Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Something a Little Different

Hi lovelies! 

I'm really excited to write this post, because it's more...err...umm... "real" (?) as it were. You see, ever since I started doing the CW thing, and especially the Millinery Apprenticeship thing, I really felt like there was nothing I could do relating to this little blog. I don't have time to do a lot of sewing at home, and since any that I would do is work related (a killer new pair of stays, etc) I just never felt comfortable talking about it here. 


Things have changed.

Mostly because I've gone a bit crazy...in the best...(still up for debate with the Swede) sort of way...

One of my favorite time periods that I've always loved to wear (even in the bad modern repro version...and trust me I've worn a few for different theatrical things) is 1880s. I just...love it. I've always thought it was an incredibly sexy aesthetic for women that plays with covering and showing off the body, while mixing the feminine with the masculine. It's just a really interesting moment in fashion, in my opinion. 

Anyways, it's been in the back of my head for a while now that maybe I should start branching out and do something else that's more for me vs. work based. So, 2 weeks ago I was sitting in the shop with Sarah and Jenny, and we were talking about different time periods and Sarah just finally looked at me and said, "Abby, you just need to do it and rock it." ...or something to that effect. So..um...then...well..I got a little crazy on the Pinterest and pinned ALL THE THINGS. Trying to figure out what I would do, if I was to do it, etc etc. Finding that look, starting to develop the eye, and so forth.

Then, I realized...well...hell...I'm going to Costume College this year. If I was to do anything NON 18th century and actually have a place to wear it. Now is my chance. Seizing the moment, and all that jazzy goodness.


I'm doing it.

I'm slightly terrified. I am *not* academically sound in late Victorian fashion, like...at all...so I've been doing a lot of reading (thank goodness I got Anne Buck's book from Burnley and Trowbridge a few years back about Victorian Fashion...) and basically starting from scratch..(holy mother this is expensive...) however, I am really excited because I am able to utilize some skills I've developed in 18th century land that are applying nicely to what I will be doing for my outfit...and this whole...sewing machine thing..is...interesting...scared and giggly at the same time....like that moment when you're watching a rated R movie with your parents and a sex scene comes on and you're trying to not to be interested, but your snorting to yourself because you're interested and then you're trying to be cool about it and...like totally whatever about it. But in reality you're being super awkward about it all. 

Or...just watching Spartacus...period....

...you all have had that moment. Don't lie.

Anyways...it's been fun so far! I'm working on three different corset mock ups at the moment and will have them done this evening, so I'll hopefully be posting about them soon. Then my plan is to make the corset and chemise/drawers over the next week or so. (it's all on machine, so clearly I'm being time happy with everything...har!) By then hopefully I'll have my fabric sorted and I can tell you all about my crazy idea. :)

I'm really excited to blog again! Be prepared for epic freak outs and failures....this machine thing...wooo daddy. :)

<3 <3

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Conference, Costume College 2014, & Buzzfeed

So apparently, when one googles "washing hair in sink" an image of me must appear. Amazingly, a buzzfeed writer who was writing an article about 27 lazy girl hacks found my image of me washing my head in a sink (cause that's what I do...apparently...), and used it on buzzfeed. It's been enjoyable to watch my little stats page go a bit crazy for a week or so.

I gotta be honest...

I feel a bit famous.

I mean...really...I'M ON BUZZFEED! It'll be something I tell my children. Har.

...yeah...i couldn't help myself....the occasion called for a meme generator moment.

Anyways, back to more "serious" conversations, I just wanted to through out a couple of things.

First, our conference is over, and it was a blast, and I'm still in recovery mode....the speakers were great. I had a great time, and I believe so did everyone else.  Many from the blogosphere were in attendance, so if you would like some photos (as I took none...too busy...unfortunately)...check out American DuchessA Fashionable FrolickThe Two Nerdy History GirlsThe Lady of Portland House, and others (if you have a blog and posted pictures PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know!)

It was all a whirlwind for me (hostess, speaker, performer, workshop leader, etc etc), and so it's hard to put my experience into words. So, with that in mind, I'll let everyone else share their experiences and I'll just try and remember that week in short bursts of memories (like waking up at 6 am to Sarah knocking on my door to do hair...and returning to the stage for the first time in years to perform in the play "The Milliners", etc).

Secondly, I'm really excited to announce that I will be able to attend Costume College this year! I'll be offering a lecture (I think it's like the last thing on the last day) that's going to be an edited version of the lecture I gave at the conference regarding fashion and fashion trades seen through the eyes of the westward expansion of the United States in the early 19th century (read: a more in depth discussion of the letters I studied, so it will be a little different for those who got to hear the first lecture).  I'm excited to go, and just enjoy the experience. I've never been to California, so I'm just excited to be there, period. The giddy girl in me is now starting to plan what outfits I want to wear (i.e. maybe I'll make myself something pretty...if I have the motivation...or maybe I'll just wear vintage and high heels the entire time since I never get to do that anyways...ha!) I'm also really excited to learn about different time periods and hear other people's research...my goal is to really try and expand my knowledge base and push myself out of my boundaries when it comes to time periods and construction/technique methods. I'm also hoping there will be an artificial flower class I can get into. Mela Hoyt-Hayden's talk at our conference made me *giddy*, and I was super jealous of all of her workshop attendees.

So with that....if you're going to Costume College this year...I guess I'll see you there!!!

<3 <3

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Millinery Through Time: 60th Anniversary Of The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop

Hey Lovelies!

The biggest thing going on, like...ever...., is that the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop is celebrating its 60th Anniversary in 2014! To celebrate we are having a 3+ long conference that is about all things Millinery...so it's not just 18th century milliners, but 19th, 20th milliners, mourning millinery, shoes, aprons, masks, traveling, shoplifting, literature, and so much more. We are even offering small workshops where you could learn how to make 18th century black silk bonnets, fly fringe, calash bonnets, 19th century bonnets, velvet flowers, felt hats, straw hats, muffs, and probably a few more workshops that have totally spaced my memory.

Anyways, Long story very short:

Come to our conference. It will be fun. That Friday (Sunday night...I'm such a dingbat!) night, instead of a normal, slightly awkward, cliquish, oh my gosh i really want to use this time to socialize and network but i don't know anyone really well so i'm just going to sit and eat the cheese, evening event, we're having a proper birthday party, with cake, and games, and maybe even some pretty sweet prizes...oh..yeah...Oh! And costumes are encouraged for the evening!

The next evening, after a whole day of fabulous lectures and presentations (featuring tons of awesome topics and awesome clothes!) Samantha of Couture Courtesan  and I are both featured actresses in a late 1780s  (best clothes ever?) play about Milliners and their trade which will be preformed as evening entertainment...shockingly..are characters are milliners. Who would have thought? :)

So there you have it. Are you looking for something to do March 16-19th? Well I think the conference will be perfect. In fact, make a whole trip of it! Military Through the Ages, a timeline event held at Jamestown every year is that Saturday and Sunday, so come and just have a fabulous history and lace filled time!

For the link to register and to check out all of the workshops and the different titles of the papers at the conference click there ---> Millinery Through Time Conference

See you there! :)

<3 <3

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Back from Retirement for One Performance Only!

So I found this while searching the British Museum at work today:

1760-1818 Album of Amazingness

It's an album that was complied in the 19th century, in chronological order from 1760 - 1818, from magazines and pocket books. 141 pages of images.

...you're welcome. :)


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A New Beginning

To be blunt, this is a bittersweet post for me, but it has to be done...so here we go...

I began this blog as an offshoot to my original blog, which was meant to document my time abroad. I was working on a fitted back jacket and posting pictures of it, but it simply didn't fit into my 'Abby travels around the world la la de dah blah blah blah' blog. So I started a new blog.

This blog.

And it was this blog that got the following, that put my name out there, that tried and tested me, introduced to me to some lovely and inspiring people, and also taught me that not everyone is as lovely as they seem. It was this blog that gave me the chance to give a paper on my own subject, which gave me the chance to meet some of the greats in our field. This blog inspired others to start writing down their experiences, this blog inspired a great deal of controversy, inspired laughter, and gave birth to friendships.

This blog, quite simply, changed my life.

And sadly, the time has come for the blog to end.

This is the last post on Stay-ing Alive.

Though I am sad to say good-bye to you all in this capacity, this is not the last you'll see of me. If anything, you're going to be seeing a lot more of me.

As of today, January 29, 2013, I will be starting my 7 year apprenticeship as the next Millinery/Mantua-Maker at the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop in Colonial Williamsburg, and and and I am so so so so so excited. My dream has come true. :)

The road leading up to this point has been incredibly long, painful, and arduous. I cannot tell ya'll how many times I didn't just have a door slammed into my face, but I ran full force into a brick wall of NO. I have spent the better part of this year doubting myself, my talent, my education, my passion, my abilities. Wondering, if I should just give it all up and go to massage therapy school and be a yoga teacher. (Note: I'm not hating on this, I was just planning on doing these things as my 'retirement' career, not as my 'first' career, but seeing as how my first career wasn't panning out, I was wondering if maybe my retirement career was my only career...make sense?...and I still would like to be a yoga teacher...anyways..I'm digressing).

Long story short, when the Millinery Apprenticeship job was posted, it was hard for me to apply...did I want to go through this again? Will this just end like everything else? Will Fredrik and I have to move back to Indiana and live in my parent's basement? Will I start growing a frightfully large amount of facial hair? After long talks with Fredrik and my family, I knew this is something I had to do. The last time the job was posted was in 2008 and I had decided to go to grad school instead of apply for the job. I watched good friends battle it out for the position with a mix of gratitude and pain. Grateful that I didn't have to go through that process, but also experiencing a deep pain that I didn't go ahead and apply for my dream job.

When it was posted this year, I knew, despite the fact the past year left me doubtful, exhausted, and cautious, I had to apply.

I wrote my cover letter, applied for the job, interviewed, and then I got the job!

I am so grateful for my experiences leading up to this, and I am excited for what is to come...it feels good...really good...it has been a while since I felt this way.

Now, as for Stay-ing Alive...

With the start of my new job, things will change, I cannot in good conscious write about my sewing, my research, my experiences, now that I will be working in the shop. My priorities are different. One of the reasons I haven't been writing over the past year is because of my work, and how it affects my blog. Now that I know what is going on in my life and career, it is clear that my time writing for Stay-ing Alive has come to an end.

The blog will not be removed, I'll leave it up here, for the time being, however I'm going to eventually disable the comments.

Finally, I just want to thank you all, so very very much, for everything. This blog has changed my life in so many ways, but I would not be here without you, either.

So thank you for your support, your challenges, your laughs, your inspiring passion, intelligence, and beautiful work.

Keep sewing.
Keep writing.
Keep challenging.
Keep laughing.

And, very seriously, whatever you do, if you have a dream, a goal, a plan... do not ever ever ever ever ever give it up. Not ever. Do you understand? You will succeed. You will meet your goals. Just keep trudging through the muck and the dirt, jump those hurtles, even when you want to give it up, and you'll succeed. I promise. 

And with that, I'll catch you all later...but this time, I'll see you at the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop's facebook page!

<3 <3


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Symposium/Internships/Tinsmithing/ Oh My!

There's a lot going on in Colonial Land these days, and they're all way fun! Have a look-see below!! :)

(Copied from the Margaret Hunter Millinery Facebook Page)

Call for Papers: Millinery through Time

In 2014, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop will celebrate its 60th anniversary. To mark this event, from March 16 through March 19, 2014, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will present a symposium highlighting Millinery through Time. 

Throughout history, the millinery trade has changed, adapted, and thrived. Beginning as dealers of Milan wares, milliners evolved to encompass a business of a thousand things, and lately to specialize in a single product, hats. This symposium will explore the rich contribution that milliners and their trade have made to the past and present and look to future possibilities. Papers should address the people, fashion, merchandising, and trade work of the milliner from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

Researchers and designers are invited to submit 300-word abstract proposals for illustrated oral lectures 25 minutes in length. Paper proposals are due to Colonial Williamsburg for peer review by March 25, 2013; acceptances will be announced May 10, 2013. Those whose abstracts are selected for presentation will receive free symposium registration. Abstracts will be published in the symposium brochure.

Submit abstracts to:

Millinery Abstracts
Attention: Janea Whitacre, Historic Trades Milliner
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
P.O. Box 1776
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187
Or by email at jwhitacre@cwf.org




So, looking for a summer internship where you can wear pretty clothes, sew pretty clothes, learn about pretty (old) clothes? Then I highly recommend that you apply for the summer internship with the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop, where you'll be gaining great hands-on experience in not only constructing 18th century clothing & accessories, but you'll also expand you knowledge of dress history, material culture history, american history, and art history as well! Other perks include: resume building, excellent museum experience with a world class/famous museum, Cheeseshop sammiches, and a really really really fun summer! I promise!

For more information email Sarah Woodyard at swoodyard (at) cwf (dot) org



With the upcoming completion of the Tinsmith shop in the historic area (associated with the anderson armory project, etc) Colonial Williamsburg is now hiring a Journeyman Tinsmith (major experienced required) and an apprentice tinsmith (I don't know how much they need...).

So if you're into metal work, wanna make some cw history, and get health insurance while pursuing your craft (let's just be really real right now..don't lie...the health insurance and 401k are preeeety inviting!)  then I think, you think, that you should apply.

Here are the links to the website:


Oh SNAP! While I was posting this, I just saw they posted some paid intern positions!


Curatorial Intern (1-year, paid @ 12.07 per hour) 

Curatorial Intern (3 mo, paid at 12.07 per hour, focus on Ceramics/glass, furniture, and 19th century toys...this sounds like too much fun...with a slight level of creepy...cause they're old toys...and let's be honest, old toys are super creepy...)


Ok! That's it for me!

<3 <3

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Hello all of you lovely lovelies out there!

How have you been? Well I hope! As I'm sure most of you (officially 201 followers...huzzah!) have noticed (or maybe..not...noticed?) I have not updated this blog for...well..basically...2012. I have a really good explanation, and some wonderful news to share with you.

As I mentioned before, the one of the main reasons I have been silent on the blog is because I work for a very large living history museum. With that, I still work at the museum, but some things have changed a great deal over the year...but I'm simply not ready to discuss that...I have other news first.....

On July 11, 2012, Fredrik and I got married in my hometown in Indiana!

Doesn't he look like the Doctor?

We got married in the office of the County Clerk, in a very intimate ceremony consisting of my parents, grandparents and two very close and dear friends (to act as witnesses). Fredrik and I were also blessed, clothing wise, because we both wore our grandparents' clothes. I wore my grandmother's wedding suit from her wedding to my dear dear grandfather in August of 1945 (including her hat!) and Fredrik found his grandfather's Tiger of Sweden suit from the 1960s...both fit us...and we wore them together. My bouquet was also made from two grocery store bouquets and some herbs. The past few months have been an amazing and trying time. Immigration is challenging enough as it is, but we are also going through our first year of marriage. Needless to say, I've been a bit too busy to blog. My goal was always to come back to this blog to write, but as things are going now, I simply don't see that happening. Not that I don't want to, it's just not in the cards.  :)

That other thing I mentioned above, about my work, that will come later. I will share the news as soon as I can.

<3 <3