gwendolyngrey: (thread)
It's felt like an eternity since I was last able to say this regarding any new sewing project, but I finished my new Civil War day dress!

*cue confetti*

I'll definitely add more trim before I wear it next, but it feels SO good to have something new!  I wore it this past weekend at the Mariner's Museum for their 150th anniversary event of the Battle of Hampton Roads (the fight between the Moniter and the Merrimac).  Obviously, I had very little to do with the naval history side of things, but myself and a few other ladies had a display of various sewing and needlework and fashions which we talked about and gave demonstrations of.  It was a long weekend and very exhausting, but quite fun.  It's always so refreshing to be able to do Civil War events every now and then...

But more importantly; the dress! 

It's made of silk taffeta, which languished in my stash for a long time on the grounds that I already had too many blue costumes... but considering I don't wear them all at once, that reason fell apart under the weight of a non-existant budget.  The bodice lining and hem facing are brown polished cotton, and the trim is velvet ribbon.  Hopefully next time this dress appears in public there will be a great deal MORE ribbon on it.

I also finally got pictures of the sontag I crocheted over a year ago.  This weekend was very chilly, and I was able to put it to good use.

And then the wind picked up, and I flew.

gwendolyngrey: (militaryish)
I got back from my Michigan trip exactly a week ago, and while I'm REALLY glad I took it and loved seeing my family and friends it knocked my entire daily/weekly routine sideways and upsidedown.  My sense of priorities and time is a jumbled mess even one week later.

I did have a good time at the Greenfield Village Civil War event though!  The weather was cool enough on Saturday that I could wear my wool asymmetrical dress without suffering, and I wore it in both fashion shows that day.  Had tea with my Mom, hung out with Mike ([ profile] dandytailor ), Samantha ([ profile] reine_de_coudre ), and Katie [ profile] rvqavalon ), and had dinner at the 1850's based Eagle Tavern.

In spite of carrying my camera around in my pocket both days, these are the only pictures I took the whole weekend... I suppose once you've participated in the same event for several years with the same people (and have no new clothes), pictures become a slightly lower priority.

Sunday passed with very little surprises.  I did the fashion show again (this time in my silk windowpane dress), watched Mike cook the duck dinner, sketched, wandered, and went to the ball.  The ball was lots of fun, and I had the widest range of dance partners I think I've ever experienced at one event.  I had the requisite old man ask me to dance but also two teenagers, one of whom could not have been a day over sixteen, and a few others of various ages neatly filled in the spectrum. Of course the high point was when Mike proposed to Samantha about half-way through the ball... it's rather hard for any other occurrence to top a happy, romantic engagement.  :)

I blogged a bit about Greenfield, mostly focusing on the drawings that I did.  I adored having my little wooden drawing box along with me, and reaffirmed my love of charcoal over graphite.

Monday and Tuesday I spent back in Grand Rapids, hanging out with my best friend from college and my sister.  I also got my hair cut and dyed, which I'd been desperately wanting to do for a couple months now.

Un-styled with no product, it looks sort of like this:

Yes, it will be harder to style my hair for UTR, but that's what caps were invented for... right?  Besides, I think I love having short hair.  Every time I go in for a cut or trim I want it shorter than the last time, and this is my favorite cut yet. 

Under the Redcoat is coming up surprisingly quickly though, and my new gown is unfortunately not going to make itself.  Hélas.
gwendolyngrey: (Anne- happy)
It doesn't really feel like Thanksgiving or the end of November.  Partly because of the weather (the trees are still bright yellow and red and it's been nearly 70 the past few days!) and partly because I've never been away from my family for the holidays before.  One of the ladies from my Tuesday night sewing circle has invited me to her house for dinner today, so I at least won't be alone on Thanksgiving, but it's really not the same thing.

Also, it's been my habit to put up my Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving evening or the day after, and I feel really strange thinking of decorating for Christmas when it's still so fall-like outside.  There hasn't even been a proper frost yet!  I suppose I'll just have to get used to living in the South and adapt... and after all, it's not as though I'm in Florida like my brother where it's still next door to summer.

Last week was crazy busy as I quickly made my wool dress for Gettysburg in between friends' visits and several dates (though there's nothing exciting to report on that front).  As usual, I was up incredibly late the last two nights before the event getting it done, and the final stitches were put in at the hotel room the morning of the event!  Of course, now that I've actually worn it I want to make changes so I hesitate to call it done, but it's a complete dress so it's technically on the finished project list.

Even though the wool is a light, tropical weight, it ended up being super bulky when box-pleated into the waistband which threw off the fit of the bodice.  The bulk of the waistband causes there to be a gap between my body and the dress right above the waist and the bodice doesn't quite close at the front point.  I'm thinking of taking the skirt off the waistband and re-doing it with cartridge pleats instead and will probably add a couple bones to the bodice as well before the next major event.


I'm really happy with how the trim on the sleeves turned out though!  I used a narrow, velvet ribbon which I applied before the sleeves were completely constructed.  I used one of the discontinued Martha McCain patterns from Simplicity to get the shape of the pleated sleeve, which ended up being much easier to make than I had anticipated.

We match!  Sort of.  :)


And a couple more dress photos:



Katie and I both got quite a few compliments over the course of the day, which was naturally very pleasant, and in spite of fitting issues I'm really pleased with the dress in general and had a lot of fun wearing it.  I think it'll probably see quite a bit of use in the future.
gwendolyngrey: (Dreaming)
Am home again from a long weekend at Greenfield Village and have spent the day in a sort of weary daze.

The event was great though!  [ profile] reine_de_coudre (Samantha) had came out from California to spend a week and a half here in Michigan, and camped with [ profile] dandytailor (Mike), [ profile] rvqavalon (Katie), and myself.  I'm too tired to go into depth right now, but in spite of very hot, humid weather we had loads of fun.  Did a lot of sitting in the shade, but also got to see and meet a lot of people, did a bunch of touristy Greenfield Village things (including riding the carousel twice), took part in the fashion show, and danced nearly every dance at the ball.

Due to the awful cold I had a week before the event, I barely got the windowpane dress done in time, and was in fact stitching the trim onto the neck during the drive there.  I didn't manage to sew the trim to the sleeves as well, but the dress was wearable and, I thought, rather cute anyway.

New dress!

Wore the windowpane dress on Sat, and the Not-Cold-Mountain dress on Sun.  The new apron came in very handy as I actually did a fair amount of the cooking.  The weather on Monday turned a bit nasty... hot and rainy with scorching sun and pouring rain by turns, and the hem of my dress (cotton Not-Cold-Mountain) got quite wet and muddy.

I was quite excited to find this picture of myself on flickr that someone must have taken at some point on Sunday.  I rarely like how my face looks in photos, but I feel as though this is what I see when I look in the mirror...

I'll let some of my favorite pics from the event speak for themselves... )I'll let some of my favorite pics from the event speak for themselves... )

There are a whole lot more of pictures on my flickr page here.

And yes, both of my 1860s day dresses are made of fabrics with white backgrounds and blue patterns.  It's clear where my tastes lie, but I think I'm going to have to change things up a bit for the next dress... although the steel blue wool dress I'm planning still falls into the same color family....
gwendolyngrey: (W&D Cynthia and Molly bright)
I made a fairly last-minute decision to attend the annual Mid-Winter Civil War ball in Lansing with [ profile] dandytailor  and [ profile] rvqavalon  this past Saturday, and it was probably the best decision I've made in a looong time.

I always enjoy a ball, but this one was just plain fun.  It was pretty long, with nearly five solid hours of dancing, there was a great mix of dances and the caller was really good.  It was also really nice to feel like we're starting to become a little familiar with the regular crowd there... and everyone seems more friendly than at the regency balls.  Not to mention, the Spanish Waltz is pretty much my favorite dance ever, and we had a particularly good one that night which was the last dance of the evening. 

This ball also marked the first time I wore contacts ever outside of the optician's office!  My dad had some medical funds stashed away that needed using before a certain date, so he offered to get me contacts.  I happily accepted this offer, and got myself to Lenscrafters.  I had a wretched time getting the contacts in though, and taking them out was ten times worse!  Fortunately, Katie showed me her very clever method of getting them in which does NOT involve poking yourself in the cornea.  And I no longer have to farb it up in my very modern eyewear.

I stole a couple pictures from Katie to post since my camera didn't make it out of my purse.

The galop was too quick for the camera, but this picture is fairly atmospheric and kinda pretty anyway. 

Call me narcissistic if you like, but I love how my dress looks in this picture.

And after the ball... yes, Katie frequently thinks I have lost my mind... ;)
gwendolyngrey: (Default)
It's been nearly a week now since I got back from Remembrance Day at Gettysburg, and it's high time I posted something.

First things first! The paletot was done in time... well, sort of. I didn't bother putting on the red velvet ribbon trimming that I had planned, although I'll probably add it on later. I got the paletot to this wearable state several days before the trip, but kind of enjoyed wearing it out and about too much to "finish" it entirely. It's made of brown wool obtained from [ profile] rvqavalon 's impressive stash, and lined with tan silk taffeta also from said stash. Mike and I joke frequently about "shopping" at Katie's house only because it's true. ;)

And a back view.

We arrived at Gettysburg on Friday evening, and as we drove into town we went over a hill and I suddenly saw the Lutheran Seminary silhouetted against the twilight sky. My heart nearly stopped as I thought "Gen. Buford was actually IN that cupola. Wow, it's just like Gettysburg... OMG, I'm IN GETTYSBURG!!!"

And it all kind of went up from there. The town of Gettysburg is such a wonderful mix of cool history and frightful kitsch that I fell in love with it immediately. Of course, it probably helped that the streets were nearly constantly filled with a steady stream of colorful figures which made for some prime people-watching. Touring the battlefield was amazing in a totally different way. On one hand, it was really educational to see it first hand, as simply reading about the battle and watching the film doesn't really give one a remote idea of what the actual scale and scope of events was. Nonetheless, it was impossible to forget that this was a battlefield, and that thousands upon thousands of people died on that very ground. It was rather sobering and awe-inspiring and something that I'm not likely to forget.

Anyway, Mike, Katie, and I all drove out together and met Tyler (who was coming from Delaware) there in Gettysburg. I was already acquainted with some of the guys in Tyler's unit, the 116th Pennsylvania, and it was great to get to see them again and chat a bit. Mike and Tyler went off with the unit on Saturday and did military-ish things and marched in the parade while Katie and I moseyed about town shopping and taking in the sights. The parade was rather impressive and rather noisy, and nearly every other group was followed by a drum corp or a drum and fife corp or brass band. Most of them were so close that you could hear the music from the next group coming before the first was out of earshot. Still, it wasn't too cacophonous, and it was fun to watch the troops march by. We didn't watch the whole parade though... after about half an hour spent watching row after row after row of the Union guys there didn't seem to be much point in sticking around to see the Confederates.

Saturday night we all got dressed up and went to a soiree at a private home in town. It was a lovely little place, all lit by candles and lamps, and the hor d'oeurves and champagne were delightful. Sadly, we didn't stay very long as Katie was rather tired, but it was quite fun nonetheless.

Once we got back to the hotel after the soiree Katie crashed out, but it was only about 10:30, and I did not want to stay cooped up in a generic little room. After half changing into 'normal' clothes, Mike, Tyler, and I went back out... popping into a tiny little bar called the Mineshaft for a few minutes before walking out of town. We sort of followed the fence along the road through the dark battlefield, most likely scaring the occasional moterist the few times that we dashing across the street and over the fence. It was a clear night, all the stars were incredibly bright, and in spite of the soggy ground it was rather magical. It seemed like such a shame to turn back and head for town and the hotel, but reality always manages to intrude sooner or later.

And then on Sunday we toured the battlefield and headed home. The end. Sadness.

I didn't take very many pictures over the weekend, but what I did take (plus one or two that aren't mine) are here on Flickr, and Katie has a pretty good write-up with a bunch of the photos that she took.
gwendolyngrey: (Lady of Fashion)
The past two days were wonderfully pleasant.

Saturday was the day of the Civil War Harvest Ball held in Lansing (in the same church as the regency balls).  True to form, my dress was re-trimmed (up-trimmed?  I added lace medallions and beads to the bodice and the ruffle and and zig-zags to the skirt.  It still needs a couple more ruffles and beads on the skirt) at the last minute, and I finished the headpiece about half an hour before walking out the door.

The ball itself was great!  I couldn't help but compare it to the regency balls I've attended in the past, and, while I enjoy English Country Dancing, I can't help but think that the mid-century dances were a whole lot more fun.  I went with Mike and Katie, and while Mike divided his time pretty evenly dancing with both of us (and a couple dances with other girls) I didn't experience such a lack of partners as I have at past events, and only sat out two or three dances.  The dancing was also of higher quality than at regency balls... with more experienced dancers and fewer children to clog up the dance floor. 

Perhaps the best part was at the end of the evening, when, after the last 'official' dance, the band struck up a polka.  Mike popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, grabbed my hand and whirled me onto the empty dance floor, where we basically led everyone else galloping and flying around the room.  Best polka I've had in ages, but I was completely out of breath at the end of it!


Mike, in his annoying habit, made his entire outfit (sans shirt) in the week before the ball.  I don't think I've ever met anyone who can churn out full outfits as quickly as Mike, and still have them look that good.  My only consolation is that he still has a lot to learn about making ladies clothing, but once he does, he'll be unstoppable.

The whole event was quite an ego boost as well.  Got more compliments on the dress than I could count, and had a great time chatting with Jackie of Past Reflections and Kimberly from The Dressmakers Shop, both of whom were really lovely (and very complimentary!).  We also received several flattering comments from the dance caller, Glen Morningstar, after the ball was over. 


After the ball, we went back to Mike's house, where Katie and I spent the night.  We all parted ways on Sunday, and I went back to Grand Rapids where I spent the afternoon with a couple good friends.  Had lunch at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant, and then listened to old records and played Scrabble and card games over tea and cookies all afternoon.  It was beautifully relaxing.

gwendolyngrey: (Default)
I just spent the last two and a half hours uploading my pictures from the weekend (which included a trip to Ft. Meigs for a timeline event and Mike's 21st birthday) and now I only have about five minutes before I have to get ready for work.

I suppose I'll just wait and post about it all once I'm home tonight.

Until then, here's a scan of something slightly older but still very cool. Tyler and I had a tintype taken at Greenfield village three or four weeks ago and I only just got it this past weekend.  I don't like the shape of my hoop, but I love the picture anyway...

gwendolyngrey: (Default)

This past weekend I experienced my first Civil War reenactment as a participant.  Granted, I didn't camp out overnight with the others, as my grandparents live about five minutes from Greenfield Village where the event was held and I wanted to see them, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. 

Mike and Katie had pitched their tent near the other civilians, and we used it as a sort of home base and general storage area since we spent most of our time hanging out with Tyler's unit, the 26th Michigan.  It was a lot of fun getting to know the 26th MI guys.  There were some really interesting characters and they were very welcoming and generous (and authentic... in an 1840s dress I was the farb of the group!).

I actually remembered to bring my camera with me, but only have pictures from Sunday, as I left it in the car on Saturday. [info]rvqavalon has a bunch of Saturday pictures (plus a few from the ball) on her journal.  I apologize in advange for the absence of an LJ cut... it doesn't seem to want to work for me today.

A few of the guys from the 26th MI posing outside the tintype studio.  From left to right:  Ian, Tyler, Craig, and Ethan.  Ian and Ethan seemed to be an inseperable duo, and I was constantly confused as to which was which, though by the end of the weekend I think I had it down.  Craig, the sargent, was in charge of the unit and seemed very... comfortable with his position of authority.  I liked him though.  I liked all of them.

At one point in the afternoon, Mike hauled out a Meijer bag and asked if anyone wanted a gummy bear.  Gummy bears?!  WHAT?  We refused, and Mike grinned for the camera.

While Katie and Mike bustled about making lunch, Tyler and I sat in the shade with the kids and messed about on the tin whistles.  The two boys with the whistles belonged to the 26th (and were very intelligent and entertaining, they added a lot to the group) but the kid with the drum seemed to be their groupie and kept popping up out of nowhere.  He was a very peculiar child, and nearly had a conniption fit when he found out that Tyler didn't know how to play Battle Hymn of the Republic. 

I picked up Tyler's whistle and managed to remember a couple of Irish jigs from ye olde days of playing with Rebekah's fiddle class.  I hadn't played for several years, but it came back very quickly and kind of made me miss it.  I should dig out my music and get reaquainted with the whistle.

Craig and Tyler got all kitted up for the grand tactical demonstration. (Which I did not attend.  As one of the other ladies said, once you've seen one battle, you've seen them all.)

And then we got ready for the ball!  Mike had just whacked Katie with his riding crop, and I am at an utter loss as to what to DO with these people!

And then Katie got a hold of the riding crop...

... and came after me!

Things calmed down a bit and we started walking to the ball.

Tyler had my camera and took all of the pre-ball photos, so this is the only one he's in.  ;)  He took a similar picture on Katie's camera too.

Group picture after the ball.  The guy sitting between Mike and Tyler is a friend of Katie's from her first year at Michilimackinaw.

I have to leave for work shortly, so that's all I have time to put up and write about.  There are a whole lot more photos on my flickr page.

Overall conclusions?  I quite like this Civil War thing, and am looking forward to my next event (whatever and whenever that may be).  I came home filled with all sorts of ideas and inspiration for dresses and accessories, and can't wait to start putting together a proper wardrobe. 

April 2017



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