Its been a year

In recognition of a particular special “anniversary”, I’ve decided to have a Sale!

My “Paper Beats Rock” sale will give you 10% off each of my e-books!
That includes:
From Field to Fashion
Paisley, Plaid, and Purled
To Net, Or Not to Net
And my hood patterns!

Published in: on June 17, 2018 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Review of To Net, Or Not to Net

Thank you for the exceptional review Kristen!

Published in: on June 12, 2018 at 6:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tonight’s Millinery 

Tonight I have a black straw bonnet for you. This bonnet has a lower brim with graceful shaping. It is suited for the average to smaller head keeping in mind this style bonnet perches on the head, not coming forward of the hairline. 

I am adding this bonnet to my Etsy shop now. 

Published in: on June 12, 2018 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pizza and the Piggy Bank

Or: Where to Spend It, Where to Save It.

This past weekend I fringed a plaid wool shawl for the first time in over a decade. I find fringing relaxing. This may or may not be odd for the unraveling it is and can symbolically represent. As I neared it’s completion, I thought about how little it costs and how much of a simple impression improver it is. This length of wool turned shawl costs less than the price of a pizza. My mind has since wandered to the other things that cost less than a pizza yet add to and improve someone’s impression.

Now, I don’t want you to get me wrong. I don’t want encourage shortcuts and overly-improvising for the sake of authenticity. I do believe there are things you absolutely need to spend the money one, or spend a great deal of time learning the skills for.

Where do I think you should put your piggy bank?

  1. A good , custom fitted corset. You need to get yourself in front of a quality corset maker and expect to hand her or him $200. Your corset maker needs to measure you up and down as well as around and around. She/he also needs to know where you squish and where you don’t. Need to save a little here? Get yourself to a workshop with a very knowledgeable teaching staff. This isn’t going to be a class where everyone makes the same corset. Nope. It has to be custom draping for each beautifully unique body there. Plan on this being a multiple week class with a lot of home work.
  2. Shoes. Don’t waste your time on cheap shoes past your trial period. Cheap shoes a pain both literally and figuratively. They will hurt the feet and the pocket book. Plan to spend $150-250 for a decent set of authentic shoes or boots. Then plan to spend a little more for the proper care, storage and maintenance. I’ll fully admit care for shoes has been a learning curve for me. But, it is important keep them clean and not dried out. Find out where your local shoe repair is, so you can get the soles replaced when the time comes. If you are a full time interpreter, this may be every year.
  3. Millinery. Now, I am not just saying this because I am a milliner. Okay, maybe a little. But, the reality is cheap millinery stands out like a sore thumb, just as quality millinery can be spied across a meadow. Plan to spend $180-250 for a full decorated bonnet and $130-200 for a full decorated hat.

Are you wondering why the dress isn’t on this list? I think this is a garment you can work on for less if you can sew. With all the online destash sales so easily accessible now, it is possible to get an appropriate dress length of cotton for fraction of a store price.ive even seen nice silk and wool go for under $5/yard. Please, don’t use this as an excuse to pay a seamstress less. If you don’t sew, plan to pay your seamstress for her/his time, skill, and knowledge of period techniques 

Now, you’ve read this far. You really want to know about those “less than a pizza” purchases. Right?

For reference, I am figuring a pizza in my area runs about $25 once I get my favorite vegetables on it. It is imperative to notice these are not solely  Civil War era items. They are also in random order.

  1. Wool shawl with fringed edges. This will take 2 yards of light to medium weight wool in an appropriate plaid or solid. I suggest waiting for a sale bringing the wool to under $8/yard to keep this under $25 with shipping. Or, you can keep an eye out for someone destashing a wool you like. Plan one two movies on the weekend to fringe the whole thing, or one evening per side. Check out my earlier post on fringing.
  2. Market-wallet. While I’ve known about the 18th century market-wallet for a while, I finally got around to make myself some. Love them. I find they are incredibly easy to make and great practice of hand stitches. Two can be made from a single yard of medium to heavyweight natural linen.
  3. Petticoat. I am of the opinion that one can never have too many petticoats to choose from. Okay, maybe there is a limit. But, really a well starched petticoat can make a world of difference to the silhouette. Most of us within a few inches of average height can make a simple petticoat of four to five yards of quality muslin or pima or Egyptian cotton found on sale. Add another yard to get a couple pretty tucks. Good muslin, that with a strong weave and full,not limp hand, can be had for $2.50/yard on sale or with a coupon. Look for pima or Egyptian cotton for sale at or under $5/yard to meet our price goal. I am assuming you have a mother of pearl or China button in your stash. If not, that is 20-50¢.
  4. While we’re talking petticoats, I’ll add a wool petticoat to the list. Two yards of tropical to light weight wool is plenty for a warm wool petticoat. You may also want to a yard of scrap cotton from your stash for the waistband and a lighter weight panel at the top to gauge with less bulk. This project is most fun by utilizing someone’s destash.
  5. A Pocket. Be it a pocket under the skirt (18th century into the 19th) or in the skirt, a pocket gets things out of your hands. It will also eliminate the need to have something to carry something in. A simple pocket can be made from a half yard of linen or cotton, tape or the same fabric for the waistband. The embellishment can be as little or as much as you wish. As you can see from the link, you are not limited to embroidery on linen or cotton. Pockets were made from many materials, and often from scraps.
  6. Work pocket. Okay, maybe I am a little bias here. But, I do think everyone should have a work pocket, or sewing case, or housewife. Whatever period term you choose, you should have one. I would Love if you made one from my book Fanciful Utility, but I am happy as long as it is accurately made of correct materials. A work pocket is a great interpretive device. They are like a story all rolled up in fabric. (Hmmmm, this give me a post or maybe even a workshop idea.) 
  7. Sunbonnet. I have a slightly different perspective on why a sunbonnet is important. While I do find shielding the face from the sun important, I want you to have an alternative headwear piece in case it is raining or hailing or there is a windstorm. I don’t want you wearing your silk or straw bonnet out in these conditions. Hop over to for directions on how to make your own corded sunbonnet. 
  8. Okay, I have more to add. But it is the end of the week and I want to post this. I will add more and repost. 
Published in: on June 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tonight’s Millinery 

Tonight, I have a straw hat and a velvet headdress for you.

This is a fashionable Civil War era hat suitable for an average size head with a 20.5″ crown that is a shallow 1.5″ high on the sides. The brim dips front and back, 12″. 

This headdress is a luscious black and brown velvet. 

I am putting these up in my shop now. 

Published in: on June 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Two Hats Tonight 

I have two hats I am listing tonight. 

The first is a tapered crown hat with a fashionable curved brim edged with braided plait. This is an average size hat with a 20.5″ crown that is 2″ deep in front. The brim is 12.5″ wide. 

The second hat is a fashionable hat meant to sit high on the head. The crown is 19″ around for an average to small head, while rising 2″.  has a minimal crown rising only 2″. The brim is 11.5″ wide and 11″ front to back with a slightly deeper front brim curving down fashionably. 

Find these hats in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on June 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

June Forecast

I am really having trouble with acknowledging that it is June. This is a bit odd since I’ve had this running calendar of May and June that nearly combines the weeks into one long, flowing month. I sorta hit a wall today/yesterday/which-ever-day-May-31-is-was with work stuff. Well, I guess it wasn’t so much a wall as a massive pit of sticky, muddy, gooey, gross stuff. Yep. That’s how I feel about it.

So, I desperately need to look forward to the fabulous things I have on my other plate for June and a little beyond.

New Addition

IMG_20180531_181927A new antique bonnet block arrived. This block is just darling. It is petite. I do not know yet if it is just a small style, a small size, or even a child’s size. Because of all the pin holes, the many many pin holes, in the plaster, I am hesitant to use it regularly to block. I may just try the one to find out what the finished piece looks like.

I will be looking into various molding processes. I need to educate myself on the options and dangers to original pieces. I would like to find a knowledgeable, skilled, local person who can cast copies of at least Serenity _20180531_172751 and this block for me. It would be great to have usable copies of all four plaster blocks. _20180531_172724_20180531_172737

Event – GCVM – War of 1812

wp-image-1099886474jpg.jpgJune finally brings an event for me – the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s War of 1812 event. Find me in Foster, the building just ahead as you walk through the toll booth, demonstrating sewing straw hats and bonnets. I missed this event last year because I was visiting the hospital instead. So, I am doubly looking forward to this year. (right: the demo from two years ago.)

I will be bringing Regency era samples and a couple appropriate blocks this year with their corresponding hat and/or bonnet shapes. Right now, I am planning on showing the differences between a straight and a tapered crown. I think that will be easy for kids to see and match up. I am suddenly remembering I still need to make the sample books I’ve been wanting to make.

Workshop Planning

I have a couple workshops in the works. Both are yet to be official with all the details involved. But, a little bird told me one of them made someone squeak with excitement when she got a sneak peek. I am looking forward to getting the details and materials together for these. Stay tuned to find out more.


Published in: on June 1, 2018 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Want to Read More? 

A question about Leghorn bonnets and hats made me think it would be a nice time to remind everyone of all the publications I currently offer. I realize new readers may not know about each of them. 

From Field to Fashion: The Straw Bonnet looks at the types of straw and plait used to make mid-nineteeth century straw bonnets and hats. FFtF is available in my Etsy Shop as an eBook

Fanciful Utility is an instructive book walking you through making Victorian sewing cases and needle-books. It is packed full of templates and projects. Fanciful Utility is available from ESC Publishing at

Paisley, Plaid, and Purled discusses shawls of the mid-Victorian era, including the styles, sizes, and how they were worn. It also has directions for making your own accurate shawls. PP&P is available in my Etsy Shop as an eBook

To Net, or Not to Net: Revisited is my newest book, diving deep into the hair nets of the Civil War era. This book looks at the types of hair nets, how they were made, and how they were worn. TNNtN is available in my Etsy Shop as an eBook. 

I would love to have readers share their thoughts on these books.  

Published in: on May 30, 2018 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Millinery 

I wasn’t going to post this hat today, it being Memorial Day. But, Dan is out chatting on the porch with his buddies, while I keep thinking about strawberry shortcake. 

This hat is much like last week’s hat, just with natural straw. The edge of the brim is embellished with a braid of plait. The crown is 22.5″ around making it suitable for a larger head. Adding a lining and/ribbon inside will bring it in a bit if need be. The crown is 2″ deep, while the brim is 12″ across. 

Find this hat in my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on May 28, 2018 at 12:13 pm  Comments (2)  

New Stands

I was quite happy with the assortment of bonnet and hat stands I had last year, particularly the blue ones that match the paint I love in Hosmer’s Inn. I wasn’t going to make any more. Well, then I stumbled upon a set of spindles at a yard sale for $10 screaming to be made into stands.

 Home they came.

 Many months passed. 

Spring came. 

I had Dan cut them down to two heights, removing the damaged topes and bottoms. (We need some saws at home.) I added those pine wood plaques from JoAnn’s to the tops and bottoms. 

I put wood putty over the screws, top and bottom. After much indecision, rose or green or red or yellow or rose or green….. I settled on a peach milk paint on clearance at JoAnn’s. Fail. This paint was far, far to watery for the hardwood spindles. It was okay for the soft pine bases. The spindles just looked awful. 

Paint, take two…. I selected a “Reflecting Rose” color from the big hardware store since our small hardware store that always was so great at helping me with paint and stain is closing. The whole idea was to play off the wallpaper and paint combination from the Dressmaker’s Shop 

and pair them with the blue stands 

The rose turned out much more pink in the sun than I planned. Pretty, but bright.

I wanted lively and colorful. But, I am hoping they won’t look so bright inside. The building has windows with shades, keeping it subdued and comfortable. 

Published in: on May 27, 2018 at 1:17 pm  Comments (2)