Monday, December 17, 2012

Back to Costuming

This dress is totally amazing. It's nice to know that it is possible to advance as a self-taught historical seamstress, even though I'm not a perfectionist and likely my outfits will never be that amazing.

First-ish snow: a dusting of white stuff.

It turns out that the Big Bad Wolf is actually terrified of Red Riding Hood. Who knew?

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Right now I'm trying to find costume inspiration relating to the Edwardian era, since it looks like we'll be performing at the beautiful Arbor Lodge in NE City. It's difficult for me to pin down particular mainstay styles for the Edwardian era. It's sort of sandwiched between the fru-fru bustle era behind and the loose, low-waisted 1920's in front. When I'm working on costumes for Performance group I need to have one or two basic, popular everyday patterns from the era that I can use as a base, since I can't sew for all my group and they can't sew a whole outfits for themselves. The ladies are the issue; I have enough wool pants and vests for the men that I'm not going to worry about them. Looking at patterns online, I'm torn between the Sense and Sensibility Beatrix skirt pattern, and the Truly Victorian Trumpet skirt pattern. Or should I even consider buying, since it's essentially such a simple pattern, and instead just try to make my own?

Red Riding Hood

Before there was the caped wonder of Superman, there was Red Riding Hood. I'll decline to comment on the fairy tale or any of the accompanying adaptations(though I have enjoyed some episodes of "Once Upon a Time"), since I've always thought it all a bit odd and easily taken wrongly. But I had this gorgeous crimson wool, and as I researched 18th Century women's capes quite a few of the examples I saw were red. I'm also coming to see the value of re-creating movie costumes. There seem to be a great many people in the world who like the idea of dressing in movie costume reproductions. So, for my 18th C wardrobe and also just for fun, here's my own Red Hood.

Everything I'm wearing here I made, except, of course, for the socks and shoes. I'm wearing my silk-lined mitts, which are the same red wool. The hand-made quilted white petticoat is cotton, pleated at the waist with ties. The back-lacing stays are brown linen with red trim, and the shift is also linen. The basket is from Russia. Almost everything I bought for myself in Russia was with the purpose of use for reenacting.

The cape is just a simple circular cape, made with red wool from Hancock's. I bought the wool last spring when all the winter fabrics went on sale. The clasp is also from Hancock's. After looking online at 18th C capes. I decided to add a shoulder caplet and hood. It's very warm! I made the hood small, both because I wanted it to be practical and keep in warmth and also because I didn't have a hood pattern and that's just how it turned out. I'm hemming it by hand, but the seams I did with machine.

 Thanks to Jennifer for taking the pictures.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I've been back for just over two weeks now, and still enjoying it.

I'm kind of looking for a job, though. I was surprised to hear from Mrs. B, who I worked for a bit before I left. I think the Bs have about four or five nannies and they just hash out a schedule week-to-week. I said I would be fine with just one day a week, because I haven't recovered from babysitting-lag yet. The three B boys are decent kids, but again there's very little leverage over disobedience. I was very glad to find their dog is no longer present. He was very old and, I thought, very annoying. Of course I think that about all dogs, but him more than others.

Costume sneak-peak: I can't have a real photo shoot of this until it snows! Inspiration: I've been watching some of this and enjoying a few of the costumes.

We keep our house reasonably cool, since we like to suffer and save money in the process. Our average temp is 65, and we've been turning off the heat at night. It's hard to work with frozen extremities, so I put together some fingerless mitts to keep my hands warm. I used some leftover crimson red wool(gorgeous! above) and lined them with brown silk. Silk is so expensive, I only buy it at Goodwill. Last week I found a weird sort of hindu-indian looking shirt in brown silk, on sale for a dollar. It was a European size 38 which is about an American size 8, and rather too big for anything but a very odd nightgown. So I cut off a tail to trim my mitts.

I'm also working on a complete gentleman's outfit by request. It will be white shirt and trousers, red linen waistcoat, and wool tailcoat. This is one of those wonderful jobs I'm actually getting paid for. If you'd like to be one of those wonderful people who order my costumes, these white linen/cotton costume shirts are only $40 each(plus shipping). The inside seams are done by machine, but all visible stitching is done by hand.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Recovery, Week One

Between my return at midnight Tuesday I had two days until our annual Fezziwig Ball on Friday. The Ball went great despite my jetlagged fog and accompanying head cold. I'm finally catching up on rest and unpacking and everything else. I'm so enjoying the comforts of home(Privacy! Quiet! Control over my life!).

So, how was Russia?

Russia was great. It was a wonderful opportunity to see new places and meet different people. After all the trouble we went through with the visa resulting in extra cost but a three year multiple entry visa, I feel like I should definitely consider going back to Russia. Though not, perhaps, as a nanny.

The more I do childcare the harder it seems to become. Taking care of other people's children is always challenging, and long-term it wears away my patience and takes a while to recover. I find that right now I want to either spank or avoid all children. Being a nanny is essentially being a domestic servant, even under like-minded Christians, because you're never quite in charge. Especially as I've grown older I've struggled with the constant tension or effort for balance of nanny/parent authority, especially when the parents are present. For example, the Ds, while excellent disciplinarians, were very busy speaking and traveling and not as able to intervene over discipline issues. I used to be more understanding of parents not allowing babysitters to discipline their children, but I've slowly changed to the view that if you're leaving your child in the care of another person, you should trust that person enough to discipline your children. If a parent is leaving their child's well-being in the hands of the babysitter, shouldn't that include discipline? Being exposed to so many different styles of child discipline over the years has been both educational(good) and frustrating(sanctifying).

Disclaimer: Reflections of the trip probably look rather black right now as I decompress from such an exhausting trip, a big dance event and my twenty-fifth birthday all in one week. I feel a mid-life crisis in the works!