Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A reproduction created by Tasha

Antique 1830's gown

Sewing is one my passions. I sew our own clothing to save money and create garments that reflect our love of historical living. I just finished two 1830’s style dresses with billowing sleeves, and I have almost completed two pair of broad fall pants for John.

Of course, Tasha loved to sew. Sometimes she sewed frocks from yardage she had woven, but Tasha also enjoyed shopping for fabric and stored her purchases in a huge Shaker woolen basket at the top of the upstairs landing.

            When visiting, I would pause on the landing and rummage through the stash of woolens, calicos, and flannels. Tasha kept fine lawns and other delicate pieces in another trunk that also stored her collection of collars, kid gloves, and petticoats. Tasha loved to describe a tall dry good shop in Switzerland. Each floor featured different types of fabric…. dotted Swiss, fine lawn, firmly woven calicos and rich plaids.

            “What fun we would have there!” Tasha would comment.

            Once when she saw me fingering a certain pink and maroon calico that glowed near the top of the woolen basket, Tasha gave it to me.

            “These are definitely Joan colors. Now sew yourself a lovely new frock,” she said. “And while you are here, you should stitch a day cap. I’ll help you cut it from some of the lawn I bought in Switzerland.”

            I hugged her. Tasha taught me how to roll a tiny hem along a length of lawn and create a ruffle for my new cap. And when I returned home, I sewed the many yards of calico into a stunning 1830’s style gown.

            One night, Tasha introduced me to her collection of antique gowns, and because we were the same size, the dresses fit me. Like a young 19th century girl preparing for her first dance, I tried on gowns of lavender taffeta, a gray and pink plaid, dainty sprigged lawn and rustling silks. I loved dreaming about the women who had worn the dresses. Had one of them met her future husband while wearing the plaid? Had they stepped to the same fiddle tunes I played at contra dances, to Sackett’s Harbor or Petronella? I envisioned the women twirling across wide pine boards, dizzy with the splendor of candle light and music and romance.

            Alas, all good dreams end. The dresses went back to their hangers. I ducked under the covers and snuggled into the feather bed. Frost laced the windows. But the splendor of that winter night still brings goose bumps to my arms and gratitude to my heart.


  1. I love Tasha's generosity. I am not surprised at it, but it does my hear good to know she was such a giving and sharing friend.

  2. Oh my goodness! What gorgeous dresses in the pictures above!! I just knew that Tasha was such a giving person. What beautiful fabric!! I love how eloquently you wrote about your visions of who and where those lovely antique dresses would have been worn! You have such sweet memories of your time with Tasha and I thank you so much for sharing them with us. Thrills my heart and soul!!