Monday, October 25, 2010

Master and Commander: Love the uniforms

Love the hat. Love the Coat. Love the stock. Love the cravat. I have no doubt Capt. Aubrey's buttons cost at least $2 apiece.

Again, look at the buttons. Count the buttons. Understand why I'm unwilling to pay $2 each. I'd rather make them myself; or how about this: have the boys kill a deer, or any animal really, and make them out of bone! That would be historically correct, right?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You too can Sew 1820's Trousers!

Or as the pattern calls them, "trowsers." My latest historical sewing adventure- the goal is to get them done after the Election but before Nov. 6th. None of the pants(trowsers) availible for loan at the Fort are anywhere near the boys's size. Caleb said the first time he got dressed up, he had to take his belt and loop it through the front flap on the pants to keep them up. So I figure they could really use thier own pants.

However, I vehemently refused to pay $20+ for a period-correct pattern. In my mind, pants are a very basic item of clothing and even as an middling seamstress you should not have to pay such an outrageous price for a basic pattern. But I couldn't find any online tutorials or guidlines for sewing these pants- it was driving me nuts. In the end, one of the commanding officers(a captain? who can say. I think his rank changes according to occasion) very kindly loaned me two never-before-used patterns.

Another delimma- in the case of this never-before-used pattern which doesn't belong to me, is it acceptable to cut out the size desired? What is proper pattern ettiquiette? It annoys me a bit when pattern companies make patterns in sizes 28 to 40, or whatever. If you want a size 28, buy it. If you want a size 40, buy it. But it's hardly possible to not cut out one or the other and easily interchange them. In the end, I went the selfish and easy way of cutting out the 28, which is just Caleb's size. Oh, the ease! Oh, the simplicity! No alterations needed. When I get these done, Caleb will have all his most basic garments: Shirt, Waistcoat, and Trowsers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I've not had any pressing deadlines or engagements lately; even my sewing projects are less important at present. Of course, I still have to do school with Jeremy; I still cook dinner and pick up the house and do laundry, but October has been nothing like September as far as busyness. So I've been reading a lot, and it makes me feel lazy and guilty. Now, if I had been reading "Eschatology of Victory" for two hours every day, I wouldn't count that as leisure. But I haven't been reading "Eschatology of Victory." Far from it: I've been reading through Patrick O'Brian's series of historical novels. Some years ago after the film "Master and Commander"(2003) was released I tried reading O'Brian's novel of the same name. I didn't like it at all: O'Brian's works are extremely accurate picture of the British Navy at the turn of the 18th century, a very hard way of life. I've found them to be crude and shocking at times; it's mature reading for sure. On the other hand, so few authors have the desire for historical accuracy as O'Brian shows, and I so appreciate accuracy. Even more so now that I've begun re-enacting that era. I'm about halfway through the series of twenty books. It's put me in a very Naval mind(Imagine that, in a Nebraskan).

I was never one to root for the Navy. I've always been for the Marines while Jen defends the Navy, and who cares about the Army; but when it comes to historical uniforms(the measuring stick of endorsability and adoration), I do prefer blue over red, and the British Navy wore blue. Thankfully, where we reenact the American Army wears blue, and don't my brothers look handsome in it! I won't comment on the other gentlemen.

I actually spent much part of this morning reading a biography of Charles Dickens. He seems to have been a impressionable, sensitive, and emotional man(If that's what makes a good writer, I'm in trouble). I think I first picked up a Dickens around the age of twelve, and much the same as with "Master and Commander" I didn't like it; I didn't even finish it. It was too wordy for me at the time. But when I tried again a few years ago, I found I enjoyed his novels extremely. Haven't I matured wonderfully?

And all the while I sit reading there's a nagging thought in the back of my head, I ought to be studying, sewing, cleaning, or flogging somebody into obedience(I'm thinking Navy, remember?)! I toyed with the idea of starting a project, but with the political season nearly upon us I figure it's not worth it. So I'll just try to enjoy my present state of laziness, though it does present a problem when Dad comes home and asks, so what did you do today?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Keep up your end of the Conversation, can't you!

An old friend and fellow high school graduate of mine got married last Sunday. Two of her bridesmaids also graduated with us in our class of five. Out of us five girls, two are married, one engaged, and I have no idea about the other one. I never did fit in. Considering standards of dress and religion alone, I was the odd one out, but when you throw in personality, even in my silliest moments I was probably the most serious one there. So here we all were, four years after graduation, more different than ever. I avoided speaking to them out of fear for an awkward moment and a why bother? attitude.

I'm not what you would typically call an extrovert. As much as I want to meet new people and make new friends, starting and maintaining a conversation with people outside my circle of friends takes effort and can be exhausting. Sometimes I just get to tired to do even that. One good thing about being an introvert is that people don't notice you much. You can get by with a lot and not be noticed. One bad thing about being an introvert is that people don't notice you much. If people don't notice you, why would they want to talk to you?

I'm very grateful for my church family and the relationships I have there. I'm excited for the changes continually taking place as we grow together in different areas, like the guys talking to girls issue. Being more comfortable talking to the guys provides much more opportunity for varied conversation. I'm not sorry I'm still the serious one out; really, serious people have more to talk about. It's just that most people don't care to hear it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Last Weekend at the Fort

Last weekend was the last living history day for the season at Ft. Atkinson. It was a good ending to my first season. During the whole season I have made five men's shirts and one waistcoat suitable for reenacting. I intended to start on some trousers, but it hasn't happened yet. I am so grateful the Fort has uniforms available for loan during these weekends, because it takes time to create an entire period correct outfit!

At one point during the day I asked the sutler about the price of the period correct buttons sold at the Fort, since someone had told me they were fifty cents per button. I thought that was a high price, but there's a price for authenticity. But the sutler told me, no, the buttons are $2 or $3 a piece. I'm afraid I looked rather shocked. I think I'll just be that much more in-authentic and buy metal buttons at Hancock's. At least there they ARE fifty cents a piece.

Later on I met a man visiting the Fort who I had talked to about getting started in reenacting back in the spring. He does Lewis and Clark reenacting(over my dead body will I ever do that, and the same for the Civil War), and he told me about his most recent trip to Washington for an annual sacred Chinook ceremony. It involved a big Chinook salmon, and I can't recall all the details, but after the tribe's revered grandma kicked the fish dead, they cut it up and everyone received a cup of water and a cup of smoked salmon. My storyteller likened it to communion. I thought, hmm, a remnant of Christian tradition brought over from the continent? Interesting. Then it got a bit funny: The tribe took the fish skeleton out to sea in a highly authentic canoe and slipped the bones back into the water, sending the fish skeleton and presumably his spirit to tell his friends that it's okay to travel up the river now, because I already got eaten and the Indians will treat you well. It was a serious story as he was telling it, but I laughed about it later. Otherwise it was too depressing to think of pagan peoples and their ludicrous rites.