Trying something new

I learned about a new tool at work earlier this week. My mind nearly exploded with all the things that can be done with it as a teaching tool. I had to play with it. I now have recordings of me reading Peter Rabbit and Susan B. Anthony’s defense, along with several “demo” attempts. I was having so much fun, I kept going when I got home.

Here is the result. Let me know what you think.

This is a recording of me visiting the MFA site, discussing the anatomy of a straw bonnet. It is short and I left out a few things. But, you get the idea of what this tool can do. Please, let me know what you think, if you would like more recordings like this or if they are too difficult to deal with.

Click Here for the Recording

thumbnailThe link will take you to Google Drive and should play the recording. For some reason, sometimes this image comes up. If you get it, click “download” to view the mp4 file directly on your computer or phone.

Whoops Download

Published in: on September 17, 2014 at 7:18 pm  Comments (7)  

FanU “Fallen Leaves” Swap

Wow, this first swap of the fall went fast! It may have just been me. But, I received 1 envelop. Then, I received All the envelops.
It was so much fun opening that stack and seeing all the pretty fabrics. It seemed quite suitable that the fallen leaves arrived as the air turned such a chill. Let me tell you, boy do we have a lot of fallen leaves here.
As most of you know, I get migraines. So, this round I didn’t do well at all sorting the fabrics into group 1 and 2. So, we have 1 big photo. Well, 1 collection with 2 photos, a non-flash and a flash.



In this grouping we have so many pretty prints spanning a few decades. (We’ll get to talk more about techniques when we get to the ‘Greene’ swap later.) Though, I will say I can se some that were roller prints and at least one I suspect was a bloc print. One is called “Dancing in the Rain”. Another called “TossedLeaves”. We have pieces that come from Old Sturbridge Village and the Victoria & Albert Museum. One is a DAR fabric. There are fabrics from the Civil War Melodies collection, the Windham Winter Carnival collection and the Dargate Botanicals.
Something that I enjoy personally is seeing which fabrics Grandma had or that she likely would have picked. This groups was strong in those respects.
Thank you to all my FanU swappers for participating. I look forward to the next swap!


Published in: on September 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Worth Reading: Berlin Woolwork

This is an inspiring survey of Berlin Woolwork. There are a few pieces that would work for the memorial project. At the same time, the cats are so cute. (Which reminds me of an embroidery piece that really aught to be on the wall.)

Published in: on September 15, 2014 at 6:58 pm  Comments (1)  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

White silk bonnet, trimmed with violet ribbons and pink roses. A net formed of ribbons is attached to the bonnet.  (Godey’s, September, 1864)


Published in: on September 15, 2014 at 1:01 am  Comments (2)  

Readings for Rural Life

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

Sept 10th, 1861

The economy of crinoline is thus discussed by a French writer: – Dresses require, to be worn over hoop s, at least three meters more than would be needed if worn over an ordinary skirt. As no less than twenty millions of ladies’ dresses are made every year in France, the additional quantity of material necessitated by the use of hoops is sixty millions of meters, which, taken at an average price of two francs per meter, makes a sum of one hundred and twenty millions of francs. In addition must be mentioned the extra quantity of material employed in the manufacture of the hooped petticoat itself, and the long, ample underskirt worn between the crinoline and the dress. This extra material can not be counted at less than one hundred and twenty millions more. The average cost of the hoops and the making of the cages can not be taken at less than an average of fifteen and fifty millions to be added to the cost of the woven goods calculated above. These three sums together make up a tribute of three hundred and ninety millions francs, or about one-fifth of the State Budget, paid yearly to a ridiculous and inconvenient fashion.


Published in: on September 10, 2014 at 6:02 am  Leave a Comment  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Pearl-colored crape bonnet, trimmed with black lace. A fan of pearl-colored silk and white feathers, The trimming inside is of pink ribbon and stiff white feathers. (Godey’s, September,


Published in: on September 8, 2014 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  

FanU Workshops at the Domestic Skills Symposium


I will be teaching two Fanciful Utility workshops at the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s Domestic Skills Symposium. 1

The Symposium takes place on Saturday, November 1st, with Workshops on Friday and Sunday. This is an incredibly affordable program at $75 for Saturdays Symposium with 4 full presentations.

Key lectures include:

  • A survey of printed fabrics from 1760-1860 by Susan Greene, author of Wearable Prints
  • Midwifery from colonial times to the Civil War, by Nancy Webster
  • A history of 19th-century sweets and confections by Patricia Tice
  • Kitchen Gardens and Seasonality by Emily Conable.

Friday and Sunday Workshops cover domestic skills such as:

  • 18th century Pastry Making
  • Wool Spinning
  • Making Your Own Trivet
  • Choosing Appropriate Fabrics for Reproduction Clothing
  • Sit Not in Idleness
  • Make your Own Hand-bound Notebook
  • Custom Draping a Personal Pattern
  • Recreate a Day Cap From the Susan Greene Historic Clothing Collection
  • Making Green Sage Cheese
  • Civil War Cookery
  • Fun will flax
  • Tin Care & Make a Tin Nut Grater
  • The Complete Confectioner
  • Making a Rolled Sewing Case **My Workshop**
  • Making a Mid-19th Century Sewing Box **My Workshop**
  • Make a Cheese Basket

The only bad thing about teaching workshops is missing attending the others. “Sit not in Idleness” sounds like so much fun. I’ve really wanted to get Lily a trivet. I would love to have a hand-bound notebook for when I set up the millinery. Um, Yum, Cheese! And, a basket too?! It would be great to know more about taking care of tin. Plus, I loved the little tin nut grater we had when I was a kid.

I hope to see many of you there. The museum is just outside of Rochester, NY; about an hour from Buffalo/Niagara Falls and 2ish hours from Syracuse. There is a beautiful B&B right down the street. There are several nice hotels in Henrietta too.

The full description of the program along with registration information is on the museum’s site:



FanU Fallen Leaves Fabric Swap!!

Today is the day to sign-up for the FanU Fallen Leaves Swap!

For the Fallen Leaves Swap, Swappers will exchange early to mid nineteenth century appropriate cotton fabrics with leaf motifs. These can include organized leaves, leaves used in a stripe motif and others reproduced from the century. We will mail our fabrics on September 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

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 September 1, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (11)  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Bonnet of white chip, trimmed with a long white plume. The inside trimming is of Ophelia velvet. (Godey’s, September, 1864)


Bonnets – The capes of the bonnets have almost entirely disappeared. In fact, in Paris, not only the capes, but the crowns also, have disappeared. The bonnets there, during the past summer, have consisted of a straw or tulle front, profusely ornamented with flowers and lace, and only a half-handkerchief of lace falling over the hair at the back, this being trimmed with sprays of flowers – no crown, no cape. It will be seen that we are fast approaching thse models by one of our wood-cuts. Still, the apprehension of neuralgia will prevent us from adopting this style in full for the winter. A Paris authority says:

“The bonnet shape, as it now stands, is small in every respect, and is not intended to hide either hair or face; on the contrary, it seems rather to connive at showing both. The mass of hair at the back, the bandeaux in front, the ears and ear-rings are all left unconcealed. A vast quantity of both white and colored tulle is worn about the bonnets of the present day, which proves soft and vastly becoming, when brought in such close contact with the skin, and will be found advantageous to both old and young faces. Long tulle strings are very general; and tulle is frequently arranged in such away as to do away with the necassity of a cap at the sides. Instead of being placed as a scarf upon the outside of the front, it is placed upon the edge, thus falling half inside and half outside the bonnet; a quilling is then unnedassary, the plain tulle scarf providing equally as becoming, and not crushing so easily as the quilled blonde.” (Peterson’s, September, 1864)

Published in: on September 1, 2014 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Fetch My Veil

“I will be in my chamber. Will you be kind enough to fetch my veil” (Madame Vastra, Doctor Who, Series 8, Episode 1.)

I rather liked the veil aspect of this Doctor Who episide. It made me giggle and reflect. Personally, I enjoy wearin veils with my bonnets. I did not think I would. I thought I would feel claustrophobic, as I do with other things, or have difficulty breathing. This is not the case with either of my silk gauze veils. Instead, I find them a comfortable relief from the brightness of the sun and irritation of dust. I also find people’s reactions to me or to the veil, I can not say for certain which it actually is, interesting. I find some people stear away from me, won’t talk to me or even won’t look at me as I walk by. This has its advantages and disadvantages in an interpretive setting. I get to the outhouse or office without delay. I also make people less comfortable, decreasing conversation. I need to initiate conversation.
Then came this excellent train of thought in the story-line. Happy me.
In the days following, I lost two online auctions for reseasrch items I Really wanted. Really, Really wanted in the very last seconds despite being the only watcher. Very unhappy me.
Sulking about, I stumbled across this piece being sold as antique lace yardage.
Now, I don’t know much about lace, but I know a veil when I see one. Mine. Happy me.
It arrived today. I am quiet pleased with my cheer-me-up purchase.


This is the lower edge motif:


The side photo didn’t come out as well:


The center (I would call this a field on a shawl) has dots and flowers:


The top is a tiny rolled hem:


I had figured the veil was drawn up (gathered) through the loops. Nope. I was estatic to see the tiny cord runing through the rolled hem:



As far as damage, these are the spots I found:



Not so bad for a cheer-me-up.

“When did you stop wearing your veil?”
“When you stopped seeing it.”

Published in: on August 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm  Comments (1)  

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