Genevieve At A Spring Fete

Genevieve, the name I gave to my most recently constructed mid-19th century sewing project back in 2019, was only able to be worn once before all events ceased. So when friends and I decided to gather for a private ball earlier this spring, I knew that of the multiple ball gowns from this period in my closet Genevieve was the one I most wanted to wear.

I was having such a lovely time dancing that I didn’t take any photos of that activity, and the dress had already been documented, so I didn’t take photos specifically for that purpose, either. Refreshments, however, were definitely worth taking photos of, because we decided to cut our cake with a sword.

Why? Because it is amusing! We had been at a ball a number of years ago in which no one had a knife, but someone did have a sword! We used it at that time and it’s been a running joke ever since. In this case, we did have knives… but swords are far more dramatic!

The beautiful and delicious cake was made for us by a local bakery, Dolce Amar. Friends contributed flowers and vessels to add to our springtime theme.

If you’re interested in learning more about Genevieve, my 1863 apricot silk dress, I documented the creation of the dress in nine separate blog posts over the course of 2019. All of those posts can be viewed here in the project journal for the dress.

1953 Dot Dress Summer Outing

I recently attended a casual picnic with friends that we decided would be vintage-inspired in terms of dress code. I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring out my 1953 Dot Dress!

This dress has a story… being made in 2013 and worn for a few years, then retired in 2016 due to closet shrinkage, and altered in 2020 so I could wear it again. You can read all about these stages of the dress here, in a past blog post from when I altered the dress in 2020.

For this wearing, I chose to do my hair in a similar fashion to what I did in 2016, the last wearing of this dress before its hiatus in the closet. I enjoy the hair scarf with this dress for vintage looks.

I like this dress, so I’m pleased that my alterations mean I can wear it again! Not only for vintage things, but also in real life (without the big petticoat). The unusual color combination in the dots is fun to match with various cardigans… cinnamon/rust, pale peach, and plum… Turns out all the colors of the dots are food related!

The day of the picnic proved to be glorious… bright blue sky, skidding clouds, and a comfortable temperature. Our picnic featured catching up, an elegant game of croquet, and a  round of ‘speed croquet’ in which everyone starts at the same time and no one takes turns!

All in all, a lovely summer day!

Winter Wonderland Adventure: Snowshoeing

Spring may be here now, but I haven’t finished my recounting of winter adventures! I don’t want to wait until next winter for these posts, so I hope you’ll forgive me for being in the wrong season for a bit.

The second day of my 19th century Winter Wonderland Adventure was supposed to include snowshoeing! I haven’t done much snowshoeing in my life, but I did do a little last winter. I was entertained and decided to purchase snowshoes.

Even though there wasn’t tons of snow… I was determined to use the new snowshoes! I thought it would be more fun to wear another warm historical outfit rather than modern clothes (even though the snowshoes are modern!).

I decided on my self-knit 1920 Deauville Sweater, which is acrylic and very warm, as well as a thrifted wool skirt with pleats that looks decidedly vintage to me. The skirt has a surprising mixture of colors in the plaid, including grey, green, blue, yellow, and magenta. The colors are muted enough to go with most things, but the touch of magenta felt like it would tie in with the Deauville Sweater nicely.

These garments were supplemented by modern base layers and fleece leggings. In addition, I wore locally sourced alpaca fiber gloves lined with fleece, modern snow boots, and a felted wool hat I made many years ago when I was learning millinery.

The hat is a nice olive color trimmed in grey. It started life as a derby, with a round crown, but that looks absurd on me, so I squashed in the top to make it look a little more fedora-like. The effect was quite jaunty! I’m very pleased with this first, very belated, hat outing! I hope I find more reasons to wear it!

Our snow shoe path followed along the same route as the sleigh ride the previous day, winding along a river and past the ice skating area. In contrast with the previous day, there was not a flake of snow falling from the sky, just bright sunlight.

It was a beautiful along the river, with rushing water gurgling along and massive chunks of ice thrown up against half submerged rocks and along the banks of bends in the river’s course.

The sunshine was a such a lovely contrast with the light snow of the previous day. It was an excellent adventure. I’m pleased that I managed to use my snowshoes this winter and even more pleased that I got to air out some historical clothes, too!

A 19th Century Winter Wonderland Adventure

Friends and I have been talking about going away for a historical winter outing for years to a particular establishment remembered from childhood outings. Nestlenook Farm, in Jackson, New Hampshire, boasts a variety of winter activities all in one place! There are sleigh rides (with real horses and actual runners, if there is enough snow!), a three acre skating pond, and snowshoeing trails.

I grew up in a different part of the country, so I hadn’t ever been Nestlenook Farm, but I have fond memories of going into the mountains with my family and best childhood friend to have winter adventures. My memories are of a man called Happy Jack who ran a small business driving draft horses pulling real sleighs through the woods to a hill that was perfect for snow tubing. He’d drop you off for the day, allow the kids to tire themselves out tubing, sledding, and hanging out by the fire pits, and then he’d return to take you back through the woods. It was very exciting!

This past winter I was able to experience all of this fun, but in 19th century clothes! We were worried there wouldn’t be snow. But not only was there snow on the ground, we also had a magical day of snow lightly falling while we took part in the various activities! We could not have asked for more picturesque weather!

We bundled up in our various 19th century (and hidden modern) warm layers, outerwear, accessories, and blankets for our sleigh ride. The sleigh trail circles the ice skating pond and there’s a lovely lookout where the sleigh drivers will pause to take a photo. Ours kindly took many photos, anticipating that we might accidentally make silly faces in some of them.

Now that’s a real smile! It was difficult not to smile, with good company, an obliging sleigh driver, the sound of the horses’ bells jingling, and snow lightly falling!

I opted to wear my American Duchess carriage boots. How could I not? A sleigh is just a carriage with runners, right? Photo documentation of both the boots and the sleigh on actual runners was essential.

In addition to shoes, the rest of my outfit for the day consisted of modern ski base layers, my 1880s yellow corset and 1903 super silk petticoat, 1895 ice skating ensemble, matching faux fur hat and muff set (made for 1917 but with the ability to be used for lots of periods), and my 1855 wool cape because the other layers weren’t quite enough to be warm in the sleigh.

Following the sleigh ride, we went ice skating!

I’ve done a middling amount of outdoor ice skating since moving to the Northeast, but I can say with certainty that I’ve never been ice skating with accumulated snow on the ice. I wasn’t sure if it would be difficult to skate through, so I had to try it! It’s not bad, actually, if it’s only a few inches deep. (When I tried to skate through drifts that were more than about 6″ high I found the dramatic decrease in my momentum to be startling as it threw off my balance. But it was still fun to go flying through drifts!)

A few inches of snow on the ice sort of helps stabilize you (unless it obscures obstacles and trips you up!). That’s what happened to me here. There was uneven ice that caused me to do a super plop as my feet went right out from underneath me. This was the aftermath, as I caught my breath before getting up again.

There weren’t all that many people skating, so it was easy to find areas for nice photos. Skating made me warm enough that I didn’t mind taking off the cape for some ice-skating-outfit-only photos. How could I not, when this outfit was made just for this?

It may not be winter anymore (yay, spring is here!), but it’s fun to revisit this exciting adventure by including it here on the blog. Thanks for enjoying it with me!

An Outing At The Lippitt House Museum

I’m quite slow in posting about this, but better late than never, right?

In 2019, a friend and I had the opportunity to visit the Lippitt House Museum in Providence, RI  in historical clothing. The historic house, completed in 1865, is the former home of Rhode Island Governor Henry Lippitt and his family. (You can learn more about the house and the family here, on the Preserve Rhode Island website.)

Neither of us had been to this particular location before, so it was all new and beautiful! We were given a tour of the house by knowledgable docents who were tickled to see us in our historical clothes and kindly let us take photos of ourselves in the spaces.

This incredible house boasts marvelous details, from the advanced heating and plumbing systems to the intricate wood floor patterns, painted ceilings, and jaw dropping wallpaper. There are so many bits to see and admire!

The exterior of the house and the garden area boast their own lovely views.

If you’re ever in Rhode Island and haven’t had the chance to visit, I highly suggest it! Tours in 2022 open in May.

If you’re not in the area, you can check out a mini virtual tour of the house on the website, here, and perhaps you’ll be inspired to visit or donate to a historic house in your own local area.

On The Rocks

One of the highlights of Gatsby On The Isles for me last year was running around in my new 1928 green dress and having adventures. That includes playing tennis as well as a lengthy walk and clamber on the rocky back side of the island (photos of tennis are in the Gatsby On The Isles blog post linked above).

This post is going to focus on the rocky ramble part of the adventure. The goal was to document our new clothes (that shouldn’t be surprising!), but it was also just a stunning area to explore and enjoy.

There are many great photos! There are also photos of us taking photos, which is a great behind-the-scenes look, too!

We found this pool high up on the rocks and I found the very angular features of these rocks to be so interesting. As a dabbler in geology, I wonder what process and types of rocks made such angular features.

The pool was a neat place for photos. And photos of the photographer!

I love a good shoe shot. I mentioned this in an earlier post as well, but my American Duchess shoes held up admirably to all of my clambering about on rocks and playing tennis!

Next is one of my favorite silly photos, followed by a more subdued photo in the same location.

To finish things off, here are a few more photos that capture the rock expanse we were exploring as well as all our group in both photographer and sitter action. Thanks for enjoying the adventure with me!

Gatsby On The Isles Adventure (2021)

It was super exciting to be able to attend Gatsby On The Isles again last year! There haven’t been many multi-day historical adventures of late, so that made this one extra needed and appreciated!

I’ve loved wearing my 1930s Beach Pajamas to this event over multiple years. They are super comfy and don’t show wrinkles (great for long car and boat rides!). I opted for them again this year but wanted to change them up to create a new outfit. After a look through my closet I decided to try wearing my 1922 silk blouse tucked into the pants for a new take on these old favorites.

I added a decorative head scarf for a bit of a jaunty flair and finished off the bottom of the outfit with my American Duchess Ginger shoes. The scarf is one I’ve had for over 20 years. I used to wear it in the belt loops of my jeans as a decorative belt, I think… I haven’t used it for anything in probably 10 years or so, but I held on to it, thinking that the dusty pink color and gold sheen would be useful for something someday… and it was! I like how it blends the bold color of the pants with the bright white of the blouse.

I might have been slightly distracted from drinking my tea at the clifftop gazebo by the opportunity to take photos (or be in them)… Some with a stereoscope!

Croquet the following morning was also well documented.

The weekend included other opportunities for fun photos, as well. The evening dance had a masquerade theme, for which I turned my 1926 Silver Robe De Style into a star-themed fancy dress outfit. There’s a whole post about the fancy dress inspiration that you can read here.

We also ‘played’ tennis! Or at least, we batted a ball around a bit.

I had no trouble running around in my heels. It was quite fun, actually! I felt very sporty in my Gingers and new 1928 dress!

In addition to playing tennis, we also wandered around the rocky back side of the island in pursuit of stunning photo settings.

We achieved great photos, some alone and some in groups. These are just a few of them… There are are so many fun ones that I’m going to do another post just to share rocky background photos!

My shoes had no trouble on the rocks! I did tread carefully, for safety and so I didn’t bang up my shoes unnecessarily, but I enjoyed proving to myself (as I have before) that one can clamber even in fabulous historical shoes.

It was so nice to have a getaway! And see people! And wear historical clothing!

1920s Star Fancy Dress

The theme recommendation for the evening soiree at Gatsby On The Isles earlier this year was a masquerade. I took that to heart and decided to adapt an existing dress in my closet to make it fancy dress. (It turns out that the majority of people who attended didn’t adhere to the guidelines, so I was a bit out of place, but I enjoyed my fancy dress regardless!)

My requirements for this outfit were: to use a dress as a base that was already in my closet, to not cost much, to not take much time, and to have the elements of fancy dress be easily reversible.

I looked through my 20th Century Fancy Dress Pinterest board and settled on the image below as my inspiration. (Unfortunately, I can’t find a source for the image that isn’t Pinterest. If anyone has information, please share.)

I thought the idea of stars would work well with my 1926 Silver Lace Robe de Style. I briefly considered creating the stars myself and then I remembered that I didn’t want this too take too much time and I started researching purchasable stars. I wanted something nice looking but not costly, remember, and I also wanted to stay away from glitter–the shedding! Ugh! While considering various metallic and cardboard style stars I realized that: 1- those may not travel well (I didn’t want bent stars!) and 2- they probably wouldn’t be comfortable to wear. So I started researching felt stars!

I decided on these felt stars. They were a good size, I liked the color, and they weren’t supposed to be too stiff. Not being stiff would be more comfortable to wear and also easier to sew through! I’d considered making garlands of the stars but I figured they would get tangled, so instead I opted to sew the stars directly onto the lace.

I started by placing the stars in a line diagonally across the top of the dress. The goal was to capture the feeling of my inspiration but didn’t feel the need to add as many stars as the drawing has, so I stopped with the one line. I liked the stars hanging from the hem, so I did those next–one star per each dip in the pattern of the lace.

After that I didn’t have many stars left! I used a scrap of metallic knit fabric to make a veil and put a star on each corner. The veil is a square, with one corner turned under, gathered, and stitched to a hair comb.

I also used some black felt scraps to cut a few stars by hand to accent the star at the waist. I thought this might tie in the metallic knit veil and also draw attention to the grey stars on the grey dress!

I added some sparkly shoe clips, pearl bracelets, and sparkly stars for my hair (reused from my 1885 Night Sky Fancy Dress) and the outfit was complete! It pays off to reuse themes for fancy dress, I guess!

1930s Holyhead Harpies Adventure

Some of my friends decided to make 1930s quidditch uniforms for the Holyhead Harpies team (these are all Harry Potter references, in case that sentence makes no sense to you!). I didn’t have the time to join them in that particular endeavor, but I did have a 1933 dress in my closet in the team colors (green and gold) and we decided it would be fun for me to tag along on the quidditch adventure. One could call me team manager, or a fan, or… take your pick!

My role might depend on which photo you’re looking at… I brought along a wand and my time turner and made sure to run the team through their drills!

Our initial photos were fun, but the backgrounds weren’t great, so we decided to do an autumnal outdoor photo shoot, which we combined with regular photos of my dress, too. The non-Holyhead Harpy photos of the dress can be seen here in a previous post.

You can’t really see the detail of the pennant in the last photo (but look at that gorgeous tree!), so below is a closer photo. One of my friends had great fun making the felt pennants!

We had fun taking action shots, too!

Who says quidditch brooms aren’t real?

Quidditch champions!

Sometimes a bit of silly is good for you. Certainly it brings smiles! To read more about the idea to make 1930s quidditch uniforms, check out this post about it on Plaid Petticoats.

An Autumn Outing For The 1933 Green & Gold Dress

It’s autumn! I think this is my favorite season. Chilly air mixed with sunshine… The return of wool sweaters and skirts… Crisp apples and fresh cider… Yum!

I thought I’d set the season by sharing a few photos from an autumn photo shoot that haven’t made it onto the blog yet. They are so wonderfully autumnal that I’ve been saving them until the perfect time of year!

The story behind the photo shoot is that back in 2017 I made a bias cut 1933 dress. It is green with a small windowpane woven in gold and features gold taffeta accents as well as a gold tilt hat remade from a vintage velour cloche-shaped hat. Construction details and the original photo shoot were blogged about here.

At the time I made the dress I had no particular plans for it, but I’m pleased to say that I have put it to use a few times in the last few years. Most recently, I wore it on this gorgeous autumn day in order to get updated photos of it and to join friends as we photographed them in 1930s-style Holyhead Harpy quidditch uniforms (this is a reference to Harry Potter… more on that in a future post!).

I loved the idea of the gold accents in harmony with the changing leaves, though I think it’s possible the leaves mostly stole the show!

It was such a beautiful day! With or without leaves the trees looked striking against the brilliant blue sky.

In addition to getting photos, we had a picnic followed by a lovely walk as we took in the trees, sunshine, and fresh air. Autumn is only just starting so there’s plenty of time to get some more of that, too!