Etikettarkiv: pelerine

Dressed for Travelling, Hiking, and a Visit to the Opera

Packing for the trip through Germany

I really dread packing. My suitcase always seems too small and my clothes inevitably weigh too much. And then I throw in things that I might need and would regret if I hadn’t brought along. The luggage scale is my enemy.

Packing for our trip in Germany was a different challenge. We would be travelling by train and there were no limitations to weight or size, except for the fact that we would have to manage our luggage between trains and hotels. Augusta would probably have packed her outfits in a trunk. Porters and maybe “Lohnbediente” (servants for hire) would have taken care of the luggage.  I imagine that she would have carried a small bag with her on the train, in addition to a reticule or a small purse.

The first thing I did was to buy a new suitcase with a matching bag in an antique-looking paisley pattern.  I was not going to travel with my home-made carpet bag and hat boxes. And definitely, no trunks!

So what kind of clothes did I bring?

  1. One brown wool dress for hiking and inclement weather
  2. One green-and-yellow checkered heavy cotton dress for travelling
  3. Two skirts with white blouses and cardigans – all in thin cotton – for sunny weather
  4. One silk ball-gown for the opera visit and Kerstin’s birthday dinner
  5. One green wool pelerine (short cape covering the shoulders)
  6. Five shawls, three pairs of gloves, and three white collars
  7. Two bonnets and a cotton lace cap
  8. Two petticoats
  9. Pantaloons and silk stockings
  10. Walking shoes and shoes for the opera visit
  11. Emergency jeans, t-shirts, and a puffer jacket, just in case….

In addition, I brought a hand fan, an umbrella, a parasol, opera glasses, a reticule, an embroidered purse, jewelry, hat pins, and hair ribbons.

And then there were guide books, reading material, a diary, and a sketch book; wool for knitting, protein bars for days we might not easily find allergy-suitable food, and emergency kits. Not to mention, lots of safety pins.

And of course, what Augusta could not have dreamt of: iPhones, chargers, and extra batteries.

For the record, I didn’t bring my laced corset even though I spent a lot of time making one. I figured, no one would know and it isn’t a very comfortable piece of clothing.

 What to wear?

Getting dresses in the 1840s took time and one would need help with dresses that had hooks and eyes for closure in the back. One would also need help with braiding and putting up the hair in the style of the times.

Every morning, Kerstin and I picked clothing based on the weather. If it was going to rain or be chilly, the wool dress with a shawl was perfect. For train travelling, I preferred the green-and-yellow checkered cotton dress with the green pelerine. And on a few sunny days in Lubeck, I did have use for my cotton skirts.

So what did I learn?

Shawls are great!

The wool pelerine was very useful when it was drizzling and cold.

Bonnets are great when it is windy and cold.

Fingerless gloves are beautiful and perfect when using an iPhone.

Dupioni (silk), which we used in our ball gowns, is a great fabric – it is very light and it doesn’t wrinkle. Why aren’t more clothes made of this beautiful material?

Walking around in cotton pantaloons (I even bought a pair of flannel pajama paints from H&M – same thing really) under 2 starched petticoats and a dress or a skirt is great! With the layering, you are never too hot or cold. And I loved the rustling sound of the starched petticoats when walking!

One evening, when we had to find a restaurant in Berlin and it was raining, we decided to just put on jeans – returning to present time! There were four revelations: 1. Getting dressed took less than a minute, 2. Walking didn’t make any rustling sound, 3. You almost felt indecent not wearing a full length skirt and no head covering, and 4. You became invisible – you looked like the rest of the people on the sidewalks and no one took any notice of you.

What will I incorporate in my 2017 every-day wardrobe?

Definitely lots of shawls. Fingerless gloves. Clothes made of wool and silk. And when at home, definitely pajama pants!

Album of the wardrobe

The green-and-yellow checkered heavy cotton dress:
The brown wool dress:
The cotton skirts:
The dupioni-silk, ball gown worn at Semperoper in Dresden:
Gloves and a few accessories:
Shawls and bonnets

The Travel Wardrobe

When Kerstin and I started Augusta’s Journey, we decided that in order to get into character of a wealthy 1840s girl (or to be honest, her mother), we should construct garments based on historical records and wear them when we follow in Augusta’s footsteps. We would need a travel wardrobe!

For our first leg of this journey, the cruise on Göta Canal, we made 3 different dresses each, and bonnets to match. And of course we also made petticoats, corsets, hat boxes, carpet bags, and parasols.

In a couple of weeks, we are embarking on our German journey, and we realized that this would necessitate new outfits suitable for traveling by train and hiking in national parks. And as Augusta visited the opera in both Berlin and Dresden, we would also have to make ball gowns suitable for going to the opera.

The fall dresses should be in fine wool and dark, fall colors. Kerstin soon found beautiful fabrics in Sweden and sent me pictures. I found nothing in Lincoln, because as Joanne Fabrics told me “we don’t stock any wool or silk fabrics”. So I scoured the local thrift stores for large pieces of clothing with a fabric label of 100% wool. The first one I found was a dark green women’s suit jacket for $1. That would make a fantastic pelerine. And then I also found 3 yards of checkered orange and green cotton for $5. What I had in mind was something like the outfit of Emilie Bronte in BBCs series To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters. The Bronte sisters were contemporary with Augusta and the similarities between their world and Augusta’s warrants a blog entry just by itself.

Emile Bronte in To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters
Emile Bronte in To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters

Anyway, I cut up the jacket. The wool fabric was just enough for the pelerine after I had done some little patchwork of pieces. The lining of the jacket was also just enough for making a matching bonnet. The checkered fabric would not be enough for a full dress, which usually requires 5 yards. But it would be enough for one with short sleeves and not quite as wide a skirt. In the end, I was satisfied with the outfit. The only problem I foresee is having short sleeves in October! Maybe I can find a thin cardigan to wear over it.

Having made one outfit, I realized that I would need to make two more – I would have to resort to ordering fabric online. A heavy package containing 5 meters of brown, twill wool fabric arrived last week. That would be enough for one dress. I would still need to figure out one more dress or skirt.

In the meanwhile, I started on the ball gown. First you need to figure out the pattern – then make a test dress in cheap cotton – and then, finally make the gown in silk. Figuring out the pattern took several days – I actually used sturdy paper towel that I could stitch together and try. The benefit was that I didn’t have to buy special paper and I could then reuse the paper towel pieces in the kitchen. I then purchased $2.97/yard clearance cotton fabric from Walmart and made a prototype ball gown. That took another week. Will I ever use this one?

And last Friday, I started on my silk fabric that I bought last fall in the Gold Souk area of Deira, Dubai. It is ox blood color and will have black lace. I am hoping to finish it this week so I can make my wool dresses.

So what I have I learned?

  1. The best places for cheap fabric, lace, and spools of thread are thrift stores or charity shops. And the best place for safety pins are dollar stores.
  2. Paper towel is great for making and testing patterns – you could sew a whole outfit just of paper towel!
  3. Zip ties or duct tie straps make good substitutes for whale bone, and buckram is also a very useful material for clothing construction.
  4. Hand sewing takes less time than one thinks, and you make fewer mistakes than when you use a sewing machine. Undoing mistakes take a lot of time and is frustrating.
  5. Making bias tape is quicker than going around trying to find bias tape of the right color.

Finally, and most importantly (at least to my husband)

  1. It is easier to find pins on the floor if they have the colorful heads.