Friday, June 25, 2010

Jacksonville Civil War Event

It's taken me all week, but finally I get to share with you: My very first, in period dress, Civil War event!

I'm so glad I took the time to do everything correctly. It made a huge difference. I saw so many women miserable in polyester dresses and other horridly inaccurate garments that were neither attractive nor comfortable in the 95+ degree heat. My many layers of cotton kept me cool-ish, as long as I was moving or in the shade.
Before I explain everything, I have to give a HUGE thank you to Sarah Jane of Romantic History, who graciously let me borrow her stack of patterns and surprised me with the lovely sunbonnet. I would have been completely lost without you!

The picnic tables became our favorite spot.

I have to tell you a secret... I am a world-class procrastinator. It was a joke between me and my husband (and before him, my roomates) that I would never start a paper more than 24 hours before it was due. That isn't entirely true, but it was true enough to become a stereotype. This dress was no exception. I took my sweet time making the undergarments: a seam here, a hem there, "there's still x days left before the event"... all the way up until Thursday evening when I realized that, wow! The day had almost arrived!

Shaune made it onto the battlefield (He's the 2nd from the wagon, with the leaning gun)...

I fit the lining Thursday evening. I started cutting the fashion fabric Friday at 8:30, only moments after my husband walked out the door for work. From there, I worked like crazy, only pausing when absolutely necessary. The dress involved a ton more hand sewing than I'm used to -- the center front has 15 pair of hooks-and-eyes, which I stitched over the course of a movie (Les Choristes, in French -- my favorite!). By lunchtime, I had a bodice front and back mostly put together and sleeves in progress. Shaune helped me when he came home, and we decided that the sleeves really needed epaulets to make them more interesting... one more project, but a worthwhile one.

But he didn't make it off. Boo :(

Evening found me with a bodice, epaulets attached, and panels cut for the skirt. I sent my hubby to Martial Arts class so I could have another 3 hours of uninterrupted sewing. I think we ate dinner, but I'm not certain. If we did, I certainly didn't stop for long! I gave up around 1am with a completed skirt and a nearly completed bodice. I bound the edges and whipped the two halves together over breakfast. There were still safety pins, but by golly! I was fully dressed by the time we reached the event!

Aren't we a lovely pair? The banjo always draws a crowd.

I'm hooked. I spent the entire event staring at other ladies' gowns, deciding where mine needs finessed and designing my next gown. I believe we'll be camping out at the next event we go to, sometime in August, so a second dress (or at least a second chemise and some more petticoats) is a must. Although, I do believe that next time... I might start at least 2 days before the event :)


Gillian said...

Yay! You look lovely! I'm so glad you got it done :D And I am right there with you on the procrastination - my family jokes that I never get my dresses properly hemmed until AFTER the event I was making them for - and I think the only exception to this so far has been my junior recital dress ;-) I'm the same with papers, too!

Y'all are making me want a CW dress and someone to go reenact with, too! ;-)

Sarah Jane said...

You looked stunning, and your dress is amazing, even if you did sew it in a mad rush teh day before and morning of the event! :) I am way jealous of the great shoulder drop you got to armscye - I always have SUCH problems with that! and do not have a good drop at all on my dresses :(

I'm glad you had a great time! I can't wait to reenact with you again in August! (site:

WesternWoodburner said...

I used to finish my dresses the night before sometimes, but now I have gotten around to getting them done ahead of time. Glad y’all enjoyed the event.

Jenny P. said...

Gillian, we have a spare bedroom. You're always welcome :)

Sarah Jane, is the drop right? It seemed a bit too extreme for me! Perhaps I've just need to get used to 1800's clothing. Shaune and I are super excited about Galesburg. We'll definately need to talk more between now and then!

Western Woodburner, I need to get better about that, too. It's just so easy to put it off, you know?! :)

Brooke Whitaker said...

Hello Jenny!!!

I guess first off I better tell you who I am... :) I was wearing this dress:

Me and my sisters got to say "hi" briefly. Unfortunately we didn't make it back over to talk to you. After being in the fashion show we have several other things we had to do. :(

Your dress was so pretty! I think its great how well off you've started! I dislike thinking back to my first outfit. lol

I'm not sure what all events we'll be hitting this year, but hopefully I'll be able to see you again some time.

Anyway it was great to meet you there. Its always nice to meet people who I've "seen" online. :)

Brooke Whitaker