Monday, July 23, 2012

2012 Jane Austen Festival - Louisville

Here it is...the moment you have been waiting for...  The 5th annual Jane Austen Festival of Locust Grove is complete.  I am really tired, so I will let most of the pictures do the talking.  But, I will say that this year was a much, much cooler temperature, and therefore, a much easier time was had for all.  I do believe the over-all atmosphere of the festival was more relaxed (or maybe I am just feeling more comfortable).  I think there were nearly double the participants, and a good percentage more of them were dressed out this year. The amount of vendors was tripled from last year, making shopping a thrill.  Tea was outstanding.  Friends were abundant.  Entertainment was delightful and around every corner.  

My fan painting workshop was, from what I hear, a success.  I heard comments such as "relaxing," "zen-like," and "fascinating."  All good things, I think.  Once I had everything set up and ready to go, I really wasn't nervous at all.  My teaching instincts kicked into gear.  I managed to do both classes without spilling any paint on my gowns...something I was extremely proud of, considering how much of a klutz I am.

Enjoy the images!

My favorite vendors, Regency Revisited.

One of my favorite events added this year, was the boxing demonstration...also known as Pugilism.  I was gasping and huzzahing with the best of them.  I LOVED it!  Maybe I am not the lady I thought I was...I am sure it's my working class roots showing.  Anyway, let the Pugilism begin!

On to more feminine  I purchased a writing box, something that I've been wanting for a long, long time.  I just love it to pieces.

Jane got a ring toss game.

And, of course, what would a historic festival be, without purchasing some new fabric.  There must always be the promise of a new outfit.  Regency Revisited did it to me again...I gave into the temptation and bought this gorgeous, blue, cotton velvet.  A spencer, or a cape, perhaps?

And I also bought this vintage sari, in hopes of a new ball gown. Yum!

As promised, here are pictures of me in my 1803 drop front gown.  I wore this the first day of the festival, and was very comfortable and cool.  I might rework the front bodice, as I do NOT like the way it lays. 

For some strange reason, maybe the heat of last year, I decided against hats this year, and went with simple turban/bandeau styles to cover my head.

Here I am with Jane on the second day.

I think Jane has grown about 8 inches in the past year, and her white gown was no longer appropriate in length.  I discovered this Saturday night, when I got home and decided last minute that Jane and Carson would attend with me on Sunday.  So, half asleep, I whipped up a long gown out of linen for Jane, and put the old dress over that, sort of like a pinafore.  It worked for the time being, although the sewing job was horrendous, and done on the machine.  Jane was, of course, the highlight of the day for most people.  I can't count how many time we were stopped so that people could take pictures of her.

There are more pictures of the day on my Facebook page, and if you are not friends with me on Facebook, I invite you to be.  Look for me as Jenni Cole Miller.  Also, I've started Tweeting...gasp!, I've gone over to the dark side!...and have posted a link to the Boxing event that took place on my Twitter page (Hahaha!) on my Twitter page of the Boxing event that took place at the festival.  Please follow me @JenniMiller79.  And there are also more pictures(not mine) of the event on the Graphic Enterprises website.  I am already looking forward with much anticipation to next year's festival!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sleeveless Spencer or Bodice

(image source:  Dames a la Mode )

The Jane Austen Festival of Louisville is only two days away.  I will need two gowns for the weekend. So, with my 1803 Drop-front Gown finished, I have turned my focus to accessorizing my white Tidens Toj Gown. I have always loved the beautiful fashion plate above, from 1799, and my friend Natalie of A Frolic Through Time has been doing a lot of research on Sleeveless Spencers or Bodices.  So, the easy conclusion was to accessorize my gown with a sleeveless spencer.  It should be a fairly cool choice as well.

Rather than spend money on new fabric for this tiny little project, I decided, with some hesitation, to re-purpose the fabric from my green, block-printed, crossover gown.  It was the first 'real' (as in proper fabric and style) regency gown I ever made, so I was a little sentimental, and shy about cutting it up.  

But, it was also not hand sewn, it didn't fit well, and it was stained and faded in several places.  So, doing what any frugal regency lady would have done with her old, worn out gown, I cut it down and made it into something else.  I still love the colors and the block print, so I'm glad that the fabric can be put to use.

I did not line it, because I wanted it to be as cool as possible for the festival, and I've been told that this is perfectly accurate, that some spencers were unlined.  I created a little 'skirt,' or peplum as we now call it, for the back of the bodice, and I pinked, then ruched/pleated (whatever) the trim from the original gown and used it to decorate the neckline.  I'm pleased with the results.  It was a quick, and easy way to spice up my white gown.

Now, wish me luck, say a prayer for me, or what have you...I am off in a couple of days to lead two fan painting workshops at the Jane Austen Festival.  I'm just a WEE bit nervous about this.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life During WWII in Madison, Indiana

My grandmother sent me the link to a video made in my home town of Madison, Indiana, during WWII.   I thought I would share it with you.  It's neat to see all of the vintage/retro clothing, cars, etc.  But, what's really funny to me, is that with the exception of modern clothing and cars, Madison and it's people are almost exactly like this still today.  If you want to know why I have such anachronistic tendencies, it's because I grew up in a town like this.  Although, I do think that the filmmakers might be romanticizing it a bit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1803 Drop-front Gown

It is finished...sort of.  The only thing left to do on my 1803 Drop-front Gown (which is what I've decided to call it, since I can't technically say it's a riding habit...since I won't be riding in it), is to hem the bottom edge of the skirt.  One would think that a drop front gown would be easier to put on them most other gowns, but one would be wrong.  It's quite complicated.  First, you tie the front panel of the gown around to the back, then you put your arms through the arm scythe, then you tie the back panel around the front, then you pin the under bodice 'modesty flaps', then you pull up the drop-front and pin it to the shoulder straps. Crazy!  And I'm sure my explanation didn't explain anything at all.  So, here are a couple of shots from Bradfield's "Costume in Detail" of the gown I was modeling mine after.

The only real differences in mine are that my 'modesty flaps,' or the bodice lining flaps, overlap instead of tying in the front, and I don't have sleeves or lace on my gown.  Also, my fabric is slightly stiff and firm, compared to the muslin used in the extant gown.  So, my bodice doesn't drape like it should...which is a real headache for me.  It sort of forms a "v" shape in the front, rather than a really drape-y "u" shape.  See what I mean?  I've tried all manner of manipulation, and nothings working.  Any suggestions?  I guess I will just have to be delighted with how it is, not how it should have been (a proverb I always struggle with in life.)

Over-all, I like the look of the's a very pretty, although plain, dress...BUT...I don't think it's a very flattering on someone with my figure.  Possibly it would look better on a very thin person, because it's all straight lines and column-esq.  Maybe I'm just not used to the change of style, since I've only ever done late 1790's before, which is a much more 'fluffy' or 'billowy' time in Georgian fashion.

I did add a few extra pleats on the back and side of the skirt, in addition to the stroked gathers, in order to try to accommodate for my curvier figure.  Maybe that just made it even more frumpy, I don't know.  

Oh, and the fabric is a cotton and silk combination, the warp strings being a golden silk thread, and the weft strings being a turquoise/teal cotton thread.  It's a beautiful combination, soft and airy, but with a little bit of crispness (sort of like wrinkles like linen too), and in different lighting, each color is highlighted.  I purchased the fabric last Fall at an 18th century market fair at Locust Grove, from the famous 96 District Fabrics vendors.  I love that place, but who doesn't.

Even though I am not pleased with the way I look in the gown, I will, because I love you, try to have someone take some pictures of me wearing it at the Jane Austen Festival.  I have a feeling I will be tripping over...or someone will be stepping on...that train every five seconds.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Habit Shirt - Finished


This year's Jane Austen Festival is fast approaching (less than two weeks), and I am desperately trying to get my new ensemble finished before the festivities.  Thankfully, I can finally say my Habit Shirt is finished. 

Remember the 1801 Habit Shirt above that was my source of inspiration?  I don't think I was too far off the mark.  The sleeves could have been a bit fuller, and more gathered, but I'm not crying over it.  There are drawstrings at the neck, the waist, and at the end of each sleeve.  This was my solution to gathering the fabric in these places.  It's only a guess, and I really haven't a clue how it was done in the fashion plate.


The fabric is a cotton voile from Dharma Trading Co.  Of course, I hand stitched the shirt, and I did so while watching the entire first season of Grimm. I'm not normally a 'cop show' kind of gal, but throw in Portland, Oregon, and Fairy Tale creatures, and I'm hooked.


I found that my hand stitching was really terrible when I first started this project.  I am sorely out of practice.  It has been such a long time since I've sewn anything by hand, that I'm not really surprised...but it is sad, none-the less that I lost the art so quickly.  I was decidedly better at it by the end.

And now for a sneak peek at my sleeveless, "habit" gown (not sure that's the correct term for this, but that's what I'm calling it.)  My original gown idea has morphed quite a bit.  I was previously thinking about doing a gown similar to the one above from 1803.  Then, I started looking more at a couple of gowns in Bradfield's "Costume in Detail."  I'm still going to make my gown sleeveless, in order to showcase the shirt, but I've decided to make the bodice more like the one on page 88 of the book...the "1803-05" gown (still a similar date) from the Snowshill Collection.  I will go into more detail at a later date, however, here is an 'in progress' shot for you to sink your teeth into.