Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Workwoman's Guide: Shirts for the Laboring Class page 137

Does anyone even read blogs anymore? I really haven't read them in years, but I've also moved to a new city and had another child and now have five kids from age 15 down to 3, so maybe the lack of reading blogs is just me? I also haven't done any Pioneer sewing since trek, except for some aprons to use up some scraps and to teach my 9-year old how to sew a little. Anyway, now dear little son
has become a dear big son 
and needs clothes for trek this summer. He will be such a good age to go: almost 16 and strong! He's not the biggest kid but he will be an asset to his "family." Just when we thought we were out of the woods for going on trek, too, this time around, we got asked. Luckily we can just use our old clothes, provided we haven't gotten too fat. I would still love to make me a corset/stay and a new dress, but time won't permit.

I asked Eli (son) if he would like to go on trek more authentically or like the other kids. He said he would like an authentic shirt but maybe not pants. He said he'd even wear a vest, but I don't know if they'll require it, so I might not make one. My husband's didn't turn out perfectly last time, so I do want to redeem myself there with another attempt. 

I've wanted to figure out the Workwoman's Guide Laboring Class Shirt page 137 so I gave it a go. I was very confused with some of the directions but found this lovely post by Andrew which helped a lot. Andrew's work is just beautiful! I was mostly confused with the neck gussets and how to gather them. This adding fabric to make curves is just so weird compared to just cutting fabric away like we do now.

Despite my best efforts, when Eli tried the shirt on the first time, the neck and wristbands were both about an inch too tight! What?! I'd used the size for ages 15-18, and since he's a smaller 15-year old, I thought that size would be just right. It said the collar was 15.75", and his Sunday shirt is a 15.5", so I should have worked, right? Maybe my seams were too big? I took off the collar and the one wristband that was sewn on and cut bigger ones. He tried it on again just the other day and this:

The arms are way too short! The Workwoman suggested to even add a couple inches to the fabric, which I did. I need between 2 and 4 more inches!

Oh! And when I put in the arms, the armscye was just not deep enough! Look at how it scrunches up in his armpit! I had to take out both arms, release my gathers and insert the arms again deeper. What a nuisance. The second time, I made sure the gusset went down to the bottom of the lining, not the 9" down as suggested in the instructions.

His Sunday shirt is behind and it's significantly bigger; it is a little big on him though.

I was also disappointed with the gathers in the back. Having no great example to go by, I wasn't sure how to spread them, and I don't love it. Eli also said that the shirt feels like it's pulling his harms back which isn't good. It might be a little reflection on his posture, though.

Anyhow, I made a conversion chart with "translated" modern measurements for the shirt pieces:

And for future reference, here's a visual of where the measurements go:

And here's kind of a key for the Workwoman's abbreviations:

There's so much info out there now, that I won't go into all the little details about construction anymore. In fact, I was looking in Liz Clark's stuff tonight and saw some great links. 

I might make the next size up next, or make the same size with longer arms, or just try the pattern I used for my husband which I know works. I guess I could also take out the sleeves of this shirt again, make them longer, then re-attach. I could take off the collar, re-gather so the shoulders feel better, then re-attach again, too. On the next one I'll try to make a more closed front since we are not used to open shirts like these were. I wish this had worked better, but you never know unless you try.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What Is Trek?

I realized when I wrote my last few posts that I've never fully explained what "trek"is. In a nutshell, it's when members, very often including youth ages 14-18, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints dress up (sort of) like Mormon Pioneers and go out in the wilderness somewhere and walk around pulling handcarts.  If in Utah, they may go to some Church-owned property, pull handcarts, and tell stories of their ancestors.  If they're lucky, and planned waaaaay ahead, they may go out to part of the actual Mormon/Oregon/Pony Express Trail like we did this time (we went to Martin's Cove, Willey Meadow & surrounding area, Rocky Ridge, and Rock Creek Hollow. It would have been neat to also go to Independence Rock). If they live in Ohio, like my brother, they may go somewhere local, or into places like Pennsylvania.

Some people think of trek as an actual re-enactment, which honestly, it's not.  You'll be told the women's pull is to signify when the Mormon Battalion left to fight in the war with Mexico. But you know, that didn't happen when they were pulling handcarts, that happened when they were crossing the plains with wagons. Because of trek clothes, we think that's how the pioneers dressed, but if you do an ounce of research, you realize "trek clothes" aren't much like the real thing.

Really, trek is an opportunity  to strip off your name brands, get rid of technology, get down to who you really are inside, get to know people you wouldn't have met otherwise, do some hard work, maybe learn some new skills, hear some inspiring stories of people who fled their homes because of their faith and fight for religious freedom, realize that they did it for their testimony of Jesus Christ and desire to follow a living prophet, wonder if you are faithful enough and if your testimony is strong enough to do today what God asks of you, and make any course correction in your life to get you to where you want to be. Trek really is an outstanding experience, even if it's not a true re-enactment.

You'll be super excited and energetic on your way out.

You'll pull handcarts (Martin's Cove).

You'll get a "family."

You'll be really tired. You'll also get blisters.

You'll play games and learn about yourself.

You'll see pretty things.

You'll hear special talks and stories (Rock Creek Hollow).

You might sleep under the stars.

You'll be exhausted, yet you'll feel awesome when you come home.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What do do with your skirt when when you're not as thin as you used to be and other clothing thoughts

Seventeen years ago, in 1997, a large portion of my dad's side of the family joined up with the Mormon Pioneer Sesquicentennial Trek in Wyoming near Independence Rock for a day.  As that was more of a reenactment trek we had certain clothing requirements we had to meet.  I picked out some (semi-appropriate) fabric at Mormon Handicraft downtown Salt Lake and my mom made me a dress from an appropriate pattern. Being a fashionable* 21 year old, I sure didn't want to wear a dress, so my mom didn't sew my bodice to my skirt, but left the two pieces separate so I could leave the bodice untucked (boy, that sure is a mid-century faux pas). Although not period correct, that dress has gone on trek a few times with various people; it's a good trek dress, as trek usually isn't all that historically accurate.  As I didn't have time to make me a second dress (because I've told myself the next dress I make has to be drafted over a corset and if I don't have time to make a dress, I surely don't have time to make a corset first), I figured I'd just use my old dress.

Although I had hopes of losing a few pounds before trek, my post-baby waist will just never be the same as my pre-baby waist. I'd already moved the buttons for my first year of volunteering at This Is the Place, but even that was a little tight, so I found some purple-ish fabric and made a wedge to widen the waistline.  I took the skirt up to my mom to show her and she said, "I think I still have the fabric left over from that dress!"  The good news was that my insert with the matching fabric wouldn't show so much; the bad news was that now I had to make another insert. At least it was faster the second time.

I even put a pocket in it.

You can hardly tell!

Just a comment now on trek fashion. After I thought I was being so cool modifying a period pattern to fit modern styles 17 years ago, I realized how dumb that was once I got on trek where I was able to see really authentically clothed people.  They just looked SO GOOD, and I wished I would have done better with my clothes.

I've become a fan of hats, especially as I've gotten more wrinkly over the years. Very, very few girls on trek would wear their hats and bonnets and I just wanted to say (and did say), "Wear your hat!!" but they still wouldn't. What's up with that!?

We were told to bring a couple pairs of bloomers (drawers) for trek, but I'd heard they can cause chafing if not sewn right. I did bring my drawers, but I also made a petticoat to wear under my skirt in case I found I liked that better. I ended up wearing the petticoat on bus days (I can't go without a slip under my dress!) but the drawers on the main hiking days. When I wore them together for a time, they stuck together, which wasn't very good. The drawers were very helpful when you'd have to sit on the ground and let the nurses tape up your blisters. I did not experience any chafing from my drawers, but they were hotter than the petticoat.

*I don't know if it's ever appropriate to call ME fashionable, but at least I thought I was trying.

Emergency Suspenders/Braces

When my husband and I woke up at 3:15 a.m. to go on trek, he realized he'd packed his suspenders/braces and had given them to the equipment committee nearly two days prior!!  Oops!  I was determined to make him some "po-boy" (poor boy) suspenders on the 7 hour bus ride so he wouldn't lose his pants (which were rather loose as they were based on a period pattern and I hadn't altered them to be tighter).

Luckily, I found some wide twill tape left over from some bedspread packaging, which saved me some sewing. When I put 1.5 pieces of the twill tape together, they were just the right length. All that was left to do was to hem them and add button holes. I was sure glad I'd learned to make button holes within the last year! The only problem was the humongous piece of velcro connecting the pieces.  But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, and this was just trek, not an actual re-enactment.

This is what I came up with.

Sorry about the twist in the picture. I was too tired to stand up and fix it.

He's trying to rest here.

Not to bad, eh?  Too bad he popped off one of his buttons in the Sweetwater River water fight, and I didn't bring any spare buttons.  I guess I could have made one if we'd been desperate enough.

A Kerchief

Rather than taking a modern bandana on trek to cover my neck, I wanted to try getting more authentic. I can't even remember where I found my information, but I found a kerchief looked something like this:

I probably got some of my info from Liz Clark's document, "Defining the Work Dress," specifically:

Often the dress is worn with a neckerchief in place of a collar 
during work. This kerchief can be folded and knotted around
the neck, with the fabric tucked beneath the neckline to absorb 
sweat and grime, and is easily removed and rinsed, used as an 
impromptu wash cloth, and easily laundered as needed. White 
is common, as most prints will fade quickly when used as a

The dimensions of the sides on the one picture above are close to 30"; I'd also read measurements of 29", 30", and 31", I believe.  Although I didn't have anything pretty like this, I did have a piece left over from this dress I made for my 8 year old.

I had to piece my fabric together, but I came up with this:

I finished roll-hemming it on the bus just in time using the technique I learned from Liz Clark at one of her classes. The kerchief worked great, too. I didn't have any sunburns -- only a little on my face from the day we played in the Sweetwater.

I had enough fabric to make a second, but ran out of time. I really would have liked to wear it over my hear because I looked like this on the bus ride home:

My hair was DISGUSTING.

Trek Tarp Tent

So I've not wanted to focus too much on trek stuff on this blog, but keep to historically accurate stuff, but at the same time, there's a need for trek information, and considering we got back from trek 8 days ago, I do have some thoughts on it.  Interestingly, my brother in Ohio got to go on trek just a couple weeks before we did (it's been fun comparing notes).  For their trek, he developed this tarp tent that seemed to work quite well, and I wanted to share his video.  Watch for one of his kids who provides the comic relief!

We were going to just sleep under the stars our three nights out in Wyoming, but there was quite a threat of rain our first night, so we used our backup tents at our first location (where we spent two nights).  We did sleep under the stars our third night near Rock Creek Hollow.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Get Your Trek On

I helped a neighbor girl get her skirt and apron ready. It took about four hours. She did a good job:

Evan and I had to dress up for a fireside, so I made Evan a cravat so he'd look a little more official. I don't know if it's right, but I worked with what I had (70ish inches long by 2" wide). The fabric is, of course, not right because it's cotton and not starched; I don't know if royal blue is an option. He's not actually wearing the shirt, vest, or cravat on trek, but I hoped by wearing it to the fireside we'd inspire some to get a bit more creative with their clothes. People were shocked that one might actually wear something similar to this in 1856. They thought it was really loud, but so is Evan.

When you make the pic black and white, it doesn't look too bad.


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