Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Week in Williamsburg

Ahhhhh.... I kind of feel like I have no words to describe my week in Williamsburg. But I'll do my best. :)

The drive there was... scary. Yeah... we left 60ยบ weather here at home, and drove through West Virginia/Virginia in a blizzard. No joke. It was super weird. To be in Virginia, on April 4th, in a blizzard. Thankfully we made it safe and sound, though not without having to take a winding narrow road over a mountain, since the tunnel through the mountain was closed due to an accident. Just going through that added 2 extra hours to our trip.

We stopped to spend a day with my grandparents, and surprisingly, timed it perfectly with my Dad's cousin from CA, who happened to be visiting my grandparents too while they looked at colleges for her son! So fun to get to meet people you're related to for the first time! :)

The drive to Williamsburg was uneventful. Thankfully!

We shared a cottage about 5 minutes away from the town with our friends the Riggenbachs. It was an adorable cottage, and just a place where you feel happy, if that makes sense. :) We arrived pretty late in the evening, so we couldn't go into town on the first day, but we spent every other day there, so that was fine!

It was fun as places started looking more familiar to me, as I remembered some things from 9 years ago. I also remember some of the people who work there! Pretty neat! I can't go into detail about the whole week, as that would take waaaaay too long, so I'll just give you a few highlights.

The top highlight for me was probably a concert that we went too in the Governer's Palace ballroom. Talk about the best location for a concert ever!! :) You just have to love hearing Teleman played on a real 18th century harpsichord. :) Am I making you jealous??

*All photos by Kathryn Grace Photography, unless otherwise noted*

This photo was taken during our tour of the Governer's Palace. The concert was in by candlelight in the evening. You can see the harpsichord though on the right. 

I loved the small shops, and learning about the trades of the 18th century. Of course, I loved the milliner shop the best - after all, that's my thing! It was super exciting too, as we were walking around town one evening and we were stopped by the apprentice tailor, who told us that they were talking about us in the shop because our clothes were nice!!!*squeals* Way to make us beam the rest of the time we were there! :)

Since we were in 18th century clothing the whole time, most people thought we worked there... we had to learn where all the bathrooms and bus stops were pretty quickly so we could answer questions! :) It was hilarious to see peoples' faces when we'd tell them "Oh, we don't work here. We're just visitors". But honestly - what's the point of going to Williamsburg if you're not going to dress up?? :)

Okay, enough with the words, and onto the pictures of my outfits! 

This is the outfit you've already seen

This was probably my favorite combination of clothing. Mrs. Riggenbach called me a "chocolate raspberry". :)

The above photos were taken at the capitol building, and it was like a "wind tunnel" in there... I nearly lost my hat! 

Lily and me.
It was really funny, because Lily and I either coordinated our outfits really well (like above), or really horribly, to the point where we didn't want to stand next to each other.
Lily is the most amazing seamstress... I get seriously inspired every time I am around her. Who else agrees with me that she needs to start a blog so we can all admire her work??

Lily has a blog now!! Check it out HERE!

L-R: Mr. Riggenbach, Mrs. Riggenbach, Gretel, Benjamin, me, Lily, and Kathryn
*Photo by a random tourist with a HUGE lens who got Dad's email and sent us the picture*

Benjamin is the son of the shoemaker at Williamsburg. We were walking by the field in front of their house while his brother was practicing bowling for a cricket match they were having at Bacon's Castle, and Mr. and Mrs. Riggenbach struck up a conversation with them. Turns out they are reformed and home-educated (like us)! It was really neat to meet them, and hear about how it is to live in Williamsburg, etc. Benjamin gave us a personalized tour of the town on Monday, and even got dressed in period attire on Tuesday!

Here's a petticoat that was in the Milliner's shop. I want it.

Me teaching Lily how to play Mancala at the Powell house

This outfit is really a jacket and skirt, but I purposely made it out of the same fabric so it would look somewhat like a dress. Kathryn is wearing it in the group photo above, but with the neckerchief tucked in.

You can see on the sleeves of this jacket there's a small pleat. I did the other jackets completely smooth around, but this one I added the pleat to make it more comfortable. I would probably move the pleat up higher if I did it again.

These photos were taken at the garden of Basset Hall, the Rockefellers home in Williamsburg. It was probably my favorite house there, though the decor was a little over the top. Mrs. Rockefeller had interesting taste.

Another combination of garments

There were two other outfit combinations that didn't get photographed, but I'm sure you get the idea. :)

Sorry it took so long to get this post up. Life has been non-stop since we got home! But I hope it was worth the wait. Oh, and if you ever get the opportunity to visit Williamburg, TAKE IT! I want to live there.

As always, MANY THANKS, Kathryn for these photos! And MANY THANKS to the Riggenbach family for inviting us to come. It was a blast being with you all for a week!!


  1. I love Williamsburg! My family visited there years ago and I'll never forget it.

    Those costumes are beautiful. And I know Lilly too!! Actually, I've worn the pink dress Gretel is wearing. :)

  2. Looks like a wonderful experience!
    And yes, you can't visit Williamsburg ( or any other historic place) without being dressed up!! That's part of the fun! ( Though I've never been to Williamsburg, so how would I know?? )

  3. Small world--like my sister said above, we know Lilly too! :) Very neat. And lovely pictures. Williamsburg is one of my favorite places on earth. :)

  4. Wow!! Gorgeous!! Being a Civil War era reenactor, I've not had much interest in the colonial days...but these gorgeous dresses tempts me to change my mind!!

  5. Anna Olivia - Lily mention you girls a couple times when she was telling us about B.T.M! It's fun to find out about different connections, isn't it? Thanks for the comment!

    Samantha - It was such a wonderful experience! You will have to visit Williamsburg someday!!

    Michaela - I agree! Williamsburg is one of my favorite places too! So fun that you know Lily - we've known her for about 5-6 years and have had tons of fun together!

    Kellie - Thanks! You definitely should try colonial one of these days - it's quickly becoming one of my top favorite eras!

  6. Oh, my your costumes are gorgeous! I need to learn to sew that well!

  7. *sigh* That was so fun. We need to do it again!!
    Thanks for letting me wear a couple of your outfits! I still think you are insane for making all of that, but it worked out well for me... ;-)

  8. Wow! Your outfits are incredible! And yes, Lily needs to start a blog! Looks like you all had a wonderful time. :-)

  9. Tara, you are an inspiration. Gorgeous pictures! Your outfits turned out splendid! Did you use a pattern or draft it yourself? I'd love to sew a historically accurate (or at least close to it) ensemble! :)

  10. Beautiful job, Tara. I can only imagine how fun it was to be in Williamsburg again.

    If you ever buy yourself a cottage out there may I please drop in for a visit (I love Willamsburg too)? ;)

  11. Kathryn - I know. Let's go... say, this fall?? Hey, at least all my outfit combinations got worn - I would have felt terrible if all six of them weren't put to good use. So thanks. :)

    Kaila - We sure did! Thanks for the comment!

    Allison - Thank you! My jackets were from JP Ryan's jacket pattern, though I modified them slightly. :)

    Moriah - Absolutely! You can come visit anytime when I buy my dream cottage! :)

  12. Fantastic! I'll look forward to it. ;)

  13. What pattern did you use to create your outfits? I am curious and wanting to make a similar dress myself. :) Thanks and blessings, Erica

  14. Moriah - :)

    Erica - I used JP Ryan's pattern for the chemise and jackets. The skirt was just two widths of 60" fabric, cut to the length I needed and then pleated onto the waistband. Hope that helps!

  15. Your outfits are so beautiful!
    And I agree with you about dressing up... I've long wanted to do that whenever I go to a historic place, but I never got around to it, usually... various practical considerations for activities around the place and so on. *sigh*
    Once again, your outfits are so beautiful. I love the blue one, simply because I love the colour combination so much myself... I also love your hat.

  16. Hana - Marmota - Thanks so much! You'll definitely have to try dressing up some time - it adds such a charm to one's visit! :) The color of the blue is one of my top favorite colors!
    Thanks for the comment!!

  17. Absolutely lovely outfits!

    I'm in love with your blog now. I was homeschooled a few years and we loved visiting Williamsburg. I also had a Felicity (American Girl) doll that was well loved and adored. I recently did some post called Looks from Books with my Anne and other book inspired outfits. However, I didn't sew mine. You are an amazing seamstress!!!

    Rachel @ www.girlsinplaidskirts.com

  18. Thanks, Rachel! I looked at your blog, and it's lovely!

  19. I might be going to Williamsburg this fall (shriek!!!!!!), so I have been poring over your Williamsburg post! What kind of fabric are your outfits made out of? What pattern (if any) did you use for the petticoat and stays?
    Thanks, Tara!!! I adore your blog (and Lily's, and Kathryn's). You ladies are so, so talented!!!

    1. YAY! How exciting!! You'll LOVE it there! All my outfits are made of linen or linen/cotton. I bought it from: http://www.fabrics-store.com/

      The petticoats aren't from a pattern - they are just 3 widths of fabric, and cut however long you need from your waist to the floor, and then pleated onto a thin waistband.

      The stays are from JP Ryan's pattern, though they needed a considerable amount of tweaking! I highly suggest having someone help you fit the stays, because it will go a whole lot smoother than if you do it on your own!

      Thanks for compliments and the comment! :)

  20. Thanks for the info! I hate to question you to death, but I wondered what type of closure, if any, is on the petticoat and top. I'm so excited about making a colonial outfit! Even if I just wear it to our local festival. Thanks again for the information, and for sharing your lovely creations. You have inspired me to start sewing vintage clothes, and I can't thank you enough for that! I love it!!

    1. Oh no problem! I like to get questions! :)

      The petticoat is split on each side about 8 inches (for pockets), and both front and back have long strips of twill tape sewn to the waistband. The back ones then are brought to the front and tied, and the front to the back and tied (and then tucked behind the skirt, so you don't have twill tape ends sticking out).

      The top just closes with straight pins, pinned as invisibly as possible down the front. The main reason for that is so that you can adjust your outfit to however tight you need it, without being tied down by hooks and eyes, or buttons.




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