Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Weekend Sewing Retreat

This weekend, our Distaff Coordinator R hosted the ladies of our regiment for a two-day sewing retreat!  We quickly realized the last time we gathered together to sew that one afternoon will never, ever be enough to get anything substantial accomplished; when you gather all of us into a single confined space, we tend to get just a little bit chatty...just a little...;-)  So R's solution to this was to invite us all over to her lovely restored 1750s home to stay for a full weekend of indulgence in good company and lots and lots of fabric.

June 2013 distaff day 1
Stitiching away.  That's my gown draped over the back
of the chair in the foreground.

Early Saturday morning, seven of us ladies arrived at R's, each of us with multiple baskets of in-progress projects in tow.  On our last sewing day, W was just finishing up her new raspberry linen gown, so much of her day yesterday was spent working on the matching petticoat.  She also began working on a blue checked apron and kerchief.  When these few things are done, she'll have her first completely hand-sewn outfit.  Huzzah!

June 2013 distaff day 6
Enjoying the natural light - there's nothing better for period sewing!

K came armed with what was probably the most impressive in-progress pile, but, as we quickly assured her, every project she had was more than half-finished, so in no time she'd have a very satisfying collection of completed items.  After working a bit on her husband's regimental coat, she turned to finishing up a cloak and bonnet from earlier workshops she's taken.  With everything pinned into place on these two, we then taught her the art of pleating a petticoat to a waistband so that she could repair an old one to ready it for the coming season of events.  And as if that wasn't enough to accomplish, she also worked a little magic with two small, rectangular pieces of very pretty printed linen to create two beautiful new neck handkerchiefs.  We tried to talk her into starting a gown, but she's resisting...for the moment...

June 2013 distaff day 4

C, our newest member, also came with a potpourri of projects and questions, but by the end of the weekend, we had her well on her way to being completely outfitted in her own hand-sewn, perfectly accurate outfit (including stays!) by her first big summer event!  This weekend, she jumped around from working on a shift, to cutting out a new cloak (obviously not for summer wear, but it's such a quick project and she already had the fabric, so why not?!) and jacket, to beginning a cotton print bedgown and trimming a hat.  She purchased some gorgeous deep purple wool for her cloak and was so worried she wouldn't have enough fabric.  After cutting out the cloak, she had a couple of decent sized, oddly shaped bits left and was ready to relegate them to the scrap pile.  Enter 18th-century thrift to the rescue!  15 minutes and a bit of creative fiddling later, we managed to squeeze a jacket out of the leftovers.  Not bad for 3 yards of wool, so we were both pretty pleased with ourselves over that accomplishment!

June 2013 distaff day 8

P spent the day working on a gown.  We got her sleeves and shoulder straps in place, and she's very nearly done, with only the skirt left to pleat into the bodice!  B, who began work on a new pumpkin-colored linen jacket last time, continued diligently forward on that.  She's hoping to have it finished for summer wear, and it will be so cute when it's done!

June 2013 distaff day 9
Sleeves in progress...

As for hostess R and me, we spent Saturday morning and early afternoon beginning work on R's new striped silk gown.  I had purchased the same silk but haven't yet decided precisely what I want to do with it, so as we worked on designing hers, we had fun brainstorming ideas of the many little ways we could possibly make our gowns different.  By early afternoon yesterday, we had finally conquered the stripes and wrangled them into a very eye-catching chevron.  Because the stripe widths aren't all identical, and because there are so many different stripes to work with within the pattern, it took a bit of time and lots of trial and testing to figure out which option we liked the best.  By lunch time on Sunday, R had cut out her front bodice pieces and I had fitted them on her, giving the back a quite lovely effect indeed.  I can't wait to see this finished!

June 2013 distaff day 3

June 2013 distaff day 7

I've had major sewing ADD lately, working on a couple of different things on and off, so I brought the pieces of a new Dutch chintz gown with me, and the silk for the petticoat intended to go with it.  R fitted my bodice pieces on Saturday morning, and then I spent the rest of the weekend concentrating on the petticoat, which is nearly finished.

June 2013 distaff day 5
This would be a lovely period picture if we were in costume,
but the 90+ degree weather rather dampened that idea! 
That, and the laptop on the table...:-)

It was a prodigiously enjoyable weekend for everyone, with good company and good conversation in abundance, and we even managed to get a spectacular amount of work done this time around!  On the whole, a highly successful venture indeed!  Thank you again to our lovely hostess, and we all must plan to do this again very soon!


Ashley said...

Looks like you all had a wonderfully productive weekend. Wish I could have been there! LOVE the silk stripes!!!

lahbluebonnet said...

What fun to belong to a group such as this!

An Historical Lady said...

Sounds like such fun, ladies!