Historically Dressed by Jenni Lithgow
Hello, gentle reader, and thank you for visiting my little corner of the web! If you enjoy the history of fashion, sewing, dolls and doll making, knitting, or other things of this sort, then you are bound to find something to potentially amuse you here on my site. If you like what you see, please consider subscribing to my blog(s) to follow along with my sewing/crafting madness!
Link to Historically Dressed blog Where I post my most current costume project updates, as well as note any changes/updates to the site
Link to Jenni-Style fashion blog A place for me to talk about my modern (and some vintage - 1930s+) sewing and fashion adventures
Link to Doll Madness blog Pursuing the madness that is my collecting and making all sorts of dolls and doll things
About Jenni - Biography
I love history - fashion history, as is obvious, but also, history in general. So, allow me to provide a little history of me, and more specifically, how I fell in to this whole "costuming" thing. . .

My earliest recollection of being aware of fashion of any kind is from when I was just a toddler. I was visiting with my Grandparents, and on this particular day, we were drawing together. Or, I should say, Granny was drawing, and I was probably scribbling all over the paper! At any rate, in this brief morsel of a memory, I recall being on the floor at her knee, and Granny leaned over in her chair to show me her drawing, and it was - as so many of her drawings throughout my childhood were - of a fancy dress. That I can remember that moment at all shows how struck by it I was, and I think something magical happened right then and there, because I've been fascinated with "fancy dresses" ever since!

My Granny not only has a talent for sketching lovely costumes, but also for sewing them. She used to make gorgeous dresses to wear to the local dances in her younger years. They were beautiful, fluffy, dreamy affairs, involving layer upon layer of tulle petticoats, and carefully selected, perfectly appointed embellishments. I consider myself very lucky to have had the benefit of so accomplished a woman as my sewing teacher! She got me started at a young age with sewing little things for my dolls, and we passed many a pleasant afternoon making doll dresses and stacks of "spare pillows" for my dolls' house. She also indulged my whim for arriving at the dinner table dressed in "appropriate attire for a dinner." This generally involved a fluffy dress, sparkly shoes and jewelry from my Granny's dance hall days, and the whole ensemble topped off with a tiara.

The arrival of my first Pleasant Company catalog is probably the thing that cemented my adoration for historic fashion and for history in general. At first it was Samantha and the "turn of the century" that I was really in to, but the year they brought out "Felicity" was the year I discovered my true love as far as history and the fashion involved goes: the 18th century. This led to my taking a "Colonial American History" elective in high school, where I was assigned a year-end project of writing a paper and accompanying it with a "visual of some sort." You can bet my paper was on fashion of the 18th century, and my "visual" was my first attempt at a "historic" costume. Of course, it was completely inaccurate and did not involve underpinnings of any kind, but the important thing was that the seed was planted, both for researching and making historic costumes!

Since then, I've slowly become more and more deeply involved with this "hobby." It seems only yesterday that I was trying to make entire Renaissance faire costumes on a tiny machine meant only for small mending jobs, prompting my Mom to take me out sewing machine shopping. My first machine was a very basic Singer, and my Mom had to really convince me that "yes, Jenni, I think you are probably going to sew enough in your future to make the purchase of a real machine worthwhile!" What a laugh, looking back! I've since upgraded to a nicer machine, a Husqvarna/Viking "Emma," which was a birthday present from my husband. I tend to employ a healthy mix of hand and machine sewing in my costuming, depending on the period of the garment, how fast the deadline is creeping up, and sometimes just my whim of the moment.

Beyond just making historic costumes, I also love studying construction details, fads throughout fashion history, and the stories of the people who created, popularized, or even just simply wore the fashions of their day. I created my web site in 2000 so I would have a place to chatter about costume, share my findings and creation, and meet new costuming fanatics like me. In the process of seeking out opportunities to wear my costumes, I've been a member of the International Costumers' Guild more often than not since April of 2004, and have enjoyed attending Costume College annually since 2004. I also try to make it to some of the fabulous events hosted in New England by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers and Elegant Arts Society, and most recently, have found several ladies in my area with similar interests, with whom I've been having a ball having sewing dates and costumed outings. I'm also happy to babble endlessly about fashion history to anyone that will listen, and was excited to get an opportunity to give a talk on what's commonly known as "Regency era" fashion to the local chapter of The Ladies' Tea Guild in 2005. I could definitely see doing more of that sort of thing in the future!

In addition to sewing and keeping up my web site, I enjoy knitting, music (listening and playing - mostly the piano, but occasionally the flute or any other random instrument that strikes my fancy), writing, reading, watching movies (especially "period" films!), and playing marathon sessions of "The Sims 2." I live in Southeastern Massachusetts with my husband, who graciously puts up with all my costuming madness and can even occasionally be persuaded to attend a costume event now and then, and one extremely spoiled and much-loved kitty, who enjoys "assisting" my costuming by way of christening each project with a lengthy nap, and enforcing that I take frequent breaks from my sewing (to pet and worship her, of course!)

If you want to know more about me, you are most welcome to drop by my blog or email me. I love making new costume buddies, getting feedback about my site - good or bad - and helping my fellow costumers with any questions they think I may be able to help them answer, (as they say, the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked!) If you do decide to email me, and are not someone I've corresponded with before, be sure and put something specific in the subject line related to costuming or my site, because I delete any conspicuous-looking emails I receive, in an effort to block out all spam and other nasty email stuff. (For example, don't write "hi!" as the subject, try something like "question about your bustle gown.")

Thanks for taking the time to read more about me. . . Hope you enjoy my web site!

                                                    Yours truly,
                                                               Jenni