Hello! My name is Abby and I am an apprentice milliner and mantua-maker (dressmaker) at the Margaret Hunter Shop. I would just like to introduce myself to you lovely readers out there, and give a little bit of insight into my day and career with Colonial Williamsburg.
I’ve officially started my third year of my apprenticeship out of seven, in January. This is kind of crazy, since it feels like I just moved to Williamsburg yesterday. It’s amazing how time flies when you live 90 percent of your time in the past. Working in trades is great; it’s really hard to be bored when there is always some project to sew or plan. What is really wonderful about the trades department is that each shop is its own, and we’re all different and unique. In our shop, we study not only Virginian and colonial milliners and mantua-makers, but we also study western fashions and their makers as a whole. We try to figure out the differences and similarities between countries, whether it is the taste of fashion (or lack thereof) or construction methods. We are the preservers of these trades, and we are always excited to research and discover new methods and fashions.
Even though as a third year, I am supposed to be focusing on men’s, women’s, and children’s millinery items (accessories) of the last quarter of the 18th century, sometimes I get the chance to do mantua-making, which I really enjoy. One of the most recent projects we did was this brown printed cotton jacket and petticoat. Nicole helped me with the construction; we’re both really pleased with how it turned out!
As for my normal day-to-day life, it’s pretty… well… normal. I show up to work dressed and ready to go, have a brief chat with Janea Whitacre, Mistress of Millinery & Mantua-making, and other coworkers about what we all have planned both for the day and long term. Sometimes we have larger projects to be done in groups (right now we are all working on an embroidered gown for a conference in March), smaller individual projects, and sometimes, we’re coming up with our next project.
We work downstairs and take turns interpreting to guests by using a predetermined schedule. We also do a great deal of research utilizing the online databases via the Rockefeller Library, updating the shop’s social media accounts, and doing other very modern job-like stuff—emails—always so many emails—does anyone know where all these emails come from? Some days I get more sewing done than others, but it always just depends on the day. I’m also responsible for supervising our interns, which is loads of fun!
At the end of the day I like to go home, put on really lazy clothing, and hang out with my husband and my dog, Huxley. You may or may not have met Huxley on the streets of Williamsburg. Since I am that kind of dog owner, here is a picture of him, in a ladies cap (because I just can’t help myself).
Anyways, that’s it for me, for now at least!