Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2017 Trafalgar Ball

This past October saw the return of the Trafalgar Victory Ball!  We were unable to have one in 2016 due to scheduling conflicts, so it was nice to get back to dancing.  The ball was once again held at the Country Club of Petersburg, which is a lovely venue.

I wore my favorite "This Old Thing" - my Green Sari Open Robe - over my Sheer Striped Gown.

My necklace and earrings are the jade jewelry set Brian got me in Japan, and my pearl bracelet is Dames a la Mode
Brian the Engineer wore his Black Wool Tailcoat, Purple Velvet Waistcoat, breeches (which used to be trousers), shirt, and linen cravat.

Two of our lovely hostesses, Megan and Heather
There was much dancing, of course!  

I am proud to say I made both of these tailcoats!  
We were delighted to have Mr. Charles Steplively return as our dance master!

More photos of the evening can be seen on my Instagram, under the hashtag #rsvvictoryball2017 - and a couple of videos!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Williamsburg Garden Party

Now that I'm seeing ads for this event again this year, it's about time I blogged about last year's Garden Party!

I know I jumped at the chance to dress to the nines and attend a party at the Governor's Palace, even though I was eight months pregnant at the time!  I once again wore my Gold Francaise over my maternity stays (which I finally finished binding!), pocket hoops, and several petticoats:

My friend Stefanie, who lives near the historic area, graciously allowed me to change at her house, and took these couple of photos for me.

I was pretty pleased with how well the Francaise still fit over my baby bump, and I managed to coax a halfway decent hairstyle into existence:

Jewelry by Dames a la Mode
The evening began at the Williamsburg Inn, where a special reception for Garden Party attendees was held with hors d'oeuvres prior to the main event.  I met up with some friends from the Francaise Dinner and made several new friends throughout the evening!  (And honestly, I do not remember everyone's names, so I am not going to attempt to caption these.)

There was a raffle (or was it a door prize?) for a carriage ride from the Inn to the Palace, but I did not win.  They had a shuttle bus bringing guests to and fro, but a few of us opted to walk as it was a fine evening and the historic area is so picturesque.

Awaiting our turn to be escorted though the Palace:

The Garden Party itself was held in the gardens behind the Governor's Palace.  There was music, dancing, a play at one point, a speech by Thomas Jefferson, drinks, and desserts.  I spent most of my time mingling with other guests, taking photos of pretty gowns, finding places to sit down, and stuffing my face with yummy desserts! 

It kept threatening to rain (in fact the event was very nearly canceled/postponed) but never did.

So many pretty gowns!

I love the gardens at Colonial Williamsburg.

At various times throughout the evening, I had different people take some photos of me in my gown - I can't remember who you all were now, but thank you!

Much pregnant. So belly. Wow.
I really love how the back of my gown looks!

New friends!

There were also fireworks, but I got no (decent) photos of them.  I did Instagram a bit throughout the evening, with the hashtag #williamsburggardenparty

We got a little bit of a sunset:

And then it did start to rain, right as the party was wrapping up.  A few of us die-hards ended up walking through a light sprinkle to Chowning's Tavern, where we waited out the rain with some food and revelry.  My one disappointment with the event was the lack of actual food for the ticket price.  The desserts were delicious!  But not very filling.  Then again, I was pregnant...

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Good Day to Dye

On Saturday I attended an Indigo Dyeing workshop at the Mariner's Museum!  Full disclosure - I did steal the title of my blog post from another clever participant. 

My spoils of the day
I had an absolute blast, and got so inspired by all of the beautiful patterns that everyone came up with!  I wish I had gotten pictures of them all, but I was too busy having fun to take many pictures at all.

Here's what I did get:

Our presenters, Lauren and Wisteria, show off the shirts they dyed in last year's class, as well as some of their designs on cloth:

I unfortunately missed the beginning of the presentation, but there was a slideshow of indigo dyeing from around the world, a bit about the history of indigo, and everyone got a handout with a book list for further study.  They also passed around several examples of really gorgeous indigo pieces like this one from Thailand:

I meant to go back and take photos of all of the examples, but I got so engrossed in the dyeing process that I forgot.

Everyone got 5 cotton napkins to experiment with, and we were also encouraged to bring our own pieces from home.  I brought three different fabrics, but I'll get to them later.

Lauren showed us how to go about dipping our pieces:

The dye vats were three five-gallon buckets that had been prepared ahead of time.  Each had formed a "bloom" on top:

But when you dipped your cloth into it...

...it was green underneath!

Reminded me of a blueberry.
 The cloth would also be green, initially.

But with exposure to the air, the dye would begin to oxidize, and you could see it turn blue before your eyes:

They had provided several different materials for us to use to make patterns on our cloth, such as clothspins, rubber bands, wood blocks, popsicle sticks, yarn, and Elmer's glue.

I started with the glue, because I knew it would need to dry before I could dunk it.  I thought it would be fun to get a resist pattern, so I had to try it.  I improvised a flower design, which is very hard to see here:

And here is how it looked after dyeing, rinsing, and taking it home where it was washed with mild detergent and dryed:

Not all of the glue had fully dried before I dyed it, so the one corner got a bit smudged.
One of the slides in the presentation was my inspiration for two of my other napkins - I was going for the upper left and lower right images:

For the upper left image, I used rubber bands to take up concentric circles:

Which took forever!  And tons of rubber bands.  I was busy doing this while everyone else was already dyeing, and I kept running out of rubber bands and ended up pilfering used ones from other people - which is why some of them are blue:

I didn't notice one of my rubber bands had popped off until after I dyed it.
And for the lower right image, I attempted to pleat my napkin into tiny little accordion pleats.  It was rather difficult to get them to stay, and I didn't want to bind them with rubber bands or anything that would prevent the dye from penetrating.  The best idea I could come up with was to twist it around on itself and hold the two ends together with one rubber band.

I had tied/looped long strands of yarn on each so that I could easily fish them out of the bucket, as I had seen some other participants doing.  First they got dunked in clear water to wet them thoroughly:

Then into the bucket they went!

After the first dip, you can see they were quite green:

But the blue color came out pretty quickly as I held them in the air:

Back in for another dunk:

And popped on a tray to carry to the sink:

I gave them both a quick rinse before undoing my bindings.

The back side of the left one looked like clumsy smocking:  

And here is how they turned out:  

For my final two napkins, I used clothespins.  I had admired another participant's flower-like designs on her napkins, so she showed me how she got them.  Here is my attempt at recreating the look:

It came out like this:

And for the final one I went with an accordion pleat and parallel rows of clothespins:

It ended up being one of my favorite ones!

I had brought three pieces of fabric from home - a yard of plain cotton voile to make into an 18th-Century kerchief, which I attempted to dye an even, pale blue.  I ended up dipping it twice because the color did not come out evenly the first time, so it's darker than I intended: 

But still pretty.
Then I had about a yard and a half of striped cotton voile left from making my Sheer Striped Gown, which I wanted to dye a deep, rich, dark blue.  I think I succeeded: 

This was when it was still wet, of course.  Here it is dry: 

I plan to make this into a Regency dress for Reptar.  It's still fairly sheer, so I'll need to make her a shift, too: 

My final piece was about a yard and a half of polished cotton, leftover from the lining of the curtains I used to make my Gold Francaise Gown.  I wanted a fun pattern on this one, so I started with a diagonal fold: 

I then folded accordion pleats once again, and when I got it all pleated I folded the entire thing in half down the length, making sure the long center section was on the outside where it would absorb the most dye.  And I made a pattern of clothespins along the edges: 

And this is the result: 

I was very happy with this piece!  I think I'm going to make it into a skirt. 

Of course now I want to dye ALL OF THE THINGS! I may have to see about getting my own indigo dyeing kit someday.