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!

Sherlock Holmes 2015


This character was played by Carissa Burns. The character was a young woman, applying for help to Sherlock Holmes, to find her fiancee. Her parents did not approve!

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Abi made this dress, it was created out of cotton. It is two pieces, plus the belt. The hat is a boater we used in last years Prohibition, and will be using in this years Prohibition as well. I have also used it with my Gibson Girl Golf outfit. We have gotten a lot of use out of this hat!

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The cape was used at the beginning, and taken off when she got to 221B Baker St. It is velvet, and was originally made for Dickens Christmas Carol, many years ago.

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Nelly did a wonderful job on the hair for this production. It really tied the characters together with the costumes, and made them complete.

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Erin Drazin played Tilly Bristol, the spitfire young women who was bent on making Sherlock pay for sending her brother to prison.

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This outfit consists of three pieces. The blouse, the skirt (attached to a under bodice) and the jacket. It is a tennis outfit, I drafted it out of a book (Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe). It was meant to be a bit looser, so you could actually play tennis in it, but the waist was ridiculously large, and we added some darts to the back of the blouse. The blouse was made of linen, and the rest of the suit was silk. Maybe not the best choice for a sports suit, but we had to stick with what was in our stash. I made the hat out of velvet, with the really crazy organza bows, but her hair kind of blended with the bows and tamed the whole thing down.

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Lizzy Riley played the mother, Imogene Scott. And she was right to distrust the fiancee, as he ended up being the murderer! This outfit is a walking gown, it’s made of silver figured silk, and plum (I’m not sure what, but I know it’s not) silk. I was mostly pleased with this outfit. The vest is part of the jacket, so the whole thing is only two pieces. I did not like the gaping in the front with the hooks and eyes, and the skirt needed a touch more fullness in the front to hang properly. I modified the sleeves, as the actress hates the huge leg o mutton (which were included with this pattern). This one has a nice puff without being so ginormous!

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The hat is made of buckram and wire, and covered in silk. I wasn’t going to add flowers to the back, but the little riser to make the hat tip forward needed something!


Inspector Lestrade, inspecting one of our Revolutionary War guys that came up to check out the play.WIN_20150307_171534We didn’t get to many pictures of the gentlemen, because we didn’t spend nearly as much time on their outfits. We mostly just put things together out of what we had, and ordered a few things like coats and hats online. The ladies stuff had to be fitted, and we make nearly all our ladies clothing in house. Next time, we are hoping to take character pictures of everybody!


Katrina Van Tassel for Sleepy Hollow 2015 (and new dress forms! Eek!).


We have been busy getting ready for our first Colonial Faire here at Riley’s Farm. We are hoping to make this an annual event. We are holding the faire every Saturday in July. Abi and I are running the fashion and costume tent (which means we needed outfits too! More on that later.). We have been very excited, and planning like crazy. One of the things we wanted to do was display some costumes (of course!), so we needed some new dress forms. These may not be colonial, but they look nice and will do the job. Plus they will be amazing in the workshop after the faire!

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We have decided as one of the things we will be doing in our tent is working on Katrina Van Tassels new costume, for this years Sleepy Hollow play in October. We are planning on having the base dress done, and having people help with the trim. Everyone who helps will get a coupon for a free slice of pie. 🙂

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Erin (Katrina) needed new under-pinnings as well. So of course I started with stays, and then made the pocket hoops. The pocket hoops are a very scaled down version, as Erin is quite petite. I didn’t want them to overwhelm her frame. We are making a sack back gown for her this year, in a delicious pink and white striped floral cotton.

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Next was a nice full petticoat out of a cute cotton, white with green polka dots. I even found polka dot ribbon for the waist ties! I know its nerdy, but I love how all the underwear matches, even if the ribbons aren’t quite accurate. Or the plaid pocket hoops….or maybe the polka dots….but since they are underpinnings, no one will know! Except for you and Katrina anyway. 😉

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I end with a tribute to poor Margarita the dress form. This is why we needed new ones! I felt really awful throwing her in the dumpster. I kind of felt like we should bury her. She has served us well, and I am looking forward to new forms that don’t fall over if you breath on them!

I have wanted a male dress form for ages, and we have named him Jack (Daniels). We haven’t named our new female yet, but will come up with something snazzy!

Costume College 2014!! Warning…picture heavy!!




 The highlight of my costuming year is Costume College. I look forward to it all year, and feel very blessed the my work sees fit to send me! Costume College is an annual conference of costume geeks just like me! There is a whole range of people that go. All levels of talent and knowledge, beginners to advanced. It’s exciting to see the beginners learn and grow, and bring better and better costumes each year, and fun to see all the bloggers that in our costume community are like movie stars! It must be weird to them to be followed around and whispered about and have all kinds of fans, when at home they do their day job and find time to blog about what they love in between making costumes. It must be kind of fun though! 



 There are all kinds of classes and workshops and lectures, and while there are disappointing ones once in a while, most of the time they are fabulous and wonderful and I can’t get enough of them! I must add that most of the time if it’s disappointing it’s only because the description isn’t quite right for the class, so you are expecting something else, or it’s more of a beginner class, and you didn’t realize it until you were already there. Those classes are very necessary though, because this year we added 100 new people to our conference (at least, I think that’s the number I heard)!


 One of the workshops I took was on 18th Century Ribbon Chatelaines. You often see the metal ones for sale, but as far as I’m aware, they are more Victorian. I was very excited to take this class, and got my Chatelaine done by the end of class. I think it turned out rather cute! IMG_2148

 I also took a workshop on ribbon cockades. I have made cockades before, but it was nice to learn a new technique. This was before I stitched it down and added the button to the center. But keep a look out for some new fabulous cockades on our cocked hats!IMG_2016


This is the back of the cockade. 



Here are picture of some things in the display room. They were all fabulous, and it is always such fun to see others hard work up close!

I was most impressed by this Elizabethan (I think) doll. The first day we went she was fully dressed, and the next day she was in her underwear! Which was too beautiful to keep covered, so I’m glad they let us see it!











Unfortunately I did not get the name of the person who made this wonderful doll. 

This hat was just beautiful! It had lace inset and I really wanted to walk off with it! 



Abi loved this cloche, especially because of the snail! I think this is a vintage piece.



There was a whole table of American Girl dolls, all dress up in different costumes. I loved this little bathing suit. 



The butt ruffle is excellent, and next year my 4 year old daughter might just get one made for her!



I could’t resist Queen Elsa, my daughter wouldn’t have forgiven me!



One of the displays that was most impressive in my opinion, was this one. A costume group or guild had taken a painting of 9 (I think) ladies, and each one took one dress to recreate. They had a binder talking about each dress, and the person who recreated it. I would love to do this, but as it’s just me and Abi, it would be a very small painting!





You can see the painting in this picture. Unfortunately the larger picture of the painting had so much glare on it I had to leave it out.



Then there were the people in their fabulous costumes! 

Here is Merja on the left, of the blog Before the Automobile. I recognize the other lady also, but am blanking on her name at the moment. Merja is one of the movie star types I was mentioning earlier. Lauren of American Duchess and Jennifer of Historical Sewing are a couple of the others. 








Jennifer of Historical Sewing




This fellow won a bonnet in the raffle, and he kindly modeled it for us!







This ladies dress was amazingly fun! It had a giant hoop in it, and it was like walking around in the middle of a table!



Abby from Colonial Williamsburg. She is an apprentice in the Margret Hunter Millinery Shop. I was privileged to go to some of the workshops she was involved with. This is how I want my 18th century impression to look!




My husband and I right after we got done dancing at the Gala. I snagged some stuff from Prohibition (which conveniently concluded the weekend before Costume College!), and we got to dress fancy!











Abi! She took lots of selfies while we were dancing! 🙂



My feet didn’t last long in those heels, they rubbed my little toes raw, so stocking feet it was!



Abi is wearing a dress I made for the last minute store girl replacement for the last Prohibition. It is a scarf dress. I didn’t have any scarves though, so I made some, then made the dress!






Abi started out in the blue dress, but when we went back up to the room after the red carpet she changed, planning on staying in the room. I snagged the dress, made her wear the scarf one, then dragged her down to the dance!




I started out in the green one, but it was too big and I didn’t feel good in it. The blue one was a bit snug, but a much better fit!








Here are some of the outfits we wore during the day for classes. This is a regency I made last year for Christmas Carol. 





Abi in the striped 1920’s I made, that didn’t get worn until Costume College. 





Abi and I with a charming suffragette we met at the Ice Cream Social Friday night.




Abi in 1920’s. I love this hat!!








Me in my Gibson Girl golfing outfit. All I need is a golf club! And shoes….I need shoes…from American Duchess….*sigh*





Well, that’s it for this years Costume College. That’s not all the pictures I have, but all I have the patience to upload to the blog (my computer takes forever to upload pictures to wordpress)! See you next time!

1920’s Misc.

 My little darling, Elizabeth, does not like to hold still for pictures sometimes. Getting a good picture of her in this dress was not happening! We went to the Prohibition Play, and while we all intended to dress up, I only got a dress done for her. It was inspired by some catalog images, and it should have had a little slip underneath it. Luckily, she is only 4, so she can get away with it!





I should have allowed a little more space at the bottom. Making it a bit of an A shape, rather then just rectangles. The ties on the sides are cute, but they didn’t work quite right without the touch of extra fullness. 


We had store girl that needed a dress for one of the evenings, and at the last minute got switched to another shift. But her dress was already done, so here it is. 





This did have a slip a to go underneath it!

The girls also needed some aprons for the clearing tables part of the evening. We didn’t want them mucking up their dresses. I ended up making two. One was for the apartment cleaning lady, and one was just an extra. I didn’t get a picture of the one for the play, but here is the extra. 







 I was supposed to cut the skirt on a fold, but whoops! So I just decorated the seam, and I think it looks fine. IMG_1765

Prohibition Play, Part 2

 Part 2….the gents! We had coppers and gangsters and detectives…so we went shopping! The coppers we simply ordered some Civil War sack coats and matching pants, as we can re-use them on tour. They are very similar to pictures of the time. They fit a bit looser, but since they were for a play and we can re-use them, they were a win-win for us.



The gentleman in the center (Nick Riley) played an undercover detective.



Here we have Smiling Jimmy Fabrini in the center, with his dirty work helper on the right. These two, as you can tell, are gangsters. Pictured on the left is Jimmy’s girl, Linda. Jimmy’s suit got ordered online, he’s a tall fellow, and we couldn’t find what we wanted in stores. He got some awesome pinstripes!


Writer, director and player in the play! Eric Drazin played a Detective.


This fellow (Jon Harmon) played the dirty cop. I love this summer look on him. The boater is awesome!


Jordan Crother played Jimmy Fabrini’s side kick.

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The plain clothes detective with the uniformed detective.


The shoot out at the end.


Smiling Jimmy trying to make his escape!


The dirty cop talking things over with Jimmy’s guy.


After the first raid, before they actually have anything on these guys.



Looking casual, conducting business.

We ordered the badges from a party store (hey, the price was right!) and the hats from We bought most of the suits and shirts from Burlington Coat Factory, but did have some luck a local vintage store (Red Door Vintage) with some really awesome pants and sports coats, probably from the 70’s. All in all, I am really pleased with the way the costuming for this play came out. It was a great learning experience, and next time something from an unfamiliar era comes up, I will be a little bit more open and less stressed about getting everything ‘just right’ and ‘accurate’.

All photos by Mallory Drazin. Used with permission.