October 1-3 found me (Elizabeth Stewart Clark) in lovely Leslie, Michigan, for a Sewing Academy On the Road series hosted by Kim Lynch of The Dressmaker’s Shop. A genial total of 28 ladies gathered in Kim’s historic goods shop for a very full weekend of learning (and laughing, as I have a hard time being serious for any great length of time. For instance: greater than three or four minutes together.)
Some comments from participants:
I had a wonderful time and learned a lot! ~H.Y.
I had a great time! I especially loved all of the sewing tips and the fabulous pictures of original clothing items from the Civil War era. Meeting new friends and catching up with some long time friends while learning new things was a wonderful way to spend the weekend. ~L.S.
Great to know the face behind the words. Thank you for the awesome workshop! ~J.F.
The Weekend was amazing,I learned so much that I will not only use for reenacting, but it is knowledge that I will use the rest of my life, Thank You. You are an amazing educator, I appreciate what you do and hope to learn more from you in the future. ~L.L.
Been to many a workshop and have taught a few too. Never have I left with such a feeling of confidence in the knowledge I gained. Even the stuff I already knew, was taught in such a way, it felt new again, and I am refreshed!! Thank you to Liz and Kim and every single lady that was present; the entire group made the experience unforgettable. ~L.L. II
I had fun, too! The participants came from as far away as Pennsylvania (with most much closer to home), and brought with them a wonderful range of experiences and passions. It was fantastic to hear the instant buzz of conversation and delight as each woman picked up new handwork techniques (or refined old ones). Though there wasn’t time to fit a full workshop on draping into the weekend, we did get to do a demonstration drape on a willing class member (thanks, Rose!), who did a great job with “turn, hold…. yes, there, just right” for 20 minutes.
Beth Turza kindly brought in some of her children’s clothing collection to share, which was truly a delight! We also ogled the gorgeous repro clothing work of multiple workshop members. Being right in Kim’s shop was good and bad… good, because of the wonderful fabric just calling out to be fondled, admired, and brought home, and bad… for the exact same reason. Most of us succumbed, I believe. What a great opportunity to get hold of some gorgeous fine cottons and real lace or whitework trims to whip up a few collars, cuffs, or other white accessories after Friday’s Frippery workshop!
I brought the cooler weather with me, just as I did for Arizona this past spring. Perhaps in the future, I ought to post a “bring shawls” notice for workshop participants? At any rate, the weather was gorgeous and crisp! I had no idea Michigan was so lovely… I can’t believe my own ancestors left it so many years ago.
It was great to meet everyone. I do hope our paths cross again, soon! Thanks to everyone for coming, and to Kim Lynch for hosting so beautifully!
“The work of Charity is ever a work of pleasure, and the great work of charity to sustain that noblest development of this cruel war, the Sanitary Commission, in which we are all now enlisted, is bringing pleasures in its train we had never anticipated. A movement which so thoroughly enlists the sympathy of all classes, and all ages, from the millionaire to the poor sewing woman; from the grandsire to the school girl, was perhaps, never before witnessed. All are doing something, contributing each according to his or her means or opportunities; and what an amount of latent power to do good has thus been developed. How many new ways of assisting in the good work have been discovered. All that is asked is that each shall contribute of what they have; if they are not blessed with riches, then give of their talents, their art, their skill, and there are none too poor but can contribute in some of these ways to the work in hand.”
~The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 23 January 1864
One interesting aspect of the American Civil War is the degree to which everyday citizens became involved in the war effort. All across the nation, from areas directly affected by the battles, to areas far removed from the conflict’s front, ordinary citizens came together in a multitude of ways to support “our boys”—regardless of the color of “our boy’s” uniform.
The Aid Fair was not a new idea; expositions and fairs had become a popular means of fundraising and entertainment in the first half of the century. It was natural, then, to use the arrangement of a Fair as a means of raising the funds and supplies needed for the war effort on both sides. Continue reading