Boom! It all started in 2016 when I did my first Mini Makers Faire at Carillon Historical Park. After the Mini Makers Faire I was asked if I was interested in sewing for the park. I had my first interview with the directer of education and she kindly educated me on how everything works.

Carillon Historical Park is a wonderful place to learn all about Dayton History. It has the only fully functional 1850s brewery, a seasonal 1910 style ice-cream parlor, a merry go round and a train that is 1/8 the size of a real train – that you can also ride!


























When I first started I was asked to make sturdy washable aprons, shirts and skirts.  I was given staff measurement sheets to work from for each staff member. I have learned so much along this journey and now we are much more organized. I receive emails with spreadsheets of everything needed in easy basic sizes. I simply move through each list. I have a mens shirt I cut up to use as a pattern and they gave me basic pattern pieces for the women’s shirts.

Let’s start with the biggest first, the WAVES jacket. I was over the moon when they asked me to do this project.

I was given a binder of photographs and a cut up suit jacket to replicate the WAVES jacket. Dayton History owns possibly one of the last cabins the WAVES stayed in. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) WAVES were an important part of Dayton History because they helped decode the crypto of the German Enigma machine! As you may already know they also worked at NCR building components for the BOMBE machine. I was very excited to be chosen for this project.






















The jacket needed to fit a 42″ bust model. Not easy to do with no real pattern but here is the completed jacket. Just last week I was asked to make a matching skirt to the WAVES jacket. Awesome!













Last summer I was asked to make multiple 1910 styled ice cream parlor costumes for Culp’s Cafe. They had no real patterns. I was given a photo for the shirt and an actual apron and skirt to look at to replicate. I hacked a 1980s pattern to make the shirts. I did quite a few of these and I think they came out so cute!

















I also make the breweries 1850s style garments. Now, the thing is, they are not concise to period for safety reasons. The staff works around open flames and runs up and down stairs with full service trays. The skirts can’t be historically floor length and the shirts can’t have huge billowing sleeves. Also, in that period people mostly hand stitched clothing and I am using a machine. Life is just too short to hand stitch the amount of costumes I need to make each week. The costumes have to be durable for todays tough washing machine process so everything is sewn, reinforced and serged.

According to my research I understand the period fashion rules to be that men’s wear is the homespun plaid shirts while women’s shirts are no print solid cotton. Skirts are the cotton calico prints and the aprons can be made of anything that is dark with large reinforced pockets. They have over 30 employees at any given time.

Most weeks I average 2-4 garments for the park. Last week for the first time ever I made men’s aprons out of duct cloth. Aprons are more than 50% pressing so having a good iron is critical.

Once in a while they throw me a nice distraction. Last winter they asked me to make a couple of vests for the managers out of an old flag that hung in the park. This project was right up my alley.


My favorite thing to sew for Dayton History has been the dresses! I am just crazy about a good dress! I have one of these on my list to make for myself as soon as I finish studying active wear.


A little secret about the dress is that it really is just the shirt with 4-5 more yards of fabric on an added waistband.

I would like to thank the park for letting me be a part of Dayton’s current history. Thank you Dayton History!

Behind the scenes~

When I dropped off the costumes at the brewery last week I was given a magazine copy that some of my garments were in. It was a great end to my day.










My winter classes start soon.























Thank you for reading,

Dream it, Sew it!


Tracy McElfresh
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