Tonight’s Millinery: Chapeaux de Paille with Velvet

This petite Regency era hat has a bold look and a hint of hidden color. The straight sided crown is encircled with black velvet points. The shaped brim is edged in black velvet and lined in a blue green silk taffeta. 

The crown measures 19.5″ around, making it nice for an average to smaller head. The crown is 5″ tall. The brim is 10.5″ across. The crown has a band of quilt cotton sateen and ribbon ties. 

This assortment of 1815/6 and 1803 illustrations inspired this hat. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on May 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm  Comments (1)  

Shaker Style Sewing Boxes

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Shaker style sewing boxes?

I do. They have become my at home and on-the-go go-to. With not feeling well from my gallbladder crankiness, having each of my three, yes, three sewing boxes on hand was great. They are just the right size; each with the tools for their project inside. Nice. Neat. Handy. Organized. Easy to fit on the couch with me. Secure, feline safe lid. And they are pretty. Love them.

Original Shaker sewing boxes are pretty incredible. (I call mine Shaker style because the boxes were made by a local artisan rather than a Shaker.) This one is an original I saw at a local show. The patina for the wood on this box is beautiful. It has a simple, flexible handle, a silk lining and ribbons holding each of the tools in place. I like that this one has an assortment of materials for the tools.


This basket was at the same show. It doesn’t have as much inside. The silk liking really works with the color of the wood. I think it has a golden sunshine effect. I have one handled box I want to do up like this when I have some time.


Here is an assortment of Shaker sewing boxes, or carriers as some seem to call them. (I also have a pinboard of them.)

20170108_144122.jpgI do have just two boxes in my Etsy shop for those interested. One is a larger, yellow painted box with a red silk check lining. It has a tray that lifts out from the top. You can put your tools in the top and project below. I did have a client tell me she likes to hide her modern thread spools and directions in the bottom. (SOLD)


The other is this shallower box with a beautiful wood. Inside is a blue silk lining. I made the compartments so one is flexible to meet the space needs of the tools. I find that scissors fit very nicely there.

Both of these can be found in my Etsy shop. (Yellow or Blue.) They are all hand sewn linings using Fanciful Utility techniques.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 6:30 am  Comments (2)  

Tonight’s Millinery: Fashionable Shallow Crown 

This Civil War era hat has a shallow crown and petite brim. The 19″ crown is meant to sit very high on an average head, with its inch and a half rise in the crown. The 2″ deep brim is a petite 10.5″ across with a pretty curve front and back. 

I recommend ties inside this hat to help hold it in place. You may also find a ribbon band inside or a lining will be most comfortable. This was blocked on the Delia crown, which is a rounder crown. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on May 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Anatomy of a Straw Bonnet

Updated from the earlier “Anatomy of a Straw Bonnet” worksheet. Each of these points are general for fashionable bonnets made of straw, primarily straw plait, from approx 1858 through 1863. Finer points adjust with each season’s prevailing fashion.

General Construction – Straw bonnets were sewn by hand in the round. Plaits ranged from 1/8″ split straw to wider whole straw and fancy plaits. Woven straw was also used.

Anatomy 1

Tip – The back section of the crown in the tip. On a straw bonnet this can either be domed, flattened at the back curving to the side of the crown. It should not have a sharp angular transition from the back to the sides.

Crown – The crown of a straw bonnet should create a smooth transition from the crown to the brim. Much of the shaping in the bonnet will be created in this transition area.

Brim – The brim of a straw bonnet will vary according to fashion. The brim’s edge should be a single or double row of straw plait. It should not have raw edges needing to be bound.

Cheek-tabs – The cheek-tabs should have a gentle curve coming from the neck edge of the crown along the side of the bonnet dropping down to roughly your jaw line meeting the brim edge. This is a graceful line, not a straight edge or angular transition. There is a variation in the twist of the cheek-tab from the fifties into the sixties. The cheek-tab is part of what helps hold a bonnet in place.

Binding – The binding on a straw bonnet should be straw plait. Raw edges were covered on the exterior and sometimes the interior along the back of the cheektabs, sides and tip. Multiple rows were used as well.

Lining – A lining is a functional layer of light weight, open-weave cotton covering most of the interior of the bonnet. It aids in keeping the straw from snagging the hair while worn. The lining can not be seen when the bonnet is worn.

Frill/Cap/Ruche –This decorative layer of gathered cotton or silk  covers fills the inside of the brim. This is very fine most often net, lace or organza. The full frill aides in holding the bonnet in place.

Facing – Some bonnets have a facing of silk from the edge of the brim through the first couple inches of the interior brim.

Bavolet/Curtain – The bavolet is attached to the binding edge on a straw bonnet along the sides and crown. This silk piece should be lined with net to give it more body. The bavolet may be a single piece of fabric, most often on the bias and occasionally on the grain, or pieced from bias cuts of ribbon. The bavolet may also be decorated.

Functional Ties – The functional ties are attached to the interior of the cheek-tabs or under the decorative ties. These are narrower ribbon to hold the bonnet in place.

Decorative Ties – Decorative ribbons are wide, 3″-8″ based on a wide survey I did years ago. They are on the grain, not bias. Tied, they do not take the support of the bonnet.

Interior Decoration – Interior decoration also helps hold the bonnet in place.

Anatomy 2

Published in: on May 12, 2017 at 2:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

I am having a moment of “OH, Wow! I need to make that hat!!!”


At the  Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I think, I hope I still have the right straw. May need more.


Published in: on May 11, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Millinery in Context

I recently wrote a program for a local group of 1860s civilians looking at millinery in terms of context. Since then, millinery in context has come up in several different online conversations.

When looking at millinery in terms of social, situational context, we see a different picture of which millinery was worn when, than we did twenty years ago. Looking at very large pools of images, including impromptu in-situ group photos, then clustering them together into the particular situations, we see patterns emerging within the situational groupings. No longer is it a simple matter of “young fashionable women wore hats, older women wore bonnets”, because this was simply not the case, nor was head-wear that unvaried.

While I would like to put together a thorough, detailed blog post filled with corresponding images, many of you know I am currently dealing with a cranky medical issue that is making my dedicated millinery and blogging time inconsistent. I don’t know when I will pull together what I have in mind because I want to have all the image rights in order.

What I have done in the meantime is reorganize some of my Pinterest board into groups of Millinery Context. Each is labeled with a “MIL CONTEXT” preface. My hope this will ease discussion and get people headed in the right direction for their interpretive situation. The boards currently developing include: (please keep in mind this is just a rough start of a massive reorganization.)

Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Millinery – Shallow Crown in Black Straw

This evening’s hat is a fashionable Civil War era hat with a shallow crown. This is a petite hat meant to be worn very, very high on the head with the crown just cupping the crown. See the aspects below. 

This crown is barely 17″ around while rising a mear inch and a half, to sit very high on the head. The brim is 10.5″ across with a subtle curve dipping front and back. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on May 8, 2017 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Millinery – Black High Crown Hat

 Today’s hat is a fashionable Civil War era hat in black straw with a high crown and narrow brim. The brim is stylishly curved, dipping front and back. The oval  crown tapers just a bit.

This hat will fit an average to large head with a crown circumference of 21.75″. The crown is 3 1/2″ tall, while the brim is 2″ wide, making the hat 11″ in diameter. 

I would love to see this hat finished of in this simple period manner with a favorite plaid ribbon. Find this hat in my Etsy Shop.


Published in: on May 6, 2017 at 6:07 pm  Comments (1)  

2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case – Week 4

Welcome to the 2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case!

Be sure to read the previous 4 posts for this Sew Along.


This week we are finishing our Rolled Sewing Case by making and attaching the ends, and adding the pages as well as ties.

img_20170310_200643.jpgFor the end caps, you need the tin circles, exterior and interior fabric. You may also want batting for pin cushion ends, and pasteboard or cardstock if that is your preferred method from Fanciful Utility.

Cover each tin end with your favorite technique from Fanciful Utility. You are simply using tin instead of pasteboard as your base.

I chose to use wool batting on the outside of my ends for pin cushions. I also used cotton batting for the inside in the covering process. *I do not suggest this latter part with the cotton batting because it did not create an ideal tight & smooth surface.*

Use a couple pins to run through the edge of one end in alongside the tin. Using a whip stitch, secure the end to the tube. I suggest whipping in one direction and back to the beginning. Do a wiggle test to check the security.


If you chose to include needle pages, assemble your needle pages and decorate as desired. Whip stitch them into place in your sewing case. (or use a running stitch through just the lining.)

Cut a length of ribbon that will wrap around your rolled sewing case and tie. Fold the ribbon 12″ from one end. Secure this fold to the closing end of the sewing case.

Congratulations, you have completed your Rolled Sewing Case!

Please, join us for future Sew Alongs.

Published in: on May 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Keeping a Hat in Place

I was asked to put together some information on how to keep a hat in place. This may not be the best post as I am dealing with a medical issue just now that has me on a bit of a roller coaster. I did start a Pinterest board of original hats. In some images the ties or elastic is visible. In others, we can see that the hat is being held in had by something not fully discernible. In these cases, I speculate that what is being held may be ties or an elastic.

What we see when we look at originals is A) narrow ribbon or other ties set inside the hat where the crown meets the brim, B) wide ribbon ties set inside the hat where the crown meets the brim, C) narrow elastic set inside the hat where the crown meets the brim, D) ribbon decorations set inside the hat on the brim that do not tie, E) nothing.

This straw hat trimmed in lace at the MET has a pair of narrow ties set inside the hat. These ties would have likely been tied behind the head under the hair. This hat at the National Trust, dated slightly post war, has a black elastic attached to the interior of the hat. (It is possible it was added later.) This elastic would be place behind the hair for wear. This smaller hat at the MET has an elastic that was likely white originally. It would have held the hat to head by running behind the head, under the hair.

In recreating the function of ties or an elastic, placement on the hat is important. I find attaching the ties or elastic to the inside of the crown, just before where the crown meets the brim best reflects what I see in originals. Placing these just above the ears or just forward of this point seems to give the security needed. This gives a nice angle, passing behind the ear and behind the head under the hair.

Here is an example of where I would place the ribbon ties for a hat:

I would place elastic in the same place.

Published in: on May 1, 2017 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment