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My 2019 Historical Sewing Year in Review

If I did a 2018 sewing round up, or set myself sewing goals for 2019, I don’t remember it, and can’t find it. So 2019 was a blank slate: I got done what I got done. And that’s kind of nice.

I’ve been trying to be less demanding of myself. I wish I could do all the things, all the time, and I tend to beat myself up mentally when I can’t. So for the last few years I’ve been trying to just be happy with what I do, and I think I’m getting there!

And I did do pretty well! Three Scroop patterns out, including the incredible hydra of a pattern that is the Augusta Stays (seriously, the amount of stuff we included in that pattern…it’s really four patterns, and was certainly the work of four standard patterns). A bunch of wardrobe sewing for me, a bunch of sewing for my mum (I packed more clothes for her than for myself in my recent trip home!).

And actually quite a lot of historical sewing as well, which, with a bit of “OK, I finished that challenge really late” means I completed my seventh full Historical Sew Monthly (actually, the first two were fortnightly, so that’s even more insane!).

So here’s my historical sewing roundup for 2019, as told through the Historical Sew Monthly challenges:

January: Dressed to the Nines

“Make something fancy so you’ll be ‘dressed to the nines’ – whether its the full outfit, or a little accessory. Or look at the challenge in a different way, and make something from a year ending in 9 (find a portrait or fashion plate or mention to support the date), or even an item with 9 major design elements (9 buttons down the front, 9 tucks in a petticoat etc)”

A dress made from a 1919 pattern thedreamstress.com

I finished my 1919 ‘Not Another Blue Dress’ at the end of January, wore it for a photoshoot with Theresa in February, and gave it a bit of a spiff up for Costume College in August. And I love it and am so happy with it! It’s 1919 and I feel dressed to the nines in it, even if it’s just a day dress.

FebruaryLinen/linens

“Make something out of linen, or that falls under the older definition of linens: ie: underclothes (lingerie literally means linen)”

1760s stays with theatrical construction thedreamstress.com

I stretched the definition of the challenge just ]a little bit, and made 1760s stays – they are an undergarment, but weren’t always technically considered linens. I also used theatrical instead of historical construction techniques, so it was a very soft entry. But they do give me a lovely silhouette!

March: Sewing Kit

“Create an item that makes use of your favourite sewing tool, instrument, or gadget; or an item made for your historical sewing kit (huswif, pinball)”

The NZSEHR 2019 in Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com

I’m going to count my historical Augusta Stays for this, because they used almost every tool in my sewing kit, literally and mentally! Thimbles, awls, brushes for buckram, sewing wax, needles, different types of thread, bone snips, sandpaper. Plus patternmaking, grading, digital everything…

I didn’t finish them in March, but I certainly worked on them solidly for the whole month!

April: Upping your game:

“Make something that really stretches you and that works on the bits that you tend to rush through or skimp on.”

1790s jumps from the pattern in Jill Salen's Corsets, thedreamstress.com

My 1790s jumps lift me up and definitely lift my late 18th century costuming game!

MayFlorals

“Create an item that features flowers in some way.”

An 18th century re-use pocket thedreamstress.com

Not historically perfect, but these pockets feature bugs, birds, bees, and another nod to nature in their very green fabric re-use.

JuneFavourite Technique

“Make an item using your favourite sewing or embellishment technique.”

A Regency Captain Janeway cosplay, thedreamstress.com

My 1790s sleeveless spencer features not just one, but four, of my favourite techniques! Follow the link to find out what they are.

A Regency Captain Janeway cosplay, thedreamstress.com

JulyUnexpected

“Make an item with an unexpected feature. Will it be a snazzy lining, a hidden pocket, or something else? Surprise us!”

Costume College Gala 2019

 Lounging pyjamas were certainly unexpected in 1913. And the construction is quite unexpected – they are basically very elegant diapers!

AugustOut of a Portrait:

“Lift a garment out of a portrait, and make it up to include in your wardrobe.”

The Scroop Patterns & Virgil's Fine Goods Augusta Stays scrooppatterns.com

I (with help from awesome friends) made a linen petticoat and apron to wear with my Augusta Stays at Costume College so that Amber, Cait & I could be the fruit sellers from Wheatley’s ‘Cries of London’

Strawberrys Scarlet Strawberrys, Francis Wheatley, 1792-95

SeptemberEveryday:

“It’s not all special occasion frocks. Make something that would have been worn or used for everyday.”

A late 18th c kerchief thedreamstress.com

This kerchief is so simple I haven’t blogged it, but it’s a fun item, which makes me very happy, and instantly turns an everyday outfit from the late 18thc or early 19thc from boring to fun.

A late 18thc kerchief thedreamstress.com

OctoberDetails

“Sometimes the little things really make something fabulous. Focus on the details of your garment, to create something that just gets better the closer you look.”

An early 18th c shift thedreamstress.com
An early 18th c shift thedreamstress.com
An early 18th c shift thedreamstress.com

Another thing I haven’t managed to blog yet, but I (finally) finished an early 18th c shift I started back in 2017. It’s a simple thing, but all the details elevate it: whipped gathers, hand worked buttonholes, flat felled seams. A very useful addition to my historical wardrobe.

NovemberAbove the Belt

“No hitting low! Let’s keep things on the up and up as the year closes, and make something worn above the belt.” 

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

This one I will be blogging, because it’s certainly interesting enough, but it’s already made appearances in my posts about the plantain game, and feeding kunekune pigs.

But wait, there’s more!

Medieval veil pins thedreamstress.com

With guidance from Nina, I also made Medieval pins, perfect for holding my veil in place over my wimple.

DecemberOn a Shoestring

“It’s an expensive time of year, so make an item on a tight budget (say, under $15, or less than you’d spend on a reasonable priced takeaway meal for one person in your country – and no ‘stash’ doesn’t count as free: you still have to count what you would have originally paid for those items).”

I made a wimple. It’s just a rectangle of hemmed linen, but it’s a nice addition to my 14thc wardrobe. And, at $11 for 1/2 a meter of linen that I got on sale for $22pm, it qualifies nicely for the challenge, even if something spectacular that I managed to

This one I haven’t even photographed, because as soon as I finished it I either put it somewhere ‘safe’ or lent it to a friend to copy!

And that’s all folks!

Except for these:

Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com

Theatrical Augusta Stays. Not quite historical, but they give a historical silhouette. And they’re so pretty….

And my Regency Captain Janeway diadem and ‘kashmiri’ shawl.

A Regency Captain Janeway cosplay, thedreamstress.com
http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/107809

Rate the Dress: Bustle Era Border Print

Last week’s Rate the Dress was an evening dress for an event that didn’t usually call for evening wear. This week’s Rate the Dress is a morning dress for…well, presumably exactly what a morning dress was usually worn for.

Last Week: a 1920s evening-dress as wedding-dress 

Last week’s wedding dress may have been a very unconventional choice, but it was a successful one! Almost everyone loved it, with the few slightly lower scores (it’s a good dress when 8 is the low score!) coming from people who just don’t like the 20s, and couldn’t quite get behind the corsage.

The Total: 9.6 out of 10

Resounding approval for the brides pick!

This week: a first-bustle-era morning dress in border-print cotton

This week I present an 1870s morning dress in a striking border-print cotton with trompe l’oeil ruffle effect.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

In the 1870s a morning (not to be confused with mourning!) dress was an informal dress, usually made in less dressy fabrics, such as cotton. A morning dress was worn at home in the earlier part of the day, before changing for the more formal events of the afternoon, such as visiting, attending events, or shopping.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

Morning dresses were less deshabille than dressing gowns (also worn in the morning) and were considered tidy and formal enough for women to receive visitors who showed up before the prescribed visiting hours (even unknown visitors of the opposite gender) in.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

For less well-off women, who had to do their own tidying and chores in the morning, morning dresses were meant to be practical affairs: simple frocks in washable cotton with small prints on darker grounds, which would hide small marks and stains.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

This morning dress clearly came from the wardrobe of a woman of leisure, with maids to press all her ruffles, and a to-do list totally devoid of anything likely to stain or spot her, unless it was a cup of tea or ink from her morning correspondence.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

The fabric is exceptional, and has been used lavishly, and with much care and planning.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

Note that it’s been painstakingly pieced along the bottom edge of the overskirt, and on the back ‘sash’ pieces, to provide a simpler border with only the trompe l’oeil ruffle.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

The Metropolitan Museum of Art seems to have gone very light on the pressing and de-creasing aspects of this dress, possibly because the fabric appears to be a polished cotton, which creases easily and doesn’t always react so well to un-creasing methods (especially after 130 years).

As always, please don’t rate the dress on the museum’s presentation.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

What do you think? Would you bounce out of bed at the thought of wearing this? Or are you not-a-morning-person when it comes to this dress?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your com

Cats, thedreamstress.com

Cats! (of the farm)

A promise: this post contains images of 100% authentic cats. No dancing cats, cat boobs, bad fur, creepy CGI, or alarming plunges into Uncanny Valley. There is, however, a slight risk of uneven editing.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

Mum & Dad have six cats on the farm.

Four of them are the most adorable, sweet creatures you’ll ever meet.

One of them is amazingly not-a-disaster of a cat anymore.

The sixth one is a goose.

Terra

Cats, thedreamstress.com

This is Terra. She’s the matriarch of the farm cats: not because she’s the oldest, but because she’s the most likely to get along with everybody else, and the best at getting what she wants in the cat hierarchy. She achieves this by just doing it.

She hung around the (now defunct) health food store in town. Mum asked around, and no one knew where she’d come from. She was incredibly friendly, and the farm was short of cats, so she came home with Mum. She was dubbed Terra by my sister because her coat was the colour of dirt (Mum, indignantly: “very pretty dirt!”). Her funny short tail with the broken end has been like that as long as we’ve known her.

She fit right in to the farm, although it almost immediately became obvious that while older Terra is round because she’s chubby, very young Terra was round because she was pregnant – so there was a little pause and the farm had its last batch of kittens before she could be spayed!

Cats, thedreamstress.com

It’s very hard to get a photograph of Terra (and her daughters) because as soon as you pay any attention to her (such as aiming a camera) she assumes it’s snuggle time.

Before you know it you have one small, round, and very insistent cat butting her head against the camera and lacerating your skin with delighted kneading.

So all my photos of Terra are of her asleep, incredibly close up and blurry, or momentarily turned away to rub against something else before assaulting me with love again!

Maka

Maka is my dad’s cat. He’s a big orange and white tom, and looks like a bruiser, with his funny crinkled ear. Instead, he’s the sweetest, gentlest, most laid back cat you’ll ever meet.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

Every morning Dad has a papaya with peanut butter for breakfast in the open ‘farm’ kitchen. And every morning Maka sits next to his chair, patiently waiting. No meowing, no standing on his paws, not even any gazing up with longing. And at the end of breakfast Dad gives Maka a tiny dollop of peanut butter. Maka sniffs it, accepts it graciously, and eats it. Some days he doesn’t want it, but he always sits with Dad for breakfast.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

He’s very easy to photograph, because he’s so laid back!

Mum & Dad got him when I was visiting two trips ago: he belonged to friend of theirs, but was being bullied by their friend’s older tom. Mum & Dad had no male cats at the time, so Maka joined the farm.

TwoSocks

TwoSocks is one of Terra’s dauthers. She has two blackish right paws and two goldish left paws, hence her name. She also has the most phenomenal green eyes.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

Unfortunately it’s very hard to photograph them, because she’s even worse than her mom. If TwoSocks decides she wants cuddles, you will cuddle her.

Seriously. She’ll tackle your ankles until you stop and pet her. If you’re kneeling down trying to plant things or pick things, you have an available lap. And she will climb on it.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

TwoSocks has decided that the gardens are her territory. I stayed in the cottage nearest the gardens. Thus I was TwoSocks chosen victim for the duration of my stay. She figured out what time I woke up and ambushed me every morning.

Rumblestrip

Rumblestrip is TwoSock’s sister and Terra’s daughter.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

Rumblestrip shares the family obsession with cuddles. However, she’s far smarter than her mom and sister. She has figured out that 1) if you get up to human height it’s way easier for the humans to pet you, and 2) if you don’t knead the humans until they bleed every time you get to sit on their lap or get held, you get to sit on their lap and get held far more often.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

Due to 1), she is often to be found on tree stumps and benchtops and other items at convenient heights.

Also, she understands that if you pose for a camera you get reward cuddles!

Cats, thedreamstress.com

Smart kitty!

Aster

This is Aster. She’s over 21 years old.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

For most of her life she was a Dis-Aster if a cat. Mum & Dad took her in when the friend she belonged to had to move off island. But… she didn’t get along with any other cat on the farm, she whined incessantly, she ate everything she shouldn’t, rummaged in the rubbish bins, and she had a constant string of unattractive skin conditions.

We tried very hard to give her love and affection, because animals need those, but Aster didn’t make it easy.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

But Aster has calmed down in her old age. She’s almost completely deaf, and she can’t hear herself, so she makes super loud crying meows, but she’s gotten cuddly and sweet.

She spends her days sleeping in the bins of drying tagete seeds (a type of marigold really good for crop rotation), making a nest in the roots of a particular avocado tree, and taking slow perambulations around the farm. She’s easy to love, and I’m so grateful we can do that in her last years.

Goose

This is Goose. He’s a goose. Obviously he’s a cat, but he’s a goose.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

He showed up on the farm at the same time as Maka. It’s not uncommon for people to abandon unwanted cats in rural areas. The farm is pretty far off the main road, so they don’t see so many, but every once in a while a cat finds its way there. We’re pretty sure that’s what happened to Goose. He is socialised, but very scared of people: he was probably played with and petted as a kitten, and then abandoned.

Since he was around the farm, he got adopted once he trusted my parents enough to be adoptable.

He trusts my mom (she is the Source of Food), and loves Terra (Terra is not quite so enthusiastic – I think she feels she did her duty with her kittens, and did not sign up for another one!). Goose will let me and Dad pet him if Good Person (Mom) or Good Cat (Terra) is there to reassure him that we are Not Scary.

Cats, thedreamstress.com

He still prefers to be faced away from you for pets though, so that he doesn’t have to see the Terrifying Hands. He likes the way they feel, but they are still alarming!

He’s a goose, but he’s named Goose because he has a goose meow. If you listen very carefully you can just hear his funny little honk in this video: