Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The 2010 Regency Bonnet Workshop

The ORS bonnet workshops are a popular and fun event. It's a casual, busy-hands event where many of us sit around for six hours just stitching, prattling away, laughing and drinking tea. Most people (those who work while talking, as opposed to talk while occasionally stitching) leave the workshop with a near-completed bonnet.

I offer instructions using my bonnet pattern for the stovepipe bonnet (you can get your own copy here), and also I provide instruction and assistance with the simple Regency soft-poke bonnet. This year, I've secured a lovely classroom upstairs at the Sandy Historical Museum. It's a nice space with a little kitchenette and a museum downstairs so there is a nice distraction when you're up and about stretching your legs.

For those of you who cannot attend the ORS bonnet workshops, here is the next best thing (and they're not so great, my apologies for quality... ::teehee::).

I have movie-tutorials on how to make a soft-poke bonnet, and how to assemble my pattern. I also noticed that my materials-list URL is outdated, so I have provided links to the updated materials lists below. I hope this helps you with your Bonnet project. Maybe someday you can join us at our yearly workshop.

The Tutorial for a Soft-Poke Bonnet:

The Tutorials (Parts 1 and 2) for assembling my pattern for the Stovepipe Bonnet:

Materials list for the Stovepipe Bonnet.
Materials list for the Soft Poke Bonnet.

Some inspiration:
My Stovepipe Bonnet
Made for myself, and then given to a dear friend who adored it.
It is the high-angle short bonnet from my pattern.
Red bonnet, etsy commission
An Etsy Commission.

This is my friend and coworker Sherry; I made this bonnet for her to wear
while she offers free tours of Pittock Mansion.

Katie's lovely bonnet
This bonnet was made by the ORS member Katie (she's modeling it).
This was during last year's February Bonnet Workshop.

Laura's bonnet
ORS Member Laura also made this during the same workshop.
Both she and Katie chose the low-angled long stovepipe bonnet from my pattern.
(Click here for a link to the whole set of photos I've collected of commissioned or personal bonnets)

Caps and Coifs

Regency caps were often worn underneath bonnets.

Here is a link to a variety of Regency Cap patterns as well as elaborate coifs.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Regency Lady's Turban

Turbans are wonderful things. They are good for day wear and evening wear, they allow for a variety of hairstyles, and your options for decoration and embellishment are endless. Turbans are the salvation for short-haired ladies, who need only style and curl the hair around their face (comb forward like a man’s hair, or curl into ringlets) and then add your turban to cover the back. It is also a very elegant, patrician sort of look.

I recommend that you use silk or silk-like fabrics for your turban. Try to stick to natural, not-too-shiny or slinky synthetic fabrics (that should be a rule of thumb with pretty much ALL historic costume creation; synthetics may look pretty at the store, but once their sewn, they kind of get ugly; especially when photographed). Anyway, I digress…

I have put together a little set of basic instructions on how to create a turban in three general styles; and using these construction methods, your options are limitless. I’ve given each style its own moniker (these are not official, these are my own titles).

1. The wrapped turban.

2. There is the cap turban (it’s more of a soft hat than a turban).

3. There is the rope turban (which is a form of the wrapped turban).

Creating each one of these individually requires some different approaches.

1. The wrapped turban.

One can easily wrap a turban on the head each time you want to wear it, and when you take it off, it will unravel into the long rectangle of fabric each time. I have an example of a wrapped turban below where the tail of the turban falls from the knot. It’s a simple design that can be used with a nice long rectangle of fabric. It’s a turban that would work nicely with a casual day dress or walking dress, and would be very nice if the ends of the turban are embellished with a fringe or teeny tassels. The one pictured above is a single wide wrap, but you can go with a longer, narrower piece of fabric and wrap it around multiple times while occasionally twisting the fabric, and then knotting or tucking if need be.

(Update: 11/2011) Miss Lauren Reeser aka 'The American Duchess' has provided a wonderful video on how to do a simple wrapped turban using a scarf or any kind of fabric.  You can view the video here:

In order to create a wrapped turban that doesn’t require constant rebuilding, you can wrap one and then fix it in place. Carefully wrap your turban around a head form, arranging and ruching (bunching) the fabric to your linking. As you go along, tack-stitch it in place—creating a hat shape as you go. That way you can just put it on and take it off with little worry of it unraveling on you. A great advantage of doing it as a stitched, permanent headpiece is that you can add tassels, lace in strings of beads, ribbons and whatnot as you stitch it down, to give it interest and dimension. It’s the simplest of projects, and it makes for a very attractive turban. You can also add a medallion with either game-bird feathers arcing across the front for a day-wear turban, or you can add a big froofy ostrich feather across the front, side or coming up from the back for evening. See the links provided below for fashion-plate examples from that time period.

2. The cap turban (also known as a capote or beret).

This turban is a sewed fabric hat, however the mushroomed fabric makes it very turban like and it also has the same versatility as day and evening wear depending on embellishments and fabric choices.

You start with a large circle. As with most first-time sewing projects, I recommend you create some cheap muslin mock-ups that when successful, can have the baste-stitches removed and used as a pattern later. Joanne Fabrics pretty much always has very cheap muslin ($2 - $3 a yard)… it’s good to always have some on hand for projects like these.

(click image to enlarge)
The diameter of your circle depends on how ‘fluffy’ you want your capote… I’d say, and this is just a wild guess, start with 20”. You can always trim the bottom edge down once you’ve done your gathering if it’s too poofy.

Sew a wide baste stitch all around the edge, and then when you’ve sewn the circuit, clip your thread, and start again slightly above the first set of stitches. Try and match the stitches below, and go around again parallel to the first set of stitches. Then you will gently pull your threads on one side and gather up your edges of the circle. You can then affix the gather once you get that desired circumference with a nice tight stitch all around the edge with your sewing machine (or by hand if you’re a purist).

You will then create a band. Cut it twice as wide as your desired width, and then fold, sew the long edge closed, turn inside out, and iron flat. You now have an inner surface to which you can stitch your capote without revealing the stitches on the facing side.

There you have it. The addition of tassels, feathers and medallions, whatever you like will make it work very nicely.

3. The rope turban
(click image to enlarge)

This turban can stand alone, or serve as an enhancement for the above turbans. The premise is to take two (or even three) fabrics, or perhaps fabric and a string of beads or ribbon, and to twist-fold them into a rope (or plait them as well). You can create a circlet or open-topped turban so your updo can cascade out the top, or you can make one or two and sew it to a closed-top turban (as seen in my drawings below). It’s a simple style, you can either hide the ends by sewing them together, or let the long end drape down the back or the side onto the shoulder.

Making two or three of the ropes and stacking them on top of a capote is also a fine option, and don’t forget to use embellishments. Beads, tassels, ribbon, trim, medallions and feathers are all acceptable decorations for your Regency turban. I recommend you check out the links provided below. You will see for yourself how elaborate these turbans can seem but really how simple they are to make. Let the images inspire your own project. Happy turban-making!

Sometimes a loose, narrow, long bandeau with beads wrapped around it also works very nicely for evening wear... it's sort of a turban, so I thought I'd throw this drawing in. :)
Some inspiration:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Recognition well deserved.

The ORS was founded for many reasons; for the delights of dance and the elegance of costume, for the genteel activities and for the sake of history. However, the thing that draws me, the founder, and many others to this period is the society and manners of the period. The kindness and consideration of the discourse, the politeness of society. The Miss and the Mr.; the careful choice of words, the politeness that transcended all walks of life, from pauper to lord. It’s what makes the ORS so unbelievable. We are all drawn to it for different reasons, but what we all have in common is that we all resonate to this polite society. That is why people of such different backgrounds and belief systems, people of such wide ranges of political and social differences in the real world can sit down at a ball, and have a wonderful time. I personally think that this makes our group incredibly powerful in many ways. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, or what your convictions are; we all agree that manners are good, that kindness and goodness is important, that poise and elegance are important—and we all manage to find common ground in that.

That doesn’t mean everyone is the perfect creature. I for instance, often think of myself a as a boisterous, merry Mrs. Jennings. I am not very good at adopting a persona so I don’t even bother, I just cannot help but be me… laughing, sometimes too loud, too forward to ever behave like a true Regency lady. But I always strive to be kind, and gracious and thoughtful to the best of my ability in the spirit of the time period I adore so.

I’m very proud of this group. I think about where it began, and all the hours I’ve spent building, building, building. From the website to the outreach—my incessant searching and recruiting, the search for venues, the negotiations, the fruition of the planning, the discovery of people like Thea from ORS Central Valley, who are as driven about the vision as I am. Yes, I believe over the past year, I’ve stumbled a bit. I’ve let the ORS take the back seat to some personal issues I’ve had to deal with and continue to struggle with. I believe that sooner or later this heaviness that seems to be over me will fade and I will find that freedom again for the ORS, and to find passion again for what it stands for—and the ORS will have vibrant events with all my energy poured into their quality and grandness.

As it grows, I am happy to see the wonderful people who are starting to take the reins in each chapter, and I am proud of what they are accomplishing. We’ve found some really great people to lead the way… wonderful people whose passion for the period is insurmountable. I’ve always pressed the importance of inclusivity and openness and I stress that they should always maintain these qualities with them as they go along as ORS leadership.

So I would like to begin my campaign of recognition to the ORS leadership by recognizing them individually. I will be holding a special event for them as well, but I will begin by posting my personal appreciation to the following incredible souls who have become the heart and soul of the Oregon Regency Society.

ORS Central Valley Chapter

Thea Peck
Thea called me the first time, with her voice bursting with emotion and joy. She could not believe that the ORS existed. The website had been up for a few months and she’d just found it. I had arranged the first event at the Ainsworth House and she was ALL OVER IT. She was pushy and full of ideas and I felt at first like she was going to steamroll me. She showed up to the event and got her hands dirty right away. Thea and I are so alike; we had to lock horns a few times before we finally appreciated how great our friendship could be. She has an incredible vision, a drive that is unmatched by anyone and she is one of the first people to ever truly step up. Thea is the essence of the ORS leader. Pushy, strong in her vision, a control freak and underneath it all, one of the best people I know. From the beginning, she and Lisa have been the strongest support I have had in the group—hands-down. Thea is head honcho of ORS Central Valley, but she is also second in command when it comes to ORS in general. I could not do this without her.

Lisa and Robert Emond.
Lisa and Robert came along with Thea. I cannot praise Thea without mentioning these two; but trust me, they are as crucial as can be. Lisa has acted as Thea’s rock and support and has been at Thea’s side for the duration. Lisa is a soul of incredible kindness; she often pulls Thea back and grounds her—and trust me, that girl needs grounding (tee hee! Like me!). When I was down, it was Lisa & Thea that circled the wagons for me, and continue to be the most supportive people I know. I love them. Truly. The above are the heart and soul of ORS Central Valley and the ORS as a whole.

ORS Northwest

Lauren and Aaron Marks
Lauren appeared on the scene as a quiet little thing. But don’t be fooled by that pretty, innocent little face, she is to be reckoned with, this one. Nimble and smart, this little creature spins hurricanes while looking as serene as a summer day. Who knew what a costume-goddess she would be? Not to mention that voice… This little powerhouse has a very popular costume blog where she has detailed her beautiful late Georgian, early Regency masterpieces. She is like a poster-girl for the group; always stunning at every event. She and her husband Aaron have really gotten into the mire of organization of events this past year or so, and have been really crucial to keeping the momentum going for events while I was floundering with my personal crises. I don’t know what the ORS would be right now if it wasn’t for their efforts. She was also a friend to me when I needed her. I am always gratified to hear her mischievous little laugh and to see her sailing about the room in her permanent state of grace—Adore! Aaron, he is the ORS’s unofficial historian. His photos, which are growing increasingly artful with each passing event, have become the mainstay for me, since I tend to forget to take pictures most of the time. He chronicles as much of each event as he can—and does beautiful work of it. As evidence, see his photos from the Twelfth Night... they’re AMAZING.

Tara Ryan and Christian Stephenson.
The first time I met Tara, she’d come with her husband to meet me at our doomed ‘washed out’ Pride & Prejudice 1995 viewing at Holy Names Heritage Center. It was during December of 2007, when record rains were washing out coastal towns. I drove down for the event, and only a smattering other people stayed for the whole five-hour odyssey of Colin Firth while the rain pummeled the countryside outdoors. Tara had swung by to make my acquaintance. She’d been arranging her own Regency-period style wedding and was so delighted by the ORS. Her husband Christian is a wonderful chef, and they were the ones upon whose efforts the ORS’s 2008 Winter Ball and Masquerade Ball’s amazing dinners should be credited. The couple has a ton of costuming experience spanning many time periods, and they participate in a variety of other costume-related events throughout the year. Christian is a skilled swordsman and fencer, and brings important testosterone-friendly options to the ORS membership. Tara and Christian have teamed up with Lauren and Aaron to become event organizers—creating a series of wonderful events that include tea parties and botanical garden tours. I cannot fail to mention also that Tara is the one who orchestrated the wonderful ORS Masquerade’s theatrical performance of an excerpt of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’; which was one of the highlight events of 2008. Tara is also the spearhead behind a new division of the ORS that will cater to the serious costume/reenactor.

Stephanie Robertson
Stephanie is a sort of newcomer when it comes to the ORS leadership. She is also, I believe, the youngest one—though I’m not entirely sure. She graduated from the Culinary Arts Institute only very recently, and has a tremendous skill for both savoury cooking and pastry. Stephanie, from the moment she arrived, was itching to do an event. Stephanie is a pure romantic, and a very sweet, dreamy sort of soul. I spend a lot of time with her, and she has put up with my tears and frustrations to such an extent that I cannot avoid calling her a dearest friend. She spends many an hour at my home, either sewing, or just happily browsing the web on my sofa. Stephanie is the person behind the food from the Ainsworth House Ball and Winter Ball 2009—and the incredible, and I repeat INCREDIBLE meal she made for the Feast of the Twelfth Night. She also made me the most beautiful birthday cake I’ve ever had in all my life. I realized, as I glanced at my wedding photos, that it was bigger than my own wedding cake.

ORS Cascades East

Bill Armstrong
I have had only a little time to get to know one of our newest leaders; and what I know so far is based on this: One of the first things Bill did was to express concern about my situation and my ability to keep things afloat when my own life was (and still is to some measure) a mess. He wanted to rally the leadership to take some of the reins. That alone spoke volumes about Mr. Armstrong. I knew at once we had found ourselves a true gentleman. ORS Cascades is still very small in its membership; however it hasn’t stopped Mr. Armstrong from expressing a desire to help with our own regional events. He has a tremendous knowledge of history, an acumen for costuming and is quite the dandy. He and his beautiful Lady Stacey have some lovely things in store for not only those east of the Cascades, but also for those of us here in the Northwest. I’m so excited for the wonderful things he will bring the ORS; among them, some activities that will engage the men of the ORS.

ORS Puget Sound

Melanie Mayo
Melanie is the very newest of the bunch and I hardly know her. I know she is excited about the new chapter, and is trying very hard to wrangle her first event. As I get to know her better, I will be able to sing you her praise. However I must credit her, like Bill and Thea… starting a chapter is NOT easy. It’s a risk. You dish out your own funds and resources in hopes that people will support your vision, and it sometimes works, and it sometimes doesn’t. So no matter what, we already know that Melanie is a special kind of person to do what she’s doing.

I think perhaps that because of my personal issues this past year, I haven’t taken the time to give each of these people the proper appreciation for all the things they’ve done… not only for the ORS, but for me. SO I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to them as leaders and as friends.

Stephanie Johanesen
Founder and President
Oregon Regency Society