Since 2011, I've been researching and re-creating historical clothing, blogging about living history, and material culture as Kitty Calash. I analyse and explain primary sources using my background in art history, and decades of experience working with historical collections of objects, images, and documents in museums. This research is behind all of the bonnets, accessories, and patterns I make-- and people love what I make.
“[the bonnet] is absolutely GORGEOUS (I audibly gasped when I saw the photos). It's just what I was looking for.”
“Well researched pattern with very easy-to-follow directions. Thank you!”
“Beautiful workmanship and a wonderful artist to work with. Patient and understanding with a true eye for period aesthetics.”
“Stunningly beautiful, well made, perfect for reenactment.”
This year, I formally launched the KItty Calash Clothing Company. I sell historical clothing and accessories on Etsy and privately. I also teach workshops based on my patterns, and now I want to create more patterns. I can fill the gaps in everyone’s wardrobe, while also making the right clothes for those want them, but can’t sew their own.
I’m currently developing a quilted waistcoat pattern in multiple sizes with illustrated instructions for making up in matelasse, pre-quilted silk, and hand-quilted versions. I strive for clear, easy to understand instructions with good photography.
My patterns are multi-sized paper patterns, printed on 36” x 48” sheets by a professional pattern printing company. The waistcoat fills a need and will be the only one on the market.
My goal was to have this pattern release by mid-September, but working a part-time job and keeping up with commissions is delaying development.
My part-time job consumes hours that I could spend working to put patterns and new bonnet designs into your hands much faster. The more patterns I can sell, the more I can prototype new designs. I need to focus exclusively on Kitty Calash.
With three months of expenses and production costs covered, I can focus exclusively on costuming work to ramp up production and increase what I can offer. With $3300, I can devote my time to creative work, and scale my business to offer more variety, teach more workshops, and dress more of you!
Three months of research and design will benefit more than just women! Men’s and children’s clothing and patterns are also in the works. The amount I need to raise will cover my fixed costs, as well as the material costs of designing, testing, and producing two new patterns. I want to be available for consultations as well. Fabric choices, fitting, and persona development round out the services I can offer.
I'm asking you to be my backers, My first pattern, a bedgown, proved very popular and easy to use. I want to create a line of common garment patterns so people can dress for winter, and represent a wider variety of clothing seen in the colonies.
In addition to the quilted waistcoat underway now, other patterns include:
- Quilted hood with capelet pattern (early access and 25% off for higher level backers)
- Mantelet in two sizes, for several seasons (suitable for wool or silk)
- Early Federal bibbed or strapped apron
- The ‘Pabodie’ Cap, based on a Rhode Island portrait
- Quilted capote bonnet ca 1810 based on New England examples
- Men’s banyans and work caps
- Men’s 19th century neck stocks and under garments
- Children’s clothing
I’ll also be developing “learn to sew” kits for newcomers, providing materials and instructions for useful items that teach basic stitches and result in an appropriate accessory, like a wallet, housewife, pincushion, or pair of pockets.
Even more importantly for you, I can make more things for clients! I'll also be able to prototype new bonnet designs for the late 18th and early 19th century--work that has stalled. More designs mean more variety, allowing you to stand out from the crowd.
“Being” Kitty Calash full time will also allow me to resume writing my blog, continue teaching weekend workshops, and even resume attending or helping to plan your events! I can make that special weekend happen for your unit or historic site. I can script scenarios for civilians and military, and provide research and roles for the participants. Your pledge will help me help you bring history to life.
About Kirsten Hammerstrom:
My grandmother, Elsa, ran a dress shop in Western New York state for 50 years, dressing the women of Jamestown to look and feel their fashionable best. She taught me to sew during summer vacations, and I've been sewing ever since. I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989 with an MFA in sculpture, but the work I did there reflected on the American past, mythology, and iconography-- you could say I used history as my subject matter then, and I use it as my medium now. My RISD education taught me a variety of skills: problem solving, how to make a lot of different objects, research, connections, and art history.
My subsequent career in museums, libraries, and historical societies brought me into direct contact with historical collections, primary sources documents, and the wealth of material culture documenting American history.
Living history and historical costumes have combined my two loves: art, and history, into a practice that allows me to undertake site-specific, historically-based immersive experiences while helping people prepare for those events with research, clothing, and patterns. Meeting my Kickstarter goal will boos tmy abilities to practice my craft and increase the value I offer to the historical and museum community.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge? Time and reach! While I have a total of some 3,000 followers across social media platforms, there is overlap. Getting the first pattern out in October depends on being able to start working full time on patterning and sewing in mid-September.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)