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.

 WIN_20150903_090904 WIN_20150903_090916

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.

WIN_20150903_090832 WIN_20150903_090804

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!





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.

IMG_1497 IMG_1498

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

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!


Historical Sew Fortnightly

Well this year has gotten off to a slow start! But…we started back to work last week and have mostly gotten all of the mess from Christmas in the Colonies and A Christmas Carol all washed and put away. Our first project of the year is an Irene Adler dress for our Sherlock Holmes play coming out in March. More on that as it comes along!

I decided to participate this year in the Historical Sew Fortnightly. I also decided that since I sew for a living any project that I make for work will not count (kind of a bummer for some things!), but only personal projects for myself and my family. I have had larger historical wardrobes in the past, when I was working the tours full time, but now I just want one or two good outfits in each era. I only work tour occasionally, but when I do I want to look good! I also want to start doing more events that will allow me to wear my historical stuff, so that is one of my goals this year. The first event I want to go to is Gibson Girls and Guys go Golfing. It’s through my costume guild, Costumers Guild West, Inc. It’s in March, so that gives me a few minutes to get outfits together for myself and my husband.

The first challenge for the Historical Sew Fortnightly (HSF) is Make Do and Mend. Some people are using up fabric in their stash and making do with patterns and things on hand. I had mending to do. Yay! So exciting. But…I had bones sticking up out of my stays, and my drawers needed attention.

IMG_0097 IMG_0099

And here are the stays mended:


It’s ugly, but the canvas is starting to fray, so the stitching had to go far enough up to catch good canvas and cover the bad. We have a challenge coming up called Under it All, and I’m looking forward to maybe making a pair of stays for myself that actually fit (and mayhaps enhance my figure:).

Here are the drawers in their hastily fixed state (a state that did not work!):


My drawers had been a little bit long in the crotch, just enough to be annoying all day long, so I did a quick fix and folded the waistband over and sewed it down. One of the problems with this is the extra bulk at the waist, and the other is that now the button and buttonhole were inside and backwards! And the waistband was shorter…and I’m slightly plumper then I was when I made them. I had to safety pin them very carefully, as I didn’t want the safety pin to pop while I was wearing them, especially as I wear them under my corset, and that would really hurt!!

Here they are fixed:


I took off the waistband, cut about an inch off the waist and put the waistband back on.

I also mended my 1880’s teagown. We had used this style for work dresses, and for some reason everyone loves this dress. I have come to realize that this style is perhaps not the most accurate style to use for an everyday or wash dress, but oldies are goodies, and despite all the wear this one has a little more time left.


It had a chunk of the hem missing, despite being ferreted, so I trimmed the icky bit and re-ferreted it. It also had a tear right above that and since I was at home I had no patching materials. I had found the piece of twill tape I used for the ferreting when I was going through my costumes looking for mending, so I just used that to mend the tear as well.

The next challenge (due Feb. 1) is Innovations. Something that was new and innovative in your chosen era. I have so many eras its hard to figure out what to use. But…I need hoops for my Civil War dress, so that might be my project. However, hoops of all kinds have been around for quite some time, so that might not count. Ideas? I’m open!!

November 9th, 2013

IMG_2857 IMG_2858

Sometimes I have things to post, and I’m not quite sure if they deserve their own post, or if I just throw it up there with the date instead of a title like ‘Baltus, Katrina, Mallory and Civil War girls’. Anyway, here is a post that would use that heading;)

IMG_2859 IMG_2860

Katrina and Baltus in all their glory! Abi still needs to do a post on Baltus’s outfit, but we’ll see if she gets around to it;) Katrina was played by Erin Keeney, and Baltus (her father) was played Brandon Kimbler (who is actually 2 years younger). The Baltus costume is going to double as Fezziwig’s costume for our next play, Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Brandon is also playing Fezziwig, so we were happy to kill two birds with one stone!


Here is Mallory Drazin in her gestational stays. I wanted a picture of them on her, because the one on our dressform just doesn’t do them justice for the way they are supposed to work. I tried stuffing them for a picture and it looked horrible. Here is Mallory in her whole costume too. She said the stays really do help support the belly. The first night the stays weren’t ready yet, and she said two petticoats were too heavy. After she had the stays she said that both petticoats are fine, and she can go the whole time without being nearly so tired. So Hooray! Success;)

IMG_2864 IMG_2866

Here are Erin and Hannah at the beginning of a Civil War tour. We have several more girls that need to be outfitted, but these two I feel are off too a good start. Hannah is in a new gown that Abi made, I love the red! Erin is in a fairly old gown, that I made for Krystle, probably 6 or 7 years ago. We still need to add things like collars and cuffs to the girls wardrobes, but at least their dresses are in the right era!


I am working on and 18th century frock coat right now, for my boss, Jim Riley. I decided it was time to figure out how they were actually put together in the day, so I pulled out my books and my hand sewing stuff and started stitching away, with all the correct layers and stitches and padding. I will post a tutorial for the coat as soon as I am done with it.