2015 – A New Year of History – The Regency and Beyond!

Hello my lovely creatures! Did you enjoy a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends? Mine was busy, busy, busy and has not quite stopped as I have yet to see any of my siblings. Lady E and Lord R are popping over today for a pre-NYE lunch since we missed them over Christmas, and then tomorrow Lord A and Lady B are coming by to celebrate the beginning of 2015.

Sadly, after January 11th all the War of 1812 events will be over, they are coming to a close at the Battle of New Orleans. Lord G and I spent a week in the Big Easy in December and I have a ridiculous amount of historical pictures and facts to share. Look for that in January!  I know some fellow reenactors who will be heading South and I cannot wait to see the pictures. Over 1400 reenactors are supposed to be in attendance! 1400!!

Though the Regency will live on long after our War of 1812 events are over, I have decided that I shall attempt not only to make Regency attire this year, but something a little bit later as well. You could say I am broadening my horizons! For Christmas, Lord G gave me two lovely patterns Рa corset pattern for late 19th century and a Burda dress pattern from 1880, complete with bustle. I have to say I am very excited to attempt this project, as late 19th century offers a wider range of colours and fabrics and will be a challenge that I think I am up to!

 

Well I must run, dearest friends, but I shall write soon!

Yours always,

Lady Jen

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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!

Time Travelling on the weekends

This year I have been very lucky to get away for the weekend more then normal. I have always been someone that love to travel but more often then not they are much larger trips that require careful planing and coin in the bank. Something has changed this year and I find I am on smaller trip more and more.

Myself and His Lordship like to get in the car and take trips. As I write this we have just gotten back from an over night at a friends cottage. We drove up late and when we stepped out of the car both of us stopped to look at the stars. The day was spent swimming and reading by the lake. Lunch was a large communal affair with everyone pitching in. (well almost I was told to move a little out of the way, though to be fair you don’t want to eat my cooking…but I helped clear up after) and we sat down together. Sure we had a modern touches, but as for the motions themselves? It’s easy to think of the settlers in a free moment going for a dip. A city Lady up for the air reading her book, and all of them looking at the stars one clear night. As for lunch I think that’s an easy one to imagine folks doing. Something sort of wild to be able to drive out of the city and step into the past even if it is just the view.

As we drove home its was very easy to look back and see how full this summer has been! I have to say that Red Coats A Regency Wonderland, has been a great deal of help. Take a look, (they are on our blog roll) they offer info on all sorts of historic events. I hope they keep up the good work. They make time travel easy.

If you have been following us you may have read the re-caps of some of the fun Spencerville and Crysler’s Farm have both been blogged about. However I go back and read them and it always feels like I have left so much out. Maybe we just know how to really pack a full trip. Sooooo many full trips this year.

I would like to put a question out to folks reading this:

Did you go away and tap in with the past?

It could be something big like reenactment or something small like reading an old book. Post below and let us know if you time traveled this summer.

I have an 1812 problem

So as I have said in an earlier post sometimes my work life and my GTRG life sort of come together. I work in history and one of the ways things over lap is the War of 1812.

As I was cleaning my desk yesterday at work I found a very very full file folder in a bin. At first I was unsure what this was. Looking down I saw that the folder was in my 1812 bin. It was the a folder that had grown so large, so thick and so heavy that I had moved it over to a bin. In my hands was what I had thought would be a slim file when it all started.

So what was in the file/bin? Glad you asked. It currently holds almost every single news paper clipping about about 1812 that has come out in the past year, both history biased and event reviews. A photo copy of all the local men who took part in The Battle of York (will be writing more on that soon) and a very large very poorly photo copy of a surgeons journal. Oh and about a pound of random pages on different topics.

Some of it is highlighted, some of it I have no idea where or why I had collected it, and most of it has some sort of sticky note jammed on the front, with notes that mostly say “neat” and “you liked this” on them. A few of the clippings have my father’s writing near the header with his all caps letters reading “1812 FUN” or “MORE FOR YOU TO READ”.

So I put this out to you fellow GTRG’s, what do you think should be done with all of this? Sort? Scan? Keep and write up something? What would you do with a big old pile of info?

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!)