Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thoughts on the subject of "costuming"

I found an interesting piece at work today while I was cleaning up, so I photocopied it.  Below is a transcription of it, I don't know the date it was written or who wrote it.

The interpretive time period for Columbia is 1850-1870.  Some of the businesses may reflect a shorter time period.  Your clothing should reflect that time.  The following is general information, for more specific details you can get the Columbia Costuming Manual at the District Office.

Women should wear either a skirt and blouse or dress.  The blouse or dress top should have loose, long sleeves which may be rolled up, the bodice should reach to the neckline, no scoop necks.  The skirt should be full, it does not have to drag on the floor but can reach the ankles.  Gunny Sax dresses are not appropriate.  A bib apron may be worn.  Shoes should be dark and comfortable, no exercise shoes.
So according to this general outline I can wear a bustle dress.  The shop I work in was still in operation as a general store during the 1870s (in fact it has been ever since with the exception of a few years when it was home to a candy store).  Guess I can also wear the skirt/blouse combo too.  Good to know considering my new project.
Lovely plaid skirt, blouse, from The Barrington House

photo by Lady Clementina Hawarden from The V&A

photo by Lady Clementina Hawarden from The V&A
In honor of Friends of Columbia State Historic Park's 1861 Back to School night on 15 September, I'm declaring September Swiss Waist month in Columbia, CA (and the surrounding areas if you like).

I've already started mine.  It's a nice chocolate brown jacquard that I'll be wearing with the skirt from my 1850s fan front dress and a variety of shirts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1840s green fan front dress (construction details)

I went ahead and did it.  I made a short(er) sleeved dress for work.  After going home one day with heat exhaustion due to EXTREME weather conditions and very non-summery clothing, I said enough was enough.  I still maintain, despite a lack of concrete evidence at the moment, that women in Columbia did not necessarily adhere to the standards of European society  or the upper class women of the East Coast.

So I got to thinking, what can I make this outfit out of?  I went to JoAnn's and found a very nice green plaid homespun.  It wasn't what I went in for, but it worked well enough.  I wanted a semi-sheer print, but I guess that will have to wait.  Upon getting home, I went to work on it.

This first dress was probably the primary inspiration for my new dress:

Woman’s dress made in America between 1840-45.  Constructed in cotton.  Gift of The New York Historical Society, 1979, Accession Number: 1979.346.35.  From the Metropolitan Museum of Art,

Woman's Dress made in the United States c.1840, attributed to an American maker.  Constructed in Gold China silk crepe with silk embroidery in satin stitch.  Gift of Howard H. Lewis, John F. Lewis III, and Mrs. Anne L. Stoudt, 1979.  From the Philadelphia Museum of Art,

Dress showing the lining and center front closures.  Uploaded by Anette Bethke,

D01-87.    AWESOME EYES!”  c.1851, American (possibly Ohio).  From Dennis A. Waters Fine Daguereotypes, 
Afternoon dress.  Constructed in cotton c.1843 in America.  Purchased from The German Fur Federation Gift, 1981.  Accession number 1981.14.5.  From the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Armed with these images, I set to work on drafting up some patterns from Patterns of Fashion for the 1852 day dress (again).  I altered the actual bodice a bit in the neckline and the sleeves on mine are much more practical for what I believe a working woman could have worn.

The lining and a trial version of the skirt

back view of the lining

I love how scooped the lining is

Trial of the pleats

Here's what we're aiming for, more or less

Close up and flashed

I raised the hemline of the corded petticoat I made last year after reading an article on skirt supports at  It works WONDERFULLY now

Just about done, sorry for the blurriness
does it make your eyes hurt yet

Major thanks also to Katherine at The Fashionable Past for her article: An Easy, Authentic Eighteenth Century Petticoat that I used for making the skirt.

Since Columbia SHP will be having an 1861 themed back to school night on Sep. 15th, I'm planning a nice little Swiss waist to wear with a cute white shirt I made (also with elbow length sleeves ;) )

Final photos to follow soon...