So who had palpitations?

I’ve been skimming through my Victorian medical book (1866).  One of the previous owners made some markings in the book.SAM_0294

He wrote his name (Albert Henry) and also made a note that mustard plasters should be 1 to 3.  I haven’t found out what the 1 to 3 represents.  The 1 is likely the mustard powder but the 3 could be eggs, flour or water or some other ingredient I don’t know about.  This mustard plaster seems like a nasty business that could burn the skin and trigger asthma.

Further along in the book there is a page that the book seems to open up easily to, implying to me, a page that was frequently turned to so that the spine of the book has been “broken in”.  There is also a penciled in x.SAM_0299

It has me wondering if Albert had palpitations or if he was dealing with someone who did.  The treatments mainly seem to deal with sedating or relaxing the person.  Lie down.  Take ether and lavender. A shot of booze. Cayenne has been used for thousands of years for medicine and circulation problems is one of the possible uses.

The recommended use of stramonium (loco weed) and digitalis (the plant we get digoxin from) concerns me.  I sure hope that this stuff was being prescribed by a doctor and whipped up by a pharmacist.  I’d hate to think that some house wife could buy this stuff over the counter or pick it in her garden and whip it up herself!

I often lament some of the loses of the Victorian culture…the fashions, the beauty and grace of the pomp…but I do not lament the loss of their medical procedures.  I get free health care in Canada so I am particularly happy to be living now where the practices are not so barbaric and I don’t have to pay to be treated.  Do you think it is possible that 100 years from now, people will look back  at our current medical practices and feel horrified and wonder how we could have put up with such primitive and cruel practices?

Killer hats!

Today’s cabinet card is two dashing ladies with some sweet huge hats and a dash of fur at the neck.SAM_0242The seated lady has a loose short jacket, a fur stole and some lovely applique on her skirt.  The standing lady also has some fur.  She has a belt with a buckle and it appears she has a bag hanging from the belt.  She has some feathers on her hat and a Gibson Girl hair style underneath that hat.  Her sleeves are a clue that has me thinking this is a 1900-05 photo.  They are a bit fuller at the wrist where the sleeves were massive at the shoulders and fitted at the wrist in the 1890s.

The photographers stamp is a bit difficult to see in a full view of the card.SAM_0243I didn’t any information on him.  That was a dead-end. But, you can see the embossing around the photo and that is indicating the card is older than 1890.  I’d say our strongest clues are the ladies clothing and I would put them at 1900-05.

CCM: 1890 Day/Evening Gown

I have another dress for you from the vaults of the Canadian Costume Museum.SAM_0281Isn’t this a yummy color.  It even with stood photographing in a dungeon with dying camera batteries!SAM_0282I loved the sleeve details.  It would be fairly easy to do.  A ruffle at the hole edge.  A double ruffle with encased edges further up.  A fancy bow in the middle-ta da!SAM_0283All the decoration of this dress is the sleeves and the color.  Powerful but simple.SAM_0280The evening bodice is decorated in white lace at the throat and gold twisted velvet on the sleeves.  The velvet threw me off a bit.  I wondered if there was a sash of gold that has gone missing so that the sleeves would be tied in better.  But, there is a big bow on the back made with the blue so there couldn’t have been a sash.

Unfortunately, I got side tracked by another dress and didn’t get a photo of the back of the ball bodice before it was taken off of the dummy.

It is finished…I think

I have been stalled on a dress I have been making.   I have been trying to make this dress.scan0001It is from the Voice of Fashion book.  It has been a daunting task because it is my first attempt at enlarging a pattern to fit me…with scanty instructions on how to put it together.  I managed to get the skirt together…with the little pleats… so that it fit.  The hem edge was a weird length so I cut it shorter but ended up with an uneven hem and that threw me off and stalled me.  I feared it would end up too short once I straightened it and I was too frustrated to look at it.  Dreamstresses Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge was to finish something on the UFO pile.  This skirt was my UFO pile.  I had to face it.  But, now that I’ve carried on, I’ve decided it is not too bad.SAM_0290I have not ironed this so I’m hoping that it will improve with an ironing.  I also have not added the ribbon dangly bits as this fabric is so light sucking and drab that it might work for a first level of mourning dress.  I think the ribbon may be too cheery for first level mourning.  I have to do more research on mourning in the early 1900s if I’m going to make this a first level dress.  I could make it second or third level and then I wont have to worry as much about getting it wrong.  In which case, I may yet add the ribbon.

The pleats were an excercise in math let me tell you.  I had fabric this wide and I needed it to be that wide and I had this many places to pleat so the pleats had to be that deep.  Not fun.  SAM_0291The pleats are more or less straight except at the hip area where the fabric is curved in towards the hip.  That was tricky to get.  Also, I decided to sew down the seams between the gores so that they’d look like one of the pleats.  It looks great most of the length of the skirt but at the hip it looks like I was taking a swig of straight vodka while sewing.  Oh, well.  Like I said, this fabric is so light sucking that I doubt anyone will notice unless their nose is right at my hip.

I stopped the pleats before the hem so I’d get the flair.  That worked out.SAM_0292I considered hand sewing the hem but figured it would be under the lace…who would know so I machine sewed that.  Then I was going to hand sew the lace on but was going blind trying to hand sew black on light sucking black with black.  And there was just so much of it! Then I figured…it will be on the floor.  No one will know unless they have their nose at my feet.  It is so freaking black you can’t even tell there is lace there…never mind being able to see how it was sewed on.  (So minus points on historical accuracy.  Since I’m using curtain material of questionable fiber content, I’m obviously not working towards creating a dress for museum guides.  I’m going for impression rather than accuracy.)

I guess, if I sew the ribbon on, I’m going to have to hand sew that.  Machine sewing along the length of ribbon WOULD be visible.  I’m not looking forward to that.  Hey, wait!  There is a cheat I could use one of my embroidery stitches on my sewing machine and embroider all that ribbon down……hmmmm.


Mexico dresses.

I leave for Mexico today.  I’ve set my blog up to update on its own with some pre-written posts.  I’ll be back in two weeks.  I have no idea what kind of internet access I will have while I’m gone so if you don’t hear from me and you don’t read about me in the news, I’m probably fine.  I may have a sunburn and headache from too many margaritas but I’m likely fine.

I’m too cheap to build my travel outfits in a retail store so I’ve been combing the thrift stores.  Here is some of my finds.SAM_0101Hope you will see “me” every day.  I will see you in two weeks.

I’m glad this guy moved to Winnipeg

There was a story in the Lockport Daily Journal from New York, June 29th 1874.

A man with manacled hands saves the life of a child.

We wish to notice the heroic conduct of George Bellhymer; who, while the steamer Dakota was passing through Goose Rapids, on her last trip, performed one of the most heroic and daring feats it has ever been our fortune to witness.  Mr. Bellhymer was at the time under guard and securely handcuffed, for an alleged offence of larceny. Among the passengers on board was Mrs. White and six children from Port Prairie Ontario, on her way to join her husband in Manitoba. Sabbath afternoon, while her children, with others, were playing about the deck, little Emma fell from the boat to the river below and at the stern of the boat.  At once all was confusion, the women shrieked and the men shouted: all but Mr Bellhymer, who jumped to his feet without and instance’s hesitation, with heavy boots and clothing upon his person, and his hands closely held together, sprang from the hurricane deck and swam to the rescue of the struggling child. He caught the child and raised it to the surface, but the rapid current swept him under and carried the child from his shackled hands; again he came to the surface and again he caught the child and again began to struggle to keep above water, while scores of men, and good swimmers, stood by and waited for the boat to reach the struggling man and little child. They were saved and returned to the boat, where the passengers did all they could to show Mr Bellhymer their appreciation of his conduct. A testimonial was presented him before reaching Pembina by those who witnessed his daring leap and struggle in the water. Fargo Minn Express

One version of the story that I read in a book was that he ended up hanging on the to child with her dress in his teeth.  The story was related during his trial and he was acquitted.  The book also said that he had originally resorted to stealing food and clothing because he had a wife and child to support and no job.  He was an iron smith by trade.  George and his family moved to Winnipeg and the father of Emma helped George set up a blacksmith shop.

Carte de Visite: Brother and Sister.

I have a Carte de Visite for today’s offering.  There is an older female and younger male.  At first I puzzled over whether or not it was a mother/son pose or sister/brother pose.SAM_0240I decided it was sister/brother as her hair is down and the vast majority of married mothers wore their hair up in public…especially during the day time.  I could be wrong though.  May be she was the boys mom and she considered her hair her claim to beauty and she let it down for the photograph.  Her face is not clear enough to take a guess at her age.

To date the photo by the style of card it has a thin border which was common pre 1868. With the exception of the chair there is nothing else in the photo with the people.  This was common pre 1870.  I wish the girl was standing as the shape of her dress may have given us some clues.  The shoulder seam of her bodice is low which was common in the 60’s but her skirt is not bell-shaped like the 60s.  She does not have the hoops of the 50s and 60s.  This could be a dress that has been remade to reflect the styles of the 70s.

The photographers full name and stamp is on the back of the card.SAM_0241I did find one decent reference to him here.  If you scroll down about 2/3s of the way, it says he was working in Cedar Falls in 1874.    There is not enough information to draw conclusions about how many years, if any, was he working at that location prior to or after 1874.  With these ideas in mind, I will guess this is a late 1860s to very early in the 70s carte de visite.

Wedding dress 1880

While at the Canadian Costume Museum last weekend, we were looking for bustle dresses to send for a lecture taking place in Alberta in March.  We chose a wedding dress to represent the bustle period of the early 1880s.  The color of this dress is a warm chocolate brown.  Unfortunately, with my camera battery dying and the lighting being so bad in the vaults (you kind of feel like a mole wandering its tunnels in there) the photos do not do the tailoring any justice.SAM_0271The jacket looks so huge because the mannequin we had was, surprisingly, too small for the dress and we had to pin in the skirt to keep it on.  We also did not take the time to put a bustle or petticoats on the mannequin as we were just putting the dress on to see if it was in good enough condition for a lecture and to survive the trip.

Stupid me, in my hurry to get as many shots as possible with the dying battery, I did not think to photograph the back of the dress…especially since it was the bustle we were after!  I did take a photo of the detail on the bodice as the crisp tailoring and details is what caught my attention.  I think the tone on tone color made me take notice of the craftmanship.SAM_0272There is also nice detailing on the cuff of the sleeve that is mirrored in the hem of the skirt.SAM_0274

I’ll show you another dress next week.