Readings for Rural Life

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

April 23rd, 1864

The Amiable Woman Photographed

Mrs. Bland is an exceedingly popular personage, indeed, esteemed quite a model by herself; and also by that class of highly respectable and incomparable individuals who congratulate themselves upon having the ability to please the whole world in consequence of possessing that wonderfully desirable trait of character – amiability.

We do not mean amiability as defined by Webster, but as understood by the class referred to; who should certainly be appreciated in “these degenerate days.” They are so excessively punctilious. And how entertaining and instructive! In their society one fears no wounds from keen, sparkling repartee, from scorching, dazzling wit, of meteor- like brilliancy. Nor is there danger of experiencing that uncomfortable feeling – envy. Nor do their genius, talents, individuality, or intellectual attainments, tempt to a violation of the seventeenth commandment; neither are they so deplorably ignorant as to call things by their proper names, unpleasant morals being known in their vocabulary; nor do they adhere to an opinion longer than is perfectly convenient. Neither have they the bad taste to insist upon the possession of their own souls! (granting they have any, which some uncharitable people doubt,) but seem quite ready to humbly beg pardon for committing the impropriety of entering the world at all.

True, they cannot understand lofty principle, nobility of soul, immutablility of opinion, speaking for the oppressed, and, if need be, battling for the right. But do they not veer round to all points of the compass to please? With consciences India-rubber-like, avowing loyal sentiments to the loyal union man loving his contry next to God, and the next moment agreeing with a vile, slimy, creeping copperhead, a rank secessionist, hissing forth treason and venom.

Their motto is, – be always popular; for if a man, there is the hope of office; if a woman, the prospect of matrimony. For do not many of the generous, liberal-minded, and discerning “Lords of Creation,” prefer a gentle, plastic, creature, an artificial nonentity, to a noble, whole-souled, high-minded woman, lest the contrast between them be too suggestive? One with intellect of Lilliputian order, seldom fancies have a wife’s colossal.

So anxious mamas desire their daughters to copy Mrs. Bland, who never offends Mrs. Grundy, and is too amiable to possess strong feelings, but whose limited stock is invariably called into exercise if a woman ventures to have an opinion, or, far worse, has the audacity to express one at variance with old, pre-conceived notions. And, if so “unwomanly” as to differ from a “gentleman,” she witheringly exclaims, “I had before supposed Miss Lawton was an amiable young lady!”

And did not this pattern for imitation, – this woman, par example, when her parents wished, break the engagement existing between herself and a poor young man, though with all her capacity loving him, when a merchant (who had failed, and was therefore rich) solicited her hand, and she married him, while attached to the other. For, as she remarked, “there is nothing like having all one’s friends satisfied.”

True, the poor young man soon after attained high eminence, and, in a pecuniary point of view, (as well as every other,) was a more desirable match than Mr. Bland; but that could not be forseen, and Mrs. Bland is far too amiable, if she feels any regrets at the irrevocable step, to express them. Lancilotte. Southold, Suffolk Co., N.Y. 1864.


Published in: on April 23, 2014 at 6:06 am  Leave a Comment  

FanU Patriotic Fabric Swap!!

Today is the day to sign-up for the FanU Patriotic Swap! New ideas Patriotic

For the Patriotic Swap, Swappers will exchange nineteenth century appropriate cotton fabrics in red, white and blue or reproduced patriotic prints.  We will mail our fabrics on April 30th.

Please read all the details below. 

To Sign-up, simply comment below with your email and mailing address. (I’ll erase those before approving your comment, so the whole world doesn’t have that info.)

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.**

Romantic Swap Sign-Up Day: January 13th
Paisley Swap Sign-Up Day: February 10th
Mini-Print Sign-Up Day: March 10th

Bonus Patriotic Swap Sign-Up Day: April 14th

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.

Romantic Swap Sign-Up Day: January 31st
Paisley Swap Sign-Up Day: February 28th
Mini-Print Sign-Up Day: March 31st

Bonus Patriotic Swap Sign-Up Day: April 30th

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 April 21, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Violet crepe bonnet, trimmed on the front with a black lace insertion. The cape is covered by a rich white blonde, headed by a black lace. On top of the bonnet is a light violet
feather, and a pompon of spun glass. The inside trimming is of black and white lace, mixed with scarlet-berries and fancy grasses. A black lace barbe is tied in with the violet strings. (Godey’s, May 1864)


Readings for Rural Life

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

April 16th, 1864

High Dresses

We are thankful for at least one of the dame Fashion’s freaks: she has turned her back upon low-necked dresses, and rather insists that collar-bones and shoulder-blades shall be covered. It is certainly a great improvement – not only because the study of anatomy in private parlors is not desirable, and that American damsels are apt to run to bone as some tall flowers do to seed., and because spinsters of uncertain age, fearful of being outdone by the nieces, presented such vast expanse of yellow neck and shoulder to the view at evening parties as were calculated to alarm nervous people seriously; but because since custom obliges us to wear garments, there can certainly be no reason why we should leave the most delicate portion of our frame without protection. Plumb shoulders and arms are pretty. But so (let us whisper) are plump legs. The mother who should fail to provide her daughter with stockings would be considered a cruel wretch, yet a year ago she might neglect to cover her chest and arms with impunity. We trust this state of things is over. We hope that the wisdom which causes every prudent parent to protect the pretty shoulders of her little girls with comfortable woolen sacques or capes will be appreciated; that sense will conquer vanity, and that in a little while it will be as absurd to say a woman in a low-necked dress as it would to-day to see a man in low-necked coat. – Sunday Times.


Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

A Closer look at Straw Plait

Anna Worden Bauersmith:

I’m trying really hard to take a tech/internet vacation. But, I got a message that there is a plait discussion going on. This is an older blog post. I am in the midst of something far more indepth. (That’s all I can say right now.)

Originally posted on If I Had My Own Blue Box::

One of the most common mistakes in making a straw bonnet for living history or reenactment, is choosing a plait that is to wide and coarse. I will admit, I too made that mistake in the begining. We are often tempted and occasionally encouraged to use the straw from a craft bonnet for making a straw bonnet. Again, yes in the begining I did this. But, I’ve since learned and would like to advise you learn from my mistakes rather than wasting your time.

So, what is wrong with the straw from a craft hat from the craft shop? Most of them are to wide and to coarse. Occasionally, you can find narrower craft straw. But, not always. Take a look at the image below. A is a craft straw. It is 3/4″ wide. Some comes as wide as 1″. While there were wide straw strips used during the era…

View original 275 more words

Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 8:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Straw Plaits

A variety of straw plaits.

3mm split plait
5mm split plait
6-7mm split plait
6-7mm fine whole plait
8mm black whole plait

Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

The bonnet of drawn cuir-colored crepe, trimmed on the front with a fanchon of white lace, loops of green ribbon, and Scotch feathers. The inside trimming is of bright flowers, of the
Scotch colors. The cape is covered with a fall of white blonde. (Godey’s, May 1864)


Readings for Rural Life

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

April 23rd, 1864

Working Dresses.

It is not my province to dictate any particular form of dress; but when, as is often the case, I see wives and daughters doing their necessary housework with crinoline and long skirts, or in other words, in full dress, I am led to inquire why will they not use their good judgment in this as in other particulars, and accommodate their dress to their duties.

Now, just take some of those long dresses that have become faded at the bottom and in front, take out the front breadths, leaving about five, tear off the bottom leaving the skirt long enough to come half way from the knees to ankle joints, use the parts taken out for pants, prepare skirts to suit the length of the dress, running “shurs” in one for three or four hoops from the discarded skeleton, and with good thick-soled shoes or bootees you are well, becomingly dressed for any and all kinds of work that may fall to your lot. And, if called to help fill the place of a father, husband, brother or son, who has nobly gone to the defence of his country, you have nothing to hinder you in this arduous yet noble extra toil. Such toil and such dresses show our hearts true to the interest of our country; and though the future looks dark, there is no way to make it light but to throw off the shackles false price and false delicacy have trammeld us with, prepare our heats for every trial by entire consecration to, and trust or faith in, God, our bodies with proper dress and care; and lay hold on every duty presented to us with an energy and courage that knows defeat, and will not listen to the doubts of the croaking.

Sisters, let me entreat you, do your duty faithfully, and when those dear ones return, you will not only meet a reward in their kind welcome and approving smiles, but will learn that useful exercise and refreshing breezes, and now and then a day in the hot sun, have brought light to your eyes, roses to your cheeks and a thrill of life to your veins that were never yours before.

True, you have given (or allowed to go) to the rescue of your country your support and home; but don’t wait for these to return and find you in sorrow, listlessly waiting for them, or some movement of Providence to bring light out of darkness, or hope out of despair; but arise, don the costume at once graceful, becoming and useful, and help to work out the salvation of our country, ever praying to, and trusting in, God, who is the author of our faith.

This is no fancy advice; ‘tis wrought out by experience of near two years, and my health is better. I can endure far more fatigue and enjoy life far better, for I have the consciousness of knowing that I have toiled and sacrificed for the good of my country; and when my husband returns our joy will be mutual, that we have together helped her rid of her enemy, slavery. May this be our privilege. Go thou and do likewise. Mrs. C.H.

EDIT: Additional Related Clips:

Clip Excerpt from The Prairie Farmer, Clip Short dress March 1855 Clip The Oneida Circular The Ohio Cultivator 1854 b The Ohio Cultivator 1854Clip Miseries later

This whole book is worth a download. It is on Google Books.Clip Watercure 54 aClip Watercure 54 bclip Punch

Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Bees and the Covenant

Back in February I shared a couple posts on the Ladies’ National Covenant and the Women’s Patriotic association for Diminishing the use of Imported Luxuries. Elizabeth Topping shared this clip from MMe. Demorest’s Mirror of Fashion, September 1864 regarding the bee being worn in connection with the Covenant.

Bee clip“With an earnest desire to see the Covenant we have made accepted by every lady in the land, we have adopted for our Badge the Honey Bee, wrought according to nature.”

Looking further into this bee, we see it discussed:

Ladies Cov clip 4“The emblem of this Covenant was a black or gilt bee, worn as a pin fastening the national colors, upon the hair, arm, or bosom, as a public recognition of membership. “

This rural/farming newspaper had a short article and advertisement:

Ladies Cov clip 5


From Dressed for the Photographer

Ladies Cov clip 6  Dressed for the Photographer

This citation/endnote in Buying Power, by Glickman :

Ladies Cov clip 7  citation lead

Leads us to look for New England Women’s League, for Diminishing the Use of Luxuries during the War , which also gives us Resolutions with Pledge  and To the Women of New England: In a War Like Ours, which Involves the Life and Prosperity of a Whole Nation, Every Patriotic Citizen Owes to the Country the Greatest Possible Amount of Service.

A letter to his sister, Lily, from John Loathrop Motley discussing his thoughts on the League.

Ladies Cov Clip 8 a Ladies Cov Clip 8 b Ladies Cov Clip 8 c Ladies Cov Clip 8 d

Ack, a lead snag, potential headache, or what a difference 30 years makes. There is another NY/NE Women’s League that appears in the 1890s. This muddles up searching.

**For those considering wearing a bee pin as part of their impression, I would like to emphasize the late war dates surrounding it. The Covenant was established in May of 1864, leaving a year (or two “reenacting seasons”) suitable for its wear.


Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm  Comments (2)  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Left – The bonnet is of black and white crin, or horsehair, bound with black velvet, and trimmed with a natural feather. The inside trimming is of scarlet geraniums, and the strings are of black ribbon.

Right – Leghorn bonnet, with violet silk cape, and trimmed with violet-colored flowers. (Godey’s, May 1864)



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