First Bonnet of 2017

Here is the first bonnet of 2017. 

I thought it appropriate to make a bonnet that can be worn by those with modest, work class impressions; a bonnet that can span most of the Civil War era years. This bonnet has a round brim with a moderate rise. 

Find this bonnet in my Etsy shop.

Published in: on January 16, 2017 at 12:14 pm  Comments (2)  

 First Hat of 2017

​Here is the first straw hat of the season! 

I worked off of this painting of Elisabeth Hudtwalcker, which would be late 1700 to the very early 1800s. 

This beautiful hat has soft, natural lines with an asymmetrically shaped brim. The crown rises six inches. The larger, 23″ crown will allow for a full coiffure. 

I’ve shown it undecorated as offered and with a simple silk scarf wrapped around the crown. See how easy it will be to decorate and how versatile this hat will be! 

Find it in my Etsy shop.

I wasn’t sure what I would do as my first piece of the year. Then this painting appeared on my feed. 

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_Hudtwalcker#/media/File:Elisabeth_Hudtwalcker.jpg 

Published in: on January 16, 2017 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Band of Millinette

I have been toying with the idea of making up a few wired buckram forms for headdresses. As I do not intend to do buckram bonnets, I have a bit of buckram laying about waiting to be used up. On the flip side, most people who want to make a simple head dress don’t want to buy a full yard of buckram or a coil of wire. This seemed like a practical use.

There are many head-dresses or coiffures found in nine-teenth century literature that call for a structured base.

1862 being the year a good many Civil War reenactors are looking at this year, let’s look at what 1862 head-dresses use a foundation:

In 1862, we see many head-dresses that wrap around the head, almost as a coronet of ribbon, velvet or lace, with a symmetrical or asymmetrical focal point landing center back. We also see a similar band with asymmetrical trims, though less frequently. “The most favorite cap of the season is formed of a round crown, set into a narrow band, which just encircles the head. This band is trimmed in various ways…” (Peterson’s, 1862)

 

Godey's 1862This first pair of examples, from Godey’s, show a simple band on the right with two millinette pads/ovals to which flowers are stitched, and on left a wider, covered band to which lace and flowers are attached.

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Frank Leslie's 1862This next head-dress loops heavy ribbon  or velvet around the wired base, a “circular frame.” The heavy ribbon allows for fuller body. The focal point in the back is asymmetrical with the lace quilled along one side.

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Peterson's 1862

Similarly, this Nerissa head-dress uses pink and black ribbon on a “band of millinette cut to fit the head, and which is stiffened with cap wire. (This is one of those cases where I wish the illustration better matched the written description. These do not look like box pleats to me.

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Godey's Lady's Book, 1862

Rather than ribbon, this next head dress is made with lace and rosettes. The base is made thus: “Take a piece of wire, twenty-four inches long, bend it in the form shown in the illustration, and fasten a piece of coarse, stiff black net at the back…”

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This lovely arrangement recently came up on a FB group. I am amused by how they are the same, but not the same. On the right, Peterson’s Magazine, V41-42, 1862. On the left Frank Leslie’s Magazine, v 10, 1862. In both instances, the focal point is atop the head in front, rather than in back, though there is a knot or half bow in that location. The Peterson’s version specifically mentions being “on a foundation of millinette stiffened with a cap wire,” while both illustrations show the form in the illustration.

same-but-not-the-same

Also seen in 1862 are coronet style head dresses. These require a more substantial base,  shaped for both the style and the head. This illustration from Godey’s, July of 1862, shows the same shape coronet embellished in two ways.

Godey's 1862

A similarly shaped coronet is seen here in combination with a ribbon net. With the combination of fr

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When I started writing this post some days ago, I had the idea in my head to make up a few foundations for making head dresses like these. Since then, I’ve mulled around the idea, I’ve even cut out several pieces of buckram and ordered additional crib tape. My thoughts have wandered from making up a bunch of plain buckram frames to thinking people aren’t going to want to pay the $20-$25 to cover the time and materials to thinking I have the materials it might be nice make a few fully decorated head dresses this year. Then I think I don’t need yet another distraction. 

So, what say you…. plain buckram forms? Decorated head dresses? Or, stick to the straw? 6

 

Published in: on January 15, 2017 at 7:37 pm  Comments (3)  

Thoughts on Late Eighteenth to Early Nineteenth Century Winter Millinery.

I’ve been poking around, looking at women’s winter head wear from 1750-1820, a range of time earlier than I’ve been focusing on for my collection and current research. While doing so, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rubbed my ears, the oddly shaped spot warped by frostbite some 20 plus year ago in particular. I have not had a problem staying snuggly warm in my 1850s or 1860s attire. Layers + hood = happy. Oh, plus no slip foot wear. But that is another story.

I look at paintings like this one and think “This is how you die.” Or, at least this is how you get yourself awfully sick standing on a balcony overlooking a pond off the shores of Erie in February. Okay, so I set the painting in a mental scene a few decades off. But, you get what I mean. This attire out in the blustery winds of the North East USA is a recipe for trouble. (British Museum painting)

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A lovely blog, At the Sign of the Golden Scissor, helped me wrap my head around winter wear for these eras that are prior to my knowledge base. Bigger hair. Cloaks with big hoods. Short cloaks with big hoods that seem as much like big hoods with really long bavolets. Muffs. And winter illustrations with hats and bonnets. Okay.

This latter part does have me wondering about winters here compared to winters where the illustrations were drawn and published. I have a general idea that it is not as blustery in England. But, I have never looked at statistics. *add to to do list.*

The same blog nudged me towards the prints in the British Museum. There I found these two 1750s winter images with hood like garments. They were both captioned with the same:

“Winter in all her warmest Dress behold, / To guard her Body from the piercing Cold; // Her Hood and Mantle and her Velvet Muff, / All she can wrap about her’s scarce enough’ and ‘Printed for & Sold by Henry Overton at the White Horse without Newgate, & Rob.t Sayer at the Golden Buck opposite Fetter Lane, Fleet Street.'”

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These illustrations depict winter head wear closer to what I expect: head encompassing warmth. The one on the left likely being a hood and cape combined, both trimmed with ermine. The one on the right being separates, the hood showing softness that may be quilted or wadded.

The very few extant quilted winter head wear pieces from the end of the 1700s into the early 1800s definitely are more drapey like a hood than structured like a bonnet. Here I have a Pin Board started.

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LACMA Woman’s Hood United States, circa 1775 Silk sarsanet

This hood from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art seems to have a fairly simple construction and quilting pattern, doubled diagonal and vertical on the crown/brim and through the bavolet. The bavolet seems slightly shaped though the back, being longer and possibly curved. The original is done in silk sarsanet; replicating could be done in a lighter to mid weight silk taffeta. I speculate the interior could either be a polished cotton or another silk. But, those speculations are based on nineteenth century tendencies not eighteenth. As this hood can tie under the chin, bringing the lower brim and part of the bavolet in around the face, this seems to be a hood that would be suitable for someone moving.

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MFA, 64.685 American, 18th century Silk damask, silk liing, quilting, silk ribbon

Another hood with a tempting construction is on the other end of the spectrum in terms of drafting. This MFA hood has a straight forward brim, but there is a particular curve to the back of the lappets into the neckline with a bavolet that is rather minuet compared to those of the mid-nineteenth century. The crown appears to rise for hair placed higher on the head. Without personal inspection or additional photos, I can only surmise the tip is circular, possibly oval. The three row of quilting follows the line of the brim and lappets, resulting mostly in a vertical appearance, which would give some support to the drape over the face. I am curious if there are any signs that this brim folded back. I have discovered this type of brim reaching forward of the face is wonderful in shielding the face from wind or snow/rain traveling with the wind. Even though this hood could be tied from the inside, I anticipate it would not be ideal for movement or working; it would be more suitable for walking or riding in a carriage.

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Uniquely Placed Bonnet

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“House-keeper Ann” Private Collection – Used with permission http://www.ssdaggers.com/HG/WomenWork/housekeeperann2.jpeg

There are very few mid-nineteenth century photographs of women clearly wearing winter hoods. “House-keeper Ann” is particularly unique. The subject isn’t actually wearing the winter hood. Yet, she has it displayed nicely for us to see.

The circa 1864 image shows Ann surrounded by her trade – broom, dust pan, duster, rag, opened oil lamp and jug. Some have noted her clothing as that of reform dress. Others have noted her clothing as shortened for work. (comments on Pinterest pins) She appears to have a cloth or kerchief wrapped around her head, not tightly but not loosely either. About her neck is a plaid, almost scarf like, item. A second set of shoes are in front of her.

The hood is draped upon a standing broom, face down with the handle of the broom hooking the tip of the crown. Here we can rotate and zoom in for a closer look at this hood:

winter

The upper left shows the hood simple rotated from the original image. The upper right shows the hood slightly adjusted to show what the hood may look like if gravity was not pulling against the broom. The lower left is an adjustment of color for observation. The lower right is a further zoom looking at the bavolet.

We see the bonnet is a wadded bonnet. Seven wadded channels run over the brim. Between the 5th and 6th channels from the front, we see this hood may be corded in between the wadded channels. The back channel, the seventh is smaller, nearly half the size of the previous channels. The front most channel appear to possibly have additional shaping. Many original wadded hoods will have the very front of the brim as a ruffle instead of a wadded channel. I do not believe this is a ruffle. It is possibly a less full channel or a channel that has compacted over time.

As the tip is draped over the broom, but does not show the handle distinctly, I surmise there is some wadding between the layers. Two lines closest to us, suggest there may be some quilting in this area as well. The bavolet does not appear to be very full. The front does curve up to the cheek area. The length is moderate. I would estimate it to be 3.5 inches to maybe 4.5 inches long in the back. There is what may be an ornamental lace or ribbon on this bavolet as well. I find this aspect to be interesting and further my speculation on whether the the bonnet belongs to Ann or to Ann’s employer.

 

 “Hoods or Caleches, made of sating or silk, are now generally worn by ladies as a head covering, in going or returning from parties or the opera, instead of the worsted scarfs so much in use during the last season. These hoods are wadded and quilted, and are so light that on being thrown over the head, they do not in the least disarrange the head-dress. Some are entirely covered with lace, which hangs down in front and at the sides, in the manner of a veil. These are equally comfortable and beautiful for a party hood.” (Graham’s Illustrated Magazine, 1856)

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm  Comments (1)  

From The Workbox – the Strawberry Emery 

Have you even had a pin go dull or have little bumps or barbs “grow” on your needles? 

This was very common in the nineteenth century. To keep pins and needles sharp and barb free, nearly every workbox or sewing basket had an emery. Emery is a special mineral sand that removes bumps from needles and helps keep them sharp. Think about modern things like sand paper and emery boards. They have this emery sand on paper or card, that files away residue, wood, finger nails, etc.. A similar process happens each time you slide your needles or pins into an emery. Keeping needles sharp and barb free is particularly important if you are using g antique or vintage needles. Barbs and dull needles will snag fine fabrics like silks and sheers, causing damage not just at the needle site, but several inches away.

Strawberries were a popular shape for an emery through the nineteenth century into the twentieth century. We still see them today accompanying the popular tomato pin cushion, which also saw popularity in the nineteenth century just with different materials than what we now see.

We find directions for making strawberry emeries in multiple nineteenth century publications. The Girl’s Own Book, 1833, gives simple directions for an emery bag in the form of a strawberry. Eliza Leslie stuffed her linen strawberry, in The American Girl’s Book, 1857, with bran.  Godey‘s Lady’s Book and Peterson’s Magazine offer this knit strawberry emery with big leaves in 1859.

Original strawberries are found in silk, velvet, wool and linen, filled with emery as well as wool and bran. While most are a shade of red, not all are.  Some are capped with green fabric leaves, while some are topped with metal caps that occasionally reflect the look of leaves.

You can find accurate strawberry emeries and pin cushions in my Etsy ship’s special Strawberry Patch.
 

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

From the Work Box – An Overview of Tools

Whether called  work-boxes, sewing cases or work chests, these beloved boxes  house both essential practicality and heart-felt love.

Lucy took the heavy parcel in her own hands, and began to open the folds of brown paper, and at last she exclaimed, ‘Oh, how nice! how pretty! How glad I am to have a real large work-box of my own! Thank you, dear mamma. Such a beautiful red box, and a lock and key to it! and Lucy proceeded to examine the contents

There were rows of reels of cotton, scissors, thimble, bodkin, a yard measure that would wind and unwind in a pretty ivory case, needle-case, and pin-cushion.” (“Lucy’s Winter Birth-day” by Mrs. Russell Gray from An Irish Story,  Archie Mason ed. Edinburgh, 1869.)

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From “The Last Essay of Celia: The Old Work-box” Foreign Quarterly Review, 1833.

Bodkin

Bodkins are found in many materials including wood, bone and metals. These are used to run ribbons or cords through channels of garments. They resemble a blunt needle with a large eye or eyes in the end. The end must be dull, not sharp, to protect the fabric and not snag.

You will require several bodkins of different sizes. The smoother they are, the better they run through the cases. Always get them with a knob at the end. Steel bodkins are more serviceable than those of gold or silver; but in buying steel ones, take care that they are not pewter; this you may ascertain by trying if they will bend. (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Stiletto (and Awl)

Stilettos are used pierce holes in fabric for eyelets and needlework such as white work. Stilettos can be bone or of several metals.  Early century dictionaries define stilettos as a small, unedged dagger with a sharp point.

The Boy's Book of Trades

The Boy’s Book of Trades

Awls seem to be more task oriented also for piercing holes in textiles as well as leather, some with wooden handles.

Scissors

Most of us know what scissors are. I find I prefer to have a small and medium size pair of scissors at events and an assortment of large scissors at home.

You will find it necessary to have three pair of scissors; a large pair for cutting out things that are thick and heavy; a smaller pair for common use, and a very small pair for work that is nice and delicate. They should all be sharp-pointed. When your scissors begin to grow dull, have them ground at once. The cost will not exceed six cents for each pair, (even if ground at a surgical instrument shop.) and haggling with dull scissors is very uncomfortable work. (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Thimble

Thimbles protect your finger(s) while you sew. Different thimbles aid in different ways depending on how you use them. Seamstresses tended to use the full cup thimbles most of us know, while tailors tended to use open end thimbles.

It is well to have always two thimbles, in case one chancing to be mislaid. When you find that a hole is worn in your thimble, give up the use of it; as it will catch the eyes of your needles and snap them off. (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Needles

You will want an assortment of needles in your sewing box suited to your work. I prefer having several sharps, several fine quilting needles that are good for silk, a couple embroidery needles and some strong just in case needles on hand in my box.

“In providing needles, short ones will generally be found most convenient, and their eyes should be rather large. Many of the needles that are put up in sorted quarters of a hundred are so small as to be of now possible use to anyone. Therefore, in buying needles, it is best to select for yourself. Have always some that are very large, for coarse strong purposes. When a needle breaks of bends, put it at once into the fire; for if thrown on the floor or out of the window, it may chance to run into the foot of someone.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

The Illustrated Girl's Own Treasury.

The Illustrated Girl’s Own Treasury.

Spools

“It is well to get at least a dozen cotton spools at a time, that you may have always at hand the different gradations of coarse to fine. The fine spools of coloured cottons are far better for many purposes than bad sewing silk; but coloured sewing cottons should only be used for things that are never to be washed, as it always fades after being in water. Mourning chintz should on no account be sewed with black cotton as it will run when wet, and stain the seams. …. Keep always brown thread in the house; also hanks of gray, white, and black worsted, for darning winter stockings; and slack twisted cotton, and strong floss silk, for repairing other stockings.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

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Thread winders

Thread winders are small, flat objects used for carrying smaller amounts of thread. They came/come in mother of pearl, wood, bone, silver, pasteboard, horn and other materials. The most common are circles with notches or plus signs, but they have come in a very wide variety of shapes including fish and animals.

Pincushions

Pincushions came in a very wide variety suited to the user’s needs and preference. I’ll be talking more about pincushions in a few days.

Measures & Flat rule

Two measures you will find most helpful in your sewing box will be a short measuring stick and a tape measure. When I am doing millinery, I have an 8 1/2″ rule. While I am working on smaller sewing, a shorter rule is nice.

Tapes can be simple hand inked tapes or more decorative pieces that roll into wooden or horn holders.

Wax

A piece of white wax, for rubbing on a needleful of sewing silk to strengthen it, is a most useful little article;  (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Other tools:

Pencil & Small Notebook – A simple pencil for marking or taking notes is always helpful.

The Boy's Book of Trades

The Boy’s Book of Trades

Chalk “a small box of prepared chalk, to dip the fingers in when the weather is warm and the hands damp” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Emory bag – “Those that are made for sale have generally so little emery in them, that they are soon found to be useless. It is best to make your own emery-bags; buying the emery yourself at a druggist’s, or at an hardware store.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Sewing Brick – “We highly recommend a brick pincushion, as an important article of convenience when sewing long seams, running breadths, or hemming ruffles. It is too heavy to overset, and far superior to a screw pincushion.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Weights – Also a weighted pincushion. “A smaller pincushion [than the above sewing brick] may be made in a similar manner, substituting a square block of wood.”(Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Find all the quotes from Miss Leslie above and more in this printable pdf booklet.

For further information:

The Lady’s Dictionary of Needlework, 1856

Treasures in Needlework, 1855

The Ladies’ Complete Guide…., 1854

The Hand-book of Needlework, 1842

A Period Workboxby Christian de Holacombe and Michaela de Neuville

What is in Your Sewing Box?

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  

Shaker Style Sewing Boxes

You likely have heard me rave about the Shaker style boxes by a local artist. He uses beautiful woods: maple, walnut, pine, cherry, curly maple and even exotic woods. His work is not only beautiful, it is perfect as sewing boxes. They are also great for gifts. I neglected to take photos of the presentation Shaker box I lined for Lily. The long narrow shape made it ideal for her knitting needles as well as sewing notions. 

This weekend, I finally finished lining a few of them I picked up this past summer. Each one is lined with 100% silk over pasteboard,  using Fanciful Utility techniques. These linings are not permanently attached so not to damage the beautiful wood. 

I tried a couple different techniques for sewn connections for the two pieces each box needed for the walls. Initially, I did not want to use the overlap method as I wanted a smooth wall. It turns out, this gives the strongest connection. It was great for the tray. The smoothest connection was the diagonal. At least while it was in the pasteboard only stage. I am hoping the pasteboard will relax back against the wood as it was prior to being covered on silk. 

I selected a dark shot brown silk taffeta for this box to bring out the stripes in the exotic zebra stripe wood in the lid. The lining has two pockets in the sides. It will be finished with matching silk pin cushion and needle-book as original Shaker sewing boxes had. 

This shallow walnut box wanted a simple lining with some dividers. 

The diagonal divider is flexible. It can arc in making a smaller space or arc out for a larger space. 


This deeper painted box made the most sense with a tray. The bottom is line halfway up with an open space for larger tools or a project. The removable tray has three compartments. The silkribbons make it easy to lift out. I wanted the tray to be lose rather than snug so it was easy to get in and out. It does tip along the length. If I could get the bottom back out, I would add two small compared to minimize tipping. But, that link find really in there. 


A couple of these will be available in my Etsy shop. Others already have homes or were gifts. I think I have one more that may be available, a light pine one the size of the yellow one. 

Walnut lined with blue silk.
Mustard gold lined with red and brown check silk. 

Published in: on January 8, 2017 at 4:32 pm  Comments (2)  

Millinery 2017

I thought it would be nice to say a few things about the millinery for this coming year. This is going to be one of those developing posts that will evolve as the year progresses. 

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My Millinery 

I focus on two types of millinery: straw plait millinery and quilted/wadded winter millinery. All of my straw pieces are hand sewn using historic techniques. I use both original bonnet and hat blocks, as well as hand carved blocks for blocking my pieces. I use two different millinery sizings.  While I primarily offer straw forms, I occasionally offer fully decorated pieces. When I do, I use appropriate techniques and as accurate trimmings as possible. Given the likelihood that antique silk ribbons will shatter or fracture, I strongly prefer not to use them in pieces to be worn. I want you to be able to wear your millinery for years. 

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Eras

I am slowly expanding the time periods I am creating pieces from. As of January, this is a rough outline: 

  • 1400-1600s – Researching 
  • Late 1700 – Starting to look at
  • Regency era – Developing hard to find shapes. 
  • 1820s-1830s – Dabbling. (Large brims are a challenge by hand)
  • 1840s – Working off an original block. 
  • 1850s through 1864 – Making a variety of bonnets and hats
  • Bustle era – Make an assignment hats. These are sporadic. 
  • Modern – Yes, modern is on this list as I plan to make a few fascinators.

Sizing 

I tend to make more average to small bonnets and hats because I have an average to small head. Sizing can be as challenging as it is for clothes. Keep in mind that measurements is as much a factor as how a piece was worn for a particular era. In the American Civil War era hats sat higher on the head that they do now; bonnets sat further back on the head in the latter 50s than they did in the 40s or earlier 50s, etc. 

As a starting guideline, measure around your head just above your eyebrows. I am 22″ there today. Yep, I said today. I tend to vary a half inch either side depending on my hydration and hair. You may as well. When I say Smal, average and large, this is generally what I mean:

  • Small is 20″- 21″
  • Average is from 21.5″-22.5″
  • Large is 23″-23.5″, maybe 24″

As of right now, January, the 1840s pieces blocked on the original block and the Regency capotes fit me. This means the tend to fit the average to smaller heads nicely. I hope to carve a larger capote block. But, that one is hard. I have to recarve most of the foam hat blocks as they take a beating each season. So, there will be a variety of those. 

Pricing

I will do my best to keep millinery pieces as affordable as possible. Please, keep in mind each piece is entirely hand crafted, that I hand sew each row of straw, and I hand select each trim used. With the current cost of straw, necessary materials and shipping, undecorated straw forms will start at $100 for bonnets and larger hats, $85 for smaller hats. Variations in straw will influence the price. 

Custom Requests 

 My year follows the public schools schedule here in New York. While school is in session, I will not be taking requests. I will offer “off the shelf” hats and bonnets.  School is in session with exams through nearly the end of June. I will take limited requests during the summer recess. (*I have about a dozen pieces following over from last season.) 

I fully admit I am much more of an artist than a business person. I get rather scatter brained. I had so many requests this last summer and inquiries into the fall, I still have several to complete. I am going to try a new process for keeping track. While my board with flags worked for a few years, I ran out of pins and flags last year. 


Published in: on January 6, 2017 at 11:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Work-Baskets and Bags

Work-Baskets and Bags (American Agriculturalist, 1867)

Prize Essay by Miss Eva M. Collins, Rochester, N.Y.

1Every lady, whether a woman or a little girl, should have a convenient receptacle for the implements which are necessary for her use in sewing. A household work-box, basket, or bag, is a household nuisance. Each person should have her own thimble, wax, thread, needles, scissors, etc., and a place to keep them; and the manner in which she keeps the latter is a pretty sure index to her habits of neatness and order in other respects. So great a variety in the style of these articles lies within reach of each of us, that our individuality can in no way be better discerned than in the choice we make. Our minister tells us that copying is a suicidal act, and that the spirit of the aphorism is applicable to the commonest incidents of daily life. Why not, then, to our selection of an article which presents so great a variety of forms? – not that he can mean, in this case, that we should each have a work-box unlike those we see about us, in order to express our individuality, for it would be but another form of the same act, and equally suicidal in its nature;  rather than each should sufficiently understand her own needs and preferences, as to have a choice even in so small an item as this. Grandmother things there is nothing quite so convenient as her work-bag, fig. 1, the magical properties of which are universally acknowledged; though none of us would think of constructing such another with the hope of it wonderful properties being inherent in bags of that description, as everything that belongs to Grandmother partakes of the same nature. It consists of a round piece box-board, covered, and surrounded with pockets. Turned wrong  side out, (fig. 2.) and emptied of its contents, it is easy to see how it is made. The pockets, fig. 3, are eight in number. These, and the inside bottom board are of gray merino. The upper edge of the pocket is scalloped with dark blue saddler’s silk, which is the outside color. A rubber cord holds the gray pockets so tightly drawn up that the bag stands of its own accord, outside from opposite directions, are loosened.

Mother’s work-basket is made on the same principle. It is a basket lined with pockets, fig. 5, instead of a bag. The inside is made separately, and afterwards fastened firmly into the basket at the bottom of the pockets. The tope could be simply made fast with coarse thread to the basket, though that would not look so neatly finished as it would wound with ribbon over the top of the basket, and through the material of the lining, with bows tied over between the pockets, where the strain upon the lining is the greatest, in the way mother’s basket is finished off. The pockets, fig. 6, are made in a straight piece just long enough to fit the bottom of the basket. The bottom of the row of pockets, fig 7, is slightly gathered to fit a circle of the same material which fits the bottom of the basket.

1-copyKatie has a standing work-basket of willow, with three compartments. She has various nice little contrivances to hold her work, among which are “crabs.” A crab ** like this is composed of three pieces of stiff pasteboard of an oval shape, two inches in width by three inches in length, neatly covered with silk, and sewed together at two of the edges. By a slight pressure at the ends it opens, and reveals a cozy little room large enough for small work, and convenient to carry  in a dress pocket. IN this crab, which is brown on the outside and blue within, I see Katie has a bunch of tape trimming, and a spool of thread, No. 50. In another gray and pink one there is some ruffling, narrow lace and 100 thread; while stowed away in the drab crab I discover her tatting shuttle, fig., 8. It is one Grandfather made from the centers of two old fine-tooth combs, placing a couple strips of ivory between this outside places, and riveting the whole firmly together. Katie says it is entirely owing to her supply of crabs that she always has a variety of light work ready for any emergency. Her needle-book, figure 9, although large is appropriate to her basket, which is large and roomy. It is of bronze morocco, bound and lined with blue, with leaves for needles at one end, and a place for the thimble in the other side of the broad flat cushion at the other end of the case, fig. 10,. There is a morocco pocket between the silk pocket and cushion.

My needle-case, fig. 11, is smaller, and therefore better suited to my work-box, fig. 12, where every inch of space is precious, and accordingly economized. It rolls up into quite a small compass and lies under the tray, or sometimes in the tray, beside my button-box. Between these and the cushion, is a narrow depressed division for knife, pencil, stiletto, buttons, tape, needle-book, etc. The scissors, tape-measure, emery, thimble, shuttle and pin-case belong in the division opposite the thread; while under the tray is a ball of welting cord, box of hooks and eyes, case of skeins of silk, fig., 13, scissors sharpener, sticks and roll of tape, papers of floss and French cotton, Afghan needles, a crab or two, and a dozen little bundles of work in various stages of development, besides a thousand and one other articles, which do not legitimately belong to the box, yet are most conveniently kept here.

Jennies’s work-box, fig. 14, which is a tidy little affair, is a hexagon of stiff pasteboard covered with silk—gray on the outside, and scarlet within. On three of the side pieces are fastened pockets of the same material with which the basket is lined. On one side a covered strip of thin paste board, fig. 15, is fastened for a thimble case over which hangs an emery, fig. 16, made from two round pieces of strong linen, stuffed with emery and wool, covered with scarlet silk. The tomato shape is produced by drawing double thread of green silk six times thought the center of the emery—each time passing over the surface at an angle of sixty degrees from the last thread. A tuft of green is fastened with the string to the center of one side of the emery to increase its resemblance to a tomato. Jennie made several such boxes for her little friends a few months ago, some of which were very delicate in color—light blue and salmon— sea green and gray—and were prettier than her’s though scarcely as well adapted as hers for daily use.

 

 

** Also known as a Button Keep or Balloon Bag.

 

Published in: on January 4, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment