Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

What will I be doing this coming weekend?

I will be hiking and hanging out with friends.  What better?  And it should be cooler than the 95-99 degree heat that we've been experiencing this weekend...  "80 degrees" sounds like a refreshing change of pace...

In addition to being social, I'll also (no surprise) be crafting!

Labor Day is a holiday that celebrates workers' achievements, and their contributions to the nation's well-being.  While some might say arts and crafts are a bit of a different kind of "labor" than the holiday was originally referencing, art and textiles continue to add a great deal to one's quality of life.  Additionally, "holiday" to me means time for friends, family, and those hobbies and pursuits that are valued but don't tend to get enough attention during the regular grind.  So...crafting!

What have I been up to lately, crafts-wise?  Bats!
Whenever I have a few minutes, but don't feel like starting a large project, I will sew some felt eyes, or cut some scales out of scraps I have waiting.

That way, when I do have more time or focus, I'll have everything I need to make a plushie ready and waiting:
This past month, I've been cutting out panels in anticipation of my new batch of bats.  The Fall season is fast approaching, and I would like to stock up on finished bats before October. 

So I've been stitching spines,
and eyes

and wings!

I've decided to branch out into other Autumnal and Evening colors, so I think I'm going to have fun!
I'll keep you apprised of my progress...
I've also started work on a "Bat Construction" tutorial, so look for that a little closer to October.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.  And to all you U.S.-based folk, have a lovely holiday!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Jane Austen Festival 2014, Part 2: Archery, Fashion Show, Workshop, & Links

Hi, Everyone!

Without further ado, PART 2 of the Jane Austen Festival, held in Louisville, KY, USA:

The archery demonstration included a lecture on the purpose of archery clubs.  Archery events were another opportunity (in addition to dances) to socialize--and flirt.  They provided another venue for increased equality and skill for women, as well as an opportunity for exercise and gambling.  While a tournament could include up to 6 miles of walking, the social or club atmosphere was also a high priority: some clubs met for years without ever drawing a bow!
Note the costumes: Archery clubs had strict clothing requirements, down to the shade of green fabric used in one's clothing.  A feather in the cap was also required, for the purpose of the outfits was to emulate Robin Hood, who was very popular.  The founder of one club got fined for neglecting to have his cap-feather...
The schedule of Events for Sunday also included a wonderful fashion show:
I took a lot of pictures of the fashion show.  Most ensembles consisted of a dress with a lovely removable jacket on top, so it was like we got to see each model in two different outfits.  The lecturer, Betsy Bashore, created her dress patterns from museum pieces and fashion plates.  She helpfully provided construction tips for interested crafters.  Her website provides images of original garments as well as patterns.
Some of our favorites:
An interesting thing I learned during the presentation was that many of the dresses and bonnets in the Regency period were made from saris. Indian fabrics (and shawls) were a prized import at that time. The colorful sari prints were transformed into beautiful Grecian or Roman-style dresses, and the embroidered edging could be turned into an accent at the hem or waist.

In the afternoon, I took a workshop on "Regency Breastknots" with Julie Rockhold.  Her blog, "The Fat Reenactress," can be found here.
"Breastknots" also known as "nosegays," "tussie-mussies," "corsages," and "posies," are basically beribboned bouquets.  During the Regency period, breastknots were usually made from real or artificial flowers that were sewed together into a cluster and decoratively displayed on a ribbon base.  Additional decorative elements like fruit or nuts were often included. 
Here are a few of the images from the workshop handouts (unfortunately I do not have sources):
These floral arrangements were frequently worn as accent pieces near one's cleavage or at one's waist, but they could also be seen as the accent piece in a hat, or even carried in one's hand like the bouquets we see today.

Here's an example of hat decorations, from a Bingley's Teas recipe card:
Julie read us a passage from a letter Jane Austen wrote to her sister, Cassandra, from Bath.  In the letter, Austen remarks on the prevalence of flowers and fruit as accessories:
Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers', but I have never seen any of them in hats. A plum or greengage would cost three shillings; cherries and grapes about five, I believe, but this is at some of the dearest shops. My aunt has told me of a very cheap one, near Walcot Church, to which I shall go in guest of something for you.

For those of you who are "Pride and Prejudice" (and Lady Catherine de Bourgh) fans, I will include one other passage that I found in this set of letters, on the accommodations in Bath:
I have a very nice chest of drawers and a closet full of shelves -- so full indeed that there is nothing else in it, and it should therefore be called a cupboard rather than a closet, I suppose.

--13, Queen's Square, Friday (May 17)
The piece I made in the workshop:

When worn:

We were pretty tired and warm  by the end of the day, but I couldn't leave without getting some souvenirs!

This bag wasn't technically a souvenir, but I loved the humor.  In case you aren't familiar with "books" and "bookstores," this bag helpfully fills you in on both:


A Jane Austen mug, which features the pivotal declaration letter from "Persuasion" (my favorite Jane Austen novel):

The Festival T-Shirt--I couldn't resist!
I also picked up a few of these fun magnets. 

I wanted to show you a few more shots of two of the costumes I wore.
First, the outfit I wore to the festival: A short-sleeved dress, with a blue over-robe.  White, cotton dresses were reserved for labor, because they could be washed and bleached.  Strongly-dyed or embroidered fabrics were more expensive, so they were usually reserved for accent pieces or evening gowns.

I had always wanted a walking outfit like Elizabeth Bennet's, complete with her short Spencer jacket.  This is my attempt at one.  I wore it over the same dress:

Another interesting thing that I learned about Regency dress-making was the fact that most sleeves were detachable.  Ladies could easily unpick the sleeves from their dresses and create an entirely new outfit, or turn a winter dress into one for summer.

My Spencer jacket without the long sleeves:

For my mother's hat, I added a tube of the green fabric from her blouse/jacket to a pre-made sunhat:
Here she is, in front of the perfect banner:
My own bonnet was a little more complex.  I pleated white fabric around the brim of the sunhat, and then I stitched the top edges of the tube together (from the inside) and tightened the seam until it created this pouch look. 
The rosette is made from the lacey ribbon that I'd used as the ties for both hats, as well as some ribbon scraps from the blue dress that I'd cut up to make my over-robe.  I knotted together several loops of the ribbon to create a messy flower.  I bound the long tail of the rosette around the pleated brim, and tacked my new "hat band" down. 
While I was photographing my bonnet, Rio decided that the bonnet suited him much better.  Too cute!!

I wanted to include the links to some wonderfully informative websites that I found online while I was researching Regency dresses. They include some beautiful images of museum pieces, as well as some helpful patterns.
Regency Fashion:
If you'd like to see more pictures from the 2014 Jane Austen Festival, Kathy Cummings provides some great detail shots of the various workshops and activities here.
We had such a good time!  I can't wait for another opportunity to obsess about Jane Austen!