18th Century Gown Ensemble

SLR_2_9927-004I am doing some serious catching up for Man The Capstan the last few days. I was recently asked if Man The Capstan is still active, and although we are not able to get together as often as we would like, the answer to that is a resounding yes! We have experienced a number of changes in our lives the past couple of years however, and unfortunately this blog has been sadly neglected as a result. Therefore, I will be continuing to add a number of posts, over the next few days and weeks in order to bring this blog up to date.SLR_2_9828-001

This post will focus on a lovely 18th century colonial gown ensemble that I created for a young lady in Virginia. It is modeled by our own Man The Capstan crew member, Katherine, who looks just beautiful in it! The pictures were taken by Dave on a beautiful spring day with our blooming cherry tree as a back drop.

2011_07_011This two piece gown, was made using a basic pattern, but with a number of alterations made to the design. I used a beautiful, medium to heavy weight cotton, in cream with various hues of gold and coral to red sprays of ivy leaves on it. I also used a coral sateen or polished cotton for the contrasting underskirt and the stomacher portion of the bodice. The bodice is also fully boned and lined; this adds great shaping, as well as stabilization to the form. This can be worn without a corset, which sure does add to the comfort of it. Antique style lace flounces at the sleeves and a beautiful ivory venise lace were used to trim up this gown. The result was quite nice. This gown laces up at the back with gold grommets and ivory satin ribbon.

2011_05_14_pm-001In order to make these gowns so that they will fit a variety of sizes, or to allow the wearer to continue to make use of the gown, even if she gains or loses weight,  a three inch modesty panel is installed at the back opening. I  also leave a part of the skirt, at the back seam, free from the waist, which then gathers and ties up with satin ribbon. This can then be adjusted, according to how tight the lacing is done up, and prevents unsightly gaping or bunching at the back waistline. The back is slightly trained. Katherine is wearing a hoop skirt with this gown but the skirt sides are actually slightly longer then the front to accommodate panniers.

SLR_2_9763-004Also included in this ensemble was a matching reticule, a small flat crowned straw hat decorated with the sateen cotton, ostrich feather ribbons and lace, and a pair of cream silk habotai bloomers, made in the traditional way.

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The Stately Queen Anne Inn

queen_anne-002In October of 2012, my husband and I, with my brother and his wife, had the opportunity to stay at the Queen Anne Inn in Annapolis Royal. This was the second time I had stayed there, and I must say that I am in love with this stately and grand old mansion. Although we did not attend in our historical duds on this trip, I deemed it worthy to write a blog about this wonderful place!

SLR_4_1321-001The Queen Anne Inn is designated a Provincial Heritage Property and this applies to both the building and the land upon which it sits. It is located at 494 Upper George Street. This is the main road running through Annapolis Royal. You will find the Inn just outside of town and set back from the road, in a beautiful garden setting. One of my favourite things about the gardens, are indeed the stately old Elm trees that still grace this property. In Nova Scotia, we have lost many of our Elms to the Dutch Elm disease; it is certainly a special treat to see these glorious stately trees, all awash in the golden glow of fall, towering even taller then the center tower of Queen Anne herself.

SLR_4_1324-002If you love old architecture and historical places, this is the place for you! Considered an excellent example of the Second Empire style, this Inn was built as a private residence by William Ritchie in 1869. He had it built for his son Norman as a wedding gift, however, and very unfortunately, Norman’s wife Fanny died only 10 months after they were married, and before the house could be completed. Norman never lived there and the house stood vacant for a period of time. After several years William Ritchie and his wife opened the house as a an upscale boarding house. In the years ensuing, after the Ritchie’s deaths, and to the present time, the house has been used a parsonage and in 1897 it became St. Andrew’s school, a private school for boys. The school closed it’s doors in 1906 and again the house stood vacant for a time.

SLR_4_1274-003In 1921 the building was converted into a hotel called the Queen Hotel and it has served as such for over 90 years and with various owners operating it. Today it is called “The Queen Anne Inn”, the Proprietors or Inn keepers are Greg and Julie. They are friendly, fun, laid back, and full of information about the surrounding area. Greg is also a chef, so the food is of course delicious, served beautifully in the large dining room, and with good humour to boot. They go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable and offer many unique and personal services to their guests, such as special food requirements and so on.

DSC_1609-001Upon occasion you can also rent the entire Inn for a special event, such as a wedding or business conference, which they will cater. The rooms are large and elegant, most with private sitting areas, and each one beautifully furnished with antiques and curiosities of all sorts. The bathrooms are modern and well equipped with large jacuzzi baths as well as showers in many of the rooms.

Considered one of Nova Scotia’s finest, plan to stay here for a night or two if you are coming for a visit to the Maritimes. The Queen Anne is open from early May to late October, and there is lots to do and see in Annapolis Royal, and the surrounding communities. We found the rates very reasonable, and you just can’t beat the ambiance and historical appeal of this wonderful Inn!IMG_1922-005

A Victorian Wedding Gown for a Texas Lady

SLR_3_3660-002This is a  Natural Form Victorian Wedding  Gown that I was commissioned to create for a very kind and lovely young lady living in Texas.

kara-008I acquired the patterns to create this gown from Truly Victorian, a very good and quite authentic pattern company for making Victorian reproduction gowns. They have a good variety of patterns for period clothing, both for women and men. The instructions are clear, concise and easy to follow, however, I would not recommend them for the beginning seamstress as they use techniques that were used during the Victorian era.

photo-015To create this gown we chose Truly Victorian patterns #TV225 – 1878 Fantail Skirt, #TV420 – 1879 Cuirass Evening Bodice and #TV328 – 1880 Split Pannier Over Skirt. We made a few alterations to each of them since we wanted a differing neckline in the bodice, and we also combined the fantail skirt with the split panniers to create one skirt rather then two. The panniers were also rounded instead of left square.

photo-018For Fabrics we chose, a creamy ivory satin matelasse, complimented by a matching 100% pure shantung silk for contrast.  I used  a variety of matching ivory trims and  laces, both venise and bridal type as well as chiffon. I was careful (insomuch as was possible) to choose only laces and trims that were historically accurate representations of what was used during the Victorian period. The gown is fully lined and boned.  I used Chinese knotted silk buttons also in a matching ivory for the bodice. The sleeves and neckline are trimmed with ivory venise lace and the sleeves also are ruffled with ivory bridal lace. The back fantail skirt is made of satin matelasse and has 8 layers of overlapping lace and chiffon on the fan, and is decorated with satin ribbon. The front section of the skirt is made of ivory shantung silk and trimmed with bridal lace and two layers of silk pleats at the bottom. The split panniers are made of satin matelasse and are trimmed with bridal lace and venise lace.

SLR_3_5076-002In order to get the fit required, I made up several mock up bodices and because of the distance between us, sent them out in the mail. She would try them on, pin them where alterations were required and send them back to me. Although in the end we were quite successful in getting the fit right, she did have to go to a local seamstress to have slight alterations made to the shoulders and waist.  I would not consider this an unusual occurrence however, since almost all of us have to have alterations done when purchasing a wedding gown.kara3-005

For accessories for this gown, I purchased a pair of vintage lace booties and decorated them with laces left over from the gown. I also made a matching reticule from left over fabrics and laces. This gown was created over a period of about 5 months

Don’t forget to click on the pictures for the full size and effect!

A Victorian Christmas at the O’Dell House Museum

SLR_2_5614-003The O’Dell House Museum is situated at 136 – George Street, in the beautiful and historic town of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. This very interesting Victorian house Museum, circa 1869, is now owned and operated by the Annapolis Heritage Society. Graced with beautiful period furnishings, art, photographs, and history, as well as a Genealogy Centre and Archives, this is a pretty special place.4460170492_4bb3e7fd52_z-001

Each year, “A Victorian Christmas” is hosted here, an event that is held over a period of two weekends in late November and/or early December. Two Christmases ago, Man The Capstan decided to attend. (yes I know this blog was a long time in coming, but better late then never), and did we ever enjoy it! For this outing, we donned…what else…but our Victorian bustle gowns! Our Royal Navy Captain and Marine Major, altered slightly, the way they wore their uniforms. The beauty of them is that they can be worn in several differing ways, which really helps when using them for different time periods.

SLR_2_5637-001The ambience, warmth, and beautiful period Christmas decor of the O’ Dell house, make this event well worth attending. The heritage society does a wonderful job of it, spending days collecting Christmas greenery from the surrounding woods, and then countless hours more in decorating the house with these natural treasures.

photo_1272856_resize-001Boughs, wreaths and bouquets of evergreen, holly, boxwood, moss and pine cones fill the house, adorning each doorway, staircase and mantle. Delightful touches such fruit pyramids on the dining table and sideboard, and dried floral bouquets brighten each corner of the house. An old fashioned Christmas tree with homemade and antique ornaments graces the lovely parlour. The golden flicker of candlelight, the fragrance of evergreen, and scents of baking and apple cider assail your senses as you enter. There is much laughter and conversation, and singing of the  traditional carols. You really feel as though you have stepped back in time! What a treat! The crew of Man The Capstan truly appreciated the efforts made and were definitely in our element.SLR_2_5624-001

Once a thriving Tavern and Inn, the O’Dell House was owned and built by Corey O’Dell in the 1860s. Corey who was born in St. John, New Brunswick on June 27, 1827, arrived in Nova Scotia in about 1849. He was a Pony Express Driver for the Kentville-Victoria Beach part of the Halifax-Victoria Beach run. This service was short lived and he returned to New Brunswick the following year.

He came back to Nova Scotia in the late 1850s with his wife and family to live in Annapolis Royal. There he purchased the property where the O’Dell house now stands. The house has fourteen rooms, including the tavern, which later became a grocery store, six bedrooms, dining room, front parlour and kitchen. It is situated near the waterfront, a short distance from the wharves in an ideal location for trade. Corey died March 14, 1887, a wealthy man.

SLR_2_5650-001The O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre are open year round.

The open hours for the O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre are:

Summer (from late May to early September):
Every day – 9 am to 5 pm
Winter:
Monday to Saturday – 1 pm to 4 pm
(weather permitting; a call ahead is advised). Closed Sundays.

Admission for the O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre is by donation; the suggested amount is $3.00.

French Provincial At The K.C. Irving Centre

The 65,000 square foot K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre at the Acadia University in Wolfville, has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Annapolis Valley. I really love this place and it’s wonderful architecture. Built in a classical almost Georgian styling, it nonetheless offers state of the art research and technology. There is a grandeur about it that is unsurpassed, yet all the while it maintains a comfortable and homey, well lit, conducive to learning environment. study irvingFirstly it is a place for study, research and instruction of the natural sciences, but it is also a place of gathering for both the University and the surrounding communities, and is a well used event and conference centre. It is a lovely place for a wedding reception for example.

The K.C. Irving centre was constructed in 1999 and along with the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens was built and donated to the University by Jim, Jack and Arthur Irving in memory of their beloved parents. The Irving family’s attachment to Acadia University began many years ago with K.C,  (Kenneth Collin) who attended there, and has continued with sons Jack and Arthur who are graduates there-of. Arthur is also the present day Chancellor of the University.

I had always wanted to do a shoot in this fantastic building and upon the completion of my 18th century French Provincial/Colonial Gown and matching Gentleman’s Coat, I once again began to imagine how wonderful these pieces would look with the Irving Centre as a back drop.

So,…I asked Man The Capstan crew members, my son David and good friend Katherine, to model these pieces and it did seem quite right, since, after all,  they are both Acadia University Alumni. Katherine gained permission from the building’s manager for us to take some photographs there. It was great fun and such a beautiful and appropriate setting.

This 18th Century gown and coat were created using a printed and embroidered fabric which I found locally at a home decor place. I have often found that the greatest fabrics to make 18th century clothing from are drapery type fabrics. Such was the case with this beautiful striped Antoinette blue and embroidered gold cotton. It caught my eye the moment I walked into the shop and I had to have it! As a matter of fact I bought enough to make two gown and coat sets! Which is indeed a good thing since they have already both been sold. I am obviously not the only one who loves the blue and gold stripe combination.

I trimmed the gown with ivory and gold Venise laces, beige Chantilly lace and satin ribbon. It is paired with an ivory brocaded petticoat or underskirt which is also trimmed in gold Venise lace. Also sold with this gown was a matching ivory chiffon fichu or neck scarf. I did purchase a plain 18″ flat crown straw hat to go with it and this I decorated with matching fabric, ribbon, Venise lace and one ivory ostrich feather.

When I make these gowns I try to make them so that they will fit at least several different sizes and I accomplish this by lacing the back of the gown and using about a three inch modesty panel so that the laces can be worn completely closed or open to varying degrees. I also do not attach the over skirt fully to the bodice and allow a portion of the skirt to remain free at the back closure. Using ribbon drawstring the skirt can be drawn tight or loosened and I find this feature effectively prevents the unsightly gaping and/or pulling that one often sees with these dresses. The bodice is fully lined and boned as well which gives it good shaping and structure. The matching Gentleman’s coat is lined and trimmed with matching gold Venise lace and brass coloured nautical anchor buttons and sells with a jabot. The pockets are faux. David is wearing his own breeches, waistcoat, shirt and boots.

We had a great time at Irvng Centre, and really, it was difficult to get any bad shots, the setting is so spectacular! Above is a photo of the wonderful winding staircase.

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A Visit To The Gaspereau Vineyards

We took a tour one sun-shiny day in late last fall, through the historical Gaspereau Valley which is situated in the heart of the Annapolis Valley. It is such a pretty place to visit, with peaceful scenery, hills, vales, farms and for us, a feeling of heritage. Certain members of the Man The Capstan crew can trace family lineage to this area as far back as the time of the New England Planters who came to Nova Scotia during the 1760s.

Nestled snuggly amidst these beautiful rolling hills and farmlands is the Gaspereau Vineyards Winery.  Located just 3 km from downtown Wolfville, the home of the Acadia University, it is an easy 1 hour drive from Halifax and is located near some great restaurants, gift shops, inns and markets. These vineyards were once an apple orchard. Planted in 1996, the 35 acres of vineyards grow on the south-facing slope in the ideal soil and climatic conditions of this beautiful valley. There are ten wineries in Nova Scotia which represents an ever growing industry in the province. Nova Scotia is well able to produce the excellent grapes that are required to create some outstanding wines.

The Gaspereau Vineyards produces a number of red and white wines, available in dry, off dry, and semi dry, as well as ice and maple wine. Man the Capstan was here for a wine tasting tour and looking forward to sampling some wonderful award winning wines. The staff was expecting us upon our arrival, as Katherine had made prior arrangements for this visit, and we were greeted warmly and enthusiastically.

We admired the winery boutique with it’s shelves of shining bottles filled with wine, books, souvenirs and other such local goodies and niceties, before sideling up to the tasting counter for our samples.

We tried them all…and I have to say that we loved them all. Each wine was unique in bouquet and flavour, and as each was presented to us we were hard pressed to name a favourite among them.

I am not such a connoisseur but certainly I know a good wine when I taste it, and I personally loved the Vitis with it’s dark burgundy tones, berry in the nose, and the hint of chocolate on the tongue. The wonderful Reserve Port, which we enjoyed with dark chocolate, and the Maple dessert Wine which is such a special treat.

What really surprised me though was the Rose. I am not a fan of Rose wines generally but I loved this refreshing and fruity offering. We all agreed that the wines offered at this winery were exceptional! We filled a case with a variety of them and I came away with two of the Rose, which I saved for our Turkey dinner on Christmas Day. It complimented this meal wonderfully well and was  a great hit at the table!

Gaspereau Vineyards is well worth the visit. The winery boutique is lovely. The complimentary wine sampling and tours are offered in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and the staff are great!

The winery boutique is open 7 days a week.

April-May 10am-5pm

June-Sept 9am-6pm

Oct-Dec 10am-5pm

From downtown Wolfville (Highway #1), turn up Gaspereau Avenue (Beside the Police Station and across from Tim Horton’s). Drive 3km – Gaspereau Vineyards is located on the right.

Travelling Highway 101, take Exit 11 (Old Orchard Inn) and follow the signs. Gaspereau Vineyards is 7 km from the highway.

Wine List:

2004/06 Vitis
2007 Castel (Dry)
2007 Lucie Kuhlmann (Dry)
2008 Lucie Kuhlmann Barrel Select (Dry)
2008 Pinot Noir (Dry)
Reserve Port (Medium)
Maple Wine (Sweet)
2009 L’Acadie Blanc (Dry)
2009 Muscat (Dry)
2009 Seyval Blanc (Medium)

2009 Rose (Medium)

2009 Crescendo (Medium)
2008 Vidal Ortega Icewine (Sweet)
2008 Chardonnay (Dry)

Ivory Victorian Wedding Gown (SOLD)

(Please click on images to see full view)

Watch the heads turn when you walk down the aisle in this absolutely gorgeous Victorian historical reproduction bustle gown. Modeled after a ballroom style made popular during the 1870s, this beautiful gown features all the details, and truly embodies the elegance, beauty and opulence of the early Victorian era.This is a brand new, never been worn, Man The Capstan original gown crafted by Johanna, it is a one of a kind, there is no other gown quite like it.

Carefully handcrafted using tailoring methods authentic to the time period, it is made in a satin matelasse and 100% pure shantung silk combination. Sure to make your wedding day truly special and to become a beloved heirloom, it has been decorated with all the finery that the Victorians loved.

This gown consists of three full pieces; an off the shoulder lined satin matelasse basque back bodice with contrasting silk pouf sleeves, a pure 100% silk pleated and ruffled unlined underskirt, and a matching lined satin matelasse ruffled and pleated over-skirt with bustle and train. All pieces boast hand pleated and hand ruffled self trims, no less than twenty metres of beautiful matching ivory venise lace, plus florals, satins and faux pearl buttons at the closures, all of which have been applied by hand. You will not find a zipper here. The over-skirt can be removed for reception, the underskirt is beautiful on it’s own with the bodice, has no train, and is lovely and cool for a warm evening of celebration and dancing.

Suggested accessories: Victorian lace boots or satin slippers, opera length non-shiny gloves, a parasol or a fan and a Victorian style mantilla veil or a small floral feathered headpiece. Victorian ladies also often carried a bible decorated with flowers to their weddings. Many of these accessories can be acquired on-line and should be purchased in ivory. I also suggest an A-line crinoline to make the most of the skirts. This should not be too large. The dress  should not pouf out too much at the sides and front, rather the mass of the fabric is pulled to the back.

Size – approx 12 – please measure carefully prior to purchasing.
Measurements:
Bust – 38 (will fit 37)
Waist – 30 – 31
Hips –  a lot of freedom here
Nape to true Waist – 15

This gown can also be worn by someone slightly larger then these measurements if a good Victorian corset is worn. Ladies often made the waists of their gowns smaller by 2 inches or more than their actual size, since it was quite possible to whittle that amount away by the use of a tightly laced corset. Victorians also padded the upper parts of a bodice in order to attain the classic V – shaped torso.

Also included with this purchase is a matching reticule or keepsake pouch and a bustle “pillow”, (makes it easy to get the right look for the bustle). This is to be worn over the underskirt and under the over-skirt.

Because the front interior satin lining of this bodice was snagged during a problem during button holing, I am offering a $200 dollar discount on this gown.This snagging is present on the inside lining fabric only and is absolutely invisible on the exterior of the gown.

With discount – $800.00

Please ask questions
More pictures are available upon request.

If interested in purchase, please email me and I will arrange for an invoice. We use Paypal.