Agricultural Society Fair – Part 4 – Favorites

IMG_7960My favorites from this year’s Ag. Fair…. Let me first say I was both pleased and saddened by this year’s entries. There was some absolutely amazing work, I mean AMAZING. But, at the same time, there were far, far fewer entries. I remember when I was little that the meeting center and tents were filled, really filled. Then I remember when it was the whole meeting center, all three rooms. This year, barely two rooms were filled. This made me so sad.

IMG_7901Cheese has always been one of my favorite entries to see. I think it comes down to the cheese Grandma used to bring home at the end of the season. My favorite was the less than authentic peppercorn filled cheese. To this day, one of my comfort foods is simply pasta with a good hard cheese grated on.


This is one of the children’s entries. I thought this young person’s work really was nice. It happens to remind me of my Grandma Worden, who used to do this kind of needlework.

IMG_7920Each of the hooked rugs entered this year were beautifully done. There was just something about this one though. I think Grandma would have loved it. It is playful, pleasing and just the right balance of colors. Love it.

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There were a pair of pockets that made me really glad I did not enter a pocket this year. (I had been thinking about doing a doll’s pocket.) One was a lovely patchwork. The other a stunning embroidery. Both in beautiful shades of blue that I am rather partial to.

IMG_7907IMG_7910All of the needlework embroidery entries were amazing, stunning and so very well done. I have long thought this section needs to be reworked to reflect the needlework styles of the nineteenth century. IMG_7912This set of entries exemplifies why. Each one is an excellent example of a different type of needlework. IMG_7909Anneliese made the beautiful flame stitch pincushion, Allison worked the white work handkerchief and the punch work is by Judy (who I think I remember.) At least two other entries in other categories could easily also be considered for their needlework, the pocket above and the cap below.


This cap, wow. I don’t know what to say beside ‘wow’. This is also made by Anneliese. I hope you can see all the detail including those worked dots. (I’m sure they have a name. Fingers cross she’ll comment below about them.)


This best example of wooden ware made me “oooo” so loud I had  a response back from the other room. I can not imagine the amount of carving that went into these. I’m hoping we will get to see what they produce in the future.

IMG_7926This quilt was quite pleasing. The colors work so well together. I have this style applique on my ‘wish to do sometime’ list. I hope I can pull one off this nice.

Lastly, we have my mobile favorite. I got myself some goat lovin’. This goat was such a sweetie. While I was petting this one, a smaller one was nibbling on my wool coat and dress just below. No marks, best I can tell. Eventually, one of the bigger goats started knocking the one I was petting out of the way. When it got aggressive, It was time to go. The little one bleated away at me through the gate while the one I was petting just starred. :(

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Published in: on October 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Agricultural Society Fair – Part 3 – Mom’s Entries

Make sure you see the Ag Fair part 2 post for mom’s other entries. IMG_7898 IMG_7899 IMG_7903 IMG_7904 IMG_7905


Published in: on October 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Agricultural Society Fair – Part 2 – Mom in the Horticulture Tent

I knew mom was planning to bring a few things to the fair for the horticulture tent. I had no idea….

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Published in: on October 3, 2015 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Agricultural Society Fair – Part 1 – Entries

This year, I decided to give myself an extra little challenge – Make my entries in doll scale. I set this goal for myself at the beginning of the year. While I didn’t manage to find the time to make as many pieces as I wanted, I was able to make few. There are also a couple human size pieces as well.

IMG_7915Since I spent so much time this summer making straw hats and bonnets, of course, I needed to make a pair of straw hats, one doll scale and one human scale. The full size straw hat was a favorite of this summer with its bias plaid silk lining and calla lilies. The doll hat is in the same style, simply trimmed with ribbon. If I ever find lilies small enough, I will be happy.

IMG_7921IMG_7917It was fun scaling down the winter bonnet patterns to doll size. I did one in a quilted style using a double twist pattern and one in the corded and wadded style that I find to be nicely warm. These are for dolls with 9.5″ to 10″ heads.

IMG_7918I had lots of fun with this little doll quilt. Triangular piecing was both easy and relaxing. But, as I was almost finished, I realized I needed to bind that curved edge I created. Thankfully, it was a lot easier than I thought. I am tempted to do a full size one in this design. Sometime.

IMG_7908When Mandy found these steel rings, I knew I wanted to do an embroidered pin ball. I did a trial run with simple embroidery on wool. Then jumped into the needlework for this one. Needlework like this is not something I have done much if any of. Some parts were enjoyable. Other parts, well, they made me think “aren’t I done yet?” After finishing the full size one, I wanted to see if I could do the doll size one.wpid-2015-10-01-06.13.49-1.jpg.jpeg wpid-2015-10-01-06.14.02-1.jpg.jpegOne challenge was deciding on what to use for the ring. I pondered an actual ring, but didn’t find one in the right size as I was working. The next challenge was turning the embroidered linen right side out at that small of a scale. I think it came out pretty cute.

IMG_7923I had every intention of doing my household quilted item in both doll and human scale. Then, as I made the full size one, I decided this was the one and only I was making… ever. This quilted tool case was inspired by an 1872 illustration in Peterson’s Magazine. It could hold sewing tools or toilet tools nicely.

Workshop – Pocket of Pockets

wpid-2015-10-01-19.31.19.jpg.jpegI am very excited that I will be facilitating two Fanciful Utility workshops at the upcoming Domestic Skill Workshop hosted by the Genesee Country Village and Museum during the first weekend of November.

IMG_7791The Sunday afternoon workshop will be a “Pocket of Pocket” Work pocket. Attendees will make one of the most versatile and useful work pockets. Each can choose among a wide assortment of period cotton prints to make their rolled pocket. The workshop directions will be easy to follow for beginner sewers and open enough for those who are more experienced.

wpid-2015-10-01-19.32.08.jpg.jpegOriginal work pockets, made of a row of pockets which roll up, can be found spanning from the 18th century through the 19th century. Their pockets held numerous sewing needs, nicely organized. Some pockets were made with various prints of a single color or shade such as this Turkey red example or this blue example. Other pockets used an assortment of prints, stripes and plaids. This example used a plaid, print and check for the pockets.  The size of the pockets varied through time as well. On the left hand side of this photo, you can see many different sizes.


Published in: on October 2, 2015 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Workshop: Pin Cushion Sampler

I am very excited that I will be facilitating two Fanciful Utility workshops at the upcoming Domestic Skill Workshop hosted by the Genesee Country Village and Museum during the first weekend of November.

The morning workshop will be A Pin Cushion Sampler. Attendees will be able to make two or three pincushions of their choice during the workshop. Don’t worry, all attendees will take home the directions for each of the cushions. I have put together an assortment of pin cushions that will meet a range of sewing abilities, beginner to experienced alike, as well as meet a variety of sewing case needs.

wpid-2015-10-01-06.15.38.jpg.jpegThe easiest pin cushion is the heart shaped cushion from Eliza Leslie’s American Girl’s Book. This simple, silk cushion is both easy to make and quite pretty. It can be made small (as our cushion will be) or rather large to suit the needs of the sewing box.

wpid-2015-10-01-06.15.20-1.jpg.jpegThe most challenging cushion is this multi-media ring pin cushion, made with a silver tone ring and silk. In making this cushion, you will practice covering pasteboard, manipulate the batting and finish it off with a pretty silk. Multi-media pin cushions such as this one were popular throughout the century.

wpid-2015-10-01-06.16.50-1.jpg.jpegFor those looking for a small, whimsical pin cushion, this pyramid cushion will suit. This cushion will be worked in firmer fabrics, including wools and velvets. This cushion is inspired by this adorable original. (I’ll have some pretty ribbons you can add as well.)


If you love ribbon, this ribbon pin cushion may be the one for you. This cushion uses Fanciful Utility techniques in a unique way to create this pretty cushion. It is inspired by originals such as this one.wpid-2015-10-01-06.14.57-1.jpg.jpeg

For those with a playful eye, this ball pin cushion is a fun choice. We will be making ours with silk pieces. Originals can be found in an assortment of materials.


Variations of a gored pin cushion are found in both published books and originals. This cushion is easy to make, while being very versatile. As these are similar to the ‘tomato’ pin cushions, I am going to bring along some simple circles too in case those are the preference.

Oh, I almost forgot…. Here are some of the fabrics we will get to play with….


Published in: on October 2, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Fair on the Brain

This is the time of year that I have Ag. Fair on the brain. The Genesee Country Village & Museum’s Agricultural Society Fair is coming up in a few days.

wpid-2015-09-21-09.23.14-1.jpg.jpegI find the premium lists and premium books to be quite fun to look at. These lists of entry catagories tell us the type of things people grew in an area and what they made on the domestic and manufacturing levels. They give us an idea of what they prized. Some even tell us what they collected.

wpid-2015-09-21-10.28.57-1.jpg.jpegOne of the most interesting entry categories I’ve seen comes from the 1873, Deseret Agricultural & Manufacturing Society Premium book for Salt Lake City. This List of Premiums includes: “Best collection of gold fish, in an aquarium”, Okay, the entire section on paints and oils from that premium book, I find interesting.wpid-2015-09-21-10.28.47-1.jpg.jpeg Btw, in 1839, a set of artificial teeth were entered in the Second Annual Fair of the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute.

from the 1866 California State Fair’s Premium book:

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Published in: on October 1, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Pin Fair

I shared this article ones before. It seems fitting to share it again in anticipation of this weekend’s Agricultural Society Fair at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. Here, from the 1867 The Lyceum Banner, (Chicago).

Pin Fair

The enterprises of boys are never recorded, no matter how much energy, talent and taste they display. It gives me great pleasure to be able through these columns, to describe to other boys and girls, an enterprise on which I know there was a great deal of energy shown, but of the taste and talent, I will leave others to judge.

I had just attended the Rock Island Fair, and having examined the grounds, buildings, articles entered, and race-track, and inquired how it was conducted, I proposed to open a Pin Fair on an empty lot near my home. Johnnie Gow, brother Roddie and myself constituted ourselves a stock company, and agreed to plan, execute and control the fair without the assistance of the grown folks. We spread tables in the open air for display of articles, built an amphitheater of raised seats under some trees, and made a race-track in a circle, Oscar Dow as Marshal. Cousin Carrie printed some handbills, and the following saw the price of entry and the premiums awarded:


We only sold tickets to children in our neighborhood, because we were afraid we could not control a large crowd, without assistance of the grown folks. The day was pleasant. The tables were covered with beautiful articles tastefully displayed and interspersed with splendid bouquets and wreaths. The most noticable among the premiums awarded to Nettie Guyre, for best embroidery and prettiest doll; to Lizzie Whitman, for best bead basket, best charm; to Charlie Riggs, for best collection of geological specimens, best original drawing, best puzzle, largest bunch of grapes and larges apples; to Lucy Harper, for prettiest toy lamb; to Jennie Gow, for best collection of sea shells and prettiest toy dog; to Minnie Hakes, for prettiest paper doll; to Cornelius Smith, for the best worsted knitting; to Mary Gale, for best bouquet; to Lucy Gow, best pin cushion, best crochet work; to Roddie Riggs, best collection of river shells, largest pear, largest toy chicken; to Clara Whitman, largest glass marble; to Minnie Gow, prettiest bead ring, largest doll, prettiest pen-wiper; to Carrie Conant, largest collection of carnelians; to Harry Carter, best crab apples.

[paragraph on racing]

Our receipts were 187 pins. We spent a very happy day in the open air, increased our love of the beautiful, gave an impetus to our industry, and I hope improved our health and by social intercourse, our good manners. Next year, if we get larger grounds and if the grown folks will control it, we can open it to the public, and get up a big Pin Fair. Charlie.

PS – Two blog posts with lovely photos of a local event in Angelica, NY came up on my feed this morning. Check them out.

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Conversations with Silks

I took a chance on a remnant lot of silks because I need a wide assortment of silks for the upcoming Pin Cushion Sampler Workshop at GCV’s Domestic Skills Symposium. I was also hoping to get a few winter bonnets out of the bunch. I knew the lot had a few unusable dupoini fabrics. The taffetas were too tempting.

I am quite happy with the results.

When I picked the box up from the steps, I was surprised how heavy it was. There was much more silk than I was envisioning. The merchant wrapped the silks up in a very pretty paper, with a ribbon and thank you note. That is always nice.

wpid-2015-09-28-18.03.22.jpg.jpegHere are the silks I have in  mind for the workshop. The bold and bright stripes will work nicely for a couple of the pincushion designs. These cushions call for lots of cutting lots of little pieces. That very top, little one will be nice for one of the other cushions. I’m hoping I can get three pieces out of it. (hmm, not as vivid a photo as I would like.)

wpid-2015-09-28-16.55.13.jpg.jpegThis is one I thought was a taffeta, envisioning it as a winter bonnet. It is some where between a habotai and a chiffon, being incredibly soft, yet not having a crinkly drape and not being sheer. It is tempting to make into a piece of clothing since it is so soft. It sorta scream night dress. But, it would also look Stunning as the inside lining of a black taffeta or black velvet hood. (Oh, I think I just realized which one.)


This is a simple plaid taffeta that I eyed for a winter bonnet. I’ve been wanting to do a plaid. I’ve also been wanting to do a bonnet in green or red. This brings all three together. Fingers crossed on the amount of fabric. I think it will be close. I’m hoping there will be enough to trim it too.

Hmm, I forgot to take a photo of the white and green medium check. That will be a bonnet too.

wpid-2015-09-28-18.05.42.jpg.jpegThese two pieces are rather nifty silk broadcloths.wpid-2015-09-28-18.05.16.jpg.jpeg I really want to see if I can make a winter bonnet out of the cut. The sets of stripes are rather wide. We shall see. If they won’t work for bonnets, they will make nice bias trim or great work pockets.

wpid-2015-09-28-18.04.36.jpg.jpegThis is a shantung that I am hesitant about. It is an excellent example of a fabric with occasional slubs on a thinner, finer weave. I’m also not as fond of the subdued colors. That might be more of it. It may be routed towards lining.


This is along the lines of the pink stripe above. I pictured one weave/weight, while it is another. This silk alternates organza stripes and taffeta stripes, with round cords in between. I don’t know what to name it. Corded silks include faille, bengaline and epingle. But… those are each in plain weaves. I don’t know if a combination of two plain weaves counts. It really reads “curtain fabric” to me. It has incredible body. I’m sure if there was a good length of it, someone could make a fun dress from it. There may be just enough to make quite the princess dress for a little girl.

And then…. there is this lovely. It is so pretty. The ground is blue even though it doesn’t read as blue on some computers (like mine.) Part of me wants some for pin cushions. Part of me wants some for an awesome work bag. Part of me wants there to be enough for some yet unknown dress. (that would likely need all new under clothes an a place to wear it.)


(okay, I was going to schedule this for the morning post… but… I want to share the pretties.)

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 6:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Oh, for the love of tea…..

The moon was lovely. As the eclipse reached its peak, the line of clouds embraced it. I was off to sleep. Apparently…. not enough sleep.

Oh, for the love of tea…..

Okay, so the images aren’t tea. But, if it were, oh, how this is what I need.

Coffee stall,  from Charles Knight's London, vol.4, 1843

Coffee stall, from Charles Knight’s London, vol.4, 1843

Breakfasting Out, 1859, by Robert Dowling,

Breakfasting Out, 1859, by Robert Dowling,

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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