Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Maryland Trip: Washington Monument

Sarah and me (with her wee boy behind).

Back in April my friend Sarah and I planned for me to visit her in Maryland for a week. I have been looking forward to it ever since - especially as I would be back east in the heart of autumn time, just before Halloween. Perfect! 

It has been several years since I've seen Sarah and her delightful family. She was able to visit when I was in New York, not long before I left for Glasgow. 

On our first full day we went to the Washington Memorial - no, not the one in Washington D.C., but an older memorial erected in the 1820s. Unfortunately we could not go inside, as lightning had struck it in the summer and they were still carrying out repairs. Notwithstanding, it was a beautiful spot. We also walked a short ways along part of the Appalachian Trail which was nearby. 
The view from the memorial.

The temporary fencing around the memorial, damaged by lightning. 

The original Washington Memorial. 
The woods were full of autumn splendour as we walked along the trail a ways. 

I was intrigued by this, as it looks very much like witch hazel, but I've only ever seen witch hazel bloom (in Glasgow) in February. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

1910s Half-Mourning Dress

Advertisement for mourning clothing, early 1910s.

Like most seamstresses, I have a problem with fabric. I just keep buying it, and the speed of my sewing does not outstrip my stash. Last year I bought some fabric at JoAnn's that was on a fabulous sale. But I couldn't decide what to do with it - should I try a Regency dress? Use it for something 18th century? It wasn't till a couple months ago that I finally decided that it might make a fabulous half-mourning dress. 

I think people have worn mourning for a long time, but it was the Victorian era that took it to extremes - there was a strict code. How long you were in full mourning depended upon your relationship with the deceased. After that time, it would be acceptable to go into half-mourning, wearing greys, purples and mauves. 

An example of half-mourning (Victoria & Albert Museum).

This blouse is probably half-mourning as well (V&A Museum).

This 1910s dress sold on Etsy could well have been a half-mourning dress.

The pattern I used was one from Past Patterns from 1917. I'd used it before, though I hadn't done a  very good job with it, I'm afraid. This time I adjusted the pattern a little to make it larger in order to fit better, and I was more careful with the construction. 

I don't know if mine would qualify as a proper half-mourning dress, but I thought it would fit the spirit of the thing. I'm sure during The Great War, quite a profit was made in mourning clothing. 

My finished dress!

A close-up of the bodice & collar.

A picture my sister took of me with her cat: 

This dress does have its flaws, but I am happy with it, and it certainly turned out better than when I used this pattern before! 

You probably can't tell, but this is the first dress I used with this pattern. And it's not as well made at all. I'm glad I redeemed myself with my half-mourning dress. Plus I now have a proper 1910s corset, which really helps!