Straw Fan Experiment

Several weeks back, a friend posted links to hand fans made out of palm and straw. These were each found in the in the American Civil War Museum. They appear to each be homemade with a disk of straw or palm woven or sewn and a spindle handle. Details of each construction varied as did finishing.

Of course the straw aspect intrigued me. I wanted to know how functional this design would be and how comfortable one would be to use.

I created a straw focused mock-up using coarse while plait straw, a quarter inch dowel, and 4mm fine straw plait.

Each of my disks are 7″ in diameter. There is definitely a right side and a wrong side. The handles are slightly longer than the originals, being 12″ for the full dowel length.

I do not like the look of the plain dowel, which was split in half lengthwise. The turned spindle handles oc the originals are much prettier. The dowel is what I had in hand for this experiment. If I do another, I will be looking for a prettier handle.

I do like the look and feel of the straw wrapped dowel. One is wrapped from the disk down. The other is wrapped from the end up. This area has an extra strong layer of sizing applied. I do think I need to stitch down the end of the one wrapped down as those ends did not have a place to secure them.

Summer use will be telling for these handles. I anticipate sweaty hands will soften the sizing and straw causing them to loosen.

I tested out the fanning factor on Sunday when it was warmer out. I was surprised to find the relatively small disk creates a good breeze when combined with the long handle.

Published in: on May 20, 2019 at 4:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Looking Towards Summer

Some of you may know I am at one of my busiest times of year when I find myself balancing exam time at work/school and trying to sew Lots of straw millinery pieces for clients and events.

While many around the country are already wrapping up their school year, our students will be taking exams through the very last week of June. This is a time of juggling lots of details while doing our best to appear completely calm for our students and teachers, despite the inevitable somethings and unpredictable weather.

In the other part of my life, I have my eyes on three events – This weekend I am doing a straw demo for the museum’s Fiber Week. Find me in Jones on Saturday and likely Friday as well. Demo pieces to be determined.  In June, I will be doing a straw demo in Foster with a focus on Regency pieces for the museum’s 1814 and Jane Austen event. Then, of course, I will be doing my full millinery display/demonstration on the village square for the museum’s Civil War event. This year will have a deeper focus on women’s employment and business ownership. In betwix and between is the much loved Independence Day Celebration, which will (hopefully) be more along the lines of lounging about. Era of dress to be determined.

Now, the whole purpose of this post was because I wanted to talk color. Straw color. Some of you may have seen my unboxing of straw a couple weeks back. My fabulous favorite millinery supplier got new straw colors. I love them!

Left to right – A silvery gray – A soft beige rose – pink rose – walnut – white – 20190503_165955.jpg

I will be trying to make a balanced assortment of bonnets and hats in each color. I figure (hope) I can make a mid-century hat and a bonnet out of each hank. Larger Regency and Romantic era hats will likely take most of a hank.

I thought I had both the copper/rust and the mossy green from last year on hand. Ooops. The copper is here. A couple hanks of the green are coming.

I know one of your big questions is going to be “When will they be available?”

I am making a mix of pieces – those from my last summer list, those for the shop, those for demonstrations. For right now, meaning during the school year, I am doing one to two pieces per week. That will increase when exams are over. I am going to try to stick to three pieces per week, maybe four. That is about 36 hours to 48 hours of sewing. (If you’ve been following for a while, you know that I have a tendency to push my hands to their limit with sewing. I am going to do my best not to do that this summer. No dropping the iced tea pitcher anymore.)


**Please note: I am still not taking custom requests/orders. I know that seems odd to some. What can I say, I am a better fiber artist than I am business person and tracking order makes me nutty.**

Published in: on May 20, 2019 at 6:33 am  Comments (1)  

New Hat in the Shop

I made this fashionable Civil War era hat with a tapered crown and narrower brim. This brim is stylishly shaped while being two inches deep. This hat would be good for a seaside adventure or other recreational excursions.

This crown is 20.25″around. The brim is 10.25″ across. This will suit an average size head.

A seaside painting was just posted by Victorians, Vile Victorians, with two hats of this style. I rather like the daisies along the ribbon on the girl’s hat.

Published in: on May 17, 2019 at 4:42 pm  Comments (1)  

New Hat in Shop

This is a shallow hat, possibly the shallowest I’ve made.

Published in: on May 13, 2019 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment  


After missing my chances previously, I am so excited I finally got to order on of Family Heirloom Weaver’s fabric bundles.

I have a few ideas about what I might make: I could make a pair of runners, one for the dolls shelf and one for the coffee table trunk. I could make a couple big strawberries. I could make some really pretty pin cushions. I could have a nice set of pillows. A pretty pair of Christmas stocking would be an option. If I was really feeling creative, I could make a pretty bear from my birthday bear pattern.

What would you make?

Published in: on May 13, 2019 at 5:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Hat in the Shop

I just added a fashionable hat for those waiting for a smaller size.

Published in: on May 12, 2019 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Wardrobe Essentials

I indulged in purchasing myself some wardrobe essentials.

First…. I learned something recently. There are things I am good at. There are things other people are good at. I don’t have to be good at everything. It is okay for me to have others make the things I am not good at making.

Things I do not make for myself:

  • Collars
  • Stockings
  • Shoes/boots
  • Knit goods

Collars are the newest addition to this list. Going from the sewing need for straw to the fine sewing for a rolled hem just doesn’t work well. I end up with the wrong tension and a wonky collar.

I gave myself permission to let someone else make my collars. To my delight, and sanity, Marie makes the most lovely collars. These are beautifully sewn. The material choice is just lovely. And…. I am smitten with the lace! The plain collar is for my red plaid cotton dress. The lace edge collar is for my yet to be made pink silk dress.

Second….. You’ll have to follow me on this one. I started noticing last fall that my white side lacer boots were starting to wear along the lacing area. Upon closer inspection, I discovered the material binding the lacing opening was not leather. I was rather disappointed to find this because I find these boots to be very comfortable and enjoy wearing them. My concern is that if this sub-par material was used, what will happen with the rest of the boots? (Don’t worry, this is not a seller you can mistakenly buy from. While I don’t recall the name, I know I bought one of the last pairs before they closed their store.) While, I probably will just rebind this area with ribbon, I knew new boots would be needed.

Ideally, I could replace them with a well made side lacer. My dream wish boot has long been Robert Land’s green side lacers made many years ago. But, considering he has retired and those were coveted boots, there is next to no chance of finding them. Let alone finding them in size 7.5 for my crazy wide feet. I decide balmorals would be nice as well. After all, I do love the wool balmorals that Land made me years ago before my feet got wider. So, winter crawls on by. I see people posting sizes too small. I see people posting sizes too big. I see some pretty worn boots posted as well. I join another costume group that has lots of shoes. Oh. The. Prices.

No luck.

Then last week, a pair of nice, never worn Sekala balmorals in a size 8 pop up. These would be made by my friend Samantha. I’ve tried on her shoes. They fit. They are well made. They are correct. Horray!!!!! Mine!!!

And then….

Just a couple days later…. what pops up in a costume trading group?

You have got to be kidding me….

My dream wish boots in my size….

Green, side lacer never worn Robert Lands!!!

For a fabulously low price!

I actually hesitated.

Am I crazy? 2 pairs of boots in the same year? I can’t do that!

But, I did….

The reality is both of these pairs will last me years as I most often wear them in a building and to/from buildings. I have other boots reserved for wet or mud.

(Pardon the partial lacing)

Now, Clara would like you all to know she finds the box and packaging to be far more interesting than the boots…

Published in: on May 10, 2019 at 4:58 pm  Comments (2)  

New Hat in the Shop

I just added this Mousquetaire hat to the shop. (I am tired. That is all I am writing.)

Published in: on May 7, 2019 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Millinery in the Shop

I just added two straw bonnets to my shop. One is a cottage bonnet with a deeper, rounder brim. The other is a more petite version ideal for a woman with a petite head or a child.

Published in: on May 4, 2019 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unboxing: New Straw

Published in: on May 3, 2019 at 5:27 pm  Comments (1)