Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Very Busy Month

I've had a very busy month... very busy winter actually. It's finally thawing into the pre-spring mud of Western New York. The kind of mud that creates a slurry on top of hard ice & spills you in a muddy 'splat!' when you least expect it. The air is warm, but the breeze is cold & it's perfect walking weather as long as we stay on the roads & don't venture onto the dirt (mud) trails in the woods.

Since I last posted there have been a parade of garments from washing machine to cutting table to sewing room to Post Office & Fedex. And many more that are waiting in line in some state of unfinished production.

Yesterday was spent doing inventory, accounting and taxes. Thankfully my dear mother is doing the taxes part because boy do I hate doing them... I think my brain shorts out when confronted with those instructions. Unfortunately I still have to input our 2009 & 2010 receipts & figure out what materials I used for what garments as I have not kept track of these things the way I should have after September. Goes to show what happens when you let the business end of a business go... play along or play catch-up later. Everything is on the order forms, but not in the computer... Yay - data entry.

This year we are taking a good look at where we want the business to go.
I'm trying to decide if I want to concentrate on stock; building outfits & garments that I know are as historically accurate as I can make them...
OR concentrate on custom outfits that may or may not be historically accurate in terms of fabric & cut, but may have a better chance of feeding me through the winter.
I can almost see the bottom of the order pile & the decision will have to be made soon.
I have decided to get rid of the 1400's line. We've never sold anything from it, and it's taking up needed space in the storage room.

The quilted petticoat has been a nice evening project, and the 1/2 way point of the bottom border is almost in sight. Moon has been thrilled that 'her' petticoat has been on the quilting table so often, though she is upset that I take it down after each session. I have no idea how she will feel about it once it's a petticoat rather than a blanket, and am not looking forward to her reaction when I try to wear it. Perhaps I should hide it in a trunk & not tell her about the transformation when & if it happens.

I made a gift for a friend of 1760 accessory patterns from Diderot's plates and pre-drew a floral design on a... (forgot the French)... court cape, which was often worn by townswomen in France, England & America (it's that large-ish shoulder cape with ruffles on it that was black, white or some neutral color). I sent a pincushion on a ribbon, needles, embroidery floss, and something that I've forgotten... scissors maybe?
The design I drew was sunflowers & daisies, though it could be seen as artichokes easily enough. Something interesting that I found out is that Colonists rarely used sunflowers in their designs because many of the South & Central American nations considered them sacred & the Europeans didn't want to associate themselves with a symbol of sun worshiping.
However, daisies, violets, pansies, paintbrushes (the flower, not the artist tool), mums, carnations & roses were all very common motifs. And now I find myself obsessed with the idea of making a whitework modesty cloth for myself... which will have to wait till after the quilted petticoat is finished.

The list of completed garments for February to now includes: a bunch of stocks, jabots & cravats, 2 F&I sleeveless waistcoats (1740-50), one heavy wool greatcoat, 2 pairs of stays, 1 1780 English gown, 1 petticoat & 1 pair of pockets, several pairs of breeches, & 2 1815 dresses one of which is actually stock (gasps for breath)... 4 pincushions on ribbons, a crash course of clothing history at the Rochester Museum & Science center and a whole lot of cleaning house & cutting garments which are not sewn together yet.

My most immediate next projects are: 2 1780 English gowns, 2 pairs of stays (bindings to go), 1 English gown from 1750 as a test garment for a more elaborate gown, 2 tailcoats (one is 1790 the other 1812) & a test pelisse of 1810.

Mom & I could use some input on what to put in the store. I'd like to concentrate on 1750 - 1830, but that seems like an awful lot to cram in my little tent. I'm considering moving into separate living quarters, and that's probably not a bad idea. I will miss the late 1600's & early 1700's but it seems like the events in my part of the country do not focus on this time period. It's rather a shame, because that's our settlement time & an exciting part of our history... OK, a little East of here. HERE it's 1780's -1800's.

If anyone is interested:

The first picture is of Joe & Jessica, who found me on this blog! Joe purchased the 1808 tailcoat, waistcoat & cravat from us & Mom made the breeches for him. I made one test dress to make sure the pattern worked like I wanted it to and then Jessica's 1815 empire dress (more a round gown than an empire) out of cream silk with red pinstripes. There is a cotton 'underdress' that preserves modesty. Thank you both for the lovely photos!

That mess on my sewing table is a pile of stays, all early - mid 18th century in various stages of completion. The second stays photo is not from this batch, but I didn't take a picture of the order that was very much like it.

Skipping ahead...

The greatcoat is made from a heavy-ish navy blue wool lined with black linen, and many brass buttons. I mainly used Diderot's pattern plates & the 1780 Greatcoat out of Fitting & Proper to double check. The capes got cut square after this photo was taken & it's a few inches shorter at the hem.
It's very handsome but the sleeves are very long. It's irritating to both me & my customer, but checking & double checking has assured me that they are supposed to be that way. The cuffs come to the fingertips when it's folded back... seems they should be shorter, but all the old pictures say not. I will gladly shorten them if he wants me to.
I guess that if a gentleman were riding horses, hanging onto carriages and doing all sorts of physical things he would want his hands to be covered & protected from frostbite. When you lift up your arms the cuffs still cover your hands... just looks very funny when you stand straight up with your arms at your sides.

The 1780 English gown is my best guess at Miss Blossom from the Polite Macaroni. The dress is currently being tried on in TN by a very nice lady before I cut her pricey fabric. The next step for this dress is to make the cap & quilted petticoat, which will be machine sewn.

The waistcoat is a stand-in for the 2 I did not/have not taken photos of. And the jabot is one of many that I made in February. I have changed the neckline of this particular waistcoat. It was very wide and doesn't sit right. It's accurate, but no one likes it... and I can't find as many necklines like this in images as I find of the tighter one. So changed it is. The first one was green wool with canvas back & lining, the second is brown wool with a subtle stripe and a black linen back, brown cotton lining and a pair of breeches to match.

Well, let us hope that this month is as productive as last month & that I can make a good decision regarding the course of my business.

1 comment:

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

Well, I think I've decided that the calendar is going to dictate what I do & don't do.
I'm going to take orders, but events (obviously) are blocked out with the week before & 3 days after being 'not orders'.
I will take weekends off except at an event & will schedule based on what I can sew, not accounting for Mom. That way if anything happens we've got some leeway.
The dates will be 'soonest' dates rather than 'you will have it by' dates.
For every custom garment, I will make a similar thing for stock.

I think that will work out well for everyone. Or at least better than the log-jam of this winter.