Hillwood Estate & Gardens


This crown was once worn by Russian grand duchesses at their weddings. It now sits in the mansion at Hillwood Estate & Gardens in DC.

The crown was purchased in 1966 by Marjorie Merriweather Post, who inherited Post Cereals, worth $20 million. She collected fine art, especially Russian art, and planned to open her house to the public after her death (which she did).

Hillwood makes for an interesting visit, not only because of the many objects on display, but because you get to see how the wealthy lived in the 1950s. The house and the grounds are beautiful.

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Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

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Yesterday was unusually warm, with a high of 64 in Alexandria and 70 in areas south of us. To take advantage of the warmer weather, Ben and I took a road trip to Monticello, about a 2.5 hour drive from Alexandria.

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This was a garden pavilion, where Jefferson could sit and watch the weather come in:

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Before I arrived, I knew very little about Monticello, except that it was the home of Thomas Jefferson.

Monticello was built on top of a mountain to take advantage of the view, and you can see the surrounding countryside, including the University of Virginia, from the lawn.

The house was full of surprises:

  • The entrance hall was an educational space, where Jefferson displayed Native American artifacts from the Lewis & Clark expedition. In that time, most people didn’t travel far from home and wouldn’t be exposed to these items otherwise.
  • Jefferson’s bed wasn’t in his bedroom. It was in an alcove in the wall between his bedroom and the adjoining room.
  • His closet wasn’t in his bedroom either. It was above his bed in the wall and could only be accessed by a staircase.
  • The dining room didn’t have the one thing you’d expect: a dining room table. To save space, Jefferson had temporary tables brought out at mealtimes.
  • Two wine butlers were built into the dining room fireplace, so that finished bottles could be sent down to the cellar below and a new bottle sent up.

Monticello was a work in progress and took about 40 years to build. Jefferson’s wife never lived in the house, since she died before it was completed. They lived in a much smaller building next to the future site of Monticello. The temporary house wasn’t luxurious; the wood floor in Monticello’s parlor cost more than the entirety of their temporary home.

Daughters of the American Revolution

I have a new favorite museum in DC!

The Daughters of the American Revolution has three floors of period rooms depicting home life in the 1700s and 1800s. Handy pamphlets tell you how would dress and behave in each.

Their current exhibit, on view through April 29, covers fashion after the American Revolution (1780 to 1825).

These pink shoes were made in London in the 1790s:

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The robe below is called a banyan.

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A sign outside this room says, “President Jefferson took informality too far, creating a diplomatic incident by meeting the British representative in a banyan and slippers.”

The building itself is also beautiful.

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Since we only had an hour to visit before our parking expired, I plan to return before the exhibit closes.

Finished Sewing Project: McCalls M7313

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Since I started sewing, it’s been one of my goals to line a dress. I finally did it with my third version of McCalls M7313.

The pattern didn’t come with instructions for lining, so I used Colette’s tutorial to line the bodice, with one difference. Since my pattern had wider seam allowances than the Colette pattern, I trimmed and clipped the armhole seam allowances to reduce bulk.

I’m really pleased with how the bodice turned out, since the neckline and armholes are completely finished, without any topstitching required. This is going to be my go-to finishing technique from now on.

I’ve made this pattern three times so that I could adjust the fit and practice different techniques before sewing with my “good” fabric, some cranberry-colored fabric that I bought in Philadelphia last summer. But at this point, I need a break from this dress.

My next project will be the Zadie dress, which I bought on the day it was released, despite telling myself that I was done with knit dresses for awhile. I’m going to color-block it, either navy and emerald green or navy and red.