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 on: August 16, 2017, 12:21:19 PM 
Started by Sarah Olson - Last post by MaryDee
Virginia's wonderful articles from "Virginia's Veranda" have been archived here:, but I didn't see one specifically on this topic.  Unless, of course, I missed something!

 on: August 15, 2017, 10:04:19 AM 
Started by Sarah Olson - Last post by Joseph Stevens
1. Has anyone found a similar listing of suggested color combinations from prior to 1865? I've not had a lot of luck - a great tip from Mrs. Hale not to use color combinations that suggest an epigram and general comments to wear colors suited to your complexion, but not really color combinations. Any thoughts on where to look would be appreciated.

At one time, the late Virginia Mescher had transcribed a list of the color combinations given in fashion plates from Godey's; it's been a long time though, and it may also have included Peterson's. I can't recall exactly, and I don't know if that information is still available anywhere online. At the very least, that'd maybe be my recommendation. It'll take some work, but technically the info you seek is all there, albeit spread out. And as I understand it, that's exactly what she did, but well before the age of Google Books and widely accessible digital archive sources.

 on: August 13, 2017, 05:23:38 PM 
Started by Sarah Olson - Last post by Paula
Sarah are you looking specifically for written ideas? Looking at original garments and even fashion plates can help with color combinations.  Also fabric sample books from the period would show common colors used together.

 on: August 09, 2017, 02:30:56 PM 
Started by Trish B - Last post by Miss Whitlock
I run the closet we have at the farm here, although I wouldn't call it a lender closet. We have mainly kids (9-16 y.o.) who come and volunteer on a weekly basis, who borrow outfits and return them to the closet at the end of the same day. We do have a few adults that I help costume as well. Since I am the one that cares about looking authentic, I end up managing the costumes and pestering people about what they are wearing, and it sort of works because that way we can have people who are interested in the other aspects (like running a store or learning to blacksmith or hanging out with their friends or whatever) and they can still look reasonably nice.

So, in short: our target audience is our consistent volunteers. We lend costumes daily to new or repeat volunteers, and we lend costumes seasonally to volunteers that come at least weekly.

I don't actively encourage volunteers to build their own costumes, although when they want to I work to help them find patterns, materials, etc. and understand the standards we are trying to uphold here. That is the hard part: they tend to think that any old dress will do, and I have to go back and teach them about what and why we are doing things more fussily than that.  Smiley

I don't have a fantastic tracking system going, although it is something we need and that I would recommend building from the start. It is a little hard to know what information is important, but I am currently going with the idea that we need to know how much we spend on materials, who has a seasonal outfit loan, and how much of each sort of item we have. (I try to keep a stock of dresses, petticoats, drawers, aprons, shirts, hats, and bonnets, and I want to add chemises and maybe trousers and coats)

We also have a few wild card influences: we have a publicly funded school program, where approximately 20 kids every school year come and get a loaner outfit that becomes their at the end of the year, so we lose 20 outfits annually but it provides us with about $100 for each kid to reinvest into the costume closet. We also have a day camp during the summer, where we costume the campers in these outfits, so I am sort of required to have enough outfits (usually lots of dresses etc.) of a fairly accurate design. With these, I need to maintain a bigger closet than I otherwise would, but I also have some dedicated resources out of the operating funds that makes replacement and growth a little bit easier.

Your other questions:
1)   Is there a deposit  (refundable)?  No, partly because these are kids and partly because we have other dedicated income for replacements etc.
2)   Is there a fee (not refundable)?  No, these people are volunteering for us.
3)   Is there a time limit (per event, per season, etc)? Generally each loan is daily, unless I personally assign a person a costume for the season. In theory... sometimes costumes walk away for a season and come back on their own.  Roll Eyes
4)   Who does the sewing? We have some amazing volunteer seamstresses, and I get paid to sew as well. I do the fabric ordering and the pattern selection, to ensure things stay on the lines of authenticity, but I confess we do lose a small amount of control of that in exchange for the amazing hours and hours of help these people provide.
5)   Are any clothes purchased from a vendor and if so, where? I am currently purchasing most of the men's stuff from vendors or just from China if I think I can get away with it. I am hoping to progress away from that however: getting our closets to a maintenance level and then having volunteers do the sewing if possible.
6)   Who is responsible for determining the appropriateness of loaner clothing donations( the whole group, a committee, or the person in charge of the closet)?  I am responsible for that, and if I don't want people wearing it, I check with the other managers just to make sure, and then it either goes to Goodwill, or if the fabric is usable our scrap bag.
7)   How do you get volunteers into their own clothing? I have no idea, but when they spontaneously do it on their own, I start a conversation on fabrics and patterns so that they can do it in such a way that I will still want them to wear it around the farm.
8 )  Is there any education required on appropriate clothing, such as at an orientation? Uhhh, this is something I wish we did, but we currently don't. Mostly just the small site logistics: I am the costume lady and I am not always there to talk to whatever new volunteer happened to come by. I did draw up some signs about how to put dresses on, but other than that education tends to be word of mouth and/or me scolding some poor soul who didn't know any better.  Undecided

I like our model of very-short-term loans; I can keep things clean and ensure things are being worn correctly, for the most part. It does have it's flaws though, and I am not sure how it will work out if we get more adult volunteers. I like the idea of simply having a huge closet of dresses that would fit most women, and just doing my best to convince regular volunteers to get corsets etc. I think I would even be happy if they didn't want to own the corset, and we kept it to be used by someone else who was reasonably the same shape and size. Not ideal, I know, but it seems like it is potentially the best way to get large groups of rotating people to look fairly decently period correct.

Just my musings there though.

If you are interested, one thing I have figured out a bit is how many of each garment type (and what sizes) we need for this sort of setup. It may not be remotely relevant to your site and closet setup, but it is information that I cherish simply because it has worked for this method.  Smiley

Good luck!  Cool

 on: August 09, 2017, 01:21:55 PM 
Started by Sarah Olson - Last post by Sarah Olson
There have been a few topics getting a little bit into color theory & combinations for dress before (notably but I'm not really finding the answers to the current rabbit hole I've descended into and am hoping I can get some suggestions for where to go next.

Backstory: Looking at a etiquette book that has an exhaustive list of suggested color combinations (Our Deportment, John H. Young). Of particular interest to me is that he has a number of suggested combinations of 3-5 colors. I'd love to work this up into a visual reference. However, the book is from 1879, which is later than my era (1858-1865). Some combinations are classic (blue and brown), but what about "Lilac, gold color and crimson" or "Black, yellow, bronze and light blue?" Also, that's 15-20 years of time for new dyes to be developed. He doesn't get too outlandish (magenta or similar are not mentioned), but still.


1. Has anyone found a similar listing of suggested color combinations from prior to 1865? I've not had a lot of luck - a great tip from Mrs. Hale not to use color combinations that suggest an epigram and general comments to wear colors suited to your complexion, but not really color combinations. Any thoughts on where to look would be appreciated.
2. How much would color preferences have changed over time? Especially those beyond complimentary - he still has the red/green, blue/orange, etc. combinations that you'd expect but some of the combinations beyond two seem like they could be more fluid. I guess what I'm asking is that since he mostly sticks to straightforward color terms that are (seemingly) obvious - maroon, myrtle, peacock blue, maize - could I still use this reference for my time period?
3. Does anyone know what "shaded cardinal" or "shaded blue" would be as distinct from regular cardinal or blue?

Useful website alert: the ISCC-NBS Dictionary of Color Names, which helped me nail down what colors "mode" and "gensd'armes" probably were

 on: August 05, 2017, 10:27:12 AM 
Started by EKorsmo - Last post by Ms. Jean

Please remember to show us the re-trimmed bonnet!

Thanks, Jean

 on: August 05, 2017, 12:21:20 AM 
Started by EKorsmo - Last post by EKorsmo
More successful than my last attempt, at least.

I trimmed it to wear at English Camp, but for various reasons will be re-doing it.

 on: July 29, 2017, 07:08:05 AM 
Started by Mrs Johnson - Last post by Mrs Johnson
I was thinking of doing 1 thing per month, probably just on saturdays.  maybe a few days during the week once a month for school groups.

 on: July 28, 2017, 04:00:29 PM 
Started by Mrs Johnson - Last post by Maggie Koenig
You'll drive yourself less crazy if you concentrate on something that is an ongoing rather than trying to work up a short speech or repetitive based thing.  You'll also be a lot happier if you go with an activity you enjoy or are interested in. 

  Since its outdoors think of things that happened outside.  Laundry, gardening, games, handicrafts that you take outside on a nice day, drawing, nature exploration, exercises and that sort of thing.  Cooking can be good and the fruits of your labor become lunch or dinner.

 on: July 28, 2017, 08:02:40 AM 
Started by Mrs Johnson - Last post by EKorsmo
Children's games? Dances can be hard solo, but I tend to like participatory activities like that. Are there any outdoor chores that visitors could help you with? My site has a couple of tin watering cans, which are popular with younger visitors (and help keep our kitchen garden watered through the dry summer). If you have any sort of craft apprpriate to the era and site, visitors also seem to love seeing things made by hand (brooms, shirts, jam-- seeing someone make it is fascinating).

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