Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter Parade, 1912 Fashions, and Research

The other night my husband wanted to watch Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Ever busy, I almost pulled out my historical research, or my sewing to do during the movie, but finally decided to sit back, close the laptop, set aside the sewing needles, and soak in perky music, fun story lines and fashion history.
My favorite song is "I'm Just a Fella, a Fella with an Umbrella" and I still wish Hannah had ended up with Jonathan. (sigh)
The story line ended up with a discussion with my husband about dancing styles. Prompted by bits and pieces of Dancing with the Stars that he sees, he has been asking me why all dances weren't ballroom dances. I kept saying with dwts, that these dances were ballroom, those were Latin, etc, but they are all so well executed (albeit some much better than others, but bravo to all those learning on the fly) my husband wasn't seeing the difference. Therefore this movie perfectly illustrated the different styles of dance. The ever so elegant ballroom dance, swirling and flowing to the ease of the musical beat...until poor Hannah attempts the moves. Strangling her dance partner with feathers isn't quite within the definition of elegance. However her perky tap dance and rhythms to her stunning vocals made up for where he dancing heels had to be put to rest.
And then...the fashions. The movie begins the day before Easter in 1911 and ends on Easter morning, 1912.  Fashions of that era were quickly changing and had quite a variety from outfit to outfit. Most notably, they are not everyone's cup of tea, not even mine. However there were a few outfits that I adored. My 3 top favorites are Hannah's kimono, the stunning white blouse with blue skirt towards the end of the movie (and that lovely hairstyle!), followed by the green evening wrap towards the end. The white blouse and blue skirt combination is my absolute favorite!
Most fun for any historically fashion conscious gal is to enjoy the melodious Richard Beavers' as he sings, "The Girl on a Magazine Cover" during a Ziegfield Follies show. On stage are life sized magazine covers (frames) with the names of famous covers of the day (like Vogue and Redbook), with the name of their issue (like Yachting, sports, bridal) and the price (15 cents). Within the frame was a real life model wearing the latest fashion from 1912.
All the while I thought of my 1912 fashions...in a box. A sewing basket actually.Back in 2012 I signed up with The 1912 Project, with the Vintage Pattern Lending Library and got some free La Mode Illustree patterns from 1912. The goal was for us to become fiber artist spies, unlocking sewing secrets of the past. The admins disbanded the project before the year was complete, but I still have my patterns!  So far I've made the princess slip...

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...and the blouse (directions here). Fashion photos (here).

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Since I've been blogging little,I thought I'd share what I've been up to. Apart from spring cleaning, researching A Founding Father Education, and sewing modern clothes for my daughter, I've done a bit of historical sewing too. Some of that can be seen on my facebook page, in the right margin. As far as spring cleaning goes, these baskets are some of what I've been doing throughout the house. My historical sewing has multiplied so much over the years, it was time to stop and organize and purge. These baskets were already done, but I'm fine tuning throughout the rest of the house in the same way that these baskets are done.

I have several large baskets that I got at Target years ago. In each is a different category of sewing, because I have that  much happening at once. I have an 18th century box (as shown on my facebook page). However this is my "other" historical sewing box. I have more 18th century stuff than anything, because of all the great classes I've been able to take at Williamsburg. Also the beauty of homeschooling and packing my kids up in a colonial time machine while wearing proper attire to the colonial capital of Virginia definitely kept me busy.  I used historical clothing to entice my kids to dig into all sorts of books and research. Along the way, I learned more about history than ever before, because of my sewing across all the eras. Therefore I still do a lot of historical research and a lot of historical sewing research. They just seem to go hand in hand for me now.

At the top of this sewing basket is my 19th century petticoat I've been working on. Underneath all that is my 1912 pattern collection!

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My third 1912 project was this skirt. I have so far cut out a toile for fitting. Of course this cotton floral fabric is not historically accurate for a skirt of 1912, but it's a great way to use up old fabric from past projects for fitting purposes!
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Then here are the others, simply waiting to come to life as a corset cover...
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...and a mantle.
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I think I'm starting to settle into a routine now that my homeschool teaching days are over. Mornings are spring cleaning. Afternoons are sewing. Evenings are research/writing/hand sewing during a movie. Busy days are coming though. I'm attending a 2 day seminar at the end of the week on the Constitution at my son's college, that I'm quite excited about!  Then in April I have jury duty. In Texas I only ever had to report 2 days in a row. Virginia is quite different. I get to report one day a week, every single week for an entire month.
Meanwhile I've read stacks of books and have sewn piles of fabric. I hope to share lots about all that soon! I can't very well work on my writing skills if I'm not writing!

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