|let the interview begin!|
What is the history mystery (including but not limited to historical fashion) that you would most like to solve?
What is the period or area of historical dress that you first began to concentrate on?
I don't do much of it anymore (so many periods! so little time!), but my first period was the 1860s (American Civil War). In middle and high school I was in a group of living history volunteers in the greater Boston area that researched, constructed, and performed local programs. One of our main periods was the 1860s, and the clothes really spoke to me. I started with day wear, and then evening dresses when a friend introduced me to vintage dance.
Do you belong to a costuming or reenacting group?
I do! If you'd like to experience a social evening in your favorite period, get into the past for the weekend, or just learn some really fun dancing, you should check out the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. Most of the outfits and outings I post about involve CVD or CVD friends. The group is a non-profit organization devoted to the study and reconstruction of period dances, including performances and participatory events where we teach.
I am lucky enough to live in an area with many vintage-themed groups, so I have my pick of events from the Greater Boston Vintage Society and Tweed Outing Club. I have also attended World War II events as a member of the Big Red One Living History Organization, and hope to get involved with the 1st WAC Separate Battalion soon!
What is an area that you fancy studying or sewing that you do not currently do?
I'd also love to try out a bustle ensemble sometime! But as I don't attend any events in that era, it's not been a high-priority project. There are also some 1950s dresses on my wish list, but somehow I never get to them. Maybe this year... :)
|costume sketch by Edith Head for Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas: inspiration for a 50s project that's been on my list for years!|
Is there a particular technique that you'd like to learn, but haven't had the time or a project to do it in?
I would love to learn more about tailoring! There are a couple of 1910s suits on my wish list, but I don't feel like I know enough about tailoring to hit that yet. I think if I were less intimidated I might move those projects up the list. One is a suit inspired by a photograph from the family archives, so I really want to do it justice.
What would you make if time and budget (and event) were of no concern?
Something heavily embroidered, probably Regency but maybe 1890s? I used to do 19th century embroidery to moderate my stress in college--mostly little samplers and things but I did do one Regency ball gown! Now I just never feel like I want to commit to the time and fore-planning a project like that would take, but I'd love to someday.
Is there a particular museum exhibition you'd like to go back in time or travel across the world to see?
I love museum exhibitions, and so this was a hard question! I was tied on two. First, I think I would pick the Paris Salon of 1877, in which May Alcott's still life was displayed. After years researching and playing May, I would love the chance to attend this moment, which was one of her most public successes. Second, how cool would it be to attend the Great Exhibition of 1851?! It would be an incredible opportunity to see a moment where science, industry, innovation, and fashion all collided during a turning point of the industrial revolution.
|still life by May Alcott, courtesy of LMAMA|
I have two again: for actual support with construction, the first place I look is always Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion. Even just seeing the pattern pieces can help me determine if I'm aiming for the right shapes. For inspiration, I love 19th Century in Detail from the V&A. It's one of my favorite sources for trim, cool fabrics, and interior shots.
I'm also a huge fan of museum catalogs-either as a way to take home exhibits I really loved, or to get a glimpse of exhibits I couldn't see. Impressionism and Fashion from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great one.
If you could design your perfect historical reenactment event, what would it be like and where?
ooooh, great question! I would love to organize a series of events that focus on the diversity we usually don't see represented-a variety of people representing different classes, in different jobs, of different races...basically, what somewhere like Boston would have "actually" looked like. There are some people doing great work to this end already, so I hope to attend some of their events!
I'd also love to flip the traditional timeline event (which typically includes military units) on its head and do a women's history timeline that invites living history groups and military units (like WWII WAVEs and WACs) that are primarily focused on (and lead by) women.
What motivates you in your historical recreation and/or public education?
I've always loved history, and the more I learn about where we've gone before (especially regarding technology and cultural trends), the more I recognize the cyclical nature of our experiences. I want to share that recognition with others, in hopes that we can all learn from the past. Also...it's fun! Getting to learn through experience while wearing great clothes is hard to beat :)
Do you like reading historical and/or classic fiction? (For the latter, I include any old books, whether or not they're critically esteemed.)
I don't read much historical fiction anymore, although I used to quite a bit. I do still read a lot of classic fiction. Although to be honest, as I'm currently in grad school I don't read much at all. In between semesters I marathon through books before I have to start homework again! This break I re-read Persuasion, and went on a women in STEM non-fiction kick with Rise of the Rocket Girls and Hidden Figures.
|a throwback-reading War and Peace in a tiara...as you do.|
I am cheating slightly and posting fewer than 11 nominees, because it turns out that most of the blogs I read have more than 200 followers! So here they are:
Our Girl History-I love reading Eliza's posts on working at a historical sight, and her thoughts on the role of women as both historical voices we need to interpret and as interpreters dealing with the public.
Ballgown In a Backpack-Emma just started blogging, but so far her posts have been entertaining and interesting! I look forward to seeing what else she pulls out of the bag. Puns!
Fishy Fashion and Maritime Modes-This is a topic I don't know anything about, and it's interesting to see how material culture is re-created and examined...as well as how modern people respond!
The Laced Angel-ok, this one is slightly out of the follower limit, but I get some much hair inspiration from here that I couldn't leave it off!
The Quintessential Clothes Pen- Quinn does such a good job documenting her sewing process and construction! Plus, her insides are as neat as her outsides :)
Here are my questions for you all, should you choose to participate:
1. How did you start making historical garments?
2. What is your favorite part of blogging?
3. Describe a time you struggled with a historical project. What did you learn from the experience?
4. If money and restoration were no object, what piece of historical technology would you love to try using?
5. Do you watch or listen to anything while you sew? If so, what is your favorite background?