Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saga of Breeches that Continue to Explode at CW's Grand Illumination

One of my husband's favorite Colonial Williamsburg events, if not his absolute favorite, is Grand Illumination. Me? Um, I prefer to stay warm, so feeling like a human popsicle while watching fireworks on a below freezing windy night is not my favorite thing to do. However this year was cold enough to feel like Christmas yet warm enough to not have a brain freeze. I was able to fully enjoy the fireworks this year!

Meanwhile my son's linen breeches continue to explode. Each night in the hotel about an hour of mending occurred, taking away valuable sewing time for his brand new wool breeches. My son was quite particular as to the color wool he got, which was his birthday present. Then I've had trouble finding time to sew them. Between all the holiday preparations and studying for and teaching school, sewing time has been minimal. Finally, Thursday night I cut out the breeches from the wool. There's no "before" pictures but there must have been about 10 pieces. I packed them in my tote bag to work on in spare moments, between CW programming, hoping that I would not lose any of the pieces or the breeches. Wool breeches are sewn a bit differently than the silk ones I made in my recent breeches sewing workshop, so I also packed the silk baby breeches to work on if I got stumped with the wool breeches.

After sewing entire ensembles of 18th century garments for my kids and myself, I have decided that breeches are the single most complicated garment to sew. First is figuring out the puzzle of where in the world to put the pattern pieces. After sewing 3 breeches, I now have that memorized. The second is the agony of machine sewing which messes up all the placements when turning parts right side out. Now that I've taken the breeches sewing workshop, I know the secret of how to hand sew the pieces! Hand sewn breeches look so much better than machine sewn. Also the hand sewing went quite fast. There are more than basic seams. There are also extra stitches that fully abound throughout but went rather quickly. I have nearly finished my son's breeches and from Friday through Monday managed to have fun in CW by:
  • visiting the milliners
  • attending the Subscription Ball
  • dinner at Shield's Tavern
  • touring 5 colonial homes that are private CW residences and not normally open to the public
  • tea at Christiana Campbell's Tavern
  • enjoying the evening program, "Christmastide at Home"
  • attending the CW auction
  • Christmas shopping
  • visiting various historical personages like Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette at their programs (others we sadly missed due to crowds or arriving late on Fri)
  • visiting other historical people on the streets each day
  • taking a peek at the "wren in the box" for charity's sake (a once a year opportunity) and listening to the crazy colonial singers associated with the "wren in the box" for charity's sake
  • singing with a sane fifer
  • listening to a dulcimer's Christmas cheer
  • learning about the history of theater
  • visiting with many friends and meeting new people
Did I forget anything? Stay tuned for pictures and stories! Hopefully the breeches will be complete before our next visit, because the linen breeches are becoming hopeless.

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