Tuesday, November 4, 2014

• A Visit to a Mansion •

Whew. We did it! Went on vacation, had a blast, and now we're back. It really was a lot of fun, and as all good things, went way too fast!
Destination: Duluth, Minnesota. Favorite place on earth.
There's so much to do there, and it's just positively beautiful. I was planning on getting a lot of outfit photos taken, but unfortunately, either the weather was too cold to even take our coats off, we didn't have time, or just didn't feel like it!
So, we'll have to get some pictures taken at home instead.
Anyway, I do have loads of bridge, ship, lake and land pictures to share, so bear with me if you can!
First up is our visit to Glensheen; a huge, gorgeous mansion on Lake Superior, built in 1905-1908. The house was owned by Chester and Clara Congdon. Mr. Congdon wasn't wealthy when he was young, but made his fortune through the mining industry later in life. The house cost $850,000 in 1905, which converts to about $30 million in today's dollars. Whew. So, yeah. It is an amazing place. I want to live there.
My mom and I accomplished our sewing goals, and were able to take nothing but handmade clothing (except a UMD shirt for the hockey games). That was pretty amazing!!

I made a 1912-ish outfit for our mansion visit. Naturally we ended up going there on Halloween, but thankfully no one uttered the word "costume." 
I used Butterick 4954 for the jacket with some rather stiff, lace-printed cotton. The pattern doesn't call for cotton, of course, but this was all I had on hand. It worked really well. The sizing on the jacket pattern is absolutely crazy though, just to let you know. I made it a size smaller than usual AND overlapped it almost an inch extra just to make it fit. I really don't know why they made the pattern with so much ease. It turned out really well in the end though, so that's what counts. My other complaint is about the back pleat. There is a pleat in the back of the jacket that serves pretty much no purpose at all, other than frustrating you beyond imagination while sewing it. If it came open and looked like something then I wouldn't mind, but it really just lays there uselessly. So next time, no pleat. That will be. so. fun.

I used Butterick  6108 for the skirt. I have had that fabric for....12 years? I wanted my mom to make me a dress like Kit, the American Girl doll. So I guess that was a couple of years ago. It is a marvelous woven cotton that does. not. wrinkle, nor does it fray. It was not, however, fun to sew, in that the skirt is cut on the bias, making it hard to sew with the stretch, plus the fact that the fabric was virtually unmarkable. So it all boiled down to me imagining a line on the fabric and sewing it, hoping that it would form a somewhat reasonably straight tuck. It worked, but not without sweat and anguish. The only thing I don't like about the skirt is the design of the waist area. There is a facing on the inside that the top of the skirt is actually eased onto, which makes it unpleasantly bulky in the waist area. Next time I make the skirt, I will definitely make the front and back pieces slightly smaller so that there is no unwanted bulkiness. Thankfully though, all that doesn't matter under my jacket!
Back to the mansion:

The house has 39 rooms, allowing plenty of room for the Congdon's 7 children. 

They had electric lighting in all of their light fixtures, but also had natural gas lines put in so that if the new-fangled electricity failed, they would still have light! 

The banisters were carved offsite and brought in after the house was built.

Mrs. Congdon was 4'11" and had an 18" waist. This was her dressform.

Their piano was a custom mahogany Steinway. Boy, would I like to have gotten my hands on that! I did get to play an 1860s square grand piano in another mansion we visited though, so I got my old piano fix for the week. That was amazing! 

Mr. Congdon bought this silk embroidery in Japan for $100 in the early 1900s. That was quite a bit of money back then, admittedly, but now it is priceless. A piece like this would take a seamstress approximately 2 years to complete, and she could only make a couple of them in her life because it was too hard on her eyes.

I was thrilled to see a few glimpses of clothing throughout the house. I just wish I could have gotten a closer look!

There were several different furs as well, which were very beautiful.

They had a huge carriage house on the property with a lift that would bring the carriages into the upper level of the house for storage.

Even though it was still October, it snowed a little! I was very happy.

The lake was so gorgeous! The power of the waves was amazing to watch. If I lived there I would definitely just sit on the beach all day long. You can have the ocean, I'll take Lake Superior!
Now that I'm back, I'll be getting on a more normal blogging schedule, so thanks for your patience! I'll be sharing my fabric finds as well... :)

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