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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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And me — cooking porridge!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Me working on mending a pair of men’s trousers

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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The partner and clerk in the Grand Hall

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A walk through the woods:

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Me by the lake!!

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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.

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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

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Meat pies and pickled cucumbers

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The 4th Connecticut!

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Christmas gifts to improve my historical wardrobe

As I get further and further into the hobby (lifestyle?) of living history, I expand into new time periods and learn more about each of them. That fuels my need/want for more accessories, which will improve my historical persona(s). I am so grateful to have friends and family who not only respect my hobby, but also spoil me with gifts at Christmas time.

I received hand knit wool stockings from my mother-in-law; this had been an ongoing project that we had planned. I will finally get to wear these in the spring!

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Although you can’t tell in the picture, they are ridiculously long. They go way above my knee to keep my legs warm!

She also knit me a neck warmer with wool purchased from Suzy the Shepherdess, a local woman who sells wool. This gift was very unexpected, but extremely appreciated because my neck is always cold at events.

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Although hard to tell from the picture, it’s just long enough to cover my shoulders and in the middle, it juts in on each side so it rests smoothly along my neck without gaping. I loved it so much, I started using it immediately Christmas day and my neck stayed very warm!

Lastly,  a friend made and gave me a jewelry box and my m-i-l bought me a necklace from In the Long Run. (Her clothing and jewelry is outstanding).

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I am so excited to use all of these new items at events!!!