I have a deadline to meet. I need to complete an authentic 1870's "day dress" by next Sunday.
Murphy's Landing is a living history museum in nearby Shakopee Minnesota. It presents life in a prairie town of the late 1800s from the perspective of the immigrant settlers ... Swedes, Germans, Irish, etc. Volunteers play living roles as bankers, shopkeepers, librarians, even everyday kids.
I will be volunteering in the dressmakers' shop, so no detail of this dress will go unnoticed. The pressure is on, and I certainly don't want to put this project off until the last minute.
I pulled out the dress pattern on a recent Saturday morning.
Eager to get going, I launched into several preparatory tasks: I pulled out a quilt to see how it looks with the couch in the newly painted family room. I visited the new lambs and chicks in the barn. I got the kids up early. I made eggs for the family. Okay, none of these had anything to do with the dress, they were just distractions.
An hour passed and no inkling of the day dress was surfacing. It would take great determination to stay in the studio and sew! To mark my progress and stay on task, I decided to keep an hourly journal. What follows is the complete journal of the sewing of the dress:
This is what would have been written in the journal had I decided to write on the hour.
A lot got done, but still the dress had not been completed. But wouldn't the lady who wore this dress for more than costume have had similar distractions? My counterpart of 133 years ago would have done similar things. She would not have driven a car, sewn the dress, or cooked eggs in a microwave oven. She, too, would have tucked her children into bed then stayed up until the wee hours to finish her work. Without benefit of electric lights, she would have truly been burning her midnight oil.
She and I share the need to squeak more hours out of the 24 that aren't nearly long enough. My guess is that we are very much like the women of long ago ... not in technology, but in the drive to better ourselves. For it is they that made us what we are. And, by extension, it is we who will set the stage for women of the future.My debut at Murphy's Landing is on Sunday. There is a saying: "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done." At present, I remain a dressmaker without a dress.
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