View Full Version : Spring directions

02-24-2006, 10:42 PM
We started chatting about this just before this forum went into hiatus, and I thought it would be interesting to get the conversation going again. What are you folks planning for the coming year? What kinds of improvements to your impression are you thinking of making? What new activities or skills will you try to learn? Is there one major item you want to add to your gear?

Just to get things rolling ... 2006 will be my year to learn about CW era cooking, especially on a hearth.

My major efforts toward improving my impression will probably be directed at fixing some details that have been bothering me -- raising the waistlines of some of my dresses by an inch or so, slicking my hair down with even more grease, getting the shape of the skirts right, getting modern colloquialisms out of my speech. (okay, guys, yeah, etc.)

edited to add my name -- Silvana Siddali

02-25-2006, 12:01 PM
Silvana - My major push this year is going to be to get a good homespun dress done. I have given up ever finding a suitable manufactured cloth, so am going to have a local weaver who is interested in reproducing historic textiles make some for me. She is also going to throw in some free spinning, dyeing, and weaving lessons, if I will help her find and document some of the patterns that were used before and during the Civil War. I am also going to find a good spinning wheel to use at reenactments.

I know this wouldn't be appropriate for everywhere, but it needs some representation where I live. If anyone has some sources of civil war or earlier homespuns, especially those used in dresses, men's and children's clothes, slave clothing, coverlets and bed linens, etc., I would appreciate it if you would point me in the right direction.

02-26-2006, 08:58 AM
Terre, are you familiar with this site? Vicki Betts studied and documented an interesting homespun dress here. There's quite a bit of information about the weave:


02-26-2006, 10:39 AM
Yes, Silvana, that is the site I sent to people when I was trying to find someone to take on this project. All the weavers complemented her on her documentation, and one said it was all she would need to replicate that cloth. Vicki brought the Furr dress to the ladies' conference in Texas last year. She also found an importnt quote from the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph of Dec. 14, 1864: "...In the way of provisions our people are now indepedent. Cheap and abundant corn overflows the granaries. In clothing we are partly so, but in a very costly way. It is estimated that four-fifths of the inhabitants of Texas are clothed in homespun."

03-03-2006, 04:56 PM
I have two major goals for this spring; one is to get a new 'good' suit of clothes...my old ones are getting pretty threadbare and dingy looking--and snug (why do they do that?), and are looking more like my 'work' clothes.
The other goal is to try to learn to Waltz. I'm not sure how to go about this, but I am determined to become a better dancer...even if I have to hire a dancing master to teach me.

03-07-2006, 11:26 AM
My big goals are all sewing-related, for the moment.

1. Make white pleated-front shirts for my father and three brothers. They got a box of fabric and a pattern for Christmas. :lol: If I ever get the machine out I can flat-fell the seams in the car while commuting. (No, not while I'm driving!)

2. Fix the skirt of my green wool that shrank in the rain at Corinth. This will be a pain. :?

3. Finish the bonnet I starting making at Vivian Murphy's workshop in January. Maybe I can do that in the car, too...

4. Use up the white dobby cotton for a summer dress. (First: Make a true gathered bodice pattern instead of fudging it.)

I can't plan further than that or I'll start running madly in circles. Full-time job + 2 grad classes = little time to sew.

As far as skills: Learn to ride, both astride and aside. This depends more upon my friend than upon me, and will happen at the earliest during the summer. I'm ready to make my riding dress (except for the trousers, grr), but I refuse to begin until I can use it.

One more skill: Buttonholes by hand. I just haven't gotten around to work on it, and the last several bodices have had hooks instead of buttons. The boys' shirts might be a good place to start... Poor brother guinea pigs! :twisted:

Julio C. Zangroniz
03-16-2006, 03:24 PM
I usually portray a (male) civilian news correspondent, a job that I actually carry out in real life --as a freelance journalist-- for a number of publications, both in the hobby of reenacting and outside of it.
As such, I try to improve the impression by learning a little more about the correspondents of the period --both in the North and in the South, as I am obligated to portray both at each and every event, in order to give each side adequate news/photographic coverage, something that modern-day editors require.
Therefore, I try to start each new reenacting season by finding, purchasing and reading *at least one book* about the work of the correspondents of the era.
It can be the reporters (the most common) or a field artist. Or a good diary by a soldier with a gift for jotting down his impressions.
Some of these books can be quite pricey, particularly at CW-era book shows --for instance, the last one I purchased cost me $80, for a book that, when published in the 1960s, cost all of $7. But in every case, I consider it money well spent.
And of course I have to continue to try to keep up with the avalanche of technological advances in the photographic field, both through regular subscription to some of the most respected magazines available, as well as through taking part in 2-3 seminars every year. It's a lot of work and expense, but I enjoy it.
Julio Z.