Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fitting Session

We've just finished up studying Colonial America through our readings of the Felicity series from American Girl. I think it's been a highlight of the school year for all of us, and I am eager to get us to Williamsburg, VA, for a field trip. Until then I am finding other fun supplemental activities. It turns out that a sewing friend of mine is a gold-mine of a guest speaker. She happened to bring a corset or two to a recent evening gathering, and I immediately knew I needed to have her come demonstrate these to the girls. We set up a time, and she came today to share her knowledge of the time period's clothes, and a corset or two! Children (both boys and girls) began wearing soft stays, or corsets, around 2, and girls would wear stiff corsets beginning at around 11 or 12. Below, the girls check out an adult corset before we began trying them on...
Riley was the first to give the soft stay a try. She says, "It felt really stiff. It was hard to move around"

Who wants to go next? Look at those eager hands shooting to the sky...

Elisabeth helped tighten Mary's fitting. Mary says, "It felt like I had rope tied around me, and it was tight."

And then, Mommy got to try on the stiff, adult corset. She might have commented that it was squeezing the living daylights out of her, but it was all she could do to breathe, let alone talk.
After trying them on, we attempted to bend down, touch our toes, reach out straight in front of us, sit down...all these things felt quite different. I imagined having to get things in and out of the oven or mop the floors on my hands and knees in one of these--whoa. The girls think that stays/corsets would make gymnastics, playing capture-the-flag or hide and seek, tree climbing, and curling up with good books a lot more challenging. This is a great interactive website that shows different elements of a Colonial lady's clothing for those of you who might be interested. In one of Riley's writings on the subject, she described Colonial clothing as an art and a chore--sounds pretty accurate.