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.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Skirt Lifters

I've been wondering how to not totally ruin my hem on trek this summer. I thought maybe I'd just hem my dress up, but on the Civilian Civil War Closet Facebook page tonight, I noticed something about "skirt lifters." I haven't researched it yet myself, but apparently they were appropriate in foul weather and dirty working situations. I'd say trek qualifies for that, right? I'm happy to have a more authentic way to shorten my dress!

Jennifer Green shared some pictures as to what they look like from the inside and out:

Jennifer said I could find out more about them on Liz Clark's site, but summarized:
  • petticoats should not show, even if the skirt is tied up, so you need to compensate when tying. Unless you have a work skirt (the skirt of an old dress made into a petticoat. Possibly wool, printed, but not a plain white petticoat).
  • the twill tapes and stitches hide in the folds of your skirt, so when the ties are undone, no one will know they are there.
  • There should be pairs in each seam, and then again in the center of each panel.
  • And Terre Lawson added: made of twill tape. The top set is installed at about the height of my fingertips in the seam lines all the way around inside. The second set is 8 inches down. Then you reach and tie each pair together and it shortens the skirt.
Thank you Jennifer and the CCWC!

Update 5/20/14: I took a minute to check out the topic of skirt lifters at The Sewing Academy, here are Carolann Schmitt's instructions on how to make them:

. . . There is this very nifty period device called a skirt lifter. It costs about $2.00 and takes about 30 minutes to make. 

Turn your skirt inside out. 
* Mark each seam allowance 9"-12" from the bottom edge. 
* Place a second mark 9"-12" above each of the first marks.
* If your skirt panels are 45" wide, put corresponding marks in the center of each panel. If the fabric is heavy, divide each panel vertically into thirds and put two sets of marks on each panel.
* If your skirt panels are 60" wide, put two or three sets of corresponding marks in each panel.
* Cut a piece of 1/4"-1/2" wide cotton or linen twill tape into 12"-15" lengths. You'll need one piece of tape for each mark.
* Sew one end of each piece of tape to each mark. Use a stacked backstitch (one stitch on top of the next) for the marks in the centers of the skirt panels. The little 'dot' of stitching will disappear in the folds of the skirt.
* To shorten skirt, tie the ends of each pair of tapes together. This will allow you to shorten the skirt from 4"-10", and will create a pretty draped effect on the skirt.


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