Saturday, January 24, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly: Revolution

The Challenge:  17. Revolutionary Food January 11 - January 24
The theme is revolution, and it’s all about ch-ch-ch-changes. Food can be inspired by revolution, can showcase a revolutionary technique, or come from a revolutionary time. Give us your best documented interpretation of revolution.

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)
Boiled Potato

The Date/Year and Region:
1604/ France - However, similar recipes appear in late 16th C England as well

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)
I boiled a potato.  :-)   Okay, so the entire story is that I was originally going to make a different potato recipe from the late 16th/early 17th c, but thanks to a very bad bartender who used corn syrup lemon flavoring in my lemon drop martini the other night, I'm sick.  So, I stuck to simple and boiled a potato, peeled it, stuck a slab of vegan "butter" on it, and some pepper.

Time to Complete:
40 minutes because the stupid pot of water would not boil!

Total Cost:
umm...Less than $1?  It was one very large potato from a sack of potatoes.

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)  It was a potato.  It was yummy.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here)
Okay, so, they didn't differentiate between sweet potatoes and white potatoes until the mid 18th C.  So, there were a couple of recipes that clearly called for sweet potatoes (because nutmeg with a white potato would be wrong) and many other, like this one, that went either way.  By the mid 16th C, the Spanish had brought both the sweet potato and the white potato back to the Old World.  I went with a redskin potato because it's what I had on hand that I knew wouldn't upset my tummy further.

As to why the potato is so revolutionary...

Basically, could anyone in the Western world imagine not eating a potato during the course of a week? Between the common side of fries, mashed potatoes, or just some sort of potato salad, potato is a staple crop in the Western world. I've even seen Asian restaurants with fries on the menu. Potatoes are everywhere.

Given that the potato has become part of the Western diet - let's not forget the great Potato Famine in Ireland- a few centuries ago, it's hard to imagine a time without it. Or, a time when they were figuring out how the heck to eat it. The 16th C/early 17th C was a time were the potato was a curiosity and something not part of the normal menu. (Can you imagine having fish without the chips?) The introduction of the potato to the European diet revolutionized foodways and what we eat.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Pink Spencer!

This is something I've wanted to make for a while.  I had *just* enough pink silk taffeta to make a decent early 1820's spencer.  I also have this lovely -albeit not period- dupoini silk my Dad got me in Singapore.  It's cream colored but with green and pink embroidery.  It is VERY me and I love it - but he only got 3 yards.  It's enough for a skirt.

So, I've had the concept of this outfit planned out for at least two years.  I'm so happy I finally finished it.

Here are some of the inspirations for the spencer:

I used the Sense and Sensibility pattern as a base and edited to fit what I wanted it to look like.  Yeah, I know - the mock up fabric looks like Scooby Doo and the Mystery Van crashed into it.  That is why it's mock up fabric.

 Basically,  I did two things: I made the neckline higher and close right in the middle, rather than be a double breasted spencer.  Since I wanted a collar, I just drew the collar I wanted on the side I wasn't going to use as a pattern and cut the collar out.  I then traced that on to another piece to make it look more smooth and....

Voila!  Collar pattern.

I didn't have enough time to roll the bias ribbon trim I made to decorate the front of the spencer, S I folded it over as best I could.  It doesn't look bad - just not as thin as I would like.  

 It did take hours to hand sew this down and make sure it matched the other side well.  Most of the inside stitches are machine sewn - it's only the stitches that I knew would be seen that are hand sewn.

 Back of the spencer.  It's largely unchanged from the original pattern.

 Cuff of the sleeve.
 Top of the sleeve.

The full outfit!   I probably should get a close up of the skirt fabric.  It may be a rather slubby dupioni, but it is really pretty.

I'm so glad I finally got this outfit DONE.  I might redo the skirt a bit but the spencer doesn't need anymore work.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly: Foundations

The Challenge:
Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.

Cotton Muslin, Cotton Duck Cloth

My Own!

First Half of the 19th C from 1820 to 1860

Pink cotton thread, white cotton thread, Bamboo wood edge from a placemat, cotton twine

How historically accurate is it?
For 1860 - not to shabby. It's machine sewn in part with the upper edge being hand sewn, hand bound eyelets, and hand done embroidery.

Hours to complete:
5 or 6, I think?

First worn:
This weekend, I hope.

Total cost:
Everything was stash so maybe $6?  I think the placemat was $2 when I bought it and I know the muslin wasn't exactly pricey.  The thread was part of a large batch I got years upon years ago from a thrift store for 10 cents.

And the rest of the story!

So, gussets don't like me.  Actually, I know of very few ladies who are gifted up top that can wear gussets without complaint.  Therefore, I went looking for a pair of stays that would work for the Romantic era that didn't have gussets and I found a few.

The first pair I found, and the pair I based this one off of is actually from 1860.  Although it does have side gussets, it's not the type that you typically see with the earlier stays.  Rather, these look more like piecing than that for cup size.  Another one I liked that was from the right time period (1810 - 1830) is at the Met and also lacked the cup gussets.  Both are pretty similar in shape.

The sides to the pieces for the stay I made are curved but the back edge is straight.  I thought it looked way too plain once it was done so I added a bit of embroidery where the busk is.   The busk being the bamboo edge to a placemat I took apart years ago.

It's not the prettiest pair of stays, but it is functional and I finally have a pair of long stays!

EDIT:   Here is another example of stays without gussetsAnd another...  And another!  They might not have been the most common, but they also weren't unknown.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Knitted Fingerless Mittens (part two!)

Last year, I made a pair of wonderful fingerless mittens from some wool I got in Ireland.  Unfortunately, I lost them at a thrift store and I'm sure they will never be seen again.   So, this time, I used some yarn I bought at the thrift store to make a pair using my own pattern.

As you can see, they are very colorful.  :-)  I made them last week and wore them all weekend up in NYC.  They are big - so I can wear gloves easily beneath them for extra warmth if necessary.  The yarn is a mix of wool, mohair, and silk - very comfy and very warm.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Secret Santa Gift Basket

 I'm always finding cool baskets that would work really well as "purses" for various costuming events at the thrift store.  Since I already I like buying the ones I find now and giving them away as gifts.  For the secret santa this year, I gave the one above away.  Here's what it originally looked like.
Ummm...yeah.  The basket itself was fine.  Cute handle,  deep enough for a bunch of stuff like keys, cell phones, and emergency sewing kits,  but the lid....  I wanted to repaint it into something more historically appropriate.   I also wanted it to work somewhat with multiple eras since someone would be using it, hopefully, for everything from the Renn Faire to Victorian.  I bought some basic paint for 50 cents and just covered over the horrible snowman.   I made sure that the entire lid was thickly painted.  I then free painted the little fan in white once the black paint dried.  It's not the best painting by far but you can tell it's a fan and it's a vast improvement over the snowman, I think.

The original basket was only $1.90.  So, for under $3, I managed to make a fairly useful gift.  Of course, I put a brooch and a necklace in it too.   :-)

1940's Cropped Jacket

I really needed a jacket to go with the 1940's dress after I chopped the sleeves short.  It's January after all and, above the equator, that means it's cold.  Like 37F and raining cold.  Short sleeves aren't going to cut it.

So, my first came from Wearing History with a post on boleros.  I also saw this as a children's pattern that I loved:
There is also a super cute yellow ensamble from the late 1930's that I really liked the jacket too as well.  

So, with that, I began to search for a simple jacket pattern I already had that would work well as a block since I had three hours (I didn't wake up until 10 AM!) to make a something.   I found an old, out of print pattern that would work well.  It's McCalls 8155 and the jackets are so 1990's it's not even funny.  Why I ever even bought this pattern is a bit beyond me.  However, because they are so straight in cut, it works really well as a block to work from and edit.

On the left side is my edit with the darts.  On the right side is the original view D pattern.   Believe it or not, I didn't have to edit the sleeve at all - it was already puffy for a perfect late 30's/early 40's look.  I ended up lining the jacket in some gray silk I had in the stash.

Overall, I'm pleased with the outfit.  I went with the purple white combo because it's something I can wear year around (And to work!) without looking overly Christmasy.

1940's Dress

 Stage one:  The pattern.   My inspiration for the 1940's dress came from three different sources.  First EvaDress's site with the pattern for a 1939 day or evening gown.  Next was this beauty from the late 1930's/early 1940's as well.  And finally this one from the early 1940's:
I love the waist line and the gathers to the front.  For the skirt pattern, I designed it myself using a mix of drafting and draping.

The pattern was a bit on the short skirt side so I added a few inches to the hem.    The skirt itself came out like this:
 Yes, my dress dummy wears a bra.  The skirt came out fairly well so I went on to drape the blouse.
 The draping of the blouse went well so I cut the blouse out....
 And that's where things started to get a bit hairy.  I'm going to have to chop the sleeves - I didn't have quite enough material for a full sleeve and the bottom part of the sleeve is now slightly too tight.  It's an easy fix and one I can save until the morning.   The gathers just didn't look quite right here - I had to pin them to get a decent picture, so on to take two.

 Slightly better, but you can probably see the gather on the left side of the photo looks funky.  So take three...and four...and five....

 And finally I got something reasonable.  In this photo and the one below, the blouse is finished.  I had to keep unpicking and restitching the blouse to the skirt to get it to lay correctly over the chest.  It finally does.

It's a bit boxy but so are all 1940's fashions.  I added a zipper to the side.  Zippers are period - they were called slide fasteners.

If I get enough time tomorrow, I'd like to make a short jacket to go with the dress.  Like I said, I'm going to have to chop the sleeves but this is what it looks like right now.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014: Sewing Year End Review












  • DSC05831 Mom's Green Regency Dress I apparently never posted about over here
  • DSC05908 A repurposed Sweater coat that gave me heck and a half that I also never posted about...


I *think* I captured everything. There were quite a few things I forgot to blog about - I think Mom's Regency Dress was the biggest one. That involved a LOT of silver trim on polished green cotton. Luckily, she loved this dress unlike the white one I made her earlier in the year.