Taking an entirely new direction.

I have no background information on this photo, but I love the print on her dress.

I have no background information on this photo, but I love the print on her dress.

It’s been just shy of a month since the “projectus interruptus” post. Interruptus indeed.

Getting an offer on the house, then a refusal on the counter, then an agreement to an adjusted counter, then a rise in interest rates with the end result of the buyer pulling out altogether…it all took more of my time than planned, what with hurrying to finish painting, cleaning and spiffing the old place up in general. Wrestling with the lender (a disastrous choice – I would name them but for risk of libel) and discovering their astounding collective ability to be condescending+incompetent+untruthful all at once, then ending the phone conversation with “thank you for calling The Perfectly Hateful Mortgage Company, we appreciate our customers.” When my realtor got that closing line after a prolonged, and failed, attempt to reach someone who knew anything, her response was “No, you don’t.”

My apologies for the digression, but it felt good.

Back to the projects or, rather, lack of them.

I never made it to the 1865 museum event, which is a shame. I learned that cartridge pleating is 1) an art, 2) a precision art, and 3) gonna take me a while to get it looking correct. A fortunate outcome of the delay is that I ran across a photograph of an extant garment that is the dress I wanted to make all along, but didn’t know if it was “genuine.” And since I’d been so slow with the pleating, I hadn’t cut out any other parts so there is more than enough fabric to play with. Photos to follow.

The next scheduled event was a recreation of a White House garden reception for newly appointed ambassadors.

Vintage dress patterns, 1918

Vintage dress patterns, 1918

Period dress opportunities abounded and I’d chosen to go 1918. Ambassadors and the Armistice seemed a natural connection. I must admit this is not my favorite fashion era; everything looks a bit dumpy-frumpy and shapeless, but then I saw some extant dresses and have come to understand, if not wholly appreciate, it a bit more. Still, I’m glad I missed this particular trend.

At the end of WWI, the fabrics for the everyday woman were plain and in fairly subdued colors. I love prints, so going all solid is a challenge, no matter the era. But the bonus is with 1918 there’s no need for a corset – good news, because July up here can be a bit humid at times and one less layer works for me. I had a vintage pattern ready to go – the dress on the far left, with the tabs coming down over the bodice and under the sash. (Each of those tucks on the skirt are five inches deep! Thank goodness the skirt is a straight tube and not flared.) Then I found out the reservations were full and five people are on the waiting list, with no cancellations anticipated. I blew it.

Which leaves me 0 for 2.

I am not in despair, oh no. I’ve been smitten with Regency Fever. It came on over the past few months, as I’ve been getting more involved with costumers and period seamstresses. I should know better than to go there – the hips in our family are built for childbirth and diaphanous columns of gauzy muslin tend to follow those curves. Hence, no column. But I’m going there anyway, just because I want to. And I want to do it by hand, because I am nothing but a glutton for punishment and I think I’ll learn a lot about handwork.

Are fleur-de-lis patterns contraindicated for 1812-era garments?

Are fleur-de-lis patterns contraindicated for 1812-era garments?

I’ve spent weeks researching real versus kinda real versus really fake Regency patterns and fabrics. I found some fabric I like that is deep blue with biege-gold printed motifs spaced fairly accurately. It seems to meet all of the criteria, except for one little detail: it has a fleur-de-lis print.

It’s 1812 and the British are pretty miffed with the French. Again. And still none too pleased about the pesky colonial revolt on the other side of the pond.

On this side of that pond, The Brits are interfering with our little nation’s trade with France. It is also alleged, among other improprieties, they are taking American sailors off American ships and pressing them into service for the Royal Navy. We get pretty miffed with the British.

Then we start thinking that the territory of what is now eastern Canada, which the British have recently “acquired” from the French, looks like a nice bit of land that we would like to own. Now the British are miffed with us.

Next, some of the indigenous peoples of was is now the northeast US and Canada sided with the British. Which meant we had an immediate threat on “our” soil, so to speak.

So the French (and others) come to our assistance. The British go apoplectic. We declare war on the British, which must have pleased the French to no end, and blammo – The War of 1812 begins and lasts until 1815. At least that’s my paltry and deplorably superficial understanding of it.

Which, believe it or not, leads me to the fabric.

If I used a fleur-de-lis pattern on a British gown, I would reasonably expect to be hanged for treason. But as an American, this pattern on a gown of the same era would surely not offend. Or would it? I don’t know.