1860’s Braided Hairstyle

Alright..time for hairstyle number two! I decided to try a braided look that is along the same principles of the previous hairstyle.
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To complete this look all you need are bobby pins and a comb.
First start off with your hair down and parted in the middle. My hair has some texture in it, but this look would work on any type of hair.
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Divide your hair into three parts and braid the middle section. Take the middle braid and create a bun. Pin into place.
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Then braid the two side pieces. Take one side braid and wrap under the bun, pinning the ends underneath the other side braid. Repeat with the other side braid only go over the middle bun. Pin into place. Try to pin as many flyaways and ends as possible.
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And that’s it! Stay tuned for more hairstyles! If you see a favorite I should use, make sure and let me know!

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1860’s Twisted Hairstyle

I am going to a reenactment in August and decided to begin playing around with some different hairstyles to see which one or ones I wanted to use!
Here is a hairstyle that has two side twists and two large twists at the base of the neck. One can use a comb or not..doesn’t matter.
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For this look you will need: bobby pins, rubberbands, clips, and a comb. This look can be done with either straight or curly hair.

First start out with the smoothest hair you can…whether it is curly or straight.
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Then, part hair in the middle and divide hair into three sections. Two side pieces and one piece in the back. Clip or rubber band to keep separate.
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Roll the two side pieces into twists along the side of the head. This is where you can make the twists as tight or as loose as you would like. Pin at the back. I know it looks a bit lopsided but it will get fixed when you begin to fix the middle portion.
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Then remove the rubber band and blend that middle hair with the side pieces. Split it into two pieces. Take one piece and twist into a bun on one side of the head. Try to cover the pins from the twists. Pin as necessary. This might take a few tries.
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Repeat with other side and check to make sure that the hairstyle is secure and that there are few flyaway hairs. You can add a decorative comb, flowers, or leave it plain.
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And that’s it! A simple yet elegant look for your next reenactment!
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Have a great weekend everyone!


1860’s Civil War Day Dress: COMPLETE!!!

Well the dress is officially done!!!

I decided to just hem the bottom of the skirt to give a double pintuck look. I am actually quite happy with the decision since I think it doesn’t make the whole gown look to much like a giant ruffle!
I also finally decided on the belt. I took some eyelet lace, trimmed off the gathered portion, hemmed the top and made it into the belt. It is a very nice contrast. I also added buttons on the inside of the bodice and so that way it closes in the front, but you can’t see the buttons on the outside!
This gown is now for sale on my Etsy shop so check it out! Here are the finished pictures plus some extras that are not on my shop!
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I know what you are thinking….what am I going to do next? Hmmmmmm….great question!! 🙂 Stay tuned!


1860’s Tea Dress: Skirt Ruffle

Well I added in two gathered pieces to the bottom portion of the front skirt panel. I basted the strips on both sides, gathered them, and pinned them on the skirt. I then hand-stitched (which took a while 🙂 ) the ruffles onto the skirt!

I am really liking how this dress is coming along. Stay tuned for further skirt developments!
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Have a great rest of your weekend!


1860’s Tea Dress: Skirt

Sorry that it has been so long since my last post. I had a wedding this past weekend and haven’t had a chance to post the pictures of the skirt….so here they are! I apologize for the the slight blurriness in some of the pictures.
This skirt was a really fun, yet mathematical challenge! I created the five different panels for the skirt: the four were cut into 1/3 and 2/3 pieces then the bottom 1/3 was ruffled on the top and attached to the bottom of the longer piece. Then the four panels were sewn together.
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Then I took the front piece and attached it to the two front side pieces with a long ruffle in between the two layers. This would allow the ruffle to lay flat when the two pieces were turned right side out.
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Then I gathered the top of the skirt into knife pleats and attached them to the waist band.
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Here is a picture of the skirt. I have yet to decide what trimming I am going to do with the front panel…this may get worked out later. I did notice though that the skirt is about two inches shorter than I prefer so I am going to add around a three-inch ruffle to the bottom of the skirt. That will be my next portion of this project.
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And here is a picture of the gown so far! I am quite pleased with it and really like the way the skirt looks with the top!
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And I just noticed that I didn’t line up the middle of the front panel with the bodice so it looks off…that is my hasty pinning job and not because I messed up the waistband! 🙂
Hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday evening!


Historical Fashion: Balancing Quality and Accuracy with Money

Just like our foremothers, money is, as always, in short supply. With a never ending list of necessities, bills and surprises, very little seems to be left over. Trust me, I live on a fixed income and am always trying to find ways to live well, but live wisely. Over my ten years of sewing my own historical clothing, I have learned many good ways and many bad ways to save money. I would try to find the cheapest (and I mean cheapest) fabric I could find to save money…and my clothing often looked like I found the cheapest fabric. When I struggled trying to recreate an item, I would search to find it ready made for the best deal possible…sometimes I lucked out, while other times the item fell apart after one use.
I have rediscovered the old saying that you get what you pay for! Of course this is NOT a new idea, and in my regular life, I learned this little lesson early on. But when it comes to hobbies, I would feel guilty for spending a lot of money I often didn’t have on an item I really wanted. I would struggle with the reality of my financial situation with my desire to have the right item…regardless of the price. Yet, hobbies are meant to be enjoyable and allow us to forget about our reality and focus on something that truly makes us happy. For those reenacting enthusiasts out there, I present my personal and humble opinions on how to find the best historical item for the best modern price.
*please note that the following advice is aimed for women’s, premade, historical clothing*
First, it is important to be realistic with how much time and energy you actually have and want to invest into reenacting. The more you attend events, the more you will want to put into your outfit. For day events that require you to be outside and do physical activity, you want a gown that is sewn well and has a lining. This will give stability to the gown and won’t pull and tear as easily. For galas and balls, you are looking for a gown that may have boning stitched into the bodice and has ample skirt yardage. You also are looking for gowns that have historically, accurate closures: this means NO ZIPPERS!!!! The more you put into your outfit, the more you will be admired for your accuracy and attention to detail! And who doesn’t enjoy hearing “Oh, I just love your gown!”
Once you figure out how involved you wish to be and what events you decide to participate in, it is important to take a hard and critical look at the items available. Here are some features of gowns you will want to look for: handsewn buttonholes, handsewn seams, organic fabric (cotton, silk, lawn…), hook and eyes or hook and bar closures (made of metal), slightly dropped shoulder seams, natural waist line, full skirts, boning…the list could go on! But, as you may have noticed, the price for gowns and other items go up the more accurate they are and the more they feature handsewn parts. Expect to pay anywhere from $250-$500 for an accurate and well-made historical gown, and anywhere from $400-$800 for a ball gown. Freaking out a bit on the price? See if this helps: Unlike modern clothing, historical fashion DOES NOT CHANGE!! You will never be out of style, if your gown is made true to the time. Soooo theoretically your $300 gown, worn over a let’s say a period of five years, averages out to only $60 a year! And just like our grandmothers, these gowns can be patched or re-trimmed as necessary. And don’t forget that accessories that can be purchased at a more reasonable price do wonders to change up a gown from event to event! Think aprons, reticules, hats, baskets, cameos, hairstyles! Be creative!
So relax in your new found advice, find a trustworthy seamstress (cough, cough…check out my Etsy store..cough, cough) and invest in the gown of your dreams! Just please make sure it is an historically accurate gown from your historically accurate dreams! 🙂


Inspiration: 1860’s Tea Dress

Well, it has been a rather busy week and I finally had time this evening to begin drawing up the pattern and piecing together the new dress. This is a rather complicated endeavor since it involves different pieces from different patterns and it requires very precise measurement for the skirt. I am still debating on the color and the material of the sash, as well as whether this will be a one piece outfit or two. I will need to get further into the construction of the gown to decide which will give the best look.
But here is what I have so far…
Fabric:
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I decided to go with a heavy cotton so that way the trim will hold its shape on the gown. I was only able to get twelve yards of the fabric so we shall see how much trim I am able to put on the dress. I also love navy (it doesn’t look like navy in the picture but it is!) and think it will be a great choice for a summer dress (just think ocean!)

Bodice:
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I decided to use Past Pattern’s #709 Garibaldi shirt pattern for the main part of the bodice. The bodice has extra fullness and has no visible darts that I can make out. The Garibaldi pattern, when normally constructed, has more fullness that will allow for the pleating on either side of the center front. The sash can then take in any extra fullness.

Sleeve:
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I LOVE and I mean LOVE this Peachtree Mercantile pattern (#206)! It is such a elegant style of gown and is such a great and easy pattern to make! I have made this gown several times and really like the sleeve pattern this gown has…so I am going to use it for this dress.

Skirt:
Oh this skirt!….it is going to be a wee bit time consuming. So I have divided the skirt into three parts: front (1 panel), side front (2 panels), and back (2 panels.)

Front Skirt:
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Front skirt is going to be a regular width (exact measurements TBA) but will have 5″ of extra length to accommodate the pleats. I am going to do 4 pleats (3/4″ per pleat) all around the bottom of the skirt.

Side Front:
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The side front panels will attach to the front panel and will have trim going down the side seams as seen in the picture. The bottom panel will be separate from the top portion of the panel and will be slightly wider. This will then be gathered and then attached to the top portion of the two side panels.

Back Skirt:
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The two back skirt panels will be made up in the same fashion as the side panels except no trim down the side seams.

Soooo… that is what I have been able to accomplish so far. Hopefully, I will have the measurements completed and the gown cut out, and ready to sew!
Will keep you updated as I go! If you have any questions or need clarification as to what I have done so far, just let me know!

Enjoy your Friday night!


Gathering ideas online…

Finding inspiration can be the most exciting or most frustrating search. Inspiration, theoretically, is all around depending on what you are searching. I recently decided to redo my kitchen. Nothing major but it was getting boring and I needed to switch things up. A few trips to local craft and home goods stores later, and I had some new pieces with which to “spice up” my kitchen (I apologize for the pun…couldn’t help myself.) It seems that when it comes to your home, your personal modern fashion, beauty, cooking and various other interests that relate to the 21st century, there are a plethora of places and ideas from which to reap. Not so if you are in the search for inspiration in a field where there are not many stores where one can simple zip over to and pick up a new outfit. For us dedicated reenactors, we must search harder and with a strict eye to gather inspiration.

Fashion for us is not evolving…it has already happened. Therefore we must research and paw through the various authentic and not so authentic patterns, dresses, and photographs to find our inspiration. Now, I do not claim to be an expert in this field…simply a humble enthusiast who tries her hardest to be as true to character as possible…yet I feel that with a few things in mind, a girl can find inspiration and create something truly all her own.

Pinterest, Bing, Google, and other search engines are wonderful places to begin the exciting search for inspiration and ideas. It can also lead you down a path of polyester and zippers…which are strict “no -no’s.” These are the three questions I keep in mind while I am searching through photographs online for my next creation:

1. Is this an actual photograph/museum photograph?
This is the time to skip over those photos of Halloween, school plays, and “Old Timey”photos where everyone is either a bank robber or saloon girl. You are looking for ACTUAL photographs of the time period, or photographs taken of actual gowns that are on display in museums. Not sure if what you are looking at is realiable?…Look at the website! On Pinterest? Follow the photograph to its orignal source.

2. Does this gown fit my character or do I just love it because it channels my inner Scarlett O’Hara?
Of course personal taste must come into account when choosing and selecting your inspiration, but if you are a camp girl then don’t even think about wearing anything low-cut dripping in lace…you will look out of place and might catch on fire if you lean too far over the soup pot. Playing an upper class lady or attending a special tea? Then go ahead and indulge in that gown that has the extra frill, trim, or doesn’t allow you to raise your arms above your head. Think with your head first, your heart second, and your pocket-book last. More to come on choosing the most financially appropriate gown on a later post.

3. Does this gown make me smile and excited to wear it as often as I can?
Let’s be honest…if it doesn’t appeal to your style or taste than DON’T WEAR IT! Pick a color that flatters you and makes you feel good!

Take a look at this photograph I found and let’s see if it will qualify for my next project!

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Step 1: I discovered this gown on Pinterest but then followed the links and saw that it is a gown made around early 1860’s. In addition it is a gown on display in a museum and has features that show it is a gown from the desired time (drop shoulders, hoop skirt, natural waistline.) So is it accurate? Yes.

Step 2: This gown, done in a solid color other than white (which is a risky little color), would serve the purpose for a civilian that lives in town, which happens to be the goal of my next project. It has various trims and rouching that features a more upper class fashion. So does it fit a character which I am aiming? Yes.

Step 3: Does it make me smile? Ummmm… yeah!!! Just look at it! It is sweet, feminine, and I can just imagine wearing it on a warm, summer day window shopping!

Needless to say…stay tuned for my adventures making this gown!

I hope this little mini lesson helps you on your hunt for your own perfect gown! And as always, would love to hear from you!