In order to be well dressed and enjoy an event, it is imperative that things are packed ahead of time and well organized in various transportation devices. Some people have amazing closets and rooms dedicated to all of their living history clothing and accessories. I am not that fortunate so things get stowed here and there. In the last few years, Mr. H’s angst surrounding clutter has forced me to keep my items tidy and out of view. To help others, I thought I would post about my organizational tips when you have a busy schedule and you are running from one event to the next.
Upon returning from an event…
- Wash towels, aprons, socks, fichus and undergarments immediately when you get home. I don’t know about you, but even at events in the early spring or late fall, my chemise tends to get moist and feel icky by Sun afternoon. My mother instilled in me a healthy fear of mildew on soiled garments. Though they are just “things” I can’t stand the thought of having to replaces hundreds of dollars worth of goods just because I was too lazy to wash them right away. If I get home super late from an event and literally don’t have time to wait the full hour and a half for the wash and drying to be complete, I hang up my items on my clothesline on my screened porch so they can at least air dry. I then wash them the next day. I’ve washed fichus by hand in a large bowl as well as on the gentle cycle in the machine. I use the mesh bag and just throw them in — no problem.
2. Fold clean items right away. While some wrinkles don’t both me, I have realized that if I don’t fold my newly cleaned items — especially my hand towels — they will get lost in a pile of clean laundry and/or Mr. H will attempt to do a good deed, and fold them and put them somewhere where they don’t belong and then that will snowball into bad times the day I’m supposed to leave for my next event.
3. Air out smokey items. I can’t wash my cloak or wool petticoats, so up on the clothesline they go for a few days.
4. Spot clean items you don’t intend to put in the washer. Sure you can throw linen and cotton items in the washer, however, that means I would have to iron them. I’m really not all that into ironing. I would have made a terrible domestic goddess even in the last century. But anywho, at an event in Sept I got black smudges on my nice blue and white striped linen jacket. I was not pleased. (While dirt on your historical clothing makes them look “authentic,” I can’t imagine most middle class people traipsed around in nasty dirty clothing unless it was their dirty work dress for really intense cleaning days). I usually use Mrs. Myers dish soap or a bar of handmade lavender soap. Lavender has excellent cleaning and sanitizing properties naturally, so that’s my top choice. I put a little soap on a wash cloth and dab and press, but don’t rub or smear. Then I rinse the item under cold water and hang to dry and press if necessary. I spot clean Sun or Mon night if possible. The longer it sits, the worse.
Once items are clean and the next event is rapidly approaching…
5. Gather items the weekend before. The last few years, I’ve decreased how many events I attend in Sept because the start of the school year is insane and after an extreme bout of illness because of not enough sleep and sharing cups with people who were sick, I told myself no more. Therefore, I’m at an every three weekend or so schedule of events in the fall. It’s much better for my stress levels. As a result, I have the luxury of packing my items the weekend before. The school week is just too nuts and I’m too focused on my 200 some kids with lesson plans and grading. I take an hour or two to repack everything and put it all by the door in the corner, so when Friday rolls around, I can throw everything in the car and be on the road.
6. Pack like items together. In the past, I just kind of threw items in whatever container held them best. Fine. It got the job done. However, when I needed the items in a hurry at an event, I wasted time trying to remember where I put stuff. Now I have certain bags or baskets that always carry the same items.
For example, my market wallet is for my cold weather accessories (yes I take them to all events, year round because I get cold at night time) and my stockings and fichus.
7. On toiletries. I do not have a period appropriate way to transport my toiletries, so right now I just have a tote bag that I schlep to the bathroom early in the a.m. or late at night when none of the public will see me. Within the tote bag, I have a lot of smaller drawstring bags that hold all my necessary items; including a ziploc bag full of sanitary supplies. You never know who might need what when. I also keep period glasses in their own case and an extra glasses case in my toiletry bag since I wear my contacts all weekend. (Before, I kept my glasses cases in a different basket which I never took with me into the bathroom and that was a pain). Lastly, stock lots of plastic grocery bags for wet items. I’m kind of ocd and like to use a fresh wash cloth every time I wash my face. After using it, I can either throw it in the bag or take the extra time to walk to my car (depending on how far of a walk it is) and spread it out in there so it can dry.
8. Folding jackets/petticoats. Because I’m usually not cramming my clothing into vacuum sealed bags, I loosely fold items and they fit better into their basket or bag. Here is how I fold my jackets to obtain the smallest size and the least amount of wrinkles.
9. Pack clothing in the order in which you put it on. I learned this in girl scouts! For camp, we used to pack each day’s clothing in it’s own separate plastic bag and put the clothing in the order that you wear it so the first thing you put on is your underwear and socks, so those go on top.
I purchased a big basket at a local antique store. This carries my stays, all of my jackets, petticoats, and chemises. Here is the order I put things in the basket: starting on the bottom: gown, apron, two jackets, pockets, petticoats, stays, and the chemise goes on top because I will put that on first. Usually there is room on the sides for a few miscellaneous items like a mug or a cap or a journal.
10. For the other accessories and random items. Everyone has those material culture items that are part of your persona. All the “extras” go in a basket, and my caps go on top because I don’t want them to get crushed.
11. Modern items. I hate to be unprepared. I never know what I might need. An extra pair of wool socks at night? My winter hat? If I’m not at a 1st person immersion event, I have a few stock items I always bring because you just never know…I hand sewed a medium/large-ish bag of fairly heavy linen. I can quickly shove this bag under a bed or just keep it in the tent. The public usually will not rummage through things like this, they just peer in the tent and go “oh cool.”
12. Pack only what you can carry. This was another Girl Scout rule for our troop. It did force me to be fiercely independent too. While I will never stop a gentleman from helping me carry items to or from my car, I am happy that I can do it myself. My market bag slings over my shoulder and if it has soft items, can also be shoved down the side of the basket. My larger linen bag can be slung over a shoulder; my little square basket goes on one arm and that leaves a hand and hip free to carry the large basket. Obviously, depending on the event and what other food/drink items I bring, I will make multiple trips to the car, which I’m fine with. But I try to keep all my items contained and easy to transport.
At least when I go to an event. Packing on Sun when I need to get home to cook dinner or wash items and I’m hot and tired….it’s just throw everything in the car where ever and go.