GCVM’s War of 1812 weekend

When I woke up Saturday morning, I thought I was crazy for time traveling in the midst of Regents exams. Now, I am very glad I did.

Here is a little video from before I was fully awake and not quite functional…

This was the first weekend for me to use my new frail. It nicely fits a millinery block, dampened straw, a display hank, and four bonnets. The frail made it very easy to carry everything into the village.

This unpacks and sets up like this:

This has become my standard straw sewing clothes for this era. I am working on a set of straw sewing, labor-doing clothes for the 30s and 50s.

We had a few non-human guests. The turkeys came to visit Saturday. The kitty cam to visit Sunday morning. He was quite determined to do his job of inspection rounds and had little ti e for me.

I nearly completed the bonnet for the weekend. I was about 3 yards short of prepared straw. I had planned to make the same style as my 2 display pieces to emphasize the cottage industry aspect. But as I got going, I discovered the straw wanted to make a higher, shaped crown. Here is the progress.

Random me… Proof of my giddy tired state Saturday morning…

This is a brief post because I am incredibly tired. I don’t want to wait until tomorrow tomorrow post because I suspect I will be just as tired after 4 exams.

Did you know… Several buildings offer the work of the artisans and crafters from around the village?

Published in: on June 23, 2019 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Green Bonnet in the Shop

There were moments I didn’t think I would get this bonnet done this week because exam week is intense. But, I did!

Here is the oh-so-lovely green straw in a fashionable Civil War era style.

Check out my post Ramblings on Color to learn more about the colors straw bonnets and hats came in during the 1850s and 1860s.

Published in: on June 19, 2019 at 6:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ramblings on Color

This is a new kind of post for me. I am quite literally going to be rambling. I’m using the speech to text feature in my phone so I can post while sewing. We will see how this goes, because as most of us know, text to speech doesn’t always hear us correctly. This means this could get very interesting or at least a bit funny.

So… color…

As most of you know I am working on straw plait of a variety of colors this season. I currently have the green straw in my hands. This is actually a color that was available last year but it is a favorite.

Of course, working with straw of different colors brings about the question: “What colors did they have?”

Reading the different history books on the straw industry it appears up through the 1840s colors primarily stuck to natural straw, white, black, Gray, and the dark blue. It was 1850s and the coming of aneline dyes then brought about additional colors for straw. Now of course none of the industrial history writers seem to find important enough to tell us which colors. Here is Straw Hats, and the History of Their Manufacture, an 1922 publication focused on the Luten, England production, to give you an idea of how that looks.

The Useful Arts Employed in the Production of Clothing, an 185q publication looking at the clothing industry, gives more clarity on colors with these notes on blue, yellow, and red.

Turning to advertisements, we have a little more help and a lot more vagueness.

Nashville Union and American, July 31, 1857

Holmes County Republican, May 31, 1860

Thanks to Vicki Betts’ research.

Thanks to Vicki Betts’ research.

Advertisements such as these tell us that straw hats and bonnets were available in different colors, and dining services are available. Specific colors mentioned seem to be limited to Browns, greys, black, and white, lots of whites. We also we also see they at stripes and polka dots we’re available as well.

Fashion descriptions are a bit more helpful. Godey’s lady’s book and the English women’s domestic magazine and I’m drawing a complete blank on this other publication I want to talk about oh yeah Madame Demarest, give us a little more insight.

Fig. 1. – A Neapolitan braid, gray and white….. (Godey’s —–)

Then there’s this one …. dear editor “um, what? Could you possibly be less clear?”

Some times we forget books we’ve read. And, sometimes, we are reminded in the oddest ways. While looking at fashion descriptions in 1861 Godey’s I found a little passage on the sulfer bleaching process in the “Chemistry for Young” section….

This little clip reminded me of my old friend Scientific American. The September 1st, 1855 edition offers us this rather lovely column describing the processes for dyeing straw in many colors, including shades of purple, green, yellows, reds, pinks….

One thing I should be talking about is: Where are all the extant original straw bonnets in different colours?

The absolute vast majority of remainingmid-19th century bonnets and hats are natural straw. There are a few black a few white. I can specifically recall only one green, and that’s a green grey, in a digitized museum collection. Working with the different straws, I have definitely come up with a theory: dyed straw was simply too fragile to last. I have had one Hank of black straw that I refused use because it felt like it was disintegrating in my hand. This wasn’t even an old Hank of straw. This is a new Hank. A straw bought from a current millinery Supply. (Don’t worry it’s different than the one I use now.) If that straw with supposed modern technology and dye processes couldn’t hold up through my hand sewing, I just can’t imagine dyed straws lasting decades.

These are just ramblings while I sew, with a few images saved on my tablet. For more indepth research and discussion, please read From Field to Fashion.

Published in: on June 15, 2019 at 9:21 pm  Comments (1)  

2 Walnut Brown Bonnets

I just added two gorgeous walnut brown bonnets to my shop. Originally, my plan was to make one bonnet and one hat from each hank. When I started working with this limited deep brown straw, I knew I had to make two bonnets from it.

Both are the fashionable spoon shape, blocked on an original block. The one on the left is a tiny bit shorter in the brim. The one on the right is a tiny bit taller.

Published in: on June 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Stay Hydrated

Read This.
Stay Hydrated.
Don’t Die.

Published in: on June 12, 2019 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Grey Straw Bonnet

I am so excited to offer this grey straw bonnet. It will be the first in a series of color straw millinery. This dyed straw plait is some of the loveliest I’ve worked with; the straw is fine, even, supple, and well braided. It has been a delight to work with. As with all my pieces, this bonnet is entirely hand sewn and it is blocked on an original millinery block.

You will notice the crayons and spool of thread in each photo. These are because I’ve discovered the beautiful silvery grey of this straw shows up taupe or tan on some screens. While this does have the undertones of the natural straw it is made from, this bonnet is a beautiful light grey in the sunlight.

Here are some of the images I have been fiddling with to give you the best understanding of the color:

The thread is a color match to the straw. It is what I used to sew it.

This is a page from Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours:

Here is the bonnet with the lighting in my tablet camera turned up.

Here is the bonnet with levels adjusted after the photo was taken.

The Englishwomans Domestic Magazine, 1860

Published in: on June 6, 2019 at 6:36 pm  Comments (7)  

One last hat for May

I added one last hat for May. This hat has a tapered crown and a modest, stylish crown.

There is a bit of asymmetry due to the straw. So, I adjusted the price.

Published in: on May 31, 2019 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

May Reflections

May has been such a long and short month. For me, with all the various work stuff, it has flown by in a blurr. Spring has finally come to New York. All be it, a damp spring. As problematic as the excessive wet has been for family and friends, I have to say, it was nice to enjoy the sounds of the thunderstorm while sitting in the historic village last Saturday.

I started out the month giving a talk on Millinery Nitty-Gritty to a local reenacting group. The presentation focused on pieces from the Greene Collection at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. Hmmm. I seem to lack photos of that day.

The month really has been a fog with the rest of my busy-ness. I am having trouble recalling everything else I did. Let’s see….. I ordered new straw in pretty period colors… I finally was able to order a remnants set from Family Heirloom Weavers. I’ve managed to hem a few of those for runners…. I did a straw fan experiment….. I added a few wardrobe essentials…. And, of course I made a few hats and bonnets. I hope to have one more finished and available tonight too. Note: Regency pieces will be available after the GCVM War of 1814/Jane Austen event in June.

Coming up…..

  • I am currently working on a unique special project. I am having a lot of fun with it.
  • I really need to get a duct tape dummy made so I can make my pink silk dress. Otherwise, I won’t have it done for July. I also would like to make up one of my lengths of wool.
  • I will be at GCVM for: War of 1812/Jane Austen in June, Independence Day, Civil War event, and may be a couple others in July.




Published in: on May 31, 2019 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Fiber Arts Week at GCVM – Demos

What does one do with a four day weekend in the midst of high stress exam planning?

Escape to the 19th century of course!

When I was asked if I was interested in doing a demonstration for Fiber Arts Week, I don’t think the person asking had a clue just how much the answer was “Yes. Please!”

I spent Friday and Saturday in the diningroom, aka old kitchen, of Jones Farm.

My workspace turned out to be ideal, especially for Friday when there were a few school groups in attendance. I discovered the room can functionally fit not one, not two, but three field trip groups from different schools. At one point there shy of 30 fourth graders encircling the table. I am somewhere between surpised and quite pleased with myself that I captured the attention of that may minds with straw hats and women’s work.

decided to focus on Regency era pieces because this left me prepare for the coming 1812/Jane event in June, and allowed me to wear my uber-comfy sacque/petti combo.

I made friends, sorta, with one of the more people curious chickens.

I rather enjoyed watching the chickens between visitors.

On the walk in Saturday morning, I met Ms. Sparrow of Oxbow Lane.

As you can see, it was quite sunny just prior to 10 am. Shortly after 10, it looked more like this:

This continued for about 2 hours, ending around noon. It was about 11 when I did this next video.

At this point my arms hurt. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to sew through the day. I was wishing I had brought my wristlets so I could have hid my Salanpas pain patches underneith. I eventually figured a way to wrap my shawl ends around my my forearms/wrists. Then noon came. Sun came. Warmth came. And, I realized my arms didn’t hurt any more. I don’t know if I have a new weather forecaster, or if they have become that cold and damp sensitive. But, wow!

I do have to say, the rain was perfect napping weather.

If only I was good at napping.

Instead, there was sewing to be done.

By the end of Saturday, I sewed two 1818 bonnets. These need to be blocked and wired at home. In the 19th century this would have happened at the factory.

Stay tuned” for two more posts from this weekend looking at cheese making and quilting interpretation.

Published in: on May 25, 2019 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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.

ADDITION: This is just an experiment to understand the straw aspect of these. I do not plan to make more of these for sale.

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