Saturday, December 13, 2014

February Hive
Sunday, February 15, 2015

Taking Needle to Fabric  

The Buzz -- 10 - 11:30

Book Club -- Book to be Announced

Sunday Morning at the Movies -- Barry Lyndon - Part 1

Lectures 12 - 1:30

The focus of this Hive will be to learn how to make good fabric choices, not only ones that are appropriate for the garment and time period but also fabrics that have the right feel, texture, etc.  The second part of this workshop will be to learn hand stitching techniques that will enhance the beauty of appropriate fabrics.

Fabrics of the 18th century -- Look at the wide range of fabrics that were available to the buyer of 1770 New England.  We’ll explore the advertisements, as well as the period swatch cards, and sources like Barbara Johnson’s journal.

Round Robin Breakout Sessions - Pick 2  1:30 - 3:30

“Touch This” - Sometimes what seems like a great buy turns out be a disaster to sew, especially when one shops on-line. You will learn the hallmarks of a good fabric by touch and feel.  You’ll quickly learn how to avoid the clunkers that don’t turn out to be the bargains you thought they were.

“Buttonholes” - As our dear Mr. Cooke always quips - "it’s the first thousand"!  Besides practice, there are some secrets to creating great buttonholes.  In this session, you’ll learn the basics as well as some of the tricks of the trade.

“Stroke Gathers” - A seemingly easy technique that requires a little skill and a lot of patience. Used to attach sleeve heads to the body of a shirt or shift, as well as attaching a cuff to a sleeve, a well done stroke gather is a thing of beauty.

“Basic Stitchery”  - You might know the basics but may not know the techniques to create secure and consistent stitching.  In this session we’ll cover: running stitch, combination stitch, back stitch (several variations), underhand hem stitch, whip gathers, and eyelets. You’ll also experiment with different size needles to find the right tool for the job.  Bring your sewing kit. 

Location: Minuteman Technical High School, Lexington, MA

Coffee and tea are available and as always, snacks to share are always welcome.

The Hive is free to the local living history community and is brought to you by the Hive volunteers, Minute Man National Historical Park and the generosity of Minuteman Tech for the use of their facilty.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Hive -- January 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015  Interpreting Battle Road

Sponsored by McAlpins Corp

The Buzz....

9:30 - 11:30 -- Come for the morning, get some sewing done, discuss a book, watch a movie or all three!

*   Hive Book Club -- Read and Discuss   -- The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.  Discussion lead by Matthew Mees

*   Sunday Morning Movie -- "The School for Scandal" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (A Great Performances: Theatre in America production)

Lectures: Interpreting Battle Road

12:00 -12:30 Interpreting Hartwell Taverm
Park Ranger Jim Hollister will lead a discussion of topics and issues surrounding the interpretation of Hartwell Tavern: the family, the house, tavern operation and the Revolution.

12:30 - 1:00  Meet the Smiths
In 2014, the Lincoln Minute Men, after receiving a generous donation from the family of long-time member Wayne Mount, contacted Minute Man NHP about using the money towards furnishing the Captain William Smith House. You'll hear about this amazing project, why particular items were chosen and how we can use them to interpret this wonderful house and the fascinating family that occupied it.

1:15 - 2:00 Battle Road Combat and the Bloody Angle
The Bloody Angle, a curved stretch of road in Lincoln, MA is one of the best preserved and documented battle sites within the bounds of Minute Man NHP. Why did one of the sharpest actions on April 19, 1775 occur here? How do we know what really happened? We'll look at primary sources related to this action, discuss how the opposing forces engaged one another, and how the landscape may have played a key role.

Clinics: Fine Tune Your Impression

2:15 - 3:30

Newbie Clinic for Women - Whether you are just starting out or need to make some updates, we'll look at what you need to interpret New England early 1770's - the good, better, and best.

Refit your breeches -- Do your breeches look more like bloomers? Are your kneebands more like shinbands?  Time to get your breeches refit!  You will learn some tricks for getting your breeches to fit in a more 18th century manner.  Bring your breeches and sewing kit.

Replace or rework the collar on your shirt -- Collars wear out and most collars on ready-made reenactor's shirts are too short.  Take it off and replace it with one that fits properly.  We'll also take a look at how to properly wear your neck covering.  Bring your shirt and sewing kit and some extra linen (we'll have some for sale if you don't have any).

Pinking -- We'll look at pinking as a technique for finishing silk trim for a gown.  Try your hand at several pinking techniques using a pinking iron and other tools.


Location: Minuteman Technical High School, Lexington, MA
As always, there will be coffee and tea available, but snacks to share are always welcome!

Sunday Hives are free of charge and are brought to you by The Hive volunteers, Minute Man National Historical Park and the generosity of Minuteman Tech for the use of their space.

Questions?  Contact:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Do you need a little diversion after the holidays. Forget the mani-pedi. Take a workshop!!! Get your gown ready for the Regimental Party & Dance Season with an adornment and accessory.  Join us for one or both workshops at the Golden Ball Tavern in Weston.

Saturday, January 17, 2014
Something Up Your Sleeve Workshops

9:30 – 12:30
Cuff & Sleeve Flounces
Dress up your gowns with a sleeve treatment.  In this class you’ll learn how to make sleeve flounces and cuffs.  Gussy up your silk gown with a pair of sleeve flounces or perhaps add some style to your chintz gown with a pair of cuffs.  Bring the left over fabric from your gown and make up one or both sleeve treatments.  Maybe you have a gown in your future – learn how to make and correctly attach these lovely adornments.

Cost: $30

1:00 – 4:00
Muslin Sleeve Ruffles
In the workshop you will make a pair of muslin sleeve ruffles patterned from an original 18th century pair.  You can wear these with a fancy gown or use them to dress up your chintz gown.  This workshop includes all the materials you need to make a pair of muslin sleeve ruffles.

Cost: $45

Location: Golden Ball Tavern – Weston, MA
For questions or to sign up – email

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

OSV Clothing AAR

The Rebels & Redcoats Event at Old Sturbridge Village and Battle Road have become my bellwether on where we stand on our pursuit of greater accuracy of impression.  OSV is always interesting since the standards are "suggested" rather than actually enforced by inspection and there are groups in attendance for which Battle Road standards would be a real stretch, though some of these units have made real progress.

I am pleased to report that the ladies pretty much aced it!  Lots of gowns, stays, good fabrics, appropriate hats, bonnets and caps and the vast majority had good repro shoes.  Now, that's not to say there weren't the usual offenders -- the sleeveless bodices, cabbage rose petticoats, Simplicity gowns worn without stays, but I am happy to say that the numbers were fewer and were overshadowed by the good impressions.  Ladies - I couldn't be prouder - you rock!  And your humble beeness was busting with pride every time one of you introduced a newbie and asked when the next Hive was because your friend was eager to start work on her first pair of stays.  Yes, leading by example works -- it takes time, but our Hivettes are making a difference.  Oh, and by the way, thank you for putting forth the effort to make your daughters look good too.  That was the icing on the cake.

However…..what is up with you men????? Some of you look like you were dressed to attend a "Colonial Bum Convention".  And this applies to the militia types AND men in uniform on both sides.  Grading on a curve, I give you a C-. The major problem was sloppiness of impression.  Franky, neither George would have been pleased with the appearance of their armies.  This is not to say that there weren't great impressions, there were, and we'll always cut some slack for the newbie in the loaner clothes.  However, the overall attention to detail, or lack thereof, brought down the level of accuracy of the entire event.  And reason this writer has her stay cord in a knot about this, is that these are issues that are relatively easy to fix and ones that we have addressed at the Hive on numerous occasions.

Here are some of the major issues……

1. Ill-fitting clothing was the biggest problem.  So many pairs of breeches looked more like bloomers and countless coats just hung like rags on their wearers' bodies.  No doubt they are pretty comfy, but not period correct.  Bad fit looks slovenly and extremely un-18th century.  And this wasn't just the case of the newbie in borrowed clothes - people who have been in the hobby since the beginning of time were some of the worst offenders here.  We've run clinics on clothing fit multiple times at the Hive -- there is help available, you just have to show up.  Oh yeah, and some of you still don't seem to own a sleeved outer garment.  And please explain how a certain CL unit shows up to battle with nary a coat on one of the mildest days this summer?

2.  Shoes!  Ok, I get it, repro shoes aren't cheap.  Oh, I know, you have bad feet.  Leather soles are slippery on the battlefield.  But black sneakers? Really?  When did black Nikes become de rigeur for reenacting? And if you insist on forgoing a decent pair of repro shoes, how about you at least cover up those clodhoppers with a pair of gaiters that fit and are appropriate for your impression.  Gaiters that flop around over your modern shoes just bring more attention to the fact that your shoes look really bad.  And I just love the photo posted on Facebook that shows a kneeling solider. What is front and center -- a great view of the waffle sole of his modern hiking boot.  Don't let anyone kid you -- people notice your shoes!

Detail from "The Recruiting Sergeant" 1769

3. Proper Neckwear.  One of the easiest things - but so few get it right.  Neck cloths, bandanos, neck stocks --get that neck covered and close up those top buttons of your shirt.  In addition, if you are wearing neck covering, make sure that it is actually covering your neck.  Almost every group had a problem with this - and many of them were people whose kits are otherwise pretty good.  We did a program on neckwear at the last Hive -- I'll share parts of that presentation on this blog in the near future.  Easy fix, low cost.  There is tons of artwork out there showing how neckwear of all varieties is worn. Take a stroll through the Lewis Walpole library website sometime, you'll be enlightened. 

Note: I'm going to stay out of the facial hair wars.  It's an issue that only peer pressure or enforcement of standards will fix.  So boys - that's your battle and you need to keep waging it!

4. Finally, here's one that doesn't cost a sou to fix -- POSTURE! It was most obvious when I watched the men march off to battle. For heaven sake, stand up straight, you look like a pack of Neanderthals rather than the a formidable 18th century fighting force.  In the 18th century, posture said almost as much about you as did your clothing. How you moved, how you stood, was hugely important.  Just refer to your manual of arms - it starts off by telling you how to stand.  No cost, no sewing skills needed, no purchase required -- work on your posture.  It's such a little thing that makes a huge impact.

From Von Steuben's Manual of Arms

He is to stand straight

And firm upon his legs

With the head turned to the right

So far as to bring the left eye

Over the waistcoat buttons;
The heels two inches part;
The toes turned out;
The belly drawn in a little,
But without constraint;
The breast a little projected;
The shoulders square to the front, and kept back;
And the hands hanging down the sides,
With the palms close to the thighs.

So gentlemen, get yourselves to the Hive this winter.  We're planning a whole lot of things just for you.  Yeah, you can stay home and surf the Internet but you will learn so much more by showing up in person, learning from others and being part of a community.

Maybe plan a day to inspect everyone in your regiment and address some of these issues.  Just because your kit was great ten years ago, doesn't mean that it's up to snuff now.  Everyone's impression can use a fine tuning every now and then. And the meantime, listen to your mother, "Stand up straight!"

P.S. Ladies keep up the good work.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The March Hive
Sunday, March 2, 2014 -- 11am - 3:30pm

Minuteman Technical High School, Rte 2A Lexington, MA

Sponsored by the Lincoln Minutemen

11-12 The Buzz – Come and share a cup of coffee with friends and catch up before the season starts

12-12:20 – Goal for the Season – Documenting One Thing – Take a look at how others are taking on the challenge of documenting one item of their kit!

12:30– 1:30 Hair for Men & Women – Looking at the time period between 1765 – 1788, we’ll explore how hairdos evolved for both men and ladies

1:45 – 2:30 Creamware – Your hair can be perfect, your clothes divine, but your props? Not so much... Inaccurate accouterments can ruin the whole effect.  Sharon Burnston will be sharing her knowledge of creamware.  A closer look at the things used for serving and eating off of.

The Macaroni Courtship 1772
Lewis Walpole Library

 2:45 – 3:30 Breakout Sessions

Bring this Not That – Continue the discussion about ceramic ware.  Bring a piece and let the group help you decide if you should bring it or leave it home

Hair Tips – How do I make my hair look like the one in the portrait – Some tips and traps about wearing wigs.

Shoe Buckles – Didn’t get a chance to get those shoe buckles on last time?  Bring your shoes and get your buckles on once and for all!

Creamware Dishes

Minuteman Technical High School is located on 2A in Lexington, MA.  Use the main entrance, stay straight and follow the signs for Community Education and park at the West Entrance.  Signs inside will direct you to the Hive.
Any questions email

Monday, February 3, 2014

February's Hive - Sunday Feb 9th - More on the Line-up

Museum of London

Accurate Stockings -- The holy grail!  Until someone finds a working stocking frame, figures out how to use it, and starts cranking out period style stockings, the perfect stocking will probably a remain a fantasy.

So given that perfect reproduction stocking will continue to elude us, what are our alternatives? Join us at The Hive this Sunday, February 9th for a panel discussion that will include stocking expert Carol Kocian (who actually has operated a stocking frame), "Fitting and Proper" author Sharon Burnston and knitting maven Colleen Humphreys.   They will show us examples of 18th century stockings and talk about how they were made as well as what makes for a decent repro stocking-- the good the bad and the ugly.  Following their presentation,  you can join them for a breakout session to continue the discussion.

Additional Breakout Session -- Attaching Your Shoe Buckle

For those of you who have been stumped as to how to get those buckles properly installed on your shoes, leather worker Steven Taskovics will teach you how.  Bring your shoes and buckles and get them on your shoes once and for all!

For more information of Sunday's Hive visit our website or email us at

February Hive - Sunday Feb 9th - Accessories

February Hive -- Sunday Feb 9th - Accessories!

Sponsored by His Majesty's 10th Regiment of Foot

11am - 12pm -- The Buzz -- Grab a cup of coffee and catch up with friends


12 pm - 12:30 pm  -- It's All in the Details (For men & women) - We'll take a closer look at accessories like neck clothes, hats, aprons and handkerchiefs.  Sometimes how you wear things is as important as what you actually wear.

12:30 pm - 1:15 pm -- Knapsacks and Gaiters -- Henry Cooke will discuss two rather ubiquitous accessories that we think we know, but don't often get right.

1:30 pm  - 2:30 pm --Stocking up! : Good, Better, Best  A panel discussion with Sharon Burnston, Carol Kocian & Colleen Humphreys.  Ok, so we don't have the perfect "best" stocking yet, but we do have repros that we can categorize as  "good" or "better".  And then there are some to just "walk away from"!

We'll look at some originals, discuss the characteristics of 18th century stockings and compare them against what is commercially available today.

Breakout Sessions 2:30 - 3:30

Stockings -- Continue the stocking discussion.  Bring you own stockings for review. Take a closer look at originals.

Sleeve Ruffles & Bosom Ruffles -- The GW Ball is coming up!  Perhaps you'd like to doll up your shirt or shift a bit with some ruffles.  Learn how to hem, gather and attach linen ruffles.  Not difficult to do, but there are a few tricks.  We will have kits available that will include fine linen, thread and instructions.  For Gentlemen - Bosom & Sleeve Ruffle for your shirft ($10), For Ladies Ruffle for your shift sleeve ($5).  If you'd prefer to use your own fine linen, bring it along.

Sewing Circle -- Stuck on a sewing project you are working on?  Just want to learn a few pointers?  Henry and Steph will answer your questions, and hopefully get you over that trouble spot that's preventing you from finishing up your latest project.

Shoe Buckles: Can't tell a lachet from a tine?  Are you baffled as to how to attach those buckles to your shoes? Bring your shoes and buckles and leather worker Steven Taskovics will help you attach those buckles!!!

Location: Minuteman Technical High School, Route 2A Lexington MA. Follow the signs for Community Education Parking and use the west entrance

For more information visit

For questions: hive

As always, Sunday's Hives are free of charge.  We'll have coffee and tea available.  Snacks to share are always welcome!