June, 2008

Selecting the Gold Thread

June 30th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Tricia writes today:

New trial against old.If you remember, months ago we were trying out gold threads for the plaited braid stitch. Bill Barnes of Golden Threads had made a silk core wrapped with gilt strip for us. When it stitched, it was just too stiff to use, which was a surprise to me. When I gave him my comments, he responded that he had used three ends of Soie Ovale for the core and would I wait a few weeks for another sample using just two ends. He was sure it would work. Well – always trust the master!

We finally got the sample two weeks ago (another one of those international shipping dramas delayed it). Shown here is the sample alone and also stitched next to the previous samples that I had done. The thread is thinner but it still gives a nice and dense plaited braid. More importantly, it stitches easily. Well, as easily as a gold thread can! So I gave the green light to have miles of it made.Two ends of Soie Ovale instead of three.

A big thanks goes out to Access Commodities who have been coordinating this for us. They are the distributor of Au Ver a Soie thread and supply the silks that Bill is using for the thread. Lamora’s expertise with international shipping is one of the prime reasons we can make this happen!


Hi Mary, I’m glad it made you laugh. jmh

Lost and Found Jacket

June 29th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Lost and found jacket.This yellow rain jacket showed up during one of our sessions this spring. I thought it belonged to someone at Plimoth but it’s been hanging around for months and no one has claimed it, so I was wondering, did you leave it here? If you’re coming back we can save it for you. If not let me know and we’ll ship it home. It’s getting tired of talking to the period garments all day. They won’t break character.

Colonial Children

June 28th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Practicing first-person interpreting without “real” visitors.I mentioned that we were, a few weeks ago, concentrating on getting clothing ready for our child volunteers. We’ve expanded the program this year (only to children of Plimoth staff, though) and are introducing nine new colonial children to the 1627 Village site this week. Colleen asked when one might find children on site. We’re not holding them to particular schedules, being youngsters and volunteers and all, but this is what I know. You’re likely to find children on site any day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the time being. You’re much less likely to find any on those awful, suffocating hot & humid days we sometimes get. The children aren’t scheduled through the front desk, so calling ahead, unfortunately, won’t get you any more information. The children are pretty excited, though, and want to be on site. With nine to choose from you’re pretty likely to find some most days.

Next Thursday, July 3 there will be a “squadron muster” in the English Village and I believe most of the children areA Small Boy. planning to be on site for it. In the 17th century the colonists were very serious about defending their colony, and being prepared to defend it, both from potential European rivals (Spanish and French, most notably) and Native peoples. We have historical references to the colonists “exercising their arms”(arms & armor, not limbs) periodically, and the squadron muster will be a demonstration of what that might have looked like. We have no record of any attack on the Plymouth Colony by either Europeans or Natives up to and including the year portrayed on site – 1627.

A couple of days ago the children got into their period clothing, most of them for the first time except for try-ons. They practiced first person interpreting on our Colonial Education Site with plain-clothed interpreters for pretend visitors. Here are a couple of pictures Penny caught of their work that day.

A couple of days ago Mary asked if we have another Big Project in the pipeline for when the jacket is finished. She wrote “don’t cringe” but what I actually responded with was a sort of manic giggle. Yes, we sort of do have another or few big ideas. One is the 2009 Symposium, which I wrote about yesterday. The exhibit that the jacket will be part of is actually a pretty big project, and pretty “wardrobe heavy” which means lots of hands-on work for us. There’s enough talk about a book about creating this jacket that I think that is very likely, even probable. We’ve even started thinking about another big Volunteer Project, but I’m so not ready to let that cat out of the bag right now. It isn’t likely to be something very similar to the jacket, but it ,will be similarly awesome, ambitious and unique.

The Embroiderers’ Story Symposium

June 27th, 2008 by Jill Hall

What are you doing Thursday September 24 – Sunday September 27, 2009?

I hope you answer, “Coming to Plymouth for The Embroiderers’ Story: Recreating a Stuart Jacket at Plimoth Plantation“! Yep, we’ve committed to throwing a major party to celebrate the creation of this remarkable garment.

I’ll give you the details I have now so you can mark your calendars and save the dates, but I don’t have the whole thing carved in stone yet. Susan North has promised to come, Susan North of the V&A, the benevolent godmother of the project, who has done so much to support this work. At first she thought she couldn’t manage it as there is a 17th-century dress conference in Switzerland the same weekend. This is one of those weird instances of problem-dissolving I’ve referred to before. After a few weeks of wondering if we could really have a jacket conference without her, I heard about that 17th-century conference in another context and realized – that one is 2008 and ours is 2009 and there’s no conflict at all. Whew.

We’ll have a pre-conference full-day class with Tricia Wilson Nguyen (who else? and I hope she wrote it down because she agreed in front of witnesses and if she didn’t write it down, well, I bet she will when she reads this) on Thursday. Friday and Saturday will be lectures/presentations in the morning and tours/classes in the afternoons. Some of the presenters will place these jackets in historical context, who wore them, how they were made, that kind of thing. Some will address how we made this particular jacket. We’re planning a tour to the RI School of Design Museum in Providence, RI. They have a portrait of a woman wearing an embroidered jacket. We’ll also see some of their fantastic textiles collection in a behind-the-scenes tour. We’ll have a farewell brunch on Sunday with a speaker, but it won’t be a full day. One evening we’ll have a benefit reception, another we’ll have a 17th-century dinner. I will of course let you know more details as they are finalized.

Please spread the word about this event. It will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are not prepared to take pre-registrations quite this early, but you know I’ll let you know the minute we can. Just don’t promise to be somewhere else that weekend.

(‘K. I’m just about ready to hit ‘publish’ and am feeling an attack of nerves. You’d think I’d be immune by now, having jumped feet first into so much deep water where this jacket is concerned, but no. Still nervous.)

ETA: This post now reflects the NEW date.

An Intern’s Eye View

June 26th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Emily is guest-posting today. Send her comments. We love comments. JMH


My mother and I shared several squeals and a victory dance this New Year’s Eve Day. This was the day I first opened the door of Plimoth Plantation’s intern house, standing under the colonnade in the freezing cold of the December afternoon. I was immediately overtaken by the strong urge to let fly with a loud, self-congratulatory expletive, but my mother came up to me, my bags in hand, and beat me to the punch with a grin on her face. Cursing thus achieved and dispersed of, we moved all of my stuff up the stairs and into the two-bedroom apartment, wondering at what were going to be my proverbial “digs” for the next six or so weeks. I appreciated the house entirely, but to be very honest, all I wanted to do was get to work. I had a few days to wait, so I hunkered down with a book and some coffee to wait out my anxiety, to wait for the day that my internship with the Wardrobe Department began.

To appreciate the abject form of costuming geekery that dwells within the tiny body of one Ms. Emily Woods Hogue, or yours truly, there really is only one thing to understand.

Sarah Morton’s Day was my favorite book kindergarten-second grade.

For those of you unfamiliar with the book that planted the seed for what would become a history/ costuming double major, it was published in 1989, and it features a young girl going about her quotidian activities on Plimoth Plantation in 1627. Pages 6-7 feature Sarah getting dressed, putting on petticoat after petticoat, along with everything else that made up a young girl’s garb in the seventeenth century. I was the kind of little girl who wore overalls like it was her job, so this fascinated me. I had one “twirly skirt”, but as a general rule I wore what was best for kicking around the back woods of my New Hampshire home, i.e. pants. This era in which women wore more than one skirt and men wore pants that often did a darn good impression of a skirt befuddled me, and I vowed to learn more.

So I learned more. And more. And more.

As my majors might tell you, I have made it my business to continue learning more about not only the social history of dress, but also construction of clothing through the ages. Hence, the amount of time that I have spent in the Plimoth Plantation Wardrobe Department makes a great deal of sense. I am incredibly glad to be back this summer… so glad, in fact, that when Jill asked me to return, I danced an impassioned victory dance and cursed an ecstatic blue streak, just like I did upon my initial arrival.

If you have any questions about what it is like to be an intern at Plimoth, in the wardrobe department, living in the intern house, or really anything else, just ask. I will be more than happy to receive your queries.


June 25th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Thanks, Rosemary, for catching my error in the dates for the August session. The formal session is 8 August to 11 August, a Friday to Monday weekend. However, Tricia is planning to be at Plimoth all week, from Monday 4 August to Friday 8 August (that’s what I was thinking of, I think) working on the gold. Anyone is welcome to come work for a dayAstrida stayed late to finish this rose. or more that week, running into the weekend session or not. Please let me know what you’d like to do so we can plan accordingly jhall@plimoth.org

Sunday Astrida was planning to leave about 3:00 pm to get home to New Hampshire in time for her husband to participate in one of his favorite hobbies. She stayed late to finish a rose; here she is pleased and proud, JoAnn determined to finish that pink before the bell.and a little tired too, with still a 2-3 hour drive ahead of her. She left around 5, I think, but not before Mr Astrida called wondering was she almost home? Not so much. We thank him for his patience and understanding – that rose couldn’t wait.

And here’s JoAnn, working furiously away to finish her last motif before leaving. Here are Wendy and Linda encouraging her work, and here’s JoAnn, alsoJoAnn and the next to the last pink. looking pleased and a little tired. JoAnn stitched a pink, a motif that’s taking most stitchers between 7 – 10 hours to do. It was the last big motif on this piece that we have directions for (we’re waiting for marching orders on the borage, the bird & the fancy worms) and the big blank space there was really bugging Wendy for the last couple of weekends. Must get that pink done. And JoAnn did! There is one pink left on the jacket, a “split” one that’s divided by the line where one of the gussets will go.

New Session Dates!

June 23rd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Come stitch on the jacketThe early bird gets the worm with the funny wrapping.

Friday August 8 – Monday August 11

Friday September 12 – Monday September 15

Friday September 26 – Monday September 29

Wendy left a note in the comments. I was too distracted by the news that done does not mean done to listen to the explanation of what exactly the funny wrapping is. Debbie explained this morning that it is an under-over-wrap-around the horizontal lines of the ceylon stitch. Debbie compared it to a straight-line spider rose type thing; Penny said that maneuver is a stitch used in tapestry weaving. Speaking of Penny, she’s answered the Earl Grey tea cupcake question for us:

Hi there! The Earl Grey cupcake has the tea as an ingredient. Originally, the recipe called for green tea powder, but Emily is a big fan of the Earl of Grey tea combined with chocolate, thus the cupcakes. The recipe comes from the bookVEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER THE WORLD by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.


Linda’s Butterfly

June 22nd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Linda’s butterfly.Linda H came all the way from Pennsylvania to work on the jacket this weekend. Here’s a pictLinda’s needlework.ure of Linda pointing out one of the motifs she worked, a butterfly.

Linda brought some of her needlework for show and tell, which was today. Here’s a picture of some of her stitching, which will be part of a beautiful needlework accessories book.

Wendy and Linda, unaware that they are about to really surprise me.Linda was inadvertently part of a very rude awakening I had today. Wendy was showing her some of the frames, and pointing out what remains to be done. I had thought that the plain worms were stitched in ceylon stitch, like thisThe suddenly not-done plain worms.. Ceylon stitch period. Stop. Done.

So Wendy was saying, “and then the worms get this funny wrapping thing.” And I said, “The Fancy Worms.” And Wendy said, “No, the plain worms.” And she started telling Linda how the wrapping is done. And I said “The Fancy Worms. The plain worms are done.” And Wendy said, “NO. The Plain Worms.” “WHAT?” So apparently the plain worms are NOT DONE. They need THIS is a finished plain worm.wrapping, like this. And I am getting used to that idea.

A couple of updates – Robbin explained in the comments that Laura didn’t have a name tag yesterday so we gave her a spare. Her grandmother’s name is Irene so she picked that one.

I ran into the interpreter whose stays Lacey altered over the last couple of days, and she was all appreciation. Her stays fit so much better and she is much more comfortable. The only problem now is her waistcoat is too big! We can fix that – over her next weekend.

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