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.