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 ’17 Day 1 – Introduce Yourself


Hello, gentle readers!  It’s been a pretty crazy year, in which I have neglected my blog, but now that CoBloWriMo has rolled around again, I’m going to take this opportunity to start writing again.  To all newcomers, welcome!  To old friends, welcome back!

I’m super late to this party, but I’ve been trying to draw more recently so here is my take on that Meet the Artist meme that was going around on tumblr and twitter a few months ago

So here’s a brief introduction: Hi!  My name is Mem.  I’m 25 years old.  I’ve been sewing for ten years.  I went to undergrad for costume design and grad school for fashion history.  I currently work at Plimoth Plantation as a living history educator, where I get to portray a real person from history and demonstrate early 17th century daily life activities to the general public.  I’ve also worked at Colonial Williamsburg and the New York Renaissance Faire.  I mostly sew for myself, and I mostly make historical clothes (though I do every once in a while go through phases of making wallets and iPad cases and stuff like that too).  I also knit, crochet, spin, and embroider, and I love trying out new crafts.  My most favourite historical activity other than sewing is dancing and music; I love singing at events and going to balls (I haven’t been to any since I moved to Massachusetts, but I’m hoping to remedy that before the end of the year!).

I’m looking forward to getting back into writing this month, and getting to know my fellow CoBlers!  More to come soon!

CoBloWriMo 7 – Dream Wardrobe


Just a quick one because I again am writing late at night right before I have to go to sleep.  These are some dream projects that I would love to do once I have underwear from every time period that fits correctly and money to buy all the beautiful silks in the world.

My ultimate dream project: Deborah Kerr’s ballgown from The King and I. It’s my favourite musical of all time and it’s the movie that gave me my love of crinolines.

Madame de Saint-Maurice (1776) by Joseph Siffred Duplessis. I love Madame so very much and while pink is not usually in my personal colour palette I would wear the crap out of it in this context.

This red taffeta and black velvet suit from the 1780s; I forget who the subject is, but the portrait is by Vigee-LeBrun

This Regency open robe made of brightly coloured sari fabric of some sort. No one’s figured out what museum this is in yet; someone I talked to suggested it might be Russian.

This 1840s chick is hidden away in the depths of the American Wing period rooms at the Met. She’s fab and I want her hat.

“Girl Reading” by Alfred Emile Stevens (1856). I really want a sheer dress; they appeal to my inner Scarlett O’Hara.

This Lepape illustration called “Les Papillons” is from La Gazette du Bon Ton. I don’t usually care for the 1910s, but this is so simple and striking and gorgeous.

1855 Archery Jacket from (potentially) the Museum of London (the way it’s listed online is weird?). I just love the idea of Victorian women doing archery. I would of course pair it with a red petticoat.

Bonus: not an outfit, but how baller is this 1876 space quilt. I want to reproduce it one day just because it’s awesome.

Return of the Regency Hairstyle!


Some of you may remember I attended the George Washington Ball in Willamsburg a few months ago and posted about trying out a Regency hairstyle from Janet Stephens’ YouTube channel.  Unfortunately it ended up not working so well at the ball – the comb kept slipping and falling out, and I didn’t really have the range of arm motion to fix it, so my hair was kind of wild and free for most of that ball.

You can’t see any of the curls on top because the back is slipping down


After shoving the comb back in every two seconds while dancing this is what it ended up looking like

However, with one modern concession I was able to make this a sturdy, ball-viable hairstyle.  I put a hair elastic at the bottom of the French braid section before twisting the length up and putting the comb in – which kept the top of the French braid in place, which supported the comb so it didn’t slip down.  This way the hairstyle ended up being very secure and comfortable and I didn’t have to touch it all night (and it was so easy I put it up on the subway!).

I also found the perfect red sheer scarf in the scarf swap at the CSA conference, which was great!


Enjoy my Regency duck face

We had a lovely night of dancing at the Beau Monde (Regency chapter of the Romance Writers of America) conference.  It amuses me to no end that enough people write Regency romance to have a their own chapter in a professional organization.

I’m hard at work on my new gown for Ren Faire, so you should see a post about it soon!


Trying out a Regency hairstyle


Next weekend I’m going down to Williamsburg for the George Washington Ball!  All of my 18th century stuff is in storage, so I’m going to wear my apron-front Regency dress that I started last year at a Burnley and Trowbridge workshop (it just needs a hem now!)  In preparation, I tried out this tutorial by the amazing Janet Stephens, hairstyle archaeologist:

These were my materials – a silky charmeuse-y scarf, and this super pretty back comb I got on eBay!  It’s plastic, but it has the look of bone or ivory.

IMG_1697My hair is not quite as long or thick as the model’s in the video, but it worked pretty well!  In future, I think I’ll have to start my french braid farther up my head, and pull it tighter – the back comb did slip a bit.  I also want to find a different scarf, for two reasons: this scarf was really too much scarf, I think, and I want a red scarf to go with my dress, if I can find one!  It will also look nicer when the ends of my hair are curlier.  I’m going to keep practicing this week so by next weekend it’ll be sturdy enough for a night of dancing.  Yay!

Here’s the back:


Movie Monday: 1820s


My pick for the 1820s is notable for a few reasons: it’s my first pick to be based on a period source, as well as my first pick to have a story focused entirely on women.  And that is the 1999 miniseries Wives and Daughters.  The novel Wives and Daughters was originally published as a serial from 1864 to 1866, and was the last novel written by Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell.  Mrs. Gaskell was a rare Victorian woman author who was successful during her own lifetime, and her writing was and is still known for its remarkable sensitivity and sympathetic portrayals of people from all walks of life.

Wives and Daughters women

We’ll be seeing many of these women again in a few weeks…

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Movie Monday: 1810s!


(I thought Movie Monday sounded snappier than Nineteenth Century Movie Recommendations, so I went with it.)

Here you have my pick for the second decade of the 19th century: 2005 three-part miniseries To The Ends Of The Earth.  Based on the book series of the same name by William Golding (author of Lord Of The Flies), To The Ends Of The Earth is a particular favourite of mine because it is Regency but not Jane Austen!  (You would not believe how difficult it is to find things that are Regency but not Austen that are any good).

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