The Fat Reenactress

The Fat Reenactress

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Shoe Review, Part I

Post #16                 Tuesday, April 7,20015

Because I do so many time periods, and I'm such a shoe whore (Yes, I said I was a hat whore...but I'm a shoe whore as well. Just matter what size you are, shoes and hats usually keep buy awesome ones!!) this post will probably be one of several. I'm going to try and divide them by time frame, but I may find a pair here and there that may have slipped through the cracks of photographing them all (yes...I have that many...)
I do wear a size 10 medium. Not too terribly large, but you can definitely say I don't have "petite" feet. As far as "afflictions", I don't have any corns or messed up toes. The one thing that is distinct to me though, is the fact that I really can't wear much of a heel, in real life or in period attire. I'm a flats girl (usually) all the way...unless I want to show an EPIC flip and fall....which, hey, sometimes you gotta make an entrance
But Before we go any further....just realize, this review of shoes is my own personal opinion. I know you all have your own opinions and your own favorites. That's great. But just realize, you aren't going to change my mind on what I have found as good or poor quality of shoes. I've been doing reenacting for almost 35 years and have come across MANY brands of shoes. Some work well for me....some not so much.  THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. It is NOT is not's what I have found to be best for ME. I hope my input will give you some more options to look at, and maybe some second looks on ones you've passed up.

I'll start with the "newest" time period shoes. I'll tell you where I got them (if I remember) about how much they went for (again, if my brain will let me) and how comfy they are.

fake victorian boots
fake victorian boots.

These are my finds. They actually don't button, but snap! Awesomeness! Easy to get into, modern made, and VERY comfy, even with a slight heel! I can wear these for HOURS.  I wear them for steampunk/Victorian
Because of the steampunk factor, authenticity isn't a big deal with these. The fact that I got them for around $50 a pair makes them an even better buy!  Two pairs for still under the price of a pair of the American Duchess' ones.  Because it's for steampunk, I didn't want to spend a fortune.
my cheap "edwardian" shoes these are pretty modern looking. They should be. They were $5 at Goodwill. I couldn't pass them up. They are comfy with a very tiny kitten heel. I had them a year before I made my 1913 tea gown....and found that they were THE PERFECT MATCH for this outfit. Kismet? Maybe....but $5!!!!
See? Freaky fate.
my old stand by flats.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My favorite piece of original jewelry

post #15             Sunday April 5, 2015

Sharing with you my favorite piece of orginal jewelry. Not that I have tons of original pieces, but I've found a few pins and brooches here and there. My wedding ring is actually a small diamond ring that dates to probably the 1920's. When I had it sized up, the woman who did the work asked me about  it. I knew that the diamonds were mine cut...but I didn't realize that they don't do that style of cut anymore. She was very impressed with the ring.
My favorite piece...besides my wedding ring, would have to be the mourning piece that I picked up about a year or two ago.
original mourning piece bought from England

The seller had it dated to around 1780, but I'm thinking with the style of gown, it probably dates closer to 1790. I can't wear it with my 18th century clothes, but it's perfect for anything later, so I wear it with my Regency era clothing and my 1830's stuff. 
worn around my neck with a black ribbon for regency
 I have always wanted a mourning piece, especially after my sister passed away in  2005. Now both my parents are gone as well, so I figured this would be a nice item to wear as a remembrance to all of them.What attracted me to this right off, was not only the style of clothing she was wearing, but her pose. I was scanning through the shops on Ruby Lane for mourning pieces.  When I saw this one, I had to stop and stare....then I called Terry into the room.
J."Take a look at this!"
T. "What am I looking at?"
J. "It's a mourning piece, but tell me what you think it looks like she's doing!"
T. "Well, it LOOKS like she's giving us the finger...."
J. "YES!!!! That's what I thought too!  This pretty much is telling me it's PERFECT for me, right????"
T. "Oh yeah!!! You have GOT to get that!"

So, with Terry's permission, I got to purchase my first mourning piece!!!  Now, she really ISN'T giving anyone the finger.  I knew this, but I thought it was just fate leading her to me. If you look closely enough, you'll see some of the general indications of mourning on this painting. It has an urn and collumn that indicates loss...and she's actually pointing up to the heavens. A friend of ours told us when he saw it, that it's not very common, but is one of those indicators of our mortality.
I believe I got it for about $350....and the shop had a large print at the bottom ASK US ABOUT OUR PAYMENT PLAN!  So, I asked  about the payment plan, and Voila!!! She was mine! ALWAYS ask about payment plans if you find something you REALLY want. I didn't want to go above about $200....but 18th century jewelry of ANY sort is starting to become out of my price range. I'm so happy I got her!

For my 1830's, I wear her pinned on the black ribbon to the bodice of my gown.
At the Williamsburg Milliner's conference last year.
I guess  I'm thinking of my passed loved ones because it's the holiday. I know by wearing this piece of jewelry, I'm doing my family proud...especially my sister....she woulda loved the "finger" pose. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An awesome Multi-use bonnet

post #14                                           Thursday April 2, 2015

Just a quick post on a bonnet I purchased during the summer of 2014. For those who know me, know that I am a Hat Whore. For those who don't know me, Hello, My name is Julie...and I'm a Hat Whore.

Now, I can make the occasional bonnet, or hat....when forced by gun point. Lydia Fast has regency bonnet workshops each year, and when I do choose to attend, she's been nice enough to find "easy" patterns for me. Although I did do a "Mother Goose" style bonnet my first time out, and while it did turn out well....I realized that I was MORE than happy to pay someone for their milinery skills. I can say I've done it, and have done a passable job at it. Now here's my money.

Always on the look out for deliciously beautiful bonnets and the ever elusive Big Ass Cap, I came across a totally perfect bonnet made by Kathleen Kannik  from Kannik's Korner, while attending the Jane Austen Event in Louisville, Ky last summer.
Terry and I at Locust Grove, Louisville, Ky

Now, the freaky fact is, I brought this outfit to wear BEFORE I found the bonnet!!! The gown actually has a green and dark blue pinstripe in it.  I was sooo pleased to find this bonnet, I decided to wear it that weekend. Not only is this perfect for Regency, but it's made very similar to the market bonnets that have gained popularity in the hobby these last 2 years. Not only are they popular for Revolutionary war, but very well documented in runaway ads. A very good read for descriptions is Don Hagist's book  Wenches Wives and Servant Girls. It's a list of runaway ads and describes what they were wearing. Market bonnets are numerous.

I was so happy to find this bonnet, I had a tear in my eye....

But the main reason why I was so happy to find this bonnet, and the color scheme it came in, was the fact that I really want to make this outfit that I found in a period image.
Isn't this SAWEEET!!!????
If and when I do make this outfit, I will definitely post about it.  I just thought this image was sooo Easter/Spring like.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter, and a happy Passover.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 getting a stick in the eye....

post #13                                     Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Since I mentioned busks briefly yesterday, I thought I would expand on this subject today.  Simply put, it's a piece of wood used down the front of your stay to help keep the front of your stays straight, and reduce the strain that is put on the stay boning and fabric.It prevents the inevitable "ski slope" effect that most women get  (both thick and thin) from their bellies pushing up on the bottom of the stay, bending it forward.
 The length and size of the busk pretty much depends on how long your torso is. In other words....if you sit down, and the piece of wood spears you through " that area which you most value"....then chances are pretty good, it's too long.  Busks may be plain or carved. Some say that busks were carved by lovers and given as gifts. Romantic,yes. True? Who the heck knows.
examples of original 18th century carved busks from the Victoria and Albert Museum
Above are examples of some lengths and shapes you'll see in original busks.  Busks were made out of wood, ivory, or bone. Those that were ivory or bone could have scrimshaw/carvings on them  as well.
Example of a scrimshawed 19th century busk out of ivory
The carvings vary from flowers and hearts, similar to what we consider "folk art", to just initials or even like above, something more "risque". I've seen some very lovely wooden ones done recently that had chip carving done on them, very similar to the one below.
busk found on pinterest from  extantgowns.blogspot

Not all busks HAVE to be carved. This example, although dated 1800-1810, is a plain bone/ivory. It is also easier to date to this period because of it's length. My regency corset has a busk in it, cut specifically to my length, which is at least 4-5 inches longer than the busk I use for 18th century. Again, it is used in order to keep the front flat, and to reduce the stress on the support garment. This was DEFINITELY proven a couple of years ago when I took my busk out of it's "floating pocket" at the end of a loooong day in regency. My corset crumpled like a cheap paper bag. I could also feel all the rolls starting to come forward. Ugh. Who knew a stick held things together like that????

As to HOW these busks are attached or added, I have one word....magic.

Okay, so it's NOT magic. For my regency corset, it has a sleeve, or pocket, built into the front of the garment. I made my regency corset in one of the Burnley and Trowbridge workshops. In fact, you can see a blog write up about my regency corset posted earlier. (post #2 from 2014)  Here's an interior shot as a reminder.

not only do you see my busk in it's casing...but also my "bossom buddies".

For 18th century, you could also add a pocket to simply slide the busk down into. This works well with back closing stay....not front ones. (no place to put the pocket).  Or you could do what I usually do....just let pressure and gravity keep the bugger in place by sliding it in between my stay and my shift. My stays are usually laced tight enough that the busk stays pretty much in place. When I sit or bend, it WILL shift, but you WANT it to. Same goes for putting a pocket into your stay. Keep the top open, or have a slit near the top, as my regency one has. What this does, is it gives the busk some "floating"  room. if you stitch the bugger into the garment, your entire garment tends to ride up when you sit, or shift when the busk shifts (and it WILL shift)  It WILL work it's way upward by the end of the day...but if it's "free wheeling" can just push the bugger back down again. All you fluffy gals...this is NORMAL. If you are built like me, bigger waist and belly than boobies....well....guess what wins out in the age old game of push and shove. Yup. Belly bumps this baby up. You just have to push it back down. It's our lot in life. Live with it....or stitch it in and have the whole garment ride up.
Another option, if you are completely afraid of standing up and having your busk just "fall thru the cracks" to actually have a hole drilled into the busk top (some have it in bottom too) and stitch a string or ribbon into your stay, then this ribbon/string gets threaded thru the hole and tied into place.
example of hole in the busk of a rare 18th century busk dated 1777.

Plain busks may be found at Little Bits, LBCC on etsy, and also at Wm. Booth, draper. I got my extra long busk from Burnley and Trowbridge as I stated earlier, during one of their awesome workshops. I'm not sure if they sell them but it's always good to ask. Worse that can be heard is "no". I do have about 3 or 4 carved ones I'm going to be selling, of  different lengths. I've had them for awhile because no one seemed to know what the HECK these things were. At the few shows I set up at, they were always the Question of the Day.

So! Now you know!!!

Oh! And when in doubt, they are always a good double for a tongue depressor!!
Me and my sweetie, after a LOOOOOONG Jane Austen day!