A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Bonnet suitable for very light mourning. It is of eased black silk, with a full piece of white silk, edged with lace, laid on the bonnet from the crown to the front. A black feather is fastened at the side of the crown with a bow of white ribbon. The cape is of white silk, edged with black lace. This inside trimming is formed of violet and white velvet. (Godey’s, October, 1864)1

                         Cuir-colored silk bonnet, with a cape of white crepe covered with rich blonde. The trimming is place on top of the bonnet, and is formed of bands of Solferino velvet and feathers. The inside trimming is tulle and Solferino flowers. (Godey’s, October, 1864) 2

Bonnet of white silk, with
puffed front and cap crown. The cape is very short, and raised on the right
side it display a rose and bud. A bunch of roses with leaves is placed over the
crown. Roses and black velvet with blonde are arranged as an inside trimming. (Godey’s,
October, 1864)


Perplexing me

Last night, E.T. shared Robert Dowling’s Breakfasting Out, Britain 1859 in one of the Fb groups discussing the tea drinking. My eyes went to the basket placed on top of a woman’s head, on top of what looked like a fashion bonnet via my little phone’s screen. All I could think is:

“What??? Squash???”
“I must be seeing this wrong.”

So, I had to see this close-up. Thank you National Gallery of Australia.

Not only was I seeing a basket on top of a fashion bonnet, but a straw bonnet. I…um…..???

With previous thoughts, I would have imagined holding a basket on top of a sunbonnet or a soft bonnet such as a hood. But, a structured bonnet? A straw bonnet? What about the straw? the flowers? Squash?

Straw and basketI must think about this.

Okay, maybe the painting is showing us some damage to the bonnet – the slit on the lower edge of the tip and the maybe spot on the brim. Maybe these are just shadows. Okay, maybe this is a lower brim bonnet. Maybe she doesn’t have any flowers. Yes, it could be an older bonnet. Yes, it could be her form of a working bonnet. Yes, straw held a wide range of qualities.

But? Still?

We have a bonnet treated as a working bonnet with a fashionable curve to the brim. She seems to consider it durable enough to handle the weight of the basket and contents (which appear to be leafy greens and a cloth.)

The rest of her attire: Red plaid shawl wrapped around the shoulders and upper body. Possibly a two piece sacque & skirt combination is suggested by the fabric that falls to the hips over a different color skirt, likely wool. The bodice sleeves are rolled up, revealing a white lining. The skirt and apron appear to be pulled up in front. A hint of horizontal striping is under the lift of the skirt. This may be a work petticoat or a corded petticoat. Her boots are worn, very square in the two, with a low heel and off-center closure that I can’t quite identify as buttoning or lacing. Her stockings are light color, white and a bit slouched.

While I’m looking at this, I should also note the other two straw bonnets in the painting. The older woman is wearing a shape/style popular in the 40s with more width than height. The younger woman sipping her coffee has a smaller bonnet is a shape fashionable for the mid 50s with flowers placed primarily along the sides. She appears to either be traveling or shopping to me.


Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 6:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Oct 15th, 1864

Wine Versus Temperance

Physicians often recommend poisons for the cure of certain diseases. It is probably on the same principle that wine is said to be an antidote for intemperance. As fatal disorders in the physical system require harsh methods for relief, so, we are told, the great panacea for this malady of the social body is pure juice of the grape!

There are those who urge that a plentiful supply of unadulterated grape wine would have a tendency to throw out of use the poor whisky with which the market is flooded. This may be so, but it seems to us that the temperance cause will not be very materially advanced by the change. We cannot see why a man who drink to excess would not be just as wiling to get drunk upon pure sweet wine, as upon the poisonous product of the still, provided he could get one as easily and cheaply as the other. We cannot but think that those who recommend the extensive manufacture of wine are advocating an experiment that is fraught with the greatest danger.

Just at this time, when the temperance reform is again attracting attention, and the pledge of total abstinence being circulated, it seems somewhat startling to hear prominent members of horticultural societies say that they cannot recommend any grape for general cultivation unless it will make a good wine.

Fermented grape juice is admitted to be alcoholic, if alcoholic then it is intoxicating, and if it is intoxicating and becomes plenty and cheap, then it is dangerous. No true friend of the temperance movement can refure to take the pledge of total abstinence. If he does that, he excludes from the list of his indulgences, wine. The whole fraternity, then, of temperance men is committed against this beverage. This being the case it seems a strange anomaly that persons of influence and distinction, persist in advocating the extensive manufacture of wine, and urge as their strongest plea that it will be a death-blow to intemperance! They tell us that among the vine-clad hills of Italy, and upon the vineyard-skirted banks of the Rhine, where wine is almost as free and plenty as water, intemperance is nearly unknown. This may be true and yet not destroy our position. American character and society are essentially different from either Italian, German or French. What is a blessing there, might prove to be a curse to us.

The ancient wise man, when he said “strong drink is raging,” did not refer to whisky or beer. They are products of a later age than his. Distilleries were not among the institutions of the ancient Jews. His words of condemnation were uttered against wine, sparkling, innocent wine! Let us have grapes, simple and fresh, and be satisfied with them. Let them be as plenty and cheap as we can make them. Let the people eat and be contented. Grapes are healthy, “Wine is a mocker.” W.S.F. Verona, Oneida Co., N.Y., 1864


Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 6:06 am  Leave a Comment  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

A white silk bonnet, with soft crown of plaid velvet. In the front is a piece of plaid velvet and a tuft of white feathers. Inside is a white tulle cap and scarlet velvet flowers. (Godey’s, October, 1864)1

                         The front is composed of black silk[]ased. The crown is soft, and made of plaid silk, so also is the cape. A bunch of variegated flowers is on the left side the inside is a ruching of white tulle, bright flowers, and grasses. (Godey’s, October, 1864)


 Bonnet for light mourning. The front is of black silk, with a fall of chenille fringe drooping over the front. The crown and cape are of white silk, trimmed with a chenille fanchon. The inside trimming is white roses, black grass, and white tulle. (Godey’s, October, 1864)


Published in: on October 13, 2014 at 1:01 am  Comments (2)  

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

October 8th, 1864

Household Conveniences

I have a slate hanging in my pantry with a pencil attached, upon which we are accustomed to write down such domestic concerns as need attention. For instance, upon one side of it is now written, “Send for corn-meal, starch and lamp chimney.” “Examine butter firkin.” “Engage onions of Mr. Allen to-morrow.” These are for my own attention, while upon the other side the girl is reminded to “Brown coffee; gather beans for drying.” “Scald the bread box.” “Wash cellar shelves.” Whenever I find any little item that needs attention either from myself of the girl, I trust it to my slate, and find it much safer than to run the risk of remembering it at the right time. You often hear housekeepers exclaiming “There, I forgot entirely to send for such a thing – or do such a thing, and now it is too late.” Try the slate.

Another – Beside the slate hangs a small blank book, also furnished with a pencil, in which I keep an account of my household expenses. The pages are variously headed “Flour,” “Sugar,” “Meat,” “Butter,” &c., with an extra page, above, I put the amount which I have decided by careful estimate is all we can afford to spend monthly, or yearly, (I have tired both ways) for the article designated. Then I enter every purchase made under its appropriate head, giving date, quantity, price and amount. At the close of each month it is easy to see whether we live within our income or not. You farmer’s wives may think this neither possible nor useful for you, but I assure you if you would once try it you would find a satisfaction from it that would abundantly repay the trouble. I recommend it most earnestly, however, for the wives of salaried men, and mechanics whose income is fixed, and who purchased the staples for their family consumption.  E.H.M.


Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

White silk bonnet, with a double cape of Eugenie blue silk. The bonnet is bound with blue silk, and the puffings are also of blue silk. Black and white grasses with a few scarlet berries are arranged on the outside of the bonnet, and also form part of the inside trimming. (Godey’s, October, 1864)


                         A white silk drawn bonnet, edged with black velvet and white drop buttons. The trimming is composed of crimson tulips and white feathers. (Godey’s, October, 1864)


 A black Neapolitan bonnet, with a white crepe cape covered with white blonde. The trimming of the bonnet is black lace, black ribbon, and salmon-colored flowers. (Godey’s, October, 1864)



Bonnets still continue very small, with scarcely any curtain at the back. Quantities of tulle are used, and this is a most becoming style. (Peterson’s, October, 1864)

Ag. Fair 2014, pt2

My hands are pretty cold. So, these might be short descriptions…
This is mom’s soap. It is a lavender.


This is mom’s butter. Plain. Hand-churned in one of the churns.


This is Mom’s pickled beets.


Um, I know this I mom’s. But, I’m not sure what other than sweet pickles.


Mom’s corn bread. There were several entries.


Here are Lily’s entries. I’m pretty sure I missed 2 photos.
This was a favorite. The cows really stand out in person. Nice!


Here is Lily’s pocket, like mine.


Lily’s apple and cranberry pie with crumb topping.


Lily’s white bread.


Here are two of her other photos. I need to get her out for the blooming spring colors.



Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ag. Fair 2014, pt 1

That is me as I sit here bundled up, trying to warm up and sharing the entries from this year’s.
This as a light entry year for myself, and it appeared in general. One of my goals is to get someone new to enter each year. This year, my friend Sheryl entered some tasty goodies. She won a blue and a red ribbon. Yeah, Sheryl!
My first entry is an embroidered pocket. I realized Lily & I both need new pockets. Her’s needs to be bigger. I need to not ruin the one made for me. So, embroidered pockets. (Her’s is in the other post.) The needlework categories are all 21st century. I still stuck to pulling the design from an original.



For the sewing non-corded garment category, I entered my sheer soft crown straw bonnet with the scallop edge. I would have actually given the blue ribbon to Melanie’s beautifully done, hand-sewn Regency dress.



This photo didn’t come out well. This is a work pocket based on an original in the Winterthur Museum. When I first saw it, I thought it would be silk. But, it was a cotton print. The front center lifts up to show needle pages. The fullness is gauged onto covered pasteboard. (I’ll likely do a post just on this piece. Hopefully soon.)


Remember how I said one goal of mine is to find new entrants? The other is to enter a new category. This was quite the new category for me – A wood project. I made a ribbon spool holder. This will help me display my faux ribbon rolls when doing demonstrations. The faux rolls look like full spools of ribbon, but are just a few inches. I had no idea how bad my arm was going to hurt after several hours of sanding by hand without a sanding block. I was so unsure of how it looked, I almost chickened out of entering it. I was floored to find out I got a ribbon. Granted, I was the only one who entered.


Then there is the problem child…. shrub. Last place again. This was the shrub I made at the begining of the summer, a Cherry & Mint. It was very tasty & refreshing at the summer events. Ya, well….. I was able to taste the winning Black Raspberry Shrub. A-Mazing! It was so good. I could smell the vinegar but could not taste it. When I got home, I popped the cork off mine. Um, ugh, ack!!! The vinegar took over. It was knock you on the floor strong. I am so embarrassed I didn’t double check it. It was awful. Lesson learned.


There was one more, last minute entry. I had not planned to enter my Worden Grape Jam. But, when I mentioned (okay, ecstatically exclaimed) I tried my hand at jam, Marie said to bring it in. There were so many jam/preserve entries, I didn’t expect to place. But, now I can say I entered.


Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 6:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Pink & Black Soft Crown

wpid-2014-09-28-17.28.35.jpg.jpegWhen I finish bonnets they usually spark an “Oooo” or a “yeah” or some wordy expression. This one, goes on its stand and just gets a smile. I am so pleased with how this came together, I just enjoy looking at it.

This was a custom piece for a client. For many weeks we picked through silk colors, ribbons and flowers to get just the right combination.

wpid-2014-09-28-17.29.04-1.jpg.jpegThe straw brim is a black plait from England. The soft crown and bavolet are a combination of a pale pink silk taffeta and a beautiful, delicate black antique lace. The soft crown has the stripes of the lace running vertically, while the stripes on the bavolet are running diagonally, bias-esque.



wpid-2014-09-28-17.29.30.jpg.jpegAn amazing ribbon drapes over the top of the bonnet along where the brim and crown meet, then down the cheektabs for the ties. This ribbon is a black taffeta with pink and dark green satin stripes. A large bow of this same ribbon sits at the base of the crown, just above the bavolet. Combined with the pink damask ribbon in the flowers, there are nearly 5 yards of ribbon on this bonnet.


wpid-2014-09-28-17.30.19.jpg.jpegThe flowers are a combination of dusty rose and pink velvet roses with a pale pink rose and little pink velvet blossoms. The arrangement inside the brim is connected to the bouquet atop the brim by a soft pink damask ribbon that winds in and out of the flowers.

Getting the right balance was important to me. Too much weight in the back makes a bonnet slide; while too much weight in the front makes a bonnet feel heavy. I think this balances pretty well with the bow and flowers counter weighting each other. So, it is pretty and balanced. Happy me.




Published in: on October 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm  Comments (2)  

The Quilted Items….That Weren’t

If you follow me on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve heard me whine about the last Ag. Fair entry that wasn’t to be. This last item was to be something in the “Quilted Garment” by hand category.

Prior to September, I had it in my head I was going to quilt a little quilt, something in the “Household” category. When the deadline for the entry form came, I decided a quilt, no matter how small (unless it was a doll quilt), was not going to happen. I determined I would make a yet to be determined quilted garment.

I should back up and say…. If only I hadn’t done the seams in my quilted petti with a machine. :(

At first, I figured I could make a quilted bonnet in one of the nifty different shapes I have been looking at. Quilted bonnets are fun. I enjoy them. I think what sub-consciously squashed that was that I entered quilted hoods a couple years ago. To be personally satisfied, I would need to draft a completely new pattern from an original soft bonnet for this entry. I just didn’t get that far.

A few weeks rolled by…..

A few ideas came to mind….

and were quickly forgotten…..

As of mid-day Wednesday, I had it in my head I would hurry home to draft a baby bonnet pattern and make a silk baby bonnet. After all, I have plenty of friends and family with babies in belly or recently from belly. Ah….. nope….. Staring at the silks, none said ‘baby bonnet’ to me other than the black silk which is for something else.

I officially called the last entry a ‘fail’.

(mind, I still have the second to last entry to finish)

As of this moment, mid-day the day before I have to drop them off….. I am still toying with the idea of actually pulling something off. Insane…. yeap

While warding off the potential insanity, let’s look at some of the quilted garments that were not to be… at least this year….

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm  Comments (3)  

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