Cameo Bracelets 

I have wanted a cameo bracelet ever since I passed on one at an auction just after we got back to NY. Despite Mom offering to buy it for me, I couldn’t justify the purchase while we were both unemployed and homeless. 

When I see cameos, I think of my Grandma Worden. Cameos and pearls and daisies and yellow roses and heart ornaments and doves. Cameos because I have a few of hers. 

Here is a cameo bracelet dated to the 1850s at the Old Sacramento Living History Progam. Its cameos are lava. They are set in simple wrapped settings and joined with simple rings. The focus is on the cameos. The clasp is a box or tab clasp that inserts into the last cameo. 

The seller of this lava cameo bracelet with chalky coloring attributes the piece as Italian and dates it to call 1865. It has a similar wrapped setting and clasp. This set of photos shows the back of the bracelet and settings nicely. 


I found a bracelet of cameos while yardsale hopping. It was priced so low, I gave them more. (It was a fundraising sale.) It is petite and actually fits my wrist while most bracelets don’t. It is made of nine shell cameos set in simple settings similar to those above, with a box clasp. 

Each of the cameos is different. Left to right: The first has a smaller face, detailed hair, a flower high on her head, and a low draped neckline with flower. Her nose is straight and moderate.

The second looks left. Her head is larger, running off the oval. The shell less pink. Her nose is smaller, more button like. The flower in her hair is further back. Her neckline is higher with a rough flower on the edge. This is one of the thinner ones. 

The third has orange in her hair. She has a different face, which looks right.She has the cute little button nose. She has a flower both at her high neckline and back of her hair. 

The fourth is another smaller face. Her hair flower and shoulder flower are both huge. She has a thin, straight nose. 

The fifth is the thicker cameo. Her flower, set on top of her coiffure rises above the setting. She has the largest nose of the set. Her neckline swoops. 

The sixth is pale and subtle. She barely photographs. In person, her carving is very delicate. 

Seventh has her head slightly turned down. Her shell is not as pink, not as white as the others. The strands of her hair are quite amazing, the strands being well defined. She has a hair flower set to the back and shoulder flower. 

The other left facing is the eighth. This is also a thicker cameo, with a higher raised flower. The placements put the two palest nearly at center, with the two thickest bookending them. Her nose is whee as there is little depth to her profile, but there is detail. In a way, she seem the eldest of the strand of ladies. 

The longest neck can be found on the ninety. She has a little orange in her hair along with her flowers set high to the back. Her nose is short and straight. 

Ten has more petals in each of her flowers. She almost has a rougher face. Either that or she is smiling. Her nose is straight. 

The final lady has only a hair flower. She has what I think is the more Roman nose of the bunch. 

What is all this talk about noses? Well, it seems the nose is one of the always of dating cameos. If I understand correctly, earlier pre-mid 1800s cameos had what people are calling a Roman nose. I think they mean the more prominent, defined nose. Through the mid-Victorian era, the latter half of the nineteenth century, the nose became straight. In the twentieth century, the nose is referred to as a button nose. From when I was little, I was told I have a button nose and that the nurses at the hospital even nicknamed me “button”. So, I am a bit put off when references to the button nose are used rather scathing in commentary on cameos. (Really, so sites are crass. See the one referencing”something my cat dragged in”.) But, anyway. The tiny, rounded noses are a twentieth century thing. 

I need to learn more about the carving lines, styles, depth and details of design to get a more personal understanding of cameos. I tend to like art Nuevo pieces when it comes to jewelry. This is a challenge for me. 

More examples 

Published in: on June 4, 2017 at 10:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Millinery – Red Fashionable Hat

This bright red fashionable Civil War era hat is made with a vintage double plait straw. 

The hat is an average to large size with a 20″ circumference crown that is a shallow 1.5″ high. The fashionable brim dips front and back, and is 12″ across. I blocked the crown firmer than the brim so the brim could retain the softness of the plait. This did allow a little rippling to the brim. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop

Published in: on May 30, 2017 at 6:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Tonight’s Millinery – Wider Brim Hat 

This hat is made with the Delia crown and a wider brim . The crown is rounder and flat on the top with a slight taper. The 3″ wide brim dips front and back just a bit. 

This hat is nice for an average to larger head, being 21 3/4″ around. The brim is 12″ across. 

This could make a nice seaside hat. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on May 27, 2017 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Review of PP&P

Beth’s Bobbins has a published a review of Paisley, Plaid, and Purled.


Published in: on May 26, 2017 at 7:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Sheer Basque – Ponderings

A member of the Sewing Academy posted about sheer basques a little while back. The post’s images got my mind wheeling and envisioning a sheer white basque for wear in the millinery this July. Light, airy, pretty.

I saw Colleen did a sheer outer garment. I need to chat with her to see what she thinks of it.

For me, I am thinking a non-outerwear garment. I picture this paired with a black wool skirt, as that is what I have on hand. It could be nice with any color wool or a silk skirt.

I have the sheer stripe silk I picked up last summer. It has a very soft hand. It may be too drapey. If I am going to have this made by the July event, I would need to order another material asap if that silk isn’t going to work.

Sheer Basques:

Taken directly from the SA Thread, posted by EKorsmo:

From  Graham’s American Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, and Fashion, 1855:

“[Detailed description of flounced silk skirt] The basque was trimmed in the same manner but for the warm days we should advise a white basque with pink or light green ribbons.”

“Another dress of very novel and pretty effect of fawn colored barege with three flounces embroidered in a deep scallop with silk of the same color. Between each of the barege flounces is a flounce of plaid silk also scalloped in silk. When a white basque is not worn with this dress the basque made for it is of the plaid silk the same as that which compose the flounces.”

“Light materials are of course prevalent this month, and flounces have established their reign. Moire antique, however, has not been laid aside but then it is only worn as a skirt; thanks to the universal fashion of white muslin basques or waists, rich silks can be worn this year Many prefer this to muslins and bareges which are so soon tumbled and which require so much care in the accessories and the underskirts There are however some beautiful light materials this summer: barege, of course, mousseline de soie, crepe de Paris, grenadine and chali (challis?), which is only a revival, but one much to be admired for it is a beautiful tissue and most becoming from its graceful folds. Besides there are jaconets, and organdies, and lawns of very beautiful pattern… A very good innovation for hot weather is to line the barege basques with soft fine mull muslin; it is better than Florence silk for this purpose at this season… Dresses are almost all made with basques–still for very young ladies we think the plain or full corsage is more suitable…”

The London and Paris Ladies’ Magazine of Fashion, 1855:
“… the bodies of barege and organdy dresses are made full without basques; the flounces of organdys are edged by a small guipure or lace edging the top flounce, left open in front as a tunic which gives the effect of a basque… When the barege dresses are without basques the bodies are full, with ceinture of wide ribbon and floating ends, but the basques are more generally preferred. There is a new material of still slighter texture than barege, but less flimsy; they as well as bareges are worn over silk skirts flounced which is preferred to lining the flounce.”

The New Monthly Belle Assemblee, 1853:

“Gowns in barege, organdy, tarlatane, and grenadine are made with flounces…  As for the corsages of the gowns, those in thin materials are either a la vierge or full bodies gathered at the waist and shoulders or a sort of vest with basquines; but this last is very difficult to make and rarely fits well. The basques are much easier to succeed in and produce the same effect. Most of the corsages with basques, particularly those in silk, are made quite high.”


 [A few people have told me they can’t see the whole post and links are not working. I am starting to wonder if it is a WP formatting issue or WP advertisements at the end. This is the end of the post.]


Published in: on May 25, 2017 at 9:00 pm  Comments (6)  

Tonight’s Millinery: Chapeaux de Paille with Velvet

This petite Regency era hat has a bold look and a hint of hidden color. The straight sided crown is encircled with black velvet points. The shaped brim is edged in black velvet and lined in a blue green silk taffeta. 

The crown measures 19.5″ around, making it nice for an average to smaller head. The crown is 5″ tall. The brim is 10.5″ across. The crown has a band of quilt cotton sateen and ribbon ties. 

This assortment of 1815/6 and 1803 illustrations inspired this hat. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on May 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm  Comments (1)  

Shaker Style Sewing Boxes

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Shaker style sewing boxes?

I do. They have become my at home and on-the-go go-to. With not feeling well from my gallbladder crankiness, having each of my three, yes, three sewing boxes on hand was great. They are just the right size; each with the tools for their project inside. Nice. Neat. Handy. Organized. Easy to fit on the couch with me. Secure, feline safe lid. And they are pretty. Love them.

Original Shaker sewing boxes are pretty incredible. (I call mine Shaker style because the boxes were made by a local artisan rather than a Shaker.) This one is an original I saw at a local show. The patina for the wood on this box is beautiful. It has a simple, flexible handle, a silk lining and ribbons holding each of the tools in place. I like that this one has an assortment of materials for the tools.


This basket was at the same show. It doesn’t have as much inside. The silk liking really works with the color of the wood. I think it has a golden sunshine effect. I have one handled box I want to do up like this when I have some time.


Here is an assortment of Shaker sewing boxes, or carriers as some seem to call them. (I also have a pinboard of them.)

20170108_144122.jpgI do have just two boxes in my Etsy shop for those interested. One is a larger, yellow painted box with a red silk check lining. It has a tray that lifts out from the top. You can put your tools in the top and project below. I did have a client tell me she likes to hide her modern thread spools and directions in the bottom. (SOLD)


The other is this shallower box with a beautiful wood. Inside is a blue silk lining. I made the compartments so one is flexible to meet the space needs of the tools. I find that scissors fit very nicely there.

Both of these can be found in my Etsy shop. (Yellow or Blue.) They are all hand sewn linings using Fanciful Utility techniques.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 6:30 am  Comments (2)  

Tonight’s Millinery: Fashionable Shallow Crown 

This Civil War era hat has a shallow crown and petite brim. The 19″ crown is meant to sit very high on an average head, with its inch and a half rise in the crown. The 2″ deep brim is a petite 10.5″ across with a pretty curve front and back. 

I recommend ties inside this hat to help hold it in place. You may also find a ribbon band inside or a lining will be most comfortable. This was blocked on the Delia crown, which is a rounder crown. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on May 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Anatomy of a Straw Bonnet

Updated from the earlier “Anatomy of a Straw Bonnet” worksheet. Each of these points are general for fashionable bonnets made of straw, primarily straw plait, from approx 1858 through 1863. Finer points adjust with each season’s prevailing fashion.

General Construction – Straw bonnets were sewn by hand in the round. Plaits ranged from 1/8″ split straw to wider whole straw and fancy plaits. Woven straw was also used.

Anatomy 1

Tip – The back section of the crown in the tip. On a straw bonnet this can either be domed, flattened at the back curving to the side of the crown. It should not have a sharp angular transition from the back to the sides.

Crown – The crown of a straw bonnet should create a smooth transition from the crown to the brim. Much of the shaping in the bonnet will be created in this transition area.

Brim – The brim of a straw bonnet will vary according to fashion. The brim’s edge should be a single or double row of straw plait. It should not have raw edges needing to be bound.

Cheek-tabs – The cheek-tabs should have a gentle curve coming from the neck edge of the crown along the side of the bonnet dropping down to roughly your jaw line meeting the brim edge. This is a graceful line, not a straight edge or angular transition. There is a variation in the twist of the cheek-tab from the fifties into the sixties. The cheek-tab is part of what helps hold a bonnet in place.

Binding – The binding on a straw bonnet should be straw plait. Raw edges were covered on the exterior and sometimes the interior along the back of the cheektabs, sides and tip. Multiple rows were used as well.

Lining – A lining is a functional layer of light weight, open-weave cotton covering most of the interior of the bonnet. It aids in keeping the straw from snagging the hair while worn. The lining can not be seen when the bonnet is worn.

Frill/Cap/Ruche –This decorative layer of gathered cotton or silk  covers fills the inside of the brim. This is very fine most often net, lace or organza. The full frill aides in holding the bonnet in place.

Facing – Some bonnets have a facing of silk from the edge of the brim through the first couple inches of the interior brim.

Bavolet/Curtain – The bavolet is attached to the binding edge on a straw bonnet along the sides and crown. This silk piece should be lined with net to give it more body. The bavolet may be a single piece of fabric, most often on the bias and occasionally on the grain, or pieced from bias cuts of ribbon. The bavolet may also be decorated.

Functional Ties – The functional ties are attached to the interior of the cheek-tabs or under the decorative ties. These are narrower ribbon to hold the bonnet in place.

Decorative Ties – Decorative ribbons are wide, 3″-8″ based on a wide survey I did years ago. They are on the grain, not bias. Tied, they do not take the support of the bonnet.

Interior Decoration – Interior decoration also helps hold the bonnet in place.

Anatomy 2

Published in: on May 12, 2017 at 2:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

I am having a moment of “OH, Wow! I need to make that hat!!!”


At the  Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I think, I hope I still have the right straw. May need more.


Published in: on May 11, 2017 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment