Hat Boxes

For some time we’ve needed a larger hat box for one of Dan’s hats. It didn’t need to be anything fancy, just something to safely store his hats. At first we were certain Joann’s or Tuesday Morning would have something big enough. Wrong. Their boxes all fell short of the 16.5″ minimum diameter. We even looked at Christmas gift boxes. Finally, I found the right box! Bevin suggested Dogwood Trading Company in Dansville, NY. Please see their contact information below. They had just the right assortment of band boxes. Large. Small. Tall. Wide. Round. Oval. Square. Each one is nicely sturdy. The designs range with many reflecting the look of paper. The prices are very nice too. The bottom box, the one for Dan’s hat, is 17″ across. It is taller than the 8″ his one hat needed. So, I foresee this box holding more than one of his hats. This was only $18.99. The store has at least 4 other prints in this size. They do have a larger one in a beautiful print that looks like a woven blue blanket. Love it! I just haven’t a clue where it would go right now. At the very affordable price on it, I may have to go back for it. There are others this size too.


The top box isn’t a size or shape I was actively looking for. But, it looks like it will nicely hold a mid-century bonnet or hood. Plus, look at that paper. It had to come home. An alternative thought process was that while I previously/currently store my bonnets in totes, there isn’t as much tote storage space in this apartment. (Confession – at one point, I had a tower of bonnet totes in my front closet.) It may be time to go back to hat and band boxes for millinery. They look great and are great storage. If you need strong boxes for storage, do give Dogwood Trading Company at try. The staff were extremely nice & helpful.


Brrrrr…. Its Getting Cold Out There

I think by now we are all feeling the chill of the changed season. Sadly, some of us are dealing with a shockingly bad version of this seasonal transition.

This is a link heavy post, filled with seasonal favorites for you to puruse. You will find hints for keeping warm as well as contemporary readings for Christmas. You will also find a fun project.

Let’s start by keeping the body and home warm with “Keeping Warm this Winter” and last year’s “A Practical Look at Winter Clothing.” For an event prep list, check out “Are You Ready.”When thinking about winter clothing, you know I would love you all to make up my Quilted Hood Pattern. *wink* But, if you happen to be focusing on the 1840s, do give the pattern developed by Bevin Lynn for the Genesee Country Village a try.

Do you have gift making in mind? Last year, my series on the 12 Homemade Gifts seemed quite popular. (I’ll be sharing a couple passages from mid-century magazines and books for making more gifts and ornaments in the upcoming weeks.)

A few mid-nineteenth century readings…

The First Christmas Tree , an 1869 publication translated from the French – http://books.google.com/books?id=gcMBAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP6&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false

The Christmas Tree: A Story for Young and Old, translated from the German in this 1866 version – http://books.google.com/books?id=C6cDAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

A Present from Germany: The Christmas Tree, 1840, by E. Perry. http://books.google.com/books?id=TccNAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

The Christmas Tree and other stories, for the Young, by Mrs. Lovechild, 1863 – http://books.google.com/books?id=m6AXAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

I would be remiss if I did not include Charles Dickens’ Christmas Books with the well known “Christmas Carol” – http://archive.org/stream/christmasbooks00dickrich#page/n15/mode/2up

Household Words – Christmas Stories: 1851-1858  by Charles Dickens http://books.google.com/books?id=W8xbAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

 And to close, a way too fun project:  

Check this out – Christmas village! http://archive.org/details/SantasChristmasVillage

Published in: on November 6, 2012 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Latested Edition

The latested edition of the Citizens and Soldier’s Digest is now available on their website. This edition is filled with several articles of interest.

My husband has positively commented on the article discussing blue pants. He is quite thankful for the information.

Published in: on September 17, 2012 at 1:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Kerchief Images

I had a request for images to help show how to wear the kerchief style shown in yesterday’s post.
Here is a link to Lily Martin Spencer’s Shake Hands at the Ohio Historical Society. The subject wears a kerchief around the neck crossing in the front. It may or may not be secured with a knot or pin.

Here are two photos of me wearing a kerchief. In each case a good portion of the kerchief is inside the neckline. Perspiration ends up on the kerchief more so hen the neck of the dress.



(Yes, my hair is falling down. Building fences is hard work.)

Published in: on May 25, 2012 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  


When I recently mentioned the possibility of writing out and publishing my fashionable fichu pattern, a friend and reader asked me about a neckerchief style fichu. It took me a few more weeks to get that information to her than I initially planned due to the wild fun of work and husband sewing. But, finally I did. Now, here that information is for everyone else.

Since I am very fond of V neck dresses, I find a long diamond a very useful and functional form of neckerchief. (Oh, I should say it seems through the first half of the century the word fichu referred to a kerchief that was worn about the neck. Then as we reach the 50s, or the mid-50s, the word fichu is used for a more fashionable accessory still worn about the neck technically, though it was more often pictured draped around the shoulders, high at the neck in the back, then falling gracefully over the bust to the waist or past, sometime crossing in the front. The accessory I am showing here is of the first instance.) Folded lengthwise, the short points nicely tuck inside my dress’s collar following the V in front. Sometimes I will pin the point of the V the kerchief creates, other times I will leave it as is. My use of this diamond shape comes from a discussion on The Sewing Academy some years back. So, I can not take credit for the initial design.

This diamond shape can be seen in several extant kerchiefs including:

To make this version of a kerchief, I cut a diamond as shown in the illustration. The diamond is 40 to 44 inches long and 10 to 15 inches wide from point to point. This size fits nicely across the width of most modern fabric. The fold line should be set on the bias. On the body, this length will drape around the neck, over the inner bust down to about the ribcage. The length should be long enough to sit inside the front of the bodice without pulling out while you work. I prefer less bulk and go with a narrower short width. A wider short width would be helpful if the kerchief is to be used during labor where one expects to perspire more.

The edges can all be finished simply with a rolled hem. The short points can be rounded off into a nice curve as well. If you are good at fancy needlework, add something decorative as well.

Another type of kerchief is half of this design, as if it was cut and hemmed along the fold line in the illustration. This long triangle is half the fabric, thus half the bulk of the diamond version. This shape appears quite frequently in originals. Without tabulating to be certain, I suspect the triangular version appears more frequently than the diamond version.  You can see examples here:

As you can see from each of the examples, a variety of materials were used. This is supported by this passage from The Ladies’ Work-Table Book. The passage mentions different treatments of the edges. It also mentions a curious bit about tapes which will be nice to learn more about.

 Neck and Pocket Handkerchiefs – These are made of a great variety of materials, as silk, muslin, cambric, lawn, and net. The neck handkerchiefs are generally a half square, and are hemmed all around. It is a good plan to turn up the extreme corners, as it makes it more strong and durable. A tape is set on, which comes ‘round the waist, and ties in front. Sometimes a broad muslin hem is put on the two straight sides, which looks extremely well. Some ladies work a border to their neck handkerchief, which gives to those made of net the appearance of lace. Pocket handkerchiefs are neatly hemmed, and sometimes have a worked border. Those used by gentlemen are of a larger size than those of ladies. (The Ladies’ Work-Table Book.)

Published in: on May 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm  Comments (6)  

A Good Read

Just a quick post sharing another person’s blog post. Take a look at

Elaine Kessinger’s Blog.

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 10:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Taking a Closer Look – Skirt drop and hems

We wrap up this week looking at the bell shaped skirts and hems of recreated dresses.

Notice the hem tape.

This flounced skirt shows how the bell shape looks with the flounces.

Published in: on January 27, 2012 at 1:01 am  Comments (2)  

Taking a Closer Look – Skirt drop and hems

These two originals from Martin’s Mercantile are displayed with a nice bell shape. The skirts drape nicely over the support of a cage and petticoats creating the nice, soft bell that comes out and drops from about the lower calf down.

This is technically a 30s dress but it shows how the skirt backing construction process was well in place.

Published in: on January 25, 2012 at 1:13 am  Comments (1)  

Taking a Closer Look – Skirt drop and hems

After looking at the top of the skirt last week, let us look at the bottom this week. This includes both the shape and the construction.

This skirt, which is a 3/4 turn view meaning she is slightly turned to the side, shows the bell shape through the bottom of the skirt. In the front, left, you can see a hint of what might be the hem tape.

This working class mom (those are the feet of her sons on either side of her) has a solid color skirt, likely wool, which shows the hem tape nicely. This well tucked wool skirt shows the hem tape. The bell shape is nicely defined. See how the skirt’s bell shapes from about her lower calf down?This skirt shows more of the bell on the left hand side than the right. But, what I find interesting (in addition to the panel seams) is the wear evident at the bottom. This image is harder to see due the the coloring and scan. The skirt does have a nice bell shape.

Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 1:31 am  Comments (1)  

Taking a Closer Look – the waist

On the Fridays of this series we look at how seamstresses and reenactors recreate the look of the area we are discussing. Today comes an additional observation. While looking through my images for those to show the waist area, I discovered we must be standing differently in our modern photos because I couldn’t find as many clear shots of the waist as I wanted. In most photos, our arms are covering the area. When pulling CDVs, it wasn’t difficult at all to find clear views of the waist. That is something to think about.

Here is Colleen who has a nice transition off her bodice into her skirts. The poof is developed from her skirt construction and the layering/positioning of her petticoats underneath. Here is Samantha in her sheer dress which transitions fully off of her waistband with less poof developed from a solid petticoat foundation and the gauging in the sheer fabric.

Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment