If you’ve been following Kindred Thread for any length of time, you know by now that I really, seriously love historical clothing. Anything from the 1770s to the 1950s! I spend a lot of time reading historical costuming blogs for inspiration (check this out: Couture Courtesan is making a people sized version of Felicity’s Christmas gown!) and it’s sort of a form of torture for me. On the one hand I die over corsets and gowns and fabulous shoes and hairstyles; on the other hand I am just perishing with envy at the real historical costumers who are always swanning off to Regency picnics and Titanic dinners and Costume College… sigh. I have a hard enough time fitting my fabulous 1950s frocks into my everday life; what on earth would I do with a chemise a la reine?
Fortunately, my husband is an understanding sort – and while he doesn’t swoon over pocket hoops he’s always been pretty interested in history himself. He’s come to the realization that he’s got to take me to Colonial Williamsburg again or I will explode. We’ve actually been to W’burg once before – we took a trip there when our firstborn was a baby and loved every minute of it – and it seems like the kids are actually old enough to get something out of the experience. Naturally, it took me about 0.02 seconds to decide that my girls and I should dress up, Felicity-style, for the experience. The wheels have been spinning in my brain for nearly a year on this project and I am finally committing to action. And as I started to make my nefarious plans, I thought, If only I had a historical costuming blog where I could write about this!
And then I smacked my forehead and went, Duh, I already HAVE a historical costuming blog! So the sadly neglected Kindred Thread blog is going to play host to all my thoughts and struggles and (hopefully) triumphs as I create the Colonial Williamsburg Outfit I’ve been dreaming of. Here goes nothing!
Most of my sewing projects begin in the same place: FABRIC. It’s actually not that hard to find good late-18th century fabric prints if you know where to look: the home decorating section. There are indienne/Jacobean prints galore (I tend to use the terms interchangeably; I don’t claim to be enough of a textiles expert to know the difference!) – Waverly in particular is known for this style. I got the idea to use Waverly curtains from Lowes from American Duchess, who created an amazing gown with the floral print on cream. (I’ll be namedropping American Duchess a lot throughout this project – her work is A. MAZ. ING.) The historical costuming community really latched on to the Waverly Felicite curtains – there was even a Curtain-Along though I’m rather late throwing my hat into the ring. The curtains are sold everywhere from Lowes to Meijer and they’re quite a bit cheaper than buying yardage, especially when you un-pick all the hems and seams. Plus they are a gorgeous cotton medium-weight sateen. I settled on the Noir colorway myself:
Doesn’t really look like much, does it? Here, have a closer look:
Swoon. I’ll be going in the fall – won’t that be dreamy? I plan to match it with mustard yellow and brick red for the trim and petticoat. Speaking of which, my next concern was the PATTERN. There are quite a few styles appropriate for the 1770s, but I found that I was most drawn to the robe a polonaise, with the rather dramatically poofed sides. (I always wish AG had made one for Felicity – though her Christmas gown could be polonaise’d easily enough.) Wanting to balance accuracy with not spending a million years on it I bought the pattern from Period Impressions (I will be sewing this on my sewing machine and not by hand, after all).
However, this project is going to involve so much more than a dress! I’ve really got to start this project from the inside out, beginning with foundations – shift, pocket hoops, and (gulp) a pair of stays – and I’ve got to accessorize with the right shoes and probably a fichu and most definitely a straw bergere hat. My goal is to make one thing a month, although here it is the end of February already! But I will be blogging about the things I make so you can follow along. Wish me luck!