Readings for Rural Life

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

August 20th, 1864

What Makes a Lady

When Beau Brummel was asked what made the gentleman, his quick reply was, “Starch, starch, my lord!” This may be true; but it takes a great deal more to make a lady; and though it may to some seem singular, I am ready to maintain that no conceivable quantity of muslin, silk or satin, edging, frilling, hooping, flouncing, or furbelowing, can per se, or per dressmaker, constitute a real lady.

Was not Mrs. Abbot Lawrence just as much a lady when attired in twelve-cent calico, in Boston, as when arrayed in full court dress at St. James, London? “As Mrs. Washington was said to be so grand a lady,” says a celebrated English visitor, (Mrs. Troupe,) “we thought we must put our best bibs and bands, so we dressed ourselves in our most elegant ruffles and silks, and were introduced to her ladyship, and don’t you think we found her knitting, and with her check apron on! She received us very graciously and easily, but after compliments were over she resumed her knitting. There we were without a stitch of work and sitting in stat, but, Gen. Washington’s Lady, with her own hands, was knitting stockings for her husband.” Does that not sweet republican simplicity command your admiration?


Published in: on August 20, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Fig. 4 is a black crinoline bonnet, with loose crown of white spotted tulle; the crown is divided from the bonnet by a shaped piece of pink silk, edged at the bottom with a narrow black velvet and a jet fringe, and having in the centre a group of white roses, rose-buds, and a few tufts of grass; the front edge of bonnet is finished by a narrow guipure lace turned back. The curtain of pink silk edged with a black velvet and jet fringe; the strings are of pink silk, and the cap is of blonde or tulle, trimmed with white roses, buds, and a few fullings of black lace. (Godey’s, August, 1864)


                         Fig. 5 is a dress bonnet, composed entirely of fullings of white tulle, those on the crown being formed into a species of boullions, divided lengthwise at intervals by small artificial pearls; at the top of front, rather towards the left side, is a group of green leaves, with a tuft of white silk or feathers; the curtain is formed of broad white lace. The strings are of white silk, and the cap is of blonde, trimmed at the top with a group of large white flowers. (Godey’s, August, 1864)


 Fig. 7 is a Leghorn bonnet; the front trimmed with a shaped piece of maize silk, plaited like a fan towards the top; at the top is a plume of maize ostrich feathers. Strings of maize silk, and blonde cap with a few roses and rose-buds. (Godey’s, August, 1864)


The List

Usually, many of us reflect on “The List” at the close or start of a new year. I’m a little early in my reflection as my summer is winding down and I’m transitioning into the school year and the fall sewing season. My list is two fold, what didn’t get done this summer and what is on the future list.
What did not get done this summer:
– Writing the new book
– Making the awesome green plaid 20s dress
– Finishing my uber-nifty, secret millinery project
– Making a new cage
– Making coats of the white wool/silk
– Recover parasol (and recover previously recovered)

On the upcoming list:
– All of the above
– Red/brown plaid Regency dress for everyday wear
– Ag Fair project 1
– Ag Fair project 2
– Continue/finish Ag Fair project 3
– Come up with Ag Fair project 4
– FanU cases for a Christmas sale
– Small cute things for Peddler’s market
– New corded sun bonnet for me (items loaned out)
– New apron for me (items loaned out)
– A new coat (it is past time)
– At least one additional dress to make a dent in the stash
– Find & figure out if I can alter my ball gown to fit. If not…???
– Lily’s list – Get her to make her own set of underpinnings
– Modern items – Dan’s chair & kitchen curtains
Non-sewing, regular sewing
– Fix the writing slope
– Fix the hole in the tent
– Measure & make wood for new to us canvas

It seems so much more managable when it is written down.

Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 9:33 am  Comments (3)  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Fig. 2 is a bonnet of white chip, with loose crown of spotted tulle; all round the upper edge of crown is a band of plaid ribbon, and on the top part of crown is a half diamond of tulle, edged with a plaid ribbon, and a chenille fringe to match the plaid. The curtain is of white lace, and has in the centre a small square of plaid ribbon, edged at the bottom and sides by chenille fringe. The strings are of white silk, and the cap is of blonde or tulle, and is trimmed with roses, rose-buds, and bluets. (Godey’s, August, 1864)


                          Fig. 3 is a Monsqueraire hat of Leghorn or white straw. Round the hat is a scarf of blue ribbon, with a large bow and long fringed ends at the back; in front is a rosette of black and white speckled feathers, surrounded by an edging of blue flowers or bluets. The brim is edged with black velvet. (Godey’s, August, 1864)


Published in: on August 11, 2014 at 1:01 am  Comments (1)  

Late War Bonnet

Karen 3This is my first late war straw bonnet. It is a special request for the spring of 1865. We wanted a respectful look in an appropriate shape and style while suiting the wearer in shape and color. I am happy with how this came together.

Overall, the bonnet is smaller than the early war bonnets. This one has a gentle rise to the brim retaining the flattering spoon shape. The drop from the back sides to the cheektabs is more angular and abrupt. It is hard to see the shape of the sides and back with the ribbon wrapping around. Underneath that ribbon is a raised tip which is a semi-circle. The neckline transitions in a flat line from the tip to the sides rather than with the curve we see earlier in the war years. This was the hardest area for me to wrap my mind around because I like those gentle curves.

Karen 4

The straw is the black plait from England I like. The ribbon is a 5″ wide antique moire. This ribbon has some pleasing characteristics. It is rather flat in terms of light reflection, which means it would suit a mourning bonnet if need be, or in this case looks lovely while being respectful. When held up to the light, it shows itself to be semi-sheer. Because it is so fine, I was really worried about it wrinkling and holding the wrinkles. But, it bounces back nicely. (I did suggest the new owner to stuff the puffs in the back with tissue paper for storage. I sent it along to her with those packing airbags tucked inside each.)

Karen 6

The frill is silk organza, a double layer in box pleats. I do like how this can show the nice ripples or be fluffed for fullness. The flowers include petite white roses, blue roses, buds of each and little red berries. Karen 7

Published in: on August 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Readings for Rural Life

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

August 6th, 1864

Dried Fruit for Soldiers

Mrs. E. J. Roberts, Secretary of the Soldiers Aid Society, New Haven, Mass., has issued the following circular:

Dried Fruit vs. Jellies. – As the time of fruits has again come round, we would remind our friends in town and country that the Sanitary Commission has expressed a decided preference for dried fruits, instead of jellies, for the army, on account of the waste and breakage from fermentation during the heat of the summer, and the difficulties of packaging. The high price of sugar is an additional recommendation to dried fruit. The following recipes are considered good:

Fruit dried with sugar, &c., – to a pound of currants put a quarter pound of sugar. Boil together for a minute – that is, let them just come to the boiling – spread them on plates and set them in the sun for two days; then if they are not sufficiently dried, set them in the oven for a little while. When dry, they can be packed in stone or earthen jars, or wooden boxes.

Blackberry Cordial – Put your berries into a jar, which must be set into a kettle of water to boil for a few minutes; then extract the juice as you do for currant jelly. To a pint of juice put a pound of sugar and a small teacup of brandy. It does not need boiling again, and is fit for use immediately.

Another – To one quart of blackberry juice put a tablespoonful of ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice; boil ten or fifteen minutes, then add a half pound of sugar, and when cool a half pint of alcohol, to which should be added nearly the same amount of water.


*I find it interesting, and a bit annoying, that the writer encourages dried fruits, but only includes one recipe. While there is an additional column coming up, I will try to find some additional dried fruit recipes.


The Dress Question

[We have sundry communications on this question which indicated the current opinion on the subject, and we give such of them as we can find room for in this number of the Rural.]

Eds. Rural New-Yorker: – As the subject of dress is being discussed through the columns of the Rural, I should like to say a few words to the ladies. I am not going to talk to those who sit idly in parlors, or spend their time in useless employ; except to simply say, keep still, ‘tis none of your business what those wear who see fit to do their duty.

I advocate dress reform. I have worn short dresses for the past three years, and find them much more convenient than the long trailing dresses, which require one hand to keep them from under the feet, and out of slops and mud, thereby leaving but one hand entirely free to work with. I think those who have worn short dresses will agree with me in saying they are a great saving, in both time and patience. I have done more work within the last three years than I could possibly have done had I been obliged to have kept one hand occupied in taking care of long skirts. And, sisters, noble women of the North, now is the time to work if we ever do; while our brothers are fighting for the Union, we should not sit idly down and wait for the victory, but do our duty, and do it faithfully, as become the women of such a nation.

A word to the gentlemen and I close. Gentlemen, I do not advocate short dresses anywhere but at home, at work. At church and on the street, I think long dresses much more becoming, and wear them myself. Short ones are only for work; have you any objections to them there? If you have, I would suggest that you put on long skirts, and wear them for one week, wash, mop, milk, work in the garden, and if necessary help plant corn. If you don’t lay them aside at the end of the week and say ladies, wear short dresses to work in by all means, you have more patience than falls tot helot of most mortals. Stellie. Prarie Home, Mich,. 1864


Published in: on August 6, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

This commences our series for the fall months, and it is made in silk or light cloth, as the season requires. The piquancy and convenience of the style renders its fashion one that is widely popular. The passamenteries vary greatly, so that the tastes and pecuniary considerations of all may be accommodated. The above was drawn from a rich Manganese brown summer cloth, adorned with an exceedingly neat gimp and pendent button ornaments

For the present “heated term” of course the various shapes and styles of laces are the mode. The great mass, however, of our friends having already made up their summer toilets, are looking for the approaching autumn fashions. We, therefore, prefer giving the above. (Godey’s, August, 1864)


                         Fig. 6 is an elegant bonnet of white chip, with loose crown of spotted net; the crown is separated from the front of bonnet by a black velvet, edged with black lace; at the top of this is a small bow of black and velvet, with a group of roses and rose-buds, the front edge is bound with black velvet. The strings are white, and has a bow and long ends of black at the back. Cap of blond, trimmed with roses and buds. (Godey’s, August, 1864)



Bonnets have suddenly shrunk to the tiniest proportions, and, if they contract no more, will prove very becoming. They are so small that, sometimes, the ear is left entirely exposed, displaying the large, unbecoming ear-rings, which are again coming into fashion.

Some of the simplest and prettiest bonnets are those made after the style of fifteen years ago, viz: a very transparent white muslin, lined with some pretty, delicate shade of silk.

Hats are of a variety of shapes. The high-crowned, narrow-brimmed hat is still worn, byt it usually has a scarf of black lace, or net, tied in a bow behind. The front can be trimmed with either bows of ribbon, flowers, or plumes. Then the little round hat, known, in England, as the “pork-pie,” which is- youthful and pretty, but utterly useless for shade; and the casquette, with the rim covered with velvet, and turned-up in front, but sloping off at the sides and into a point behind. (Peterson’s, August, 1864)

Announcing the 2014 Fall FanU Fabric Swaps!!!

Sewing Box FilledAlthough the weather is till warm, it is time to start thinking about fall and the 2014 Fall FanU Swaps. Whether you are already a FanU Fabric Swapper or want to join anew, you are invited to participate in the 2014 Fall FanU Fabric Swaps!

This fall, we will have another trio of swaps and a bonus swap. This season’s swaps will include:

  • “Fallen Leaves” – Period fabrics with a leaf motif
  • “All Lined Up in a Row” – Just like a garden, we’ll swap fabrics with motifs all lined up in a row.
  • “I Couldn’t Live Without It!” – We’ve all done it. We just had to have that fabric, it just had to come home with us. And, there it sat. Now, is the chance to swap that fabric. (Or, if somehow you don’t have that piece (or just can’t part with it), pick the “it is just too fabulous!” fabric from your fabric shop to swap.
  • Bonus Swap – The Greene Swap – For those of us with Susan Greene’s book, Wearable Prints, we will be swapping fabrics similar to those in the pages of her book. You do not have to own the book to participate. You can borrow from a friend or the library. There may also be a few helpful hints online.

What is a Swap?

This is a chance for to exchange fabric with a small group of people. Each group will have 8 people exchanging pieces of fabric. All you need is a half yard of fabric and envelopes along with your copy of Fanciful Utility.

To Participate:

1: Sign Up Day!
On sign-up day, groups will be assigned on a first-in basis; the first eight will be the first swap group, second eight in the second group, etc. **Please be certain you will be able to fully participate by mailing your fabrics on the Mail-Out Date.**

“Fallen Leaves” Swap Sign-Up Day: September 1st
“All Lined Up in a Row” Swap Sign-Up Day: October 1st
“I Couldn’t Live Without It!” Sign-Up Day: November 1st

Bonus The Greene Swap Sign-Up Day: November 15th

2: Mail-Out Day:
Place a 9×9″ piece of fabric suited to the mid-19th century in envelopes for each of the 7 other people in your swap group, stamp them (be sure to double check at the post office, but the small 9×9″ pieces should mail in a regular envelope with a normal stamp), and send them off no later than the Mail-Out Day.

“Fallen Leaves” Swap Sign-Up Day: September 10th
“All Lined Up in a Row” Swap Sign-Up Day: October 10th
“I Couldn’t Live Without It!” Sign-Up Day: November 10th

Bonus The Greene Swap Sign-Up Day: December 1st

3: Get Fanciful!
Use your Fanciful Utility templates and techniques to make a project from the book, or copy your own from 19th century sources. We’ll all look forward to seeing your projects! You don’t have to sew right away, but don’t keep us waiting forever to see all the fun things!

(If you need a copy of Fanciful Utility, you can purchase them from the publisher at

Fabric Guidelines:

  1. For the cotton and silk categories, your fabric should be early to mid-nineteenth century appropriate. (If there is a want for an earlier or later group, we can do that.) Prints and motifs should reflect those available in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. Cotton should be 100% cotton. Silk should be 100% silk.
  2. To keep the swap and sewing possibilities interesting, please avoid solids as best we can.
  3. Fabrics that do not work well for sewing cases should not be swapped. These include sheers, gauzes, heavy, thick, easy-to-fray, slippery and stretch fabrics.
  4. For the “crazy swap” category, think crazy quilt in a sewing case. This could include satins, velvets, textured fabrics. Quality synthetic fabrics are invited.

Swapper Guidelines:

  1. Please be certain you can fully participate in the swap before you sign-up.
  2. If something arises after you sign-up that will effect the date you are mailing your fabrics, please email your group so everyone is aware.
  3. If you fail to fully participate in a swap, you will not be able to sign-up for future swaps. (We do understand medical and family emergencies. I need to be able to ensure swappers will receive fabrics when they send fabrics out.)


Yes, you can participate in 1, 2 or 3 of the swaps.

Yes, if we end up with multiple groups, you can participate in more than one group to swap more fabric. If you participate in 2 groups, you should swap 2 fabrics.

Yes, you can swap large and small scale prints.

Yes, you can swap now and sew later.

Yes, we would love to see what you’ve made with the swapped fabric.

Yes, you can use your own fabric in your swapped project.

Published in: on August 1, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

Awful Morning Sale

I had a completely awful morning. I can firmly state that being woken up early from your house shaking due to the thunderstorm, is not the way to wake up. It has not gotten better.

So, how do I cheer myself up? Sell bonnets.

Thus…. A sale….

Use the coupon code SUMMER10 to get 10% off anything over $100.


Published in: on July 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brown Stripes Drawn

This is a bonnet that I really wanted to keep. I actually pouted as taped its box closed. I just love how the little ruffles and drawn canes worked together with the little stripe. It is the texture, the color, the technique.


The new owner will be adding her own flowers and decoration.

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Published in: on July 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm  Comments (1)  

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