This has got to be a wedding photo!

My card for today features a pretty young girl bedecked in a lot of flowers.For dating, I was a bit puzzled by her hair…It was kinda half Gibson girl of the 90s and frizzy bangs of the 80s.  I would guess this is a transition style between the two.  There are not to many cues from the dress.  The sleeves look like they could be quite large which was a 90’s feature.  I’m guessing the white lacy stuff is some sort of big ruffle.

It is hard to see in the photo but the words on the bottom say Shadle & Busser 20 S. George St. York PA.  When I googled that, I got this site.  Someone was asking the same question and the answer they got was that these photographers were working at that location from 1887-1902.  This fits with my idea that the hairstyle is a transition between the 80’s fringe bangs and the 90’s Gibson.  So my guess is….drum role please…the photo is dated between 1887 and the early 90s.

Whole lotta drifting….

I haven’t been getting anywhere with my sewing.  I have ideas but don’t have the gumption to get anywhere with them.  I did make a pleater but haven’t taken the photos off of the camera yet because I’m still waiting for the motivation to take the thing for a trial run (taking photos at the same time).

I started to try to make this….

It’s from a Janet Arnold Patterns of Fashion Book

into a Barbie Doll dress.   The book assumes you know a bit about how things go together so the instructions are a bit vague.  I thought that if I enlarged the pattern, I could sew something Barbie sized (thus saving on fabric) while I tried to figure how things go together.


Since Boobie….I mean Barbie is not built like a regular modern woman, never mind a Victorian one, some adaptations were needed in the fit.  And it is all hand sewing…ka ka.  So I lost momentum.

I have some ideas for using up some of my larger scraps….I  could make a modern version of a Victorian bodice to wear with pants…aka a shirt.  Again, my get up and go, got up and went.  I want to try my hand at corset making and have all the parts and material but fear of failure has clogged up my gears and I can’t get past inertia.

I’ve done the calculations today to get a pattern from the book “The Voice of Fashion” from Victorian elf sized up to mondo modern woman sized but lack a big enough square (that “L” shaped ruler thingy) to do a good job of transcribing my calculations into a pattern piece.  So now I have to go shopping for that….  Then I have to find inspiring material that wont cause me to sell my eldest child into slavery to pay the bill.

Don’t even get me started on the crochetted black fingerless gloves and the knitted 1870s shawl that sit in a bag right next to me, untouched, for months!

This past weekend seemed to be a whole lotta meh…. I need some inspiration.  Maybe, in the fall when it is not so desperately hot….





St Norbert Heritage Park

My city is notorious for not advertising its little historic gems.  You really have to actively search for them.  Sigh.  And they wonder why they can’t stay open.  I stumbled on St. Norbert Heritage Park in the usual fashion and decided to check it out Saturday.  St. Norbert is basically a town that is partially swallowed by the city.  They rescued a few buildings and moved them into the park.  The first building you get to (besides the out house…an honest to goodness outhouse with a toilet plunked over the hole in the ground) is Bohemier House.  Benjamin Bohemier and his wife Marie-Louise built the house in the 1880s.  In the 1970s, the land it stood on, was slated for an apartment block so the house was moved to the park.  The house is furnished with mostly items that are original to the house during 1906-12.  Unfortunately, it was under renovation so I couldn’t go in and see it.

I think this is the front.

It would have been a fairly large house for its day

Side view

They are saving the nice trim on the house.Down the little path from this house is the Turenne House which was build in 1871 by Joseph Turenne.  The next year he married Adele Royal.  They lived in the house with five kids.

Side of the house with garden.

The little part on the side is a summer kitchen.

Inside the summer kitchen.

Next to that is the diningroom/winter kitchen as well as the trap door to the root cellar.

Breakfast is ready!

Through the door and the right you enter the parlour.  It is all done in period furniture.  Unfortunately, the mannequins are not.  They are wearing wedding clothes from 1907.  At least the guides don’t try to pawn them off as 1870s wear!And here is the lady of the house.

Pretty in pink!

The gent was a country clerk and he worked at home.  His little office was across from the parlour and next to the bedroom.And here is the bedroom for the parents and babies.  There were no other bedrooms so they think the other children slept on the floor in various rooms.  They had an extensive attic but the theory is the kids didn’t sleep there as they would have either roasted or froze to death, depending on the time of year.

There were two more buildings at the back of the park which are disasters and being held together with all kinds of support work. I have no idea what the plan is.  I can’t imagine they’d be worth trying to restore but perhaps they are being kept for the sake of study and perhaps for historic reasons.  One of them was built in the 1850s and saw 13 children raised in it.  The fellow was a leader with the Metis (half aboriginal and half European people) and was an ally of Lois Riel-a major historical Metis figure.  On the grounds of the park, there is a walking path to the rivers, which I did not take and some picnic benches.  It might be a nice place for costumes and a photo shoot.  May be next year, when the park hopes the Bohemier house will be done.



Did Victorians talk to themselves?

On Thursday evening I was alone in my car heading home from work.  At a bus stop, I saw a man deep in conversation.  His lips were moving.  His hands were gesturing.  His brow was furrowed.  He was pacing back and forth.  He was completely alone talking…out loud…to himself…on the side of a very busy street.  Now there is a difference between someone who is talking to himself and the guy who is talking to himself but thinks he is talking to someone else.  Once, in my bus taking days, I was walking to my bus stop downtown.  I was crossing the street and from the other side, a skinny bearded man was also crossing and coming my way.  This man got to about 10 paces from meeting up with me.  He stopped in the middle of the street, turned to the empty space to his left and shouted “I told you to stop following me!”  I hedged my bets with the traffic and moved out of the crossing area into the traffic.

Anyway, back to Thursday and the guy talking to himself on the side of the road.  I began to ponder if this is a modern phenomena.  Have we become so isolated in our crowds and technology that we have forgotten that the hundreds of cars speeding past us have windows?  And since I was doing this pondering in my car, OUT LOUD, had I forgotten that afore-mentioned cars have windows and people can look IN and see me talking to myself.  I took solace in the idea that no one could hear my ramblings (unless I forgot to shut the window) and everyone would believe I was merely singing along to the radio  (unless I forgot to shut the window).  Everyone knows, singing to the radio when you are alone is not as unbalanced as talking to yourself.

Then I got to wondering (out loud) did Victorians do this.  Did they sit in their parlour and practice lecturing that uppity housekeeper who didn’t know her place.  Did they ride their stallions alone in the park and dazzle that upstart dandy with their witty repartee?  Did they sit alone in their carriage and use their silver tonge to convince all the virgins in town to let him steal a kiss? Really, I want to know this.  I’d be willing to bet there was some rule of etiquette about this.  Hold on a sec and I’ll Google it….Nope, couldn’t find it.  There are lots of items about talking to much ABOUT yourself but not about TO yourself.  Anyone out there have some facts…?

Favorites Friday-Cation Designs

Cation Designs is the blog of a 20 something science teacher who loves to sew.

Here is what I like about her blog….

She embraces her quirkiness (kind of makes me think of a female version of my “quirky and ok with it” son) and attempts to sew clothes that reflect this about herself.  For example, she loves comic book characters.  She finds thrifted bed sheets (I love frugality) with those characters on them and sews herself dresses!  Super cute little dresses!

I hope I haven’t slipped into creepy waters by posting a photo from her blog in my blog about her blog.

She has helped me consider the possibility of embracing my Victorian quirkiness and finding ways to reflect that in my everyday wear.  I haven’t done it yet…but there are plans.  Oh, yes, there are plans.  Isn’t it great when the young can bring insight into the life of the not so young?

She also sews costumes for others as well as herself and lately she has drifted a bit into my waters and is sewing historical outfits.  And she has done a smashing good job of it too!

She is honest about the things that gives her troubles but is far to hard on herself with her perceived sewing mistakes.  She does have a good humor with her self critique and I really enjoy her sense of joy with sewing.  She has a pretty cute cat too. Hope some of you will trot on over to her blog and check her out.

1898 wedding dress from the Canadian Costume Museum

And now I present the 1890s wedding dress we put on display last May.  It is dated 1898.The collar was a separate piece and seemed quite stiff.

Nice bead work on it, though.

I like the “shawl” effect of the lace.Pretty train too.

I’m done for today’s posting.  I’m not feeling to chatty today.  I have a project for work I want to work on and it is draining all my creative brain cells at the moment!  See ya tomorrow!

Cabinet Card hairstyle lesson 101

When I was considering buying a bundle of cabinet cards I was on the fence.  On the one hand, it was a great way to get a pile of cards without coughing up a ton of money.  But, my practice had been to buy cards where I could get a good look at some of a woman’s dress feature and this bundle only had head shots.  I decided to go with buying them because I figured, at the very least, I would get a few ideas from the hair styles and jewelry.  Well, my next card has taught me that not all 1880s women wore their buns at the back of their heads.  I’ve come to think of 1880s hair styles looking like this lady (posted last week)

Her hair is set low at the back of her head.

But this lady has hers on top of her head.

Churchill Arcade NY

(Sorry about the odd angle to the photo.  It was a cloudy evening when I took the photo and though the ambient lighting was relaxing, it wasn’t helpful for taking photos.  I had to use the flash and so I tilted the photo to prevent glare.)

The other odd thing I noticed is the bun is darker in color than the rest of her hair.  I have two theories on that.  One is the hair near her head was starting to go grey and the longer hair that is swept up on her head grew when she was younger and not going grey.  The other theory is that the bun is actually a hair piece.  What do you think?

I could use some of this!

Sunday was a busy day but I didn’t get anything done on my projects.  I do have something new to show you though.  Do you remember that package of bottles that I found at craft store?  I gave my son all of the bottles except one.  That one I kept for myself.  The other day I found the perfect label for it here.  And lucky me, it is free to use if I give them credit (done).

Dr Whately’s Energy Elixir

I copied and pasted the picture to my word program.  Then I fiddled with the size until I was sure I had the right size.  Then I hit print and out it came!  I cut it out, stuck it onto the bottle with some glue.  I slapped some glue on top of it to help the label to stay put as it rattles around in my various bags.  It took me all of 10 minutes and now I have a neat little prop to haul around.  We all know it is the accessories that moves a dress from a costume to an ensemble.

Did some jail time….

I had a lovely Saturday doing some “tourist in my home town” activities.  There is a fabulous lady here in Winnipeg who did a masters thesis on local history.  She has spun that interest and research into a business called Muddy Waters Tours.  It is called Muddy Waters because the name “Winnipeg” is a Cree Indian word meaning muddy waters.  In 1866 a newspaper called the Nor’ Wester labeled this area Winnipeg (I’m guessing because our two rivers are a muddy brown color).  Who knew?  I didn’t, until I came across this tour company.

Muddy Waters Tours likes odd historical facts that run a bit into the dark side.  So ghost tours and cemetery tours are on the agenda.  Muddy Waters also likes to take some of the pretty gild off of our historic facts by showing some of the tarnish.  For example, Nellie McClung is celebrated as helping bring the vote to western Canadian women.  Yeah, Nellie.  But, what doesn’t always make the history books was she was only fighting for white, upper class women of British heritage.  The other ladies were not desirable as potential voting persons.  Whoa, Nellie.  I guess even baby steps forward are still steps forward.

Anyway, I took Mr Victorian-Not on a tour of our old jail.

It is the oldest provincial building still within city limits.  At 133 years old, it is enough of a heritage site for them not to mow the thing down even though it is on prime downtown land, but not enough for them to do anything with it other than store junk for the maintenance guys employed by the other law court buildings right next to it.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get into the building but Muddy Waters made it a fun tour anyway with old photos and fun stories.  My favorite story was of the 5-year-old who was jailed for 3 weeks for general mischief.  (Inner cringe.)  He was younger and smaller than his accomplices and it didn’t take him long to figure out that he could squeeze between the bars.  I wont spoil the punch line for anyone wanting to take the tour themselves but I will say for a 5-year-old he was a crafty little twerp!  I hope he grew up to use that brightness for good not evil!  There also was some not so fun stories about how the inmates were abused.  Now, I’m not for turning jails into resorts, but in some cases they went to far.

If you look at the middle of the building, that is where the jailer and his family lived.  Nope, not me.  Hubby would be looking for a new job….  The wing on the right hand side was for the criminals of a more hardened nature…murderers, rapists, arsonists who killed someone, etcetera.  Criminals of a lighter stripe (petty thieves, vagrants…) were in the left hand wing.  They were called “lighter stripe” because the stripe on their prison garb was a lighter grey.

Mr Victorian-Not in lighter stripe prison wear. The “Bobby” was the owner/operator of Muddy Waters.

As an aside, while walking around the jail, the guide pointed out a local monument across the street.

A memorial for WWI

There’s a funny story about this monument: there was a design contest for the memorial with a $2000 prize.  There was a winner and all was a go until someone realized that the winner was born in Germany.  Even though he came to Canada as a child and was out of Germany long before there was even a hint of war, it was decided his design was not appropriate.  They let him keep the money and tried again, this time specifying the winner had to be of British decent.  The second winner was a woman who was gifted in her own right.  They awarded her the $500 prize and were all set to create her monument when they realized she was married to the first guy.  The third winner did get his monument built but there was no prize money.

Round the back of the jail we saw the addition that was added to the building.

The third wing was added for the women, children and mentally ill.

Prior to the addition, the women and children and mentally ill were housed with the men.  (Another inner cringe)  On one side of this wing was the gardens and on the other side was the area for hanging.  Nice.  Anyway, the tour guide has been fighting to get this building put to a better use (other than storage).  Her dream is to restore some of the cells and the jailer living quarters to their original state.  She wants to set up a replica of a court room on the third floor.  She wants to have rooms for over night stays (for folks looking for ghosts I’m thinking) on the second floor.  She also wants to have a nice period representing restaurant with a patio that opens out onto the hanging area.  What a fabulous dream!  I hope she pulls it off!

Now, I wrap up my story with a yippy moment for myself and Shirley!  The Muddy Waters Tour Company had set up the event that Shirley and I went to earlier in the month.  I had told the guide that I was the one in the red dress who had won the costume contest.  She got all excited and said she had lost our contact information and she had been wanting to get a hold of Shirley and I!  The Art Gallery is putting on an event and the guide had told them she may know some ladies that would come in Victorian Costumes and then couldn’t find our contact email!  So I hope to hear from the Art Gallery soon.  Then the guide offered to add us to her website.  If you click on the link I gave for Muddy Waters at the top of the page and then click on Victorian Group you will find us.  At this writing, the bugs were not worked out but soon….

Shirley has not been idle in the drumming up of club business herself.  She did a talk at a local beauty school on Victorian fashions.  The girls were very interested in what all goes on (and under) a Victorian outfit.  May be one of those girls will get interested in Victorian fashions and help keep that history alive!