Monday, October 29, 2012

Fashions from Godey's Lady's Book, April 1853

It's that time again! As we mentioned in the first post in this series, we recently stumbled across a bound volume of Godey's Lady's Book from 1853. Once a month, I'll post the collection of fashion-related plates and articles that appeared in each monthly issue. You can find the previous months here.

I apologize in advance for the quality of the images. Although I have a scanner, I've discovered that there's no way I can preserve the integrity of the already fragile binding of the book and lay it flat. That means photos are the only options, and even those are difficult to achieve because of the tightly bound pages. I've done my best to ensure that everything is as clear and visible and undistorted as possible, but if there's something you really can't read or see and would like to have clarified, just let me know and I'll see what more I can do. I've set the images up so that if you click on them, they'll link you to their flickr page, where you'll be able to enlarge them all considerably and thus more easily read each one. Enjoy!

Godey's Lady's Book, April 1853 1

"Fig. 1st. - Dress of mousseline, printed in a disposition pattern, the corsage, sleeves, and upper part of the skirt being plain, and the flounces in wreaths of spring flowers, in bright and tasteful grouping.  The sleeves are quite short, and edges with a bright brocade ribbon to correspond with the heading of the flounces.  The waist is in full folds from the shoulder to the girdle, which is also of brocade ribbon.  Straw bonnet, with a wreath of sweetbriar inside the brim.

Fig. 2d. - Walking-dress of camel's hair cashmere, a white ground, with small French-blue figure, simply a knot of leaves.  Small white mantilla, edged with gold-colored figured ribbon.  Bonnet of white crape and silk mixed with straw-colored satin ribbon.  A fold of blonde falls inside the brim, and is caught by delicate field flowers of white and straw color."

Godey's Lady's Book, April 1853 2
A crochet lady's bonnet, "suitable for the seaside or
country," and a flower mat.  See full descriptions and instructions
in the second, third, and fourth images below.

Godey's Lady's Book, April 1853 3
Boy's tunic dress and...

Godey's Lady's Book, April 1853 4
...the pattern for it.

Godey's Lady's Book, April 1853 5

Godey's Lady's Book, April 1853 6
Several patterns for embroidery.

If you'd like to use or re-post or share these images, you're certainly welcome to do so. The only thing we ask is that credit is given where due: please provide a link back to this blog with the re-posted picture. Thanks!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Distaff Day

Today, the ladies of our regiment organized a Distaff Day to indulge ourselves in our most favorite feminine pursuits that often get neglected during campaign season: fabric and fashion!  Our technical theme was a muff-making workshop, but in the end, we spent most of our time working on in-progress projects instead, in between talking...and more talking...and drooling over costume books together...and playing with fabric...and talking...oh, and eating...:-)

Mistress J and Mistress R spent much of the day hard at work finishing their new silk mitts.  They will be gorgeous when finished, their stunning color combinations accented by some pretty impeccable decorative stitching.  I so want to make some mitts now!

Working on mitts and researching jacket styles.

Mistress W spent the day diligently stitching her new raspberry linen gown to near-completion.  I can't wait to see it finished; the color is to die for.  Mister I even joined us for part of the day to get some help beginning his new regimentals.

And I got Mistress B started on a new pumpkin-colored linen jacket, which will be her first jacket project sewn all by herself!  We spent the morning trying out various jacket styles on her and tweaking the pattern to her size, and then she managed to get everything cut before the conclusion of the day.

Gown and jacket in various states of coming-into-being.

To celebrate the completion of my new blue/green worsted stays (they only took me 18 months...stay tuned for a full Threaded Bliss post on them!), I wore them for the day to begin to break them in a bit.  In general, I'm pleased with how they turned out, though they might require a bit of tweaking still.  We'll see how they feel the next time I wear them.  I wore my new bedgown over them, and absolutely LOVE it...but of course, the down side to being the one taking the pictures is that I didn't get a single one of me to show off the bedgown!  So more on that the next time it gets worn.  :-)

Here's to a splendid day of lovely, heart-warming conversation and fun!  Many thanks, ladies, for the great pleasure of your company today, and especially to Mistress R for being our hostess!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Current Exhibit: "The Victorian Wardrobe Revealed, 1840-1900"

I had hoped to be able to make it to see this exhibit before it closed, which was why I delayed posting about it for so long.  Now, unfortunately, it looks like I won't be able to get myself out to Newport in time, so I thought I'd just post the details anyway in case they prove useful to someone else!

Photo linked from

Newport Mansions and the Preservation Society of Newport, RI are currently staging an exhibition featuring "The Victorian Wardrobe Revealed, 1840-1900," which showcases some rarely-seen items from the Society's extensive costume and textiles collection.  This exhibit, set up inside Rosecliff, one of the famed Newport Mansions, features ten gowns or ensembles, a couple of evening capes, and some accessories.  The garments are arranged to demonstrate the evolution of the female silhouette over the course of the nineteenth century, and to document the changes that occurred in the production and manufacturing process of women's clothing in nineteenth-century America.

Included in the exhibit as one of its highlights is an 1898 black and white striped Worth afternoon ensemble.  As this article explains, the gown underwent more than 300 hours of conservation work to restore and even replace many of the white stripes in the skirt, which had been nearly destroyed by water damage.

Charles Frederick Worth 1898 afternoon dress.
Photo by Andrea Carneiro.  Linked from

Also featured is this stunning sapphire blue silk satin dinner dress, dated 1875.

Blue 1875 silk satin evening gown.
Photo by Andrea Carneiro.  Linked from

Entrance to the exhibit is included in admission to the Rosecliff mansion house.  The gowns will be on display until Friday 16 November 2012.

If anyone has gone to see this exhibit, I'd be very intrigued to hear all about what you saw!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Fashionable "Silk Saturday" at Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg milliner's shop

For those of you more interested in the pretties/costume side of last weekend, and less intrigued by the camp/military side of things, this post is for you!  Occassionally, the ladies of Colonial Williamsburg's Margaret Hunter shop treat themselves (and us visitors!) to a sumptuous display of silk creations on big event or reenactor weekends, and this past weekend was no exception.  "Silk Saturday" reigned in the shop, with the ladies, their shop display cases, and their counters draped in colorful, crisp arrays of shining silks of every variety and fashion.

Apprentice Sarah modeled a striped silk taffeta polonaise jacket and matching petticoat...

Colonial Williamsburg milliner's shop

...while this young lady, adorned in a stunning pink poloanise gown edged with silk gauze trim, and a beribboned silk gauze cap, worked on her new stays across the room, catching the afternoon sunshine.

Colonial Williamsburg milliner's shop

This blue/green striped silk gown (the construction process of which was profiled on the shop's facebook page) was displayed on the counter, it's amazing cuffs just begging to be admired.

Colonial Williamsburg milliner's shop

Colonial Williamsburg milliner's shop

Additional photos from this visit to the shop and from the Prelude to Victory weekend can be found in the weekend's flickr set.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Prelude to Victory 2012

Prelude to Victory 2012
Palace Green overtaken by Washington's troops.

We apologize for seeming so negligent of this blog lately.  We've both been swamped with work and other things, and haven't had much time at all to devote to sewing or attending events, let alone to blogging about them!  Last weekend, however, was the annual Prelude to Victory event at Colonial Williamsburg, and we certainly didn't want to miss out on that!

This is the first year our regiment was invited to take part in this event (we've done Under the Redcoat in our British persona in the past), so we were all thrilled to be there to help perpetuate the amazing programming that CW puts together yearly to commemorate the victory at Yorktown.

Prelude to Victory 2012
Washington's Generals review the troops behind the Courthouse.

Prelude to Victory 2012

Saturday was an absolutely stunning day with ideal weather that was warm, sunny, and with just enough of a breeze to keep us comfortable as we stood out in the sunshine around the fire, chatting with visitors and sharing the stories and experiences of our Revolutionary troops.  While the number of regiments in attendance was significantly less than we've typically experienced at Under the Redcoat, we all remarked amongst ourselves how much more engaged and enthusiastic and genuinely interested the guests were.  We had visitors walking into camp in a constant stream, nonstop, throughout the day, asking thoughtful questions about everything from the early American ancestors we represent to our own modern-day motivations and experiences as reenactors.  The children, as always, were a delight to watch, learning 18th-century games and even helping me with my dish washing after lunch!  Strange how chores suddenly become fun in another century...(parents, take note!).  :-)

Prelude to Victory 2012
Me in front of the Palace with our regiment's flag.  I don't
have any action shots from camp because, of course,
I couldn't whip out the camera with all the visitors around!

The special part of Saturday was getting to spend time (I only wish I had more of it!) with Virginia friends who were also in town for the weekend, and making the acquaintance of the lovely Miss Lauren and her mum.  It was so nice to meet you both! I was also able to make a trip to the milliner's shop...but more on that (complete with pretty pictures) in a subsequent post!

That evening, we were treated to a lovely dinner by CW.  This was most appreciated on many levels; as one of the ladies in our group put it, "It's so nice just to know I don't have to cook and clean up another meal today!"  This was followed by a dance, and we all enjoyed the chance to relax and unwind and get acquainted with some of the other visiting reenactors.  Many thanks to the PTV organizers and the folks at CW for making us feel so welcome and at home during the weekend.

Prelude to Victory 2012
Returning to camp at the end of the day.

Prelude to Victory 2012

Sunday's weather was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum; cold rain and dark skies replaced the sun and 80-something-degrees that we'd enjoyed the day before.  I was incredibly glad that I thought to throw my cloak into the car because it certainly came in handy as we scurried from building to building throughtout the day in the midst of downpours, or huddled around the fire trying to dry out chilled and soaking feet.  We are nothing if not dedicated!  Colonial Williamsburg was fantastic about the weather, though.  All of the programs went on as normal, and as the day went on, the rain subsided and the guests were still able to enjoy the drilling and demonstrations put on by our troops.

Prelude to Victory 2012
Chatting in camp after "public hours" on Saturday evening,
preparing to head to dinner.

The only trouble with being part of the programming for events like these is that you tend to have to  miss a good deal of what goes on outside of camp, so I apologize for not having more to share than my own camp-side experience and these few photos!  But aside from one minor mishap (what's a trip to CW without a visit to the ER for our group?! (yes, everyone is just fine now!)), the weekend was a splendid one and we're all very much hoping to be able to attend again next year!

Prelude to Victory 2012
Palace Green.

A few additional photos can be found in this event's flickr set.