“I Couldn’t Live Without It!” FanU Swap – Sign-up Day

Today is the day to sign-up for the FanU “I Couldn’t Live Without It!” Swap!

For the “I Couldn’t Live Without It!”  Swap, Swappers will exchange early to mid nineteenth century appropriate cotton fabrics that just had to come home with them. Pick a fabric that speaks to you. We will mail our fabrics on November 10th.

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.**

“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 www.thesewingacademy.com

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 November 1, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Readings for Rural Life

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

Oct 29th, 1864

Cream Cheese

An inquiry in the London Field for a recipe making cream cheese was replied to as follows by three correspondents:

“We put a quart of cream into a clean jug, with half a teaspoonful of salt stirred in, and let it stand a day or two, till thickish. Then we fold an ordinary grass cloth about six or eight times and sprinkle it with salt, then lay it in a sieve about eight inches in diameter. The sides of the cloth should come up well over the sides. Then pour in the cream and sprinkle a little salt on it. Change the cloth as often as it becomes moist, and as the cheese dries press it with the cloth and sieve. In about a week or nine days it will be prime and fit to eat. The air alone suffices to turn the cream into cheese.”

“Take about a half pint of cream, tie it up in a piece of thin muslin and suspend it  in a cool place. After five or six days take it out of the muslin and put it between two plates, with a small weight on the upper one. This will make it a good shape for the table, and also help to ripen the cheese, which will be fit to use in about eight days from the commencement of the making”

“Take a quart of cream, either fresh or sour, mix about a saltspoonful of salt, and the same quantity of sugar. Put it in a cloth and with a net outside, hang it up and change the cloth every other day; in about ten days it will be fit for use.”


Published in: on October 29, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

Count Down to the Symposium

There are just 3 days until the Genesee Country Village’s Domestic Skill Symposium.

I will be teaching two workshops on Sunday. We will be making a rolled sewing case in the morning and a sewing box in the afternoon.

Some of you may know I am an obsessive pre-planner. That being so, I pre-cut the fabric in my mind a half dozen times before actually starting cutting it last night. Yep, that’s me.

But, check out these pretty fabrics: image

Each one is a reproduction cotton from my favorite fabrics shop: Chestnut Bay.

How great is it to have a fabric shop with a reproduction room so close by?!?

When I sat down to cut, I opted not to use the larger prints because I thought that would be unfair to participants. Plus, bigger prints are harder to work with if you happen to be one obsessive about centering motives or getting balance or symmetry.

I am so excited, not only to hold my workshops but also to see the museum hold this symposium. They have such a great venue for this.

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 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)


  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)


FanU Swap: “All Lined Up in a Row”

Whoo-hoo, the gangs all here!
With this rough week, it was nice to come home to the final piece to this month’s swap.
It was bound to happen. Actually, I’m surprised it took this long. We not only had the same print in a different colorway (brown and blue) we also had two of the exact same fabrics.
I think this just goes to show great minds think alike!
Here are this month’s “All Lined Up In a Row” fabrics:


Next month’s swap is the “I Just Had to Have It” swap. I can’t wait to see what swappers share!

Published in: on October 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm  Comments (1)  

To-Make List

My current wish to-make list. It only seems challenging when it is to be finished by Thanksgiving. 














Published in: on October 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm  Comments (2)  

“I have not seen that”….. Yet

As many of you know, I am working on a not so little project. I have been trying hard (really, really hard) to keep quiet about what I am doing and what I am finding. But, I am horrible at keeping my own secrets. I’ve slipped. I’ve hinted. I’ve nearly screamed out-loud, jumping up and down, “you’ve got to see this!”

This has very much become a project of Yet.”

In a world where we look for common construction techniques and norms in materials, it is rather exciting to be working on something where all sorts of materials and construction techniques.

I really feel as though when I say “I have not seen that yet“,  “yet” is truly a “I just might see that” or an “it wouldn’t surprise me if” or a “let me see it”, rather than a “that wasn’t common” or a “they really didn’t do that.”

How fun is this:

Cotton batting/wadding… yep
Wool batting/wadding ….yep
TBD wadding… yep
Paste-board… yep
Paper… yep
Woven straw… yep
Cotton cording… yep
Stiff paper cording… yep
Silk…. yep
Cotton… yep
Wool… yep
Fur …. yep
Beads… yep
Ribbon… yep
Drawn… yep
Gauged… yep
Gathered…. yep
Piecing… yep
Selvages… yep

Now, this said, I am one who loves patterns, trends and tendencies. I would love to chart out the years, the regions, the urban to suburban, the age of maker/sewer, and anything else I can to get an even better understanding.

Published in: on October 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm  Comments (1)  

Readings for Rural Life

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

Oct 22nd, 1864

The Expression of Dress – Women are more like flowers than we think. In their dress and adornment they express their nature, as the flower do in their petals and colors.  Some women are like the modest daisies and violets, they never look or feel better than when dressed in a morning wrapper. Others are not themselves unless they can flame out in gorgeous dyes, like the tulip of bush rose. Who has not seen women just like white lilies? We know several double marigolds and poppies. There are women fit only for  velvets, like the dahlias; others are graceful and airy, like the azaleas. Now and then you see hollyhocks and sunflowers. Then women are free to dress as they like, uncontrolled by others, and not limited by their circumstances, they do not fail to express their true characters, and dress becomes a form of expression very genuine and useful. – Meredith.



Published in: on October 22, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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  

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