thread
3. Needle goes around the cord and back through the eyelet.
Step 3: Holding the thread tail on the right side, bring the needle around the cord and put the needle back through the eyelet. Make sure you have several inches of cord on either side,  so it doesn't fall out of the "loop" of thread.
Step 4, lacing cord or ribbon through eyelets or grommets with sewing thread and small needle
4. Pull the thread through, bringing the cord with it.
Step 4: Holding both the needle and the thread tail, pull the thread back up through the eyelet, bringing the cord with it.

Repeat as needed, until all holes are laced. This is a bit slower than putting the cord through a large needle and threading it directly, but it was a lifesaver when I found myself with needles that were too small for the task.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Medieval Barley Bread

Two loaves of barley bread, made from a medieval recipe
Barley Bread
Tried another recipe from Medieval Recipes: Barley Bread. It still sort of feels like cheating to use someone else's recipe translations, but it sure it convenient.  I doubled the recipe, and baked it as two loaves, rather than four (increased baking time to ~50 minutes).  Used 1 tsp active dry yeast for the 1/2 oz of fresh yeast called for (per this yeast conversion chart), and local wildflower honey from the farmer's market.

The dough had a grainy texture while I was working it, and (probably from insufficient kneading, possibly from the grain used) didn't achieve that elastic texture bread dough really should have before rising. However, it baked up really nice--evenly cooked all the way through, with a nice rich flavor and surprisingly light texture.  My bread tends to be mediocre, but turned out rather well.  It also went over very well at the camp-out this weekend, and will definitely be made again.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Medieval Turnshoes


Turnshoes. At least my saddle-stitching is improving.

Always more last-minute sewing. From this tutorial.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mid-16th century coif.

Linen coif, from the Tudor Tailor.
Looking forward to a brilliant future in the 17th century.
One early 16th century (Henrician) coif, per the Tudor Tailor.  I enlarged it by 1.25" circumference at the band and around the brim to fit my head. I also increased the diameter of the cap to 12" (including seam allowances), both to fit the larger brim, and to ensure adequate space for my hair.  The instructions call for the brim to be wired, but when I tried it on for fit, the medium-weight linen I had sufficient body to stand on its own. So, for now, I'm keeping it un-wired for easy laundering, and will add wire in the future as needed.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Linen Apron, 16th Century

An now, the underwhelming conclusion of the great apron image compendium.

Linen apron, 16th century (Tudor) reproduction.
One rather wrinkled apron.

It's a square of linen (scraps from my last smock), hemmed all around, and attached straight to a tape waistband. I didn't have any linen tape, and so wove some of the band loom (rigid heddle). I then, of course, didn't want to cut said tape, so I left it as a complete waistband instead of cutting it in half to make two ties.  To show some of the fun styling I found, I did not secure the corners of the cloth to the band.

Linen tape woven on a medieval-style band loom.
Linen is fun to weave on the band loom.


The next apron I make will be longer, and (if white linen) will probably be gathered into a fabric waistband. Or maybe I'll go for a green linen apron with a cord/tape waist and dangling corners.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Book Review: Easy Street

Cover for "Easy Street" by Ann-Elizabeth Shapera

Easy Street: A Guide For Players In Improvised Interactive Environmental Performance, Walkaround Entertainment, And First-Person Historical Interpretation by Ann-Elizabeth Shapera. This book has been on my reading list for some time. For four years, to be precise, ever since Betsy mentioned it in her mourning impressions post.

And I should have read this book years ago. There's a lot of insight into what works and doesn't work when interacting with audiences, as well as exercises for designing a character, engaging an audience, or ad-libbing with other players.  Easy Street is certainly written from a Ren Faire viewpoint, and while my interpretation tends to be site-driven or activity-driven (rather than character-driven), I still found found it helpful and informative.

The book clocks in at 193 pages (plus a 14 page introduction), but the casual, conversational writing makes for a fast read. There are also lots of bullet points. The twenty-six chapters form an introduction to street theatre, freely mixing suggested exercises, advice, and illustrative anecdotes (positive and negative) from the author's years of performing and directing Ren Faire. Some other works are cited or recommended, but the basis of this book is the author's personal experience. The book presents a great deal of information, but it's presentation is too welcoming to feel overwhelming--which says something about the efficacy of the author's methods.

I think that any living history interpreter would benefit from taking a few of Ms. Shapera's lessons to heart, particularly the suggestions for promptly establishing character, and the mantra to 'make it work' for the audience.  Starting conversations has always seemed to be hardest part of interpreting (in my experience as an interpreter and viewer), and her theories for how to get the ball rolling are helpful. That being said, the examples given are for a jester performing in a Ren Faire setting, and are a bit more flamboyant than I'd be comfortable using in a craft demonstration or historic house setting; however, the underlying principles still seem to apply.

My caution about this book is to be sure you adapt the lessons to your own site and interpretive needs.  While research into the era you are presented is encouraged at multiple points, I feel it was conspicuously absent during the character-design section of chapter 2. Researching the audience's expectation can certainly be worthwhile, but I wonder that the list of possible activities was drawn solely from that, and not from one's topical research.  Activities appropriate to one's historical persona but unexpected by the audience are a great topic to interpret--and this point is spelled out, regarding the historicity of female jesters in chapter 15.  I like the emphasis on accurate costuming (for aesthetic and educational reasons, as well as conversation-fodder).  Incidentally, if you're reading this and don't do the Tudor era, see here for more costume reference books.

The conversational tone of the book causes it to amble a bit.  I think my copy will be gaining colored tabs in short order, for easy reference of key concepts and exercises. However, the personal stories about performing at Faire (and jester competitions) were amusing, and contributed to the overall message: first person theatre is about the audience, and it is something you can do it.

Score: 4.5 Stars

Strongest Impression: An insightful, approachable guide to improvising. It made this reader feel empowered to go forth and do first-person historic improv, which means it lived up to its goals.  I'd recommend every living history interpreter read this book at some point, but I might not hand it to a complete novice unless they were performing in a Ren Faire setting, as I think some first-hand knowledge of your living history niche is needed in order to apply the book's lessons.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Apron Research, 16th century

I need an apron for my Tudor attire, and decided some research was in order. Aprons are mentioned in The Tudor Tailor, but without much detail about construction (but with some great data on color).  The period image in the book shows a white half apron, of which the waistband is completely obscured.  So, I started look around for additional sources. The Medieval Tailor's Manual gives instructions for a basic rectangular apron, encased in a self-fabric waistband.  This would be easy to make, but I wanted more information about how aprons were actually constructed before starting.

Objectives/Research Questions
  • What kind of aprons appear in period artwork? Are they half aprons (covering from the waist down), aprons with bibs (over the bodice), or a mixture?
  • What shape do the apron 'skirts' take (rectangle, rounded, half-circle)?
  • How full are the aprons? How is this handled at the waist (attached smoothly, gathered, gauged)?
  • What is the waistband made of (tapes, cord, fabric)?
  • How is the apron fastened (ties, cord, buttons)?

Paintings and Illustrations

These are my main sources of information, particularly occupational/genre paintings showing working people. With thanks to several artists named Pieter, and all the meticulous limners producing Books of Hours in the early 16th century. And everyone who scanned them!

Brugel's Prudence includes at least two women and one men wearing half-aprons [click link for larger image]. The women's waistbands are hidden by their arms, but we can see that the top corners of both aprons are fluttering free, not attached to the waistband. It's not certain that the center is sewn to the waistband versus being tucked into it, but whatever the form of attachment is, its occurring at the top center of the apron 'skirt'.
Prudence, scene of workers outdoors, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1559
Prudence (1559) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Image from The Atheneum.

Bruegel's paintings give more apron-wearing figures, and in color.  In The Peasant Dance, we see a child wearing a blue/green half-apron that covers the front and sides of her skirt. Beside her, a woman wears a white half-apron, with either a black waistband or a black belt over the waistband; the corners for the white apron are loose, and appear to almost meet in the back, while a purse hangs from the waistband/belt over the apron:
Mother and child, detail from "The Peasant Dance" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1567
Detail from Bruegel's The Peasant Dance (c.1567).
Via The Atheneum.
Another woman in the same painting has a white apron either attached to a dark band or to a very narrow cord (the waistband itself disappearing from view):

"The Peasant Dance" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1567
Detail from Bruegel's The Peasant Dance (c.1567).
Via The Atheneum.
Wedding Dance in the Open Air includes many women wearing white aprons. Those in the foreground show the same attributes as the other Bruegel aprons: white, rectangular half-aprons with disappearing bands and loose back corners. These aprons appear to be attached smoothly to the waist (whether band, cord, or somehow tucked into the bodice), with no gathering or pleating of extra fullness:
"Wedding Dance in the Open Air" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566
Wedding Dance in the Open Air (1566)
Via The Atheneum.

Brugel's Children's Games, shows more of these half aprons with free corners, as well as two possible bibbed aprons. Two of the green half-aprons:
Children playing, 1560, "Children's Games" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Detail from Children's Games by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1560)
From The Atheneum.
The child on the viewer's right appears to have a white pinafore (or bibbed apron with straps) underneath her green half-apron with the corners flowing free. Another detail from the painting appears to show such a garment without the half-apron over it:
Child playing with clay, balance, 1560, "Children's Games" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Detail from Children's Games by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1560)
From The Atheneum.


Pieter Aertsen's paintings show blue and white aprons much like Bruegel's. Again, most of the figures as posed in ways that obscure the waistbands:

16th century kitchen, "The Fat Kitchen: An Allegory" by Pieter Aertsen
The Fat Kitchen: An Allegory by Pieter Aertsen
From The Atheneum

Aertsen's 1563 A Kitchen Scene has a child wearing a white half-apron, and an adult woman possibly wearing a white bibbed apron with a belt over it.  Another long, white, rectangular half-apron appears on a background figure in Market Scene (1560-1565), and more half-aprons in the background of Peasants By the Hearth (1560).

Aertsen's two paintings of female cooks show some better apron detail. In the one, the cook's dark apron has free-hanging corners, and a narrow band around the waist continues past the apron skirt. In the other, the front apron material is bunched, as though under tension, and the apron itself clearly has no waistband visible at the center front. It's possible that this apron doesn't have a waistband all around, but instead has ties or a partial waistband connected to the skirt piece, and extending around the back (this could be true for both aprons--we don't see both front and back on any one figure).

Woman cooking at a hearth, c.1559, Pieter Aertsen
The Cook (c.1559) by Pieter Aertsen
From The Atheneum
Woman cooking fowls on a spit, 1559, Pieter Aertsen
Cook in Front of the Stove (1559) by Pieter Aertsen
From The Atheneum.

Aertsen's The Pancake Bakery (1560) has a brown apron which also appears to have this top-front wrinkling and no visible waistband; it also has a blue version of the Bruegel probably-bibbed-apron, this time worn by an elderly woman. For more Aertsen apron-fun, see Market Woman (1567); Farmer's Feast (1550) has both women and men wearing aprons, with one of the latter wearing his tied in front. Preparations for a Feast (c.1550-1575), shows two women working in a kitchen wearing ruffs: the woman in the foreground has a gathered apron, with a fairly narrow tape or fabric waistband, with the woman in the background also has a relatively wide fabric or tape waistband:
Two women cooking, c.1550-1575, "Preparations for a Feast"  by Pieter Aertsen
Preparations for a Feast (c.1550-1575) by Pieter Aertsen
From The Atheneum.
The most clear image I've found of a wide-ish waistband, is actually in the c.1500 Book of Hours of Henry VIII. The June illustration shows two women raking hay:
Haymakers,c.1550, Henry VIII Book of Hours
Detail of haymakers (June) in the Hours of Henry VIII.
From the Morgan Library and Museum.
 Both women wear rectangular white aprons, as well as coifs or rails over their hair and sleeve-less kirtles (one back-laced and one front-laced) over long-sleeved smocks. The blue-clad woman's apron appears to have a waistband; the woman in pink's apron has a waistband tied in the back. The bow appears to be in the waistband itself, which is either of fabric or wide white band.

The January page also shows a woman wearing an apron. Only a faint white line is visible for the waistband, suggesting a narrow tape or cord.  Although the woman's back is almost fully to the viewer, no bow is visible.  If not a neglected detail, this may suggest an apron tied in front or on the side--possibly even buttoned, though this seems unlikely for a cord.
January, c.1550, Henry VIII Book of Hours
Detail of woman before a fire (January) in the Book of Hours of Henry VIII.
From the Morgan Library and Museum.
In another illustration from the same book, a shepherdess spinning in the foreground of the Annunciation wears a rectangular, white half-apron with no waistband visible.  Like the haymaker in the blue-kirtle, this could be depicting a style where the apron is sewn smoothly to the waistband, rather than being gathered (or otherwise put on full).  Alternatively, we could be dealing with an artist's stylized version of a garment.  The figure's arm covers her side, obscuring a hint of the waistband there, but her posture requires that the white square 'apron' be attached somewhere.
Spinning shepherdess, c.1550, Henry VIII Book of Hours
The Annunciation, from the Book of Hours of Henry VIII.
From the Morgan Library and Museum.
Another apron appears in the illustration of St. Nicholas, but the figure's waist is completely obscured.  Like the others in the book, however, this apron appears to be a white, rectangular half-apron, and likely is attached to a band with little or no fullness, if it has a front waistband at all.

In the Bruges Book of Hours, we get more white, rectangular half aprons.  The milkmaid in the foreground of April, again, has an obscured waist, but her apron appears to be put on with some fullness, resulting in a series of vertical lines/pleats down the front.

Milkmaids from the Bruges Book of Hours, 16th century
Detail of milkmaids (April), the Bruges Book of Hours
From the Morgan Library and Museum

July's laundress has an apron with a very narrow waistband (tape or cord), which may be tied behind her.  Like the Bruegel and Aertsen paintings, this apron has loose front corners--either the front piece was only attached to the waistband at the center front, the waist ties were attached somewhat in from the corner, or we're seeing a separate piece of cloth only tucked in at the center.
Laundress from the Bruges Book of Hours, 16th century
Detail of a laundress (July), the Bruges Book of Hours
From the Morgan Library and Museum

A Parisian book of Hours from the 1510s also shows a woman in a rectangular, white apron, attached with slight fullness to a fabric or wide tape band:
Commerce, from a 1510s Book of Hours
Commerce, from a Parisian Book of Hours, c.1511-1520
The Morgan Library and Museum.
Les abus du monde has a female figure wearing a white, rectangular half-apron (this time with the waistband hidden by a lamb) which also shows vertical lines indicating some fullness at the skirt. A French Breviary (c.1511) in its November occupational scene of slaughtering hogs, shows yet another white half-apron. Again, there is little to be clearly seen of the waist, but it appears to be another waistband (this time with the apron extending around the wearers' sides--it does not meet in the back,but appears to cover her at least half way around, if not more). No fastener is evident, though the apron appears to be attached to the waistband with slight fullness.

A few more very narrow waistbands. This one from Lucas Cranach the Elder appears to be attached/covered by a narrow contrasting band or belt:
Courtesan in red gown and white apron, Lucas Cranach the Elder, c.1537.
Detail from Old Man Beguiled by Courtesans
by Lucas Cranach the Elder c.1537
Bruegel brings us a few more very large aprons (one which appears to meet in the back, another which may be a skirt or apron, but is definitely thrown back up towards the waist):
Two women spinning, c.1559, detail from Bruegel's "Netherlandish Proverbs"
Detail from Netherlandish Proverbs
by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1559
This 1530s painting detail shows a front-tied apron, with metal aiglets on the ends of the cord or narrow tape ties (just like points).
Apron tie detail from "Portrait of A Lady Spinning"  by van Heemskerck c. 1531
Detail from Portrait of A Lady Spinning
by van Heemskerck c. 1531

A post-period (c. 1645) sketch in the VAM shows an apron swagged up, as though tucked into its own waistband.

Surviving Garments

An original Italian apron, unfinished, is trapezoidal in shape and has no waistband. (I love the marking on the upper right for the incomplete drawn-work)!  The VAM has a late (1580-1600) 16th century English apron: it, too, is apparently unfinished. This rectangular, white, linen half-apron was decorated with embroidery, cutwork, and lace edging. [Edited to add: more detailed measurements and pictures are available here. The band is described as a linen tape.]

Conclusions



  • Almost of the examples observed were half-aprons, covering the dress below the waist only. Two adults and two children appeared to have bibbed aprons (one in blue the other three in white). 
  • The shape observed in all cases was rectangular. In many examples, the whole top edge was joined to the waistband; in others, only the center of this edge was attached, with the top corners hanging free.  Aprons were observed which covered the wearer's front, the front and sides, and almost all the way around the body.
  • Few of the apron had appreciable fullness. Most appear flat to the waistband; in some cases, moderate fullness was observed, allowing the aprons to fall in vertical 'pleats', but without sufficient detail to tell flat (knife/box) pleats from gathering or gauging. The skimpy material suggested light gathering, or spaced pleats would be effective. It is possible, though unlikely, that some of these could have drawstrings at the waist, simply threaded through the top hem of the apron skirt. There isn't a lot of detail to tell from, but where the aprons have fullness, it appears to start below the waistband, suggesting these were fixed (two of these were also aprons with more substantial waistbands, so gathering the skirt into a waistband could be
  • Most of the illustrations did not show waistbands on the aprons. In some cases, a contrasting belt or waistband was visible over an apron.
  • Where waistbands were visible, cords or narrow tapes were most plentiful. Aside from the one haymaker and Madame commerce, there's no appreciable waistband width in any of the illustrations.  There sometimes even seems to be no waistband at all.  My hypothesis is that this was achieved by either sewing narrow tape or cord flat along the top of the apron (in some cases, excluding the corners), or by sewing cord/tape ties to the corners of the apron (or a few inches in from the corner), to create a partial waistband in the back only.
  • A few illustrations, such the HenryVIII BoH hay-makers, showed wider waistbands, potentially of fabric.
  • Most aprons had no visible fasteners; the only method observed was tying the waistband (often in back, occasionally in front). The extreme narrowness of many waistbands suggests tying as a more practical method than using buttons or hooks.


  • Considering the technology level, the apparent use of cords and tapes doesn't surprise me: when you're weaving by hand, making a narrow piece of tape is a lot less work than weaving more of the wide yardage, then cutting and hemming it. This not to say that no one ever used fabric to make an apron waistband, only that it seems more labor-intensive.  Most of these aprons seem to be fairly smoothly set into the waist band. A few showed sufficient fullness for the apron front to fall in soft folds from the waist, with only a couple showing intense vertical folding suggestive of gathers.

    It's possible that some of these aprons were in two pieces: a rectangular cloth tucked in or folded over a narrow band at the waist. The shape of these aprons seems to always be rectangular, though one trapezoidal example was found (unfinished). In some cases, only the center top edge is secured at the waist, leaving the corners to dangle.  In other cases (the woman on the right in the detail from Netherlandish Proverbs), the dangling corners may actually be the bottom corner of the apron thrown up towards the waist; in others (such as the two children from Children's Games), the corners are clearly the upper corners of the apron, but are not attached to the waistband.

    The paintings show both white and colored (blue, green, brown) aprons, with white dominating in the manuscript illuminations.  The Tudor Tailor mentions black, white, blue and green aprons appearing in text sources.


    Note: I was looking at women's aprons here, but several of the books of hours show men wearing aprons to work (as do Brugel's paintings). Even Jesus gets a white apron in one Book of Hours.

    Sunday, June 24, 2018

    Medieval Oatcakes

    Trying something slightly diffferent today: a receipt/recipe from a secondary source.  Oatcakes from Medieval Recipes Dot Com.

    The method was quite simple and quick: mix egg white, oats and cinnamon together, form into cakes, and fry in butter. I would like to try making them with yeast (and baked) in the future.

    Medieval Oatcakes
    My plating, as always,
    shows the dish off to its best advantage.

    Overall verdict: not bad, though definitely on the bland side. The cake alone basically tasted like unsweetened cinnamon oatmeal, with the faintest hint of egg. I then tried it with fruit (fresh cherries being on hand), which gave distinct improvement. Drizzling some honey over the cakes also helped impart a much needed flavor.  Both of these options made the cake taste more like granola than oatmeal--not enough to make me eager to try it again, but enough to consider doing so for the right event.

    Friday, June 22, 2018

    Godey's July '63

    My other project for last weekend's reenactment was the latest issue of Godey's, July 1863.*

    The cover could have printed darker.

    But I'm 87% pleased with how the fashion plate turned out.
    I printed the pages in 16-page sets as two-sided "pamphlets", then sewed each together. The pamphlets and folded fashion plate were then glued into the spine of the cover.  I used 8.5" x 11" letter paper due to its availability, with the result that the final magazine is slightly smaller than the originals, which would requires 10" x 13" sheets.  Whether or not I can find large paper to print on, next time I'll try sewing the pamphlets differently, for a flatter product and tighter spine.  On the upsides, this one was legible, and provided appropriate conversational fodder for the weekend. It also is closer to the originals than any re-print I've so-far found offered (at least in terms of being sewn rather than stapled, and having the colored plate at the beginning).  I did end up omitting the title page for the half-yearly volume due to how the page numbers were working out.  I think it would have been neat to include it--showing how the individual issues could be collected and bound into a volume--but wasn't able to make it work this time around.  Next time!


    *Which was probably showing up in most US homes sometime in mid-late June, based on the research in this Sewing Academy thread.

    Thursday, June 21, 2018

    Linen Over-Sleeves

    And the final graduation sewing project, a pair of linen over-sleeves ("sleeve protectors") for a very promising young scholar of my acquaintance.

    This is the second set I've made based on Carolann's description of an original pair in her collection. Those are checked cotton, but I opted to use a natural-colored linen for these: my own reading kept bringing up period references to "grey" oversleeves or ones of "brown holland."  [This linen was congruent with Textiles in America's description of holland as a closely-woven linen, but does not have the gloss described by Jessamyn, which is something I would like to experiment with in the future.]

    The over-sleeves are entirely hand-sewn, with four china buttons, and cotton twill tape for the drawstring.  They also used 5.75 button holes, due to a series of minor mishaps.

    Over-sleeve or sleeve protector of linen, Victorian 19th century reproduction.
    Natural linen undersleeves.
    Once again, linen proved a very pleasant material to run-and-fell by hand.  May it give me courage for the Tudor sewing ahead.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    Swiss Dot Undersleeves

    As all of my undersleeves were caught up in last weekend's general absence-of-undergarments, my other fast weekend project was a new pair.

    Spotted Muslin Undersleeves

    The sleeves have a hemmed upper edge (pinned or basted to dress when worn), and are gathered into plain 1.25" wide cuffs. They fasten with a single mother-of-pearl button and a thread loop.  The long seam is machine-run but felled by hand, with the rest hand-stitched.

    Due to the short notice, I used some dotted Swiss left over from my white basque ensemble. While I have not see any extent undersleeves in that material, it was the finest cotton I had on hand; my research so far shows net and fine cotton fabrics as the most common materials for undersleeves.
    I have since located some examples of dotted/spotted muslin undersleeves in the period fashion magazines, including Godey's April 1859 and August 1854, Peterson's February 1858, and Arthur's Home Magazine October 1858. They are making me think my next pair of dotted Swiss sleeves should have puffs.

    Monday, June 18, 2018

    Last-Minute Event Sewing

    ...is one way to get those drawers from the to-do pile sewn. Packing for the weekend without any provides great incentive: by Sunday I had two new pairs of drawers and one new pair stockings (with rather more handsewing than I usually spend on undergarments). Car-sewing for the win!

    Drawers and stockings

    Friday, June 15, 2018

    Never Get Tired of Sewing Boxes

    Item two on the graduation gift sewing list: another sewing kit. Because they are fun and useful.

    Wavy brown print exterior.

    Red foulard interior.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2018

    Sunbonnet (take 6?)

    Getting back into sewing with graduation presents for some of the awesome living history people I know. First off, a slate sunbonnet from Liz's first pattern. I've sewn it before in children's sizes, as wool hoods, and even for a doll, but this was my first time actually making it up as an adult-sized bonnet. I omitted the optional front ties, as I rarely use the ones on my own sunbonnets, but will add them if the recipient so desires. The material is "Leaf Duo" (cinnamon/parchment) from Jo Morton's "Gratitude" line for Moda.  It's all hand-sewn, and took much less time than I expected.  The slats are double-layers of non-corrugated board.
    Sun bonnet from Sewing Academy free pattern; reproduction striped leaf "gratitude" fabric.
    Sunbonnet.
    The crown depth looks more proportionate when it's not flat.

    Flat view of slate sunbonnet, made from the Sewing Academy free pattern.
    Hemming the curved edge was actually pretty relaxing.
    The stripes provided guidance for the slat channels.


    Friday, June 8, 2018

    Thesis Complete

    Actually, these are all costuming books,
    and I'd prefer to keep most of them.
    Thesis turned in. Books are returning to their libraries. And there is time to sew again!