Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1870's Baby Gown

Since the baby keeps growing by leaps and bounds I thought that I would try a different style gown that would afford more tummy room. The 1870's isn't an era that I generally sew from but I researched a little bit and found some very easy and flattering baby styles to give me inspiration. The impetus for this is seen in the first picture below. Yes indeedy, that's an 18" waist. :-/

The gown is called a "tent style" gown in the period, but I think of it more as just a basic "A" line shape. There is no fitting done at the waist, it just falls straight to the feet. It closes with one button in the back like the originals do that I found. The main difference is the overall length, baby dresses covered the feet, but that could be by a little or a lot. On all of Asa's gowns I have opted for about 4"-6" of skirt to cover his feet, this seems like a reasonable amount that doesn't gobble up too much fabric. However, if I were making this gown again, I would make the skirts longer because I'd like them to be somewhat wider across the middle. He has wiggle room but not as much as I'd wish. Then again he will probably have outgrown it by the day after tomorrow anyway. :-)

Here is a close-up of the bodice detail, it is basically just bias strips ironed into shape and applied. However, it does give the illusion of a waistline and makes the gown somewhat more interesting than an untrimmed one.

This original gown is from the Wisconsin Historical Society and is dated 1860-1869. It would seem to be a less popular choice at the beginning of that decade but as time passed it is seen more frequently in images and surviving originals. It is basically a chemise style gown but is left uncontrolled at the waist, by contrast most 1860's gowns have a definite fitted waistline.

This image is from Godey's magazine and was published in 1871, I'm sorry that I don't have the exact month. It shows a baby in a gown very similar to the original pictured above.

This baby shoe pattern from January 1870 was found in Peterson's magazine and would be the perfect compliment to Asa's new gown. They look so easy to sew up that I'm really tempted to make him a pair!

The last image is also from Peterson's magazine, November 1870. It shows how gored the skirts could be as pictured on the little girl's dress on the top right. It also displays the sizeable bustles that were fashionable. The fashions of the 1860's with the voluminous skirts and supporting hoops give such a different silhouette than fashions a scant decade later. By the 1870's most skirts had the fullness pulled to the back creating a flat panel down the center front with the fullness taken up in bustles that would continue to increase in size. I think they are beautiful in their own way but not a practical fashion for a Country Wife.

All in all I enjoyed sewing this new style but I certainly wouldn't want to limit my wardrobe to strictly 1870's fashions. Until the baby stops growing in such great strides though I may have to make up a few more to help flesh out his wardrobe.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seasonal observations

We have been gathering apples again for cider and butter and some for drying as well. Later apples make better/sweeter cider than do early apples and I enjoy the taste so much more. Mr. G patched the holes in the woodstove so it is ready for another winter of service and then he blacked it this past weekend. A blacked stove looks so much more presentable than an unblacked one does, everything looks better with a fresh face, right? And speaking of stoves, did you know that you can tell if the barometric pressure is rising or falling by watching what the smoke does as it comes out of the chimney? Smoke that falls straight to the ground indicates an oncoming storm as does a chimney that won't draw.
Autumn is my favorite season but this year's display has been pretty subdued, the trees seem to be sulking by not putting on their bright colors. Actually, the colors are related to the weather. When the Autumn days are warm and bright and the nights are cool but not freezing then the colors in the trees will feature more reds. We have hardly any reds this year but this would be due to the unseasonably cold temperatures we've had during the day in addition to the fact that we've had several killing frosts already. Also, too much Autumnal rain will lower the intensity of the colors and an early frost causes the leaves to turn brown and fall off prematurely. So this year the hills are far and away orange and yellow since those colors are steady from year to year.
At night when I first get into bed if I look out the window I can see Cassiopeia. It is one of the few constellations that I can easily recognize; to find it look in the Northern sky for 5 stars that form a "W". I was thinking and pondering about this lately after Jenny P wrote about being able to see the stars now that they are in their new home. It's amazing to realize that some people don't get to enjoy this simplest of pleasures. I think it must be much harder to meditate on God if one can't see His handiwork, He reveals Himself in the wonders of the created world.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Blue Homespun Gown

I completed the first of Asa's new gowns this past weekend. I did it in blue homespun basically because it's what I had on hand. I have a hard time getting him to lay anywhere without me and not cry so Katie took these pictures whilst I held him. He is such a Mama's boy!
I lengthened the bodice by an inch and widened it by 2 inches, so it now has a 21 inch long waistband. I don't *think* he'll outgrow this one in 3 weeks. I cut the front bodice on the bias to give it a little "interest" and lined it so it would lay neatly. I have yet to do the buttons and buttonholes. It looks huge just hanging there, almost like Abby could wear it. :-/

A final picture just because he looks like a little Sumo Wrestler. :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Historic Baby

I wanted to record as much for myself as anyone else what garments Asa wore at what ages. Memory just doesn't serve to keep the dates straight. So I'll call this set of posts "Historic Baby" and it will be the chronicle of clothing our baby in his old fashioned garments.

First we begin with his chemise and cotton socks. Thankfully the chemises still fit him, they are one of the best things that I made, he wears them every day. He has cotton socks on today but also has wool ones if the weather worsens. He has cloth diapers but the only "period correct" wool soaker that I have doesn't fit him, he pretty much just skipped most newborn sized things. So, it's a disposable diaper for today.

We add his petticoat now, this particular one is cotton but he has a wool one for inclement weather. It should tie in the back but tying in the front goes smoother. :-)
Next we add his "daily cap", this particular one is my favorite. It's made out of a double thickness of flannel and keeps his ears so warm! The gown he's wearing no longer fits but I wanted a final picture of it; his waist is 16" and makes his gowns too tight to be comfortable.

And, the final layer for cold weather wear, his wool sacque and bonnet. These are the only garments, other than his chemises, that aren't already too small. :-/ The sleeves are long and the bonnet is plenty big even with his daily cap underneath. These layers paired with a wool shawl/blanket keep him toasty warm in any weather.

This is how he is dressed every day, we've not varied from it yet but I have to make him more gowns immediately. As it is he spends a lot of days wearing one of his nightgowns. The "A" line of them afford more tummy room than his gowns do. I wasn't sure if I would like this clothing experiment, maybe the novelty would wear off and it would become a hassle or a chore and I'd long to dress him in sleepers. But, I'm happy to say that I really enjoy dressing him this way! I don't find it to be unpleasant and it keeps him so much warmer than sleepers ever did. And, I definitely don't miss onesies, I always detested pulling them over a baby's head and with his garments now nothing has to be pulled over his head. Happy baby, happy mama!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

and THIS little piggy.....

I had a check-up yesterday with my midwife, whilst there we wanted to get an approximate weight for the little man. I knew that he was gaining but I never expected that he'd be well over 10 pounds! That's over a pound, more like a pound and a quarter in 13 days; I think they recommend that babies gain back their birth weight by 2 weeks to a month, ! So, I guess he's getting enough to eat, huh? :-) That's a picture of him taken this evening in the 3rd nightgown that Katie made him, it's flannel lined and *cosy*!
We are starting to can pumpkin and squash now, it will make an easy addition to quicky meal preparation. I'd like to can dry beans as well like we did last year, but I don't know if I'll get to it or not. We pressed cider for the first time last Thursday and got 20 some gallons, they were so busy, we waited hours to get our turn. I'd like our own cider press, maybe some day! Senna is now weaned and so we've been having a massive influx of milk. We make a lot of ricotta but really how much ricotta can one family eat? I've made some harder cheeses a few times but I'm no expert, a lot of people make yogurt but I'm not really a fan of anything that feels like snot in your mouth...... So, what to do? All the animals would drink the excess of course, but I'd rather the children benefitted from it. We still have chickens to butcher, a turkey for Thanksgiving, and several pigs to do this Fall.
In other mundane news, I washed the baby's clothes this evening. I hand wash all of his clothes, he doesn't do well with standard detergents so I wash his in Charlies. Have I mentioned Charlies lately? I *love* the stuff, it's not harsh on clothes and is completely unscented as well. His clothes just smell clean, not perfumey. I add the recommended 1 tablespoon of soap to a washtub of straight hot water and all of his white clothes (gowns, chemises, socks, caps, petticoats etc) and let it set until I can comfortably put my hands in it. Then I rub the clothes between my hands any place where they seem soiled. Squeeze water out and place in rinse tub. I rinse twice and that's it! Hang and they're dry by morning! To the wash water I then add the hot rinse water and his pastels and repeat. After that the water is pretty cool and I wash his few darks. It uses a lot less water, is much easier on his clothes, and most importantly I like to do it.
I have a number of sewing projects lined up for the coming weeks that I'm excited to get to! First is a dress for me! I'll be so pleased when I can wear it, I almost never find time to sew for myself, but I'm *making* time. I've been inspired anew but several dear friends who are sewing lovely historical gowns for themselves. Thanks to all of you!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What a mess

I want to interrupt my babymoon to share some of the thoughts and discussions we've had around here this past week and a half. It has been a very special time for us as a family getting to know this new little person, moving and adjusting to fit him into our family. He has been held almost constantly by someone, what more could he want really, but to be fed and held and loved by his very own family? I've questioned several times what would happen to him if he were headed to daycare in another four and a half weeks? He wouldn't be the center of anybody's universe anymore, certainly wouldn't be, couldn't be, held like he is now. I'm not disparaging anybody who cares for other's children, as a matter of fact my sister was a daycare provider for years. The children in her care were well taken care of and really got attached to her. But the point I'm trying to make is that nobody will ever love your children like you should, I'm not sure that comes completely by instinct though. Paul directs the older women to teach the younger women to " their children". I'm afraid that our society screams something quite different to women and families today, something that sounds a lot like "being a full time Mother is a waste of your time and talents, you were made for higher things, you just aren't cut out to be a stay at home Mother, I love my children but..." And, more unfortunate still, the "Church" is affirming the message; witness the church run daycare centers. What message does that send? The reasoning goes: they're going to put them in daycare anyway, it's better that the children are here where we can teach them about Jesus. Um, okay, so where does thinking lead? People will abuse their children anyway, better to be abused in "Church"? Men are going to cheat on their wives, it's better that the "Church" helps them cheat in a good environment? Pornography is a fact of life, it's better if the "Church" supplies it and can then control it?

I'm not sure that I qualify as one of the older women but I'd like to encourage you to delve into the Word and see what God says about children. After all, it matters little what I say if it doesn't line up with what God says. Families are being made a shipwreck, the Church is rendered ineffective, and society crumbles when we don't take God's plan seriously enough to apply it. I don't believe anything supersedes God's directive for Mother's to mother their children, not any career, not any "ministry", not anything. There is no higher calling for a women but to be allowed the privilege of training and discipling the children God has given you.

While in the hospital I had lots of conversations with the nurses and the midwife about many topics but I was astounded by the amount of anti-child comments that were made to me. Unloving and ungracious comments to even think much less to voice to someone who was in effect a complete stranger. They were speaking of their own children (teenage daughters were really singled out though) as a hassle, a trial, the ultimate low point in parenting. How would you feel if that's how you were viewed? And we wonder why they grow up and seem to be drifting, anchorless, confused and angry. I'd question a lot too. If we don't view the "least of these" as He does, we can't start claiming promises and expect everything to turn out like we want it to. It has to worth the effort to us to get the reward. Kelly has some thought provoking things to say on this same topic, I also recommend A Full Quiver by Rick Hess.