Thursday, December 13, 2012

This is my normal

Obviously, my recent creative pursuits have been somewhat taken over by Steampunk, and it's provided a refreshing contrast to the vast majority of what I constantly sew and make (which has not before appeared on my blog).

As many of you probably know, I work at the Costume Design Center of Colonial Williamsburg.  I was a stitcher for about a year and a half before becoming the first hand approximately six months ago.  (I say "the" first hand instead of "a" first hand since I'm the only one... in the shop there are two cutter/drapers, myself as the first hand, and about twelve stitchers)

For eight hours each day I fit, alter, cut, make, and repair countless pieces of clothing for the historical interpreters and actors at CW.  Lately I've been working a lot with our designer on a couple special projects, including some experimenting with 18th century techniques for painting silk (that's been loads of fun so far).

Naturally, the vast majority of what I work on is 18th century clothing, though due to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War there are now several programs set in that time period for which I've made mid-19th century clothing, plus some 17th century pieces for programs at Jamestown.

I can't even begin to tell you how many full allotments of clothing I've worked on.  Hundreds.  Too many to possibly remember.

Men's civilian coats.  Regimental coats.  Waistcoats.  Breeches.  Shirts.  Shifts.  Petticoats.  Plain gowns.  Gowns with ridiculous amounts of trim.  Caraco jackets.  Bedgowns.  Short jackets.  Jackets from Patterns of Fashion and Diderot.  Aprons.  Cravats.  Kerchiefs.  Caps.  Haversacks.  Trousers.  Gaitor trousers.  Spatterdashes.  Riding Habits.  Cloaks.  Greatcoats.

And that's just the ordinary, 1770s stuff... special programs and the theatrical plays often branch out into other time periods or sometimes simply get a little bit crazy.

Here's a small sampling of things I've made at work... obviously this doesn't cover the whole scope of what I do, and have done, there, but it should give you a general idea.  All designs, materials, etc belong to Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Wool coat and small clothes, cut edge with hand finishing and buttonholes.  Worn by Tailor's Apprentice Michael McCarty.

Continental Army Officer: Regimental Coat.  Worn for the portrayal of The Marquis de Lafayette. Photo by Jurgen Vösych.

1860s Dress for the Women of the Civil War Tours.

Corded Mid-19th Century Corset.

1770s Stays.

Fife and Drum Regimental Coat.  Incidentally, this is the first full garment I made working at CW.

So there you have it.  A little taste of what I'm up to all those hours I'm not working on my own projects and ideas.  Being surrounded by the 18th century all day every day has certainly changed my attitude in regards to my own work... I think it has a great deal to do with why I've become so inspired lately by Steampunk.  Historical clothing has become my normal, and like the Amazon commercial says, "normal just begs to be messed with".


  1. You probably heard that many times but WOW.Who doesn't want a job like yours?My job sucks.Thanks for sharing a little of your normal with us.