Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Looking Back: Two Years

That's right...this blog has been active (ish) for two years today.  Yeah, I started it on Valentines day--must have been bored.  So, I suppose this calls for me to write something.

Which, since you're reading this, I obviously have.  Anyways.  It has been a somewhat long two years of writing, and I never did manage to publish as often as I would have liked. Even so, this is my 103rd post--making the average just under 1 post a week.  The problem is...that is the average.  I tend to go several weeks (months) without posting, then suddenly get the urge to write and publish a bunch of codependent articles all at once (*cough* the pluderhose tutorials).  I have been getting a bit better at that, at least.  Or was for a time.  Maybe I'll do better this year, but really need ideas for subjects to write about (so if you have ideas, go ahead and let me know in the comments).

Norlund 78 Hood.

I've learned quite a bit over the last couple of years about writing, both for technical--getting the point across to someone who isn't familiar with the subject--and just plain readability.  I think I'm getting closer to my goal is clarity and to make my articles just plain enjoyable to read.  Pictures do help with both keeping it interesting and helping with clarifying, and that's something else I have worked on quite a bit--taking more progress photos of my projects (having a smart phone helps quite a bit!). I also fine tuned my documentation writing by quite a bit more--when writing them, I keep a page open with my cheat-sheet outline so I don't forget anything.

Most Popular:

Some of the most popular posts over the last two years?  Most of them are fairly old, but one or two recent ones shot up there in numbers.  And so, in order of popularity (based on hits):

16th Century Irish Clothing: One of my earliest articles, and dating from well before the blog, although it got an update when I put it up on the blog.  I wrote this when I got sick of there being very little out there on the subject of Irish clothing in the 16th century.  I should probably update it yet again, but that will come later.

 Doublets and Spiderwebs: A brief tutorial on 16th Century Thread Wrapped Buttons:  Not so brief, now--I've updated it a couple of times, adding more styles than the original ones shown.  This was quite popular when I shared it; apparently, my writing was fairly on that day.

The Moselund Kirtle:  The documentation for one of my first true reconstructions, a meticulously scaled (by not much) and handsewn recreation of the Moselund gown.  It was a fun project, a challenge, and I learned quite a bit about the garment, especially since it has a decidedly unusual pattern.

The Brunswick Man: The most recent addition to the top posts list--the most recent post period, in fact.  This is the overview and photo post for my major project last year, a full suit of 1570s Germans.  I definitely learned a lot about writing tutorials while working on this, as well as bettering my documentation writing.

 My inaugural post, a bibliography of links on early Irish clothing.  Like the later clothing article, this predates my blog--I put it together because I got tired of hunting down the links every time someone asked about early period Irish clothing.  The photo is of the pattern I use for my leines.

Also up there is--for some reason--my Hobbit Trousers.  Or more specifically, the documentation for the 1820s front fall trousers.  Not sure why--it isn't even a tutorial (next time, I promise).  The photo is of the pattern I used from the period cutting manual.

Lastly, my costrel documentation.  The documentation for this predates the blog by some two years--in fact, I believe I finished the project four years ago today.  This was a fun project--it would have been much easier to do with a mold for the ends, but I managed, and am still quite happy with the results.  Even if it is somewhat battered from use now.

My Favourites:

The third and last bit I feel I should cover is some of my favourite posts, ones which I found particularly fun or challenging to write, or just plain interesting.  These are in no particular order.

Odd Things; Woven Top Hats: Now this was fun.  Above, you see a top hat woven of cane and baleen; it was posted on a sewing group (HSM, I think) a while back, and I found it so intriguing that I wrote an article on the brief fashion of top hats woven in straw, wood, and baleen (mostly straw or cane, though).

Featured Garments: In an attempt to write more (it worked until I ran out of ideas), I decided to do a regular post featuring a single garment or outfit, either extant or from a painting.  A 1820s American Surtout was my first victim, and was well worth examining....I found some interesting things about it but you have to read the article about it to find out.

 While not part of a regular feature, when I found a butt-load of historical cutting guides available for download, I simply had to put them together in an annotated bibliography using a tea fueled manic marathon--I was giddy by the time I put it up.  I was also bouncing with excitement when I ran across the oldest ones--which resulted in the Hobbit trousers coming into being.

A 1330s Genovese Cioppa: Another featured garment, and one of the more challenging ones, this particular one dealt with an Illumination from early 14th century Italy.  Why was it challenging?  Apparently, there is hardly anything dealing with the subject online--it was most frustrating.  But in the end, I managed to glean enough to get an article dissecting his clothing.

 Buttonholes!  In writing and researching, I found I may or may not have a slightly unhealthy fascination with the topic of buttonholes and how they change throughout history.  As a result, one of my favourite articles to write was this on one Buttonholes Through the Periods, giving examples and following the development of the blasted things up through their final type in the 1830s.

A 17th Century...Thing: The penultimate featured garment (to date), I dissected this weird garment in the MET.  Seriously, it's so odd that I contacted the museum about it, and discovered (surprise) that they didn't have any more information.  There are so many conflicting details about it that I couldn't come to any real conclusions, other than that the mantle is not original to the rest of the garment.

That's all, folks!  I could come up with more of course--I have plenty of favourites out of the 100 posts I've written and published, but I should probably keep it brief.  I hope you enjoyed.

© John Frey, 2017. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.


  1. Congratulations on your two years! I love all the detail and documentation in your posts. I need to get better at the documentation side if I'm going to keep dabbling my toes in historical costuming.

    1. Thank you. I was instructed to work on making my documentation more in depth, so I did. And I do enjoy writing when I'm in the mood.

      You don't /have/ to write documentation if you dabble in historical costuming, but it helps--not just you (I refer back to mine occasionally, to help remember how I did something), but other people trying to make something similar. Even if you don't do published documentation, I highly recommend keeping a journal for your projects; it makes it a lot easier if you have to go back and figure out how you did something for the next time.