This Season’s Winter Millinery 

The winter hoods I am making this fall to winter season are based on original garments in my collection. 

For those in an area with windy, blustery winters, this first hood is a great option. The original comes forward of the face with long lappet like cheektabs. It was made with a dark green wool exterior and bright pink inside. I will be offering this hood in both wool as the original and in silk as many similar originals are made, including another with the same shape and color combination. This hood is also available adps a pattern in my Etsy shop.

This next hood is a sweet hood formerly in Vivian Murphy’s collection. I am quite lucky to be able to care for several hoods previously in her collection. This sweet hood has a light green wool exterior and gold silk interior. The shapes used to make it are beautiful. This hood also can fold forward to protect the face from the elements. I will be offering this hood in wool and in silk with various trims in period techniques.

Functional and popular is this, a warmer, thicker batted bonnet style. This brim is shallower and oh-so soft to wear. The quilted bavolet protects the neck from the cold and snow. I will be primarily offering this style in silk with local wool batting inside. 

Dont worry, I haven’t forgotten the well loved wadded, or pumpkin bonnet. This thickly wadded silk bonnet is filled with wool. It is so and warm, protecting the wearer from the coldest of winters. I will be offering a few of these this winter in silk. 

Please visit my Etsy shop to see what is available. I expect to offer a bonnet every other week or so. I have some beautiful silks to work with and some really lovely wools. 

From the Work Box – Sewing Birds

Recently, Janet Smith of the Button Baron shared their reproduction sewing bird on a Facebook group. Many people asked “what is it?” This made me think it would be nice to do a series looking at tools in the Work Box. I will start with the sewing bird.

Here is my sewing bird, an original patented in February 15th, 1853.

A sewing bird clamps to the work table. The bird is meant to hold one end of your work in its beak. Some, but not all, sewing birds come with a pin cushion either next to or on top of the bird.The Knight’s American Mechanical Dictionary (1881) illustrates and describes it here:

Godey’s Lady’s Book hints at the advent of sewing birds in 1852:


While being called sewing birds, birds were not the only figure adorning them . They were also made with different figures, such as dogs, butterflies, serpents, dragons and other birds. See the variety on this Pin board

Sewing birds came with and without pin cushions. The pin cushions could be found in front of, behind, below and above the bird itself. Some also had two pin cushions. (There are also sewing clamps with just pin cushions, not clamping birds.)

Just six years following the Godey’s mention, we see the quick popularity in this poem, The Sewing Bird (Arthur’s Home Magazine, 1858)


Additional Resources:

This article discusses the differences between some originals and some reproductions. (I have yet to dig deep enough into the construction of sewing birds to evaluate statements in this article.)

Here is an article about an original sewing bird at the Museum of the Grand Prairies.

This is an image of assorted sewing birds in the National Museum of American History collection. ***A must see***

Patents for sewing birds and improvements in sewing birds can be found from the 1850s on.

Published in: on December 9, 2016 at 6:10 pm  Comments (2)  

Examples of Trunks


One on the Left is pre-CW. One on the Right is post-CW

Jenny Lind TrunkDome top trunkLid compartmentswpid-2012-06-17-14.28.12.jpg wpid-2012-06-17-14.22.49.jpg wpid-2012-06-17-14.21.47.jpg wpid-2012-06-17-14.21.02.jpg

Published in: on June 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Photo Chat

I stumbled across a file of CDVs and other photos I forgot about. (I’ve been so focused on my Shawls CDVs for the upcoming book.) Some of these photos need to be shared and chatted about. I’ll start of with this one of a who we assume would be mom and two sons:


Published in: on September 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm  Comments (1)  

Two Surprise Finds – or, When Costumes aren’t Costumes

As many of you know, Dan and I are finally moving. Since I gave away some furniture before going to NM, we are in need of a dining table and bookshelve. Today we stopped in to a warehouse that had some tables listed on craigslist. Inside we found theater sets and racks of costumes instead. Of course, we had to look.

On those racks I found two dresses that needed to be rescued. One is a brown windowpane plaid wool sheer. The other is a simple cotton.

I took some photos to share then rolled them up for a closer look once we are in our place and I can lay them out with some more light. At that point, I’ll take some measurements. Both dresses are study quality because they are damaged and altered in some ways for theater wear.

Here is a slide show of the brown sheer. You will see, it has some significant fracture points in the bodice and skirt. Looking at the bodice, you can see a dart fractured on the left. On the right the same one was removed. There are two darts remaining. The neckline has a very narrow piping. Notice the net applied, likely, at a later date. The waist is pleated through the sides and front; gauged in the back. The change in the turn-over is very noticable. The sleeve is simple a “look at this sleeve”. I look forward to making more notes on it. The net is the same at the neckline. Looking at the repairs and alterations, we see several theatrical ones including one I need to look closer at in the waist on the back right side. There is a,likely, contemporary gusset under the right arm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here is the cotton dress. This one is either an original or one stallar early reproduction. My ‘iffiness’ is due to a couple features that just aren’t very common in dresses from 1855 to 1865. Maybe these push the dress slightly later time period or maybe it is a costume. The neckline is the big one for me. (of course this is the photo that didn’t come out clear.) The most common neck treatment seen is the narrow piping with self fabric and cord. This has a self fabric strip of fabric that is set on the grain. This brings the neckline slightly higher. The other piece is the closer, actually the top of the closer. This is not a technique I’ve seen before. Two small bits are the piping which is a tad bit thicker than I would expect as well as the lining, which is also a tad heavy. Now, these aspects could just be a utilitarian componant. On the flipside, the aspects that make me think this is an original are the pocket, the deep pocket which is an aspect of mid-nineteenth century dress that moved from a smaller research tid-bit to a wider-known in the past ten years, and the fabric used for the hem backing.

Published in: on November 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Trunks in a Shop

We saw several trunks a moment ago. I’ll come back and add a little about each. For now, can you guess which I want?






Published in: on June 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm  Comments (2)  

The Life and Age of Woman

 When I saw this over the weekend, I really, really wanted it. But, I couldn’t cover the price. *pout* I’ve wanted to have my own copy

This hand-colored lithograph may be attributable to Kelloggs & Comstock. I say may because there are several similar image that each attributed to a different person or persons between 1848 and 1850. (See below for some variations.) Moving up and down the stairs we see a woman at at each stage of her life. At the left and right we see trees symbolizing youthful vitality and motherly caring. Beneath the women are miniature illustrations of that stage in life.

In the very center of the stairs is the burial plot. Along the bottom we read of each stage of life:


This is a different version attributed to Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, ca 1848-50. Here is yet another variation attributed to James Baille, ca 1848. This site provides a nice zoom tool for seeing Baille’s version. This version at Harvard, is one I would really like because the top figure is wearing a shawl. Yes, I have an obsession.

A similar look at the life of man was also created as well as a temperance look at alcohol.

Published in: on June 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm  Comments (3)  



I bought ths cdv for the shawl. Since it has a few interesting componants, I decided to share it.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pasteboard box

As I was going through photos of Dad, I came across this set of photos of a pasteboard box he had at one point. I don’t have any measurements. From memory, I think the box was about 10 to 12 inches tall and possibly 10 inches wide. I don’t have any notes on the dating or construction. Please just enjoy the photos and offer comments if you wish.

Here is the lid sitting inside and a detail of the cord on the lid.

I don’t know what is going on here. This would be the bottom of the box.

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment