Boxes for Bonnets 

Devon asked about boxes for transporting bonnets to events. Here are some of what I have. Don’t mind the less than fabulous photos. I am back on no lifting or bending. 

Thisnis a box from Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, NY. I would love a few more of these the next size up. It just barely fits a small bonnet. Notice how it is oval-esque. The museum was making these and offering them in their shop. It is unclear if they still are. 

This is a vintage handmade box I recently picked up. The shape is excellent – an oval with flat sides or a rectangle with deep curves. You pick. The downside with this box is its size and it is not strong. 

This is the shape box I keep my personal bonnet in. This is a strong sided, tall box that fits the bonnet very nicely. I think it is 12-14″ tall. Downside is it is round rather than the more common oval-esque shape. 

This is the box I made last year. I figured round would be the easiest place to start. The pasteboard was large thick sheets Dan found for me. This was a nightmare to sew. It does seem to be decently strong in terms of the sides. If the right material presented itself along with time, maybe I would make another. Maybe. (I do have tubes that I will be making into parasol transportation.)

This was a yard sale find box that was one of my first recovering projects. I used wrapping paper. Don’t. The wrapping paper comes out horribly wrinkly. As this is a nice oval shape and a bonnet does fit inside, eventually I will take this paper off and re-recover it with proper paper. Until then, it holds a neglected project. 

These are some of the recoverex boxes. The bigger ones are from JoAnn’s. The smaller are from Dollar General. JoAnn’s had a decorative”Paris” line that were made of stronger walls and were taller than the hat boxes we usually see. I picked them up on clearance at a few different stores. The DG were a surprise this spring. Taller and strong, yet covered in cute 3D motifs. Most took new paper fairly well. As these were done fast to fill the shop, the insides and bottoms of some still need to be done. Oh, before the surgery distraction, I had planned to paint the DG boxes. I will have to do another. 

Here is a miniature version of me sewing a bandbox:

Here is a previous post on storing bonnets:

A bit on bonnet baskets that I still haven’t tried:

Old photo that has my oval box I can’t reach. 

Published in: on July 22, 2017 at 10:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Publications Update 

A quick look at what is currently available and what is coming…. 

Currently Available 

Coming Soon!

  • To Net, or Not to Net: Revisited. A deeper look at the hairnet, how they wore it, and how to capture the correct look. 
  • Warmth for Winter: Sewn Domestically Winter Hoods and Bonnets. A detailed analysis of construction methods spanning fifty years of quilted and wadded bonnets.(title still in development.) 
Published in: on July 20, 2017 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Introducing Serenity 

 I would like to formally, finally, introduce Serenity. 

Serenity is one of three new millinery blocks that made it home to me in June thanks to wonderful friends. Serenity continues the naming tradition started with Galaxy, in receiving a sci-fi name. 

Serenity is an 1860s shape, approximately 1860-63. She is plaster as are her sister blocks, which I will introduce sometime soon-ish. She is lighter weight than I expected, but definitely delicate feeling. 

This past week, in preparation for the GCVM event, I made and blocked 4 bonnets on Serenity. In doing so, I found how naturally the cheek tabs developed their spoon curve as the brim rose. 

There is one similar block I am aware of found in a blog review of Sue Langley’s book, Hats & Bonnets: 1770-1970. It is remarkable how similar the block shape is while the opening below the tip is different. 

Published in: on July 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Millinery, at GCVM

This was a long, let’s pretend elegantly beautiful, post about this past weekend. Really, there were two exceptional passages reflecting on the year and the people at the event. Then, my laptop went black and silent. I need, really need, to replace the battery.

This past weekend, I escaped the challenges of this year filled with ughs, pains, and headaches, by fully surrounding myself with nineteenth millinery and wonderful people. I had two lovely assistants, Elyse and Elizabeth, who were there just in case, but also provided excellent conversation and companionship.

Shop at GCVM CW 2017 b

IMG_0371A few of the millinery pieces found new homes. This coarse straw bonnet, meant for a laboring working class impression, was one I thought would be a long term display piece. Katie came in to say hi and the bonnet somehow ended up on her head. It was absolutely perfect for her and her impression.

I have hardly any photos of people. I have a bunch of photos of the millinery pieces. But, you see those all the time. So, I won’t share those other than to say these two just went up in the Etsy shop:

I did try to take some photos of myself Saturday morning before anyone arrived. Here are the not horribly blurry or excessively stern looking shots.

Published in: on July 17, 2017 at 3:13 pm  Comments (2)  

Skirt Support Support

One month ago I had a nasty stuck gallstone hunted down and my gallbladder removed. This weekend, I had my favorite event that pretty much works as my yearly mood lifter. I had heard that within two weeks others having their gallbladder out were wearing their corset and attending events.  Me, not so much. As this weekend approached, it became very obvious that not all my incisions would be closed in time and my pancreas hasn’t fully recovered. Even with padding on the holes, my pancreas can not handle pressure. 

Okay, skip the corset ….. Wait. Three holes are at my waist. No way can those handle the weight of petticoats and a skirt. 

Grand sulk

Then Terre shares this image from Godeys, December 1861. For the first time I felt excited about getting dressed and going to my favorite event. 

That night, I constructed my own skirt support based on this. 


I used a heavy weight linen fabric from a friend’s destash. These were left over pieces. The fabric weight and weave resembles a good heavy denim. 

I had figured 4 sections with gussets based on the image. With the fabric I had, I made three trapezoidal panels. Each panel had the lower edge curved and a gusset set on the center. 

The “waist” band actually sits around the upper abdomen. The day I made this, the pancreas was more swollen. This was good in that it insured the ability to make a loose fit for the waist band. It also meant that when I put it on yesterday it was at least 4″ looser than the evening I made it. 

I added a small closure panel to the center front. 

The bottom edge of the “skirt” got three rows of cording. I debated between cotton yarn I would use for a sunbonnet or a heavier clothesline cord. As I had the former and not the latter, cotton won. The heavier would have created more hip oomph. 

The buttons hold the petticoats and skirt. The illustration showed sets of three buttons in, I think, six placements. Those are shown on the skirt section. Given I had the waist band set much higher, I placed the buttons higher where the skirt attached to the band. I used I 5 sets of 2 buttons set just off of center front, just in front of the sides and center back. M y petticoats* each got 5 loops in the top edge of the waistband in the corresponding places.


I thought small buttons would be good because they would be least bulky. After attaching and unattaching them tired, I wish I used larger buttons. 
The straps are shown placed in a way that just wouldn’t work for me. I have trouble enough with some modern bra straps. At first, I placed the back of the straps further apart in the back and nearly center front. Saturday night, i move the back ones in two inches each. This was much better with the straps staying put. 

*Petticoats: My petticoats were not made to be worn corsetless. I had to add extensions to each. 


I combined this skirt support with my Regency short stays over a chemise and drawers. Luckily, I had a loose fitting pair of drawers. As you can see, they were also a whee short. On to the skirt support buttoned a corded petticoat, tucked petticoat and wool skirt. 

As you can see, I have some body symmetry issues. Some is the heavy purse syndrome. Some is the gallbladder space being smaller while the pancreas side is bigger. I was incredibly asymmetrical the first weeks after surgery, even my bust. 

After Thoughts 

I was generally pleased with the comfort and the look. My worries were looking as fat as I am, not having the right lines, and the weight of my layers sitting on my shoulders. I was confident in the fit that I would not have pressure on my abdomen or rubbing on my waist holes. After two days, I found the weight on my shoulders was not an issue at all. Somehow I felt my petticoats and skirt less even though the wool skirt weighs much more than my sheer skirts. I was basically pleased with the lines. I don’t know how fat I looked. But, I don’t hate the one photo I have of full length me. 

Medically, I could feel with my hands that I was a little fuller in the abdomen on Saturday. Some said they could see the difference. This was not uncomfortable at all. (It did not help that my stays string broke and my bust shirted.) Saturday the incisions were good. The only irritation was from the bandaging. Sunday, the upper incision, just below my breast bone, did get irritated and may have something going on. I suspect it was rubbing from my stays. It may have been a better option to go with the soft bra I have lived in since the surgery. 

I wasn’t originally going to post about this. But, someone in one of the FB groups mentioned she was having surgery soon and some at the event mentioned a planned C-section. While I am not recommending anything because that is risky. I was encouraged to share my experience. 

Published in: on July 16, 2017 at 10:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Last Minute Black Skirt

10:00 Measure and rip skirt panels and waist band. Clean up tear threads that Clara will eat. 

10:20 Machine sew skirt panels. Discover walking foot does not walk wool well. 

10:40 Move bonnet block and clean washer so I can iron.

10:50 Iron waistband 

11:00 Begin gauging. 

11:24 Discover twill side and not side in brighter light. 

11:25 Rip all panels apart. 

11:26 Begin renewing panels lined up right by hand. 

12:14 Panels reassembled. Gauging begins again. (Considering weight of wool, wearing without cage, later wearing with cage: going with 38 front, 40 back.) 

12:45 Realize the hem tape is in the bottom drawer behind all the stuff moved to get to millinery stuff out. Only blue or burgundy. Error. 

1:52 Skirt set to the waistband. Need lunch before heading to the museum. 

3:00-3:53 Sew simple hem while waiting for Dan to nap. 

Clara cuteness:

Published in: on July 14, 2017 at 12:46 pm  Comments (4)  

Millinery for “Mumford”

Next weekend is the Civil War event at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. That means this week is a crush week to be ready to set up the Millinery Shop and get myself into 1860s dress. Here are the millinery pieces i will be bringing to the event. I will be adding to this post as I finish pieces this week. 

In the spring, the plan had been to make a piece each week for the two events at GCVM, the 1812 and the Civil War event. Welo, that went out the window thanks to my organs. The new plan is to make as many of the oieces on the plan list as possible. 

The list?

  • Natural bonnet blocked on Serenity $×2
  • Black bonnet blocked on Serenity $
  • Green bonnet blocked on Serenity *$
  • Natural bonnet blocked on Galaxy *$ (didn’t get this far)
  • Coarse straw bonnet x2
  • Natural fashion hat*$ (didn’t get this far)
  • Black fashion hat *$
  • Copper soft crown bonnet*$ (will be working on)
  • Batwing soft crown (mine)
  • Sheer soft crown (mine)
  • Sunbonnets (mine)
  • Silk hood (mine) 
  • Wool hood (mine)
  • Wadded bonnet (mine)
  • Velvet headdresses $
  • Doll sizes 

Natural straw bonnet blocked on Serenity:

Black straw bonnet blocked on Serenity:

Green straw blocked on Serenity:

Black fashionable hat (I may decorate this one with red velvet.):

A second natural straw on the Serenity block:

*=Need to make/finish

$=Available for purchase after the event

Published in: on July 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Recovery Project E-pattern

Who knew a stone could cause so much trouble? My pesky, wandering stone not only wreaked havoc in my body, it has set me nearly a month behind in my straw millinery sewing with my hands still needing time. 
This little project is simultaneously meant to keep me from going stir crazy and giving mybuands an easy project, while the e-pattern will help fill the financial gap as I am way behind on sewing straw. 

My “Pillow Ball Pin Cushion” is patterned directly from an original 19th century pin cushion. Though, it can be made up as a modern pin cushion as well. Okay, let’s be honest. It would make an awesome cat toy with catnip inside. 
Thank you for considering purchasing. Please share with your friends. 

Pillow Ball Pin Cushion in my Etsy shop 

What makes the Pillow Ball Pin Cushion a great project??

  • This is a great project for the on-site sewing basket because you can talk with guests and not lose track of the squares. 
  • It is a historically accurate nineteenth century pin cushion taken directly from an original. 
  • While it is a historic pin cushion, it can be made with fun modern fabrics as well. 
  • The little pillows are great for learning and practicing a small running stitch.
  • This project is perfect for a small swap between friends. 
  • Filled with catnip and sewn extra strong, this would make a great cat toy.
  •       Make several for your favorite cat rescue! 
  • This can help you use up even your smallest stash scraps. 
  • The small sewing is pretty easy on the hands. 

Published in: on June 28, 2017 at 9:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tonight’s Millinery – Capote Style

Here is a Regency era Capote style straw bonnet. This is a fun style for those looking for that minimal bonnet feel as this hugs the head. I recommend this for a smaller to average head size. 

Find this bonnet in my Etsy shop. 

**Surgery and recovery has me several weeks behind on my straw millinery. I need my hands, which had vein issues to heal before I can see straw full time. Please look for a fun little E-pattern project and some cute little goodies as I try to get my hands caught up. Thank you all for your continued support.**

Published in: on June 27, 2017 at 7:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tonight’s Millinery – Fancy Brim Bonnet 

This Civil War era bonnet has a fancy brim of hand shaped plait and antique straw threads. 

Find this bommet in my Etsy shop. 
**Surgery and recovery has me several weeks behind on my straw millinery. I need my hands, which had vein issues to heal before I can see straw full time. Please look for a fun little E-pattern project and some cute little goodies as I try to get my hands caught up. Thank you all for your continued support.**

Published in: on June 27, 2017 at 7:26 pm  Comments (2)