Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Would Laura Wear?

Costumes have never been "my thing." I've never been a big fan of Hallowe'en either (except for the leftover candies). But when my book Laura Secord, Heroine of The War of 1812 came out this spring,  I thought I'd make a costume that I could wear for readings and presentations to promote the book.

The only thing I had to go on when I decided to make a Laura Secord costume was what her daughter Harriet told author Sarah Anne Curzon in 1891. Harriet was James' and Laura's third daughter, and at the age of ten, the only one who saw her mother leave the house at dawn the day of her walk to warn Lieutenant Fitzgibbon. "She had on house slippers and a flowered print gown; I think it was brown, with orange flowers on it," Harriet remembered all those years later.

My dress is cream-coloured cotton, with tiny blue flowers on it. In an earlier life it had been a tablecloth, one I'd made myself years ago. The dress has an empire waistline, popular in the Regency period, and the long skirt, which is slightly longer and fuller in the back, is fully lined. For this dress I used Simplicity costume pattern 4055. The only thing I changed was the length of the sleeves, making them elbow length.

The shawl and mob cap were made from another Simplicity pattern, 3723.

It is more likely that on that hot day — June 22, 1813 — Laura wore a sunbonnet. I chose something that I could make myself, a mob cap or duster, which is what women wore everyday at home in those days.

I would have preferred not to wear a hat, but it seems to complete the outfit.

I'm including this picture because it shows what I wore on my feet. They are black, ballerina-style slippers, and after spending a whole weekend, June 1–3, wearing them at the Spencerville Mill Bicentennial Heritage Fair, I can say they worked very well.

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