Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It seemed like such a wonderful idea
To fill out my skirts so prettily.
I bought the muslin and the ribbons
In what I thought was the right quantity.

The fabric was ripped along the grain
into long strips which were stitched in gathers;
216 inches take forever to sew.
Then I sat with a sore neck and pulled threads for hours.

Whilst dreaming of my beautiful garment
I pinned, and pressed, and stitched.
Hoping it would fit over my hoop,
My fingers busy despite the pins' sharp pricks.

Alas this skirt may prove to be my Moby Dick
As it is large, unwieldy, heavy, and white.
I've invested such muscle, time, and expense
Should I ever wear it I'll have to pretend delight.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

All Is Vanity!

Miss Elodie was in fine form this weekend as she attended a ball during the spring pilgrimage in Jefferson, Texas. Ever careful of her appearance, she made a grand entrance in her favorite gown with her hair arranged in an elaborate knot.
Her impeccable toilette was not, however, as successfully achieved by her friend Miss J. Alas for the hapless Miss J., not only had she neglected to check the fasteners on the back of her gown thereby necessitating the use of those newfangled "safety" pins to give purchase to the hooks, but, horror of horrors, in the middle of the Virginia reel, she lost the hairpiece on the back of her head. This is perhaps the second worse thing that could have befallen her.

Yet Miss Elodie must congratulate Miss J. for keeping her composure such that she was able to dash over to her seat, deposit her crowning glory, and return to the line without her partner even being aware of what had just transpired. Indeed, such is Miss J.'s enthusiasm for the Virginia Reel that she completed the set and even smiled despite her braidless state during her tenure as the distaff side of the lead couple when it came their turn.

That, my dear reader, is the epitome of a lady.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Miss Elodie Sings Praises of Singer!

After years, nay, a lifetime of sewing by hand, Miss Elodie has finally succumbed to the lure of the latest technology. Yes, she has invested in a sewing machine and has learned how to use it.
After three lessons, Miss Elodie produced a lovely toile fabric covered handbag that is the envy of her friends and associates.

Her next project is a variation of a new pattern Miss Elodie's friend Miss Laurie adopted from a new publication. The fabric is a gorgeous brown, rose, and green striped cotton Miss Elodie believes will be fashionable yet comfortable this summer. The version Miss Laurie created had self-runching and green ribbon trim. Miss Elodie, while fond of green, hopes to match the fabric with rose grosgrain. Clothes are of a particular interest to Miss Elodie as she is preparing for a busy season of attending events where the gentlemen appreciate the effect her hoops and other underpinnings have on her physique and wardrobe. While voluminous skirts can be cumbersome, Miss Elodie can't help but smile as she sees how comparatively small they make her waist. Ah, if only it were true...

To return to the subject of this diary entry, Miss Elodie hopes her skills with her Singer machine will improve and that she will have acceptable examples of her handiwork to post.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Map Hatter, or, Bonnetmaking On the Road to Save Texas History

Oh my! There has been whispering around that Miss Elodie has gone into Trade. Lately she has taken to the road ready to lend her talents to gentlemen to whom she has not been introduced. Yes, money does exchange hands, but it is, of course, for such a Worthy Cause! What could so occupy her time and talents? Why she has been assisting with fundraising for the Save Texas History program!

This last excursion took her to the Civil War Reenactment held at the Confederate Reunion Grounds in Mexia where she wore the bonnet she created during the journey, handed out pamphlets, and generally stumped for Save Texas History. Never fear, Miss Elodie won't forget she is a Lady; she wore her most respectable dress and was careful to remain with her escort. Sometimes even the most retiring of Ladies need to get up and speak! And speak she did! She and The Judge sold several copies of the Phelps and Watson's Historical and Military Map of the Border and Southern States. Before, Miss Elodie sat hidden behind the display performing intricate searches through agency files and allowed The Judge to do all the talking. Now that she has had a taste for canvassing the crowd, perhaps Miss Elodie will consider a political career...

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Visit to Chatfield

Miss Elodie recently traveled to the plantation of her friend The Judge for a visit. This lovely place, still in the family of the original owner, is near the site of the June 2, 1865 challenge of Confederate General Shelby to his troops "Who will go with me to Mexico?" rather than surrender to Union forces. Shelby's Expedition did indeed travel south, but those soldiers who followed their general across the Rio Grande faced real hardship. Nonetheless, Shelby's speech near Chatfield is considered the "Last Review of the Confederacy." A commemorative plaque stands near The Judge's plantation so those visitors who are not able to hear The Judge's own grandiloquent rendition of Shelby's declaration can still experience a soup├žon of the drama from that day.

The area's history and oratory not withstanding, Chatfield is a beautiful spot and Miss Elodie acquired some photographs of the home, garden, horses, and aged cedars while on her visit. She even was persuaded to pose for the camera. Miss Elodie has overcome her natural modesty and has graciously allowed these images to be displayed in public.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Texas Sugar Plantation in Brazoria County

Miss Elodie, like her great-great-great-great-grandmother and namesake, is passionate about sugar. She likes to think that sugarcane juice runs through her veins as she thinks about sugar almost every waking moment and is the descendent of four generations of sugar planters. This heritage and a general fascination has inspired her to explore the subject extensively in both an academic and professional capacity.

As part of her sugar mania, Miss Elodie has visited several historic plantations and even a sugar refinery in Louisiana. Recently she had the opportunity to see a fairly intact property at the Varner-Hogg Plantation in Brazoria, Texas.

Over the years this property passed through several hands over the years from original "Old 300" settler Martin Varner to former Texas Gov. James Hogg and his daughter the philanthropist Miss Ima Hogg who willed the estate to the people of the state of Texas. Now a state park, Varner Hogg features the main house, a few outbuildings, family cemetery, and what is left of the sugar mill.

Included here is a picture of the house taken from the site of the sugar mill ruins. The fashionably dressed lady is Miss Elodie's friend Miss Laurie and a gentleman of her acquaintance.

The thumbnails below are of an iron kettle known as a "grande" used to boil sugarcane juice and the remains of the sugar mill foundations and chimneys.

The Bonnet Brigade


Miss Elodie's compatriots over at The Bonnet Brigade have updated their blog. She invites you to read about this duo of clothing obsessed historians.


Monday, April 9, 2007

New Day, New Diary

Miss Elodie welcomes you to her diary. She hopes her activities will be of some interest to you and others. Currently she is planning to sew a new dress, attend a symposium, and witness history in the re-making.