May 24, 2018

Museum Season V + Domestic Skills Symposium IV

Yesterday was my first day back for a fifth season at the Genesee Country Village & Museum as the interpretation office assistant and historical interpreter.   If you've been following this blog for a few years, you may be familiar with a tradition that Judy, the partner-n-crime, and I have to take opening day photos.  Though it was not exactly opening weekend this time, it was a very happy reunion!  

Opening day photo, year III!

I also enjoyed getting to play "dress up" again for a day at the Foster-Tufts house.  We had about 400 school children and several other families come through to hear all about how to prepare for a new, little arrival (the current interpretation theme).  For the occasion, I revamped an old dress, finally adding hooks and eyes at the wrists, and paired it with new accessories and the 1830s Cap of Lace, Net & Ribbon from the previous post. 

Outfit of the Day

Maria did me the great favor of playing photographer in the morning.  Though, being the little sister, much silliness ensued...including this outtake:

I wonder what was so funny? LOL

2017 Domestic Skills Symposium Synopsis

Since it's a museum post, I thought I'd play catch up and tag on some pictures from the Domestic Skills Symposium this past fall - November 10th through the 12th, 2017.  I realized I never ended up posting these, so for memories sake (and to prove I was there haha!), here we go...

Hosted by the Genesee Country Village & Museum, this year's three day symposium featured four, exciting guest speakers, a 19th century luncheon, and two full days of pre- and post-conference workshops.  

The Saturday speakers included: 
  • Peter G. Rose, author and food historian, presenting "Manuscript Cookbooks as Documents of Social and Family History"
  • Nancy Webster, curator of the National Friends Historical Association, presenting "Street Foods of the Late 18th and 19th Century"
  • Mark Presher, our master potter at GCV&M, with "Store it, Cook it, Eat it. The Potter Made it All."
  • Patricia Tice, curator of the John L. Wehle Gallery and Susan Greene Costume Collection, presenting "Calico Capers"

Chocolate custards using American Heritage Chocolate
from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery, in All Its Branches, 1858.

The luncheon bill of fare featured familiar favorites like Salamongundy with Hosmer Dressing, Mrs. Fitzhugh's Buns, sweet pickled beets, East India pickles, and apple and quince.  Collared pork, green corn pudding and French spinach were the main dishes.  Though, it was the desserts that really stood out with a cold fruit pudding from Mrs. Horace Mann's Christianity in the Kitchen (1858), hot pudding sauce, and chocolate custards from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery, in All Its Branches (1858).  Beverages included fruit shrub, cider, coffee, tea and water.  

Only the yummiest fruit pudding ever, serious ever...
I won't admit to how much of this I ate ;)

One of the workshops included the incredibly successful Berlin work pincushion class taught by none other than Judy.  She put so much time and effort into the class, it's no wonder it sold out!  

Berlin work pincushion workshop.
Photograph by Ruby Foote.
(via the Domestic Skills Workshop Album on Facebook)

This time I was one of the out-of-state attendees, driving all the way home on Friday after classes so I wouldn't miss symposium number four.  (I'm still 4/4, and planning on 5/5 this coming fall!)  I really look forward to this event.  There's just something about it that makes it more special to me than some of the other events...perhaps it's getting to share our crafts in the village program and representing our interpreters for a fourth year now.  

Obligatory outfit of the day picture
thanks to Ruby Foote!

As in the past, I spent most of the day manning the crafts in the village table and showing off a years' worth of work by our very talented craftspeople.  Dawn really outdid herself with the hand-dyed yarns this year!

Naturally dyed yarns as part of the crafts in the village program.

Interested in attending this year?  The dates for the 2018 Domestic Skills Symposium have been announced!  Mark your calendars for November 2nd through the 4th - hope to see you there! 

Pottery by Mark Presher, master potter at the Genesee Country Village.

Shout outs:  Many thanks go to Deanna for her leadership and coordination of another outstanding symposium (and for allowing me to come back again!)  To Brian, Lori, Sarah and little Penny, and to everyone else who made it such as success.  To Ruby and her camera for capturing all of these memories (and reminding me to take pictures myself haha).  And finally, to Judy, my partner-n-crime, for welcoming me back and making the weekend trip possible, and Ariana, my museum twin, who I couldn't disappoint ;)   

May 22, 2018

1830s Cap of Lace, Net & Ribbon

From ginormous gigot sleeves to towering Apollo knots, if there was one thing to be said about the fashions of the 1830s, having "too much" was not a concern.  Pile on the lace, the ribbons, frills and bows!  The more the merrier!  And that's just what I did for this newly completed cap:

1830s cap of net, lace and wide ribbon trim.
Tomorrow I'll be returning for my first day of the 2018 museum season, substituting for another interpreter at the Foster House.  While I enjoy the responsibilities of working in the interpretation office, there's nothing like getting to play "dress up" for a day and sharing stories of the past.  While I would have loved to have a new dress for the occasion, I decided to alter a previous creation instead and finish this confection of a cap.  In fact, this has probably become my most favorite cap to date! 

Historical Inspiration

As always, I like to look to extant examples, portraits and other period appropriate sources for inspiration.  This painting really spoke to me: 

Portrait of Alexandra Nicolai Sicily
by Christian Albrecht Jensen, 1824
(Source: Hermitage Museum, via Wikimedia Commons)

My reproduction cap.

I modeled my design after this cap from the MET:

Morning Cap, 1835
(Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

And got the idea to pleat the net from this:

Woman's cap of net and satin ribbon, c.1825
(Source: Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

But it was finding this extant example that really helped my design come together:

Net cap with green and yellow striped silk ribbon, c.1800-1830
(Source: Lot 66 of the Helen Larson Private Collection)

For more extant examples and other inspiration images, feel free to visit my Early 19th Century Caps Pinterest Board.  

Construction Details

If you've been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I make a lot of caps.  Rather than repeat more of the same, I'll just say that rolled hems and whipped rolled gathers on net are nothing like fine cottons or linens.  Net is far more finicky, and not for the faint of heart!  

In progress: the cap itself is a single layer of net finished with rolled hems. 
Both the lace and net frill (double layer made by folding a long strip in half)
were pleated, then attached with rolled whipped gathers.

Outer layers of frills attached.

The gathers ended up being a little more bulky than I would prefer due to the pleating and all of the layers.  In a few of the extant examples I've seen, the frills appear to be attached with a running stitch and then covered with a narrow band of net to enclose the raw edges.  I would explore this technique as a better alternative in the future...

Interior view of the cap.

The ties, much like the net frills, were just long strips folded in half and rolled up the sides:

Interior view of the ties and rolled whipped gathers or hems.

Exterior view.
Please note that both sides of the cap are visible.

Untrimmed Cap 

Once the ties were on, I took a break to capture some pictures of the untrimmed, but finished cap.  

So sheer!  No hiding unstyled hair under this cap!

Completed Project Shots 

To complete the look, I trimmed the cap with two yards of a beautiful, wide moire ribbon from The Dressmaker's Shop

I think the ribbons really change the look.  What do you think? 

Thanks for reading!

May 12, 2018

Jumping Back on the Blogging Bandwagon

At last, it's summer vacation, and I am so ready for it! 

Hello blogging world, I'm baaa-ck!

This past year has been quite a whirlwind as I decided to return to college as a full time student.  For those of you who know me in person, I can be quite a perfectionist and tend to like to bite off more than I can chew, as the expression goes.  The combination of the two has left this poor blog rather neglected, and its writer feeling a little overwhelmed.  I was so focused on projects, essays and exams, I feel as though I've let any personal sewing and blogging fall to the wayside, and even fallen out of touch with many friends.  

This summer, however, offers the chance to make amends and pick up those unfinished projects and unpublished posts.  (The sheer amount of pictures and ideas for content that have amassed are quite alarming!)  While I've made peace with the fact that I'll never be able to finish everything, I am content to simply get back to writing and am jumping back on the blogging bandwagon.

Moving Forward on Blogger

I love what Ray Bradbury said: "Write what you love and love what you write."  To me, blogging is all about the personal experience.  It's a space where any individual may write about whatever makes them happy, capture memories and share passions.  We as bloggers should free ourselves from self-imposed expectations, deadlines and guilt, and instead, give ourselves permission to do exactly what Bradbury said: write what we love

What does this mean for the blog?  You may see me writing more about past projects and events, including a year's worth of school sewing projects.  Never fear, though, there will also be new historical sewing and living history posts too!  However, I will be focusing more on publishing finished works, and keeping the in-progress updates to other social media accounts. 

Also, a note about restoring pictures to previous blog posts: there are still many past blog posts missing pictures, due to problems with the switch from picasa to google image hosting.  Ideally, I'd love to restore all of the images, but doing so has been slow going.  So, for now, unless there is a want for a certain post (please let me know by requesting in the comments), this project has been put on hold.  

Onto Facebook & Instagram


Speaking of other social media accounts, you can find us on Facebook, Pinterest and now on Instagram too!!  I will probably be most active on the Facebook page, posting about in-progress works, events and previews for upcoming blog posts.  Pinterest is reserved for collecting research and inspiration images. 

I'm still trying to figure out Instagram and how best to use it, so please bear with me there.  Suggestions are always helpful and appreciated...

Other Summer Plans 

This weekend is the opening weekend for the Genesee Country Village & Museum's 2018 season!  While I am sad to have to miss this year, I am pleased to announce my return for a fifth season as the interpretation office assistant and historical interpreter!  If you have the chance to visit our lovely historic village, please say "hi!"

Also, my "homework" for the summer is to practice sewing.  Practice, practice, practice has been the advice of professors and fellow sewing friends (Kaela, cough cough) alike, as I know there are many areas where I need improvement and sewing confidence.  Several opportunities this semester have made a future, yet not so distant, career in costume construction and living history seem all the more real and be on the look out for more sewing projects like these:

First project I finish when I get home!

I will make you, squiggle dress!

Almost there...

This year's birthday dress?

May 3, 2018

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

Finally, a blog post!  It's our last week of classes here at Kent State University, with plenty of projects to finish, papers to write and exams in store for finals week...but, it's almost summer!  I have big plans, including some serious catch up on sewing, blogging and just life in general...

But first, I'm breaking the blogging silence with something very exciting: 

I'm in the newspaper!

See it online in both Mandarin and English, here:

The Erie Chinese Journal, in fact, which is a Cleveland-based Chinese (and English language) newspaper.  I believe that the article, "Designing Your Dreams" by Cynthia Lundeen, author and milliner at Cynthia's Centuries of Style, was originally released in the March edition, but I happened to come across it, just yesterday, online.  (It's amazing and sometimes very scary to see what comes up when you"google" search your name...)  

Anyways, I had been waiting to see it in print before announcing to family and friends, and heard that the package is currently waiting at my permanent address...but, having seen it published now, I can no longer keep the secret!  I am just beyond words at having had the great pleasure and privilege of working with Cynthia Lundeen and Ying Pu, publisher of the Erie Chinese Journal.  

Standing in the dining room,
Photograph by Ying Pu

The story starts back in February when I received a surprise email from Cynthia Lundeen, who I had greatly enjoyed having as an instructor for the period millinery course in the previous semester.  She mentioned that Ying Pu, friend and publisher of the Erie Chinese Journal, took interest in my chosen, non-traditional course of study, and that they would like to interview me as it could help other students find just as niche and career specific programs.  Immediately, I jumped at the chance, incredibly honored to be considered for Ms. Lundeen's next article.

Photograph by Cynthia Lundeen.
Historic home built in 1896.

Signing the guest book.
Photograph by Ying Pu

A few weeks later, we met for tea and an afternoon of talking about our passions and history, and how important the pursuit and remembrance of both are.  The historic home was beautiful, inside and out, built in 1896 and listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  I even had the chance to tour the millinery parlor and upstairs work studio, which were truly where the magic happens - I've never seen so many vintage hat blocks before, or hats for that matter!  

Photograph by Ying Pu.

Playing "dress up,"
Photograph by Cynthia Lundeen

In addition to bringing what few items of historic dress I had on campus, I was happy to get to share a little about going to school for costumes and textiles, working at a living history museum, and my passion for historical sewing.  I will admit to feeling a little sheepish when talking about myself, but do hope that this article may inspire future students who are struggling, much like I was, to find a college program that meets their specific interests and career goals.  Integrated or multi-disciplinary studies programs are the best-kept secrets of colleges, folks!  

The face of glee!
Photograph by Ying Pu.

Alright, back to homework for me, and, hopefully you'll consider taking a peek at the article now.  Many, many thanks to Cynthia Lundeen and Ying Pu of the Chinese Erie Journal for the great honor and privilege of sharing my story!  

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