Monday, December 22, 2014

Felicity's Christmas Gown and Stomacher

Hey guys!
      I am going to talk about the dress that came with the Fashion Doll and Invitation that I got in an Ebay bundle, and for your history lesson I am going to talk about a unique part of this gown, the stomacher. Stomachers were in style from the 15th century to the 18th century. It is a stiff piece (usually stiffened with whale bone or wooden slats) of triangular fabric that basically closes the front of the gown. At one point in its history, it may have served an actual purpose but in the 18th century it was purely a fashion statement.
      In the past I have heard stories about stomachers purpose, I have heard that they were used because people back then rarely bathed and they also didn't have many dresses so it was meant to "freshen up" the dress.
     Okay...this is a load of bull for the following reasons..

  • Most rich and high society women wore stomachers.
  • If you didn't shower... the smell from your stomach and chest would be the least of your concerns. I think there are other parts of your body that would make a "fresh" stomacher useless.                          
    Another reason I have heard is shape, The stomacher gives women a narrow wasted illusion. I believe this was an accurate reason for the 18th century usage.
      Stomachers also provided structure. The stiff stomacher forced women to have amazing posture which of course in history was extremely important. In many cases, women wearing stomachers were not able to sit down.
    Anyways... Just like my purchase, most 18th century gowns were in one of two particular styles, this one is called robe à l'anglaise and the other is called Robe à la Française and they consisted of three main parts. There is the main piece of the dress that you put on like a robe which is why it is called... the robe. Then there is the petticoat, the skirt portion. And the stomacher. The stomacher attaches to either the robe or sometimes directly to the corset underneath. The stomachers that came with Felicity's gown attaches to the robe using buttons. In colonial times there were several ways they were attached. Some stomachers were actually stitched onto the dress, some were pinned to the corset underneath, and some were attached to the dress using buttons, ribbons, etc. In earlier times, the gowns were laced shut over the stomacher, like the style of a corset.

      Stomachers in high society were usually a work of art. Usually embellished with embroidery, lace, bows, jewels etc. Felicity's gown came with two stomachers. One with white lace (which is my favorite of the two), and the other with pink bows cascading down the front (this style is called en échelle) and it is embellished with pearls and some white lace on the top. 

Felicity's Stomachers
     This is a great example of how different stomachers are used on the same dress because like these two, some were made to match and complement the gown (just like the white lace one) and others are made to stand out from the gown and draw attention (Just like the pink one.)

           So that is that. Let me tell you about the rest of the gown. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it has three main parts. The robe, the petticoat, and the stomacher. In this case there are two stomachers. The gown is a beautiful blue color and I really think this color complements Felicity extremely well. There is white lace on the neckline and ruffled on the sleeves. The skirt is very full, it looks as if she is wearing the traditional 18th century false hips underneath even when she is not. There is a necklace made of ribbon with a singular dangling pearl. Then there is a pinner cap worn on her head. It is white with white lace and a blue bow and can be attached with a bobby pin. I can honestly say, now that I own this dress and have seen it in person, this is my favorite outfit of Felicity's and in my opinion it is historically accurate. 
     Below are pictures of the gown in detail. I hope you have enjoyed this history lesson and I hope you all have Happy Holidays! Feel free to leave comments, I love receiving feedback! 





Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Felicity's Fashion Doll and Invitation

Hi guys!
     So I came across an Ebay deal I just couldn't pass up. I got Felicity's fashion doll and invitation along with Felicitys holiday dress (complete) for $59.99 plus $6.50 shipping. I have noticed from my daily Ebay lurking that the holiday dress in good complete condition averages $50-$60 so I pretty much got the fashion doll for free (which also averages $50+ especially with the invite).

So anyways, before I tell you about my purchase, here is your history lesson...

    In colonial times, most upper class women had women who helped them stay fashionable in the latest trends. These women were called Mantua Makers and they often worked in milliner shops. Fashion magazines were rare so the Mantua Makers would show ladies the latest fashions by showing them fashion dolls (sometimes called babies). These dolls were sent to the Mantua Makers from France and England, then the MM's (Mantua Makers) would copy the dresses from the dolls. In Felicity's series, her gown she wore to Lady Templeton's ball was modeled after a fashion doll (this one I just bought!) that was displayed in her fathers store.


Above are examples of what these fashion dolls actually looked like. They were hand carved out of wood and as you can see, the outfits were extremely detailed so they would be exact replica's of the full size gowns. So...I know that was pretty brief but there isn't too much more to say about them. They are extremely beautiful and I absolutely love them. 
Now to start talking about my purchase. The doll is made of wood and is jointed at the hips and armpits so there is some movement. When I first opened the package and looked at the doll I was actually surprised to see it was bigger than I thought. It is close to 6 inches tall. It has white stockings painted onto her legs. The dress does resemble Felicity's but it is much more simple. The dress is not removable and neither is the pinner cap on her head. This version of this doll is the first released by American Girl, there is one other version that was released later on that has a more "spoon" shaped head rather than this cylinder shaped one.       

The invitation

In the Felicity series, she was invited to the dance of the governors wife, Lady Dunmore. Her invite was brought to her door via a footman. When I talked about samplers in an earlier post and I think I talked a bit about it when I talked about tea as well, young ladies schooling consisted of learning ladylike skills. Dancing was one of those skills that had to be learned. A typical night at a fancy ball would usually start out with dining. The ladies were to eat first, afterwards the table was cleared, reset, and then the men dined. So if you're a man attending these balls, you better pack some beef jerky or something cause it might be a while... During the time period when the men were eating. The women visited with each other and got all the gossiping out of the way because once the dining was done. S**t gets serious. The balls started with a dance called the Minuet. Two people at a time would go out onto the dance floor and preform the minuet. This is a dance that must be preformed perfectly and is taken very seriously. I mean..if a young lady does this flawlessly, she could bring home a husband. This would be danced for probably an hour and then its time for everyone to let their hair down (so to speak) and have some fun. The rest of the night, the music would liven up and they would dance what is called Contredanses. They would dance their hearts out until after midnight and sometimes it was very common for guests to come back for a second night of dancing the next day! 
So the invite that came with the fashion doll is made of a stiff paper. The outside says "Mrs.Merriman" and on the inside it reads..
Lady Dunmore 
presents her compliments
to Mrs.Merriman and
requests the favour of her
daughter Felicity's attendance
at a dancing lesson
at the palace on Saturday
January 7 at
four O'clock 
A red ribbon is tied around the letter, which this one didn't come with the ribbon but I just bought some ribbon. 

Okay so there you have it, a history lesson and a review. This has taken me days to finish because things have been hectic for me lately so I hope it has been informative and have peaked your interest.
I love getting comments so feel free!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Felicity's Colonial Tea Set

 Hey guys!
      Got my most recent purchase today! I found Felicity's Colonial Tea Set on Ebay, New in Box for a decent price. Average price that I have noticed for this New in Box is $100+ and I got it for $56 plus $8.62 shipping so $64.82 total so I saved a bit... still sucks though that the price through American Girl before Felicity was retired was $48 but like I said before... until Doc Brown shows up with the Delorean, I am going to have to cough up the extra money.
      So anyways... Here is your history lesson.
  In Felicity's time (1774), America was ruled by the King of England, George III.
King George the 3rd of England
 Tea was a very popular drink for the upper class and even the middle class at that time in all of Europe and the Americas. Young ladies like Felicity were taught the proper way to serve and drink tea in a social setting.Tea was imported from China to England by the East India Trading Company. When imported to England, the East India Trading Company had to pay a 25% tax which made tea more expensive and the English government also added an additional tax which made tea even more expensive. Meanwhile, Tea imported to Holland was not taxed which made tea smuggled into England and the Americas from Holland a heck of a lot cheaper for the people to purchase. In time, The East India Trading Company was losing a lot of money and the English government decided to help them by refunding them the 25% tax and the government also lowered taxes on tea purchases in England. However, to compensate the costs, The British Government issued the Townshend Revenue Act, which added more taxes to the colonies, including a hefty tax on tea. Because of this the colonist got angry and they began to argue and protest the tax with their reasons being that any tax should be approved by their own government, not by parliament. Their arguments paid off for a while, and their tax was lowered and the British tea taxes and the 25% import taxes was once again in effect. Then, because of the high cost of tea, the sales plummeted and the East India Trading Company started to go into severe financial crisis. Being the top import company for England, the government once again stepped in to help by restoring the full refund of the 25% tax and by letting them import directly to the 13 colonies which eliminated the cost of the middleman. The East India Trading Company appointed consignee's in ports in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston that would merchant the imported tea. Now here is the catch, when the British government reinstated the refund of the import tax, they also secretly reinstated the tea tax for the imported to the colonies. Well this didn't stay secret for very long... in October of 1773, seven ships were sent to the colonies carrying tea. Four were headed for Boston harbor, and One each for New York, Charleston, and Philadelphia. When colonists found out that this tax was once again in place, they decided to do something about it. Protesters in Charleston, Philadelphia, and New York all convinced (probably not so peacefully) the appointed Consignee's to resign and when the three ships arrived, they were forced to return to England with their cargo. In Boston however, the consignee's held their ground. They refused to resign. One of the four ships that were on their way to Boston sank during a bad storm. So three ships arrived in Boston carrying tea. To make things short and simple I will just tell you the gist of what happened next because hopefully everyone knows about the Boston Tea Party...Basically, a meeting was held by Patriots (people against the King Governing the colonies) and the they got the idea of dumping the crates of tea off the boat and into the river and that is exactly what they did. On December 16th 1773, 30 to 130 men boarded the ship. Some men dressed like Mohawk Indian warriors to represent that they were the citizens of the colonies and not of England. That night they dumped 342 chests of tea into the ocean. The Boston Tea Party was the beginning of many more events that led to the Revolutionary War.
Boston Tea Party
After that, Patriots refused to drink or purchase English tea. Patriot merchants refused to sell tea in their stores. In Felicity's series, her father stopped selling tea in his store and Felicity eventually decided that she was a patriot like her father and refused tea during her lessons. Okay so there is your history lesson. I hope you have learned something new! Now lets talk about my purchase. Felicity's tea set has a teapot, two teacups, two saucers, two silver spoons, a sugar bowl, a creamer/milk pitcher, a silver serving tray and a wooden tea caddy.

The Tea Caddy
This caddy is absolutely adorable. Let me tell you the quick history and use of the tea caddy in the 18th century... Because of the high value of tea, many people locked their tea in a caddy like this. Early tea caddies were made out of expensive materials such as silver, tortoise shell, and shagreen (leather type material) to represent the value of the contents. It was very common that the lady of the house carried the key to the caddy on her chatelaine. Woaw, wait..on her what???   

A chatelaine is pretty much like a key chain that was worn at the ladies waist. This item, with its origins in the middle ages, was used up until the 20th century. Women would keep important household things such as...keys to their tea caddy on this so hopefully no one would be tempted to grab it right off her waist!
chatelaine worn by a women in the victorian era

 Alrighty then... back to the tea caddy! By 1780s, most tea caddies were being made of mahogany just like this one is suppose to replicate and it does have a little non functioning lock just like the real version would have. 

                                           The Tea cups
18th Century Tea Bowl
          I never noticed until I bought this, but the cups have no handles which is historically accurate. Early tea cups typically did NOT have handles. Coffee and hot chocolate glasses did however have handles even in their earliest form. These early teacups were actually called "tea bowls." The saucer however isn't as accurate. Saucers in the 18th century were more bowl shaped. There is a belief that tea was poured from the cup into the saucer and drank from the saucer. 

The rest of the set looks good, the one things it is missing is a.. 
A. waste bowl, also called a slop bowl. 18th century tea sets usually had one. A bowl that is used to dump cold un-drank tea and other wastes into. Sexy right?
B. A tea strainer. Tea didn't come in convenient pouches in colonial times. Tea was sprinkled into the teapot and then strainers were placed over the individual cups and the tea was poured through the strainers and into the cup.      

Tea Strainer
The Serving Tray
I think this tray looks pretty historically accurate. Beautiful "silver" engraved with a lovely design. The only complaint I have is you can't fit the whole tea set on it which is kind of annoying but I'll live I guess. 

Well there you have it guys! I know it was a long history lesson but thanks for bearing with me and I hope you learned something new and interesting! I am definitely happy with my purchase and all in all, it is beautifully made and high quality.