Friday, December 19, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #23 - Modern History

If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.
 ~Douglas Adams

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #22 was Gentlemen and I made a smoking jacket for Patrick.  He's going to wear it for our late night get-togethers with friends on the Victorian Dance Cruise next month.

He liked how comfortable it is and I thought it would be fun to have one of my own.  And not just for the cruise, but for everyday modern wear.  Something different than my normal sweatshirt and sweatpants would be a welcome change.

I used the Folkwear 238 pattern designed for 1930s style.  It contains all men's and ladies' sizes in the same package.

Where I had used a black cotton matelassé for Patrick's contrast collar, cuffs, and pocket trim, I used a modern polyester fabric for mine.  The fabric had been given to a friend by his friend who had sewn custom home furnishings, my friend gave it (and some other treasures) to me (everyone knows I'll take any and all free fabric), and there was just enough for the trim on my smoking jacket.  This is a close-up of my trim fabric and the fun pins I found at a craft store which will become my necklace to wear with my smoking jacket during the Victorian Dance Cruise.
Isn't the little thimble just perfect for a necklace for someone who sews?
Since this is for modern wear, here are my photos with a modern dilemma - learning to use a new phone!
Okay, this shouldn't be too difficult....
hmmmm.....a little more difficult than I thought.
All right!  All figured out!
The primary use of all smart phones - the selfie!  With eyes closed, of course!
Now for some photos of the puppy, Patrick, lunch, the fallen leaves,...well you know how it goes.
Oops, almost forgot - the back of my new modern smoking jacket.
Historical Sew Fortnightly
What It Is:  Ladies' Smoking Jacket
The Challenge:  #23 Modern History
Fabric:  Cotton twill and polyester trim
Pattern:  Folkwear 238
Year:  1930s for modern wear
Notions:  Thread
How historically accurate is it?  Use of modern fabric with historic styling.
Hours to complete?  5 hours
First Worn:  Photos and January 2015 Event
Total Cost:  Several yards for the body and free trim, total less than $10.
Since you've read this far I'll show you my newest little auction find for this costume.  Squeee!  Aren't they pretty with all their embroidery, beads, and sequins?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #22 - Choice - Gentlemen

Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it hundreds of times.
Mark Twain
Imagine that when dinner is over our gentleman has retired to the smoking room.  He has put on his smoking jacket, his symbol of a time of leisure and reflection, and quiet meditation.  He still looks distinguished in this now iconic casual dress.  As far back as the 17th century when spices, tobacco, coffee and silks began flowing from India, Asia, and the Americas, our gentlemen have taken these habits and dress.  The smoking jacket, a kind of short robe or dressing gown made with luxurious fabrics, bright colors, and bold trim, survived into the mid 20th century.
This wonderful page will lead you through a brief history and pictures of the smoking jacket:
Some modern famous wearers include Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Hugh Hefner, Fred Astaire who was buried in one, and the Third Doctor of Doctor Who.
It's now time for my gentleman, my husband Patrick, to wear his own symbol of leisure.  "But I don't smoke!", says he.  So I tell him it's also fitting for a late evening drink and he brings out the Maker's Mark, his favorite Kentucky Bourbon.
The basic smoking jacket appears little changed through the years and I use Folkwear 238 pattern for both gentlemen and ladies.
I have a deep rust cotton twill and a black cotton matelassé in the fabric stash and cut out the pattern pieces.

Assembly is very straightforward and Patrick is ready for that bourbon.
"Here I am.  What am I supposed to do?"
Here is Patrick with his new smoking jacket looking all the dashing gentleman at leisure.  No Smoking.

Historical Sew Fortnightly
What It Is:  Gentleman's Smoking Jacket
The Challenge:  #22 - Choice - Gentlemen
Fabric:  Cotton twill, cotton matelassé
Pattern:  Folkwear 238
Year:  1880 plus or minus 70 years
Notions:  thread
How historically accurate is it?  The use of bold and bright colors, the shawl collar, and the overall impression are accurate.  Historically the fabrics would have perhaps been richer silks and velvets.
Hours to complete?  5 hours due to the amount of hand sewing
First worn:  Photos and for the pajama party at the Victorian Dance Cruise in January.
Total Cost:  The fabric was all in the stash but requires just under 3 yards for a large size.
Love always,



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Party Like A Vanderbilt

Party Like A Vanderbilt
April 24 - 26, 2015
Biltmore Estate
Asheville, North Carolina

Edit 10/11/2015:   We're doing it again!
For the details for
Party Like A Vanderbilt - Season 2
follow this link:
Spring in Asheville, North Carolina means the Biltmore in Bloom season at the Biltmore Estate.  With 8,000 acres of breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains countryside, the Biltmore Estate welcomes you to a different time in history.  For those of us who love history and historical costume, a weekend at Biltmore Estate is truly a once-in-a-life time dream.
You are cordially invited to join other costumers at a full weekend event which has been designed specifically for your passions!
The Biltmore House
All You Need To Know:

Where You'll Rest Your Head -
Inn on Biltmore:  George Vanderbilt had a plan for an Inn on the Estate where others could appreciate what he so loved - the mountains of North Carolina.  In 2001 that dream became a reality and the Inn on Biltmore opened.  We have reserved a block of standard Deluxe King and Deluxe Double rooms .  While the rates are different for each of the 3 nights, the average special discounted price per night is $273.00 plus taxes.  Once you are registered and your initial deposit made for the events,  you will be provided a code to use when making your reservations directly with the Inn and you will receive the discounted rates.  All contact information will be provided with your code in a personal email to you. 
What You'll See and Do -
Friday Evening, April 24th - You've been traveling all day, have settled into your room at the Inn on Biltmore, and now it's time to relax and begin your adventure!  You have a choice of two fun activities for this evening.  To get you in the mood for the history that is Biltmore we have chartered a private Historic Trolley to pick us up at the Inn and provide us a tour of Asheville with historical commentary and snacks and drinks.  The white or red trolley will be open air weather permitting and costumes are welcome. Update 4-9-2015  Pick up at 5:15 PM and return at approximately 7:00PM.   Pick up at 5:00 PM and return at approximately 6:45 PM.
If you are in the mood for some local flavor, the Asheville Pubcycle is your choice!  The Pubcycle can accommodate a maximum of 10 riders and promises fun for all!  You will be driven to the meeting place and brought back to the Inn by a local attendee. Costume is welcome!

You will make your choice of Historical Trolley Tour or Pubcycle at a later date.
Saturday -  Your weekend will include Tour Tickets for Biltmore House and Gardens for both Saturday and Sunday.  As guests at the Inn we are provided shuttle service within Biltmore Estate.  The shuttle will leave the Inn at 9:30 AM Saturday morning for Biltmore House.  There we will take our photos outside as photographs are not allowed inside Biltmore House.  Touring the House and Gardens and Conservatory will be extra special during this time as it is the Biltmore in Bloom season.  An extra special touch at the Biltmore House will be the Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit.  If you attended the Exhibit at Winterthur Gallery you will be pleased to know this exhibit will feature different costumes from the hit PBS series.  Now entering it's fifth season, Downton Abbey has all costumers eagerly awaiting the January 2015 debut in the US as the Downton Abbey family and staff live life in the 1920s.  Tour at your leisure, catch a light lunch at the Stable Café at the House, or take the shuttle to any of the other areas of Biltmore Estate.  We'll all be in costume so no doubt we will be stopped for photos and conversation by other guests.  Enjoy the day in the beauty of Biltmore!  Return to the Inn by shuttle on your own schedule.

Saturday Evening - A "Downton Dinner at the Champagne Cellar" - Dressed in your finest inspired by Downton Abbey's first season set in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic to the present season in the 1920s, prepare to be treated to an exquisite Biltmore evening dinner in the Champagne Cellar at the Winery.  We will meet in the Inn lobby for photographs and then be taken to the Winery at 7:00 PM. Update 4-9-2015  The Estate Trolley will leave the Inn on Biltmore Estate at 6:30PM to shuttle those staying at the Inn.  You will be served a five course dinner that George Vanderbilt himself would have approved of and enjoyed!
First Course with Biltmore Wine Pairing
Risotto Carbonara, Crisp Bacon Lardons, English Peas, Shaved Pecorino Cheese,
Poached Quail Egg
Second Course
Baby Springs Greens, Peppered Bacon, Oven Dried Tomatoes, Pickled Peppers,
Crème Fraiche Dressing
Lemon Basil Sorbet
Entrée with Biltmore Wine Pairing
(Guests will choose table side from one of the following)
Roasted Scottish Salmon, toasted Pinenuts, Preserved Lemon Beurre Blanc
Horseradish Crusted Beef Tenderloin and Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Wild Mushroom Salad, Thyme Jus
Pan Roasted NY Strip and Natural Breast of Chicken, Braised Swiss Chard, Bordelaise
Chef's Dessert Sampler
Homemade breads with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Biltmore Blend coffee or tea


Sunday Morning - This is your personal time.  You may want to sleep in!  You may want to explore the Inn on Biltmore or take a short walk or shuttle ride from the Inn to Antler Village on the Estate where you will find additional exhibits and places to eat and shop.   You may want to return to Biltmore House for a specialty tour or spend more time at the House and Gardens and Conservatory. 
This is also the time to schedule an optional activity such as a carriage ride.
For those who would like to join in an archery lesson and photo opportunity in costume, we will be taking reservations.  The cost is $50 per person and requires a minimum of 5, maximum of 20 participants.  Update 4-9-2015  Archery lesson attendees will be picked up at the Inn on Biltmore Estate at 9:30AM and return to the Inn at approximately 11:00AM.
Sunday "Time Traveler's Tea" - 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM - George Vanderbilt was born in 1862 and passed in 1914.  Wearing costume from any of those periods, we will enjoy a private tea in The Hunt Room at the Inn.    If you take any lunch at all on Sunday, keep it light as the Tea is hearty and heavenly!
Sunday Evening "The Legacy Continues" 1920s Reception in The Hunt Room at the Inn on Biltmore 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM (Update 4-9-2015) - To celebrate the birthdays of George Vanderbilt's grandsons, George Henry in 1925 and William in 1928, we will top off our weekend with a 1920s costume extravaganza.  Arrive in your sparkled and dazzling best and enjoy Reception Hors d'oeuvres, both hot and cold, and hand-selected Biltmore wines.

Rosemary Crusted Beef Tenderloin on Crostini with Crumbled Blue Cheese
Maine Lobster "Silver Spoon" with Citrus Chive Aioli
Smoked Duck Breast on Baked Lavosh with Red Onion Jam
Tomato Bruschetta with Boursin Cheese
Warm Brie En Pyllo with Raspberry and Almond
Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallop

And a surprise awaits!  Neither the residents of Biltmore Estate nor Downton Abbey could have done it with more panache!

The Entire Weekend's Events At A Glance -
  • Friday Evening - Choice of Asheville Historical Trolley Tour or Asheville Pubcycle
  • Saturday - Two-day Tour Ticket of Biltmore House and Gardens including the Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit
  • Saturday Evening - A "Downton Dinner at the Champagne Cellar"
  • Sunday Afternoon - "Time Traveler's Tea"
  • Sunday Evening - "The Legacy Continues" 1920s Reception
The Dollar Details -

The Friday evening through Sunday evening five-event amount including tax and gratuities is $375.00 per person payable in three installments.  The first deposit of $125.00 plus online service fee will guarantee your place in one of only 30 openings.  The remainder will be due in two more payments of $125.00 each no later than February 1, 2015 and April 1, 2015. To keep service fees to a minimum the balance due is payable by check or money order with instructions provided in a personal email to you.

Once all 30 reservations are taken we will keep a wait list.  Deposits are only refundable once there is a paid reservation from the wait list as all monies will already have been paid to Biltmore to reserve our venues.

To make your reservation and deposit please visit Brown Paper Tickets from this link:
(Note added 12/11/14  Party Like A Vanderbilt has Sold Out!
The Brown Paper Tickets link will show the sold out status and no further tickets are available.
A wait list is being compiled and if you interested in being on the list for
any tickets having to be resold, please leave a comment here or email .
Thank you!)


Immediately following our incredible weekend, the San Diego Vintage Dance Society has scheduled their Vintage Dance Week in Asheville with classes each day and dances each evening.  Our weekend event and the Vintage Dance Week is the perfect combination of historical experience and historical dance in costume.  Details can be found here:

We are looking forward to seeing you when we
Party Like a Vanderbilt!


 Frequently Asked Questions:

1.  Is there an airport in Asheville?  Yes, the Asheville Regional Airport AVL.  Shuttle service is available directly to the Inn on Biltmore.  Shuttle services recommended by Biltmore staff include Elite Limo and Diamond Executive.  Other shared van services can be found online.

2.  Are there direct flights into Asheville?  From our research, it appears that most people who want a direct flight will fly into Charlotte CLT.  It is approximately 2 hours from Charlotte to Asheville and cars can be rented in Charlotte although there are some shuttle services from Charlotte to Asheville and return.

3.  Does the $375.00 include my stay at the Inn on Biltmore?  No, they are separate.  Your reservation for the events includes the 5 special events including tour tickets.  Your reservations at the Inn on Biltmore will be made directly by you using the discount code provided you.

4.  Do I have to stay at the Inn on Biltmore?  No, there are many area hotels near the Biltmore Estate.  The Inn on Biltmore is the only hotel directly on the Estate and when you stay at the Inn you will be provided shuttle service to all areas of the Estate.  If you stay off the Estate you will be responsible for your own transportation to the events.  It is approximately 3 miles from the gate to Biltmore House and not walkable from outside the gate.

5.  Do I have to wear costumes?  This special weekend has been designed specifically for those with a passion for history and experiencing the closeness to it in wearing historical costume.  Many of our attendees will have spent hours researching, designing, and creating the historical and vintage costume they will wear for our special events.  The experience in costume is magical and we hope to create the atmosphere of a time past with our private venues.  If costume is not your passion, these  special events may not provide the experience you are seeking in visiting Biltmore Estate.  Tours, dinners, and the tea are available as regular offerings at Biltmore Estate without the need for historical costume.

6.  What is the cancellation policy?  The Inn on Biltmore will request a one night deposit upon reservation and will inform you of the cancellation policy which is linked here:
Inn on Biltmore Cancelation Policy    For the events package, all monies are paid to Biltmore to reserve the venues and book the food/beverage packages in line with their standard contracts.  A wait list will be maintained and if you have to cancel, your deposit and any other payments will be refunded upon payment by someone from the wait list. 

7.  Do you work for Biltmore Estate?  No, we are just two friends with a passion for historical costume and experiencing history wearing those costumes.  We live in North Carolina and have designed this special weekend with the encouragement of other costumers across the country.  We have signed our own names to the contracts and the financial obligation to create this special weekend.  The total cost is based on current quotes from Biltmore and current prices for the Friday evening choices and then divided by the maximum number of 30 attendees.  We will be purchasing 3 of the 30 available spaces ourselves and are so incredibly excited about the weekend!

Jeanette and Randi at the Winterthur Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit September 2014