Jumping In With Both Feet

I’ve been a blog lurker for about a year and a half now. You know, one of those people who reads but rarely, if ever, comments on a multitude of blogs. Last year, a bunch of the bloggers I enjoy participated in the Historical Sew Fortnightly. I myself have been only sewing for about two years or so, mostly self taught with a heap of help from the internet and the afore mentioned blogs. When I learned there was going to be a Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014, I decided I had to participate.

The story behind how I started sewing is a bit of a saga and fairly boring. The short version is I love ballroom dancing, but live in a tiny town in North Florida, where my dance options are my living room or traveling at least an hour one way. Then I learned that part of the upcoming Olustee Civil War reenactment was a ball, at which there would be dancing. Combine dancing with an excuse to wear a costume and I was thrilled. My sister had worn a hoop skirted “Southern Bell” dress for a violin performance a few years before so I borrowed her skirt, a hoop, paired it with a shirt, some white gloves and called it a day. Looking back I cringe inside just a little bit because it looks as if I’m a time traveler and somehow misplaced my bustle. Looking around me that night I knew that I would have to do better next year.

Of course, life got in the way and I’m a terrible procrastinator (as I speak this blog post is a way for me to procrastinate doing some cooking). So the next thing I knew it was almost time for the Olustee battle again. So I ran out, bought myself yards of blue cotton fabric, a pattern, and thread. Then made my mother show me how to get started.

The next year I was slightly better dressed. My hoop was more…hoopy and my skirt was just a plain navy blue, but I felt better about my appearance at the time. My shirt was still about 20 years too early and I felt like someone’s maiden aunt, but things were improving.

After Olustee was finished, is when I really began to get serious. I got online, did some research, and started blog lurking. That original blue skirt now possesses its own row of black velvet ribbon and has a matching jacket, as well as a full set of underclothes (including a corset). The jacket is unlined and has plastic boning, but as it was my first real sewing experience, I’m still pretty satisfied with how it turned out. Someday I may replace the plastic bones with metal ones, but I’m terrible about going back to “fix” things. This is the dress that I wore to the 2013 Olustee Festival and which my sister will probably be wearing this year, since she doesn’t have a day dress.

I’m almost finished with my second 1860’s dress, which is a lovely maroon and is made out of a heavy broadcloth. Which will hopefully be warm on a cold day, I bought the fabric right after last year’s battle, when the wind was strong and everyone almost froze. The actual sewing on the dress is finished, all I have left are the fiddly bits like trim and hooks. I have to admit the fiddly bits are my least favorite part, I love the research, figuring out how to adjust a pattern to fit the picture in my head, and the actual construction. Even figuring out where to place the trim is fine. But the actual hand sewing that my imagination and slight perfectionist streak requires of me, makes it the part that takes the longest. The maroon dress has two tops, a jacket and an evening bodice. They’ll take about a week or so to trim, but because it’s the fiddly part of the process I’m having a hard time getting motivated to finish it. Which is not awesome because my goal between now and early February (when Olustee is held) is to finish my dress, rework/redo the bodice for an evening gown my sister purchased, and figure something out for my mom to wear. Oh, and I want to make a hat for myself, sew some gloves, remake a fan, and finish crocheting a shawl for my mom. Needless to say, something is going to be pushed to the bottom of the list and probably not done until after February.

Looking back over this post, I realize that wasn’t really a “short” version. You should be warned, I’m an English teacher with a passion for words and I enjoy writing. So despite my attempts to stay on topic and to the point, you may find a bit of purposeful rambling in my posts.

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