This week I've been working on muslin mockups of a new type of jacket. Basically it's a set of different sizes, in a cheap fabric so the cutter/fitter can figure out any problems before hacking into the expensive stuff. The first one took me eight hours to put together (plus lots of tears) but after four of them I'm down to about three and a half.
Then today my supervisor took my hand and gently told me that my next project was going to be a set of stays. Stays, of course, being the undergarment of choice in the eighteenth century--our stays come from a pattern that was taken from an original set in the Victoria and Albert Museum. (the wiseass in me questions the patriotism of wearing English stays in revolutionary America, but I digress.) Stays are hard. They are bloody hard. They are angles and straight lines and exact measurements and turning corners on a dime and they will drive you mad. I cried. Attempted to stab myself with my seam ripper. But in the end--the stays stayed, and I'll let you know how they turn out.
I told my supervisor that if this was her idea of getting my confidence up by challenging me, then I was perfectly happy being despondent that I couldn't so much as gather a sleeve, but she just laughed and told me she had every confidence I could do it. Great. That makes me feel MUCH better.
So I was happy to get away for militia--only when I arrived I learned the program has changed again, and it's cannon only on Wednesdays and Fridays from now on. It takes six people to fire a cannon properly, although you can do it with five. I've never been trained on the cannon however--not on handling the charge, lintstocking, worming, sponging, picking or priming. But with a wicked glint in his eye, my captain told me that handling the charge was "easy" and left the poor befuddled searjeant to explain it to me. It is easy--basically when I'm ordered to, I take a cartridge out of the case, shout "Coming about!" then walk over to the wormer and hand it to him so he can load the gun. Then when the gun fires I shout "Gun fired!" in case anyone missed it. But--as with all walk on roles--I missed a cue and neglected to shout "Gun fired!" at one point, prompting my searjeant to yell at me in a historically pleasing fashion.
It's a new program. Lots of kinks to work out. As in the real military, the captain was the only one with any clue what was going on--and even then I'm not entirely sure he was certain, although of course I'd never question a superior officer. We did get to fire the cannons "as on the battlefield" which means as quickly as you can reload, resulting in a nice barrage of smoke and noise. I can see how cannons are the preferred weapon of choice among the CW militia. I'm just waiting for New Year's Eve when we get to fire muskets as quickly as we can reload.