CoBloWriMo ’17 Day 3 – Extant Garments


For this prompt I’m going to post something I’ve been sitting on for a while: some highlights from a class trip to the Cora Ginsburg Gallery in NYC from last year. We saw some amazing stuff there – they let us touch 17th century lace! Everything had gorgeous details and I could not resist getting up close and personal…


CoBloWriMo 11 – Embellishments Conference, Day 1


Today was the first day of Plimoth Plantation’s Embellishing 17th Century Dress conference, AKA a weekend of historical embroidery!  It’s always fun to sit in a room full of people just as nerdy as you are.

Our project for the weekend is a sampler of 17th century stitches in the form of common motifs taken from period sources.  I’m working on a motif that was used on the “Plimoth Jacket”, a beautiful reproduction embroidered waistcoat they made at Plimoth in the late 2000s.

I ran out in the middle of an embroidery session for an interview so I didn’t actually get too much done, but it already looks a lot nicer than the last time I attempted detached buttonhole stitch!

We also had some very interesting sessions with other specialists from around the museum.  First, we met with Mark the blacksmith to talk about making spangles – silver gilt metal sequins!  He made the reproduction spangles for the Plimoth jacket; they’re punched out of silver wire that has been plated with gold and flattened out, and they’re less than 1/4″ across.

The little bag is holding the bits that were punched out of the holes in the spangles; they’re 1/16″ across.

After we talked to Mark, we heard from Talia the Wampanoag wardrobe specialist about Wampanoag garments.

Talia showing us a warrior headdress

Beautiful quill work

Apparently the purple colour of the wampum belts represents healing

In the evening we had a lovely cocktail hour, featuring a viewing of the Plimoth Jacket.  Apparently this was the second time ever that it’s been on a person!  The jacket is gorgeous, and they lit the room with candlelight in order to show off the full effect of the embroidery and spangles.

The first day of the conference was absolutely lovely.  I’ve made a bunch of new friends, including fellow CoBler Carrie, who worked on the Plimoth Jacket!  I’m super psyched for tomorrow – especially for the lacemaking demonstration!  For this evening, though, I’ve got a date with pizza, embroidery, and the jacuzzi tub at my Airbnb.  Good night for now!

History Twins!  Also, so much stuff is happening!


Ok, news first!  I’m going to be doing all sorts of cool stuff in the next few months (and never sleeping!):

  • My thesis programs are up on the Merchant’s House website!  I’ll be Bridget Murphy the kitchen maid on St Patrick’s Day, and Julia Tredwell talking about etiquette on April 23 and talking about fashion on May 21.
  • I’m also helping out with the interactive kids’ tour on February 20, which is going to  be really really fun.  If you are interested in daily life in the 19th century and have access to a child, I suggest checking it out!
  • On April 24 I will be modeling my Tissot dress in the New York Nineteenth Century Society Extravaganza fashion show at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn.  Not a lot of info on this event yet, but I’ve really enjoyed the other NYNCS events that I’ve been to.
  • I am very excited to be participating in Fashioning Weeksville, an awesome program that will involve creating a costume for a new living history presentation at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn.

Holy crap, right??  So much awesome stuff. When it rains it pours!

And now for something completely different: Remember my Ren Faire gown?  And St. Cecilia from 1568, who was wearing a very similar outfit?    

Well guess what!  I found another portrait that is even more eerily similar to my gown:

Right?  RIGHT???? This is basically exactly the same as my gown. And I’d never seen it before someone posted it as a one-off response to something on the Elizabethan Costume Facebook group maybe two weeks ago.  It’s like the time stream cracked open in a moment of perfect transference.

Or just a huge coincidence.  But hey. (Incidentally, anyone has any info about this painting please let me know – the Kunsthistoriches Museum webpage is really unhelpful).

I always love having history twin moments like this.  They provide unique insight to me as a modern person trying to recreate historical clothes in that they show that the choices I am making in color, cut, material, styling, accessorizing, etc are appropriate for someone who looked like me in period.  This is information that people were unlikely to write down, but very inportant for getting that truly authentic look.  So in this case, well done me!  I think now that I’ve found her I’m going to continue using her as inspiration – I love her hairstyle and jewelry, and the long pearl strand I wore for faire last year was really annoying.

I’ve done the history twin thing before – avid readers may remember my Tissot gown – and I’m doing it again for Bridget’s costume for my thesis: 

Painting : “The Jolly Washerwoman” (1851) by Lilly Martin Spencer, fabric is a reproduction from the collection of the Virginia Quilt Museum


Have you ever had a history twin?  Found your doppelgänger in a portrait or an old photograph?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!



Some photos from an awesome presentation by Michaele Haynes at the Witte Museum about Fiesta gowns (this is apparently a big deal San Antonio thing that has been going on since the late 19th century) from last week’s Costume Society conference!

This first set is from this year’s Coronation, the Court of Captivating Islands.  One is Jamaica, one is the Bahamas.


This is from a recent exhibition at the Witte, which shows a gown from each decade.  The one from the 50s (far left) is my favourite (surprise surprise), and it reminded me of something…