From the Sewing Table
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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!

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