Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gardens for a Royal Governor

The gardens at the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg are full of blooming tulips and other lovely colors this spring!



Governor's Palace Gardens

Governor's Palace Gardens

Governor's Palace Gardens


Governor's Palace Gardens


Governor's Palace Gardens

For additional spring scenes, visit our spring Flickr set!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Fond Memory of Greg James

Greg James spent the past 25 years working in different capacities at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  Early today, the news came that he had passed away very suddenly.  As an historic interpreter, his dedicated years of research and amazing talent for acting literally brought to life many of the oft-forgotten people of the past.  His clear, resounding voice could be heard daily around town, singing from one end of the historic area to the other. For many years, my family and I enjoyed visiting with Greg on the streets of CW, and he has since become a dear colleague and a very special co-worker. He always had a smile, a “hello,” and a song to share.  His incredible spirit will live on in the hearts of all who had the pleasure of encountering him. He will be immensely and sorely missed.

Here is a link to a video of Greg, as Wil, on the 4th of July, 2011, just as the "Decoration of Appendix" was about to be read:

And another video of Greg singing on the steps of Raleigh Tavern, 24 June 2011:

Below are just a few of the many memories I have of Greg over the past few years, just a small representation of the multitude of roles he originated, and for which he will be very fondly remembered.

Greg James
Greg as a servant of Governor Dunmore
Colonial Williamsburg, 24 May 2007

Charlton's Coffeehouse
Greg, as Wil, at Charlton's Coffeehouse
Colonial Williamsburg, 25 June 2010

Colonial Williamsburg
Greg, as Wil, singing and working on the steps of Raleigh Tavern
Colonial Williamsburg, 24 June 2011

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Battle Road 2013 Postscript: Videos!

I've just posted to flickr four very short videos from the Battle Road  "Bloody Angle" tactical demonstration last Saturday.  If you're interested, check them out!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Battle Road 2013

April 19th marks the 238th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which is commemorated annually with the Battle Road reenactment weekend.  Though our unit as a whole has taken an active part in this event for several years, this was the first time I was able to attend.  I unfortunately could only be there for the first day of the three-day weekend, but it was nonetheless a very special experience and one that I look forward to repeating next year, hopefully with more time to spend in the area in order to take in the full experience of all the event has to offer.

Battle Road 2013
The long walk along Battle Road, past the Captain William Smith House,
to reach the morning's battle site.

Saturday morning dawned wet, dark, dreary, and cold, which meant three petticoats, mitts, and long cloaks all around!  We arrived at Minute Man National Park just after 7:30am in time for registration and to get accustomed to the lay of the land before the troops would be called to assemble for the first public event of the weekend. 

Battle Road 2013
"Local" militia assembling.

We ladies spent our time before public hours chatting and meeting new friends from other groups, all the while desperately trying to keep our damp feet warm (there are only so many layers of stockings you can fit in period footwear!).  Hartwell Tavern was a-buzz with the ladies of The Hive setting up their sewing, quilting, spinning, and cooking demonstrations for the day, and we found some brief warm respite inside before heading out to find a spot to watch our men-at-arms in action at the first tactical demonstration of the day.

Battle Road 2013
Hartwell Tavern, quiet in the early morning before being inundated with hundreds of visitors.

Battle Road 2013
B warming up near the hearth in Hartwell Tavern.

Battle Road 2013
Militiamen congregating in the yard of the tavern.

The weekend officially opened on Battle Road itself, where the "local" militia clashed with British Regulars between Hartwell Tavern and the "Bloody Angle," on the very same ground where gunshots first rang out 238 years ago.

Battle Road 2013
The militia marching down Battle Road...

Battle Road 2013
...hiding amongst the trees in preparation for a confrontation
with the approaching Crown forces.

Battle Road 2013

Although I've seen countless battle reenactments and tactical demonstrations over the years, I have to admit that there was something eerie about this particular experience.  Knowing it took place on that very same ground, almost to the day, and then seeing and hearing the seemingly endless stream of redcoats marching up the road towards us, horses' hooves quite literally thundering, the solidarity of the troops' numbers and even their physical statures overwhelming and threatening - it was all prodigiously impressive and yes, even scary.  It was so easy - much easier than it usually is - to imagine how our colonial ancestors must have felt, bravely staring into those faces, ready to fight for what they believed in.

Battle Road 2013
The British are coming!

Battle Road 2013
Battle Road 2013

Battle Road 2013

Battle Road 2013
 The colonial militia begins to push the Redcoats back.

Battle Road 2013

Battle Road 2013

Battle Road 2013
Militia men assembling for a final parade at the end of the battle,
with cheers and applause from the spectators watching.

After enjoying lunch out with another unit, we all headed into Lexington for Tower Park, the second battle demonstration of the day.  The crowds lining the closed-off streets of the town were multiple people deep, everyone peeping over the heads of those in front of them, and children perched atop the long stone wall enclosing the battle site to try to get the best view possible.  With some time to spare before the demonstration began, and our gents engaged in pre-battle drilling and preparations, we ladies headed up the street a bit to explore Munroe Tavern.

Battle Road 2013
Munroe Tavern in Lexington, occupied once again by Crown forces.

Munroe Tavern, built in 1735, was overtaken by British forces on April 19th, 1775, and occupied as a field hospital and the headquarters of Brigadier General Earl Percy for a couple of hours on that fateful day.  From 1770 to 1827, William Munroe served as the tavern's owner and proprietor; on April 19th, he responded to the call to arms, serving with Captain John Parker as orderly sergeant.  When his wife, Anna, heard the gunfire and saw the British troops approaching her home, she took her children and fled into the woods behind the house.  When she returned home, she found her front dining room strewn with bloody bandages and the remains of hastily eaten meals.

While the house is largely interpreted as it looked under Percy's occupation, with the goal of recounting the British experience during the Battles of Lexington and Concord, it also saw another significant piece of history that is commemorated in an upstairs chamber.  George Washington toured the Lexington battle sites in 1789 and stopped to dine at Munroe Tavern.  The chair in which he sat, the table at which he dined, the set of dishes and cutlery he used, and even the metal bar to which he tied his horse, were all preserved by the Munroe family and passed down through the generations.  Munroe family descendants owned the property and its family heirlooms until the middle part of the twentieth century, when they gifted it all to the town.  In 2010, a major restoration restored the tavern to its 1775 appearance, and it now stands as a unique representation of "the other side" of Lexington's dramatic Revolutionary War story.

Battle Road 2013

For dinner that evening, we all gathered together to enjoy each other's company and some tasty traditional New England fare in true 18th-century style at Concord's famed historic Colonial Inn.  Our evening ended with plans for about half of us to meet up in the morning to explore some of the many local historical sites and museums.  A full account of those adventures will be offered in the next post, so stay tuned for more!

And since no reenactment event is complete without an account of its wardrobe...!  I had finished a new gown of pink worsted in the hotel on Friday night, and wore it Saturday paired with a new kerchief.  Unfortunately, the incredibly damp and chilly weather meant that my new outfit stayed well-concealed inside the warmth of my cloak the entire day long, so I only have one picture - with cloak shed momentarily just for this purpose! - to show for it!  So consider this a teaser, and the next time I wear this gown, I'll be sure to give it the proper Threaded Bliss treatment with additional photos and details!

A sneak peak at my new pink worsted gown!

While you await the tale of our Sunday museum-hopping in the next post, a prodigious amount of additional photos from Saturday morning's Battle Road event can be found on our flickr photostream.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Weekend Workshop Adventure in Early 19th-Century Corded Corsets

This past weekend, we ventured where we've never ventured before: into the territory of early 19th-century fashion!  As dedicated English country dancers, we often attend Regency-themed events where the majority of the dancers are dressed for the first two decades of the 1800s; we, on the other hand, have always been obliged to show up shockingly out of fashion in our 1770s-80s gowns.  So when we heard that Burnley and Trowbridge was offering a corded corset workshop this spring, we jumped at the chance to finally - finally - begin assembling proper Regency wardrobes.

B&T corded corset workshop 3

B&T corded corset workshop 6
Some of many corded corsets created by the staff of CW's Margaret Hunter Shop,
on display for the weekend as inspiration.

This particular workshop was in the very adept hands of the two apprentices of Colonial Williamsburg's Margaret Hunter Shop.  Sarah and Abby began the weekend on Friday afternoon with a brief lecture and slideshow illustrating the ideal silhouette of 1800-1830 and discussing the details of the "new" and "comfortable" corded corset that helped to achieve the body shape unique to this specific period. 

B&T corded corset workshop 1
Introducing our two instructresses!

After talking through a collection of period portraits, prints, and extant stays, they proceeded to instruct us in how properly to measure for this style of garment, noting the strategic points on the body that we needed to mark in order to achieve the best possible fit and ensure that our corsets would successfully do the job they were meant to do!  Abby then walked us through how to use our measurements to draft custom patterns to each of our unique body shapes; by early Saturday morning, we all had completed patterns and were ready to cut our fabric.

B&T corded corset workshop 7
Abby demonstrating how to draft a corset pattern unique to our individual measurements.

B&T corded corset workshop 5
Some of the participants hard at work on drafting their patterns.

Once everyone had cut out their corsets, we marked our busk and eyelet lacing positions in preparation for our first fitting.  Saturday afternoon was spent working with our fitting partners (gee, I wonder who we each worked with?!), pinning and repinning and adjusting our corsets until they fit snugly and smoothly over all body curves.  Homework that night was to baste our side seams together, finish our lacing holes, and stitch our busk pocket so that we could do a final fitting the next morning.

B&T corded corset workshop 9
Fitting demonstration.

B&T corded corset workshop 8
Instructions in marking and sewing the busk pocket.

Most unfortunately, Ashley came down with a nasty virus late Saturday night, and was so sick we spent all Sunday morning at the doctor's office getting her figured out and treated.  While she went home to rest, I was able to make it to the final couple of hours of the workshop, where Abby and Sarah very kindly got me caught up with everything I'd missed, helping to tweak the final fit of my corset and bringing me up to speed with the basics of the cording lecture from earlier that morning.  At the end of the day, our instructresses demonstrated the proper techniques to attach the shoulder straps and finish the edges of the corset, and we all departed the workshop with projects more than half-way done already, complete with all the tools and knowledge necessary to finish them up for ourselves.  Ashley was really concerned about missing the entire last day of the workshop, but she was able to make arrangements for a make-up session to ensure that she too will soon be fully caught up on everything.  All's well that ends well.  :-)

early-19th-century corded corset 1
My perfectly-fitting corset at the end of the weekend.  I LOVE it!!!

early 19th century corded corset 2
The beginnings of the adventure that will be cording!  I'm still in
the process of designing my cording pattern, so I started with the center back first!

Workshops with Burnley and Trowbridge are consistently of the highest quality, with unrivaled expert instructors and lovely company to sew along with, but both Ashley and I agreed that this was one of the best we've done thus far.  We were worried about venturing into unfamiliar sewing territory with an entirely new period, but the instructresses did a fantastic job guiding the class through each and every step with meticulous directions and lots of helping hands.  The weekend was relaxed and genuinely delightful (with the exception of poor Ashley's most unpleasant illness!), and I'm thrilled with the progress I've already made with my new corded corset.  I can't wait to finish it!  Now to start plotting what gowns to make to go over it....!  ;-)

B&T corded corset workshop 2
Gown goodies created by the Margaret Hunter Shop...

B&T corded corset workshop 4
...that were oh-so-lovely...

B&T corded corset workshop 10
...and downright awe-inspiring (yes, that's all hand-embroidery,
copied from a gown in the CW collection).

Many thanks again to Sarah and Abby for a most excellent workshop, and to the lovely folks at Burnley and Trowbridge for continuing to offer these very special learning opportunities!

As always, you can find additional photos from the workshop in this event's flickr set.  Even more pictures from the weekend can be seen on Burnley and Trowbridge's facebook page.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Follow Our Updates on Bloglovin'!

Since it seems that Google Reader is now on its way out, we wanted to be sure that those who use that service don't miss out on any updates here once it's gone.  We're now registered with Bloglovin', so if you're one of those readers who keeps current the Google way, you can now keep following us there for the latest in fashionable frolicks!

Just click here to follow our updates on Bloglovin': Follow my blog with Bloglovin.  A number of new posts are in the works over the next week, so we'll see you there soon!