Saturday, August 5, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 5: Origin Story

Origin Story: From Whence Cometh the Katie?

Sewing makes up some of my earliest memories…but real talk, what four year old makes anything worthwhile?  Not to shit on four year olds, but they’re generally not known for their spatial awareness and problem-solving skills.  So, yeah, I’ve been ‘sewing since I can remember’ but what I remember is making a really shitty teddy bear out of green upholstery velvet scraps, with non-matching thread, that leaked stuffing out the sides thanks to my giant stitches.

(Not pictured: My crappy teddy bear project c. 1990)

What really started me with costuming in general was the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I also was very interested in the Star Wars reboots that happened around the same time (visually speaking; storytelling-wise I prefer to pretend they never existed), but the LOTR designs spoke to me on a level that compelled me to try my hand at recreations.

c. 2004






Hand-beaded.  I did this in class.

During my university years, I worked for two summers at a historic site in my state.  I'm soooo embarrassed by some of the stuff I sewed while there, but I have to remind myself that there just wasn't the same availability of resources for materials and information that there is today.  The body of knowledge on 18th century material culture and fashion in particular has just exploded in the last ten years, which is great, but it makes my early attempts even more cringey than they would have been otherwise.  Oh well...if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Gown and petticoat by me c. 2006
That's all drapery fabric.  SO ASHAMED

I'm going to take the liberty of skipping that whole embarrassing learning curve and move onto some stuff that, while not perfect, I would actually still wear in public these days (if I hadn't sold it long ago.)

My very first hand-sewn gown, c. 2009
This one has gone to a new owner but I still think it's super pretty!

Under the Redcoat 2010
I'd still wear this dress everywhere if it fit me!


Block printed regency gown, 2010?
I'd still wear this if it fit me, too!

1860s Day Dress, c. 2009

Looking at my previous work, I feel like 2009-2010 was where I finally hit my stride, so to speak.  I'd been sewing before that but I'd still be proud of the work I did starting in that time frame, whereas the stuff before it is pretty bad.  Reminiscing also reminded me...I really miss the 18th century!

Anyway, my blog picks up around the time I started defining myself as a historical reenactor and seamstress, so I think that's a good place to leave off with my roots!

12 comments:

  1. Those pleats in the Regency dress are definitely worthy of envy! (And I pick the one era I focus on...)

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    1. Thank you! I loved wearing that dress so much...and it helped make the regency one of my very favorite eras to make and wear!

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  2. The 1860s day dress was always one of my favorites - I actually have the heroine of my magnum opus wear it (or something like it) in a couple scenes. :) If it ever gets published I will be giving you mad props in the acknowledgements.

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    1. That's so cool...I may not wear that one anymore but I still love it to bits.

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  3. Wow, you have come a long way! Today nobody would expect any embarrassing learning experiences behind it at all. But I think everyone has that embarrassing thingamajig with the giant stitches, awful fabric and numerous fraying edges hidden in a drawer somewhere. Every great seamstress has to start with something.

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    1. I think you're right; we all have a learning process and we all started from the beginning at some point! I do try to be gentle with myself when it comes to my past work, because I think when so many of us began doing historical work, there just wasn't the same access to resources. Now there are museum collections online with amazing pictures, and a huge online community, etc. We just do the best we can with what we have!

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  4. Lord of the Rings is also what inspired me to start sewing! Although funnily enough I still haven't actually made anything from the movie (besides the generic Simplicity inspired patterns). Now that my skills are actually good enough to do it justice I really should bump it up on the list (Eowyn's white wool dress has been calling to me for ages.)

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    1. I LOVE Eowyn's white wool dress. You should definitely make, wear, and love it. <3 She's just honestly so awesome, I love her in the books as well as the movies.

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  5. Katie, even back in your what you call "cringey" were amazing. What information you had allowed you to do amazing things. I have seen horrible costuming and you work is not even in the same category. PS even your early years. I always loved picking your brain and still do.

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    1. Aww, thank you, John! That's really sweet, and your encouragement definitely helped me keep going even when there wasn't the same kind of resources we have now. So when are you gonna come do 1812 with us? :)

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  6. Yep, that red wool dress is still one of my all-time favorites (I think you may have rocked my world a little bit with the idea of using tropical weight wool for summer gowns), although I still have a super soft spot for all of our LOTR costumes!

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    1. I remember the moment I realized that yes, I was hot, but whoa--I could feel the breeze on my legs through all those layers. *mind. blown.*
      I definitely still have a soft spot for all the LOTR fan creations...they were so rich in creativity and it was SO cool how people did different interpretations!

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