Emerald Spencer


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Once I started making Regency clothes, I couldn’t stop. I made my white gown in the summer of 2017. Several prints show a white gown and green spencer. I liked the stark color contrast and I think I look good in jewel tones. I also wanted an all around Regency spencer that could work from the 1790s – 1819.

Whenever I make a new item, I go round and round about the tiny details. I’m not one for trying new trims and bits and bobs when I have not made this type of garment before because I’m too worried about messing something up. And I just love ALL the trim / details so I can never make up my mind. I always debate: do I reproduce it exactly from that fashion plate or do I combine a whole bunch of styles?! And round and round I go and then the item isn’t done on time.

I had started this spencer when I made the gown and open robe. I thought I would get three things done in time for the event in 2017, never having made any of these items and not having a pattern for them. I think these three pieces catapulted me into the world of “frankenpatterning” as it is known in this hobby. Okay, to be fair, I had already made one spencer, so I used that pattern as my base and then just altered the front so it could be a double-breasted style. During the time that this spencer sat in the UFO basket, I made two men’s waistcoats that ended up actually teaching me how to improve some of the sewing techniques on my spencer.


In the above photo, I’m wearing my Kitty Calash Checked Linen Bonnet. Never have I loved an accessory so much!! I purchased it for a July event out East this summer and since then, I love wearing it. Although she advertises it as 1770s, it is the closest thing I have to a Regency era bonnet.


In the pic below, of course I had to wear my straw bonnet to see how it looked with the spencer. I can’t decide which hat I like better.



My main reason for making this spencer was to keep me warm at events — even in the summer! I get so dang cold so easily. I found that, although it is made out of cotton, it kept me warm in the evening and on a cool November day.



So many of the fashion plates and originals had a little koofka pleated tail on the back. I had to have that detail! This was probably the most futzy / tedious part of this project. I wasn’t sure of the shape or how best to attach it; therefore, it was a lot of trial and error. For a first go at it, I’m satisfied.



While it fits me pretty well overall, when I make this again, I’m going to resize the center back piece. It requires that pleat and I wish I had made the pleat go the other way instead of having that part poke out. received_26329724100866261588818554.jpeg


The ribbon is black silk from Wm Booth Draper. I’m really glad I went with this option because I enjoy the simplicity of it. I am debating about covering buttons in black velvet. I think it would be a good addition, but I also like the ability to adjust it as needed so straight pins it is for now!

Yep — those are my matching (not intentionally) Mansfield Boots from American Duchess. This whole outfit makes me feel so elegant!!



A 1790s Checked Waistcoat for Mr. B

After making the brown worsted wool frock coat last fall, Mr. B trusted my sewing skills enough to request I make him a 1790s double-breasted waistcoat. This was the second piece of men’s clothing I have ever made in my life. It made it its debut on the summer sailing adventure. It is the Kannik’s Korner Men’s 1790 – 1815 pattern.  We used view c and just increased the width of the fronts so they could be buttoned either way and so that there were two rows of buttons.


Looking more casual in camp in the above picture.


In the picture below, wearing new fancy breeches, new short jacket, new beaver fur hat, and new pumps.





We studied several pictures of originals and noted how all of them had really thin shoulders, just two inches across. We modified the KK pattern slightly there as well. Mr. B is my button coverer. Our agreement is if he wants an item with buttons, he gets to cover all the buttons. He does a great job too!




The other modification was where the back / side seams fell. The pattern had that seam nearly under the armpit. But again, originals showed it being more toward the back. So that seam was moved as well. img_20190810_175311267_hdr1221894254.jpg


The other new skill I acquired was making welt pockets!! They totally freaked me out at first (like buttonholes on the brown wool frock coat did), but I looked at lots of pictures and most importantly, made a practice one first following the instructions to a T. It worked! I was ecstatic when I realized I had done it. This linen had a really loose weave, which I did not particularly enjoy sewing with and after only wearing the garment several times this summer, it is started to stretch and show wear and tear.


On the whole, I highly recommend Kannik’s Korner patterns if you’ve never used them. This one was super easy to follow. I enjoyed the process very much. Mr. B loves his waistcoat. He is excited to have another entirely hand sewn garment based on originals. These pictures were taken at Grand Portage Historical site, on the gorgeous shores of Lake Superior, at their yearly event in August.

Lake Michigan Sailing Adventure on the Friends Good Will

South Haven, Michigan is a delightful town on Lake Michigan in the lower peninsula. After sailing as passengers on the Friends Good Will in September of 2018, Mr. B the younger and I took classes to become volunteer sailing crew.

Learning to sail and then actually sailing ranks above the intellectual challenge of creating engaging lesson plans. And sailing is way more exhausting than teaching. (I am starting year 14 of teaching and I have never worked so hard in my life physically as I did these two days of sailing).

We had great weather — despite it being in the 90s, there was a good wind on the lake. Mr. B and I sailed four times on Friday and three on Saturday. I learned so much from the crew who were extremely patient with me as I learned as much as I could as quickly as I could. They are all fabulous people from all walks of life who have fantastic stories.

These pictures are from our final sail on Saturday afternoon, right before a storm hit. There was definitely the calm before the storm and I snagged some shots and then it was go time as we raced the storm back to the harbor.

The other great part of this was Mr. B and I sported the vests I made.

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of the crew or be a passenger on an 1810 sloop, I highly recommend checking out the Michigan Maritime Museum’s website for more details and to follow them on Facebook. Keep maritime history alive for all to enjoy!

An 18th Century Frock Coat for Mr. B

I have never sewn men’s clothing before. I much prefer the graceful sweep of the skirt on women’s gowns. However, this summer Mr. B convinced me that I had what it took to sew him a frock coat. He has a dark brown wool frock coat already, but that is much too hot the majority of the year, so cinnamon worsted wool was purchased from B&T. We used a modified regimental pattern, but it was basically a replica of the coat he already had. As with any project, especially the first time you sew something, there are always critiques. Yet overall, we are quite pleased with my first attempt at sewing men’s clothing.


I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea!


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At the start of September, my friends and I had a most magical opportunity and we took it! We, along with some other living historians / reenactors, climbed aboard the sloop, Friends’ Goodwill and sailed out on Lake Michigan for an afternoon. This 1810 replica sloop is at the port in South Haven, Michigan at their maritime museum. We drove over from Wisconsin to make the 1:15 sailing excursion. Here are some photos!
























Fort Wayne Winter Garrison

We had our first big event with a lot of the new 4th Connecticut members. The fort in Fort Wayne, is right downtown (which is a little odd, but once you are inside the fort, you can’t see anything else, so you are in your own little living history world). There are four barracks arranged in a square.





The men were in one building and the women and children were in another. The barracks were like little side by side duplexes with one room downstairs with a hearth to cook on and another room upstairs with a fireplace. There  were only windows on the side that faced the square, so we were lucky that it was sunny both days and that we had good daylight to work in. Speaking of weather, we were also lucky that it was a balmy 45 degrees at the warmest point in the day. Most of the women stayed bundled up in quilted petticoats and cloaks and mitts for much of the day.

While the men drilled, I was completely absorbed by and involved in the women’s sphere. This was the first event where it was more than just me and one or two other women. There were at least 7 of us and we worked nonstop: cooking meals for ourselves, children, and officers, washing up, shooing kids out of the kitchen, selling items at the petty sutler table, watching a court marshal scenario, reading letters from loved ones, and keeping fires lit so everyone could get warm periodically throughout the day. It was a most spirited atmosphere indeed!






The photos that follow are courtesy of Mrs. F. She truly captured the essence of the women’s work.


















And me — cooking porridge!




Kitty Callaway will serve you now…

This summer I had the opportunity to interpret the dressmaker’s shoppe at Boonefield Village in St. Louis, MO. Usually I am in the tavern / inn cooking food all day. A new building is always a treat.

First, this little building was bright and airy and had lovely colors inside, which contributed to a cheerfulness not always felt near a darker hearth.



The first room right as you enter, I tried to set up like an office / reception area where if you were a customer looking to have a dress made, you could begin your experience by looking at fashion plates.


I wanted my “customers” (public) to have an immediate visual of the fashions of the time. Although I was interpreting a shoppe in a big city like St. Louis (because this type of shoppe did not exist in a small frontier village), I wanted them to know that women still cared about fashions abroad and the newest styles. I also wanted them to see how fashions changed just slightly from the 1780s to the 1820s, but my focus was on 1819. I arranged the fashion plates chronologically from left to right and when I greeted customers, I asked them which style most intrigued them or what colors they liked the most. This then allowed for more opportunities for them to ask questions about the particular style or how a dress was constructed.



Me working on mending a pair of men’s trousers



I had lots of fabric spread around the store as well as some garments in progress and undergarments from the previous era and the current era. As always, customers enjoyed trying on stays.



My work table in the center of the room for ease of movement during the cutting and sewing process; my sitting area in the corner for when I need a little rest.



Luckily I had two of my own dresses to display. Some people asked to try them on, which was fun. I wish I had had mannequins or some other way to display these dresses so that it was a little more visually appealing.


Overall, this was a very good experience. I love sewing and talking about clothing. There’s so much information to share that it’s always neat to see what people latch on to within the first few minutes of a conversation and how long they stay and chat with you.

Grand Portage 2017

I finally committed to attending this event and it was wonderful. It was my first event on the shores of western Lake Superior. (I spent every summer on the eastern shores at my cottage at Whitefish Point Michigan, the site of the first lighthouse on Lake Superior). There is something magical and powerful about this lake. Furthermore, to stand on the ground where the actual people stood when they met to trade goods at the end of the season before winter set in was also awe inspiring. I was too enamored with the entire experience to take many photos, but I managed to snag a few.

The Grand Hall:



Fog in the trees after a Lake Superior late summer storm:



The partner and clerk in the Grand Hall



A walk through the woods:



Me by the lake!!



Looking out across the water…IMG_20170811_151011032

1790’s Ensemble

I have envied the other living historians and historical seamstresses who have made the white gown. Of all the historical clothing I lust after on a constant basis, this soft, white flowing ephemeral gown, to me, is the most beautiful.

This ensemble was made for an event in August 2017 at Grand Portage, Minnesota for the recreation of the meeting of fur trappers, traders, American Indians at the actual site of the gathering.

The ensemble is two pieces: the white gown and an open robe.




Battle of Short Hills NJ – June 2017


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Summer began with an event near the end of June. My group, the 4th Connecticut, had the pleasure of attending a large event in Clarks, NJ — the Battle of Short Hills. It was an excellent event, though a tad warm and with some heavy rain Friday night. One nice aspect of the event was that the Continental camp was far away from the British (as in, we couldn’t even see each other). Oh and there were ponies.

The best part of the event was that several women, whom I had never met, joined forces to present an awesome petty sutler impression and serve the men and other interpreters fresh produce, tobacco, meat pies, cheese, soap, bread, and switchel just to name a few.

Considering that we coordinated all our efforts over social media, we had an excellent spread and kicked interpretation butt!

Here are some photos:

Your petty sutlers







Meat pies and pickled cucumbers





The 4th Connecticut!