This particular year I wasn’t sure I’d even have anything to review and write about at the end of it. But it made me wonder what it will be like to read in years to come of a year where not much, and so much, happened. It even seems silly to write “due to the Pandemic”, since, for now, we all know what that was. But what of future readers who come across everything we wrote this year?
I normally list and write about all the new costumes I made, and the events I went to and wore them all. I think February was the last time I wore anything to an event. And that was also the last event I could go to, as little by little everything fell like soldiers in a battlefield. At first, I was all enthusiastic to have so much free time to sew at whatever speed I wanted, and no pressure to finish. I think that dried up after one month. This has shown me that I’m goal-oriented. I work better under pressure and finish when its needed.
This morning I’m thinking about what I can write about for my year in review. And remembered I did other things than just sew my costumes. I wrote fashion show narratives, historical presentation slideshows, and even started creating and writing a pattern myself. I presented an online class for the first time. And in doing so, learned how to use Zoom live videos. Each day I shared a photo of a fashion plate or museum dress that I wanted to make on my Facebook page. I hoped this would provide inspiration to myself, and to my friends. From the feedback I heard, it did help others. Good goals.In the beginning: my first dress for was the Riverside Dickens Festival fashion show, and that would be the last one I wore this year. I re-created an 1872 arsenic green dress, and called it “The Dress of Death”. I’m not happy with the fit, as the bodice was too large, but someday may fix that.
After the Victorian Festival was cancelled, my first idea was to make a dress for the committee head, who was fairly new to costuming, as a thank you to her for all her work. She doesn’t know what it is, or what it will finally look like but I sent her a muslin for the bodice to have it fit on her. I’ve never done this so it’s scary. In the meantime, even that has been put on hold.The other ladies and I started talking about maybe getting together later in the year, then the following year, and now it looks like it will be later in 2021 since the Victorian Festival has had to cancel again. We still don’t know if even that will happen. I had decided to make myself a summer weight cotton seaside dress if we did. I used an extant dress as my inspiration, and found my skirt fabric right away. It took a lot of searching online for the striped bodice fabric, and after rejecting one I bought, I found the right width stripe fabric for it. I got as far as making the skirt, and sewing the muslin for the bodice, and it went into stall.
I think the biggest progress I made was on my multiple 1860s dresses where I cut out 3 at a time, and sewed each one, even having one day at a sewing workshop before things got shut down even more. I worked on them a little at a time over the months. All three still need to have their waistbands attached, hemmed, and buttons put in, but this was at least an accomplishment for the year. I still haven’t decided which is my favorite.
And then of course the inevitable happened, Costume College 2020 at the end of July had to be cancelled. Over the months, the committee came up with offering some online classes and I volunteered to do my PowerPoint class on using digital downloaded patterns. Those have become even more popular as many printers weren’t able to provide new printed patterns for the sellers, and also the mail between the different countries became a rat’s nest, and that’s being kind. It was my first time trying to use Zoom but we all managed it and had a really great time seeing all the classes presented. It really fired up many of us because its being part of the group and seeing others that keeps the enthusiasm going. I think this is when I did most of my work on my 1860s dresses, but the year has become kind of a blur.
Last year I had been asked to do a presentation for the San Diego DAR group in February of 2020. They decided to cancel that meeting, and rescheduled it to be a Zoom meeting in October. I normally have a PowerPoint presentation, along with some live models and a couple dress forms if we are in person. This time I included lots of photos of my own costumes, and some of my friends in the slideshow. I started out with a 1-hour presentation, but was told it needed to be 20 minutes, so I had to cut it down to bare basics. But the ladies still enjoyed it. Recently I was able to record it with the help of my friend in WA so I could share it with my models. There were a few bugs but we hope to try again when we have time.
I was kind of in the doldrums of isolation but decided to get back to making some little girl dresses to be donated to my friend’s Dress a Girl program her church has to take to Uganda. The bright colors and the joy of knowing some little girl getting them really helped lift my spirits.
From there I decided to try my hand at making little girls 1860s dresses and selling them. I was able to make 7 of them, but ran out of fabric. Good prints right now are at a premium, so I’ll wait to do anymore. But I did sell one already to a lady at the San Francisco Dickens Faire. She even asked if I wanted to be her supplier. Umm, no. I’m too slow.
This dress is going to haunt me since it’s been waiting to be finished since around the Fall of 2019. Currently it just needs hemming (the bane of my existence), and I hope to finish that for a photo shoot to be put in an online Riverside Dickens fashion show in February, where models will submit a couple photos of their costume and they’ll be put into a Zoom slideshow. I’m worried the extra 13 Covid lbs I’ve put on this year will make it too tight, and I’m afraid to even try it on. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Discussion began again on if Costume College would be held in 2021 or delayed again. So in the meantime, they asked for applications to teach classes. I had kicked around an idea of classes on accessories but to break it down by 50 years each so it wasn’t overwhelming. I chose to do two classes, 1800-1850 & 1850-1900. I’m most familiar with those decades, and maybe someday to earlier and later. I would love to have something from the 1920s, as that’s the time period they’re focusing on next time, but I know little to nothing on that. So, you teach what you know. I thought it would be easier to do this but hats, jewelry, gloves, reticules, fans, parasols, etc., change so much or change so little, and there’s such a variety, that it’s still a handful. And my classes will be on photos, paintings, and extant items of the accessories, not MY opinion or views. That’s my favorite way to teach.
So that’s it for my year! Lots of ideas and dreams, along with those unfinished dresses, keep coming in hopes of a better future. Here’s to 2021!