Mini Straw Hat Ornaments

For a few years I have toyed with the idea of making mini straw millinery ornaments. I finally took the time to make some. Each of these inch and a half to three inch straw hats is sewn by hand using the same techniques I use for my full size millinery. I decorated them with ribbon, flowers, and feathers.

These hat ornaments are available in the Holiday Shop section of my Etsy shop. Please take a look.

Published in: on November 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm  Comments (2)  

What is in the Holiday Shop?

Are you looking for the perfect historically accurate or fun, historically inspired gift?

My Holiday Shop, inside my Etsy shop, is now open. In my Holiday Shop you will find historically accurate and historically inspired items ideal for gift giving. Don’t worry, it is okay to buy for yourself as well.

Here is a look at what you can find. I will be adding items as I finish them. I will try to mark what is sold out as that happens.

Work-Pockets Filled with Sewing or Hair Essentials.

These work-pockets make a grear stocking stuffer gift as they are, or you can add your own gift. They happen to be just the right size for gift cards.

Whimsical Heart Pin Keeps

This whimsical heart pin keep was inspired by an original piece in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection. When I saw the shape, I was just swept away. It is so beautiful.

The velvet keep holds a couple dozen pins suitable for dressing.

I will have ornaments in this shape as well.

Oval Silk Pin Keeps

These simple oval pin keeps highlights the pretty silks covering them. Each holds a couple dozen pins suitable for dressing.

Velvet Scissors Holders

These were popular this past weekend, so I will beed to make more. These scissors holders come in two sizes. The outside is a cotton velvet, while the inside is silk. Each is beaded simply.


By request, I have a larger, practically shaped yet still pretty needle-book. These needle-books span 4 inches and have two wool pages cut on my pinking machine. Some are paired with a pin keep for easy selection.

Walnut Pin Cushions

I listened and made sure there would be a few walnut pin cushions.


Coming soon! This year I will be offering a fun, yet still historically accurate twist on the very popular strawberries.

Woven Ribbon Pin Cushions

I have a very limited number of woven ribbon pin cushions to offer. These are such pretty cushions. I know some people are putting them in their trees.


I may have gone a little over-board with the ornaments this year. I have 3 kinds for sale and a special one from Clara. You can find strawberry ornaments, whimsical beaded velvet hearts, and miniature straw hats in my shop.

My Etsy Shop

Published in: on November 7, 2018 at 7:00 am  Comments (2)  

Domestic Skills Symposium – Part 2

The third day of the Symposium was my workshop day. This year’s workshop was “A Band of Millinete.” This workshop was all about making the foundations for headdresses.

Each attendee received wire, fasteners, buckram, crinoline, a handout packet full of references, and yards of Hyman Hendler ribbon. The goal was to make 4 foundations and one finished headdress.

I was over ambitious.

I had figured we would make all the foundations before lunch. Then, have fun making the flurfy ribbon headdress after lunch.

Not so much.

Somewhere around 2 most people were starting their 4th piece or their finished piece. I don’t think a single person finished.

I have discovered I do not like ending a class without attendees having finished peices to feel proud of and take home. I miss having that “lookmat what we did” feeling and photo.

So. This will be a major planning factor in future workshops.

I do think people still enjoyed it and learned some things.

I already have heard requests for next years: theorum shell pin cushions and bonnet/hat stands. We shall see….

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Domestic Skills Symposium – part 1

This weekend was the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s 5th Domestic Skills Symposium. Attendees from multiple states and Canada traveled to the Genesee Valley at the near peak of autumn color, for three days packed full of presentations, workshops, and period food.

While I needed to be at work on Friday, Saturday I decided to try something new.

For the first time, I put together a table of Fanciful Utility and FanU sewing items for sale and give attendees a sneak peek at the pieces I am offering in the Holiday Shop this year.

I had no idea how this little adventure was going to go. But, a coworker inspired me to give it a try and see what happened. It turned out to be a lot of fun because I got to talk with readers and fans. I was surprised by how many people already had Fanciful Utility. I even met a few blog and Etsy followers I didn’t know I had.

There were three groups of items I brought. Of course there was Fanciful Utility along with some starter kits and vintage needle packets. I also brought some of the mini-projects I share each year.

I brought an assortment of the pieces that will be going into the Etsy Holiday Shop this week.

There were some favorites. I only have two scissors cases left. I will need to make more. People loved the heart shaped velvet pin keeps that were inspired by a beautiful original at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These feel so good in the hand.

I also brought an assortment of favorites from previous years. I was reminded how much people love the strawberries and seashells. I had one person who asked about shells with theorum. I would love to do those for sale as a workshop.

All in all, this was a lot of fun to do. I didn’t quite meet the passing thought of “hmmmm, I wonder if I could buy a washing machine?” sales wise. This was definitely for the experience and for just this event. It is not something I want to do regularly.

I will be adding pieces to my Etsy shop’s Holiday Shop section this week. I need to take photos and write all the listings. I did figure out the crazy bright lights in the hall bathroom are useful for photos. They are far to bright for regular use. Alas, the cloth has lots of wrinkles. It appears I need to buy a pn iron as well as a washer, dryer, and drill.

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Coming Soon!

Are you going to the Domestic Skills Symposium this weekend?

Get a sneak peek and early chance at this year’s Holiday Shop items.

After the event, I will fill and open my Holiday Shop in Etsy.

I can only do cash at the event.

Published in: on October 29, 2018 at 9:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday Millinery

This morning I have an adorable hat to offer. This hat has a gently curved shallow crown and fashionable brim. It has a 20″ crown 1.5″ deep, with a brim 11″ across.

Find this hat in my Etsy shop:

Published in: on October 15, 2018 at 6:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Good morning….. With a new hat

I just added this hat to my shop. With a 21″ crown it is slightly larger than average. It has a really neat brim that tapers down on all sides while having just the right amount of fashionable curve.

Find this hat in my Etsy shop now:

I was going to try to get away from innundating my bkog with sales posts. But, I just found out FB is tightening restrictions on sales posts that are not part of their platform. Considering the pages there have become nearly useless there, I will continue as I have.

Published in: on October 12, 2018 at 6:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Behind the Millinery Q&A

Since I have had a variety of questions in the last couple weeks, I thought it would be a good time to do a Q&A.

When will you start making hats and bonnets again?

After 2 plus months, I started sewing hats this past weekend. I am making just a couple styles at the moment because only a couple crown blocks are unpacked. I will expand the styles I am making as I unpack more blocks.

I will start making bonnets when a couple criteria are met. A. I need a place to put the bonnet blocks. My bonnet blocks, especially the plaster blocks, are more delicate than the smaller, wooden hat blocks. B. I need a good place for bonnets to dry on the blocks. Previously, I put pieces on the washer to dry during the blocking and sizing processes. Here, a washer and dryer still need to be purchased. While I have made drying mats for the hats to dry on the counter, the kitchen counter just isn’t going to cut it for bonnets.

Will you make men’s hats?

In the nineteenth century women’s hats and men’s hats were different beasts. They where made by different people. WhilenI would love to offer men’s hats, I just don’t know if doing so is viable cirrently. In order for me to make men’s hats, I will need to find and purchase an assortment of blocks in men’s sizes and men’s styles. Ideally, I would have a minimum of 3 to 4 sizes of each style. This would be both a matter of expense ($60-120 per block) and space for storage.

So, the short answer is: Not any time soon.

Why have some prices increased?

The prices of most hats and bonnets has increased because my costs have increased. The main cost increase areas include: Etsy fees, the per hank cost of straw, and the shipping fees on most materials.

Please keep in mind each hat takes 8 to 12 hours to sew by hand, block and size, while mid-century bonnets take 10 to 15 hours and larger Regency bonnets take longer. Each piece also has the time to find and cost of blocks, millinery research, wire, and sizing. I have to be reminded to consider the “over head” expenses: tissue paper, bags, tape, labels, cards, storage, soaking containers, towels, scissors, sd cards, etc.. When I actually do a spreadsheet, the materials and time totals come out to $128 to $137 per piece. So, I am still trying to make them affordable. I do anticipate an increase with the increase in tarriffs coming.

Will you be making head-dresses this year?

Yes, I plan to make head-dresses this fall and winter. That is actually what my November workshop at the GVCM Domestic Skills Symposium is on. Following that workshop, I will be putting pieces in my shop.

Why the change in seasonal sewing plans?

Usually, I switch to making winter millinery from mid fall through mid winter. This year, I will be sewing straw all the way through the winter. This is because I have a significant budget change and need to sew and sell an absolute minimum of $550 each month. Ideally, I will do more each month so I can save for July to September when I don’t have a school paycheck.

Published in: on October 10, 2018 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

At Long Last…..

I just added two straw hats to my Etsy shop. One is a copper straw with stylish brim dipping front and back on a tapered crown. The second, a natural straw also has a tapered crown. This one has a slightly curved brim with a subtle dip in the front.

The copper has a 20″ crown with a 12″ wide brim.

The natural has a 20.5″ crown with an 11.5″ brim.

Pardon the funny photos. I realized my stands are still in storage and one unpacked head is with my Ag Fair stuff.

Published in: on October 8, 2018 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

State of the Sewing Address

Some how it is October. This past week the weather shifted. i found myself cold and in want of sweaters. The sweaters are still packed away, by the way. Yesterday morning, the sky turned read and breaking light was tinted an eerrie pink.

This weekend is the Agricultural Society Fair at the museum. You know this is one of my favorite events. This year, I have been looking forward to it even more than usual because it had been marking a sort of end post for this moving mess. Well, with the more recent developments, that I have decided Not to talk about yet, that end post is going to be rest somewhere in the future. I only have two entries this year. I don’t think Mom is entering. Oh, and to add to my “but, but, but fair” whine…. I caught school germs. Come on. What do you think is going to happen when you cram All the people with All their germs into a smelly gym for an hour to scream and cheer, just 4 weeks into the germ exchange season school year?

But, on to what you want to hear about… … sewing

I finally started sewing this week.


I am starting out with general sewing because I don’t have all my materials or millinery blocks out yet. I also haven’t figured out where I am going to dry pieces as I still have to buy a washer and dryer. My hope is to have two or three hats sewn and headed to my shop this weekend, then start working on my waiting list. I plan to sew straw straight through the winter rather than switch to working on winter millinery for the season.

I do have an important request – The photos I took in July at the museum (Mumford) disappeared out of my phone during the last update. These included the photos of people wearing the types of hats and bonnets they want. I am a Very visual person. If you have photos of you or your friend who wanted a particular piece, please let me know.


I have several great ideas for the coming Holiday Shop. This year I will be offering a special Christmas Ornament! I am working on these now. I know several of you have been waiting for something like this for a few years. I hope you love them.

I am also making an assortment of these pretty little pockets. I will be filling them with goodies – either sewing notions or hair necessities. Some will be available for you to fill as you like. They are just the right size for a gift card, a piece of jewelry, or other small token.

I will be offering an assorment of sewing accessories. There is a great scissors case I have drafted. I need to get out my tote of velvets to work those. I know you will love these. Of course there will be a few fun pin cushions.

I have this wacky idea that I want to use the pinking machines for a Christmas ornament. There will be a few of those whimsical pretties.

Which brings me to….

Pinking Party

I ahve decided to have a Pinking Party. The date isnyet to be determined. I am going to try to have it at home if I can figure out the parking. Lots of tables with lots of pinking machines. This will be a local thing for local friends. If it goes well, maybe I will do another elsewhere.

Published in: on October 5, 2018 at 11:39 am  Comments (1)