Friday, October 3, 2014

18th century Robe à l'Anglaise (in process)

Every year we work on our 18th century costumes for the Spirit of Vincennes celebration.  This year my oldest daughter decided to create a Robe à l'Anglaise.  She's grown so much that we had to start from scratch for each piece.  There is a new robe, shift, bonnet, stays, pockets, and petticoats.  We did not have perfect period shoes, though.  My daughter inherited my wide feet and there simply weren't any that fit, so she used plain black dress shoes that passed well enough under her dress.

We planned on using a our varied linen stash for this dress, but we lost the tub of fabric a month before the celebration.  So we found a blue changeable silk tissue taffeta on ebay and it was just perfect.  Thinner than we realized it would be, but it worked well for the very hot and humid weather.  

Note: I am not a professional seamstress and I am only an armchair historian.  So this is not a perfect reproduction, but we've spent about a decade researching, reading, examining, and collecting and decided this worked best for our purposes, ability, and budget. 

My sewing machine broke about 1/4 way into sewing the mock up of the stays, so everything from there out was done by hand. 

Drafting the pattern for some teen-sized Diderot stays. You can see I had to alter things quite a bit to fit a very slim teen form. 

 Making a mock up of the robe.  We went with an adult pattern and then we had to alter it on her small but tall form.  I put the basted muslin top on her inside out and then I fit it over the shift and mocked stays.  I used pins and basting stitches to fix where things should fit.

 Here we ran into problems.  I had to get the correct form while allowing some movement as she would be riding in a car and we wanted some growing room so she can wear it for more than one year.
 I sewed a changeable gold/violet silk dupioni onto the stays after much fitting.  I didn't finish the inner facing or bottom before the festival.  I did not plan to use silk on the stays, but my large tub of fabrics was missing, so I used what I had available.  I really like how they turned out, though, and I based the use of silk on several extant stays in France.  Since we were at a former French settlement/fort, I felt this was defendable for the time and place.  

I was actually a little taken aback by one reenactor who gave me a tongue lashing about using silk in the stays (I was looking for matching ribbon to finish them when she inquired).  This displeased me as it was an original French fort, we were largely designing the whole costume on French design-my daughter's area of interest, and it was historically accurate from my research.  Not to mention that a large number of official reenactors were there in what appeared to be pirate fashion and showing corsets.  I hardly think that my daughter's silk stays were going to be scandalous. 

And you know what, when I'm putting that much work into it-sewing every stitch by hand with expensive fabrics and weeks of work, I want it to be pretty, darn it.  

 We didn't get the dress finished by the first day of the celebration, despite staying up til 1 am many nights leading up to it. It was good quality time, though. You can see her dress is wrinkled and ill fitting as it was packed away as last year's and we took it out last minute. 

 Frantically sewing all the way there and back to finish it. 

Way lopsided.  Sigh.  This was another attempt at fitting the stays.  On the right you can see where I pinked and sewed the front silk on before I would finish the edges.  That didn't get done before the celebration.  Luckily it was under the robe!  I had to readjust her posture and fix the top where the shoulder straps/ribbon would be attached.

Sigh again.  The fitting was not perfect.  I tried to allow room for growth but was afraid they were too small.  Quite the opposite.  They were good enough to throw under last minute, but now I am going to have to refit them to her in the Spring before next celebration and adjust them better.

Ah, well, this is an issue.  The Robe dips down too low in front despite me adjusting it.  And the shift is up too high.  You can see I pinned it crooked here, but we adjusted things and used a handkerchief to hide the issue.  She didn't want any chest showing, anyway. 

A bit wrinkly from the drive and the back was tight. I will entirely rip out the back center and replace it with a larger piece in the Spring for next year.

Here you can see the amazing color of the changeable silk.  She insisted on her hair staying down and doubled up a bonnet and straw hat against the rain.

Edited: I realized re-reading this that it sounds like I did all the sewing.  Nope.  I sewed 90% of the stays and did the dress pleating, but the 13 year old did everything else!  I needed to give her the credit here!

Friday, September 19, 2014

More Weeping Angel pics

Some more Weeping Angel pictures.  For the month of work that went it it (and more than an hour of dressing and painting each time it was worn), I'm mad that I didn't get good finished pictures!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Back to lessons week in review

We officially started back at lessons Monday this week.  We usually begin the year at the same time Hogwarts would start.  And because Hogwarts has started, we kick off with a feast.  Roast chicken, bangers and mash-sausage and a vegetarian lentil option, Yorkshire pudding, treacle tart, peas and carrots, Cornish pasties (lentil instead of meat), pumpkin pasties, butterbeer, and pumpkin juice.

Surprisingly, the year began as a total success.  The house was clean, a feast made, happy kids, NO meltdowns, and work accomplished.  I felt like finally I did something right!  Tuesday kicked off a new year of violin lessons, so it was a half-day for schoolwork.  Wednesday might as well have been a day to stay in bed. I was up all night with a toddler suffering with allergies, the kids were cranky and bickering, and I'm not sure we actually accomplished much of anything.  Thursday we had Chicago style pizza and the whole day turned out much better.  I'm kind of linking the two since I feel the pizza was good enough to fix the evils of the previous day.  And then today we got more work done, maybe not as much as I'd hoped, but enough.  We also started weekly meetings and those were pretty good.  I had originally planned to only do them with the two oldest kids, but the younger ones insisted on Brittany butter cookies, peppermint tea, and talking about their weeks, too.

So far some new and old hits:
Circle time (always a favorite!)
A History of US
All About Spelling
Apples & Pears Spelling
So You Really Want to Learn French
Picture book unit studies
Key To... math books
Meetings and putting the older kids in charge of assignment sheets

Not quite decided:
Latin Prep-surprisingly-this was a big hit last year
History Odyssey-a lot feels like busy work so far
Teaching Textbooks
Book of Marvels-so outdated that the kids are iffy about it
Live Ed Grade 4-I'm hoping this picks up
Math in Focus-just finishing what we already have going before we switch
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry-the chapters are sooooooo long
A loosey goosey schedule

Curriculum and more for 2014-2015

There were not too many big decisions or changes this year.  I tweak our work a lot through the year and much that we used last year carried over nicely.  Some of this sounds like a lot of work, but we cycle through things as blocks.  We also take rabbit trails and hit other subjects when we need a change. 

8th Grade:
Oak Meadow Civics
Oak Meadow Physical Science
CGP Maths
Zaccaro's Real World Algebra
Vocabulary From Classical Roots
Bravewriter and writing lessons with Mom
So You Really Want to Learn English 3
Latin Prep
So You Really Want to Learn French
Mom designed literature
History Odyssey Modern History Level 2 with supplements
Suzuki violin

7th Grade:
Bravewriter and writing lessons with Mom
Latin Prep
Mom designed literature
History Odyssey Modern History Level 2 with supplements
Apples & Pears Spelling
Oak Meadow English 7
Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra
MEP 7 and Key To... books as a supplement
Real Science Odyssey Biology 2

4th Grade:
Live Ed Grade 4
Math in Focus (finish current workbook)
MEP math 4
All About Spelling
Evan Moor Geography workbook
Bravewriter and writing lessons with Mom
Lots of books

1st Grade:
FIAR and unit studies with picture books
Math in Focus 1
All About Spelling
Bravewriter and writing lessons with Mom

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Consistency something I'm notoriously bad about.  Hence my failure at Project 365 again.  I realized that I didn't take pictures for days on end with how busy we've been.  The past few years have been rather hard on all of us.  I started back in college last summer to finish my (almost complete) Bachelor's degree that I gave up on a decade ago.  Then with financial aid issues, I'm out of school again until I figure this all out.  Just a glimpse at the goings on here.

Way too pliable kittens

Coopers Hawks and other little bits of hope that Spring is finally coming

Violin performances

Lucy is getting quite old and gray

Again with that ridiculous kitten

I'm pretty sure 90% of our time involves this little booger

Monday, February 3, 2014

Project 365: Playing catch up

Warning: picture heavy

1/23-1/24 whoops!
1/29 My Kitchen Aid jumped to it's doom and gouged the floor