Monday, June 13, 2016

Embellishing 17th-Century Dress at Plimoth Plantation (and THE JACKET!)

One random afternoon, while wandering around Plimoth Plantation's web site, I noticed something I hadn't before: an advertisement for a 17th Century Dress Embellishment conference weekend. I think there was maybe about a 90 second gap before me finding that and me enrolling, and that's only because I had to pull my card out of my wallet! Ha ha ha! Then came several weeks of waiting, but this past Saturday, at last, the day had arrived. . .

Entering Plimoth Plantation

The main focus of the weekend was on 17th century embroidery, and we would be making a small wall hanging using the same techniques used to make The Plimoth Jacket. There were several designs to choose from, but of course, I had to go with the most technically difficult, because it was part of the design used for the jacket! I was lucky enough to already have one of the Plimoth Jacket thread kits in my stash, so I brought that along, and used several colors of that for my wall hanging (along with a coral color that was not in the kit, but is similar to the coral color used in The Jacket).

Supplies for the 17c wall hanging based on The Plimoth Jacket

Much of my embroidery time Saturday was spent trying different techniques for making the detached buttonhole stitch, and learning through trial and error the perfect distance to put between stitches to create something I liked the look of. I did a lot of ripping out stitches, as one always does when learning something new!

We managed to take some of lunch break to pop down to the village!

Welcome to the 17th Century

Plimoth Plantation

I love getting to wander into the houses and see how life was in the 1620s. . . I also loved the chickens who wander freely, even into the houses!

Interior of a house at Plimoth Plantation

House with roof being repaired at Plimoth Plantation

Raised bed garden at Plimoth Plantation

Back inside, we saw more demos of 17th century stitches. . .

Embroidery demo at Plimoth Plantation 17th century embellishment conference

And we got to see the blacksmith demonstrate how he made the spangles for The Plimoth Jacket!

Spangle making demonstration at Plimoth Plantation 17th century embellishment conference

At the end of Saturday, Plimoth Plantation had organized a wonderful cocktail hour for the attendees, at which they were going to present to us THE JACKET!!! Carrie and I wore tiaras because it was Carrie's birthday! (This picture came out blurry because I had a shaky hand. . . Excitement over The Jacket? Probably!)


They had made a special cocktail for us, called the Pin Cushion! I wish I could remember exactly what was in it. . . I know there was grapefruit something. . . But at any rate, it was delicious - and pink!

The Pin Cushion cocktail at Plimoth Plantation

And then, The Jacket was about to appear! Here is a picture of me as it was coming out:

Girls screaming for the Beatles

Ha ha ha, okay, that's actually girls screaming for The Beatles. . . But it's what I looked like on the inside! And then. . . THE JACKET!!!

The Plimoth Jacket

The Plimoth Jacket

I thought they did such a lovely job of making this a real event! The lighting, the music in the background, and a really lovely speech that preceded it. And of course, getting to see it! In person! And on a person!

The Plimoth Jacket

After the excitement, we found we had worked up an appetite, so Carrie and I headed down to the Plymouth waterfront in search of food. Of course, we had to first take a walk down to see the newly-arrived Mayflower!

The Mayflower

And then we had some delicious, giant, stuffed pretzels at Driftwood! I got the veggie pretzel, and it was delicious, but so filling that this is what I took home as leftovers!

Giant stuffed pretzel at Driftwood in Plymouth

After getting some sleep, it was back to Plimoth Plantation again Sunday morning, to see a lace-making demonstration!

Bobbin lace making demonstration

After lace-making, there was more embroidery time, and finally, we got to tour the wardrobe department! This involved getting to study The Jacket in daylight, up close and personal! I don't actually know with 100% certainty what I can post for pictures, so until I check on that, here is a picture of the mock-up that was made for the jacket. It used the pattern that was used for the actual jacket, and the same construction techniques, but of course, no embroidery! However, the pattern for the embroidery was all drawn in, so that they could be sure it would work out nicely on the real deal. . .

Mock up for the Plimoth Jacket

I had so much fun getting to talk to the people who make and maintain the wardrobe at Plimoth Plantation! We got to see a variety of pieces used throughout the years by the "pilgrims," and ask all kinds of questions. I didn't take any fabulous pictures, being too much absorbed in listening and in poking around, but here are some plants from which dyes would have been obtained in the 17th century. . .

Plants used for 17th century dyes

By the end of the weekend, I had a start on my wall hanging, (not as much progress as others, but then, I spent a good amount of time messing around with different stitches and techniques and subsequently ripping and re-stitching things, and I also left a little bit early because I was fairly worn out and wanting to beat the Cape Cod traffic), and also, two thread buttons. I realized I did not take any pictures at the button making demonstration! Rest assured it was another super fun part of the weekend, and I learned to make two different styles of buttons that you see here. (The blue woven button is not quite finished yet, but the one with both blue and red is ready to be popped onto a project of some sort!)

Embroidery and thread buttons

And of course, in between all the crafting and related adventures, I had to make multiple stops into the craft and gift shops!

Loot from the Plimoth Plantation gift shops

I have a little collection going of these Oliver Pluff teas from historic sites, so I was happy to add Plimoth Plantation to that. I got the Bohea tea, and had it for breakfast this morning. Delicious! I also have a serious crewel addiction right now (more on that in my next post, I think), so I could not resist this very pretty tree of life kit. And finally, I was so excited to see this relatively newly published Plimoth Plantation knitting book!!! I have the previous book from the 1970s which is mostly words with a few low quality black and white pictures. This one is many more pages, typed up very clearly, and includes color pictures of the projects, as well as a few charming pictures of the village sprinkled throughout, which I thought was a nice touch. Also, spiral-bound! YES! All craft books should be spiral-bound like this, because then they behave nicely, and lay flat on your workspace while you knit/sew/whatever!

I knew I was going to come away with new embroidery tricks, and exposure to other 17c embellishments, and I knew I was going to be swooning over THE Jacket, but this weekend also allowed for a blossoming friendship and meeting new possible future friends, and it inspired me to dive deeper into the intricate details of 17th century fashion! I definitely have added some new projects to my endless sewing/crafting to-do list. I still have school sucking up much of my time, but I'm determined to make sure I squeeze in little pockets of time here and there for both research and actually making things! I would declare the weekend a fabulous success, a wonderful time, and something I hope to do more of in the future!

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