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


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.


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.


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.





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.



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  

Fill the Box Game!

It has been a while since I’ve hosted a game. This one should be especially fun. 

I just listed this sewing box in my Etsy shop. ***To make this more fun, I will be adjusting the price each time I add something new!*** There will still be shipping. 

I will be “filling” the sewing box with goodies, at least once a day, sometimes much more often. “Filling” is in quotes because as I get going, not everything will fit in the box. I will post the new additions here. I may also post about them on Facebook as time allows. 

The box can be purchased at any time during the game. The purchaser gets the box and everything that has been added up to that point! 

About the box: This handsewn box has been one of the most popular items in my Etsy shop. At 4″ long, it travels easily while holding your sewing essentials. The fabric is a green cotton with pretty pink Paisleys. It ties closed with silk ribbon. 

The first additions! 

Every sewing box needs a pair of scissors. This pair of scissors is nearly identical in design to an original pair I have. Of course, if you have scissors, you need a scissors case to protect the point. This is a handsewn wool case.

Next addition! (8pm Thursday) 

What is a sewing box without needles?! Here are two vintage packets of needles. 

Good morning! 

If you are going to have a sewing box, you are going to need something to sew. This morning I am add-in this starter roll of fabrics. Each piece of cotton fabric is in a period appropriate print, excellent for FanU projects, a little quilt, or a search book. 

This afternoon I’ve added black tailor’s chalk. This is the waxy kind. Tailor’s chalk is incredibly useful for marking fabric for cutting. You never have to worry about breaking a pencil tip! Plus, I’ve decided to added to the fun by changing the box price each time I add something! 

Saturday day morning’s addition is a vintage spool of thread. This white spool is big. 

Saturday evening’s addition is a must have for your thread. This little wax star was made by me. It will help you keep your thread from tangling. 

I’ve decided to add two items this morning. First is a plaid wool pin ball. This is a versatile yet compact pin cushion. Second is a vintage bodkin. Bodkins make running cords and drawstrings so much easier. 

The box is now full. Inside is:

  • A Vintage Bodkin
  • Plaid Wool Pin Ball
  • A Star Wax
  • A Vintage Spool of Thread
  • 2 Black Tailor’s Chalks
  • A Roll of Cotton Prints, period correct of course 
  • 2 Vintage Needle Packets
  • A Pair of Scissors in a Wool Holder
  • Of course the Box! 
Published in: on September 14, 2017 at 6:19 pm  Comments (2)  

Today’s Millinery 

This fashionable spoon bonnet is made with a pale straw. It will fit an average to smaller head best. 

Find this bonnet in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on September 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Destash Yardsale 

I am having an online Destash Yardsale! It is in the form of a Facebook group. 

This is the group.
I will start it off slow while people join. I will be adding fabric in various lengths, trims, some doll things, sewing notions and possibly some jewelry. 

Published in: on September 9, 2017 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genesee Country Village & Museum’s Domestic Skills Symposium 

The Genesee Country Village & Museum is hosting its Domestic Skills Symposium November 10th through the 12th. 

 Saturday, November 11th is filled with exceptional lectures covering 18th and 19th century domestic topics:

  • Manuscript Cookbooks as Documents of Social and Family History,” by Peter G.Rose, author and food historian at, South Salem, NY
  • Street Foods of the Late 18th and 19th Century,” by Nancy Webster, Curator of National Friends Historical Association
  •  “Store it, Cook it, Eat it. The Potter Made it All.” by Mark Presher, Master Potter at Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford, NY
  •  “Calico Capers” by Patricia Tice, Curator, John L. Wehle Gallery, Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford, NY

On Friday and Sunday, a wide selection of workshops are offered. I will be teaching both days this year! 

    On Friday: Exploring the Work-box: Tools and Trims 

      Explore tools and techniques used to create the trims, finishes and special touches on nineteenth century garments and accessories. During this workshop, attendees will discover the techniques used on original garments and how to reproduce the look while developing their own sample book. Both antique and eproduction tools will be available to use. Some types of trims we will explore: ruching, pleating, pinking with pinking dies and pinking machines.

      On Sunday: A Sampler of Pincushions 
      Make two or three small period styles of pincushions. All 
      materials for your chosen designs will be provided and instructions for all 
      designs will be given to each attendee. Participants should bring: a sewing 
      basket with scissors, thimble, pins, needle, seam ripper, marking 
      pencil/pen and a notepad. 

       Visit to learn all about the Domestic Skills Symposium and Register!!!

      Btw – I am totally giddy that my photo heads the Symposium page!

      Published in: on September 4, 2017 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

      Summer becomes Fall

      How is it August 31st already??? 

      I don’t have a summer review as I did last year. This was a summer of recovery induced “rest” and unfinished projects. But, it seems my mind did not rest as much as my body needed. I have quite the list of new projects on top of those currently in progress. 

      UFOs & UFPs (Unfinished objects and projects):

      • To Net or Not to Net: Revisited (coming e-Book on hairnets)
      • Wintering Warmly (coming e-Book on winter hoods)
      • Evergreens at Twilight (a personal challenge in wool)
      • Six more straw pieces waiting
      • Clara’s silk crazy quilt
      • Ag Fair project A
      • Ag Fair project B

         Fall and Early Winter Projects 

        • A couple dozen winter bonnets
        • Strawberries?
        • Heart pin cushions?
        • Walnut and acorns?
        • Felting experiment 
        • Red wool basque 
        • Sheer white basque 
        • Clara’s”box spring”

        Workshops & Talks

        I am excited to announce this November, at the GCVM Domestic Skills Symposium, I will be leading Exploring the WorkboxTools and TrimsParticipants will learn how to reproduce trims for nineteenth century attire using period techniques and tools including pinking dies and pinking machines. 

        Published in: on August 31, 2017 at 5:15 pm  Comments (3)  

        Sewing Today – A Corded Sunbonnet 

        I know a few people enjoyed when I blogged along as I worked on another project. I think it was my skirt. I thought I would do that again. So, as I sew today, I will add to this post. Okay, this is going to take several days. 

        A couple weeks ago a friend brought me some fabrics from her shifting stash. This week, they started saying “sunbonnet, sunbonnet, sunbonnet.” Given that my hands need a straw rest, today I will start a corded sunbonnet. 

        Step 1: Which fabric? 

        Next step: Draft a pattern. 

        These are two of my current sun bonnets. The blue I made. The red I bought. The blue has a brim that is just too short. But, I love the fullness of the crown. The red has a nice length. But, I do not find the top angle or the crown fullness comfortable. Love those brim points though!

        I started with a basic trapezoid folded in half. It has a 13″ base and 8″ height. The top, which is the back is also 8″. These lines are black. I reshaped the cheektabs in pink. The green line is the cutting line. Yes, my paper is very wrinkly. Do Not do as I do.

        Step 3: Cutting 

        Well, waiting for feline assistant first. 

        There was about a yard of this fabric minus a corner. So cutting was easy. This is two layers of brim and one layer of crown. 

        I will cut the bavolet/curtain later. I haven’t decided on depth, fullness or grain. I will also need a 1″-1.5″wider strip for the bottom of the crown to draw it in. I kept the crown and brim on the grain. I am am not in the mood do deal with bias stretch even though it may give tighter cord channels. 

        On to sewing the front edge. Then pressing that edge and many rows of cording….. 

        Have I mentioned I have to force myself to do wide seam allowances? 

        Note:  I trimmed the seam allowance around the cheektabs to reduce bulk. But, knowing this is a spot where I will get wear, I put a second row of stitches for strength. 

        Step 4: Cording

        I am using what may likely be the last of my cording ball. I bought this year’s ago. 

        The front edge of the brim is rolled so the edge of the seam is just behind/inside of the front edge of the cord. On the sides, the seam will be more centered because that is where I want to whip on the bavolet. I found my quilt clips to be a nice help in holding this first row of cord. The downside is I can only find two. 

        12:12 first row done. On to dozens more. (I may switch to the crown when I gwt bored of cords.) 

        6:20pm dinner break. 6 corded rows and 3 more chanels. Plus the fish. 

        End of day 1. Cords set in sets of 5-4-3-2, front to back. I may add a single last cord after attaching the crown. 

        Step 5: Crown

        Day 2 sewing followed a very tiring day at work. The drawn channel of the crown is all that was done. (How do I not have narrow linen or cotton tape???)

        Day 3: In the morning, I gathered and set the crown. I am easily irritated by the random, uncontrolled nature of plain gathering. I was fairly satisfied with how this came out. The seam has two rows of running stitches. Then I simply turned and cast over the raw edge. 

        Step 6: Bavolet 

        The 8″ bavolet is about 50″ long with a wide, approx 1″ hem. I wanted it full enough to drape comfortably. 

         I wanted to try a technique I saw on an original in the local collection, a type of gauging whipped in place. Here shows the bavolet folded in half with the two sides gauged. 

        The it was time to run to the Stone Tool show to get a couple boxes. These are the three that are not gifts. The top one is for our pressed pennies awaiting a book. The bottom will be for sewing. I had wanted a big one but he didn’t have any bigger ones this year. Love the color of this one. It will get lined in blue or green I think. The middle one has the neatest dark spot on the lid. It is very light weight compared to the others.

        Step 7: Assembly 

         Dau 3 evening: The bavolet was easy to set despite being tired and the TV show being distracting. 

        Step 8: Finishing, ties, etc

        The ties are made from the same fabric, just folded and whipped. I set them to sit near my jaw bone. I find that placement to be secure for me. 

        This is what it looks like without an starching. I like the size and fit. It is larger than some. But, that means no sun is getting to me deep inside. I think it will also help with light rain and wind. I’ll be starching it soon. 

        *Random note: Renting has given us a chance to learn what features and fixtures we do and do not like in a house. On the do not list is bathroom lighting that makes everything look yellow. Between the lightbulbs and the sconces, the light is awful. Even when we put daylight or white bulbs in, the light is still funky. 

        Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 9:21 am  Comments (3)  

        Today’s Millinery 

        Today’s hat has two rows of braided plait, one in the crown and one encircling the brim. The brim fashionably curves in the front and back. 

        Availability to be determined. The crown is 20.5″ for an average head. It does just fit my smaller head though. The brim is shy of 3″, measuring 12″ front to back. 

        Published in: on August 20, 2017 at 1:55 pm  Comments (1)  

        Today’s Millinery

        Today’s hat has a hand braided edge on the brim. It is similar to yesterday’s blue style, just with a rounder flat crown. The crown is 20.5″ circumference for an average to large size head, with a 2″ high rise in front, and 1.5″ high on sides. The shaped brim is 3″ wide, making it 12.5″ front to back and 12″ side to side. 

        Available in my Etsy shop. 

        Published in: on August 18, 2017 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment