Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh boy... I bought a Great Wheel...

For those of you on FB, you already know (yeah, yeah; groan)...
I bought a Great Wheel! EEEEE!!!! (and OMG, what was I thinking???)
I was sure Mom would kill me, the thing is huge. She said, "if you didn't buy it I'd have killed you." Whew.

So, without further ado, meet my new toy. It's not in working order yet, so no name. Apparently it's a "thing" to name your spinning wheel. Go figure.

(please forgive the blankets, you couldn't see the wheel for all the other wooden furniture in the basement)

It has a double drive head, also known as a Miner / Minor, (I'm not 100% on the spelling, I've seen it both ways in different books & as it's the guy's name, I don't know which one is right). That head can be replaced with a direct drive head, which suits me fine as I can use that at earlier events should I ever be so insane as to tote this thing on the road with me - and we all know I'll do it someday. Need to find some replacement spindles though.

Everything seems to be in good working order - I had to replace one spoke on the drive wheel, reinforce one leg socket with wood filler & sand rough edges on the wheel itself and the base to reduce the likelihood of splinters (which I got the moment I picked it up).
I reconditioned & re-stained the bits of newly raw wood with a nice walnut stain that matches the original very well.

Next is getting out the wax to give everything a nice buffing, then oiling the various movable bits & replacing the drive bands/strings - which I've learned to do just today - in theory.

The bearings that hold the spindle on also need replacing, these are made of braided corn husks or leather (hear Gail parrot what she's learned) - nothing was there when I bought it. I'm going with leather as I have lots on hand. The ties that hold the Miner wheel in place also need replacing, which you can see here. Fortunately, I have plenty of linen thread as well.

The truly lovely thing about this wheel is that everything comes apart except the drive wheel, so if need be, I can pack it to an event.

There is some minor damage like chips out of wooden bits, but so far, everything works. We will see how things go once I get the drive bands on & start trying to align everything. Unfortunately for me, the paper label on the drive head has mostly fallen off. There are a few tiny & very dingy letters showing at the very bottom which I have carefully avoided when cleaning.

From what little I understand about this monstrously huge piece of equipment, you can spin anything on it except warp yarn due to the tension necessary to make that strong yarn. I don't know if this is true, but I don't really care, the drop spindle can handle that - no problem, should it ever become necessary.

Speaking of the drop spindle, I'm down to fairly consistent thread-thickness yarn from the Finn fleece. I'm learning a lot, no longer doing the park & draft thing except when I have to splice, I'm finally spinning at a decent clip. Adding hand cream to my finger tips did wonders for the yarn. Lots of carding and pre-drafting made an amazing difference. My poor little dog slicker brush is about dead.

Once I get a good bit of thinner yarn, I'll measure it out & dye up various colors, probably this spring. Most of the dyestuffs I have now are yellow, green, gray, brown or red.

So if you were wondering how I was spending my Winter Holiday, it's being covered in sawdust, wood glue, stain & wax in the basement with my Moon-cat who is totally in love with "her" fleece and has hidden a sizable chunk in a chair cave, which she spends all day guarding... like a furry little black dragon with some stinky, greasy treasure. Seriously, I've had to deliver breakfast to her 3 days in a row just so she'll eat something before we give her her medicine. I'm a bit jealous right now.
And poor Shadow, he can't find a lap to sit in because when I finally sit down for the night I'm leaning forward with the spinny-thing & always telling him "not now BugHead." At first he thought it was fun to watch, now he gives it dirty looks. I've had to put it down & pay attention to him several times to avoid the Punishment of Puke.

On that note, I'm going to go socialize with my family & kidnap my cat from her Treasure Cave because I'm feeling the need for some quality time with the people I love.
-Never mind, it's t-v time...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays Everyone!

(sorry I'm a bit late, internet issues).
Drive safe & sober, or drink then have someone who is sober drive safely for you!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Early 1800's stays

Here's some info on early 1800's stays & corsets, a bit of "how to," a few originals from the Met to drool over & my most recent finished products.
(pictured left, 1810 corded corset that I just finished & still have to wash the pencil markings off).

Basic Observations:
1: Most stays / corsets from this era were made from cotton or linen, were simple fabrics in white, brown, cream or neutral colors. Embroidery, threadwork & cording as decoration were common. Cording also serves as a structural element.
2: They were genuinely underwear. Never intended to be seen by anyone other than the person assisting you to dress or undress.
3: Surviving examples of front & back lacing stays/corsets seem to be about equal.
4: While this style lifts the bust up it does not constrict the waist - some cuts & construction can smooth the torso.
5: Wide spaced shoulder straps have a tendency to slip off the arms - very annoying.
6: Separate busk pockets (sewn on separately) are as common as built-in busk pockets (between the 2 layers).
7: Single layer corsets were very common.
8: Divorce corsets (with busk separating the bustline) were as common as shelf-style corsets (single bust with cleavage), at least in surviving examples. Fashion commentary says the divorce corset was most popular.
9: Short Stays were more common 1790-1815... Long stays/corsets were more common 1810-1840, but both seem to have been worn throughout 1790-1840.
10: Adjustable drawstrings at the bustline seem equally common as a fixed band.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a fantastic collection of stays & corsets - worth browsing.
Interestingly enough, my great grandmother used to make her living (a good living) by making corset covers. She would crochet the most beautiful designs, tat lace & sew it all on the fine linen base.

This is a great example of a nursing corset? with squared off gussets
it's listed as 1810-50, American.

(if anyone can tell me how to make a link of a picture, that would be fantastic).

Speaking of squared off gussets, here's how...
1: cut Y slit.
2: lay triangular gusset to align bottom stitching line with the base of the Y, stitch across leaving the side seam allowance open.
3. Flip gusset up.
4. Flip gusset over so right sides of fabric are together & first side of slit is aligned with side of gusset. Stitch that side.
5. Open up & flip to other side, stitch
6. Press open & top-stitch to outer fabric (not gusset) for maximum strength.

Most Awesome American Corset Ever... if you like folk art, which I do.

I love this one for so many reasons, not least of which is the simplicity of the cut. But that embroidery is just fantastic!

Anyway, you get the idea... after perusing that site - now go make something.

Here are some that I just finished making, which are currently listed on my For Sale page.

1790-1820 Transitional Stays / Short Stays
Double layer of cotton twill (it's coutil or as close to it as I've seen recently - though it wasn't sold as that). Some cording, lightly boned, laces in front. Bound with brown cotton.
Measures 34.5 bust, 30 underbust.

1810-40 Corded Corset
Double layer of cotton twill, lightly boned with cane, some cording in the front. Spiral laces in back. Adjustable front with a separate busk pocket that buttons closed.
Measures 42 bust, 32 waist, 42 hips. There should be a 2"-4" gap in back between the laces.

1810-40 Simple Corded Corset
Same as above, but it's single layer, unreinforced except for the back. It has a wooden busk in a separate pocket, adjustable top & 2 bones at center back for stability.
Measures 37" bust, 28" waist, 37" hips

1810-40 Simple Corded Corset
Same as above, but has pink binding & a waistband reinforcement. This was a fun addition that gives it just a touch of "extra."
The bustline on this is quit low, so it's suitable for the 1798-1808 era with the "I'm falling out" look.
Measures 40" Bust, 31" waist 46" hips

The nice thing about this style of stays is that the hips don't have to be "filled out" for the stays to fit.

Here's a quick how-to adjust the top of this particular style. (It's pretty self-explanatory, but I took the photos, so why not?)

1: Lace stays up the back.

2: Tighten bust drawstrings to fit.

3: Adjust shoulder straps & re-adjust bust drawstring.
Button busk pocket flap.

At this point, the only thing you may have to re-adjust are the shoulder straps as you take the garment off & on... but probably not.

Personally, I like the shoulder straps to be placed "in" just a bit farther than what is historically accurate, they don't slide down quite as much & I have full arm movement. I also prefer the adjustable vs. fixed straps because I gain & lose weight from my shoulders most often.
I also like the over-bust cut more than the 1/2 bust. It limits my evening-dress options, but I feel a bit better that I'm not going to flash anyone if I bend over the fire. My Regency Era dresses also tend to be high-necked day-dresses & informal wear, so the low-cut isn't as much of an issue... but if you attend Jane Austin balls, you may want to consider the lower cut.

I'm torn between the full length stays with the busk & the shorter Transitional Stays. I like both for different reasons. The full-length stays/corset provide nice support & structure beneath the dress for my full-figure build... but the short stays are divine on hot days.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ATT: Items Stolen from Lord Nelson's Gallery, PA

Dear Readers, Friends & Fellow Living Historians,

Several items have been stolen from Lord Nelson's Gallery in Gettysburg, PA. Knives, quill work sheaths, warclubs and a pipe tomahawk.

Please take a look at his blog post & keep your eyes out for the items on e-bay, or even on a tr
ade blanket.
Be sure to check back to his blog to stay updated.
Let's help Mr. Lower recover his items.