A new start, a new blog!

Hi everyone, I want to thank each and every one of my followers that I've gathered through the years. Your comments and questions have been wonderful to keep me inspired. I wanted to make an announcement to you all, that after months of consideration I have decided to start a new blog on WordPress and no longer post on Music, Corsets, and Star Wars.

Those close to me know that I've had a lot of life changes in the last 7 months, and I felt it was fitting to start a new blog. I hope you all will continue to follow me on my new blog "Lady of the Wilderness

Thank you!

The 3rd Annual Civil War Ball at the Athens County Historical Society and Museum

Saturday was the Athens County Historical Society and Museum's annual Civil War Ball and I had a great time! I didn't take a TON of pictures, but I took a few. This year I loaned my grey ball dress to my friend, Lizy, because she fits it in it perfectly. I wore my blue plaid ball dress with a bouquet/corsage and a flowery headpiece that I put together in a few hours before the ball (inevitably I leave it up to the last minute).

I based my headpiece to be similar to

Headdress and Matching Bouquet- MidCentury French from
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 And the headdress on the lady in yellow, below:

1858 Petersons Magazine
 And here's what I ended up with!

Right Side

Left Side
Back (With fake hair)

The Ultimate 1860's Selfie
The dancefloor halfway through the night
'Twas a good night!

An interview for me!

I was recently interviewed for a local Ohio University student blog called Beta Fish Magazine and wanted to share it with you!

Click here to read the interview!

An 1860's Bonnet: Part 2

If you didn't get a chance to read Part 1 of my bonnet adventures, click here!

So, to start where I left off, I had researched drawn bonnets for the 1860's and came across a lovely image of a great specimen.

From looking at the images, it seems that the canes are not relied upon for the shape of the bonnet. Typically there are two types of understructures, wire base and buckram base (sometimes a mix of the two). Wire bases are more for sheer bonnets or ones that don't require a lot of extra structure. Buckram bases are more sturdy and structured, and can be sewn directly into to keep fashion fabric in place. I inferred that the bonnet's understructure is a buckram base, which allows for the canes to be decorative. This explains the interesting pattern on the caul of the bonnet.

tiny bonnet!
From this point, I decided to start working on the base. Getting the shape is the hardest part, since I've not made one before. I made little paper prototypes to get an idea of the pattern pieces. It took a lot of tries, but I figured out what shapes make what bonnets.

When I found the approximate shape I was looking for, I made real size paper prototype. This became the pattern.

paper and tape, that is all!
Afterward, I cut out the pieces in buckram and found that it wasn't as sturdy as I was hoping. I fused two layers together to get the right thickness. As with most buckram bases, the ends need to be wired. So, (as I am cheap and always make these kinds of things spur of the moment) I lock-stitched (by hand) galvanized steel wire from Lowes to the edges instead of waiting for millinery wire, then covered the wire with white bias tape. It worked out pretty well, I think. But in the future I'd like to see if millinery wire makes any difference.

I ended up getting a great shape for my bonnet! I'm really pleased with the pattern.

An 1860's Bonnet: Part 1

A verrry long time ago I started tearing apart a straw bonnet that didn't have the right shape, got frustrated, and didn't think about bonnets again until the beginning of this year. While gearing up for Gettysburg, I simply needed a bonnet. I've never really made a bonnet before but of course I decided to make my first a hard one.

I got bit by the drawn-bonnet-bug after seeing a grad student/friend of mine make an absolutely lovely reproduction of a bonnet she found tucked away in the hat boxes at the theater department. Her reproduction was stunning. She used a silver shot taffeta and wire frame.

From seeing her process, I became really intrigued with making one, but first I had to see whether or not a drawn bonnet would be appropriate for the American Civil War years (1860-1865). In my research (and people, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) it seems that the drawn bonnet style was definitely more popular before the 1860s, and isn't as widespread up through 1865. That was kind of a bummer, but I dug a little deeper. I searched through fashion plates, seeing one occasionally, and would randomly come across a cute bonnet from museum sites only to find out that it's a child's bonnet or some other such nonsense.

Look how precious! But it's a child's bonnet :(
A little bit about Civil War Era Bonnets:  Bonnet styles progress like any other type of fashion, some years they're in, some years they're out, some years they're round, some years they're not. Specifically, from 1860-65 the "spoon bonnet" became popular. The "spoon" refers to the profile view of the bonnet looking like a spoon, having a gentle curved and slightly pronounced brim at the top; and from the front view it has an egg like shape, much like a spoon. Also, during these years, the caul of the bonnet was somewhat shallow and had a pretty steep grade from brim to crown. 

After having so much trouble finding an okay bonnet with the correct shape and being a drawn bonnet (that I like and want to reproduce) I was forced to use Pinterest. LE GASP! Now, I will say this with a disclaimer:
So, in essence, everything on Pinterest must be taken with a grain of salt. Pinterest can be a great search tool as there are so many photos linked with great websites. Unfortunately it is not always the case. I encourage any person who finds an intriguing photo from Pinterest to find out its original source and give said source due credit. End Rant.

The bonnet I found is from Time Traveler's Antiques. It is a drawn bonnet, which isn't altogether shocking, but the shape of it is definitely of the 1860s. You can see in the photo how high the top of the brim is, it is not round like most of the drawn bonnets from the 1850s, definitely spoon shaped. Now, the caul of the bonnet doesn't have a very steep grade, but the trimmings are concentrated at the top of the head, which also point to the 1860s.

So, this is the bonnet I am to recreate, just with a different color scheme. The next post shall be about the construction!

A new 1860's bodice!

 This year I will be attending the big 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg with our local historical society, and for such an occasion, I need some new pieces of clothing!

It looks okay, but not great.
The first piece I'm making is a new bodice for my grey "nun" dress. So, background on that is, that puppy was my first one. And though I'm proud of what I accomplished and learned through that process, the bodice is really kind of crappy. It's unlined, as I wanted it to be a sheer, the edges are all widgey, I didn't actually pattern out the sleeves, the closure doesn't line up just right, etc. So, I thought it was time to retire that bad boy and crank out a newer, prettier bodice...hopefully in time for my Civil War Fashions lecture coming up!

As with most things I do, I needed to research. Sleeve styles are always a concern for me, and since I'm doing a similar thing to what women of the time did (as in, making new bodices for existing dresses to keep up with fashions, kind of a frugal way of getting new clothing) I wanted this bodice to be of a nice new style dating from late 1862-early 1863. This means we're dealing with the emergence of the stand collar and sleeves are beginning to narrow a bit.

I landed on this beautiful piece:

1860's Afternoon Dress, American
Metropolitan Museum of Art

As always, I seem to choose pictures from the Metropolitan. This one just so happened to be perfect. My fabric is of similar color (though it is a plain sheer cotton, not a lovely printed silk)

The piping, decorative tabs and buttons, are all covered in a lovely purply-mauvy silk, and paired with that grey. *swoon* I happened to find some from that will be nice off of ebay, and it came in yesterday!

The purple is little lighter than I would have liked, but it'll work all the same
Now onto sewing!

Photo Friday

This particular picture is pretty awesome. The woman in the photo is Flora Stewart, and lore is she was a house slave in New England during the American Revolution. She died in 1868.

There's some more information on her at Nutfield Geneaology. It seems that her age is often disputed, and town records have been the subject of questioning in regards to her date of birth.

Regardless of if her age at death was 120 years old or whatever, it's still amazing to think that this woman possibly saw two world changing wars. She saw herself freed and surely witnessed the beginnings of the abolition of slavery. She also lived a huge range of fashions and styles. It's mind boggling to think someone can live so long.

Anywho, I thought this was a really cool picture and thought I'd share. Have a great weekend!

Lectures, lectures, lectures!

For the past year, I've been getting into giving presentations at various organizations and I've just scheduled two more! The next one coming up is going to be taking place next week!

For this presentation, I will be dressed in my grey dress, hopefully the new bodice, and will be speaking about Women's and Children's popular fashions from 1860-1865. We will be covering popular fashions of the time period, how to date Civil War era photos, and the dressing process that goes into achieving a fashionable silhouette with my lovely model, Kitri.

If you're in the area, I hope to see you there!

Pinterest Addiction: Cocoa Hair Mask

Unlike a lot of professional internet surfettes, I don't have a tumblr or a twitter. I don't do video posts/blogs. I don't have a Wordpress blog. BUT I do have a Pinterest, which can be quite bedazzling to behold.

I have to limit my time on the blasted thing, because I spend more time looking at pins to do than actually doing them. I've decided that I should try to do at least one pin a week.

Some background on this particular post... I've been dying to change up my hair lately. I'm growing it out, but it's reached the dreaded "half point" where it's not really long, not really medium length, and lacks any interest. There was a point where I was ready to chop it for a pixie cut and dye it Christina Hendricks Red, but then I remembered that I need to have it long and "natural" colored for Gettysburg.

Such a pretty color!!!!
I mulled on the ideas of cutting and dying for a week now and I've decided I won't cut it until after Gettysburg, and red is really hard to make convincing. Sigh. Stuck with my hair as is.
I trimmed the dead ends, and then came across a pin regarding naturally darkening your hair with cocoa. O.O I think I can handle that!

This is the pin I ran across... it calls for regular cocoa, but of course, in my infinite wisdom (note: sarcasm) I changed it a little bit. I'd like to darken the ends of my hair or darken it all to a deeper shade. Soooo this was the recipe I ended up concocting:

1/2 c. Natural Yogurt (I used Chobani)
1/3 c. Black/Dark Cocoa
3 Tbs Regular Cocoa
2 tsp  Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp  Honey
1 tsp  Olive Oil
Plastic Wrap or a Shower Cap

Mix all the ingredients together and apply to wet hair. Secure hair in a bun, cover with plastic wrap or shower cap and let sit for 1-3 hours.
According to the original post/recipe, the yogurt is supposed to open up the hair so it can accept the darker color, and the vinegar acts as a mordant to lock the color in.

that's pretty dang dark.

I kind of panicked after I mixed up the recipe. It's SUPER dark and I was feeling kind of like Anne Shirley.... "He said it would turn my hair a beautiful raven black--he positively assured me that it would."

 *cue nervousness* So here's my hair before I put on the stuff:

You can see it's kinda blah as a cut, and I don't want a blanket color for it, I'd just like to liven it up a bit and darken the ends.

Now, I didn't realize this was going to be a paste when I started this project. I figured it would be more like a watery solution to comb through the hair, so I doubled the recipe as I always do (my hair is both thick and long-ish). In order to get this stuff to get to all of the hair, I had to wet my hair to begin with, then apply the paste. Make sure you're naked and in the bathtub, with the shower curtain drawn.... the stuff gets EVERYWHERE.

It feels pretty weird, I gotta say.
Real fun, real fun.
I put my hair in a top-knot and covered it with plastic wrap. Make sure to keep a damp washrag with you to wipe off any that decides to run down your face or neck. I was sweating with the plastic wrap on my head, which led to some drizzles.

I left it on for 3 hours then washed my hair like normal. I had to scrub my shower after it was washed out, because it looks like I had massacred a chocolate bunny. Thankfully it didn't stain my tub, which was my biggest concern. I blow dried my hair, then went to bed because it was late, but managed a picture the next morning.

Morning face! Yay!
Slightly off color view of hair.
So what did I think of this whole thing?
Well, my hair was REALLY shiny, which was nice. But it wasn't as soft and had a tendency to tangle more than the oil, vinegar, and honey rinses I have done in the past.

Did it do what I wanted it to?
No. I was after this mask to darken my hair, and it did the opposite. The ends of my hair are now a little brighter and almost reddish in color. I can see it working great for someone who's hair is real brown, but my hair is a brown black, so fading into a reddy-brown isn't what I had in mind. The second picture above is closer to the color of the ends than the picture before it.

Would I do this again?
Nope. I wanted darker, and got lighter. I may go back to the coffee soaks I did in high school, they actually did darken my hair really well.

Marietta Civil War Field Day 2013

A couple weeks ago, I participated in an annual event put on by Campus Martius and The Castle. This event is much like the Civil War Days I used to participate in at my local Jr High; except this one is much bigger. Around 300 students were there throughout the course of the day.

The event calls in local schools to walk through a living history camp on the riverfront and each presenter talks to school groups about certain aspects of the American Civil War.

 I participated in the event with staff from the Athens County Historical Society and Museum. Curator, Jessica Cyders, and Administrator, Laura Farrell, also presented with me. Jessica is representing a Vivandiere, Laura a women for the Sanitary Commission, and I am in a state of "half-mourning."

Laura, Jessica, and myself

  Our presentations included information on women on the battlefield, women on the homefront, and the practice of mourning in mid-Victorian society. The students were very responsive and especially enjoyed the bloodied bandaged we handed out for them to wear during their drills that they participated in later in the day.

We really enjoyed ourselves and hope to do it again next year!