Friday, June 16, 2017

Blog Re-launch tour: The ABC's of Regency Costuming: How to Achieve the Proper Look by Laurie Vallee-Dallaire

Our first meeting in 2015
Hello, 

So today I am welcoming my lovely friend Laurie Vallee-Dallaire who has an informative post with advice on what you need for a regency outfit. 

I have known Laurie since 2015, when we met at the Jane Austen festival. Since then, we have become firm friends, meeting up at  again at the next festival, and spending some time together before and after. I have had many enjoyable and entertaining adventures with Laurie, and am sad I won't be seeing her this September, as she is having a break this year. See you in 2018! 

Visiting Jane Austen's house in 2016

Jane Austen Festival 2016


And now, to her post:

My favorite part of being a Janeite and going to Regency events is of course the costuming. And I must admit I have trouble watching modernized adaptations of Jane's work because to me they are not the same without the amazing fashions of the late 18th/early 19th century.

In this blog post, I'm going to explore how to get the perfect Regency look, the different styles,  and some tips on where/how to get the pieces made.

First of all, as for every other era, the best way to achieve the perfect silhouette it to have the right undergarments. A good shift/chemise, and a pair of stays will work wonders even with the plainest of gowns.

My own undergarments are a simple set of short stays (they're the easiest ''corset'' you'll ever make, and the most comfortable) and a simple shift.



I made my stays and shift from the book ''period costumes for stage and screen'' by Jean Hunnissett. I know that Sense and Sensibility patterns also makes a good (and maybe easier to follow) pattern for undergarments. 

Then, usually you need one petticoat, or bodiced petticoat that goes over next, but I admit I often skip this step. Some of my gowns have a sewn-in petticoat. It's cheating but it works! 

Then the gown! There are a few different styles to chose from, and they are pretty easy to make. The easiest by far is a drawstring dress, because you can make it slightly larger and adjust it by pulling on the drawstrings. It's also my favorite style. So feminine! 




Three drawstring gowns. In the last picture you can clearly see the ribbons that serve as drawstring to tie it in the back. All my dresses were made from the book Period Patterns for Stage and Screen. 

There's also the Bib front dress (Blue dress on the left) and the crossover dress (red, right). The bib front dress has a bodice piece that attaches at the front, under the ''bib'' piece, which is then pinned/buttoned over, and ribbons, or laces are tied in the back to hold everything in place. The Crossover/wraparound does exactly this, it crosses over and ties in the back with ribbons or laces. 
Crossover (day version)


Back and front of a bib-front day dress. 



You also need proper shoes! As these are way more complicated to make than gowns, I like to order mine from American Duchess, who makes very decent and quite comfortable historical reproductions. She also sells proper 18th century reproduction silk stockings. 

Hairstyle is also important. I often refer to Locks Of Elegance, an awesome blog with hairstyle tutorials from various eras, including Regency. 

Then, you need decorations. Use your imagination! A simple ribbon at the waist can do the job nicely, but you can also add a chemisette, or a small brooch. Look at fashion plates of the time for inspiration!  Then for outdoor wear you need either a shawl or a spencer (a short jacket) or pelisse (long, high-waisted coat). 


My red spencer! Nice wool can be costly if you want a authentic look, but try to look at old, out-of-fashion coats and re-use the fabric. This spencer used to be an ugly 80's jacket with shoulder pads and big plastic buttons! But the fabric is this gorgeous red cashmere and wool blend with a satin lining, and curly wool cuffs. So I basically just cut into the coat and re-fashionned the whole thing using the Sense and Sensibility Spencer Jacket pattern. It's the only one of the S&S patterns I've actually tried but I liked it very much. It was put together very quickly and the instructions were easy to follow. 

Then, of course, you need something to cover your head, as no fashionable lady of the Regency era would dare go out without a bonnet or some sort of head covering. A turban, like in the previous picture, is an easy and alternative to a bonnet. It's also a lot cheaper as you can just learn to drape a pashmina or scarf around your head, and it's easier to carry in a suitcase without risks of crushing it. American Duchess gives a very good demonstration on how to drape it properly. Then you can complete the look with feathers or a brooch! 

As for a bonnet, you can get a plain straw bonnet base and decorate it (like the bergère hat in the picture with the pink drawstring gown), or make one completely from scratch. There are also a lot of options for buying them, but they can be quite costly. I made one a little while ago, quite simply. I bought a 1$ straw hat from the dollar store, Cut out the crown of the hat and trimmed the brim in a sort of crescent-shape. Added a gathered fabric crown, trimmed everything with ribbon and Voilà! The Merry Dressmaker made a nice tutorial for a very similar bonnet. And Here is another pretty good tutorial too. 


If you're looking to buy one there are a lot of options on Etsy, and Farthingales Costumes makes gorgeous ones too! 

And, to finish the look, you will need a good pair of gloves (vintage shops are the best for these!), look for leather or lace ones, or knit yourself a pair!  And a reticule, which is a small purse with a drawstring. Some of them can even be pineapple shaped! I sell some in my Etsy shop (Pineapple and non-pineapple, and knitting pattern too, along with linen caps and baby bonnets), if you're interested.

My friend M and me with our pineapple reticules at the 2016 promenade! My bonnet in this picture was also made from an old straw hat that I cut and trimmed with silk bias binding. 

The open-robe, which is another, more formal style. That one was made with a pattern from the book Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold.  

One more thing I want to mention is how I love working with saris for evening/formal regency wear.  They are easy to find, can come quite cheap over Ebay, are often made of pure silk and are already embroidered or decorated with lovely patterns. Also, they come in 4-5 m lengths, so you have more than enough fabric for one whole dress with one sari, and may have enough leftovers for a half-robe or accessories of you're very petite. The trick is to be smart about where you cut your pieces, and to take advantage of the lovely embroidery and borders that are already on the fabric. Plus, they are totally historically accurate, and look AMAZING!

Speaking of saris, here is my favorite dress of all my regency wardrobe. It was made with a orange embroidered sheer silk sari. It's a bib-front style. For evening wear, you need a formal dress like one of these, gloves (lace, satin or silk), and dance slippers. In this case it was a masked ball so I added the mask. 



Hope this article was helpful, and good luck putting together your own Regency outfit! 






*** INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY***

Twenty lucky winners will receive a prize from my giveaway, ranging from books, audiobooks, jewellery, prints, and more! I will randomly draw the winners and whoever is drawn first will have first choice from the prizes, and so on. 


How to enter: 

1. Comment on any of the posts throughout my re-launch - one comment per post counts as an entry! 
2. Follow me by email, using the box in the right hand sidebar  - if you already do, tell me and you'll still get the extra entry!
3. Like my page on Facebook - again, tell me if you already do (here, or on Facebook)!

4. Invite your friends to like my page - tell me and tag me so I can see! 
5. Share my posts on Facebook - again, if commenting only here let me know! 
6. Comment on Facebook - let me know here if you do!
7. Follow me on Twitter - let me know, or if you already do!
8. Retweet my posts - let me know (here, or on twitter)! 
9+1 any of my posts on Google+ - again, the more posts you do, the more entries you can get!.
10. Subscribe to me on YouTube - tell me if you do, or already do! 


**IMPORTANT** Please leave your email address, Facebook name, Twitter name, Youtube name or whatever is needed so I can keep track of and check all entries as there are many ways to gain entries. If you are the lucky winner, I will be in touch by email to sort the prize out. 

Good luck! And a massive thank you to my dear friend Laurie for that informative post - I hope it might give you some handy tips! 

Other posts from my re-launch tour - comment on each one for more entries to the giveaway!





Friday, June 09, 2017

Blog Re-launch Tour: Food Production in Jane Austen’s Time by Hazel Mills



Hello, 


So today I am welcoming my first friend, Hazel Mills - also known as my Aunt Gardiner - who has a fascinating post to share about food production in Jane's time.



Our first meeting in 2014

I have known Hazel for a good few years now.  We met when I posted on my Facebook page about my 1820's writing slope, and she managed to discover the name of the original owner.  She contacted me with the information and we soon got chatting, then we finally met for the first time at the 2014 festival in Bath. I then visited her and Keith, her husband, multiple times, and we have became firm friends. She took me to Pemberley, (Lyme Park), for the first time too - so she really is my Aunt Gardiner! I have also performed two recitals for her Jane Austen Society group, in Cambridge.



My first visit to Lyme Park 2015
















I have so many happy memories with Hazel, and I can't wait for my next visit to see her! And now, to her post:


A large part of the Regency diet was made up of meat for all levels of society. For people living in London, the animals had to be brought a long way to market often on foot. As these journeys were often long the quality of meat was often poor. However, the venison and game produced on country estates and served fresh was the prized meat. In Jane Austen’s time, most of the food was produced locally, with much of it produced in the home and the surrounding community. If you had more resources you would be expected to provide for poorer relations and neighbours with gifts of food.  Most country houses of any size had poultry, producing meat and eggs.  Milk cows were common, and milk, cheese and cream were plentiful.  Vegetables and fruit were obviously eaten when in season and when out of season when they were preserved.  There were many forms of preservation used at the time such as salting, pickling, drying, potting, candying, jamming, cheese-making, brewing and wine-making. This all took place during the summer months to make sure there was a year-round supply of a variety of foods.  


Up until the 17th Century there was no distinction between the vegetable garden and the ‘best garden’. Many different types of ‘garden stuff’ were produced as the word vegetable was not introduced in print until the 1760s. Garden stuff was still the general term in Jane Austen’s time. Herb garden at this time was the name given to the kitchen garden and the main produce was herbs and roots. Roots were obviously our root vegetables but herbs included all the green leaved plants such as cabbage and spinach as well as the aromatic plants. Some of these were for medical uses as well as for the table.


Jane Austen’s mother raised chickens, turkeys, and geese, and called them her "riches." She also tended a large vegetable garden. However we find out more of her interest in the vegetable garden and food production from her letter to daughter-in-law Mary whilst staying at Stoneleigh Abbey in 1806.

‘I do not fail to spend some part of every day in the kitchen garden, where the quantity of small fruit exceeds anything you can form an idea of. This large family, with the assistance of a great many blackbirds and thrushes, cannot prevent it from rotting on the trees. The gardens contain four acres and a half. The ponds supply excellent fish, the park excellent venison; there is great quantity of rabbits, pigeons, and all sorts of poultry. There is a delightful dairy, where is made butter, good Warwickshire cheese and cream ditto. One manservant is called the baker, and does nothing but brew and bake.’

The variety of produce in the greenhouses was quite amazing. On a visit by Rev J Ismay to the greenhouses of Gawthorpe Hall at Harewood, Yorkshire on 13 May 1767 he described a number of plants growing. They included bananas, figs, oranges, broad beans, aubergines, cucumbers, sugar cane, strawberries, grapes, peaches and passion fruits!

The Austens were no strangers to some of the more exotic fruits available and made orange wine. Jane Austen obviously felt orange wine to be most inferior to the grape variety made in France! In a letter to Cassandra at Godmersham dated Thursday June 30th 1808 Jane wrote:          The orange wine will want our care soon. But in the meantime, for elegance and ease and luxury, the Hattons and Milles' dine here to-day, and I shall eat ice and drink French wine, and be above vulgar economy. Luckily the pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity of taste and opinions, will make good amends for orange wine.”


Orangeries were common in the big houses across Europe. An example of one still existence is from the National Trust House, Peckover at Wisbech shown here. The Orangery at Margam (Port Talbot) was built between 1787 and 1793 to house a large collection of orange and lemon trees.


Aligned east-west and at 327 feet in length, it is the longest Orangery in Britain. The building is narrow, only 30 feet wide so the light from the tall windows can reach the whole interior. The Orangery was heated by coal fires with chimneys set into the back wall. From May to October, the plants were taken out via the high rear entrance and placed around the fountain in the garden. A collection of orange trees was maintained at Margam right up to the outbreak of the Second World War when the Orangery was requisitioned for military use and was occupied by American forces. The trees had to be left outside and failed to survive the winter weather.




In 1754 the Orangery at Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna was begun and today remains one of the two largest Baroque Orangeries in the world, the other is Versailles, being 189 metres long and 10 metres wide. Joseph II used the orangery for entertaining as well as overwintering citrus trees, using them to hold illuminations. Mozart conducted his ‘The Impresario’ here during a winter festival.


Pineapples were also widely grown at the big houses. General Tilney grew pineapples and was disappointed with a crop of 100 fruit! Though careless enough in most matters of eating, he (General Tilney) loved good fruit — or if he did not, his friends and children did. There were great vexations, however, attending such a garden as his. The utmost care could not always secure the most valuable fruits. The pinery had yielded only one hundred in the last year. Northanger Abbey Chapter 22.


The methods used to heat the Orangeries, pineries and greenhouses were quite ingenious with a series of fires with flues that curled through the walls.


There were a surprising number of different varieties of vegetables available from the seedsmen. In 1760 there were at least 30 firms of London nurserymen and about 40 in the provinces. There were also at least 35 major seed firms in London, maybe more but there are no catalogues left for them to know for sure. John Kingstone Galpine of Blandford in Dorset in 1783 offered the following different varieties.

Cress
3
Onion 
6
Savoy
2
Radish
6
Beet
3
Leek   
2
Peas
20
Endive
3
Cucumber
5
Carrot 
3
Beans
23
Parsley
3
Broccoli
3
Turnip
8
Lettuce
14
Spinach
3







All this produce then needs preparing and cooking. The kitchens at the time would range from a fireplace in a room to an enormous set of offices in the biggest houses. Jane Austen’s own was quite a small affair at Chawton. However they did employ a cook to make the best of it. Whilst staying in London Jane wrote a letter to Cassandra dated Tuesday 17th October 1815 saying: “Thank you for your two letters; I am very glad the new cook begins so well. Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”

As much technology as was available would be used in the great houses including dog power. The turnspit dog was a breed produced especially for the wheel used to turn a spit (they were also used as foot warmers in church.) Whiskey is a preserved example of a now extinct breed. They were bred with very short legs to fit into the wheel.

Clockwork mechanisms using weights were also used in many of the great houses but still needed a lot of attention. An alternative to this was the 'smoak jack spit' which was placed above the kitchen fire and was driven by hot air rising from the fire and turning a fan in the chimney. There are examples of this at Shugbourough Hall in Staffordshire and Fairfax House in York. The household records show that the Fairfaxes had a spit of a similar design in 1762. It seems that it was always breaking down, and the blacksmith had to be called out on a weekly basis to carry out repairs. It looks like a fit dog was the simplest and most reliable method as can still be seen at No 1 The Crescent, Bath.



In order to cook the food, cookery books were very important. All the great chefs of the day would publish a book but until Hannah Glasse published hers they had mostly been written by men and contained complex French recipes with very little instruction as to how to actually cook them. Hannah’s book was so popular that there were 17 editions of it in the 18th Century. The book included the first known printed recipe for curry and instructions for making a hamburger. The book was called ‘The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy’ with the subtitle of ‘Which far exceeds any thing of the kind ever yet published’! Quite a claim!

In the mornings, it was the norm for the mistress of the household to speak to the cook or housekeeper about the day’s meals and give directions for the day. The servants would then carry out the work. Quite often the mistress would have to read the recipes to the servants, for many still could not read.

In Jane Austen’s house the most important recipe book was that of Martha Lloyd who lived with the Austen women at Southampton and Chawton and considered by Jane as another sister. It is a book full of hand written recipes, household advice, medicinal remedies and formulas. The book has been on show this season at Chawton cottage. The Jane Austen’s House Museum blog tells us; “This leather bound manuscript book contains recipes from many different members of the Austen family and their circle of friends. It was most probably begun by Martha in the late 18th century and she continued to add to it during her time in Southampton and at Chawton. We know that she also continued to collect recipes after her marriage to Frank Austen, for one recipe is dated 1829.”

The recipes range from the famous white soup to ink. One of the more unusual recipes was one in verse for a bread based pudding. It is thought by many to be the work of Mrs Austen who was well known for writing humourous verses.


A Receipt for a Pudding


If the vicar you treat,
You must give him to eat,
A pudding to his affection,
And to make his repast,
By the canon of taste,
Be the present receipt your direction.
First take 2 lbs of bread,
Be the crumb only weigh’d
For crust the good housewife refuses.
The proportions you’ll guess
May be made more or less
To the size the family chuses.(sic)
Then its sweetness to make;
Some currants you take,
And sugar, of each half a pound
Be not butter forgot.
And the quantity sought
Must be the same wit your currants be found.
Cloves and mace you will want,
With rose water I grant,
And more savoury things if well chosen.
Then to bind each ingredient,
You’ll find it expedient,
Of eggs to put in half a dozen.
Some milk, don’t refuse it,
But boil as you use it,
A proper hint for the maker
And the whole when compleat (sic)
With care recommend the baker.
In praise of this pudding,
I vouch it a good one,
Or should you suspect a fond word,
To every guest,
Perhaps it is best,
Two puddings should smoke on the board.
Two puddings! – yet – no,
For if one will do
The other comes in out of season;
And these lines but obey,
Nor can anyone say,
That this pudding’s without rhyme or reason.



Jane mentions their garden many times in letters, particularly to her sister, Cassandra, taking delight in teasing her about the lack of success in her crops or intimating she would normally steal all the strawberries! Here are a few examples with which to leave you.

To Cassandra in her letter of June 1811: “I had the agreeable surprise of finding several scarlet strawberries quite ripe – had you been at home, this would have been a pleasure lost!”

To Cassandra in her letter of Wednesday 29th May 1811:

“The chicken are all alive,& fit for the Table – but we save them for something grand. – Some of the flower seeds are coming up very well – but your Migionette makes a wretched appearance.- Miss Benn has been equally unlucky as to hers; She had seed from 4 different people,& none of it comes up. Our young peony at the foot of the fir tree has just blown & looks handsome; & the whole of the Shrubbery Border will soon be very gay with Pinks & Sweet Williams, in addition to the Columbines already in bloom. The syringes too are coming out. – We are likely to have a crop of Orleans plums – but not many green gages – on the standard scarcely any – three or four dozen perhaps against the wall.”

To Cassandra in her letter of Friday 31st May 1811:

“We began our China tea three days ago, and I find it very good. My companions know nothing of the matter. As to Fanny and her twelve pounds in a twelvemonth, she may talk till she is as black in the face as her own tea, but I cannot believe her -- more likely twelve pounds to a quarter.”



In the same letter she also adds: “I am glad you are so well yourself, and wish everybody else were equally so. I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive. We shall have pease (sic) soon. I mean to have them with a couple of ducks from Wood Barn, and Maria Middleton, towards the end of next week”



To Cassandra in her letter from Henrietta Street: Saturday 5th March 1814: “I was speaking to Mde. B. this morning about a boiled loaf, when it appeared that her master has no raspberry jam; she has some, which of course she is determined he shall have; but cannot you bring a pot when you come?

A cold day, but bright and clear. I am afraid your planting can hardly have begun. I am sorry to hear that there has been a rise in tea. I do not mean to pay Twining till later in the day, when we may order a fresh supply. I long to know something of the mead, and how you are off for a cook.”






*** INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY***

Twenty lucky winners will receive a prize from my giveaway, ranging from books, audiobooks, jewellery, prints, and more! I will randomly draw the winners and whoever is drawn first will have first choice from the prizes, and so on. 



How to enter: 



1. Comment on any of the posts throughout my re-launch - one comment per post counts as an entry! 

2. Follow me by email, using the box in the right hand sidebar  - if you already do, tell me and you'll still get the extra entry!

3. Like my page on Facebook - again, tell me if you already do (here, or on Facebook)!

4. Invite your friends to like my page - tell me and tag me so I can see! 
5. Share my posts on Facebook - again, if commenting only here let me know! 
6. Comment on Facebook - let me know here if you do!
7. Follow me on Twitter - let me know, or if you already do!
8. Retweet my posts - let me know (here, or on twitter)! 
9+1 any of my posts on Google+ - again, the more posts you do, the more entries you can get!.
10. Subscribe to me on YouTube - tell me if you do, or already do! 


**IMPORTANT** Please leave your email address, Facebook name, Twitter name, Youtube name or whatever is needed so I can keep track of and check all entries as there are many ways to gain entries. If you are the lucky winner, I will be in touch by email to sort the prize out. 

Good luck! And a massive thank you to my dear friend Hazel for that brilliant post - I found it fascinating! 

Other posts from my re-launch tour - comment on each one for more entries to the giveaway!