Winter School of the Civilian

This past weekend, members of the 21st GA along with guests from GCVM attended a workshop aimed at educating them about children’s and women’s clothing with the target years of the 1850’s and 1860’s. There were 19 of us overall and the gentlemen provided a delicious lunch for us to enjoy our learning experience.

Our first presentation was on children’s clothes and featured our guest speaker Malinda. She has two of her own and is very well-educated on the subject. She used a Power Point presentation and items from her own collection to teach us about children’s layers. Several of the ladies went home and immediately made things for their little ones based on her patterns and teaching!

The next workshop was on women’s clothing. I demonstrated the layering system from the skin out for a basic wardrobe. The ladies each took home packets of ESC’s free patterns and articles to help get them started. We followed up with a free wardrobe assessment to look at things ladies had in their wardrobes that were questionable.  Everybody was really enthusiastic and couldn’t wait for the next one!

Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Time Traveling Tea Video

This is the Long Awaited video of the Time Traveling Tea that the 21st Georgia and other volunteers put on in conjunction with the Mt Morris Historical Society. The year is 1859, and the visitors travel back in time to attend a tea hosted by the Mills-Branch family….

Time Traveling Tea

At the end of the Video, you’ll see an interview with Terry Mistretta, the late curator of the Mills Mansion and the one responsible for it’s rescue and restoration. The video is dedicated to her.

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  


I will be teaching a hood workshop in March at the MAALHFAM conference at GCVM, so I got to work on some of the sample patterns made for that class. Here’s the hood based on an original we’ll be copying:

And then, because this seems to be the other popular hood type at use during the mid-century, I had to make what some friend of mine call a “pumpkin” bonnet. Mine is orange of course. They were also sometimes called “uglies”.  Much more of a challenge than the above.

I think I’m finally ready for the conference!


Update: Pics from the hood workshop at the Conference!

Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

1830’s Sewing Projects!

So, lacking anything between the 1810’s and the 1840’s naturally, I have become obsessed with the 1830’s!! So of course, when I found this perfect fabric on discount at a high-end quilt shop, it just spoke to me about being 1830’s. Yes, that’s right, the huge sleeves, the low necklines, the pleats, the piping on every seam, the box pleated skirts, and (UGH) back-closing bodices. Yes. It’s the decade of ridiculousness and we’re not even to the bonnets, yet…

Well, I already had a corset that would work, so the first thing to start on was the corded petticoat that would support the skirts and provide loft. Well, 3 hours into sewing tiny cords in between layers of muslin with no added stiffness apparent, I was a bit discouraged. But, 12 hours and good starching later, I was much pleased!! Though, I think I will try to convince a weaver to make some on a loom next time!

Next was the bonnet. One of those aweful Poke Bonnets. Using pattern paper and some scissors, turns out the first try was the best, so we went with that. I didn’t want it to be TOO big and awkward. Just enough to be the early ’30’s. The Met’s collection also helped a great deal. I ordered a beige china silk to cover it. I had envisioned lots of flowers, ribbon and even a feather or two, but a simple spray of orange ribbon flowers is all that’s there for now. I’m still looking for the right feathers. It had to go with the green veil of course.

The next thing to do was the dress. It took several mock-ups to get the sleeves just right, and since I had such limited fabric (only about 5 1/2 yards) it was crucial to get it right. The skirt was two and a half fabric widths (probably about 105 inches full) but that seems to be in keeping with primary sources. The hard part was fitting a bodice on yourself that closes in the back! The trick was to finish the back, then drape the front on a lining piece. Sew the side and shoulder seams together and then use the center front seam to do the fitting with. I was lucky, all my pleating lined up really well. I also was puzzled by the lack of darts on originals, so I put the front pieces on the bias and that works great! There’s piping on EVERY seam, so I was forever at that. But I think it came out well. A very flattering neckline, and I don’t think the sleeves need supports underneath (one yard in each sleeve!)

I then made a little chemisette and cap by hand while watching the Jane Austin marathon that was on during the Superbowl.

The next 30’s project is a whitework pelerine to go over the low neckline. It’s debut will be at the MAALHFAM conference at GCVM in March.






Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment