February 6, 2016

Cutter Family Clothing Archive: 19th Century Striped Plaid Silk Dress

This is another wonderful dress entrusted to us by Becky's good friend, taken out of her mom's attic in Cambridge. The fabric handles like a medium weight, plain weave silk. It has a lustre about it and is very smooth, and a little stiff, like a taffetta.  Looking at the construction and style, I'm guessing it is late-ish 19th century, but it could be earlier or later than that. Maybe some costume or historical clothing people out there can offer their opinions...

The waist is on the high side. It is very narrow as well; check out how it compares to a dollar bill.

So probably would have been worn with an intense corset. The skirt is very full but has no underlayers, so likely would have gone over some petticoats or even some kind of crinoline or hoop frame. Sleeves are about 2/3 length and flare out drastically as they progress. Shoulders are fairly close fitting. Trim is restrained but elegant. This dress is actually rather plain in terms of trim and fancy construction features. Here is the outside, from the back.

Neck area

Looking at some my Patterns of Fashion books by Janet Arnold for the relevant period, nothing jumps out, though the sleeves and collars of 1850-1860 look like they could apply.

This dress from 1870, from Patterns of Fashion 2, has some similar elements in the sleeves and collars.

I think all the sewing is by hand, which makes it more likely to be pre-civil war but of course plenty of garments would have been entirely hand made even up into the early 20th century. Look how nicely the gathers in the skirt section are attached to the bodice.

Actually all the hand work on the dress is extemely well executed, and makes me feel like my own hand sewing is at about the level of a 3 year old child from 100 years ago.

The raw edges are mostly unfinished in internal areas, which also makes this an item which was not expected to be washed often or by machine.

The hem on the sleeves, on other hand has a lovely cover band applied to the inside for about 10cm. Maybe this was to help shape the big diameter split sleeve ends.

The bodice is lined with a fairly heavy weight canvas, unboned.

Surely the boning would be in the separately worn corset.

Sleeves have a lightweight linen-ey lining.

The skirt is lined with a lightweight plain weave silk material.

Skirt hem is well done.

Closures are hook and eye, which I think only came into use at a certain point in time but I don't know when that was.

Here is the note pinned to the dress:

So if it was given in 1951, and belonged to someone's grandma at that time, probably it was made before 1900.

January 26, 2016

Garden Review 2015: Popcorn, Fiber Flax, Wheat

We grew a little popcorn, which gave a higher yield of easy to process grain than any other grain I've tried, even though by the standards of corn it didn't do great. A small patch of fiber flax, which did nicely and looked great while growing. Tried a bit of Red Fife wheat, which was an utter fail.

January 16, 2016

Urban Micro Orchard: Year 2

The 7 apple trees in the micro-orchard did very well in the beginning of the season, we ate our first couple fruits in the fall, and got plenty of production from the companion plant understory. Overactive management on my part led to the destruction of 2 trees in late summer. Nevertheless, I have high hopes for next year!

You can find a post about the design of the orchard here, and a review of the first growing season here.

January 10, 2016

Garden Review 2015: Garlic, Leeks, Ramps, and other Alliums

Alliums are a fantastic group of plants. I have loads of alliums planted in different areas, some growing as perennials, some as annuals.

December 24, 2015

Undies of Desperation

I'm heading into year 5 of the No Buying Clothes challenge, and my underwear drawer is beyond shameful. I really want to make it through at least 5 years, but I've almost reached the end of the runway on undies.

November 29, 2015

Garden Review 2015: Sunchokes, Potatoes, and Other Roots

These were the most successful root crop I grew this year. I planted two purple tubers from Food Forest Farm, I think in mid-May. One tuber in each of two 60x60cm raised boxes with lined bottoms in the front yard. Originally these were built for potatoes, but the soil there is taking a break from nightshades for a couple years.

November 20, 2015

Garden Review 2015: Greens & Herbs (Tokyo Bekana rocks!)

In early spring I planted spring radish, brassica greens, and chrysanthemum greens. I was inspired by the concept of "eat-all greens" outlined by Carol Deppe in her new book The Tao of Vegetable Gardening.

November 15, 2015

Foraging the Minuteman Bike Path - Fall

Ah fall. The absolute best season in New England, and it is an especially nice time to be out on the Minuteman bikeway. The weather first moderates, then becomes crisp, and finally downright cold. The trees drop their colored leaves on the pavement. And there are plenty of good things to eat!

November 7, 2015

Cider 11: Blockbuster year for apples leads to ~1100 Liter cider day

Another wonderful year of cider, and a record breaker for quantity. Ben's writeup is here.

September 9, 2015

Man Sized Cider Pants, with matching Cap

Riding high on the success from making Buster a pair of cider pants from well used cider pressing cloth, I decided to make a pair for myself. I've been feeling like it would be great to have more than one pair of pants suitable to wear out of the house. The last pair of pants I made myself took about 2 years, but I am getting better and faster when it comes to making clothes. Buster's pants only took me like a month, and the process of making pants was fresh in my mind.