Calico is finished!

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Back in May I was asked to do a project for Lane House and Museum in Calico Ghost Town. They wanted authentic clothing that the guests could try on. I, as always, thought sure! That would be a snap! It was supposed to be done by the end of June, but alas, it was finally turned in yesterday, the 25th of August. Now I know to allow more time for a project this large. It took me almost 200 hours, and both of my sisters put in about 24 hours.

The pictures here only represent one outfit. There was a gentleman’s outfit, a working mans outfit, a pair of overalls, a gentlewoman’s outfit, a working woman’s outfit, a girl’s outfit and a boy’s outfit. Whew! All added up it took forever! And I was working full-time, and we ended up moving too.


Here is the removable collar . This is the second attempt! Below are the removable cuffs, with button cuff links that are stitched to the cuff on one side so they can’t be lost. Abi made the shirt, I just made the collar and cuffs.


I made my first pair of men’s trousers for this project, which I am very excited about, as that means we no longer need to order them and wait for them to come in when we need them. This pair below is my second pair.


I added the buttons to the vest from my last post…

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and made a frock coat! I’m still getting the hang of this tailoring thing, but this is only my 3rd 19th century frock coat. I know it will also improve the looks of our 18th century frock coats the more I learn.

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Both of the men’s suits with the neckwear. The one on the left is a green silk Ascot, and the one on the right is a black silk handkerchief.

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I know I am not going to be ready to take on another large project like this for a while (can you say stress?), but I am grateful for all that I have learned working on it, and look forward to implementing some new techniques on future projects.


The best laid plans…

By Mary Johns

Today I was working on a 1880’s vest for a project for Calico Ghost Town. I was making good progress, when who should show up at the workshop?

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My little family! My husband brought the kids up so we could have lunch in the tavern. Then he had to go to work, so he left the little one with me (our 6 year old can go with him to work). She promptly decided to make a wedding dress out of leftover yellow fabric that auntie made curtains from yesterday. Here she is, hard at work!

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I managed to get the vest mostly finished while she was busy, then I couldn’t help but help her with her dress!


I talked her out of the yellow fabric (not always easy to do with a 3 year old), and used some random stuff someone donated to us, that I can’t really use for period garments. This is fun, embroidered, scalloped off white fabric, but perfect for a little girls dress up wedding dress. It’s washable, it’s pretty, and it’s sturdy!

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I made it in two pieces. For the bodice I flipped the fabric upside down, so the scallops are at the top, I hemmed the bottom, then put a casing about 2 inches down from the top and strung elastic through.


For the skirt I put a facing in the top and used it as a casing for elastic. I decided to do two pieces so she can use them for other things when she’s tired of her ‘wedding dress’!

Don’t Judge Me!

By Mary Johns

So….I have need of about 15-20 new pairs of jumps/stays by the fall season, which starts in earnest in less then a month. We need to have something for all our tavern waitresses. Their current ‘uniform’ consists of a bedjacket, petticoat, apron, cap and waitress pocket. We are upping the authenticity this year with jumps/stays and another petticoat. Last year we just did not have enough in stock to accurately clothe them.  This year the goal is to have enough ready that no one goes without the proper stuff. Now, before you start in on the lack of shift (if you noticed that;), let me say that we really don’t have enough of those, nor the time to make them. We chose bedjackets because they are the least bad looking without jumps/stays, and it doesn’t really show much if you don’t have on a shift or handkerchief (it gets really hot in there, so the less they can wear, the better). Our everyday waitresses are clothed correctly, but in the fall apple season our tavern is stuffed to the brim, and we add on about 10-12 waitress that are Saturday only. We have about 8 super busy Saturdays, and the entire farm is a fun hustle bustle with over 100 employees on staff. So…as you can imagine, the fall Saturday waitresses have been neglected. Well, no longer! There are 4 pairs of jumps that have been bound on the bottom and some of them are now boned. Here comes the reason for the title…I used the machine to do the binding. And now you understand why…the deadline is looming, and I need these quick!


The binding is quick and dirty, and ugly! I feel kind of guilty for doing it on the machine, but it had to be done. On the next ones I will sew them right sides together,  flip them, theeeen put the boning channels in! It goes much quicker then binding, and I have seen period stays without binding, that look like that.


The inside of the binding looks even worse! I guess no one will see it….unless you read this post;). Abi (the other half of the wardrobe department) has been busy working on more bedjackets for the waitresses, and has already made 30 waitress pockets. When I’m done with the jumps/stays, it will be on to caps, we are sorely under-stocked on those, and I will be making some from my own patterns (that aren’t quite made yet!). After we are done with this project it will be back to the Van Tassels, and getting them ready for the play in October!



Katrina Van Tassel


Photo by Mallory Drazin

By Mary Johns


We have an annual play here at Riley’s Farm, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

The main character is 18 year old Katrina Van Tassel, who has the admiration of all the lads in Sleepy Hollow. In particular Ichabod Crane and Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt.

She is pleasing plump, rosy as a flower and wears provokingly short petticoats. She wears a mixture of old and new, as suits her fancy, and her great great grandmothers gold jewelry. She favors stomachers and  is a bit of flirt.

This year we have a new Katrina, so a new costume is in order! Katrina is played by the lovely Erin Keeney, who we were able to do fittings on (often we get a set of measurements and just have to go from there). The caraco and petticoat are wearable, but only the petticoat is truly finished. The caraco still has some trimming left to add on, especially in the stomacher area.

I will be adding a pleated band around the neck and down the sides of the stomacher line to the skirt hem. The stomacher shall have something serpentine on it to continue with the theme of the petticoat.

The plays are fun to costume, because while we try to stay as period as possible, we can have a little more fun with it, and do things in the ‘flavor’ of the era as well! This project has been a really fun one, my first ‘super fancy’ dress. We do so many everyday clothes, its nice to try out my skills on something fit for an heiress.

Another post to come will feature a few pictures of how this outfit was made, and closeups of the finished trim. We will also post Baltus Van Tassel in a month or so, when his father of the heiress outfit is done.

By Mary Johns