The 21st century got in the way of the 18th century again and I left the blog hanging far longer than I meant to!
As I alluded to in my last post, I feel that I am a rather experienced living historian and dressmaker. A challenge for me is not in making a new gown, it is in making a gown that stands out historically. I believe reenactors commit a lot of reeanactorisms (things that are done so frequently in the living history community that they are accepted as a truth by the community as a whole.) This was a more common problem when I started in this hobby than it is now. Especially in New England, we have come a long way in a short time when it comes to dismissing inaccurate interpretations. Reenactorisms occur for many reasons: lack of time, money, knowledge (or most unavoidable) correct resources. There are so many elements necessary to create the proper look that are completely lost to us. Trims, notions, and fabrics top the list of things we can not get to properly re-create the look of 18th century material culture. We do the best we can but in a throw away society little quality materials are there for the taking. When found, these ingredients for the proper look come at a steep price. For those who are truly committed to "doing it right" the cost is worth it. I used to make the comparison that in the 18th century materials were expensive and labor was cheap (thus all the piecing and creative usage) and that in the 21st century, materials are cheap and labor expensive. I realize now that to "do it right" materials and labor are both expensive in the 21st century. Sad but true.
One of the benefits of doing a lot of research and looking a the real thing over and over again is that you can recognize and be on the lookout for a close approximation at a good price.
In regards to fabric choices, most reenactor women (Not distaff! Not ladies! Thankyouverymuch tangent over) have figured out that wool was the norm in New England and that printed cottons were popular too. We have done an excellent job at getting into gowns and showing a variety of colors and mostly appropriate patterns. My challenge is to replicate something that has not to my knowledge ever been replicated for living history purposes. It goes by many names which I will share later but is basically printed wool!
I first discovered such a thing in Barbara Johnson's Album of styles. An amazing resource if you have never seen it get it through inter library loan because it is very expensive. (Mine was a wedding gift...to myself.)
In regards to what I said earlier about finding the right fabrics...check out these trusted sources:
For coat wool (I used KP for my cloak too)- http://www.historicaltextiles.com/
For documented cotton prints (check the dates/places on these!)- Duran Textiles
For silk, printed cotton and sometimes linen try our friends- Burnley & Trowbridge
Oh there are more too! If you wonder about a fabric choice ask a Crazy Concord Chick (or Mr. Mann) most of us have looked at lots!
This being my first blogging experience, I think I should begin by introducing myself. My name is Victoria, or Vicky.
This is why I'm happy to share the process of my inspiration and research and hope that I can answer any questions along the way.
I have evolved into the type or living historian (reenactor) who likes to "rough it" i.e. we do not own a tent, just a lot of blankets. Again this goes back to my everyday person interest. I do like dressing up- don't get me wrong that's why I enjoy the Ladies of Refined Taste! But for my first project on this blog I am opting for a middle class gown with some extraordinary everyday fabric...