chocolatepot: The bodice of a woman, from a painting by Caravaggio (Caravaggio)
I had a very nice Saturday in New York City. Really reminded me how much I miss living there - not so much because I would *do things* if I were there, probably, although not working/attending class seven days a week and having enough money to live on might mean that I would, but just because of the atmosphere. All the people, the narrow and shady streets, the buildings packed together, the smell and the noise ... I still love it. Dad and Owen and I went to the Morgan Library and ate halal food in front of the NYPL.

Happy to report that I enjoyed Hamilton, although I still don't quite get the intense adoration. Hamilton )

I have also consumed a piece of contemporary literary fiction! That never happens. It's called Indelible. Indelible )

I'm also just about finished with E.F. Benson's Dodo: A Detail of the Day (1893). It's one of those stories that reminds you how flexible the boundaries of an era are - it really reads as Edwardian, or even 1920s, especially in terms of dialogue. Dodo is this young woman in society who fascinates everyone with her charm and ability to talk nonsense for long periods of time; she gets married to a somewhat dull but devoted young marquis when she's in love with someone else. Like the David Blaize books, it's always made clear what the proper morality is, but it's still pretty lively and enjoyable.
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I am getting there with Cameo. I've pretty much hit the anxiety threshold re: emailing the developer - I can't possibly look any stupider or needier, so I might as well confess my complete lack of understanding of the program beyond basic drafting and beg for help.

Well, I say "getting there", but despite slavishly copying the screencaps she sent me, I'm somehow still far from getting a good scaled-up pattern. A bit of the problem might be that my measurements for the base size are off - I can tell bust and waist circumference easily enough, but it gets tricky when trying to figure out the original wearer's cup size or bust depth. The developer is somehow better at this than me because the screencapped altered pattern she sent me was like ... a real pattern that would work on a human body, rather than the twisty mess I get.


I have been asked to ride in a carriage in the Dairy Princess parade as Clarissa Wright! This is tremendously exciting but leaves me with a dilemma. The dress I am making for Civil War Weekend is 1850s, by which time Clarissa was in her forties and widowed, and from the one photo we have of her in the 1860s she did the mourning-for-life option (not just dressing in black, but very plain black wool). When Clarissa was my age, it was 1835. I've wanted to make this dress since I patterned it, and I happen to have five yards of a yellow checked cotton that would work very well. Nobody but me would know it's mid-1820s instead of mid-1830s, although tbh I play so much younger that even if anyone did notice that it's an 1820s dress, they would probably think I was Clarissa in her early 20s anyway. But that would mean making two dresses in time for this summer, which is asking a lot out of my sewing speed ...
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So, it's interesting that the showrunners decided to make S3 of The Musketeers reflect the reign of Louis XVI within the context of Louis XIII's reign, and it's cool that the costuming acknowledges this by making 1770s/1780s references in Anne of Austria's wardrobe and hair, but like ... why?
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The Musketeers has shockingly good costuming, at least in the first season, for a show that's mainly concerned with swashbuckling. The main characters wear anachronistic leather all the time and Constance hardly ever puts a dress over her stays (you will note that she always wears a shift under them, though), but outside of that they do pretty well with silhouettes, waistlines, and treatment of fabric. The costumers pay a lot of attention to detail just in terms of construction, so even when something's inaccurate it looks like a real piece of clothing rather than a length of polyester stuck to a body.

JJ Feild was in an early episode and I didn't even recognize him. I'm so sorry, husbando.

(Just got to series two, and I Strongly Disapprove of the recasting of Constance. I suppose they had to because of War & Peace, but ...)
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But I will say this! Thanks, [personal profile] nuranar, for the suggestion of the five-row styling brush! I was finally able to achieve a flip-under this morning because of it, even if two swipes with the clearly-not-100%-boar-bristle brush did destroy most of the curl from my set.
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I went out to get groceries etc., but because it was about 10F at most today, I did it in one trip and in the car. Which left me with a lot of extra time! I did waste quite a bit, and spent probably two hours cumulatively on brushing and styling my hair (going to have to get a routine down: I simply don't have the time in the morning when I have to work). Apparently my mother told my grandmother that I have my hair cut like hers when she got married, which made my grandmother very happy. I actually trimmed the layers last night, which is terribly stupid and I don't recommend it, but I thought it needed more of a U shape. It does require a bit more fiddling with the comb to keep the U smooth, but I like it.

Recently I made my first order from Litt(t?)leBits on Etsy. After buying the 1910 Besame perfume, I've been really into wearing scent, and I wanted some lavender water as a nice clean, natural perfume; I also got the last vial of the perfume they made based on Martha Washington's recipe, which is pretty special. And because I was buying stuff, I also got the 1815 jasmine pomatum - tried a little on my hair today and I am very pleased with the results - and the 1922 pomade.

Anyway, what I actually was trying to say is that despite my time-wasting, I've almost finished writing the women's section for my sample chapter. That only leaves children, which should be pretty quick. I'm going to do a good editing pass, but is anybody interested in being a second pair of eyes?

Another thing that happened today was that an AskHistorians flair from years ago who'd deleted his account came back and borderline-demanded to be reflaired, then started leaving some terrible comments that are no longer considered acceptable by our standards. When he responded tangentially to a question about Walt Disney's possible antisemitism, I removed it because, like I said, it was tangential; he in turn started asking if I had worked for Disney and had a conflict of interest and demanded I resign. Sent us several messages about it through modmail! He got banned and then went back to his UFO subreddit (yes, that's what his flair was in) to say that we were no longer a legitimate sub and the moderator who was an expert in fashion (it's pretty clear that he thinks this makes me an idiot) and maybe some of the others are Disney shills.

Okay thanks hacks. I'll take my work the press and let them know your subreddit has been completely compromised in its integrity.
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I got my hair cut! It's a middy with no bangs and with some vertical layering as well as horizontal (I used up my nerve convincing the stylist that I really did want 10 inches cut off and couldn't tell her vertical layers were unnecessary when she started in on them). She curled it all over with a curling iron, which looked stupid, and I finger-combed it out. The last night I wet-set it and slept on it ... it looks a lot more like a fluffy Clara Bow bob than e.g. Elizabeth Taylor or Rosemary Clooney, which I think partly comes down to the fact that when most people do a wet-set and brush-out, they end up with hair that looks the way mine does naturally - on a good day, anyway - so when I do it, I get curly floof. But I like curly floof! And I like setting and taking out rollers!
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I can't believe I never posted this here: Midwest Historic Costume Conference survey! Julie and I are seeking out some feedback for a sort of eastern CoCo we'd like to hold. She chaired/organized the recent Ohio Military Regimental Ball and I've been in charge of the events at work for the past year (we get 60-90 reenactors at the Civil War Weekend and 300-450 spectators)* so I think we're equipped to handle it.

Things have changed a bit since creating the survey - we've pretty much decided to go with Glidden House near Cleveland, and since they're totally booked May through October, it's going to be either March or November for 2018, but we can get in and book early for eg June in 2019 if that's better for people. We've done a lot of brainstorming for meal/party themes and are so psyched about all of it. Here's the FB page, right now pretty derelict but it's early days.

Edit: Also, a question for friends who do events like CoCo - as far as you know, do a lot of single-era people attend? People who are attached to reenactment units? Or is it mostly those who, like us, do costuming on their own or with a group of pals?

* Speaking of which, we are really starting to hurt. Being in Basically Canada, far from the center of CW reenacting, we draw from a small corps of reenactors who live around here or have social ties to the local units to bring them hundreds of miles. This year, we've had two deaths and an Alzheimer's institutionalization. The group that used to be our "hosts" has fallen apart, pretty much. I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO.
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I was thinking about doing the Janet Arnold ca. 1860 sheer, just because Janet's patterns are so detailed and descriptive, but one of the reasons I wanted a new dress in the first place is that my very short torso + extreme bust/waist difference means I really need a point on the bodice. Nora Waugh's 1850s sheer seems much pointier ... but then, Nora's drawings are really cartoons (and Janet's tend to look a lot more unflattering in the drawings than they do on mannequins, right?), and I'm not sure the pattern pieces are actually any pointier. But Nora's has much less fabric gathered across the front, which I think would be better for me, and I like the soft belling of the sleeve more than the big pagoda. (Although the sleeves really scream late 40s-early 50s. But who really cares? This is a very mainstream-to-farby event, and I plan to be accurate to the pattern itself. The skirt is as wide as the one on the dress I've been using.)

What do you think about the floral wreath sheer fabric in blue? I'd prefer to go for a cheaper option since I've spent a bit much so far this year, but this is really authentic and in a lovely color. [personal profile] koshka_the_cat, since I found it on your site, do you remember how wide it is?

Apropos of nothing, I put on my skinny jeans with my work shirt to go to chorus and looked in the mirror and I'm a bomb-ass hottie today, just saying. (It's probably just that I finally washed the jeans yesterday.)
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I am HELLA tired but thought I would post about the week as I'm sitting in the airport.

The ball was excellent! I forgot my corset (...) and so wore one of Julie's that's too hippy for here, which would have been absolutely perfect if the waist had been a tad bit shorter. But it was still enough to let me (well, Julie) hook the front of my bodice closed. I am thinking that prior to Civil War Weekend I'm going to try to make a sheer day dress to replace this morning dress, which is fully lined (and therefore hot) and has very small armscyes. Like, my chemise sleeves are too tight and that's a problem, but the armscye tightness takes it to a whole new level. Anyway, I threw myself into dancing everything in the first two sets except the second waltz, and then came back for the Garfield whatsit at Julie's insistence. I don't mind at all dancing with other ladies, but it was awkward when I had to stand there waiting for the MC to find me a partner at one point and men were practically lining the walls - in order to preserve my self-esteem I assume it was because they prefer to dance with women from their unit that they know. My feet were killing me by the end of the night, and we went up to bed before the ball officially ended. (And talked for a while about starting a new event in Ohio - I'll keep you posted.)

As for patterning, I think people will be pleased. I have a late 1860s day dress to go with the Pingat (so you can either do two one-piece dresses or make two bodices to swap out), a Dolly Varden in a cute cotton print, an 1820s pelisse, a spencer with a little peplum, and an open robe that is almost the double of the one in the V&A with the fully pleated back. We were actually looking for an 1845 wedding/evening dress but nothing leapt out at us as a particularly interesting example, and an 1890s evening dress (same). I think I'll contact NYSHA tonight or tomorrow to ask what they have of those two categories, and I can make a day of patterning there next month or April when you can drive down the west side of northern NY without being blanketed in snow.
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Carmen the maintenance guy is oversharing with Sue in her office about Kylie Jenner's body, what in the world ...

I need a sample chapter for this proposal - I was going to do the one that includes the late 1770s-1780s because I know it so well, but I changed my mind and started with chapter one, 1700-1739. It was very hard to figure out how to describe things like shirts and shifts from the middle, so to speak, without knowing exactly what I would have written in the chapters before it to build off of. After getting the entire men's section down, I think I would have ended up getting lazy, too, and generalizing and writing the same old thing I've done a dozen times when charting the progress of the period running up to the Neoclassical. That said, there's not much research at all on these years, and extant garments and paintings are often really vaguely/poorly dated, so it's been tricky. My Pinterest boards are thus only so helpful.

I'm fairly determined, though, that after I get back from Ohio (where nobody signed up for my workshops, btw) I'm going to work on hand-sewing some early 18th century stays. If I'm going to get back into the game I should really be addressing the 1860s, for the museum's reenactment, or Regency for the ECD group's anachronistic Playford/Regency dances, but when I really like and have always wanted a reason to do is early 18th century. Neither of the two previous get me inspired, because nobody else there is even close to authentic, so! I will go for something that I've always been fascinated with.
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I seem to have a bad habit of making decisions while writing, and then almost immediately walking them back after I see them typed out. So a little while ago, I was like, "I'm not going to bother trying to write for real publication, I'm just going to toddle stuff out and put it on Amazon for other nerds." But then I thought I might look at what the short story market looks like these days, and anyway ... as I wrote on the last page of the journal I just finished, When one part of life holds out on you and refuses to return your emails, turn back to something else you love. I've already sent out a piece of flash fiction and am working on a contemporary fantasy short story.

And then there was a ridic conversation on [personal profile] sarahbellem's FB with a costume designer that reminded me, hey, I was going to write a guide once upon a time that didn't just explain the history of fashion but was specifically addressed to people making or writing about clothing so they can avoid pitfalls. And so now I'm working on a proposal for that. I'm kind of terrified that the failure of RWD will make it impossible for me to publish ever again, but this is a totally different thing with way more market potential.

Still haven't heard back from the MFA, but Bunka Gakuen did get back to me and say that they'd be able to give me a volume discount to cut the image use fee from $44/image to $9/image, which is phenomenal. So whatever happens with any of the many things I'm keeping in the air, I at least have confidence that this one project will be realized.
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Just dropping in to say - this is an excellent recipe for paneer, I highly recommend it.

Lately I've been writing and writing in my journal, trying to dig deeper than a recitation of events. Now to channel that into fiction ... if only the same kind of short story market existed today as in 1900! But I've basically made up my mind that my fiction-writing career, such as it is/will be, should be confined to self-pubbing on Amazon for the select crowd that really likes historical pastiche.
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I'm enjoying watching The Magicians. I liked the books (although I only read them once and don't remember them too well), unlike a lot of people in HP fandom, I think? but it works even a bit better as a tv show.

Eliot mentions having taken the house puppy to "a very confused veterinarian in Ogdensburg", so you know the screenwriters, as usual, are from the city and think "upstate New York" means some point where literally everything from Buffalo to Plattsburgh is within a short drive Brakebills is obviously in Canton like St. Lawrence, or maybe in Heuvelton with the Amish.
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I'm bouncing back, in large part because I decided to wear my pretty day dress to the ball instead of a new gown. Some things are just ... too much. (The job has not yet been reposted.)

Tonight I made chickpea rogan josh based on this recipe from The Kitchn. Came out very well! Nicely warm. Recommend.

I have a blog post very nearly done - I'm just waiting on a response to an inquiry to the Museum of the City of New York about whether the second Worth gown here actually has a label in it or is just attributed based on family history. I'm suspecting the latter, and really hoping it's the case because otherwise the whole post is pointless.
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I suppose it's not really a sewing project until you've knelt on the floor sobbing over how much you don't want to make it

And thrown the pieces across the room multiple times
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^1920s pop song reference, I'm hip to the times

On the one hand, I'm having my period back-cramps. On the other, yesterday and the day before were HIIT days in the yoga shred - and while Friday was legs/butt and Saturday was arms/core, both really felt like legs. Then today I did my errands on foot (3 miles in total) because it's still relatively warm and dry. While I've done some ball gown work, I spent a lot of time resting up on the couch.

Sooooo many tabs open in Chrome again ... but seven of them are recipes or recipe-related, so I should be able to close them after I use them. But then I'm probably going to look up new recipes on the same sites, so I don't see this ending well. (Veg Recipes of India, Whisk Affair, My Tasty Curry, he Kitchn.)

I can't believe The Handmaid's Tale isn't dropping until late April. We need it now.
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I decided to clarify butter into ghee this evening because I want to get back into Indian cooking, although I never actually used it when I used to cook Indian food. OMG, that smells so good. I'm doing it for authenticity and to have a more shelf-stable butter, but it's worth it just for the scent.

Another week, another non-ringing phone. :( Another week void of emails from NYSM, BMFA, or Bunka Gakuen. :( I'm so stressed out right now, with the job hanging over my head (it's still not relisted anywhere and thus probably still open ... it must get filled soon, right? They want someone to start in the second week of February!) and my self-esteem's riding on the book thing, and of course there's politics - though I have to say that following all the protests on Twitter today did make me feel a lot better on that score. But still, the stress is just gnawing at me constantly.


Jan. 19th, 2017 05:59 pm
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Because of Magnificent Century, I've been reading Leslie Pierce's The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, (it can be found on LibGen) and it is fascinating. The reality of the situation in the 14th and 15th centuries, at least, is so far from how Western royalty has historically worked, and also from the romanticized/sexualized Western ideas of harem life. (Right from the get-go - the harem was just the women's quarters, and then eventually the sultan's household, not a stable of nubile girls. And most of the women in it were doing administrative work.)

One of the most interesting things (to me) is that it became an almost legalized tradition during that period for the sultan to never sleep with his legal wife/wives, and only father children with concubines, who were all(?) slaves taken from outside of Ottoman lands. Children essentially derived all of their status from the fathers, without being "tarnished" by their mothers' low status or ethnicity. Since all of the sons were expected to compete for the throne, it wasn't seen as fair for some to have the advantage of powerful relatives and others not. And concubines were restricted to having one son, as mothers essentially became heads of their sons' households, and it would again create an unbalanced situation if the mother went with one son and the other was left out in the cold.
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Sherlock S4 )

You have to watch Magnificent Century! It is a Turkish historical soap opera on Netflix, and it is bonkers. Set in the court of Suleyman the Magnificent, it mostly centers on Hürrem Sultan as she goes from Alexandra the Ruthenian slave girl to Hürrem the favorite concubine to Hürrem Sultan, mother of a prince. It will make you shout things like "NO, HURREM! You're just making things worse for yourself!" and "GTFO, Mahidevran, you are the worst."


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