June 29, 2015

Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden 2015

Schooner When and If, owned by General Patton

Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden was one of the most anticipated history events of the year. Tall ships would be visiting from all over the world, centering around the visit of L'Hermione, a reproduction of the frigate that Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, used to aid the Continentals during the American Revolution. The other big draw was the World's Largest Rubber Ducky, the 11 ton duck hoping to promote wetland protection. 

Even before the festival started issues were cropping up. I heard that Colonial Reenactors were wanted for L'Hermione. I considered going but heard reenactors were being turned away at the gates. Then the website stated that all parking for 2 miles surrounding the event was already reserved. We were stuck taking public transit into the city. I would spend most of the day leading tours on Gazela, Philadelphia's tall ship.     

The festival was special as we had two ships visit with a lot of history. Barques Eagle (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite ships) and one of her sister ships, Sagres were reunited. The Eagle was built in 1936 as the Horst Wessel in Germany. She was dedicated by Rudolph Hess in the presence of Adolph Hitler as a training ship. She was taken at the end of WWII by the U.S. as part of the reparations. Sagres has a similar history but hit a mine in 1944 and eventually ended up in Brazil but now sails under Portugal's flag. They are both now training ships for their respective navies.


Barque Sagres
Barque Sagres
Barque Sagres
 In the middle of the day crazy rainstorm hit but it wasn't the only disappointment that day. The giant rubber duck was torn during the previous sail and the 61 foot duck acquired a 60 foot puncture. Even though crews tried to repair it and inflate it most of the day, the duck still fell flat.  You could still see the baby giant duck on Camden's shore but it wasn't anywhere near as big as the giant mother duck. 


Above visitors take cover on Gazela during a torrent of rain. A belly of water formed on the tarp every 15 minutes and needed to be emptied before it hit the visitor's head. I ended up getting caught on Sagres during a particularly wet spot later in the day, my clothes soaked through as I tried to protect my camera. The deck of Sagres contains wooden buckets that were used to swab the deck in the 1940s. They are just for show now but were all full of water.

 
The Eagle

L'Hermione next to Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild's Jupiter
Andy and I only saw L'Hermione for a few minutes as the French were throwing some sort of gala during the downpour. I would have loved to give a more detailed account of the ship as this was the main attraction. I was really disappointed to not get to see her, especially since her crew came to Gazela while we were working. Maybe next time. Our disappointment was assuaged by getting to see the schooner When and If, which was commissioned by General George S. Patton. He planned to sail it with his wife "when the war ended" and "if he survived." All in all we had fun even with the crazy walk in the downpour and experience being soaked for quite a long time on public transportation.        

June 24, 2015

Colonial Shortgown Sewing Pattern

American Revolution Reenactor Bedgown Pattern
Shortgown Front
"[She had] a short gown, with some red and white stripes and sprigs through it, a good deal worn, and pieced under the arms with check linen, the colour much faded;"

I finally finished a new shortgown/bedgown. It's about time. It's an easy pattern but finishing the edges by hand took forever.  I find it really hard to get excited about "work clothes." Most notably because they get ripped up and dirty so quickly, especially while cooking. I'm sure only one trip to the hearth will have the kids asking "Why are you so dirty!?"



Shortgowns are unfitted or loosely fitted, work garments. Extant garments show that most were pinned shut but some have a few ties or even drawstrings at the neck and waist.  

 There had been a lot of debate among reenactors and historians about what a shortgown is versus a bedgown and whether or not these were considered appropriate public wear. Evidence points to these being casual or work wear. A 1793 version of the Shakespeare play Henry IV is annotated that "A half kirtle was perhaps the same kind of thing as we call at present a short gown or a bed gown," indicating that they were similar garments if not the same thing. Below are some great 18th century images of people wearing shortgowns outside or with visitors. 

Colonial Shortgown
The Abusive Fruitwoman, 1773, Courtesy of the LOC.
18th century shortgown pattern
Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1761
Shortgown long sleeves 1700s
John Collet, 1764

1700s Colonial Reenactor Bedgown Pattern Free
Shortgown back

1700s Bedgown Shortgown reenactor pattern

18th Century Shortgown Sewing Pattern:


18th century Shortgown Bedgown Pattern Free
Right click and choose "open in new window" to see larger view.

I folded the fabric horizontally and then again vertically so that I only had to cut the pattern out once. Good seamstresses will cringe. If you wish you can fold the fabric horizontally and trace the pattern a second time mirrored vertically.

Cut out the back neck hole first. Open up the fabric,  then cut a vertical line down the center of the front. Adjust the neckline as you like, being sure to leave room for hemming. With right sides of the fabric together, sew under the arm and down the sides. Hem all loose ends. If you wish to have cuffs, fold the cuffs in half horizontally with right sides together. Fold 1/2 in up on the front and back of the cuff and sew the sides. Turn the cuff right side out and attach to sleeve. Fold the cuff up on the sleeve and secure it with a few stitches.   

I ended up sewing a pleat under each arm as well as three in the back, all ending at the waist to make the garment a little more fitted. It's not necessary if you use an apron to give the fitted look or if you are a beginner and just want something easy to work on.

Other Patterns and Info:

- MaraRiley.net: Shortgowns
- Making The Manteau de Lit

If you are trying this and need help, don't hesitate to comment or email.  

June 12, 2015

Civil War Era Lemonade Powder Recipe

Civil War Recipe

Drink powders seems like such a modern convenience that it's hard to image that they have been around since at least the early 1800s!

Known as Lemonade Powder, Dry Lemonade, or Portable Lemonade, these powders were originally made and sold by chemists at apothecaries as a treatment for fevers, digestion issues and gangrene. Oddly to us, lemonade was also drank hot like tea.   

The recipe hasn't changed much over the years, some recipes advice adding a few drops of lemon oil or lemon peel, some use the juice of a fresh lemon and others recommend various acidic compounds. Regardless of the exact mixture, these powders were popular and in the 1860s, many recipes were available in cookbooks and ladies' journals.
 
Lemonade Powder

Civil War Recipes
- 2 Tablespoons Tartaric Acid
- 8 Cups Superfine Sugar/Caster Sugar  (If you can't find any in the store, you can make you own.)
- 1.5 teaspoon Lemon Oil ***Warning*** Be very careful when using concentrated oils.





Mix all ingredients together and let sit overnight covered loosely to keep out bugs until dry. Store in a container until needed. Use 2 Tablespoons of powder per pint of water.

The powdered recipes vary greatly in proportions. I suggest to experiment and find what you like. I thought this needed a little fooling. If tartaric acid is scary, use citric acid which is equally appropriate for the time period. Just be sure to multiply the tablespoons by 4. You can add a few drops of food coloring if you do not want clear lemonade.


If DIY isn't your thing, the modern powder is fairly similar in composition so make sure you and everyone else is staying cool and hydrated!

June 6, 2015

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party

It's been a busy month, especially with the Chester Historical Preservation Ball coming up. I've been enjoying the weather and new things. 

Today is the day of the ball. It's been busy. Really busy. I've been sick for the last month and working furiously on projects. I knew I should have taken the ballgown out of the box in the basement where it has steadily been accumulating dust for the past 5 or so years. But I didn't, until this morning.

It didn't take long for me to realize something was amiss. My hoopskirt looked like it was run over by a train. Now I remember I lent it to my sister. What she did with it I will never know. I look at the top. It's MUCH smaller than I remember it but I try it on anyway. Perhaps this was the real reason I slacked so much in going down to look at it. **grumble** The skirt was ugly to begin with.  

I had three options:

1. Get myself to Joann's Fabrics and try to sew a ballgown before 3PM today.
2. Wear modern formal wear.
3.Try to adapt the things I currently have to make something vaguely ballgownesque. 

But true to my theory that "here/done" is generally better than perfect and that people are more important than perfection, I'll be attending the ball in whatever and will have a good time. I can't stress over it and neither should you in a similar predicament. :)

Without further ado, my photo post for the past few weeks:



Possible cherry pits carefully collected from an archaeological pit at Newlin Grist Mill.



I've been getting more involved with archaeology which is something that has been on my bucket list for many years. If anyone knows of any sites looking for people, please send me an email. I'm on the lookout for new projects. This ceramic dog is a rare find for the time period.  


The Delaware River in Wilmington, DE.

 

 Beautiful pathway out of the 18th century.


It's cat season so my yard is full of cats, none of which are mine. 


Escaping a summer shower under a lovely leaf canopy. 


Reach for the moon. 


Rolling summer storms almost every day this week. They were welcome as it was really hot but I also did have to wear a sweater in June. 


Ben Franklin (Mike Kochan) came to the farm with his experiments. They were so interesting to watch. Some of them are pretty dangerous.Go over and like his facebook page, he's working on some cool new projects so stay up to date.
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