31 October, 2011

A few quick notes on the "Mercy Bradford" cloak.

I put "Mercy Bradford" in quotations for a very good reason: I don't think it's Mercy Bradford's cloak, nor does whoever wrote the accession card!

There's much more to come on this subject, including photos (which I have express permission to post, it's really good to be friends with a curator!), but I couldn't let you all hang in suspense while I prepare the big post. Especially while it's fresh in my mind!

A few notes on the cloak, that are of interest to me, and I'm assuming you all, too:
  • The scarlet red cloak is not stitched with scarlet red thread! The seams are sewn with yellow thread; however you don't see the yellow for the most part.
  • The black velvet trim is only on the right side of the fabric and is stitched with black thread.
  • This cloak has both a hood and a collar.
  • There are two strange, non-working "pockets," for lack of a better term, up by the shoulders. They are stitched down on three sides.
I found a few surprises that no one, not even the curator, noticed. But I'll save those for the big post!

29 October, 2011

It's the weekend: Fly-by post.

Since I'm examining an extant cloak this afternoon, and with the impending winter-weather-in-fall coming, I thought it would be appropriate to feature another beautiful extant cloak that also has provenance in Massachusetts.

Woman's hooded cloak. Last quarter, 18thc. Red wool
broadcloth trimmed in black silk. MFA Boston, 99.664.16.

From the MFA Boston's website:
"Red wool broadclothhooded cloak trimmed in black silk, hood gathered at back, cloak gathered at shoulders and pieced at bottom.

Provenance: Worn by Abigail Robbins (1759-1850); inherited by Ellen A. Stone; gift to MFA, 1899."
Hood is gathered at the back, cloak is gathered at the shoulders
and pieced together at the bottom.

The wool was manufactured in England, and the cloak was made in Massachusetts. It was worn in Lexington. Click on either photo to be taken to its catalog page on the MFA's website.

27 October, 2011

Fabric swatches from Renaissance.

So, a while back I received the swatches I asked for from Renaissance Fabrics: spring green, peacock blue, copper, and gold-purple.

21 October, 2011

"Preserving the Harvest."

In the Boston area and looking for something 18thc. to do and see? Come learn about "Preserving the Harvest" tomorrow, 10am to 4pm, at the Hartwell Tavern in the Minute Man National Historic Park!

From The Hive's website:
"Take part in a living history day at Hartwell Tavern where we will be ensuring our food supply for the winter and early spring by employing period food preservation techniques. From meat to fruits and vegetables you'll be able to both watch and participate in preparing foodstuffs for winter storage. Before refrigeration, one had to utilize a variety of methods to make harvest last. You'll learn how drying, pickling, salting, brining, cellaring and canning were done, as well as how some of these foods were reconstituted for later use."
I will be there in kit (with my completed pocket around my waist!) making butter, and potentially milking a Devon cow to make butter from her milk.  Come say hello and learn something new!

12 October, 2011

Life and fabric samples and broadcloth.

I'm on Day 2 of my New and Awesome Job (please don't let the honeymoon end!), so reality has unfortunately taken its toll on my frequent blogging and research.  That being said, I'm currently juggling a few things at once in my 18thc. life, most of it revolving around textiles and free fabric swatches and deciding what to tackle next.

Currently, I have 5 swatches of linen from Fabrics-store.com laying on the table next to me. They are in 5 different weights: 3.5 oz, 5.3 oz, 6 oz, 7.1 oz, and 8 oz. All are bleached white. I am looking into linen lining for my yellow silk gown that needs to be made, and instead of going, "Eeny, meeny, miny, mo!" and picking a weight without feeling it or knowing what I'm doing, I decided to order the free samples from this online store and feel them alongside the lining currently in my printed cotton gown. I think with the silk I can go a bit lighter in terms of weight, and probably needed something a bit more substantial in the cotton--for the next cotton gown (chintz, please!), I'll do that. The 3.8 is definitely too light; it has a looser weave with thin threads, probably not the best linen. However, it is soft and feels nice between my fingers. I could see using this for a shift if I couldn't/didn't want to shell out the money for really good linen. Right now, I'm leaning towards the 5.3 or 6 oz, though the 6 is rather slubby, and not as soft. The 7.1 and 8 oz are not even on my radar, they're really heavy and almost canvas-like.

With the help of my more experienced friends, I'm getting closer to making a choice about wool broadcloth for a short cloak. I don't want to do a light or scarlet red; I'm looking toward other colors that aren't as frequently seen on reenactors, though I do have my eye on a claret! The colors I'm looking at are black, light purple, 2 dark greens, and the claret. The black is an 80/20 wool/cashmere, so I'm asking around about that mixture. I need something more on the heavy side as it gets cold up here and I'm planning on doing 2 events during the beginning of winter!

One of the ordered samples, gold-purple.
Third, I have silk samples on the way from Renaissance Fabrics. You can get 4 free samples from them, and I'd like to make a decision on silk sooner rather than later for my dress gown for the ball in January. The taffetas are both shot and not shot, so I'm looking forward to seeing those soon. Renaissance has very affordable prices (taffeta is $17/yard), and some of the colors look really pretty. Including the gold-purple, I ordered samples of copper, peacock blue, and ice blue.

10 October, 2011

A (better) stomacher.

My printed cotton is positively lovely, but it is very lightweight and tends to get a bit mushy and stretchy (especially when I'm warm). This is very apparent over my front-lacing stays, as seen in this photo from the first time I wore it:

Very wrinkly and buckling.

This could also have been because the stomacher above isn't finished; I'd only attached the fashion fabric to the linen on the top and bottom and not the sides (ran out of time at 2 am). Plus, the linen I was using was just crappy stuff from Joann's that I'd bought to make a practice workbag. But, I decided it would be best to do two layers for strength, and I needed to be in the gown for a photo shoot on Friday anyway, so Thursday I ripped out the stitches and cut a second piece of linen.

The fashion fabric pinned to the layers of linen.

I cut the second piece of linen smaller all around, so when I folded the fashion fabric and outer layer of linen inward to sew together, it would be nestled between them. The fashion fabric already felt like it couldn't stretch and warp as much just when it was pinned, and as I sewed it together I found this to be true.

The three layers together, before cutting the second piece smaller.

I used the same stitch on the stomacher as I did when hemming my sleeves; I believe it's the overhand stitch (could also be the underhand, ha!). It was rather easy, I just had to be careful and ease any bubbles in.

The back stitches and the front.

It came out really well, and when I pinned the stomacher to my stays on Friday, I was very happy with how it laid very nicely over the lacing! Now if only I could get my gown on correctly every single time ...

08 October, 2011

Randomly spotting the 18thc.

I just saw this posted to my Facebook feed, and it brought a smile to my face--especially since I'm a Words with Friends junkie:


04 October, 2011

2am realizations.

The beginnings of some juicy raspberries.

I have been working diligently away on the embroidery. I am really so in love with embroidering, it's very zen and soothing. Saturday night, I ended up staying up until 2 am because I had no concept of time while embroidering! It goes by really quickly though, and I wasn't even tired. I had to force myself to put it down and go to bed.

Finished berries.
However, at 2 am I had the realization that I have been embroidering on the wrong side of the linen since the start. I noticed this when looking at the berries on the linen and on the color code; they were reversed on the linen from the color code. Flipping over the linen, the black ink could still be seen ... and I felt like an idiot! I wasn't ripping all of my hard work out, and in any case, no one will see the pocket. So I know for my next one, don't do it on the side with the ink!

When this pocket is completed, I'll be buying a second pocket kit in the same style (the Salem). My biggest concern with getting closest to the end of the embroidery is putting the pieces together. I'm sure it will be fine, but from reading the instructions over I'm already confused! One at a time, one at a time.

My list of things to complete/begin is ever-growing, especially since I'm now planning on attending a ball in early January, so I'll be making a formal silk gown for that. My yellow silk gown is a practice attempt for silk, and I consider this more formal gown a practice gown for the summer garden party in 2012. But there's still a lot to do!
  • Finish rewhipping a small section of the lining down in my cotton gown
  • Sew and hem the pumpkin petticoat from its basted state
  • Finish pleating the back panels of the cotton petticoat, then join the front and back and hem it
  • Buy wool broadcloth to make a short cloak for an event on Nov. 19
  • Pick out silk and linen lining for January's gown
  • Buy linen lining for the yellow silk gown
  • Make sleeve flounces
  • Make panniers and a hip roll to keep the pannier steady
  • Make silk mitts
  • Maybe a new, fine linen shift with lace edging on the neck?
So much to do, but thankfully it's all fun stuff!

02 October, 2011

It's the weekend: Fly-by post.

18thc. pockets, 1796. Linen. American.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979.346.200.

Looks very similar to my pocket pattern! Click the photo to go to the Met's pocket page.

01 October, 2011

It's the weekend: Fly-by post.

18thc. pockets. Cotton, linen; printed cotton. American.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 48.1218a

From the MFA Boston's site:

Pair of pockets, pockets attached with coarse cotton tape tie, edges of slits bound with white linen tape, face of pockets of blue on white floral printed cotton, backs of pockets of hevy white linen; a number of small yellow stains. Dimensions: 43 x 37.5 cm (16 15/16 x 14 3/4 in.).
Click on the photo to go to the MFA Boston's pocket page.