Well I did “finish” my outfit and so early Saturday, February 8th, I donned the dress and had Mark get a picture before heading out to Heritage Day at Jesse Jones Park in Humble.
One thing that can be said for it is that it does make one look pretty well… for better word – fat. The skirt is 3 panels and definitely enough fabric to make a good full skirt. Alas it is still too big in the waist and in this picture is hiked up a bit as it is too long where it sits. (1830s needs to be ankle length) I did learn quickly why frontier women called their handwoven dresses their “heavy dress”. When just holding these garments you definitely have an arm full. Now this was woven with cottolin and 8/2 cotton. I do know that handwoven dresses in the pass were done with thinner thread. (This was woven at 24 epi and I know one historical one that was around 40 epi though I don’t remember the exact count.) Alas those were women who could spin well. I doubt I could spin a thread that was thinner than what makes this up and it also be a good strong even thread.
The top is the shortgown pattern that I liked. It was to have pleats in the back but I was unsure to do them with this cloth and thickness and I liked the roominess so I did not put the pleats in back. Alas that meant that the neckline was a good bit wider than it should be. (Oh dear where is this headed?) It is the one shortgown that I have made that I did not have to worry one bit about the pins coming out in front. They were pinned closed and generally I loose a pin during the day. But it was a bit of work to get a pin through the two plackets and hence they went nowhere until I was home trying to push them back out again.
So for Heritage Day I decided that instead of being historically correct I would take my alpaca, which desperately needed spun, to spin for the day. And then I didn’t want to take my great wheel out as it was wet, my treadle wheel would probably not have been seen in Texas in the 19th century. Well, actually of course it wasn’t since it is a modern Kromski Mazurka. But on its side is the fact that it is designed after the old traditional wheels of Eastern Europe. So whose to say a similar wheel didn’t make it to Texas at some point in the 19th century. Then to top off my look and set up, I did manage to braid my hair over my head and it stayed. I really don’t like wearing my bonnet as my hair is more than it can easily handle. When there were lots of people around and I was looking straight into the sun, after it decided to shine after around 3pm, I did wear my hat so its brim could help me look at people while talking.
The apron I am wearing I have written about before. I wove it as well and it has some cotton weft that is handspun when I was learning to spin cotton. It starts with my first thicker yarn at the bottom up to the top with a nice thin yarn. So all in all I did get to show people what handwoven on the frontier could look like. I do know that some did take the time to weave Log Cabin pattern dress cloth so it is possible that some could also have ended up with a somewhat checked cloth like my top and then the striped skirt as well.
But in finality, no it isn’t done yet. I really want to take the hem up a bit more so it sits closer to the correct length, I also want to see about an inset to the neckline so that it isn’t so wide. You can tell that the left side just didn’t want to sit up on the shoulder of its own volition. And lastly, you can’t see it but the bottom of the shortgown where the sides meet needs a bit of help and after wearing it a day, I think I know what I want to do there.
So the final question is – Will I ever stop working on this outfit and declare it really done?