August 18, 2015

1940s, WWII Era Dress: Simplicity 1587 Pattern

WWII Reenacting Dress

I have been doing a lot of sewing recently. A few months ago I ran downstairs to grab a petticoat and became shamefully aware of the amount of reenacting stuff I have. I'm not like other reenactors. My reenacting stuff is in bins in the basement. There is no rhyme or reason. My 18th century petticoats consort with my Civil War shawls. Corsets with pockets. And I'm pretty sure my socks like to part ways and curl up in the darkest interstices of the basement. 

Grimacing, I admitted to myself it was probably time to go through everything and get rid of what I didn't need and replace what needed replacing. That was a terribly long list. So long, in fact, I decided to put it off entirely and move on to the bins that held my fabric stash.

I had not been sewing much at the time. All 3 of my sewing machines had some sort of issue and got left at the wayside when I started hand sewing for 18th century garments. A tiny, but very important screw in my main machine was lost by my sister, who promptly got her own machine and left mine broken in the closet. :) My 1912 White treadle machine snapped a belt very early in its life with me and my 1943 Singer never sewed a stitch since I got it, although the light works.

I thought I might as well get rid of a lot of my stash as realistically I should use those bins for reenacting stuff. But as I was going through the stash, I remembered exactly why each piece made its way in there in the first place: they were awesome. I sold some of them, gave some away and decided that what I keep gets used up this year or it goes. This, in conjunction with my machine being fixed for work, has me using my waking free moments sewing mostly historical garments. 

To conclude, I have no space for reenacting stuff so I am turning all of my fabric stash into more reenacting stuff. Oh wait. I am a normal reenactor. Whew.   

1940s Reenacting dress

I made this dress out of the Simplicity 1587 pattern and a vintage paisley fabric that I have been waiting forever to wear. It was a little busy for anything modern but was perfect for this 1940s dress. The pattern went together quickly and I only had trouble with the pleats on the the yoke as the markings were a little confusing. If you are making a dress from this pattern, there is a more detailed breakdown on Seam Racer.

I bought this fabric years ago at a thrift store and the pattern was only $1 thanks to the Joann's pattern sales so with thread and a zipper, the project came out at just under $10 and took about a week to make. 

WW2 Reenacting Dress
Simplicity 1587

1940s WWII Dress

To see more versions of this dress:

Lilacs and Lace
CC's Creative Concepts
Dolly Creates
Anita Boeira

August 13, 2015

Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation Timeline Event 2015

I'm starting to like timeline events more and more. The first time timelines came to my attention it sounded like a 14 year old boy's dream to finally have the Romans fight the Nazis (and possibly dinosaurs.) However, I'm starting to appreciate the value they have.

First, timelines give us a chance to see impressions that are not appropriate for a battle due to their non-military nature or inability to fit with popular scenarios. This particular event had a lovely lady viking among other interesting ones! I also like that the emphasis is on the impression and history and not so much a battle. Timelines are one of the rare situations where women and their impressions are at the forefront of the event alongside the men.

Second, timelines offer variety which is beneficial to families who might not all be into the same time periods or visitors who just enjoy general history and like to see some variety. I thought it might be weird seeing Revolutionary War guys talking with Civil War guys but it makes it easy to compare and contract time periods and see evolutionary trends.  

Finally, timelines allow the time to practice period skills such as the arm to arm drill pictured below or the chance to test out equipment such as the WWII radios.

This event was a great chance to relax, socialize, teach, and practice period skills that don't normally see the light of day during the rush of a reenactment. Some of the boys had fun trying their hand at WWII radio communication while   

July 29, 2015

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party June - July

You know that feeling when you work so much you look at the calendar and realize that not only do you not know what day it is but the day you thought it was is weeks off? I worked so much these past two months that I didn't realize June turned into July. I went to work in the mornings then worked at home at night, dropped into bed then got up again for work a few hours later. I felt like I was getting nothing done.

There were big summer storms, scorching hot days, and days spent wading in creeks with minnows at my feet. I took tons of photos, helped campers make 1,000 crafts, wrote blog posts, ran errands and got almost every single thing done on my 3 page to-do list! Compiling these photo and going through the tons of photos I took this past month has made me remember just how fast the days go by and that there is something special in each day.     

Huge storms made everything a pile of slippery mud.

Not bad for my first two shots ever! 

I swear I almost took this bunny home with me. 

Tried to capture the northern lights but got lightning bugs instead!

Took a visit to Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island. I still need to write up a post about it but I can say it might be quickly becoming one of my new favorite Civil War sites.

Helped find a possible darning egg at the archaeology site at Newlin Grist Mill.  We also found a bone hairpin, a cosmetic bottle, and some slate pencils.

July 21, 2015

Chicken Livers and Curd Fritters: Cooking Workshop with Clarissa Dillon

\Clarissa F. Dillon
Last weekend I attended the hearth cooking workshop with Clarissa F. Dillon at the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation.

Clarissa is the lead historian in 18th century foodways of Pennsylvania and needs no introduction. I was extremely excited to get to learn from her. On the menu was raspberry waters, curd fritters and chicken livers. 

I had never made curd fritters before and chicken livers sounded very interesting. I didn't get the exact recipe we used in the workshop but the recipe below is very similar.

The fun thing about this workshop was that it had a mixture of veteran hearthcooks and new hearthcooks and I learned a lot from everyone there. 


Clarissa F. Dillon

1700s Curd Fritter Recipe 


-1 Cup Cheese Curds or Cottage Cheese
-1 Cup Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Sugar
-5 Eggs (enough to make a batter.)
-Cloves, Mace, Nutmeg, Saffron to taste
-Lard or Butter
-Oranges, cut into wedges

Drain the cheese curd in a sieve or strainer. Mix with the flour and beat in the eggs. Add the spices to taste.  In a medium saucepan add a pat of lard or butter and add  large spoonfuls of batter, being careful not to let them touch. Fry for about 5 minutes then flip and fry the other side until golden. Remove from pan and let sit in a sieve to drain. Serve with orange wedges. 

Colonial Recipes Curd Fritters 1700s

Colonial Recipes Curd Fritters

July 3, 2015

18th Century Candied Orange Peel Recipe

I recently got to make some with the kids I work with at summer camp. Their theme was "Pirates and Spies" of the 1700s so we made some orange themed foods to keep scurvy at bay. Yarr!

We were letting the peels dry when one of the older girls asked me "Where did you learn to cook all of this stuff? Pinterest?"

I laughed and told her that most of my cooking knowledge came from a time before Pinterest and I learned very much like the girls of the 1700s, from the awesome, experienced ladies I found in the kitchen. The first time I ever made candied orange peel was with Jodi from Curious Acorn.

In my travels into history, I've met two kinds of strong women. The first kind is snippy, closed off, and only too happy to point out when something isn't up to their standards. But the second kind is like a majestic tree with roots firmly planted and arms open wide. They plant and nurture the seeds of the future and parts of them are passed on through the generations. Jodi is this second type of woman.

This has been weighing on my mind as of late when a friend asked me what I miss most about my early days of living history. The thing I miss most was learning from these "grandmother tree" women, many who have moved on to be appreciated elsewhere, leaving us with more of the prickly cactus variety. The things they knew and were willing to teach were astounding and it was amazing to get to learn from them. I really miss learning something new at work everyday and am so grateful I had women willing to answer my pesky questions and not get frustrated when they had to tell me something for the zillionth time.  

I am honored to get to help continue this tradition with young girls who don't have a lot of experience in this type of learning and encourage others to get out there and teach. Some girls only have Pinterest to learn from and we know how many of those turn out. :)

Candied Orange Peel


- 5-6 thick skinned Oranges
- 2 Cups Sugar, plus some for dusting
- 1 Cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Salt


Peel the oranges, removing as much of the pith as possible. You can cut the orange peels into strips if you prefer. Soak in salt water for 10 minutes, rinse well. Stew the peels in fresh water, for about 15 minutes and drain. Repeat stewing and draining process. Place the peels in the stewpan once more, add the sugar and water and simmer until peels are tender. Remove peels and dry in a sieve for 10-15 minutes. Coat in granulated sugar.  

You can make this recipe with lemon and lime peels or a mixture of the three. If you want to store your peels for an extended period of time, let them dry overnight before sugaring A friend at work said that she stores candied peels in sugar in a separate container, then uses the slightly citrus flavored sugar in tea and I think that is a great idea. 

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