1760s Brunswick, 18th century, projects, workshops

Brunswick workshop report

Last weekend I attended the 18th century Brunswick workshop organized by Burnley & Trowbridge, taught by Janea Whitacre, mantua maker extraordinaire from Colonial Williamsburg.

And it was FABULOUS!

Janea is hugely knowledgeable about 18th century gownmaking, and getting a chance to work with such a master was wonderful.  I’ve taken another workshop from her — the sacque workshop, where I made my first (the peach francaise).  It was fun to revisit this style in a new variation, and to be able to confirm and update my often self-taught knowledge about 18th century gownmaking.  Plus, she’s just really nice, and lets you ask her 10,000 questions!

Angela & Jim (owners of B&T) were there too, and they were super helpful and nice, bringing a bunch of their wares and allowing us to shop periodically throughout the weekend.  I’m really happy with them, as they have amazing customer service — I bought a pair of shoes from them that were too small, so I sent them back and they had the next size up made for me.  Well, those didn’t fit either, so Angela traced my foot at the workshop and they’re going to try for a third time to fit me!  If that’s not customer service, I don’t know what is.  (Let’s not even go INTO how helpful she was when I was buying fabric for my stays).

We had lots of options on styling the jacket — high or low neck, long or short waistcoat skirtings, depending on the era and style you liked.  I went for 1760s, with a high neck and long waistcoat skirts.

I worked with Cynthia on our jackets, so all credit for the fabulous drape goes to her.  We both had some fitting crises, esp. on Cynthia’s gown, as we hadn’t realized we needed to drape on the bias so her waistcoat front went wonky.  Luckily, I found a solution — we let the fabric go where it wanted to go, and pieced in a bit of the lining.

It was tons of fun to hang out with lots of friends and sew for 3 days, plus there is something magical about handsewing.  You have lots of time to chat in a way you don’t when the machines are out, plus it makes me waaay less stressed about getting things done on time (because it’s just not going to happen!).

So here’s where I’m at so far — everything is basted, and I’ve been working on doing the real sewing over the past few nights.  I need to hem the center back a few inches up (hello, I have hips of doom!), and I’m trying to figure out a trimming pattern that will be different from everyone else’s.  And, of course, make a hood, lower sleeves, and a petticoat!  I plan to do self-trim from the caramel taffeta, and then cream bows at the neck and elbows.

The best part is I was worried this would be a little bit of a frumpy style, but I’m really liking where it’s going.

(Oh and yes, we sewed in tiaras, because that’s how we roll…)

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  • Reply Isara June 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    YAY! Looks wonderful! It’s a great color, too.

    I’m done with the hemming and sleeves, and now just need to make the buttonholes, buttons, lower sleeves, hood, pockets, petticoat, and trim. I’m in the same boat you are with the trim – thinking of maybe a pleated trim with the edges scalloped and sticking out by an inch or so. But I’m being indecisive. Same with the buttons and pockets…

    Feeling like sewing together this weekend?

  • Reply anielmom June 8, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Fabulous color! Cynthia really did do a stellar drape!

  • Reply Page June 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    wow i love your site!!

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