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The past week and a half of 2014 has resulted in cloudy skies and zero sun. The Monday after Christmas in the UP, there was a ton of sun for our drive home. I had to capture that sun through the snow-covered branches before we left town in case I didn’t see sun again the rest of the winter.

Despite the sun, the kitty was not a huge fan of the icy temps and only spent a few seconds outside.



I did not meet any of the challenges for the 2014 Historical Sew Fortnightly, except the first one. Woops. But I finally got to wear my creation a year later at an event! Hurray! I’m a little disappointed in myself, but by now I should realize that Christmas break is deceptive in that I think I have all this time to sew and then forensics season starts and I coach every day from 3 – 6 p.m. and when I get home, I barely have enough time to make dinner. By 8 p.m. every night, I’m washing my face, brushing my teeth, and then crawling in bed to read. Sewing until midnight – totally not feasible. I’m still determined to finish my projects though that would have fit into the challenges from last year. Though I won’t post them on the HSF fb page, I’ll still post them here eventually (aka once they’re finished).

Unfinished projects:

I think many of these did not get finished because I ran into roadblocks. Sometimes I don’t know what stopped me from just pushing through and figuring it out on my own. Maybe fear of getting it wrong and not having enough fabric? I don’t know. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Yellow Regency Half Robe – which would have fit into “bodice,” “yellow,” and “political” challenges

– Roadblock: I was worried that if I didn’t have a proper Regency corset, that if I sewed the bustline in place, it would be wrong and I’d have to take it out and redo it. That’s not a huge deal at all because it’s a simple, straight seam.

– Why it’s still not finished: Sleeves are sewn together, just not attached because I’m lazy. And I wasn’t sure how to properly line up the seam for the sleeve, but I figured it out with the brown gown and now I’m just lazy.

Wool Jacket – which would have fit into “black and white” and “bodice” challenges

– Roadblock: I ran out of time. I decided to flatline the outer pieces of wool with an inner wool lining and that took an exorbitant amount of time to cut out the pattern for each piece a third time. I still have to cut out the sleeves, but I’m waiting on that because I still never figured out the exact size for the sleeve pattern from when I jumped into the blue striped jacket.

– Why it’s still not finished: The event I needed it for came and went back in mid November so now I don’t have a real reason to finish it except maybe for an event in April when that winter chill is still in the air. I’ll shoot for finishing it over spring break? Ok so I lost motivation and was lazy again.

Pink Bedgown – which would have fit into the “pink” challenge

– Roadblock: I thought I lost the last bit of pink fabric I needed for gussets and insert for collar. I found it.

– Why it’s still not finished: Other projects took over my life/living room. This was one of those, it’ll be nice to have when it’s finished garments, so I tend to work on it slowly at an event because it’s a nice conversation piece. (Except when I’m tavern staff, there is zero time for sewing).

Miss F’s Dress

– Roadblock: Time. Midweek since summer, I would casually daydream about working on this dress and then all this other stuff got in the way: mainly back to back weekend events for about a month.

– Why it’s still not finished: See above. Considering this will be the 4th time working with this pattern, I don’t have an excuse at all. We need it for June. June. Deadline is in 5 months. I *think* I have time.

Blue striped Jacket

– Roadblock: I gained weight (but not a lot) since I first fit this pattern and stopped lacing my stays as tight as I used to. I didn’t remake/remeasure my mock up – woops – and so I had major fit issues (which almost brought me to tears) until friends came to my rescue at an event and helped me magically fit a piece into the sides. Oh yeah and then the first sleeve pattern I used for my rose gown DID NOT fit me at all (huge muscles right here), and attempting to fit the mock up sleeve on me was akin to stuffing gobs of sausage into a too small casing. Ha.

– Why it’s still not finished: Sleeves have yet to be refit. Other projects took over. I got lazy – again – gee….is there a pattern here?


Finished Projects Review:

Brown striped regency gown – this gown is delightful to wear once I recut the sides and hemmed it in front and added loops to the back to hold up the ties. I want three more like this. But I really should branch out. First wore it to Years of Napoleon in June. This one will go to Waterloo with me.

Grey wool petticoat – I needed another wool petticoat simply for warmth. Normally I always wear just one because I’ve found that the slightest breeze or drop in temps at events makes me cold. (I’m such a baby, I know). Because I love making petticoats, they now take me about 5 – 6 hrs (depending on life), when I was getting ready for the event in mid-November it was either struggle with trying to line the wool jacket and cut out sleeves and line them and sew them and attempt to not cry OR sew two rectangles together. Rectangles it was! I’m all about binding the hem with tape and I chose a dark navy from WM Booth Draper…..well somehow we mis-measured and I was short by 10 inches. So Mr. Booth kindly gave me the missing tape and sewed it on himself!! Wow such service from the draper. I first wore the grey petticoat to The Gathering where, upon dressing and skipping about in my new garment by the fire when I went to fill the coffee pot, Mr. B the elder, accidentally splattered bacon grease on me; my apron caught most of it, but there are a few spots on the petticoat – not super visible except to me. Christening by fire?

Regency cotton petticoat with shoulder straps – I couldn’t wear my flannel petticoat to an event in June, so I needed this one. It’s heavy duty so it actually puffs out my brown Regency gown a tad. This is not a super flowy-graceful-go-to-the-ball petticoat. I still need one of those. But it’s not see through either so at the end of the event after it closed to the public, off came the gown and I sat around in my petticoat and drank wine with my friend. It was very lady-like.

1920 Robe de Style Prom (chaperone) dress – I really wanted a period appropriate dress to wear when I chaperoned prom. I’ve always really wanted a purple prom dress. While I had major shapewear on underneath the dress, the style was oh so comfy!!! It’s just a basic shift on top with a super poufy skirt that could be embellished multiple ways, so many in fact that I just couldn’t settle on one type of trim! I would love to make another dress like this.

 2015 Insanity Sewing

My goals for this year are simple: at least by the event for which I want to wear them, have the unfinished items finished. If I get any more specific than that, it may lead to more laziness. I also realized that most items don’t get finished unless I NEED to wear them to an event. Isn’t that how it is with most of us?

After a very successful first person immersion experience, a group of us here in SE WI/N IL are stepping into the 1830s. We are outfitting ourselves as well as assisting volunteers at the Macktown Living History Center in IL in full 1830s period clothing. Our goal is to sew a bunch of wardrobes for a handful of us who will put on a Christmas first person immersion experience open to the public. (I think that’s our goal the last I chatted with everyone, but plans morph as the year goes, and we are open to all possibilities).

A bit of background about me to get up to my new found love: the 1830s. When I first truly started historical clothing research, I was 19. I was obsessed with the 1890s. I love the graceful feminine lines and the sleek way the skirts fit at the waist and then flared out down around the ankles. I stared at countless images of antique dresses online. Then I had a 1920s dress made for me. I picked the fabric – a pretty blue check – and while it wasn’t the 1890s dream dress I wanted, it was a fun style. A few years pass, college finishes and my teaching career launches. I drag my then boyfriend to a Rev War reenactment north of Milwaukee and I fell in love with the style of the late 1700s. The lines were so simple. The women walked so gracefully. I had to have it!!!! I joined a unit and I taught myself to sew. At the beginning of this time, I did not particularly care for the Regency era. Something about the empire waists weirded me out. Then I was invited to several Regency events. Well I sat down and learned how to use my Viking Turissa. I loved the dress I produced. The Regency style was soooooo comfortable. It was a new kind of graceful. Not having heavy petticoats tied around my waist WAS freeing. Wow!! New time period adored.

As I jumped on pinterest and started looking at images, I was disgusted by the 1820s through 1840s. The odd poofy sleeves. The bell shaped skirts. Ick. I couldn’t stand it. I don’t like droopy shoulder lines at all in dresses. I have a small upper body and while I don’t want 1980s pointy/pouffy sleeves or 1890s leg-o-mutton sleeve insanity, I prefer some structure. But then my group said, hey we should really stop interpreting the 1780s at this site because that’s not historically accurate and we really need to be true progressives and get our stuff together for a full blown 1830s impression. Excuse me? Ummm….search pinterest, interesting – some tasteful styles are not too over the top. I like the colors and patterns of most fabric. Hey! I think I adore the 1830s!!!!!! When do we start sewing? 🙂

This brings us back to the present: my 1830s wardrobe. I have stunning pink cotton fabric that I really want to make into a fancy day dress or more simple Christmas party dress. I also acquired American Duchess Gettysburg boots for this time period (courtesy of my mother-in-law’s Christmas present). (I’m breaking them in slowly; the other day when I was tidying, I slipped them on and they are divine!!!!). This wardrobe will literally be built from the bottom up….or is it the inside out? Like all of us who have been doing this for a while know, you can’t really make that gorgeous Christmas dress until you’ve completed your foundation pieces. Patience is key!!!!

1830s Wardrobe Checklist


– 1 white cotton petticoat

– multiple cotton stockings and one silk pair

– chemise (technically it’s for an earlier time period, but I think it will work)

– one white linen apron (that is very dirty from incessant almost daily use for the past two years)

– boots


– corset!!! (The ladies in our group are torn on making our own or just biting the bullet and ordering from a company who will custom make them. The big question: does the $400.00 trump the time / frustration of sewing your own?)

– another 2 – 3 petticoats, at least one of which must be wool if we are first wearing these items at a Christmas event (WI could be deathly cold as early as Oct so one never knows!). I also think one of these must be corded.

– knitted bosom friend

– new cap

– new bonnet (I’m not sure if my Regency era bonnet will work for this time period. I kind of want a different style just because you know….why not?)

– two dresses – one for house work and the other for the party!!! woot! I think the day dress will be wool – again because our first event will be in winter and I will not freeze in cotton, but the pink cotton fabric I have already will most likely turn into a Christmas dress!

– dress patterns

– fun Christmas dress up shoes (I have the shoes; I intend to trim them with pink embellishments to match my dress – hurray!)

And lastly, my “general sewing dream project list for the way off sometime future provided I have an event to wear it to” list

– Downton Abbey 1912 – 1918 style dress

– Chemise a la reine with a royal purple silk sash (to be worn at my oh so fabulous Regency style birthday tea party that I am still planning)

– late 1700s linen working class gown

– quilted petticoat

– Regency era white ball gown

– some type of 1790s style gown


Fingers crossed for a mostly successful 2015. I’m not going to be overly optimistic so that come September, I say, “oh gee, I was going to do that…but yeah woops.” I want to be pleasantly satisfied with my achievements.