Sunday, January 30, 2011

School of the Victorian Lady, March 11-13, 2011

It nearly February! Who would have believed it! That means that the Victorian Ladies’ Conference is just around the corner. This year’s theme is period sewing and hat making. There will be something for every level of seamstress – beginning to accomplished – that will help improve your impression. It will again be at Ft. Concho in San Angelo on March 11-13. Contact Sharon Baird for more information on accommodations near the site. Enjoy meeting other reenactor ladies from all over. There are a limited number of spaces so don’t delay signing up.
The registration form below can be download in PDF form at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

175th Anniversary of Texas Independence, Feb. 26-27, 2010 at Washington on the Brazos

Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. The Texas Declaration of Independence was created by the Convention of 1836, which took place at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Texas Independence Day is an official holiday in the State of Texas.

WASHINGTON, Texas – Close to a thousand historical re-enactors and descendants of the original signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, including special guest U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, are expected to gather on the banks of the Brazos River next month to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the state’s independence.

The free, two-day festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 26-27 at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site to celebrate the birth of the Republic of Texas.

Sen. Hutchison, who will speak at the Sunday afternoon commemorative program in the park’s amphitheater, is a descendant of declaration signer Charles Taylor. Taylor was one of 59 men who attended the Independence Convention March 1-17, 1836, in an unfinished frame building in the heart of a growing Texas colony seeking independence from Mexico.

Highlighting the program, which kicks off at 1 p.m. with music from a contingent of the Fighting Texas Aggie Band, will be the dramatic roll call of each of the declaration signer’s names. A black powder salute by the Texas Army will follow. At 3 p.m., a giant, 72-panel reproduction of the original painting, “Reading of the Texas Declaration of Independence,” created in 1936 by Charles and Fanny Normann, will be unveiled. When complete, the segments painted a number of different artists, will be assembled to create a reproduction of the painting three times the original size. Afterwards, the traditional Texas-sized birthday cake will be sliced and served.

Throughout the day on Saturday, park visitors will be able to witness a re-enactment of key moments of the convention, including the arrival of Texian Col. William Travis’ famous letter announcing the siege of the Alamo, as well as the reading and signing of the Declaration of Independence.

“Texans and others who seek a better understanding of the state’s unique legacy should visit this year during the annual celebration,” says Scott McMahon, the park’s lead historic interpreter. “This is our 175th birthday at the place where Texas was born and the last capital of the Republic of Texas.”

McMahon will portray Daniel Boone McMahon, a pioneer who lived just across the Brazos River from the pre-Republic burg of Washington. His relative joined the Washington Guards, a local militia that acted as the rear guard for Texian Gen. Sam Houston during the Runaway Scrape and fought during the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

The two-day celebration at the 293-acre park along the Brazos River transports visitors back to the time when Texas was a sovereign nation. Costumed re-enactors and members of the Texas Army, along with skilled craftsmen and talented musicians, fill the park as the Lone Star State commemorates its inception. Re-enactors portraying statesmen of the era, such as Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, will be on hand to explain the importance of Texas independence. On both days, vendors will be selling food and drinks.

Both Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be able to enjoy a performance of “The Texas Convention: The Birth of a Republic,” by the Navasota Theater Alliance in the park amphitheater.

During the weekend, park visitors will be able to stop in at a river overlook campsite and experience a slice of what daily life was like for those who volunteered to fight for Texas independence as a member of the Texian Army. There also will be small arms and artillery firing demonstrations at the overlook and the Washington House behind the Star of the Republic Museum. The museum will be opening its news exhibit, “Fifty-nine for Freedom,” that explores the contributions of each delegate through various artifacts and historical documents.

Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site features three attractions that are open year round: Independence Hall, the Star of the Republic Museum and the Barrington Living History Farm. The event is made possible through funding from the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association, Exxon/Mobil Corporation and Bluebonnet Electric Co-op.

Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site is located between Brenham and Navasota off State Hwy. 105 and FM 1155, approximately one hour northwest of Houston. For directions or more information, call (936) 878-2214.

A schedule of other upcoming Texas 175th anniversary events, such as the San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment on April 16, are available at:

On the Net:


Received from:  Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or; Ginger Moreland (979) 830-1824 or

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vintage Book on Dress Design of the 10th to 19th Centuries Online

This is a new (old) book which has just been uploaded to Project Gutenberg and is worth a good look  The book is the 1920 version of Dress Design  by Talbot Hughes.  The book contains information on dress for both male and female from the 10th century though the 19th century.  The language is typical of books of that time (original printing 1913) and may require some time for translation for 21st century readers.  There are line drawing patterns for many of the dress pictures in the back of the book, as well as some plates of orignal garments of the time.
Project Gutenberg is a real benefit for researchers.  These are books in public domain that have been scanned and linked  for ease of use.  They can be read online, downloaded or printed.  This book was brought to my attention by one of the volunteers who helps proof and get books ready for uploading.  He thought I might like the patterns shown in the book. (Go figure!  :)  To look through this book, go to  There are probably other books worth looking at as well if you do a search.  Another good resource for antique needlework patterns is the Antique Pattern Library at 

--Ann Dixon

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What's Old is New Again!

It always amazes me how things cycle around.  We think we are so clever ...until we realize that the item was invented and popular long ago.  This summer, I unearthed a Singer pinking machine from the early 1900s in an antique shop.  This hand cranked machine would cut a pinked edge or scallop edge onto fabric.  Just perfect for finishing edges of garments and other decorations.  I had to have the little machine which still worked like a charm.  Just before Thanksgiving I was browsing in a fabric shop (those of you who know me know that I don't do that very often : ).  ) There on the the shelf of the latest and greatest of sewing notions was an electric powered fabric cutter.  With a mere change of blade you could cut a straight, pinked or scallop edge. With a push of a button you could pink the edge of yards of fabric or cut yards of strips for sewing or quilting. 

Having sewn for many, many years and  been taught by a seamstress whose roots actually came from the Victorian era ( my mother through my grandmother) I always found it interesting how sewing techniques from that time period have hung around and are often revived by young fashion designers as the latest and greatest idea in the world.  If you check this website from the sewing/couture magazine called Threads
you will find several embellishment items spotlighted there that are simple revivals of Victorian crafts such as the ribbon braid,  ribbon flowers, braided leather, and other items. To think that I have spent hours researching in Godey's and other period publication for lovely embellishments for my dresses and I could have just looked at what current designers are cycling back into popularity.  Oh, well ---I can't wait for Go-Go boots to be redesigned...again.

---Ann Dixon