December 30, 2015

The Sophia Project: Complete

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; 
but it is the journey that matters, in the end." 
~ Ernest Hemingway

Hello, dear readers!  Well, this is post number 100.  I can hardly believe it!  I had wanted to celebrate with something special, so I thought I'd finally share the long-awaited conclusion to the project that started this all...May I present the Sophia Project: Complete!  

For those of you who have yet to be introduced to the Sophia Project, that was the name I gave to the main project of my costume internship at the Genesee Country Museum.  Back in February of 2014, I was introduced to this 1870s wrapper, fondly named Sophia, - an informal yet fashionable, semi-fitted or loose dressing gown - too tattered and fragile for the Susan Green Clothing Collection.  Thus, it became my goal to deconstruct, pattern and reproduce the wrapper for the historical village interpreters in the 1870s buildings.

From July of 2014, when the project began (The Sophia Project: Introduction), until its completion in March of 2015, I stitched off and on for nearly a year, under the guidance of my mentors, Bevin Lynn and Cheryl Sundlof.  Truly, the amount of detail and care put into the construction of historical garments never fails to amaze me; and, all of the adventures with recreating Sophia only increased my appreciation for the seamstresses of the past and present.

Front detail shot of the original wrapper.

Front detail shot of the reproduction wrapper.

When I left off last in February 2015, I had just completed the Trimming of the Wrapper, which featured over 625+ inches of hand-stitched bias trim along the body and bias tape on the edges of the bows.  It took the rest of the month (devoting only a single day a week) and the first week of March to finish the rest of the bows and stitching on hooks and eyes.  On the last day, I had decided not to add the tatted lace collar because none of the 1870s extant examples I had seen had one.  (Standing collars, yes, but not lace like Sophia's.)

It was almost the end of day, and the costuming ladies were working on their projects when Mr. LeCount turned and stated that he liked how Sophia was coming along.  "Good," I replied, "because it's done."  And with that, there was silence.  The stitching stopped, and everyone turned to gaze at the wrapper.  Sophia was finally finished!

Sophia - complete at last!

Enough talk though, let's move onto the pictures!

Completed Photographs of Sophia, the 1870s reproduction wrapper: These were taken in the costume shop shortly after her completion.

Front detail shot of hooks & eyes.
Notice the half lining and facings.

Front detail shot of sleeves & bows.

Side by side.

Back detail shot of lower half & hem.

Photographs of Sophia, side by side with the original wrapper:  Also taken in the costume shop, in the same place.  Costuming received quite the face lift over the winter as Cheryl says, the vibrant blue sure adds a pop of color!

Back detail shot of the Watteau pleat on the original.

Back detail shot of the Watteau pleat on the reproduction.

Sleeve detail of the original.

Sleeve detail of the reproduction.

Studio Photographs:  The museum had the opportunity to have their fashion show ensembles professionally photographed at Tantalo Studio in Rochester.  Bevin made sure that Sophia was properly photographed, and that I received copies for my portfolio - a huge thank you to the studio, Bevin & the model!

Photograph by Tantalo Studio.

Photograph by Tantalo Studio.

Photograph by Tantalo Studio.

Village Photographs:  And, last but not least, Sophia in action!  She spent her first season in the Hamilton House, the museum's grandest 1870s building.  Jessica, one of the many, devoted village interpreters & Hamilton expert, willingly allowed me to photograph her - thank you!

Photograph courtesy of Maria M.

Wow.  After months and months of sewing the wrapper, and then months and months of writing and rewriting the blog post, it's done.  What a journey!  Every time that I sat down to compose this post, I just couldn't seem to find the words to end the project, two years in the making.  With one more smile and a step back, all I can say is thank you to all of those at the museum who have taught, encouraged and shaped my future.  Thank you, not only for opportunities over the last year and half, but for the direction in the next four years of college and beyond!