Friday, May 30, 2014

A Weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Last weekend, my mom and I went on a road trip to Louisiana.  One of my oldest friends (actually my oldest friend, but that sounds a bit misleading) was getting married in Baton Rouge, and as Dan wasn't able to make it (he had to go back to work, silly thing) my mom decided to go down with me.  It was definitely the first time in Louisiana for both of us, and it was quite the experience.

Baton Rouge is the capital city, and it was really charming.  Much of it was built or re-built in the early 1930's under Governor Huey Long--who was either an amazing man, or a gangster.  His body guards actually carried Tommy Guns!  (And may have accidentally assassinated him with them)  Really, you should just read his Wikipedia page or his web page.

Before we got to town we visited a plantation house, a first for me.  Rosedown was built in 1935, and had 3,500 acres of mostly cotton.  And the family definitely owned slaves.  Mostly, touring the house and grounds made me want to come back with Dan in period costume (perhaps my Lowell Mill Girl Dress?) and wander around.  Which probably means I'm in really deep into this historic costuming thing.

Our first view of the house.

Mom relaxing on the porch before our tour.

The front entry way was amazing!  It was a mural made of hand-crafted wallpaper panels.  I personally think it would have been easier, and probably cheaper, to have an actual mural, but then it probably wouldn't be one of only a dozen examples of this style of thing in the world.

And of course, there was a small tapestry that was possibly woven by Martha Washington.

I took several photos of bed quilts.  They're a fantastic source of fabric information--pattern, color (if a bit faded), material.

This one was made of mostly silk and velvet.  It was pretty amazing.

The next day (still a day before the wedding), we explored downtown Baton Rouge.  We toured the current capitol building (which at 34 stories is the tallest in the US) and heard all about Huey Long (who built it) and his untimely demise.

We then walked over to the old state capitol building, which is only about 3 stories, but is possibly more impressive.  From the outside it looks like a castle (I didn't get a photo) but the inside is the real stunner.

Much of the building is now a museum, part of which is about (who else?) Huey Long.  They mostly looked at the controversy of his time in office, but I found this bit really interesting.  The statue in front didn't move, but the shadow in back moved and gestured along to a famous speech of Huey's.

And that was about all the tourism we had time for.  But someday, I would actually like to go back to Louisiana and explore more.  Which is good, as my friend will probably be living there for a long time to come.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

HSF '14: Black and White for Summer

Technically, I created two entries for this Black and White challenge.  Black shorts, and a white blouse.  But as I had made both patterns recently (as 1930's trousers, and a pink blouse), it took less time than it would have otherwise.  I didn't have to make any modifications to the pants, except to turn them into shorts (which the pattern included anyway), but I did make some changes to the blouse pattern.  The pink blouse made me feel like a linebacker, but turning all the bodice gathers into tucks gave me a slimmer line that I'm really happy with.  Now, paired with the black shorts, I feel like an adorable school girl.  It's quite a change from football player.

In addition to changing the bodice gathers to tucks, I eliminated the pockets and cuffs, curved the collar, pleated the sleeve head (it had gathers), and put a little tuck at the base of the sleeve.

The Challenge: Create something in black and white, or white or black.

Fabric: Pants: Cotton sateen. Blouse: Cotton shirting.

Pattern: Wearing History's Smooth Sailing Trousers and Blouse (modified), found here.

Year: 1930's (mid to late)

Notions: Pants: Hook and bar, metal zipper, thread. Blouse: Buttons, a scrap of bias tape, thread.

How historically accurate is it? Good, I think. I did use modern seam finishing on the blouse though.

Hours to complete: Shorts: about 6, Blouse: 15.  With my changes I had quite a bit of work to do to get the blouse to fit properly, but it was definitely worth it.

First worn: For photos.  I'm wearing the blouse tonight with modern jeans though, and the shorts will get a lot of use later this summer.

Total cost: Shorts: Fabric--$15, zipper--$3. Blouse: The fabric was given to me, buttons--$4.  So $21 total.  Not bad.

And one more.  This one is probably my favorite.  My parents had a black and white umbrella, which I thought would make a good prop, but it's bigger than I am--by a lot--, so all together it looks a bit funny.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

HSF '14: Super Scratchy 1930's Pants

I have new pants!  I've been wanting 30's pants for a while now.  I absolutely adore wide legged pants, and have been wanting to try high waisted pants.  I received the Smooth Sailing pattern from Wearing History last year for my birthday, and have been waiting for an opportunity to make them up.  I found my fabric at a rather large fabric market in Utrecht.  They're supposed to be 100% wool, but the fabric right next to them in the pile was also supposed to be wool, but it seemed more than a bit too stretchy.  It is certainly scratchy enough for wool though--which is why they're fully lined (my lining cost more than my fabric).  They're nice and warm for my cooler climate, but not great for biking (I'm afraid they'd get caught in my gears too easily).  But I love them, and I'm already looking forward to making more.

Oh, and I've paired them with a modern knit top, and a 70's vest that I think was my father's.  A pleasing blend of eras.

The Challenge: UFO or PHD (Un-Finished Object / Project Half Done)  As I'm still new to sewing historic clothing, I didn't really have any traditional UFO's--but I do have a lot of Un-Finished Ideas, which are also allowed.

Fabric: Super scratchy wool, and rayon for lining.

Pattern: Wearing History's Smooth Sailing Trousers, found here.

Year: 1930's (mid to late)

Notions: Hook and bar, metal zipper, thread.

How historically accurate is it? Fairly.  Pattern is good, though the crotch isn't as low as some originals (which Lauren mentions on her site), fabric is I think good.  I've said this previously, but the 1930's is so much easier to get historically accurate than earlier eras.

Hours to complete: Just under 15.

First worn: Out and about a few times now, but just with modern tops and shoes, I still have a long way to go to build my 30's wardrobe.

Total cost: I bought the fabric a while ago, I think it was $10, and then the rayon was more like $20.  I think the zipper was $3.