My Civil War Fashion Patterns

When my parents came over for Thanksgiving this year my mom brought me a bag of patterns. She had been cleaning out her pattern drawer and came across a bunch that were mine. The other day I took them out of the bag to remind myself what I had purchased many years ago.

historical-dresses-patternsYikes! I hadn’t realized that I had so many!

If you are unaware, I’m a bit of a Civil War nut.

Civil War BooksThese are the majority of the books that I own on the topic of the Civil War. Jay built these bookshelves as my Christmas present just a few weeks after moving into our house. These three bookshelves are each four feet wide by six feet tall… just to give you an idea of how much space my books occupy.

You see, prior to meeting and marrying Jay I had pretty much figured that I was going to become an old Maid. In order to be a REALLY good old Maid you have to have a bunch of cats (which I am always working towards) and you have to have some weird proclivities. My particular proclivity was going to be the Civil War. I love immersing myself in the time period, but I didn’t want to go full-fledged reenacting. Despite my passion for the era I have no desire to live full time without indoor plumbing or electricity. Therefore I would not be ‘tenting on the old camp ground’ (a Civil War song… sorry). I thought that maybe I could be an independent reenactor; somebody whom the hardcore guys would despise.  I would show up at reenactments and portray whatever persona I decided to undertake. Which means I would need a wardrobe. To buy dresses that look authentic takes some money. Money I didn’t have because I was paying off college loans. However, my mom is a wonder with a sewing machine so I figured that I could glean some knowledge from her and make my own.

That’s where these patterns come in.

First, you need undergarments.

historical-dresses-patterns-pantaloonsI made the chemise and pantaloons from this pattern set. I decided not to attempt the corset. You see, the corset is a BIG part of the look and if you get it wrong then anybody who knows the era will snicker at you as you walk by. Also, corsets are a bit complicated for the novice sewer, so I did buy one of those made to my (at-the-time) measurements.

historical-dresses-patterns-chemiseI also made the chemise from this pattern because I felt the other one was a bit bulky at times. I think I used this pattern for the over-petticoat that I wear, too. The over-petticoat helps to smooth out the dress and keep the hoops from showing through your skirt. I did not make my own hoop skirt. That’s another big part of the image that you’re creating, so I also left that one up to the professionals. I bought mine in Gettysburg, but I can’t recall if it was during my college graduation trip or during another trip later on.

I don’t have pictures of me wearing these aforementioned articles as that would be horribly improper for a lady to be seen in her undergarments! Although, when I have them on I’m already wearing way more than most women wear to church on Sundays.

If you are going to portray a woman during the Civil War you are definitely going to need a day dress in which you can do chores, tend to the wounded, or cook in without worrying about soiling your good clothes.

historical-dresses-patterns-day-dressThis pattern worked great for what I had in mind. Depending on what sleeve style you use, what style of collar or if you wear under-sleeves you can dress it up or not. I’ve worn it both ways:

civilwarkerryI dressed it up a little with a nice collar and brooch, along with my hat (also purchased in Gettysburg). I spent this day at a local museum in the Abraham Lincoln room answering questions that visitors had on all things Civil War.

My CW DressThis is the same dress, but I think that I did something different with the collar. Actually, at this point I was very sick (I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with Celiac Disease) so I was skinny and looked really good in this outfit! I can’t recall what I did to make the skirt not drag on the ground. I know that I was wearing my boots with the 1/2″ heel, but I don’t think that I did anything different with the hoop. Hmmm…

Anyway, so what happens when you want to go visiting? Or when you want to get together with the other women in the auxiliary and roll bandages? You need a visiting dress!

historical-dresses-patterns-visiting-dressI loved this dress when I saw it. Mainly because it was blue, but I thought it was dressy enough without being too fancy. After all, I knew that no matter what persona I chose it wouldn’t be one where I was in the upper class. Therefore, I wouldn’t need a ball gown right away.

Visiting Dress 2I used homespun fabric (which would have been more along the lines of what my ancestors could afford) and what looked like handmade lace. I love this dress. I loved sewing this dress, too. There was quite a bit of it that needed to be hand sewn and I enjoyed every stitch. Not that I would want to hand sew the entire thing!

It’s been a while since I’ve worn any of these items, but I know right where they are hanging. There was one time that I had them out and Jay was asking me about it. I handed him the hangers with all of the underclothes, the skirt, bodice and hoop. He was a bit surprised at the weight! In order to wear and walk around in this fashion you have to be able to handle a bit of weight! Typically I wear two under-petticoats (for modesty and warmth), my hoop, the over-petticoat, the pantaloons, chemise, corset, skirt and bodice. There must be about ten yards of fabric in the skirt and bodice, plus the fabric needed to make full petticoats. It can get pretty heavy!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of these patterns, but I’ll definitely keep them. You never know when you might see an employment ad where somebody is looking for a Civil War enthusiast who must have their own wardrobe. Give me a weekend and I can whip up another dress!

The Civil War era isn’t the only fashion that I’ve sported, though. When I was in college I LOVED the move Ever After with Drew Barrymore. Her accent was horrible and the acting wasn’t that great, but the story was good and there were some pretty good lines. Anyway, for our formal dance in college I had to be different, so I asked my mom to make me this dress:

historical-dresses-patterns-ever-after-dressShe did an excellent job:

Renaissance DressIt’s just too bad that the model was so bad!

This is why I don’t enjoy clothes shopping; None of it is my taste! I thought about trying to bring the 1860’s fashion back, but Jay thinks that it’s a lost cause. I think that I might try to start a trend of women wearing fancy hats again. I’m going to make my friend in choir, Chrissy, wear a hat, too, to help the trend spread!

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Advent Wreath Stand – On the Altar (Part 6)

It all started with a question, “Would Jay be able to build an Advent wreath stand?”

Then an example was given…

wreath-stand-original-example-editedIdeas were passed around and a drawing was produced…

wreath-stand-design-editedWood was procured…

wreath-stand-church-pewsPower tools were revved up and put into use…

wreath-stand-prepping-for-hardwareThen there was sanding, staining and poly-ing done…

wreath-stand-pre-stained-armsParched throats were quenched…

jays-anniversary-kegeratorLots of gluing occurred…

wreath-stand-gluing-the-legsThere was some bending going on…

wreath-stand-bending-the-rod(with sounds of disgust being emitted due to everything working out even though there was only an idea of a plan)

Then it was assembled…

wreath-stand-finishedWould it end up working out?

Could we really get the wreath to look okay?

Would it look better than this:

wreath-stand-finished-with-wreathThe day after Thanksgiving was the day that we got together at church to set up the wreath stand and decorate for Advent. I was nervous because I’ve never assembled a wreath or really done any kind of floral arranging. That’s not my thing and I don’t feel like I’m good at it. Luckily Brandon has some experience with decorating for various church holidays, including floral arrangements. He told me what the idea was for assembling the wreath and then let me go at it.

He helped with details, we all stood back and looked at it, and decided what we wanted to do. I sent Jay home to make platforms for the candles so that the globes would sit securely. Brandon had dried some hydrangeas and then spray painted them to bring the color out. Finally we discussed pine cones and purple ribbon. When it was all said and done this is what we created:

wreath-stand-dressed-upWow! It looks like we actually knew what we were doing!

wreath-stand-close-upThe pine cones didn’t really show up very well on the wreath so they were left off. The ribbon took away from the simple elegance. All that was used, besides the greenery, were hydrangeas, the glass globes, and some green leaves (not sure what kind).

wreath-stand-dressed-up-side-viewI think that it’s gorgeous. We saw a picture of another local church’s advent wreath, and all bias aside, I like ours better. Their wreath has a ton of stuff on it (fruit, white-tipped pine cones, and other flotsam) and it just looks like somebody was trying to clear out their stash to make room for some new stuff so they tossed the old stuff onto the wreath.

I knew that the stand would shrink once we put it on the altar, but it actually didn’t shrink too much.

wreath-stand-on-the-altarJay and I were asked to light the first candle Sunday morning. Our priest announced that Jay and I had made the wreath stand and used pews from the previous church. There was an appreciative murmur from the congregation. After mass there were a lot of compliments given to us, but I don’t feel that I did anything extraordinary. The concept was developed and brought to life by Jay. All I did was some sanding and staining. We were blessed by God who not only provided us with the talent that we required, but also allowed everything to fall right into place and it all worked out perfectly.

Hopefully our church will be enjoying this stand for many, many years.

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Project Linus Blanket #2

project-linus-blanket-2-11-19-16Blanket # 2 – My First Ripple

As crocheting goes, this blanket was easy to work on as long as I kept count of my stitches. There were a few times that I miscounted and had to rip out what I had already done. I really enjoyed working on this one so much that I think I’m going to make a few more ripples.

project-linus-blanket-2-11-19-16-new-viewMy only issue with this finished blanket is that I didn’t feel like it was wide enough. Here you can see that it’s about as wide as my kitchen counter. This will make a good baby blanket, but that’s about it. I have another pattern that makes a larger blanket so I’m going to attempt that one next. I just have to decide what colors I want to use.

yarn-haul-from-babes-closetConsidering I’m not lacking for yarn at all…

There was one more thing that I noticed after finishing this blanket:

tarnished-crochet-hook-11-19-16Apparently not only do I tarnish my cross stitch needles, but I also tarnish crochet hooks.

back-of-tarnished-crochet-hook-11-19-16The next time I’m at Hobby Lobby I may have to use my 40% off coupon to buy a hook in this size that has the padded handle. Also, the padded handle will help to keep the carpal tunnel symptoms to a minimum.

Now on to blanket #3…

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Advent Wreath Stand – Finished (Part 5)

We actually finished the wreath stand on Saturday and delivered it to the church on Sunday. However, my week has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to post the last batch of pictures on my blog.

wreath-stand-with-legsFinally the glue was dry! The post seemed to sit level. Everything looked good.

wreath-stand-front-dry-fittingIt was starting to take shape! All that was left to do was drill the holes for the threaded inserts and make the ring.

wreath-stand-arm-with-insertAfter making a jig to ensure that the drilled hole would be straight up and down, Jay quickly drilled the holes and cut some threaded rod.

wreath-stand-ring-jigNext we had to make the ring. Jay had a plan using steel rod and these blocks that he screwed onto his work bench.

wreath-stand-ring-rodAlways a bit dubious, I asked him how in the world was he going to make a round ring using blocks set up in a square??

jays-anniversary-kegeratorI was told to sit back and watch the master work… after getting a refill.

wreath-stand-cleaning-up-the-tubeFirst he made connectors. He had two 8′ pieces of steel rod that he was going to connect and bend into a circle. Except, as he got started he realized that he bought cold-rolled steel instead of the hot-rolled steel… or whatever it’s called. What that means is when you bend it the metal takes the bend and stays that way, kind of like a paper clip. This wasn’t part of his plan and it wasn’t how he was going to make the ring.

attitudeNow what are you going to do??

*sigh* Never doubt the Jay…

wreath-stand-bending-the-rodHe quickly drew up a circle with the same diameter as what we wanted our ring to have, and then used his CNC router to cut out a portion of the arc. This was then secured to the work bench so that he could bend the steel into the exact curve that would be needed. Them we encased it in vinyl tubing and connected the ends to seal it.

wreath-stand-almost-finishedAnd don’t you know that it came out as if he had planned it that way! Like I tell people all of the time, Jay can know what he has to work with and what he wants the results to be… then he kind of tosses it all around and out it comes! It’s a bit frustrating for those of us who are unable to do things like that.

wreath-stand-ring-angleSo we had the ring assembled and we thought that we would place it on top of the arms. Except when we tested the fit with the candles, it didn’t work out so well. Jay ended up fashioning a screw for the bottom of the arms that had a piece of tube soldered to it in order to hold the hoop. Of course it worked! This is Jay we’re talking about.

wreath-stand-trimming-the-threaded-insertsI wasn’t going to include this picture because of the amount of mess, but it struck me as funny. He was cutting the threaded rod down to size for the candles. I promise that he’s not drinking the lacquer thinner.

Let’s recap, shall we? To start the entire project Jay drew this up:

wreath-stand-design-editedWith a little tweaking we ended up with this:


It looks pretty nice, doesn’t it?


We had to deliver it to the church already because it takes up so much room! We are hosting Thanksgiving so we’ll be tight on space. There’s no way we could have this sitting around, too. Plus I was afraid that something might happen to it.

Do you want to get an idea of what it will look like with the wreath actually assembled? Here’s my really bad Photo-shopped rendition:

wreath-stand-finished-with-wreathThe real wreath will look way better. But it at least gives you something of an idea.

After investing all of that time and energy into this project I wanted to make sure that the arms would be somewhat protected when it is being moved and stored. I decided to make protective sleeves for it.

chester-sewing-arm-coversLuckily I had a lot of help and supervision.

wreath-stand-arm-and-sleeveThis is what I came up for a design. It is very similar to the wing bags that I make, including the end being fastened with Velcro so that the arm can’t slip out.

wreath-stand-protective-sleeveNot too shabby, eh?

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Advent Wreath Stand – Part 4

wreath-stand-in-perspective-10-26-16A week ago I was worried that we weren’t going to get the wreath stand done in time. Jay was working third shift so he wasn’t spending as much time in the basement. The arms and legs were all done, but we still had to finish the center post and then assemble the entire thing. How are we going to make sure that the legs are sturdy and won’t come off? What about the ring to hold the wreath? How are we going to make sure that the candles sit straight and not at wonky angles??

Jay wasn’t worried…

jays-anniversary-kegerator(That’s his Happy Anniversary present. He thinks that he got it because I love him so much. The truth is I know that as long as the keg is full Jay will be in the basement. I don’t have to worry about him wandering off very far from home ;-)  )

So, taking a cue from my husband, I tried to chill.

At the beginning of the week the center post appeared in the Finishing department.

wreath-stand-center-post-reay-for-finishingHe had routed out slots in the post so that he could then use biscuits to help hold the legs securely onto the post.

I wondered why Jay asked where I keep my gluten-free crackers…

wreath-stand-biscuited-legsI worked my magic on the post using the same techniques that I always use: three different grits of sandpaper, microfiber dust cloth and lots of prayer that the stain looks okay. I wanted to be able to stain and poly the whole thing at once in order to get an even finish. I didn’t want to try to stain and poly two sides at a time so with Jay’s help I set up quite a technologically advanced rig…

wreath-stand-stained-post… a long pipe sitting atop two totes. You won’t find that in hardly any of your fancy-schmancy woodworking shops! In case you were thinking of stealing our idea to make a boat-load of money we currently have a patent pending on this design.

Once the stain and three coats of poly were dried it was time to admire its beauty.

wreath-stand-center-post-finishedIsn’t that pretty? I have to tell you that I am so proud of the cap.

wreath-stand-finished-post-capI think this was the first piece that I have ever been tremendously happy with how it turned out. Not the entire post… just the cap. It is removable so that you can swap it out for a future-yet-to-be-designed topper, but for now it will sit in its place of pride.

At this point I couldn’t resist. I had to see how the legs looked on it.

wreath-stand-with-legsAnd the back…

wreath-stand-back-of-finished-postIt only looks two-toned because of the shadows in the basement.

I couldn’t help myself… I needed to see the complete assembly

wreath-stand-front-dry-fittingIs that gorgeous or what? In person it’s quite the piece of art to behold. I had worried about the stain taking differently on the many pieces. Yet, when it was all put together the stain is so uniform that it all looks perfect.

After taking everything apart again it was time to glue the legs onto the post.

wreath-stand-gluing-the-legsIt doesn’t seem to matter what Jay’s working on, it always has to be airplane-related! I think that as he was gluing this together he was thinking, “This isn’t going to be nearly enough vertical surface on this stab to allow me to sharply turn up for a steep climb. The dive should be spectacular, though.”

Well my arms are oak-y and my legs are neat,

I can’t seem to stand on just two feet,

How will I keep from falling, ker-thump?

Thank goodness!

I’m All Glued Up!

wreath-stand-all-glued-upMM mm mm, mmm, yay, yay… All glued up!

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Cross Stitching Thoughts

Cross Stitching AreaCross stitching has been my needlecraft hobby of choice since I was younger. Well, to be fair I used to do a lot of plastic canvas work, but since high school I’ve done a lot of cross stitching. I haven’t had any time to do so lately, so I thought I would show off some pieces that I’ve stitched in the past.

pirate-beatingsI wish that I could hang this in my cubicle at work. I think that this is a Sue Hillis pattern. I stitched this for my friend, Jamie. It was just a little piece to make her laugh due to the managerial position she held at the time.

angel-squareI used to stitch a lot of squares for C.O.L.E.s Quilts, but I haven’t really done any in the last several years. Instead I’m concentrating on my Dresses for Missions and Project Linus charities. I do hope that the quilts brought a smile to somebody’s face.

night-eyes-finished-3-2-04This was the first, and so far only, piece that I’ve stitched on black fabric. I stitched this for a friend who I haven’t talked to in years. The wolf didn’t do much for me, but I really love the Northern Lights in the background. Those are actually half stitches. Isn’t it beautiful?

the-teacherThis isn’t the best picture, but I stitched this for my sister shortly after she received her degree in Elementary and Special Education. This might have been one of the first pieces that I ever stitched on evenweave. I do remember that it felt like it took FOREVER to finish her apron.

tygppWhen I saw this pattern I knew that I had to stitch it for my best friend. Growing up we used to spend a lot of time playing piano (and flute in her case) and singing. Now that I think about it, I think that I actually gave this to her when we went to see PDQ Bach. That was quite a few years ago.

bottom-of-the-sixth-finished-2010When I stitched this piece I didn’t have anybody in mind to receive it. Typically when I cross stitch it’s to make a gift for somebody. Up until I started my seasonal crosses I didn’t regularly stitch for myself at all. I enjoy Norman Rockwell and wanted to stitch this when I saw it. I ended up framing this and it hangs in my living room.

This weekend as I was watching Flosstube (cross stitch vlogs on YouTube) I came up with an idea… Jay has saved a bunch of pictures of the planets that he loves. Well, I used the picture of Earth the other night to practice using the pattern making software that I bought a few years ago. The pictures are gorgeous:

earthI think that if I were to stitch them on black fabric they would really pop. Wouldn’t this be gorgeous all stitched up?

marsMars isn’t nearly as pretty, but I think it would be a neat project. My idea is to stitch the sun and all of the planets (including Pluto because it’s still a planet to me!) and then display them in order starting with the sun. Do you think that’s too ambitious of a project? It might take me 80 years to actually finish. But how could you not want to stitch these?


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Advent Wreath Stand – Part 3

wreath-stand-first-assembly-10-26-16The wreath stand.

How happy I will be when it is finally assembled in the church and prepared for Advent. We are still a few weeks away from that happy day, but I am no longer stressing about it. To be fair, I should probably stop stressing altogether as it’s not accomplishing anything.

I stressed about tearing apart the pews and getting the pieces cut out…

wreath-stand-church-pewsI stressed about the arms and would I be able to get the right color of stain…

wreath-stand-arms-with-wood-grainMy biggest stressor, though, was Snidley’s boots…

wreath-stand-legsWould the two different pieces of oak stain differently as they had on my samples? Would they look odd? Would people say, “It would look gorgeous if only it didn’t have those odd-colored boots on it!”

There was only one way to find out…

Using the same process that was used for the arms I sanded them with three different grits of paper.

wreath-stand-unstained-feet-11-3-16I then held my breath, coated them with the pre-stain and then used a light coat of Golden Oak stain…

wreath-stand-feet-stained-11-3-16They look blotchy because of how the light is hitting them.

wreath-stand-feet-polydI have to admit that the stress was all for nothing! The two pieces of wood stained almost exactly alike. If it wasn’t for the direction of the grain you might not know that they were made with two pieces of wood.

wreath-stand-legs-and-feet-doneThe part I feared the most ended up being one that didn’t need to be feared at all. Isn’t that how life always happens? I threw the last coat of poly on them before church this morning so now they are back in Jay’s hands. He’s going to rout some slots in the legs and the base of the stand in order to use biscuits to join the two. We don’t want any nail or screw heads showing, so a good portion of this is just glued together. As soon as Jay gets those slats routed I can begin work on finishing the base.

Speaking of the base, in my previous post I mentioned that we were going to cut the top of it at an angle so that it wasn’t so jarring on the eyes.

wreath-stand-base-with-cap-11-3-16We have done that and constructed a cap for it. Jay did a great job on it!

The next step, besides staining the base and attaching the legs, is to drill holes at the end of the arms for the threaded insert on which the candles will sit. Jay will have to make a jig to make sure the holes are straight up and down. It wouldn’t do to build a gorgeous wreath stand just to realize that your candles are all sitting at wonky angles! We have three weeks to finish this, but there’s a real possibility that we might get it done in two. YEAH!!!

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