What are You Wearing on Your Head this Winter?

It certainly is a COLD winter so far for most of us. We’ve been seeing single digits for days with days to come. Some have it much harsher with double digit negatives. I hope everyone is doing their best to stay warm and keeping their fur and feather friends warm as well.

With it being so cold, it is a good time to talk about the nitty gritty of wine get bonnets or hoods. Well, some of it. I need to save so e stuff for the up coming book.

Let’s talk about silk verses wool. One of the most common questions I get about winter hoods is if silk is better than wool or wool better than silk. The answer is “Yes”. 

Both silk and wool are found in original bonnets from 1840 through the 1860s. Without tallying up those I’ve surveyed, including my personal collection, roughly 65%-70% of extant hoods have silk on the exterior and roughly 35%-40% have wool exteriors. Other materials show up as well.

Silk is nice for wet snow. Think about how an umbrella made of silk protects against the rain. In a wet snow, silk will hold up against the wet for a while. Eventually, the water will soak through. This happened then as it will now. Water marks can be seen on some originals. (There is a difference in water staining for when a bonnet was worn verses damage in storage.)

Wool helps with moisture for an extended time as well as providing insulation. Wool needs to be a smooth, tight weave though. A fuzzy wool, such as flannel, will act like a snow magnet, inviting it to cling to the fuzzy bits. Wool also needs to be very light weight. Thick or heavyweight wools are not regularly found on original hoods.

Left: Original hood with a solid color silk exterior. Right: Original wool hood with a plaid wool exterior. 

Moving on to the inside, the batting or wadding – The vast majority of originals use some type of wool for the wadding or batting. A significant number are natural, just cleaned and combed off the sheep. I’ve seen a nice mix of colors inside some hoods. Some originals are lightly filled, while others are quite densely filled. Some thinner hoods have a thin batting more similar to 100% cotton quilt batting. Yet a couple others have a layer of fulled wool inside, completely covered (not as a visible lining.) Wool batting is by far the warmest option, over cotton batting. I have not yet determined if the thicker, fluffier, lighter wadding is warmer or less warm then the denser, tighter wadding/batting. I can tell more wool does seem to be more warm. There is also a point where there can be too much warm.

Left: Original wadded silk hood with fluffy wool wadding. This is sometimes called a pumpkin bonnet/hood. Right: Original silk quilted hood with wool batting. 

I am going to leave the lining for the upcoming book. Linings are just too varied and fascinating for a single post.

How about wind? Some of us live in areas with amazing winter winds. There is a quasi-local event each February that sees frigid, harsh winds coming off Lake Erie and picking up some extra speed off a frozen pond before walloping us on the overlooking porch. For this type of event, I want both warmth and wind protection. A deep brim that reaches in front of the face with minimal rise will help keep the wind off the face. A long bavolet will help protect the neck. Another help can be longer sides or the long, lappet like sides.

Left: Original wool and silk hood with long lappet like sides. Right: Original silk and silk hood with long lappet like sides. 

I will be working on some new hoods soon-ish. In the meanwhile, you are welcome to make your own hood from one of my patterns. They are available for instant download through my Etsy shop. 

Published in: on December 31, 2017 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Monthly Update

I am going to get a head start on one of my 2018 blogging goals: A Monthly Update post.

This was inspired by a favorite blogger I follow, Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Her blog meanders beautifully between stunning antique finds and adorable foster kitties. I enjoy the way any one of her posts can have a little of both, as well as what is happening in her life, projects she is working on, what she is reading and such. My monthly update posts may fall just about anywhere in the month.

So, what have I been up to this December???

I have discovered the art of lazy couch laying. This is incredibly new to me. I don’t think I’ve ever come home from work for three consecutive evenings to lay upon the couch to do nothing other than sit, cat cuddle and doze off. It is delightful. It is strange. It is pretty cool.  

_20171128_060900In and around my experiments with lazy, I’ve made a few things. I started the month with ribbon pin cushions, weaving ribbons together. These were lots of fun. I still have more ribbon to make more. _20171128_060800I designed a bird ornament to make with my techniques from Fanciful Utility. This involved some adventures in wool fulling. Oh-so-soft. I stopped into my local quilt shop during our Hometown Holidays festivities to learn a new-to-me paper piecing technique. I loved the little ornament I made. Then the week following, I stumbled upon a way too similar pin cushion. So, I had to make that up as well. Then I found another sorta-similar. Stay tuned for that at some point.

_20171126_191040The shop had a nice December. After a crazy year, I was of two hearts on the shop going into December. Part of me wanted to stock it with all sorts of goodies. Part of me was in dire need of down time. See above to figure out which won. _20171126_190738

 

I finally ordered more archival boxes. I wanted to get those ordered before the snow fell. Luckily, it turned out Gaylord Archival had a great sale. I dedicated a chunk of last Saturday to getting the summer and fall arrivals properly re-wrapped and boxed. Once again, I didn’t order quite enough. I miss counted. Okay, I plum forgot about a couple extant hoods that I bought while in the hospital. I need to order some deeper boxes next time too. I was able to coax the original shape further back into a few of the wired and and caned than I had planned. I anticipate a major photographing session this winter or spring.

Published in: on December 16, 2017 at 2:00 am  Comments (1)  

Closing for the Season

I am closing the Etsy shop today for the season. E-books and e-patterns will still be available. I will reopen the shop some time after the new year. 

A huge Thank You to all who have supported me and listened to me whine through this past year. It was quite the adventure. Please enjoy this holiday season. I wish you all safe time with friends and family. 

Published in: on December 15, 2017 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Announcement from Ensembles of the Past

​Sara Gonzalez, from Ensembles of the Past, share a wonderful announcement. She will be exclusively producing the beautiful 19th century reproduction buckles created by Jeremy Richardson, the owner of JR&Co., who has ceased his production. Ensembles of the Past will be the sole manufacturer of these wonderful, high quality buckles. Sara says “I will be continuing the fabrication of Jeremy Richardson’s fabulous buckles, with additional styles to be added in the future. It is my hope that I will do justice to the endeavor Jeremy Richardson began, and I look forward to serving each of you through this new channel of my growing company in the coming days!”

Ensembles of the Past is currently offering the last of Jeremy’s buckles stock and pre-order buckles through the Etsy shop for $12 each. After, buckles will be $15 per buckle. Sara anticipates the first shipment towards the end of December. 

 
I own one of each. Yes, all six buckles between Lily and I. I love them. I find the quality to be exceptional, and the ease of wear wonderful. Having worked with Sara on fabric selections for my hoods, I expect she will continue the fine offerings Jeremy started. 

Please take a moment to visit Ensembles of the Past to purchase yours today. 

Published in: on December 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Giving

Despite what my ridiculously refilling inbox indicates, today is not Cyber Monday take 2. Um, no. Today is “Giving Tuesday” or locally “Roc the Day.”

Today is the day you say thank you to those organizations and sites that make the world better, that do the little things that mean a lot, that do the hard stuff.

My personal recommendations for your consideration today:

The Genesee Country Village and Museum

502ac64d-2d30-446e-a24f-c0f9432971caThis year, the museum’s annual appeal focuses on very special village residents – the animals:

“As you know, the museum would be a very different place without our animals! The joy they bring to our visitors is part of what makes GCV&M such a fun, educational, and unique place to visit. So this year, funds raised through our annual appeal will support the many animals who call GCV&M home.

As anyone with a pet can tell you, animals are not only wonderful to have but also expensive to care for. During the winter, our oxen each eat a bale of hay per day! Keeping our animals safe and healthy is a priority, and we hope you’ll help us do just that this giving season – and also come visit them (and their new babies!) in 2018.”

. Click Here

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Keller’s Kats 

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Keller’s Kats is a special rescue that cares for special needs animals and finds them just the right home. In the past year, they have helped numerous cats in need, from losing a limb or an eye to learning to live with a neurological challenge. These are amazing people with amazing hearts.

. Click here

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Hearthside Cats


This is our local rescue. As I’ve watched their post over the last few years, I’ve come to know they truly are a forever rescue. They go to great lengths to rescue those in need. Then they stand by those in their care for the long haul, be it many years or the hardest of days.

. Click here

Published in: on November 28, 2017 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  

This Holiday Season 

I hope everyone is having a lovely Thanksgiving, enjoying time with family and friends. I suspect some of you are winding down, putting your feet up, checking your computer or phone, and possibly considering a little shopping. With that in mind, here is a peak at what you can find in my Etsy shop this holiday season. 

For those who sew on the go in historic settings, I have sewing workbags and the very popular workboxes

Fill her, or his, sewing box with a popular Victorian pin cushion. My shop is full of strawberries, walnuts and seashells, all hand made for the accurate impression. 

Not sure what to get the woman who has everything? Consider a vintage pair of gloves. I have several in my shop for early 19th, mid 19th and mid 20th century impressions. 

Looking for something special for their tree or yours? I made some strawberry ornaments as well. 

Of course, I have winter millinery for a warm and accurate mid-nineteeth century impression. I will be adding pieces as I get them finished. Each piece is entirely hand made and drafted from an original in my collection. 

Published in: on November 23, 2017 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

What do I Get My Wife for Christmas?

Back by popular demand, here is the 2017 version of What do I get my wife for Christmas. 

Gentlemen, are you asking yourself “What do I get my wife for Christmas?” or “What do I get my girlfriend for Christmas?”? If so, here are some reenactor approved gift ideas:

Fill her book shelf with these must haves:

Wearable Prints, 1760-1860, by Susan Greene– This fabulous book is filled with extensive textile research and oodles of dress and fabric photos. This is a dream book. 

Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases & Needle Booksby Anna Worden Bauersmith. This book is packed full of small projects including how to make several kinds of housewifes.

The Dressmaker’s Guide: 1840-1865 by Elizabeth Stewart Clark. This book is a must-have how-to for making women’s clothing during the crinoline era. (While you are there, check out the doll patterns too.) 
 

Love giving little things that mean a lot? 

 Kitty Calash is offering beautiful handmade bandboxes in her Etsy shop. These are well made with great attention to accuracy. She has glove boxes, sewing boxes, even comb boxes. 

Love the idea of giving a pair of gloves? I have several vintage the pairs of gloves in my Etsy shop. 
Looking for some stocking stuffers?  

I’ve filled my Etsy shop with small, heartfelt gifts for the historical interpreter in mind. You can choose from strawberry pin cushions, walnut pin cushions, seashell pin cushions, all very popular Victorian accessories. There are sewing boxes and work bags as well. 

If she enjoys writing at events or needs a journal, consider one of these pretty books from Talbott and Company. (A pair or trio would make an extra special gift.)

 

Want to pamper her? 

ReproDolls, over on Etsy, offers hand crafted reproduction dolls and accessories. Give her a beautiful period doll with accessories. 

Published in: on November 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm  Comments (1)  

Preparing for the Holidays 

This has become a favorite event of mine. Families pour into the Genesee Country Village on days that can be quite chilly, or even damp. Yet, they are full of questions, curiosity, and smiles. From shortly after opening until just before closing there are very few “down times” and often, we can’t see the other wall due to the number of people. 

Yes, this is the sort of event I love. 

Today, I got to spend the day with one of my favorite interpreters. Marie is a wonderful basket maker and person. I rarely get to spend a whole day working with her. For today, she made miniature baskets. 

I brought the girls along. Milli and I dressed alike after all. 

This summer, I made Milli’s red silk basque and black wool skirt. (Read about those over on Don’t Paint the Cat.) Then I decided I liked the combination so much, I wanted a set like it too. I had made the black wool skirt to wear in July. I found a nice red wool, not quite as vivid as the doll basque. I debated back and forth whether to put the darts and shaping into mine considering I am still having issues with my pancreas, liver, and incisions. Up until a week ago, I planned to. Then decided I didn’t want to do them just to redo them next spring. Good decision. 

Now, readers know I often fail at getting photos. This time I really did try. These are not the greatest because the light was dim and, well, I didn’t get back to my chair fast enough for the timer. 

Hopefully, I can borrow some photos from friends to share. 

To give you an idea of how overcast the day was, here are some views out the window. You’ll notice some work being done on the walk ways. There used to be a wood plank walk there. It was lovely to walk on… when dry. I look forward to seeing what is done.  

*Please be sure to visit Don’t Paint the Cat for more on the Dolls’ day.

Published in: on November 18, 2017 at 7:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Solace in Walnuts

Yep, it has been a rough year. Then, this box of paired walnuts arrived.

I’ve found working with walnuts to be very relaxing. Surprisingly so. Oh, how I’ve needed a relaxing, pleasing project. Thus: Solace in Walnuts. I still love making my strawberries. Don’t worry. Those aren’t going away. Walnuts give an extra level of fiddliness, which you know I love.

The area squirrels will tell you walnuts are wonderful. The Victorians agreed!

Between originals and crafty directions, there were oodles of adorable things made with walnuts…. pin cushions…. baskets… thimble holders… miniature purses…. doll boxes…

Here are just a few pieces I’ve found inspiring:

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I find the pin cushions that use a pair of shells pleasing to make because I basically recreate the guts of the nut out of fabric. Sure, it would be possible to make a simple velvet covered bag and squish it into the shell. But, I find creating a shape that mimics the interior of each nut gives a nicer shape and better pin cushion.

The thimble holders that look like little purses are what I am currently exploring. Some of the originals show little holes for the ribbons, both as the handles and as the hinges. Period directions call for making these holes using a long sharp needle heated red hot in candle light. I am going to give this technique a try. But, I am also going to try my dremel’s drill.

Walnut pin cushions will be part of this weekend’s Preparing for Christmas while at GCVM.

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A couple nineteenth century directions for walnut crafts:1

 

Children’s Fancy Work, 1882

Dainty little pincushions and thimble-case can be made out of walnut-shells. Scrape the inside of the shell  till quite smooth, then stuff a little bag of some bright-coloured materials with wadding, making it as nearly as possible the shape of the shell; sew to this a handle—a bit of narrow capwire, covered, answers for the purpose—then drop a little liquid gum into the bottom of the shell and press in the cushion. This can be supplies with a pedestal in the following way: – Take two walnut-shells and pierce a couple holes in the centre  of each (A red-hot iron meat-skewer or knitting-needle will do this beautifully.) Now place the shells together against each other, and tie them together with a string or fix them with wire. In the upper half the cushion is placed; the lower forms the stand. For an emery cushion take two halves of a walnut-shell and having scraped the inside, brush over the outside with copal varnish. In both halves make narrow slits in the middle of the sides. Fill a little coloured silk bag with emery-powder and gum it into one half of the shell. Then join both halves of the shell together by means of a ribbon the slits in one side, and tied in a bow on the outside. Through the openings on the other side draw another piece of ribbon six inches long. This serves to open and close the walnut. A thimble-case is easily made of one half of a shell lined with pink wool stuck on with gum, then inclosed [sic] in a tiny bag of its own shape, but large enough to admit being drawn closely over the opening with a running cord.

 

I thought you might like a couple more later Victorian Walnut crafts.

 

Children’s Fancy Work, 1882

Toys made from walnut-shells will please the little ones, and the making of them prove no less enticing.

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….. Nos 54 and 55. These two illustrations show a pretty little toy, the “Surprise” Basket, closed and open. Two exactly– fitting halves of a walnut-shell are scraped clean and lined with pink or silver paper. Holes should be carefully drilled all the way around in both shells, and then a frill of narrow lace sew round each for the outside and round the inside of the lower one. This is effected by putting the needle through the holes. The edges are then bound with pale blue silk so put on that the stitches do not show. In the lower half of the shell is a tiny wax or china doll with a tiny quilted covering over it. In the upper shell dolly’s tiny wardrobe is packed. The shell is closed by means of pale blue ribbon, a loop and end being sewn to each half.

 

 

 

Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Pin Cushion Sampler Workshop 

Today was my second workshop for this year’s Domestic Skills Symposium at GCVM, a Pin Cushion Sampler. 

Attendees had the opportunity to make of popular Victorian era pin cushions: Strawberries, Walnuts, Seashells, and Acorns. I added a crown for a strawberry emery to their kits as well. 

After getting all set up in Foster, one of my favorite historic buildings in the village, I took a moment to take some photos of some of the pin cushions. I rather like how the seashell one came out. 


Hands were very, very busy, managing to get three in cushions done in three hours. 

Published in: on November 12, 2017 at 7:49 pm  Leave a Comment