4th of July weekend Civil War re-enactment!!

Okay, I have a confession.
I don't usually talk about my hobbies and family pastimes, but I wanted to let you all in on what I'll be doing this weekend.  I got made fun of by some of the mean boys in high school for my nerdy hobbies, so I'm sensitive... but, for the past 19 years, I think, my mom has had a business making historic replica clothing, for re-enactors and museums and such.  So, I have grown up with it and can tell you all about the fashion from 1833 or 1915 or whatever you like, and clear some things up about corsets and bustles!  My mom also gives fashion shows, where my friends and I are frequently models, and is involved in historic sites and state and national parks throughout Oregon.  If you want to visit, her business is Lavender's Green Historic Clothing.
Anyhoo, my mom sews for people all over the country and around, but one big market for historic clothing in Oregon is civil war reenactors.  Yes, I know it's weird--there wasn't much going on in Oregon from 1861-64!  If you live on the east coast, you've probably seen a whole lot more going on re-enacting the civil war, but we actually have a pretty large group here in the West, with four large overnight weekend events per summer--the organization is the Northwest Civil War Council.
The biggest (and best, according to my mom) event is the annual 4th of July weekend campaign at Willamette Mission State Park on the Willamette River outside Salem, Oregon's capital.  It's a big to-do every year, getting ready for it--we set up a "sutlery" on Sutler's Row, where most of the tents sell small souvenirs or accessories for the military reenactors.  We're the only ladies' dress shop, although some other ones do sell clothing, but we usually have a quiet few tents set up at the end of the row along the filbert grove in the center of the reenactment.  My dad sometimes comes out to the event, although not as a soldier, and over the years different friends have come out with us, too.  Now my cousin and her 18-month-old daughter come with us, and my fiance's family has all become very involved!  His sister marches in a unit, his brother loves to wear the clothes, and his older sister had a great time when we lent her some clothes one year!  Although he does not enjoy sitting in the hot sun in a wool suit and hat. ;)
In the weeks leading up to the event, I help my mom out preparing inventory for her store--new dresses, hats, corsets, hoop skirts, etc. to sell to reenactors, although most of her business is custom.  So, I've been over at my parents' house several days a week recently, sewing all day!  And ordering new catalogs, helping with supplier orders, etc.  Anyway, I've been a little distracted from blogging this past week but promise to be 100% back in the game on Tuesday, July 6th when we return from the three-day event!!
I did want to share with you some pictures from previous events, to tide you over (I do hope to show some pics of the new dress I've been making myself this week).
Here's some of me and my family and friends at Willamette Mission in previous years (we've sewn everything we're wearing--this is part of how I learned to sew):
My mom's "store":
My cousin and I are in charge of the kitchen and authentic food for the weekend:
My dad hammocks or plays the harmonica when he comes out to visit us:
Here's me and the family:
Here's my future sister-in-law marching (in the grey pants and dark green coat, special for her sharpshooter unit):
And here's what my fiance and his little bro do most of the time at events:
In the evenings after "the public," the visitors, leave, we wash up from dinner and kick back (sometimes it's really hot until the evenings when it cools off):
And my baby cousin gets to wear modern clothes to sleep in, to keep warm!
And she gets to take refreshing baths when it's 100 degrees out!
There's a dance on one evening of the event:
And all in all, everyone has a grand old time!
It gets a little old (one year when the 4th was a Wednesday we had a 5-day long event in 100+ degree heat), but I get so excited every year!  This year it's Saturday, Sunday the 4th, and Monday, open to the public from 9:00 till 6:00, with a full schedule of events going on.  Two battles a day, a fashion show (delivered by yours truly) and music and military demonstrations all day!
PIC
Anyway, if you live in the general Oregon-ey area, I highly encourage you to bring the kids out to the civil war event this weekend, if you don't have any big plans through Monday!  If you live anywhere in the US, I recommend Google-ing "civil war reenacting" in your area to see if there's a group near you--it's a really cool thing to come out with a picnic lunch, the family, and a camera and walk around for the day, generally on long weekends during the summer.
Regardless of what you're doing this holiday weekend, I hope you have a great one and enjoy it with friends and family, celebrating the 4th in whatever way you do.  I think we're having a cherry pie on Sunday at the event, and sometimes there are big, big fireworks on the battlefield at night.  Happy 4th of July weekend!

16 comments

  1. Call me a nerd, but I think this is super cool! The clothing is incredible and it is so neat that you help sew it. The little baby in the tub is adorable too!

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  2. I think this is AWESOME! then again I am a history junky, so any of that type of stuff is cool to me! Hope you have a great time and can't wait to see this year's photo....by the way the second photo of baby in the bath is priceless with that great grin!

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  3. I LOVE IT!!!!! The Civil War is one of my passions.

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  4. I love you a little bit more today...!

    My husband and I are getting into re-enactment ourselves... pre-1840s / Fur Traders... we live in the Midwest. So... I find it incredibly COOL that you are involved!

    I know you are busy and might not have a lot of time... but I'm having a very difficult time figuring out ladies' styles for this time period... styles that are NOT Native American in nature. If you have any ideas, I would greatly appreciate them. I have no problem finding patterns for my hubby and even the girls, but ladies' is hard!

    THANKS! erindraeger at gmail dot com

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  5. That sounds like a fun hobby! Hope you have a nice weekend!

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  6. how awesome for you! since i began homeschooling in 1999ish, I've heard a bit about reenactments and sewing patterns. I arranged to have reenactors for a homeschool audience this past spring -- we sang and dressed up and learned a ton. hope you post about this more frequently. I'll have to show this post to my kids -- we're too wimpy to endure 90 deg Iowa summers for long.

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  7. This makes me so happy! Historical costuming is my #1 nerdy passion (that I've so far successfully kept off my blog haha). Too bad I won't be back in Oregon until the 5th. Have fun!

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  8. Anonymous7/02/2010

    Thanks for sharing your pictures! My husband is a U.S. history teacher so we go to reenactments. In the past he has interviewed people and filmed them for his class. I always look at the dresses and the knitted items the women have made.

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  9. What was nerdy to your high school classmates a decade ago is definitely cool now! Historical costuming is definitely 'in' (and I'm not just saying that because it is what I do!) C'mon, we make and wear corsets!

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  10. My husband and I do Civil War reenacting too! I'm definitely going to take a look at your mom's shop!

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  11. I've never done that--but your photos make it look like an adventure! Yes that baby is absolutely adorable! Have a wonderful week-end. Post more pics.

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  12. I think that is AWESOME. Also, I am trying to find your tutorial on that petal shirt from "I Love You Man" I am going to mention it in an upcoming post and link back to you.

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  13. How fantastic! Hope you have a wonderful weekend xx

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  14. Wow, so who would of known? My friend and I are costume Crazies! as you can tell from my blog and we need more of an excuse to make the Civil War dresses and be able to wear them somewhere. Unfortunately there are none here in Utah. By the way I NEED to meet your mom and pick her brain. Too Bad we couldn't have a multi- everybody's family- get together reunions. I loved your pictures by the way. You should come with Mike to the rendezvous here sometime. Thanks

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  15. I have to admit, as nerdy as this may be, I think it looks so fun! My dad used to take us to civil war reenactments growing up and used to always be secretly jealous of the people who got to dress up and hang out there :-)

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  16. wow! i just love these types of clothes idk! maybe i was there! hi,hi
    anyway love it ! you must be so proud, since you like it and, get to wear it! very nice job your mom has!


    i always anted to dress like that or like n gone with the wind, which is my favorite movie of all times.
    thanks i love it.
    oh! i just love that red dress you or your cousin have! wow and that baby is gorgeous!

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