|My Hand Embroidered 18th Century Pocket|
Because every few months I am asked to sew a historically accurate 18th century gown, with all the required accoutrements, in 2 weeks for someone out of state who is very soon to visit Colonial Williamsburg...I find myself spending much time answering numerous questions...only to receive the final reply of..."Oh. I guess I'll find someone local to simply sew an inexpensive costume."
|My Hand-Sewn 18th Century Cap|
Thus, I thought I'd share "my pitch" here so I can merely link to it for "future costumers." =) I think this will be quicker for their time and for mine. =)
Although I did once consider a business in hand-sewing historically accurate 18th century clothing, I have decided against that. For one, the business laws in Virginia are so strict, I have no idea what to do and that in itself paralyzes me.
Further, it takes much more time than one would imagine to sew. It takes me weeks just to sew one item for me or my kids.
Although I am not an expert, I am learning. I've had the grand honor of attending some of the fabulous Burnley and Trowbridge historical sewing classes in Williamsburg, led by the tailors and mantua makers of Colonial Williamsburg. Honestly, I am such a dunce. I am the slowest one in each class. I've yet to finish a single project basically because I don't remember various details that I learned in class. So, really, I'm not that good!
|One of my fittings for my hand sewn and draped 18th Century Gown|
Also, sewing this clothing requires fitting to the actual body. It is exceedingly difficult to fit myself. It is much easier to fit my kids...except they are rarely at home any more so that means less sewing for them. Some seamstresses are so fantabulous, that they ask for measurements, whip up that garment, ship it to the home of one lucky customer...who can then slip it on and find a perfect fit. I'm not capable of that. Instead I make my kids (or myself) endure numerous fittings until I finally say it's my best.
|One of my hand-trimmed 18th century hats|
The other reason why I will not sew for others is because it is too expensive. Proper fabrics can cost anywhere from $10-$20 a yard. Proper patterns can cost anywhere from $10-$20 a package. Then there is labor. I have no idea how to price labor. No one can afford minimum wage in the time it takes to hand sew a garment. Of all the people who have approached me, only one didn't even bat an eyelash at the cost of the fabric or pattern. That is because they were heavily involved in the reenacting community, so they understood the need for being spot on for accuracy and the cost that demands. That is why I sew. I could never afford to hire anyone to sew for me. And through it all, I have fallen in love with historical sewing.
|A peak at a reproduction I hand sewed of an 18th century jacket|
Also, when I am fortunate enough to take a Burnley and Trowbridge historical sewing class, I am spending around $200; just for the class, along with travel, hotel, and food. That is a worthy investment for all that I learn. Also, that is copyrighted information which I am happy to honor, but not able to share.
|My son looking quite dapper in his hand sewn 18th century attire...at Colonial Williamsburg|
However I can share the result of my work here. One of my goals is to share the hours and prices spent upon each garment. That shall be forthcoming in another post. Meanwhile I have lots of fabrics and projects that I began a few years ago. I do hope to pick them up once again.
|The Lafayette Regimental...based on my research of General Washington's orders for regimentals...and many thanks to CW for a peak at General Lafayette's epaulettes|