Happy Halloween

Today is the day of spooks and goblins.  I’m not really into the scary side of Halloween.  I understand the thrill of a good rollercoaster but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what the love of scary things is.  I don’t watch scary movies (in fact, I avoid most suspense movies for the same reason).  I don’t like ghost walks much either.  Once, during the Halloween season, I went to the Lower Fort Garry on a tour with ghost stories and ghostly figures strolling around.  One actor was particularly gifted.  He was playing a mentally insane person who was detained at the fort during its years as an asylum.  He scared me so bad I actually screamed like a little girl and placed a child between him and myself.  My justification was the child was braver than I am.  I’d like to think that if I believed he truly was a mad man, I would have spared the child….

I like the costume side of Halloween (and the candy part isn’t to bad either).  Just like the kids Halloween program we had on Monday , I will be dressing in one of my Victorian costumes for my work day.  We will have having a Halloween Party for the seniors and there will costume judging and treats.

The seniors at work made these Frankenstein decorations for our party today. They are made from a terracotta pot and its base glued on the top.  I think the bolts at the neck were inspired!

If I don’t roast alive and if my feet aren’t killing me, I will keep my costume on for the evening when the children come to my door looking for candies.  In Canada, Halloween is very Victorian and these Canadian kids should know this.  Let me quote Wikipedia.

North American almanacs of the late 18th and early 19th century give no indication that Halloween was celebrated there. The Puritans of New England, for example, maintained strong opposition to Halloween and it was not until the mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century that it was brought to North America in earnest. Confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-19th century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.

I work with seniors because…

That is the big joke we have in the recreation department (of the nursing home I work in) when we have an event that features children.  Our seniors love to see the kids but us…not so much.  I just don’t have the energy for kids.  Seniors don’t out run me.  They will take naps.  I sometimes have to “project” my voice so a hearing impaired person can hear me, children will often treat the world like it is hearing impaired.  And I have no patience for some children’s parents.  How can you let your kids leave their garbage where it falls….Bah, I digress….

Monday, I bit the bullet and ran a Halloween program.  The staff brought their kids in and the seniors invited their grandchildren and they handed out candies to the be-costumed children and  picked their 4 favorites.  They just beamed as they watched these little people running around in their costumes.  Ok, so it was worth it.  And it gave Shirley and I a chance to prance about in our creations.

I wore my 1850s dress…still 2 inches too long and the hoops still refuse to hold their shape.  I’m going to have to rethink that idiot monstrosity.  In spite of it all, my seniors loved my get up!Shirley was working on widows weeds.  The sizing didn’t work out quite the way she was hoping so she says she wants to keep it for Halloween costumes.  Mighty fine costume I must say!

Milestone day

My older kid was baptized in our church yesterday, which is a big deal in the Mennonite culture.  I was very proud of him!

My blog hit over 1,000 views for the month of October.  I haven’t had that many views in one month to date so I am pleased with this progress.

And speaking of progress….I’ve finished the main trim on my 1870s shawl and I’ve sewed it on.I’ve decided to make the trim on the top edge smaller, as the pattern suggests.  I decided to do that as the main trim is quite wide and finishing the two top corners would be a trick.  I’ve worked out a pattern and once I’ve knitted a strip long enough, I will attach it to the top edge. If it doesn’t look to bad, I will share the pattern with you.











Got no where but got somewhere

Usually, my Sunday post is about where I’ve been on my Saturday travels.  But, I got no where.  I stayed home and puttered.  The vast majority of my puttering was on my 1900 Widows Weeds.  And I finally got somewhere.

I’ve been “working” on making this dress from The Voice of Fashion since the beginning of July.

August 1900 afternoon or evening

It is the first time I am trying to enlarge a pattern and adapt it to my size and  I’ve had a bit of a mental/motivation block on it.  There is an element of fear…I know Truly Victorian Patterns work but I’m not so sure about this enlarging business.  I’m afraid it will come out looking like an 8 foot broom stick or a 4 foot garden hedge wears it!  So I’ve been basically working on it for a half hour and then staring at it for 3 weeks, working on it for a half hour….  I decided to tackle the skirt first because it would be more forgiving.

It is hard to see here but there are a bunch of pleats that are sewed down.

The pleats end at various levels near the hem and that creates a nice little ruffle.  That’s as far as I got today.  I made huge panels that had the waist band 2xs what I need in reality.  Then I pinned ironed and sewed a whole bunch of pleats.

A few of my pleats

The next step will be the hem and trim.  I’ll put lace at the bottom and ribbon hanging down.  I doubt I will use as much ribbon as in the drawing.  It seems like it would take a lot and that stuff isn’t cheap.  Before I put the waist band on, I will need to decide if I want to put the lining in.  If I read the scant instructions for the pattern correctly, there is to be lining that is only attached at the waist.  I’m not sure I want to do that as it is not skimpy material, the lining will add more bulk to my waist area and…well, heck…I’m feeling lazy about cutting out, sewing and heming more material.  But, I may have to do it.  I may have to because the pattern says so and I am a good girl who feels like a guilty failure when I don’t follow the rules and because I’m not sure those ruffles will stand out enough without some help.

See what I mean about those ruffles….

This fabric is not quite shiny, and in fact, seems to absorb all available light.  It reminds me, in its look and texture, of crepe paper, which, I believe gets its name from the crepe material used in mourning attire.  My stuff is probably heavier than the real stuff but I think it is a not bad (and affordable) imitation.  I think, if I take it easy on the details-no shiny stuff, I could make this a full mourning outfit.  I have to do more research on just how much fun stuff you can have on a full mourning dress.




And…so…who cares?

For lack of something more inspired to write about, and for the opportunity to use up some more photographs from the Museum of Man and Nature, I will share some photos that will tell you a bit about myself.  My father was of British decent (English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish…a regular British melting pot.)

Items from the era of British settlers.

And what would a display like this be without a picture of Her Majesty…

Queen Victorian

On my mother’s side I am French.

Items from the French settlers.

OK, is this little purse not just DEVINE!


My husband is of Mennonite decent.

Some Mennonite, Hutterite, German, Austrian, Swiss, Dutch stuff.

What does that make my kids?  Mixed up.  No, seriously, Canadian.



Good Day Alice

Today’s cabinet card is of a rather stern looking middle-aged woman.  She is wearing dark colors and very little in the way of adornment.  There appears to be a comb in her hair and some lighter color material (lace or lining) on her collar.  I see no jewelry or fancy details on her bodice.  Was she in one of the stages of mourning?

Gunnison (E.A.G) 29 Temple Place

 I have tried to find specific information about this photographer but was unable to.  To date the card, I looked at several details.  Many of the clues are on the back of the card.

E A Gunnison Studio, 29 Temple Place, Boson, Mass. Instantaneous process used exclusively. Duplicates can be had at any time. Alice Ware

The instantaneous process became easier to do in the late 1870s. The name Alice Ware was fairly common so it did not lead me to any great revelations.   As per Wikipedia on the topic of lettering on the cards:

  • 1880s on — Large, ornate text for photographer name and address, especially in cursive style. Studio name often takes up the entire back of the card.
  • Late 1880s-90s Gold text on black card stock
  • 1890s on — Embossed studio name or other embossed designs

The card has the large name taking up the back of the card that was common in the 1880s.  Other things become vogue in the late 80s and the 90s but this does not mean the large name instantly disappeared in the late 80s.  The photographer may have preferred the old style or may have been using up old card stock.  So based on the print, it could be 1880s to early 1890s.

But, the biggest revelation was the monstrous sleeves on this ladies dress!  Those were in style in the early and mid 1890s and were coming down in size by the end of the 90s.

Based on the card and the sleeves, I’d guess this card is from the late 1880s to early 1890s, with the most likely years being in the early 90s.

If I went to school 100 years earlier

If I was born 100 years earlier, I would have been 7 in 1871 and I would be going to school.  I would have been wearing something like this.

This is actually quite cute!  Wouldn’t it be nice if, one day, I get a grand-daughter that is a bit of a girly girl?  I’d make this for her.  If I get a grandson, I’m screwed.  My boys are manly men and they would not put up with their boy children being put in a dress even if it was period correct for them to be wearing that….sigh.

Love that blue bow!

Yup, fashion wise, I was born 100 years to late.


1870s shawl moves along

I haven’t been in great shape today but I did get a bit more done on my 1900 mourning dress…a few more pleats pinned down in the skirt.

I’ve also been working on the 1870s shawl.  A commenter suggested that the wool I am using is thicker than originally intended and I believe she is right.  As I have been knitting the lace, which the instructions say are knit in a long strip like….well…lace.  When you sew straight lace on a corner you pleat it.  The lace I am knitting is going to be far too thick for a pleat so I had to adapt the pattern some.  I have no idea how to put into words what I did.  I should have written it down.  Basically, I worked in a wedge shape with the diamond pattern repeated.

Which created a corner.  It wont be so lumpy when I sew it down and block it.

It would be nice to be retired so I could put as much time into my costumes as I do my job…alas, without my job, I wont be able to afford to costume.  The double-edged sword.