Redcoat renewed?

Our redcoats are used 5 days a week all through the school year, and understandably get quite faded. They get retired before they are worn out due to the color change…they’re more like pinkish redcoats by the time we replace them. 

Our Sgt. sashes also get quite faded, but the fringe more then the rest, as it’s exposed quite a bit more. Lockton said that someone told him to use fabric spray paint on it to renew the color ( I had never heard of fabric spray paint, but it’s a thing!). 

Worked pretty well! So…I decided to try it on a recently retired redcoat that was in good shape except for the fading. We taped them all up to cover the lacing and buttons (and we’ll be more particular if we do it again!), and I went to town with the spray paint. 

You can see how bad the fading is from the opened up cuffs and lapels where its not faded at all.

Here’s how it looks half done….looking good!

Looks so much better! It does change the feel of the wool a little bit and it’s almost a bit tacky. It’s not uncomfortable to wear (although I dont know how it will breath yet). It may have come out this way due to my impatience, and if I try it again (likely) I’ll follow the directions more closely (do one light coat, let it dry, repeat!), and I think the results will be much better. But all in all, $15 to renew a $600 coat for a couple more seasons is totally worth it (just don’t touch the stiff coat!)!


Civil War Shawl

I started knitting this shawl the last time it was cold, and now that summer is almost over, it’s done! We have a couple of sontags I knitted, along with some plain woolen cloth shawls, and 2 coats, but sometimes we need more to keep the girls on tour warm. So I’ve been knitting this on and off, in odd hours, usually while waiting for my kids. Its knitted with two strands of wool yarn, and I went through almost 16 skeins of yarn.

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Its from a pattern in a book, that was based off of a shawl in Peterson’s magazine. I’m better with modern instructions though, as I don’t knit enough to feel comfortable trying to figure out a modern pattern. The book I used is Civil War Era Knit and Crochet Patterns, by DeAnn E. Upton.

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I probably won’t be knitting anything for a while, I have lots of stays that have been re-boned, but now need to be re-bound!

18th Century Faire at Riley’s Farm

This July we hosted an 18th Century Faire for the very first time! It was such an adventure, with guest numbers close to 400 3 of the 4 weeks. The other week was about 250, which was great, because we had downpours half the day! The first year we do an event is always a gamble, but this one was well attended, and people really seemed happy to be there and learn about all kinds of 18th Century things. I’m only going to show your our tent, because well, that’s mostly the only place I was! There was lots of other fun stuff going on, I just didn’t see much of it.

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When you come into our tent you are greeted with children’s clothes. We pulled out our stash so the kids could try on breeches and petticoats and whatnot. Next year we may try to have a rental service of some sort, because everyone wanted to keep their 18th Century clothes on and go explore, but we couldn’t let them leave the tent. There were some really cute kids running around in our tent though!

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To the left of the dress up area were some things for sale, pinned to the tent wall. Abi made us 6 bergere (straw) hats, 5 aprons, 3 ladies caps, and 3 men’s caps. We weren’t really a selling tent, but we wanted to have something to offer. We ended up selling 3 bergere (straw) hats and 1 cap on the last day. Everything else we can put into our stock for living historians. Yay for stock! In the middle of the tent we had our two work tables.

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On the end of Abi’s work table we laid out swatches from Burnley and Trowbridge, which had all kinds of 18th Century fabrics for people to touch and feel. There were linens, wools (worsted, melton, coating), cottons, silks, camlets, and some others I don’t remember the name of right now. We also had a project for people to help us with, and earn a slice of pie. We had Katrina Van Tassels gown for Sleepy Hollow ready, and we were hemming trim to add to it. Whoever helped us with hemming trim, got free pie! We also had a Tambour frame, which is a really fun type of embroidery. It’s sort of like crocheting on fabric. We’re hoping to do some pieces with it for plays and filming. On my table we had cockade and breastknot making. This cost one activity ticket, because you got to take it home.

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Behind the activity tables we had Katrina Van Tassels gown, and a banyan, for display. The banyan is one we made for a character in Courage, but we wanted to display some menswear too. This gown will not be worn with the green handkerchief, but I wanted the handkerchief to be seen (I got it for my birthday!). The gown will be trimmed with white organdy, a large flounce on the petticoat, and flatter puffed or pleated trim all around the neckline and down the fronts, and some on the sleeves too of course. Another post about the completed gown will be coming (as soon as it’s done, of course!).

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Behind Jack and Sloey (the dressforms), were our ‘museum’ tables. We decided to display underwear, because every one would see the outerwear on all the people manning the faire. We wanted to show what went underneath, and people tend to ask anyway. So we had another banyan, a man’s shirt, stock, cravat, cap, apron, stockings, and a ladies shift, two pairs of stays, mitts, bibbed apron, caps, pockets, hip rolls, a rump, pocket hoops, stockings.

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At the far end we had a display of cosmetics and beauty products. On the shelves we had a pitcher and basin, with a sponge of course, and towels I made for this display. We featured products from LBCC Historical, because I had seen them several times, and wanted to do this display. They come with lovely period looking labels, and when we got to play with them we were not disappointed. They are lovely products! They smell really good, and she used period recipes to make them. We had lots of people stop in this area to inspect all the goodies. There was face scrub (located by the pitcher and basin of course!), cold cream, lip tint, lip balm, face salve, burnt cloves (for darkening the eyebrows), rouge, body powder…. I also had hair powder and pomatum from Heirloom Haircare. I had my hair pomaded and powdered the entire month of July. I took a class at Costume College about it (from the lady who runs Heirloom Haircare), and apparently I wasn’t using nearly enough pomade or powder. I also wasn’t that itchy before though!

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The products were so cute displayed! I loved that my chatelaine ended up in the mirror when I took this picture. Sneaky little thing!

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Abi and I decided that we needed pictures of our costumes too! We had made them specially for this faire, since most of the time we are in the workshop, and not seen! We both have really old working class outfits that we wear if we are on tour, or we snag something from stock. But for faire, since we were representing fashion, we though we should be a little more in style! I made a pet en lair, or short sack back jacket, worn with a matelasse petticoat I had snagged some time ago off the Courage set. I love this petticoat so much, I didn’t want anyone else to get a hold of it and ruin it….at least that’s my story, and if we need it for filming, I’ll give it back!  Worn with my American Duchess shoes of course, and new stockings (for my birthday! My sisters sure know what I like!).

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Abi made a gown from 1780. It came out really well, and I’ll see if I can get her to do a blog post about it. I think this is the first costume she’s really made for herself, with proper fittings and all. I’m sorry the butt bow is squished in the pictures, but we forgot to fluff it up. She also made a lovely bergere, which I’ll ask her to show in her post. Sorry this is such a long post, but Faire took up most of June to prep, and a lot of July! It was a very fun experience, and I’m sure next year it will be even better!




We have been sadly lacking the proper foundations for all our girls at the barn. We have some ill fitting stays at Colonial, but at least everyone has something. Stays are on the summer list.


This corset was made for Miss Lizzy, who requested a pretty corset (instead of a plain white utilitarian one). She picked her outer fabric, and I quite like the effect. The inner linings on all the corset are two layers of duck cloth or canvas.


Even though Lizzy runs the kitchen up at the barn, she has been very faithful in wearing her corset and historical clothing. The corset she had been wearing was sadly bent out of shape, with bones poking out and the whole thing just falling apart.


This one was for one of my store girls. I wish I had done a bit more fitting on it with her before it was too late to do anything. It’s not a perfect fit, but under her dress you can’t really tell.


This was the first time she had worn it, and I think she tightens it a bit more now, which also helps the bagginess in the front bosom area.


Miss Kaitlin! She loves her new corset! I had to tell her she can’t wear it instead of her stays when she works colonial though. Kaitlin is also wearing one of the new 1840’s chemises, made for our Gold Rush girls, by Abi.


These were all made from Truly Victorian, #TV110. I love the Silverado corset from Laughing Moon also, but the TV may have edged out ahead in my book.


This one is from Miss Victoria, who also works in the barn kitchen.


While corset did change from the years 1849-1880, we are sticking with the slightly later corset to use underneath all eras. As we get at least a basic corset on the girls we may go back and add in some earlier ones.


The last corset from the new batch, for the unnamed historian! A few of my girls are camera shy in their underware! She is also wearing one for the new 1840’s chemises Abi made. The necklines ended up being quite large (a problem we have had with our shifts also), so she decorated and fixed it all in one step with ribbon insertion lace.

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More corsets and underwear to come. We are not even halfway through our list, but the improvements are already starting to show!

Old Joe Dresses – Batch One





We have been trying to figure out what works best for our Old Joe girls, and have discovered that Past Patterns #903, Late 1880-92 Day Dress, is a great fit. We have made it for several size’s of woman now, and if fits all of them beautifully, with a minimum of fitting. We did make a toile (fitting muslin) for each one, and there was not much to fuss with. We have made two piece outfits for them in the past, but we really like the look of the dress for our everyday working girls. The whole theme of the barn area is 1880’s, so the girls in the store and the girls in the bakery wear 1880’s clothes, regardless of which tour is going on. Sometimes we have two different tours going on up there, so it would not work for them to dress according to tour anyway.

Miss Tori in her new tour dress. Abi made this one, I am very pleased with the way it came out. And the fabric Tori picked….I kind of want to steal it!




Miss Sofia in her new store dress. The collar on hers ended up being a slight bit wonky, but she folded it down and it looks darling! I am guilty of the slightly wonky collar…I made this one.  I’m really glad I added the trim, the dress was really plain without it.




A proper petticoat to go underneath. This one was for Tori I believe. The fabric is not super accurate (or accurate at all…), but we are still trying to use up our stash of inaccurate fabric in places it will not be seen. This petticoat if from Truly Victorian. The instructions are a tad bit confusing at first, in that there are four different eras of petticoats included, and the instructions are basically the same. Once you figure out how they are laid out however, they are super easy. This one is for the natural form era, which does not allow enough length for a bustle. Since the girls won’t be wearing bustles with their everyday dresses anyway, we didn’t want the petticoats dragging in the back.


There are rows of tucks in the back to help give the petticoat more body in the back. The front is smooth, so give a cleaner line.


Abi has made several petticoats, but she has a habit of giving them out before I get to take a picture!

Ca. Gold Rush Dresses: Batch One





Our girls at the barn area have been sadly neglected long enough! The tours we cover at the barn are Ca. Gold Rush, Civil War and Old Joe. Old Joe is based in the 1880’s, when Joe Wilshire acquired the farm. The story goes he bought it for something like a saddle, a jug of whiskey and some chickens. It’s been a while since I heard the particulars though.


We do have some Civil War dresses and underwear that look pretty good, but we haven’t had any really good accurate Gold Rush dresses yet.


We started with Tori. She hasn’t had anything that actually fit her properly since she started working at the farm, and this is her second season. We have decided to make things we are desperate for on an as needed basis, but focus as possible on one historian at a time to get their whole wardrobe squared away. We are picking people that have been with us at least one season, and are planning on staying with us.

Tori now has a properly fitted corset, chemises, a corded petticoat and two tucked petticoats. Somehow I didn’t get a picture of anything except the corded petticoat. Darn corded petticoats take forever, but they are worth it! She isn’t wearing the petticoats in the above pictures. We made her corset and her dress first. Abi did a lovely job on this dress! It’s from a Laughing Moon pattern.  The waist is a bit bulky, so the bottom button wouldn’t button. We put a skirt hook there, and it works just fine! The corset is a Truly Victorian pattern. The corded petticoat and the tucked ones are from Elizabeth Stewart Clarks book.


Miss Jessica was next on the dress list. I used the new pleated wrapper pattern from Laughing Moon. She’ll be getting the proper underpinnings as time allows.


I love having the girls come in and pick their fabrics, if I’m making something for a  specific person I like to make them something they will love. It shows through when the feel good in their costume and they like it.



Miss Alison was next!


She said she wanted blue, I didn’t have a lot of just blue fabrics, but with the apron and the pleating on the bodice there is a fair amount of blue. She was happy with it, and that is what I was going for! Miss Alison is also on the list for proper underpinnings. She is the next historian we are focusing on.


Next, but certainly not last, is Miss Jasmine.

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She picked the dark brown initially, but there wasn’t enough for a whole dress. We found the lighter brown and just made a two toned dress. She loves it, and it really fits her personality and style. All the other historians keep telling her it looks like her.


Another historian who needs petticoats, but at least she has a corset! With her apron it draws in at the waist a little bit more. I used Laughing Moons other wrapper pattern for this one. We have plenty more Gold Rush dresses coming, but so far I am pleased with the improvement in our historians wardrobes!

At the Ball!!!


This lovely lady invited us to the Riverside Dickens Ball. We had a very good time, and I got my dress finished (barely!). It’s not truly finished if you aren’t sewing on the way to the event, right? All I had left was adding the rosettes to the bodice and some lace (I think).


Fortunately I didn’t have to make all three dresses! Anne had her own, and I found one at work that would work for Gretchen (above, on the left). Gretchen and I have been best friends for over 25 years…gasp! Am I that old? And as it gets harder to spend time together due to school/kid/work schedules, we jumped at the opportunity to dress up and go play! We haven’t had done a photo shoot in ages, and the building was too cool to not take pictures. We got a little carried away, so enjoy the show 😉



 Mary Riley made the dress Gretchen is wearing. I believe it’s 1870’s, not 1860’s, but we added another skirt underneath to that it would be long enough for a hoop.



We loved the way the light was coming out of this doorway. Then we saw stairs….and we ventured up….



And at the top…sang a little opera!


Inside we found an empty dining room…




And had a little fun!



Feeling wistful on the way back out….


At the bottom of the stairs…on to the next adventure!


The highlight for Gretchen was meeting Dr. Who! Denver made a great Dr. Who. He had the screwdriver and everything 🙂


Can’t leave out the hair! Gretchen made the leftover rosettes into pins for me to wear in my hair. They ended up being used by my daughter in her uncles wedding as well!


 The lovely Anne had her hair done. They did a lovely job! We were all a bit jealous…


We had a great time, after all, you are never too old to play dress up with your best friend!