Our middle daughter, Mary Anne, has ALWAYS WORN dresses or skirts. And they always had to be “just so”.
For a few years, the girls went to a Waldorf school. During her Kindergarten year, Mary Anne wore this one particular dress at least 3 days a week. It was a light brown calico with little blue flowers and a little lacy collar. She wore it and wore it and wore it. I honestly was afraid people would think we couldn’t afford clothes!! She called it her “old fashioned dress”… a clue to her future!
At the beginning of the previous school year, she started talking about a project she wanted to do. At Waldorf schools, the “Eighth Grade Project” is a REALLY big deal, kind of a culmination of the previous years, like it all builds up to this one event. The kids come up with an idea for a project, generally something they want to create or experience, find a mentor (can’t be a family member), and begin. Kids in previous classes had learned how to blow glass, make an authentic birch bark canoe (with an actual native elder), forge metals, make jewelry, wilderness survival, etc. You get the idea.
Mary Anne announced at the beginning of the year that she wanted to make a Regency Era Ensemble. Gown, corset, the whole shebang. I was like… “ummm…okaaaayyy…” I mean, I can sew. I’ve made quilts, skirts, and stuff like that….but an actual gown? A corset?? Help!!!!
Enter Jennifer Rosbrugh. Jennifer is a Historical Costumer and creates “on demand” sewing classes for historical costumes, etc. I had “met” Jennifer at an online business marketing course. We were both online attendants and as such, we could chat back and forth with all the other online attendants. Anyway, we connected on Facebook and have supported each others efforts through social media. I instantly knew who to contact for help!!
We ordered a few patterns, one for the dress, a corset, the drawers, chemise, etc. We took a trip to “the big City” – Bangor – and she picked out her fabrics.
I taught her how to trace out the patterns on tracing paper. We actually got a roll of “medical paper”, like the stuff doctors use on their tables. Worked great and the price was right.
Then I taught her the basics of using the sewing machine. How to thread the needle & bobbin; how to sew a straight seam and reverse, etc. And, she learned how to fix the bobbin thread when it “balled up” which happens too often with my poor old machine…
Then, she was on her own! We reached a point where I said, “Mary….this is your project, not mine.”
That’s when Jennifer came in! We purchased Jennifer’s Regency Era Gown class and her Regency Era “underthings” class and Mary Anne was off & running! At 14 years old, she learned how to create this ensemble with Jennifer’s assistance!
There were plenty of mishaps along the way, but that’s part of the learning process. Seams were sewn the “wrong way”, two sewing needles broke, the sewing machine “balled up” I don’t know how many times. She made 3 “practice” corsets out of muslin before she got the sizing right. After that corset…the dress was a breeze!!
Here are her photos:
A couple weeks ago, she presented her “project” to a few family members and friends at a local venue. She prepared a speech and we had a set up of her gown (she borrowed a mannequin from the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society) and the other pieces – corset, drawers, etc. She also had a table with some drawings.
Mary Anne volunteers weekly at the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, helping to sort through and store the clothing in the attic. So many heirloom and antique articles of clothes – everything from military uniforms to bridal gowns, from baby clothes to “everyday dresses”. She just loves it there.
This experience has helped her to blossom and to really find her passion: historical garments. She’s got many plans for more ensembles.
Is this your “thing” too? Maybe you’re thinking you’d like to take a class? here’s Jennifer’s website == > http://historicalsewing.com
I’ve got a feeling there will be more posts with more garments coming soon! 😀