Lady Jen’s Sewing Goals for the Winter of 2013/2014

So the Season is finally over and with it comes the time to reevaluate my Regency closet and see what needs to go, what needs to be replaced, and what is still missing. At the moment I have three dresses, pink cotton print, blue cotton print, and the dark purple cotton voile.

The dark purple cotton voile dress is the one I wore to the Spencerville Ball. It’s one of my favourite dresses but it has a few problems that need to be worked out. The sleeves were a nightmare, something I mostly attribute to a) a flaw in the Sense and Sensibility pattern and b) rushing to get it finished in time. I have very little remnants of the fabric left but I am hoping to redo the sleeves or get rid of them altogether and wear the dress over top of a white muslin or voile dress.

Also at Spencerville I purchased some of the most gorgeous teal cotton that I want to make into a ball gown, but I am wary to use the S&S pattern as it has done nothing but frustrate me since I started using it. I was considered La Mode Bagatelle but I have no heard good and bad things about that pattern as well. So, although I have no pattern decided upon yet I will be using this nice black satin ribbon as the trim. It’s a striking combination and I can’t wait to see it complete!

The one thing I am really really REALLY in need of is a new pair of stays. The Frankenstays have finally bit the dust. I’ve worn them to at least 6 or 7 balls, and two very humid, sticky, reenactments. I’ve replaced the shoulder straps, the sides, added boning, added cording, got rid of the boning, etc. The fact that I was even able to get them to lift anything this past weekend in Chatham is amazing. And they are just plain hideous to look at! So my most current project is constructing a useable pair of stays that I can put on myself at reenactments, in a tent, standing at a 75 degree angle. With all those requirements in mind, I’ve decided to make the Daffodown Dilly wrap stays. Look for a blog post on that process in the coming month or so, as I will be documenting my process step-by-step.

Also this winter I will be making a few more shifts, and a bodiced petticoat! I think I’m going to be super busy this year but hopefully I can get it all done in time for March when the Living history Conference kicks off next season!

The 200th Anniversary for the Battle of Crysler’s Farm

So I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to approach my review of my weekend at Crysler’s Farm and my experience as a camp follower. Let me give you some background – I grew up in Eastern Ontario, I have been to Upper Canada Village more times than I can even count. In fact when I was 12 I wanted to LIVE at Upper Canada Village. So when emails started coming up about the 200th anniversary reenactment, I was intrigued if for no other reason then I would be able to walk around Upper Canada Village in period attire. In case you haven’t figured out already, I’m a little bit of a history nerd.

With the decision made to attend Crysler’s Farm, I spent the next couple of weeks scrambling to finish some outfits, including my shortgown (which I never ended up wearing because it was dark purple and by Friday afternoon I wanted nothing to do with anything that attracted the sun) and my stays.

I arrived Thursday afternoon, as I was riding up with Dave (who owns Coughlin and Upton. You should check out the website, it is pretty awesome.) There were several other people from our group already their so we went to work setting up our tents in the encampment. Surprisingly, wedge tents are not that hard to assemble, especially when the ground is so soft that you can basically push the pegs into the ground with your bare feet. Last week we got some pretty torrential rains and unfortunately CF was not spared. The ground was soaked, in fact at some points I was standing in the grass with an inch of water over my feet (thankfully my tent was not in this puddle), but it dried up as the weekend went by and it all added to the charm. In fact walking in wet grass was actually really nice when I was sweltering in my dress!

Thursday night was a challenge. I’m not going to lie. It was damp and cold and I spent most of the night tossing and turning on my cot, with my sleeping bag, my cloak and all four of my gowns on top of me. Needless to say by 4:30am I was wide awake and currently rethinking the entire endeavour. Since no one was awake, I headed over to the port-a-pottys and then went on a walk up to the monument.

I sat on the stone wall and watched the sunrise and it was one of the most pleasant experiences. It was so quiet and still, and it made me think of the original battle 200 years ago, and of all the villages and buildings that had been flooded when they expanded the St. Lawrence river. So there I was, going on only a few hours of sleep, cold, damp and crying over flooded buildings. This was really not going well at all, but I was determined not to let it get to me.

Friday proved to be a lot of fun, I went to the village with Steve and Lenore, and we had a great time touring the buildings! I also experienced being constantly photographed by tourists. At first it was very odd and slightly off putting, especially for someone who doesn’t really like to have their picture taken, but as the weekend progressed I got more and more used to it.

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After the your we went back to camp where more people had begun to arrive! Our camp was looking pretty great by Friday night! Which brings me to Port NIght. This is apparently an IMUC tradition and it was a lot of fun to be a part of. I got to try some really great Port, including a homemade chocolate port. I’m pretty sure I was in heaven when I tried that. It was so delicious! I was however still freezing on Friday night, but it was not as bad as Thursday night.

Saturday there was so much to see and do, and don’t forget the heat! I spent time perusing the wares of Sutlers Row, and found some lovely items including a very light weight wool shawl, a walking stick (for the most fashionable of ladies), cotton stockings, and a new ink well and pen.

In the afternoon I met up with my fellow GTRG Devon and we watched the afternoon battle. It was great (especially because we were in the shade), and it was very thrilling to see everyone in action though I know it was very hot for the people out on the field!

Saturday evening the group I was with, the Glengarry Light Infantry, had a potluck dinner – including roast beef cooked on an open spit and in a reflector oven! The food was absolutely delicious and the company even better!

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After dinner we walked over to the Village, where there was an ‘impromptu’ pistol duel followed by the night time battle. Playing an adulterous wife and having a duel fought over you is hard work, so I gave up my Regency ball ticket to someone else as I was just too exhausted by Saturday night, and Devon’s got an excellent review of the ball just below this one. I did however have enough energy to go back to camp and play a thoroughly enjoyable game of bid euchre where Andrew and I kicked ass! The score was 44-11, but apparently that’s debatable considering the game only goes to 42…

Sunday was much quieter and relaxed in the morning, we took our time going for breakfast and Kate and I spent a good deal of time sitting on the edge of the fountain cooling off our legs. In hindsight we should have started doing that on Friday!

Sunday was also the day of the actual re-creation for the Battle of Crysler’s Farm. Kate and I found a shady spot on the hill overlooking the battle and stayed until about the end, then headed back towards camp before the crowd dispersed.

The rest of the day was spent packing up, taking down tents, packing cars and then finally the long journey back home.

All in all I couldn’t have asked for anything better when it came to my first true reenactment – it was an amazing experience and I am definitely looking forward to the next one! (And next time I promise to take more pictures – the pictures in this post were taken by Steve Ball, to who I am very grateful!)

Crysler’s Farm

So last weekend me and the family headed out to Crysler’s farm area to take in the sites and the battles. That’s right this GTRG packed up her parents and the Hubby for a weekend of history. So here you have it folks my write up on one of the biggest 1812 – 1813 events of the season.

To start with I would like to be honest with you all I don’t camp. That isn’t to say I have never tried it. I have and it just didn’t stick. So we all booked in at a hotel and made a family mini vacay out of it. I have to give big big BIGGGGGG props to Lady Jen who toughed it out in a wedge tent. I point this all out because my weekend will seem vastly different to her recap.

So on the Friday night after work me and the Hubby tossed the duffel bag of stuff into the car. I should note that this time I was not just packing a costume for myself but also for Hubby. He has a vest from when he deiced he wanted to dress like the guys in madmen, was opposed to the short pants, and I had found a jacket that would do at a Goodwill. The only thing missing was a cravat. With the left over linen from my shift. “Great” I thought “I will tidy it up with a hem will be wonderful”. Well I sew by hand and manged to get just enough done to need to do the whole thing. Alright…I can do this in the car….and it was going alright until it got dark. After the ump-tenth time jabbing my finger Hubby suggested I put it down and talk him though the dances.

Lap sewing on a night time car ride...don't do it

Lap sewing on a night time car ride…don’t do it

The next morning after breakfast we made the short drive to Upper Canada Village. The place was packed! There was a ton of families which is great as it means that a whole new generation of Canadians are getting an intro into history.

After pulling in I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to find Lady Jen. After all the place was packed. No sooner then I had said this then I spotted a bonnet I knew all to well. I called across and after the pleasantry’s were exchanged we made our way over to the battle field to get a shady spot. Lady Jen joined us and seemed very happy to be in a cool spot. My Mother was very excited to get a good look at her reticule and they chatted for a while about it. (Side note to Lady Jen you really should get a pic of it up as it is very cute) Then with a BAM of canon fire the battle started.

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It was a good one but I have to say as someone who has worked in costume in bad heat I was really feeling for those Redcoats.

After we walked back to camp with Lady Jen and chatted with friends both old and new. Then we tok a walk around the folks selling there wares. Again me and my Mother looking at all the reticule’s. Keep an eye out for a post soon about me and my Mother making them…I can feel this coming.

Then we cheated and we went back to the hotel for dinner and to change. Coming back we headed into the Village in time to see both the dueling demo, (this time Lady Jen got to play the part of wife!) and the evening battle. Then it was time for the ball.

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You can see the dress I had been working on and as for the Hubby? At some point he stopped just being that and started really being his “Lordship”. From that point on he did not want to take the jacket off even with the heat. Not sure when he came up with a persona but told me if he was asked he had deiced he was a well to do lawyer, have a feeling this has to do with our love of Downton Abby. I know it’s the wrong era but hey he was getting into being dressed up and going to a ball. We both also got a big kick in a tourist asking to take a picture of us and then saying “Pesky battles getting in the way of you towns folks having a night out”

As for the ball, it was wonderful. The dances seemed to flow one into the next and the band was great. Me and his Lordship did cause a bit of a scandal as we danced every dance together! I know shocking right? Well that is why I am a Good Time Regency Girl and not a well behaved one. Also not sure if anyone knows but what would be the ruling on that for folks who are married?

We came back and let my Mother take a few more pictures of us before going back to our room. Apparently she had spent the night on her iPhone looking up pictures of reticule’s. In the morning and with the last bars of the Duke of Kent’s waltz in my head we came back home.

I want to end this post with a thank you to all involved. The troops the camp followers everyone
who put on a good showing. To those who organized and worked behind the scenes, I hope this blog finds you and you know just how much my family enjoyed the weekend.

What I have learned so far as a GTRG

Hello,

I have very busy week with work and family but I thought I would write a bit of a mini post about what being a GTRG has taught me so far….

That maybe with a little help and support ball gowns can be done, also if you go to Las Vegas you come back to Lady Jen having power sewn a good chunk of it.

While dancing if one gets lost in the dance, stick your hand out and smile. This is the Lady Kenzie’s key tip!

Hand sewing take time but it so worth it

On that note don’t use a daring needled for sewing a ball gown

That the dance I was writing was a bit of a mess but it was fixable

That my hubby likes it when I work on dance stuff, as it involves no bits of fabric

Lady Jen is to short to be on the mens side while danceing the Duke of Kents waltz

Thus you have it things I have learned so far!

Spencerville Heritage Fair – Recap!

So as Devon mentioned in our last post, we had an absolutely great time at the Spencerville Heritage Fair!

We spent Friday morning getting ready for the day, and also Devon and I had a chance to stroll through Kathy’s garden/yard and pretend we were in a BBC drama. The best part is that this picture was candid, I really was making that ridiculous face.

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Here are the Good Time Regency Girls’ Pictorial Top Ten from the Spencerville Heritage Fair:

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Thank you Spencerville

We would like to take a moment to thank all the folks who worked so hard on the Spencerville Heritage Fair. Also a big hello to all the new friends us Good Time Regency Girl’s made on the trip. Over the next few days we will be sorting out all the pics and the best of moments (ok well the whole thing was one big best of but you know what I mean..) and start posting up. Keep an eye our you might just see yourself. Also feel free to let us know how the fair was for you or any of the other 1812 events that you made it to this weekend.

Spencerville Heritage Fair 2013

Just a quick fly by post to say Lady Jen and Lady Devon are heading to Spencerville for the Spencerville Heritage Fair! It’s going to be an amazing weekend and we’re really looking forward to it! Can’t wait to post about it when we return! 

A Brief History of Tea (and its place in the Regency)

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There is nothing more comforting than a good cup of tea. In fact I would defend that there is almost something magical about tea. Tea is used to celebrate good times, and it is offered as comfort for the bad times. And yet, in our modern age, we take for granted how precious tea was not so long ago. Okay, it was 200 years ago, but in the grand scheme of our universe, that doesn’t seem so long!

During the 1700s, tea was a pricey commodity, and for the most part, only the affluent among society could afford it. Tea was imported from “The Orient”, and heavily taxed by the British Empire. It was cheaper to buy gin then it was to buy tea! However the tea tax affected not only the consumers, but the merchants and in 1784 it was Richard Twining who participated in the creation of the Commutation Act, which reduced the tax in tea from 119% to 12.5%. He was also one of the heirs to the Twinings Of London. The only tea that this Lady prefers to drink!

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So, by the time the Regency era came around most middle class households were drinking tea. And since it was now closer in price to gin, it was looked on as a wholesome, familial activity. Tea however was still held in wooden boxes known as tea chests, and either the lady of the house or the housekeeper wore the key to the chest on her person. Though tea was taken in the afternoon, it was not labelled as “Afternoon Tea” until later into the 19th century. Tea is the Regency was served by the hostess, and accompanied by savouries, scones and sweets – to be eaten in that order!

As part of the Good Time Regency Girls (GTRG), all of our activities, whether it be sewing, cards, etc, we always have a strong pot of tea and something delightful to nibble on. To me, there is little that can compare to sitting in my day dress, embroidery on my lap, and drinking tea in a delicate china cup!