19th century, 19th century clothing, authenticity, Clothing, common dress, Costume, Events, fashion, history, interpretation, Newport, Newport Historical Society, Quaker, Quakers, Rhode Island, Rhode Island history, style
It started the week of the Stamp Act protest, when I felt quite tired of being the shabby, unrefined woman of the regiment and street vendor, and wanted a nice cozy shop like the milliner had. I was also looking forward to being a housekeeper again, and several weeks of moving boxes and volumes with red rot at work had me feeling generally filthy and unappreciated. Bratty.
When in doubt, sew. A new dress can’t help but cheer you up, right?
Well… sort of…
Last Thursday, we did a reprise of the Williams family letters program at the Newport Historical Society. The Williams family were Quakers, and the letters were from the early part of the 19th century, so for the program in March, I made a green silk cross-front gown based on the Quaker gown in the back of Costume in Detail. (Check out the schematic on the 19thus.come page; I didn’t see this until I was mostly done with the dress, but thank goodness I got it right!)
But it’s September, and Thursday was expected to be quite warm, so I salved my bureaucratic wounds in the $1.99 loft at the local mill store, and made a new Quaker gown, also suitable for a maid.
I ask you! Even though it’s my very own pattern based on sketches of original drawings, even though it fits, even though it cost $10, even though every seam is overcast and the whole thing is made with period correct stitches, it still fails to make me happy and cheerful and delighted.
This brattiness has resulted in a reappraisal of my approach– and a trip to Sewfisticated in Framingham. What did I buy there? Yards and yards of pink taffeta? Gold taffeta? Blue taffeta?
Because they didn’t have the right colors in the right weave– too slubby– or in enough yardage. Brace yourselves: I bought brown.
It appears I do not learn from my mistakes. When I think, “Gee, I’d like a pretty dress,” I end up buying fabric based on the texture as much as the color, and I have to tell you, that brown taffeta has the most wonderful l hand and sheen, and I will look much more like a Copley portrait than I ever have before, so that’s something.
It seems I have created a set of mental rules for myself, a mission, if you will, for the historic clothing I sew and the roles I take on, and I only play within those rules.