Saturday, December 19, 2009

First-Person Reenactor Site: Homespun Living History Guild

The Homespun Living History Guild site has many articles on first person reenacting in the 18th and 19th centuries. If you're looking for more civilian information on portraying characters from the past, Victorian Rumble's essays will certainly delight.

Check out her recent posting on Christmas in the 1800s. It's filled with popular decorations, food and sweets, lifestyles, and war-time celebrations in the Victorian era.

There's also a post on Civil War hairstyles gleaned from several period sources.

And if you are working on creating your 19th C. persona, Victoria has also written "Portraying the Victorian Woman" to help you along. It is nicely composed; however, the CDV's in the Upper Class section might simply be women in the middle or upper-middle class. It is hard to be definite without names.
Upper class members at reenactments are rarely found. Extensive research on this monied group must be done before you attempt it. (If unsure, stick to upper-middle class and you'll still get to wear the pretty gowns and leave the cooking to the servants.)

Victoria Rumble is author of Thistle Dew Books, one of which is Victoria's Home Companion, or The Whole Art of Cooking which is a Fabulous book on 19th Century cooking.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Working With Taffeta Bodices?

Finding the right underlining for taffeta (anything, really) can be a challenge. Last night I was discussing this with my friend, Bridget. She's a buyer for Renaissance Fabrics, and she mentioned they have a new 60" cotton twill that flat lines taffeta beautifully.

19th Century bodices need a lot of under support to hold the bodice in shape, be sturdy enough for boning, and create a firm base for trims. Twill fabric works best for this garment. You can also use a denim or tightly woven poplin as well. Remember, for best results, use 100% cotton or linen or a blend of the two for your underlinings.

So check out RF's new twill for flat lining your latest ballgown bodice. Tell them you heard about it from Cloak & Corset!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Modern 3-in-1 Historical Garment

My husband has one of those HUGE coats with a lining that zips out. It's a 3-in-1 where you can wear it 1) complete with outer part and lining, 2) just the outer part, or 3) just the thinner lining part. He loves it too.

Well, I said: What a perfectly modern idea for historical wear! Since we in the northern hemisphere are now into the winter season, a new jacket, pelisse or cloak would be just the thing to try out this contemporary styling.

So when you're making up that next outerwear piece, give it this modern twist. Make up the outer layer properly with a good underlining that will wear and show nicely. You may even make the garment up as usual with a proper lining and underlining. Then, using the same pattern (perhaps cut a tiny bit smaller), make up a single layer of the garment for the removable lining. (Finish the edges with binding or a narrow hem.)

Attach the lining inside the outer layer with ties or buttons along the inside edges. You can try hooks and thread loops but they may not hold as well. For period accurate clothing, you, of course, should never use zippers on any garment prior to the early 1930s. Snaps would also work, however they would show when the removable lining was not attached.

So... what a modern take on 19th C. clothing! If you live in a cold climate that extra layer may be just the thing to take you through three seasons. Try using a good cotton or wool flannel for coziness. Then you'll be all ready for that skating party, a walk in the woods, or for traveling to the ball.

Have you already used this trick for a historical outer garment? Write a comment below or send a note to to let us know your success with it.