Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hey, 2000 blog views. I would be excited if most of them weren't some spambot from Russia I don't know how to shake.....

Friday, October 12, 2012

Summer Sewing Projects cont'd

So, going along with the 'I totally actually do things" track (which, ironically, helps distract me from actually doing la la!), this was the summer of handwork. See, one advantage to having previously mentioned handsome young man live two thousand freakin' miles away, and having to spend all of your couple time on skype, is that you have lots of time to work on those projects you would otherwise never get to. Like

Couching the grommets on a dress you made two years ago

Maybe next I'll get crazy and finish the inside of the arm holes :-p

and that blackwork project you've been meaning to get going forever

ok, this one actually came to faire too 

Photo by Laurie Tavan

So, there ya go. I do, in fact, do to stop blogging, get off the internet and actually go do some more of them :-P

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Follow-up- not my strong suit

So if anyone is actually reading this blog, I realize it must look as though I never actually accomplish any of the projects I outline here. This is not entirely true- I mean, does my ambition sometimes get a little ahead of my energy and time? well, yes, but not entirely!

Case in point, I actually did accomplish many to most of the things on this list, as evidenced here

Seeeeee? I do things!
Photo by Toni Tumbusch

I made a whole dress, even. And stays, though you can't see them. And went out and found gloves. And Maggie did incredibly awesome things to my hair.

The stays were from the Sense and Sensibility pattern. Everyone warned me before I started that the gussets need to be bigger than the pattern tells you. I wasn't quite sure how to figure this out, so I just kind of eyeballed it on paper and held it up till it looked about right (this was the project of 'dear lord my life would be easier with a dress form')- in the end I think I just added about a 1/4 inch on each of the four and it fits well.

My super-scientific process;The first one seemed two big when held up to my boob, the second just right (did I mention I want a damn dress form?).

 The bigger change was actually in the back- Laura helped me fit it and we ended up chopping about four inches out . We also moved the straps a little.

(back originally one piece without a seam)

Once this was done it had enough tension to fit pretty well with just the boning channels down the middle, without adding all the other boning in the bust. I added some quilting seems underneath for a little extra support. Having worn it three times now, I am quite happy. I fully *intend* to make a slightly prettier pair someday, with like real eyelets and stuff.... (yeah, right :-p).

Notice the beer stain? yeah, cause I'm a lady like that

So there ya go- I do actually do things! I'm just terrible about actually blogging them.

Oh, and the incredibly handsome young man by my side? Well, in case you live under a rock or people who aren't on my facebook are actually reading this, which would be nice to think...well, there had to be some motivation for all this work, right? ;-)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Because we all start somewhere...

I give you the very first thing I ever made for my very first year of Dickens...

There you have it, folks- a 'Victorian' dress.. out of cotton broadcloth (in maroon of course- what else!) from a Butterick pattern which has been thankfully discontinued and was long ago ruled unacceptable by the Costume Dept. Hastily assembled in the week before open with the help of Sharon Collier- the first of many, many projects I have laid out on her table- and the patient encouragement of Alexandria Volk. When I told Alexandria this was my first sewing project I still recall her chuckling and saying 'well, you've certainly chosen baptism by fire". I had a bunch of fun in that dress...may it never see the light of day again....

Also featuring the old bonnet of much lace and holly as I could possibly hot glue on in the time allowed!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Penmanship con'td

(Warning, detailed. This will probably only be interesting if you are actually considering pursuing this particular hobby. You have been warned. )

Many people have tried to convince me to improve my writing skills over the years... Maggie is the first one who actually found the right bate to make me do it. Plus she sent me a starter kit- a dip pen with tip, AND a how to guide. The book is a reproduction of an  18th century manual, and contains all kinds of delightful period aphorisms and the like to practice writing, in addition to the basic letters and other things. Since I didn't exactly happen to have any lose India ink lying around, I first started out tracing the book itself lightly with the pen, then copying onto paper with a ballpoint just for practice. One particularly amusing part to me was a 'List of Christian Names" from A-Z, starting with 'Arabella'. I had a particular bit of fun perfecting that signature :-D (and if you don't know why feel free to ask Therese and I...then get comfy while we prattle away....there's even a song!). 

In order to get some more supplies, I went to Michael's where I was able to get some ink and pen cleaning solution to get started. They actually do have a basic selection of stuff for this, so apparently we are not the only folks out there indulging in this delightful epistolary nonsense. Then followed my earlier posted scribbles, after which I penned out a draft of a letter for Miss Waterman. I wrote the last paragraph three times, and by the third time I had it almost half as small as the first. I also spent a bit of time practicing my Elizabeth Tattman signture so it would look natural. I'm pretty satisfied with it so far. There is definitely a muscle memory to it that will just take practice- including making sure you in no way accidentally flick or shake the pen, which results in a lovely rorschash  test where your letter used to be (side note: Clean & Clear makeup remover wipes are great for getting ink off your hands. Not sure what this means I've been putting on my face, don't really care).  I found myself cleaning the pen every so often as I went along- no idea of this is correct, or if I am just not doing something right to feel as though I need to.

In any event when I came back the next day, I found the pen had become bent around the slit down the front, so the two bits at the end were out of whack and the ink couldn't work its way down to the tip correctly. Tiny issues, but completely keeps it from working apparently. I was afraid it was broken but finally managed to bend it back so that it worked *mostly* as well, but it still seems scratchier. Not sure exactly what happened, but the good money is probably on my having pressed too hard while writing, jaw grinder that I am. Went back to Micahel's to look for another tip, and I was unimpressed with the selection. The only way to get the piece I needed there was to purchase a whole kit complete with pen and multiple other tips- the cheapest was $10, for a bunch of stuff I didn't need save for one teeny tiny pen nib. The company does have them for sale in one or two packs off their website. The two packs are $2.74- except the shipping is $8.95. At that point I might as well get the instant gratification of taking what I want home from the store. 

I also need to get some better paper. I have been practicing on an old sketchpad as well as that printer paper we use so much of at faire that's supposed to look all old timey and parchment-y (but looks like crap on toast next to the awesomeness that arrives in my mail from TN). Neither one held up so well as I would like against the pen tip, but then again, this could be an issue with my pressing too hard. I will have to work on it. Checked while I was at Michael's, but they didn't have any nice stationary stuff. So yeah, they will get you started, but don't count on them for everything. I forgot to check when I went back today if they have any basic seals and wax. I might be able to find the paper I want at Office Depot- I used to get nice stuff like that there for work. Who knows, maybe they will have a calligraphy section- seems like they sell everything else. Otherwise I will have to go find an actual nice stationary store. I think there is one in the Hillsdale Mall, or at least there was at one point.

However in the meantime Miss Waterman is just going to have to get a letter with a scratchy pen on fake parchment printer paper, 'cause that's what I've got and I wanna get this thing out the door. At least the penmanship will be significantly improved :-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Penmanship 101

So since Miss Watterman informed me  I was no longer allowed to send her 'in character' emails, I started actually writing her letters. Which is when I remembered that my penmanship is terrible.The first letter I sent her looked like a fourth grader's history project, I swear. So then I got a package from TN, with an actual honest to god pen, and a book on penmanship. 

It's been awhile since I actually tried to write anything in cursive. I know that now they are dropping it from schools everyone who learned it gets to feel like we know this cool secret code. Of course it's not one I was ever particularly skilled at to begin with, but perhaps this exercise will improve me. It's certainly an entertaining use of time.

Early results are tentatively optimistic.

R's are hard, damnit!

(And yes, I did actually get some reading done last night.)

Must get back on track......

I need to get my ass in gear on all my summer projects. I have approximately two months before I go back to school, and six weeks before I head out to TN. Sooooo many things that I want to do, that sometimes it holds me back. because i am human. so I get overwhelmed and just stare at fb. THIS MUST STOP.


My big summer project was IS supposed to be the reading lists for my MA exam next fall. Basically, instead of a thesis, I spend an entire semester with a ridiculously rigorous reading list assigned by a committee of three professors whom I meet with throughout the semester. Then the week after Thanksgiving, I take a four hour comprehensive exam answering questions they come up with. It's largely historiographical in nature- i.e., I need to know who said what in the field of European History in the last 50 years or so and why it's important. Of the three professors who are on my exam I managed to get a final list from one before we let out, a preliminary from another, and last year's unconfirmed list from someone who had had the third one on their committee this year. :-p And when school let out, I made this big whole stink about how I was gonna be *smart*, and get started during summer, and knock like half of those damn books out! HA! HOW I LAUGH AT MY OWN FOOLISH PRIDE.

 At the honors banquet at the end of this semester I was looking at the few folks who got the highest honors on the exam and talking to some friends, saying 'ok, that's the goal'....and then our professor was like 'oh, um, yeah...those were Americanists. You know, those folks with only 200 years of history in one country....Europeanists pretty much never get that...but hey, good luck!"   Soo... there's that :-p

I am just gonna set myself a goal of two books a week for the next 8 weeks. That is 16 books. And frankly, two books per week is not as quick as I will need to go once the semester starts.


This popped up when I typed 'sewing' into google images......
this chick looks waaay too calm and put together ...just sayin' 

Here I give you my beginning of the summer, aren't I awesome and waaaay to enthusiastic and don't I want to do everything list, paired down to reality and priority.

  • Andrew's Doublet- DONE!!!
  • Xander's doublet- Edit: SHARON IS AWESOME!!!!
  • Re-dye Nobles- need to touch base with Mackenzie, gonna go over to Vallejo at some point and try and breath some new life into the old jaquard. 
  • My livery- probably gonna be put off again, though I do now have the fabric and the Tudor Tailor. Would be nice to at least get the kirtle and a coif done by the end of the season.
  • Various blackwork projects- probably no time soon. 
  • Regency outfit for TN, including stays- PRIORITY
  • Extra livery cloak for St. George- not hard, just you know, another project. 
  • New Victoria ballgown for PEERS Steampunktoberfest- PRIORITY after TN- will go fabric shopping when Laura and I hit the garment district at Costume College. 
  • Fix hem on Mrs. Oakley's dress- will get done before Dickens.

So um, yeah.... maybe I should get off my blog, and like, get to it......

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I'm not LARPing, I swear......

Since I clearly must find a suitable place for myself in Maggie's World (tm), I have created a character for myself to go out there. The last name came from my father's grandparents (Liebert was just tooo damn French I thought). I also borrowed kind of heavily from my research on Hannah Moore. I'm so glad my graduate work is coming in handy for something ;-)

Edit:  In addition to fitting nicely into some things I had already researched for school, The Bristol part is also a tribute to Surrey.

Biography of Miss Elizabeth Tattman

Born in Canterbury, my father took his young wife and daughter to Bristol shortly thereafter. Engaged in the shipping business, we were for a time quite successful. It was during this time I attended school with Miss Waterman in Bristol. When I was nearly 16, my father suffered several setbacks, and lost his business. I was forced to withdraw from school, and we only maintained a basic gentility through the help of mother’s generous relations. Eventually Father was able to attain a position working for another shipping firm, and we settled in a comfortable, if less impressive, sort of life.

 When I was nearly 20, I was able to attract the attentions of a man in his early 30’s, which at the time I confess to finding very romantic in my youth and foolishness. He proposed marriage soon after, but the event continued to be postponed and never came. Finally the engagement was broken off, with quite healthy settlement made upon a young woman of reduced circumstances who was no longer quite so young, and might have no other prospects.

With this affair- which had long since ceased to be a matter of love- finally settled, I resolved upon a most unusual next step in what was already a rather unusual sort of life. To visit my aunt and uncle- Mr. and Mrs. Downward - in America, and just as importantly, my dearest Emily, Miss Waterman.  Through his business my father had come into familiar acquaintanceship with the captain of a ship sailing for New York and his wife, who might serve as my chaperons for the voyage, and so he consented to the trip- upon the condition that I also agree to having my third cousin, who had settled their a year earlier, serve as my escort upon my arrival.

Miss Tattman peruses a letter from Miss Waterman
(Photo by Judy Potter)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tennessee Regency Project

So for anyone who does not know, about a year and a half ago my beloved Maggie ran off to Tennessee to be with an ax murderer this awesome guy named Albert. You can read even more about her amazing adventures here. I miss her dearly, but have enjoyed watching her amazing creations for the Colonial and Regency events they do out there. I have been wanting to make it out there ever since she left, and we have now decided that this must happen this fall, when they are planning a regency masquerade ball.

This means, of course, that I must add a whole new project to the sewing pile. I have a couple regency dresses I have put together for PEERS events over the years, but nothing I a really proud of, and certainly nothing that can hold a candle to the standard Maggie has set for California girls out there. Therefore I will start from scratch (well, mostly). Here is the list so far as I can think of it, but we will see how it grows;

  • Stays- Maggie found me a nice pattern online I need to order. 
  • Petticoat?
  •  Dress- I am looking at making one based off of this painting. Need to find fabric.Also the ability to drape. This would be much easier if I actually had a dressform....sigh......
  •  Gloves- need to order a nice opera length pair anyway for when I play Victoria 
  •  Fan- I have several, but we will see if these requires a new one :-)
  •  Shoes- I don't think I have anything really right, especially for an indoor event. 
  •  (Stockings- I have several that should do)
  •  (Bloomers/chemise- same. Not sure quite what the proper differences between victorian and regency might be, but I ain't gonna sweat it)
  •  Jewelry/other accessories
  •  Hair- this is a big one. I have done several different regency things with my hair in the past. I've even figured out how to tame it into amazingly laquered ringlets. But I've never really been super satisfied with any of it. Will have to do some research and play around. I'm probably just going to need to give in and buy some fake stuff to make it do impossible things. 

And yes, I do still have oh so many other things to sew between now and then. But it has been far too long since I have seen my dear Emily, and I miss her so!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Look What I Did!

Ok, so the doublet is now 99% finished! Which makes the whole outfit like 99.99% finished....and it only took me two years! All that is left to do is sew loops onto the sleeves to hook over the buttons. Also, I think after this weekend I will re-sew the snap tape (yes, snap tape, whaddya got to say about it?!) holding the front together, because it is showing just that teeny tiny bit that will drive me mad. HOWEVER, mostly, it is DONE. Here are some badly lit apartment shots, to be replaced by better in action shots over the weekend.

Master Thomas Gryphon. 
Wearing the livery of the Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. 

This was the first set of boys clothes I had ever made. Having gone through it, I don't feel like it was too difficult. Of course when I look at the whole thing, I now see a million things I would now change, since I know better. However putting the crazy inner critic aside, I daresay he looks like a finely outfitted fellow, and I am rather damned proud of myself :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning, I lost my friend Surrey Blackburn. She had been battling cancer on and off for many, many years, and this go-round proved her last.

Surrey was an incredible force of nature and light for so many people. She was kind, polite and incredibly caring. If she was talking to you, you felt like the most important person in the room. She was also incredibly strong and determined. It was not wise to stand in Surrey's way.

Surrey waving the flag
(Photo by Rupert Cole)

I have so many incredible memories of Surrey. When I first came into Other Books, she made me feel welcome and appreciated. Just having her know who I was felt huge. There were the incredible Victorian picnics where she would organize egg races and badminton.

Surrey made them do this.
 That's her in the back with the megaphone dressed

There was our awesome travels together in England, where she showed me Bristol, the city she grew up in. When she was a little girl, Surrey survived the bombing in that city during WWII. She was able to die peacefully in bed decades later after a long and very full life. Her own personal 'screw you' to the Nazis. 

She also took me on a walking tour of London. We visited the Globe, the Tower and other big spots, but also wandered around finding amazing little things you've never heard of, like a prostitute's graveyard and a community garden started in a poor and industrial neighborhood by social reformers in the 19th century. We saw the last walls of the Marshalsea prison, and then she moved heaven and hell to be sure we would get to Gads Hill and see Dickens' house.

Gad's Hill 
There's a whole saga about getting here that involves us almost 
dying in a road rage incident on the M5. It was totally awesome. 

Yesterday I went to a gathering of family and friends at her daughter's house. It seemed like so many Surrey and Gregor parties, I kept waiting for her to walk through the door. It seemed, and still does, almost inconceivable to me that she is gone.

Yesterday was full of the initial shock of death. Making phone calls to friends, driving to see folks. Just trying to be in the company of others whom she had touched. For most of the day, despite my intermittent tears, I tried to be positive. I know that she did not suffer, and that she is not suffering now. I fully trust that an amazing spirit such as hers is now off on yet another incredible journey and adventure. I know that I am lucky that she touched my life along with so many others.

By the time I got home I just lost it and bawled myself to sleep. Screw being positive. I want my friend back.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What I'm reading

Ok, I will do a bigger post soon with the insane run down on my summer reading plan for my upcoming MA exams. However in the meantime I am starting the summer off with a book not on those lists at all, written and given to me by one of my favorite professors at SF State, Sarah Curtis.

This book explores the careers of three French Missionary nuns in the first half of the 19th century. It explores the ways that these women were able to use their traditional roles in a heavily patriarchal organization, ie the Catholic Church, to go places and do things that lay women, especially unmarried women, could never do. 
(Think of protestant Jane Eyre- "you have to marry me and go risk your life in India" "Hmm....couldn't I just do *one* of those things???" "NO- do what I say!")

It's also about the shift in convent focus and life after religious orders were re-authorized under Napoleon. Basically the old, contemplative model gave way to a new generation of nuns who wanted to get out and be useful- and in this case acts as agents of imperialism. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The End is Just the Beginning

By Wednesday noonish must

1) finish term paper-needs revision and another 5-10 pages. Since I wrote the original 15 page draft in a day, less than concerned.

2) Study for and take French Revolution final

3) Finish grading stack of papers

4) Continue hounding 2 professors from MA Exam committee to give me at least a partial reading list before leaving for summer.

Then there will be a brief intermission for the rest of Wednesday while I exercise my post-finals right to get good and tanked.

Frankly, all of this just seems like annoying bunch of crap to get through  before the REAL projects begin....i.e, Tahoe prep and insane summer long study session for MA exam in the fall. More on that soon..............

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Country Music-gasm

Loretta Lynn and Miranda Lambert

I love country music, I do. Not Toby Keith with his insane 'Loving America means hating everyone else and never using your critical thinking skills' nonsense, but the kind of stuff that comes from deep in the soul and makes you feel glad to be alive and able to deal with the pain that often comes with it.I love classic country, I love the stuff from when I was in high school- when I owned every Dixie Chicks CD and was jealous that Natalie Maines wasn't from California, and I love the stuff Miranda Lambert, Braid Paisley and so many talented musicians and singers puts out today. When I was in high school and someone was trying to shove Britney Spears and a cadre of soulless, talentless pop stars who were created in a marketing department down your throat every time you turned around, country was one of the places you could find artists with real talent who had something to say.

If you think you don't like country music, seriously type these ladies into Pandora and listen to what comes up for an hour or so. You might be really surprised.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I just tried to very politely give a group of people my opinion on something: I am a vegetarian. I have been for over 12 years. I do not get up in people's faces about it, I do not yell at them for eating meat. I have many good reasons for my decision, but I also realize there are many good choices I do not make. I am totally respectful of the decisions of others, all I ask is to be respected in return.

People love, love, LOVE to make fun of vegetarians. Often it is as a cruel response to a perceived weakness "Oh, you care about bunnies? let me try and exploit that by talking about how great killing bunnies is." However more frequently it is not so overtly malicious. There is the image of the 'crazed vegan' yelling 'Meat is Murder'' at you, and people love to make fun of it. Then they transfer that to anyone who doesn't eat meat. They stand proud of the fact the kill bunnies and cows for their food (for the record, I have significantly more respect for anyone who has actually kept and slaughtered an animal and actually knows what they are talking about). Vegetarians and Vegans are just sooo much fun to mock. I mean, what's funnier than someone with a conviction whose actually walking their talk, right?

Let me be really clear. I am NOT writing this to tell you all why you should be vegetarian or vegan. If you want to know why I believe it is a good choice, ask me in person and I will be happy to talk about it. I made this choice long ago, and I am satisfied with it. I try to set a quiet, respectful example to others. If nothing else, I control my particular influence on the planet. I generally do not engage in any of these conversations, I let it go. But lately I'm just getting a little tired of it. What the hell is so threatening about me making a choice you haven't? Why do you need to pounce on me?  If I respect you, why can't you do the same to me?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Doublet Update

The doublet looks ever more doublet-like. It has shoulder seams and  treatments and trim and everything now! The sleeves are also sewn together, though I haven't sewn up the ends yet- still debating how to attach them to the doublet. The pattern calls for the usual D rings and ties, but to my knowledge this has since been declared a fair-ism and is not St. George approve-able. 

The only real issue I have had so far is the collar. The back of it is part of the back piece of the doublet,  and then you are supposed to add two bits on the front sides. All of this rather than just make one piece and sew it on. I think it's way more period this way, since I know those Elizabethans loved to  make the most of every piece. And hell, it seemed easy theory....

 Several ripped and resewn seams later, I declared victory;

Well, I vanquished it, anyway. 

I don't think they're gonna kick him out if his collar is one single sewn on piece........

For those of you keeping track from my last entry, I have so far typed a grand total of 3 pages on my total.  I REGRET NOTHING!!!!!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

On we go.....

Graduate school is a funny, between now and Wednesday I have to write a 6 page paper, a 20 page draft for a term paper, and grade a stack of midterms. A year ago I would have felt slightly overwhelmed, but hopeful, determined, ready to climb that mountain! At the end of year two..... meh? It'll get done. No big deal. Somehow.

Usually, yes- but not today

I really am satisfied with what I've done here at State, but its weird to think I'm in closing in on the home stretch. Next semester I take my comps and then that's it, on to the next thing. I need to get on that, researching PhD programs, applying, etc. I want to go back to Davis- I love the school, the faculty, and the area. 

Remember this?
 I seriously look at this stack now and think  "cool, light load'.

The fact is a lot of the time I struggle with a great deal of self doubt. At times its downright crushing. I can be an absolute, vicious brutal bitch to myself. Its not exactly a good motivator, and I need to overcome it. Especially since school makes me feel so good about myself. When I started this program, I felt so overwhelmed. Last year was kind of like how I hear law school described- break you down and build you up again. But by the end of it I had come out feeling on top, like I was really good at this and headed in the right direction. I just need to keep pushing myself. 


Ok, the lovely colors are totally not coming out in this picture, but man oh man does the Dudley livery look great  :-D

Grey and burgundy, baby!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Time to stop hiding from my blog

So I started this thing to try and keep track of the things I was doing, but it turns out, I do a lot of things.And if I had to actually blog them all, I probably would do less of them. So instead this blog kind of joined the box full of scrapbooking supplies I've been hiding from for years, while the list of things to include just got longer and longer.....

Among other things, this blog was supposed to detail the things I sewed, but then I haven't been doing too much of that. But then I got this

I'm debating taking my old one out into a field and re-enacting Office Space

I know, BEST THING EVER, right? A machine that can handle more than two layers of quilter's cotton without the tension going all to hell sending me into a psychotic rage. (Which is good, cause I can really only handle like one or two of those an afternoon.) She's a Bernina in case you couldn't read it.

And then I started working on the long needed doublet to go with Andrew's slops, which reminded me why I sew in the first place (ok, actually that's because I don't wanna pay someone else, but this next part is a close second). Stepping away from my usual school, work etc and focusing on a nice little project is calming and and makes me feel like I can accomplish things. It enhances  my calm.

Using the same Margo Anderson pattern as for the pants, a few things are clear to me- mostly the fact that she was totally not prepared for someone with Andrew's broad Norwegian shoulders who wasn't also morbidly obese. However three mock-ups and absolutely *no*-panic-attacks-thank-you-very-much-later (really!), I seem to have a nice fitting pattern.

...I also may have learned I *probably* shouldn't do a fitting on my second Sunday bloody mary....but that's neither here nor there.....

Anyway,once I had it fitted, the pieces pretty much came nicely together into this

Doublet-y goodness

Those are sleeves and shoulder treatments hiding in the back there

Just need to sew on the trim, sew the shoulder seams, cut out the lining for the sleeves and sew those together, add trim to that, attach the collar, cutout the peplum, sew the lining into that, attach it, add trim to all that, attach the sleeves, figure out how I'm gonna do the front closures, sew on buttons, and probably add some more trim to something else I haven't practically finished   :-P