Coming Up

33 degrees!

That is how cold it was this morning on the drive in to work. Brrr!!!! By the way… the car currently has no heat. Did I mention Brrrr!!!!

It is most definitely full on fall here in New York.

With the past few crazy months, I am really looking forward to some happenings coming up.

I have two workshops coming up during the Genesee Country Village & Museum’s Domestic Skills Symposium, November 10th, 11th, and 12th. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend registering for this symposium.

IMG_20170818_153458I’ve been cutting the materials for my new Exploring the Work-box: Tools and Trims. This is the workshop held on Friday. Next, I have to make sure I have all the samples organized and pretty. Attendees will be making their own sample book filled with trim samples made with the antique pinking tools I am bringing.  I hope this will be the first in a series of “Explore the Work-box” workshops. Btw, I think I will be naming the pinking machines.

_20171002_181826The materials for the Sunday’s Pin Cushion Sampler are almost ready. Well, they have to all be put in one box to make their way to the village. We will be making popular pin cushions of the nineteenth century – strawberries, seashells, walnuts, and acorns.

fb_img_1479602076155.jpgThe weekend following is GCV’s Preparing for the Holiday’s event. This is a great opportunity to see the historic village in the fall as it will be packed full of interpreters planning for the coming holidays and getting ready for winter. Last year, I made strawberry pin cushions by candlelight with a fellow interpreter. The visitors were wonderful, with the best questions. I have yet to decide if I will be making strawberries or walnuts this year.

After that…. I will be working on smaller gift items for the holiday season. I will also be making more winter hoods. I hope to have more writing time because I have two publications I am working on. I am anxious to get To Net or Not to Net: Revisited and Warmth for Winter (Wintering Warmly?) written and available to all of you. If you missed the information on these:

  • To Net, or Not to Net: Revisited. A deeper look at the hairnet, how they wore it, and how to capture the correct look. This booklet expands on the article I wrote about hairnets a decade ago. This updated and expanded research will include extensive photographs and a new details.
  • Warmth for Winter: Sewn Domestically Winter Hoods and Bonnets. A detailed analysis of construction methods spanning fifty years of quilted and wadded bonnets. This e-book will be photo heavy with close-ups of original hoods and bonnets in my collection. (This title keeps changing between Warmth for Winter and Wintering Warmly.)

Lunch? Yes, I still want to do the off-season local history lunches. I’ve fallen behind on planning those, as with so many other thing.

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Reflections on Personal Event Safety 

Much of this was written Saturday night in the midst of trying to touch base with friends at Cedar Creek.  I was trying really hard not to post my thoughts beyond current concern for people, some who I have known half my life, others only a short time.

This morning, Sunday, there are many more people talking about what happened with official and non-official accounts. There is also a great deal of anger and speculation. This post isn’t going to be about that. I have a couple groups of thoughts – personal safety,  event safety and a bit about finances.

I feel the aspects of personal and event safety apply to potential event emergencies, both those made by humans and mother nature. Any event, large or small, regional or local, can potentially face tornadoes, flash flood, fire, and other emergencies.

About personal safety – Several people have mentioned tonight how they do not have various essentials on them. I am now going to begin advocating wearing a separate pocket worn under the crinoline or petticoats containing non-period essentials. This adjustment is for personal safety in many kinds of emergencies, including sudden weather changes as well. (Another event this weekend faced a doozy of a storm.) Personal essentials could include:

  • Identification
  • Car keys
  • Medications
  • Emergency contact information
  • Medical reference form
  • A high protein snack
  • Cell phone for communication

Here is an old set of directions for making a pocket. They are ridiculously easy.

About event safety – I know you see some of us post about registering before an event and how it helps with planning. We get brushed off all too often. But, this right here is one of the other reasons why accurate registration numbers and records are so important. Coordinators need to know how many people are on site in case of an emergency,like this one. They need to be able to communicate this information to emergency response teams.
A couple things on finances – Please notice how this is going to effect the merchants who make this their livelihood or whose business is a notable portion of personal budget.

Each merchant/sutler that was at the event this weekend has lost significant sales from about 24 of heavy sales and orders time. While this may not seem like much, this can make or break some merchants. Going to large events is costly. Those in attendance I know of: Corner Clothiers with Timely Tresses, Button Baron, Civil War Lady, Mac)

In the coming months, sadly I suspect people will decide this hobby or field is not for them. (I do not wish to discuss personal choices here.) This will continue to effect the sales merchants will have. I expect to lose some quality merchants and artisans within the next year.

Please, consider supporting the merchants at the event and your favorite merchants through the winter.

Also about finances – This is about planning ahead more than speculation please. I expect there to be some changes in the cost of hosting and attending events, due to increasing insurance and security. This is understandable. The increased cost may influence the cancellation or significant changes in some events. I am aware of one small event that had to change from live interpretation to an inside presentation format. It may be advantageous to plan ahead both for a monetary increase in registration and a diversified presentation style.

Okay, that all said, my heart is heavy. So many friends, including long term friends, were potentially in danger ladt night. I am so grateful to those who worked through the night to ensure their safety. 

Published in: on October 15, 2017 at 9:25 am  Comments (2)  

Blog Support 

You may have noticed fewer posts as of late. This is partly due to my health distractions and partly due to an overly delayed blog upgrade. I have nearly used all the space at my current level with WordPress. 

It has been 9 years with shy of 1,400 posts (I deleted a bunch for space) and I am estimating 3,500 media files. That comes to 99.8% of my space. (I may just max it out with a post or two.) 

I have several blog posts waiting for once I do the upgrade, including:

  • Millinery Mondays:
  • How to make a sleeping cap. 
  • A corded sunbonnet step by step
  • Fanciful Utility Fridays:
  • How to make spool holders (the ones from the fair)
  • A special needle-book (possibly with a kit.) 
  • Sew Practically (may end up a shared theme with Don’t Paint the Cat.)

If you’ve enjoyed reading and/following my blog, please consider supporting it by making a purchase at my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on October 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm  Comments (2)  

This Season’s Winter Millinery 

The winter hoods I am making this fall to winter season are based on original garments in my collection. 

For those in an area with windy, blustery winters, this first hood is a great option. The original comes forward of the face with long lappet like cheektabs. It was made with a dark green wool exterior and bright pink inside. I will be offering this hood in both wool as the original and in silk as many similar originals are made, including another with the same shape and color combination. This hood is also available adps a pattern in my Etsy shop.

This next hood is a sweet hood formerly in Vivian Murphy’s collection. I am quite lucky to be able to care for several hoods previously in her collection. This sweet hood has a light green wool exterior and gold silk interior. The shapes used to make it are beautiful. This hood also can fold forward to protect the face from the elements. I will be offering this hood in wool and in silk with various trims in period techniques.

Functional and popular is this, a warmer, thicker batted bonnet style. This brim is shallower and oh-so soft to wear. The quilted bavolet protects the neck from the cold and snow. I will be primarily offering this style in silk with local wool batting inside. 


Dont worry, I haven’t forgotten the well loved wadded, or pumpkin bonnet. This thickly wadded silk bonnet is filled with wool. It is so and warm, protecting the wearer from the coldest of winters. I will be offering a few of these this winter in silk. 

Please visit my Etsy shop to see what is available. I expect to offer a bonnet every other week or so. I have some beautiful silks to work with and some really lovely wools. 

First Winter Hood of the Season

Now available in my Etsy shop….

This beautiful quilted hood is copied directly for an original mid-nineteeth century winter hood in my collection. 

The outside is a stunning emerald green silk with a tiny jacquard design with black stripes and green dots. 

The interior is hand quilted gold silk with cotton batting inside. It ties closed with a golden brown double faced satin ribbon. 

Ideal for a snowy winter day, the brim can fold forward to protect the face from the snow and wind. 


The pattern for this hood is also available in my Etsy shop.


Published in: on October 5, 2017 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Strawberry Stories

Sometimes we find merchants with materials we love, that are absolutely perfect. Sometimes those merchants just vanish off the face of the earth. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating. But, that is what it feels like. Then there is this gap… and a big question: “Now what?” 

Luckily, in this case, I found another fabulous merchandise with even more perfect strawberry caps! 

When I opened these, just a few hours ago, I was so pleased with what was inside the envelope. I immediately got out the strawberries awaiting their caps and finished them. 

Love them!

They have just the right mid-Victorian look in a beautiful metal. 

I have two sizes I will have available. The emery size is just over an inch tall. The walnut filled pin cushion size finishes between 1.5″ and 2″. I will be ordering more caps as soon as I sell a couple strawberries. 

By the way, strawberries are a little challenging to photograph. I will be making a little stand to change them from. In the meantime, I played with some spools/bobbins as stands. Now, I think I’ll make a little ring stand too. 

I have three pink strawberries currently available in my Etsy shop

Published in: on October 2, 2017 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

2017 Agricultural Society Fair – part 2 

Favorite things 

(There was an order to these. Was) 

Published in: on September 30, 2017 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

2017 Agricultural Society Fair – Part 1

In January I had quite the list of things to make for this year’s fair. The list included a sewn rug using an early chenille technique, a silk crazy quilt in Clara size, an embroidered net veil, and a beaded pence jug. There were also some smaller items on the list too. 

Well, with the great medical distraction of the year, none of those items were finished. Only two were even started. 

This year’s entries had to be picked from what I had made in the past year. To be completely honest, I feel as un-thrilled about this group of entries as I do about my accomplishments of the year. 

Here are the two winter hoods and sunbonnet I did enter. The wool hood placed, but I don’t feel like it should have placed over another piece in the category. I’ll show you that part 2. I also entered two of the crochet pieces I’ve been making as part of my evening relaxation. They were just to make the form feel more complete. I am not a good crocheter. I can not follow directions. Likely the stitch I used isn’t even a real stitch. Buy, the Christmas hat for Dan has a matching one for Clara. 

I did display one of the upcoming projects I will be featuring on my blog. These are spool holders. 

I also displayed the pin cushions we will be making in my Sunday workshop during this year’s Symposium. Attendees will get a chance to make strawberry, acorn, walnut, and seashell pin cushions.

Mom entered an assortment of cooking and canning items:

Published in: on September 30, 2017 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Assorted Night Caps

Does it mean I am overly tired when thinking about night-caps dreamily?

The directions for most caps seem to be written with the assumption that night caps are so common place that readers already know how to make them in their sleep. Well, that is a bit of a challenge for us a century and a half later. Ladies periodicals show night-caps that are sewn, crochet, and knit.

For me, I think of a night cap when I want to be warm, or, in the modern world when I hav a migrainFrom experience (of a rather mobile sleeper), you want to use materials that will not slide off your head, nor do you want to use materials that cause hair to knot. Some descriptions mention cambric for a fabric. This early 19th century night cap (top right) at the MET uses what looks similar to a crochet cotton. The one on the top left is a little fuzzy making me think it has some wool in it.

Additional night caps (nightcap):

This is a very simple sewn cap I made up previously. I found it to be comfortable and warm to sleep in.

Peterson’s Magazine—1859

Night-Cap

By Emily H. May

Accordingly we give in this number, the pattern for a night-cap, accompanied with the usual diagram. With the aid of these, any lady can cut out and make up this indispensable article, trimming it afterward as in the pattern differently if her taste prefers a different style of trimming.

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This fanchon night cap doesn’t appear to have directions accompanying it. But, there is just something about it. Don’t be surprised if a draft for this appears in the future.

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An assortment of caps:

Peterson’s Magazine—1860

Lady’s Night-Cap in Crochet

By Mrs. Jane Weaver

This is a comparatively easy pattern, and requires no description; for any lady, accustom to crocheting, can work the cap from the cuts. In order to still further simplify the working, we give a separate pattern of the crown of the cap.

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Peterson’s Magazine 1861

Pattern for Night-Cap

By Emily H. May

We give, in this number by way of variety, a pattern for a Night-Cap. This Night-Cap is made of spotted muslin, and trimmed with lace and narrow satin ribbon. Fifteen inches of muslin, six yards of lace one inch wide, six yards of narrow satin ribbon, and three-quarters of a yard of ribbon one inch wide, will be required to make one cap. Of course, if five or six were made, so much muslin would not be required in proportion, as the material could be cut to better advantage. Cut out the crown to the exact size of the pattern, and cut our the head-piece allowing sufficient turnings for a broad hem down the front. This hem should be quite half of an inch. Gather the crown from where the fullness commences (which will be seen in the illustration), fun that and the head-piece together, letting the raw edge come on the right side, and then lay a very find cording over the join.

Cut out the strings, join them on the head-piece, and then carry one row of lace all round the cap and strings, putting it quite plain on the latter except round the ends. Put the other three rows of lace on, the last row being run on close to the cording, and so hiding the raw edges. A narrow piece of muslin should be run on the head-piece behind from string to string to form a runner, into which the broad ribbon should be placed to draw the cap in to the size required. Cut the narrow ribbon into lengths of rather more than two inches, and arrange the bows in the lace about one inch apart.

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Published in: on September 22, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Winter’s Ahead

Winter is coming once again. Locally, I am hearing this could be quite the winter. 

Just so you know, I am not a fan of cold and ice and snow. But, one thing I do like is historic winter wear, from quilted petticoats to quilted bonnets. There is something about the comfort of soft fluffiness. 

I am all stocked up on beautiful silks and some lovely wools for this season. Sara, from Ensembles of the Past (check out her Etsy shop) and I had fun picking out this array of silks: 

I was smitten with this pink plaid. 

When I saw this green, with its tiny jacquard, I knew it had to be a hood, or two. 

Don’t worry, I have plenty of black silk as well. I have an ivory wool coming to goo with the black wool already here. 

I will be making a couple different styles of winter bonnets and hoods based on originals in my collection. That collection had some notable additions this year including a private collection I have the honor of giving a continued home. 

Look for warm winter wear soon. Or, should I say Warm Winter Wear? 

Published in: on September 21, 2017 at 6:10 am  Leave a Comment