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Showing posts from October, 2011

Book review- Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea

I had heard a lot about this book before I bought it, both positive and negative; how the author made many assumptions, it was a fun romp through early history, drew parallels and causality between ideas in history not previously connected. Seeing it at a book fair for a really low price I figured whatever the experience of reading it turned out to be, it was worth the cost.  Turned out to be a good investment. I started this book at the beginning of the year, and the only reason it took me so long to finish it is that I have a habit of reading multiple books at a time; recently, however, I have been trying to finish all of my half-read books before starting any new ones, and once I got back into Wine-Dark Sea I couldn't put it down. The author, Thomas Cahill, reads like a lecture from a favorite professor, one who is passionate about his subject and wants to share what he loves with his students. It's not just a straightforward history, he breaks it up with categories like &q…

And I Quote- George Bernard Shaw

“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.”

New Vender- The Rusty Zipper

I am working on a production of something set in the early 60s, and the designer sent a bunch of links to this site yesterday, at which point I was instantly smitten.

The Rusty Zipper homepage states that they opened in 1995 and were the first vintage clothing store on the net. The selection is pretty big and features pieces from the 1940s to the 1990s, as well as categories like shoes, accessories, vintage ties, and sewing patterns. I'm simultaneously intrigued and horrified by their entire category of Ugly Christmas Sweaters.

The prices can be kind of on the high side, but things are returnable (within 15 days) usually one-of-a-kind, and they are very clear about any damage the item has sustained prior to purchase. If clothing isn't your thing, but you're still looking for something retro it may be worth your time to check out their other odds and ends. I'm sure that someone has a need for ceramic ashtrays in any color and shape, an aluminium Christmas tree, or 1970…

The House of Worth

These days when many of us go clothing shopping we are liable to end up in a large department store surrounded by ready-made garments, perfumes, jewelry, shoes, and even housewares and furniture; but in the 19th century this was far from the experience of most shoppers.

Clothing then was still an individual creation for the most part. Magazines like Harper's Bazaar, La Mode, or Godey's showed illustrations of costumes (complete with hats, undergarments, and hair extensions and accessories) that could be ordered to be made, but going into a store still involved simply looking at fabric to be made into clothing.

This began to change in the late 1850's. A man by the name of Charles Frederick Worth was working as a draper in a dress shop called Maison Gagelin. He first introduced the idea of not merely swathing models in fabric for the customers to look at, but creating whole muslin outfits so that they could see the cut and decoration of something before choosing a fabric to…

History in the News- The V&A

My husband came across an article recently that was of interest to me, and which I thought might interest others as well. How the Victoria and Albert Museum Dealt With the Dying of Christianity.

That's a lengthy title, but fairly straightforward. The museum, largely considered to be one of the best in the world, was surprised to find that people are posessed of very little relative knowledge about the history, doctrine, and stories of the Church and the Medieval and Renaissance eras in general. Of course it is nearly impossible to discuss any aspect of these time periods without mentioning Christianity, which was at the time in Europe very pervasive.

Having been raised Catholic, and attended Catholic schools and religious education classes during much of my childhood, I had always assumed that I had a better understanding of the background and ritual of Christianity than non-Catholics, just as I am ignorant of the tenants and history of other religions (though I am learning). Two …

This Day In History- The Portuguese Revolution

October 5th, 1910. It seems like it should be the first rule of preventing revolution; do not let the military change sides. It happened in France, it would happen in 1917 in Russia, and it happened in 1910 in Portugal.

King Manuel II was in charge, but his political counterpart, Prime Minister Joao Franco was compelled to step down and go into exile, necessitating a new election. Unfortunately the void was not quickly filled as different political factions fought each other. In the midst of this struggle came a visit from the president of Brazil, which only provided further incentive for republican demonstrations.

As if things could not become more tumultuous, several of the warships anchored in the Tagus River broke into mutiny. Orders from Lisbon to put down the mutiny were ignored, and the ships took up position around Lisbon, causing the royal family to flee for their lives to Britain. With the king out of the way, a provisional republican government was finally formed, and ele…

The Gray Elizabethan Project 1

Back on the Tudor Gown post I mentioned that while I was waiting to get new fabric for that nightmare of a misadventurous project, I had something else to work on- the Gray Elizabethan Men's Project. This fits into my attempt to finish all of the unfinished things sitting around my house because both the doublet and breeches have been cut out for about six years.

It started as part of an entire wardrobe I was making for a friend back in 2005, but after doing four complete costumes he really didn't need a fifth, so this one stayed in my sewing stash waiting to be finished. The problem with trying to sew something you cut out that long ago is that you no longer entirely remember how you were going to make it look. Fortunately at the time I was altering a commerical pattern to be (more) historically accurate, and I still remember how that pattern used to go together.

I also remember that I was going to edge the large silver and black trim I had for it in burgundy velvet ribbon, b…