Pair of 1880s Capote Bonnets

I just added two 1880s capote bonnets to the shop, one natural and one green. Both have vining around the brim.

Published in: on August 11, 2022 at 10:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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Published in: on August 9, 2022 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Millinery Monday

I anticipate the weeks transitioning back to school will be accompanied by a scattered brain. With that in mind, I am pre scheduling images for the next several Millinery Mondays. I will write posts when I can.

Published in: on August 8, 2022 at 6:05 am  Comments (1)  

Combining Straws

I’ve been trying something with combining wheat straw and abaca straw plaits to mimic the look of straw plait and horsehair braids of the nineteenth century. The combination is pleasing, with the abaca giving semi-sheer sections to the brim. I made a natural with natural bonnet, a green with natural bonnet, and now a green with natural hat.

This fashionable tapered crown hat combines green wheat straw and natural abaca straw plaits. It has a shallow crown and a shaped brim. This is suitable for a fashionable waredrobe ca 1860-65. This hat measures nearly 21″ around the inside of the crown, 11.9″ across the brim

Published in: on August 3, 2022 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Two Straws, One Bonnet

This spoon style bonnet combines natural wheat straw and abaca straw in stripes across the brim mimicing the look of straw and horse hair plaits in original bonnets. This bonnet is suitable for the American Civil War era.

This bonnet is 8″ from top of the brim to crown.

Published in: on August 1, 2022 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Summer Series – How Long Did A Straw Bonnet Last?

Two weekends ago, I heard several questions about the life of a straw bonnet or hat. Some asked how long one would last. Others asked if they could be remade. These questions wander down a delightful path.

I already addressed the durability of straw in a previous post. Read

While some women could afford to purchase multiple bonnets a year, some women needed their bonnet to last several seasons or even years. Other women were just sensible and/or even crafty.

Straw is a forgiving material allowing old thread holes and markings to disappear fairly well. This meant a straw bonnet or hat could be redecorated from season to season or as the need arised. This could be the floral trims, the ribbons, or the entirety giving it a new bavolet, frill, and trims resulting in a “new” bonnet.

As the shapes of bonnets changed from season to season, the shape of a bonnet could fall out of fashion. Many straw goods merchants offered blocking services. This enabled a straw form to be blocked, or reblocked, to better reflect the newer style. While this would have been more difficult proceeding through the 1850s as the brim rose in height, the changes from the 1840s into the 1850s, then the 1850s into the first half of 1860s as bonnet size shrinking were managable.

Women with skill could rework a straw bonnet or hat at home. Early in my millinery adventure, I came across a this Godey’s 1856 passage describing how to pick apart a bonnet and resew it alternating straw rows with strips of silk.



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Published in: on August 1, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Tapered Crown Hat

This tapered crown hat is now available in my shop. It is a larger size being nearly 22″ around the crown.

Please pardon the wonky photos. I dismantled my photo studio to reclaim my second bathroom temporarily. This is in one of my event baskets. The basket is a bit tilted being on the edge of the sink, while the turn table is a bit tilted in the basket. I have this idea of improving the photo space, but I need to get the right supplies. (4 6″ table legs, a large enough board, and a series of dowels.)

Published in: on July 30, 2022 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shop Restock! Lots of Millinery to Choose From

Now that the biggest display event of the summer has wrapped up, I filled my Etsy shop with pieces I held back over the weekend. This may be the most millinery pieces I’ve had in my shop at one time.

Still available

Published in: on July 25, 2022 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Summer Series – Were Milliners only Single Women?

Actually, the question is usually “Only single women could be milliners. Right?” or “Could milliners be married?”

Many of us were taught married women didn’t work outside of the home or couldn’t work outside of the home for much of the nineteenth century. This is a misconception.

Looking at advertisements, Miss. and Mrs. are used with women’s names. Of course, this could be for public relations purposes.

Looking at census records, milliners have statuses of married and widowed. In 1855 Livingston, New York 47 women’s occupations were recorded as milliner. Of the 47, 7 were married, 5 were widowed, 6 were head of household. 12 were living at home with a parent (listed as daughter to the head of household.) 13 women were living in homes other than their biological family, listed as milliner, assistant, boarder, servant, laborer, and maid.

In New York, prior to March of 1860 a married woman’s wages were legally her husband’s money. In March of that year, a bill went through the legislature and was signed into law giving married women the right to the wages they earned.

A married woman may bargain, sell, assign, and transfer her separate personal property, and carry on any trade or business, and perform any labor or services on her sole and separate
account, and the earnings of any married woman from her trade, business, labor, or services shall be her sole and separate property, and may be used of invested by her in her own name.

The 1860 Act also required a married women to get her husband’s written consent to sell real property but gave ways to do so when a husband was unable to do so. (In New York, married women also retained ownership of businesses owned prior to marriage after the Married Woman’s Property Act or 1848.)



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Published in: on July 25, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Focusing on Education

For the second year, I was able to focus my millinery interpretation, during GCVM’S Civil War Living History Weekend on women’s employment. Shifting from the “pretty” of millinery to the women and history connected to each part of a piece of millinery allows us to have more indepth, more genuine conversations with visitors.

Before and After

To prepare for the weekend, the Insurance Office needed to be transformed once again into a millinery shop. Here are before and after looks from the doorway.

With the focus on education, I brought educational display items in addition to the items for creating the appearance of millinery shop. On the front table is the straw millinery display showing the steps from wheat to straw to plait, with different examples of plait and straw motifs. To the right is a visual resource book filled with illustrations, cdvs, photographs of my millinery blocks, and copies of billheads. Additional reference books are on the shelf beside the mantle. On the side table is a new display board I thought of last minute and plan to develop further. These are touchable items, each representing not only a component in making a hat or bonnet, but also an employment for women or children.

Having resources and visuals available to share with visitors as their questions and our conversations unfolded was extremely helpful. I grabbed the visual resource flip book several times each day to show visitors the illustrations of cottage industry, photos of millinery blocks, and billheads. The copy of Virginia Penny’s Employments of Women was also referenced a few times either to show the multitude of employment opportunities for women or to let a visitor look up a particular job.

This year, visitors came with excellent questions. Some wanted to know how a woman got a job working in a millinery, what kinds of things they did, how much they got paid, and what the work day was like. Some even want to role play in first person. I plan to include some of these questions in coming Millinery Monday posts.

On a Personal Note….

I once again failed to get many photos. I feel good about this trio as it shows I am managing the physical aspects better than I have the past several years. I am not yet as fit as I once was, but hope keep improving.

Published in: on July 24, 2022 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment