A February Full of Hearts – Heart Frame

A little heart filled fun will fill these next two weeks of February. I will share a speckling of posts with a heart theme.

This heart frame is one of my sweetest finds of 2022. It was tucked in a bowl of the corner of a local antique shop changing hands. Luckily, I saw it out of the corner of my eye from many feet away. Time has worn away the silk on oneside, revealing the construction techniques beneath.

It is made of two layers of pasteboard. The back is covered in dark blue velvet. The front is covered in off-white silk taffeta that has disintegrated.

The heart is 3 1/8″ tall and about the same wide. The 1″×3/4″ opening for the tintype photo sits about an inch above the point of the heart.

The threads pulling the silk and velvet around the pasteboard can be seen through the photo opening as the photo has slipped.

The whole is bound with a bright golden yellow embroidery floss, likely silk, in a blanket stitch.

At the top of the heart is a red ribbon hanging loop and bow. The ribbon is a silk grosgrain with picot edge. At the bottom is a gold silk pom hanging from cord.

I recreated this heart frame from materials on hand using Fanciful Utility techniques. I think they came out quite darling.

You can create one for yourself using your favorite FanU techniques. Cut two hearts, approximately 3″ tall and wide. Of course, you can make yours a little larger or smaller. Cut a window a smidge smaller than the size of your photo in the center. Cover one heart with velvet. Cover the other heart with silk. Cut an X from corner to corner inside the photo window. Fold the triangles created to the inside and paste down. Secure the photo to the back heart. Sandwich the hearts together and whip stitch the edge. (I could see beadwork added to this edge looking pretty.)

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Published in: on February 1, 2023 at 1:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Weekend Shop Update

I just added an 1860s tapered crown hat to my shop.

I currently have a nice variety of pieces available.

Published in: on January 29, 2023 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Unboxing: Ronningen’s Newest Book

I was excited to come home to this particular box waiting for me.

Flipping through after the video, page 37 stopped me in my tracks, mouth wide open. I look forward to spending a lot of time with this book when work isn’t so busy.

Dawn Cook Ronningen’s Sewing Rolls, Needle Rolls and Huswifs: 150 Year’s of History and Tradition is available directly from the author in her Etsy shop.

If you are interested in making your own sewing case, I selfishly recommend my own Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases and Needle-books available directly through the publisher, ESC Publishing.

Published in: on January 24, 2023 at 5:10 pm  Comments (1)  

2 1860s Bonnets to Pick From

It is nice having two different style Civil War era bonnets ready at the same time. This happens on occasion, but often too much is going on for me to appreciate them. It is nice to compare them, their fit, their curves, their shape.

Both are currently available in my shop.

Published in: on January 22, 2023 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Fancy Work Friday- Where it Began

Paralleling my Millinery Monday posts, I am going to try to share a regular series of Fancy Work Friday posts this year. I will confess I do not have as solid of a plan for this series of posts. But, I figure I should start in the beginning 🤔 sort of…..

My fascination with fancy work began with the release of my book Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases & Needle Books in 2012. FanU, as I and a few others affectionately call it, is packed full of projects for making an assortment Victorian era sewing cases, work pockets, huswifes, and needle books using. The goal of FanU was to share the beauty of handmade, 19th-century sewing accessories while making the period techniques for recreating them accessible.

One of a trio of original sewing cases I purchased in Nunda, NY. This case, and its companions, sparked my interest in handmade sewing cases. Its construction is included in Fanciful Utility. Sadly, I had to sell this case prior to publication.

In opening the door that was FanU, I entered the realm of making small items that were both functional and fanciful, utilitarian and whimsical, the vast majority of which could be made from bits and pieces, odds and ends. I was captivated.

I draw from both extant surviving examples and written literature. The abundance of illustrations and directions for ladies’ fancy work, workpockets, pin cushions, pin keeps, needle-books, etc. in the pages of magazines and books are a veritable rabbit hole, labyrinth, and candy store combined. Once entered….. well….. here we are over a decade later, and I continue to find bits of fancy work I absolutely must make.

I find my focus shifts from year to year, venturing from sewing cases to pin cushions to pen wipes to book novelties to doll novelties to animalia…. Interests steered and derailed by stumbling across a mesmerizing original or the coolest “new” illustration shared by a friend.

Published in: on January 20, 2023 at 1:05 am  Comments (1)  

Saturday Morning Millinery

I decided to try something new. This week, I saved the pieces I’ve been working on for a short video of them this morning. I had fun this week working with planting petite plait into wide fancy bands. I put one on an 1880s Capote bonnet and two on a tapered crown hat. (I am also working on a mid-century bonnet that I will likely finish tomorrow.)


Published in: on January 14, 2023 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Measuring Your Head for Mid-19th Century Hats – Picking the Hat that Fits

I decided to share one of two posts about hat size, fit, and measuring each month to help those looking to select a hat. Thank you for understanding.

There are two factors for finding a comfortable fit: Size and shape.


The difference in wear or placement means we measure for a mid-nineteenth century had differently than we do for a twentieth or twenty-first century hat. The modern hat is measured just above the eyebrow. (This is also where many of us measure for bonnets. We want to keep you on your toes.) For mid-nineteenth century, we measure higher, at the hair line. In this illustration, we can see the difference between where the two measurements would be.


These higher, hairline measurements are often smaller than those taken at the eyebrow. A hat worn at this point can be slightly smaller to slightly larger for comfort. So, add and subtract an inch to your hairline measure.

For example: I am 22.5″ around at my eyebrows and 21.5″ at my hairline. The vast land of the internet tells me that the average woman’s head measures 22.5″ to 22 5/8″ around at the modern measuring point. So, I am about average. I comfortably wear a mid-nineteenth century hat that is 19.5″ to 21.5″

Here is my head with the tape showing where to measure. This is where I wear most CW era hats. This is the circumference of my head. My measurement is 21 1/2″. (Note: this is a full inch smaller than the modern measurement take lower.)

General guidelines I use:

  • Small = Less than 21″ at the hairline (crown less than 20″)
  • Average = 21″-22.5″ at the hairline (crown 20-21.5″)
  • Large = Greater than 22.5″ at the hairline (crown greater than 22″)


It is helpful to know whether your head is more round or more oval.When looking from above, some people have rounder heads while other have more oval heads. I have an average oval head. Very round hats don’t work for me without adding to the lining.

round oval

Hat blocks can be more round or more oval with the same circumference. To illustrate: Both of these shapes to the right can have a circumference of 22.5″. Yet, the same hat would fit each head differently.

My straw hats and bonnets are available in my Etsy shop as I finish them: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnnaWordenBauersmith

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Published in: on January 8, 2023 at 1:05 am  Leave a Comment  

New Millinery!

I just listed the very first hat completed for 2023. With the busy work week, I stuck to a style my hands know well: the fashionable tapered crown of the early 1860s. I made this one a little larger since the pieces currently in the shop are smaller. It is a 22″ crown with and 12.5″ brim. So, if you’ve been waiting for a little larger hat, here you are.

I have three hats available from 2022. On the left is a child’s country hat with a domed brim. In the center is a later Victorian hat with an inverted V brim. I am amazed this hat did not sell. On the right is a fashionable tapered crown in a smaller size with vining on the brim and crown.

I decided to add a reminder to each mid-century listing this year to read about measuring your head and how a mid-nineteenth century hat fits. I hope this will help people select hats that fit and remind people to measure before buying.

Published in: on January 7, 2023 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Adventuring into 2023

Easing into 2023, I have developed a few goals for the coming year. While each is a goal with 6 challenges, the true goal may be to find the right balance as the year progresses. This year, I want to:

  • Better meet the needs of my readers and clients.
  • Identify and attract new readers and clients.
  • Better meet my needs. (This is a big balance thing as I do need more “me” time as well as more nature and social time.)
  • Write more
  • Enjoy what I do.


As part of these goals, I plan to provide more consistent and balanced content on my blogs and Patreon. This will include posts on the topics readers have responded they want: millinery,  fancy work, events & interpretation,  and contextual writing. I am going to use theme days to help remind myself to post:

  • Millinery Monday  – New and Past informative posts about straw millinery.
  • Work-in-Progress Wednesday – Post about what I am currently work on.
  • Fancy Work Friday – Victorian fancy work projects such as pin cushions, pen wipes, book marks, etc., featuring original items and projects.

I scheduled much of the year’s foundation of Millinery Monday posts. I will be working up to more Fancy Work Friday posts. I am considering reserving new shop posts for the weekend.i haven’t decided yet.


I don’t have much of a project list developed yet for the year. What I have so far:

  • Complete the Quilted Hood Workbook – This will be a format similar to my Wadded Hood Workbook to replace my first Quilted Hood Pattern.
  • Super secret Ag Fair project.
  • A couple of items using straw plait including two different straw workbags and slippers.
  • Possibly an 1850s reform dress ensemble.


Not too many local events have been announced with dates yet. I am currently restricted by how far my aging car will go. I am hoping this year will include GCVM events of Opening Weekend, Mother’s Day, the Antique Show, Chocolate Weekend, Independence Day, and a few others, plus maybe some other small local events.

I would also like to add a couple workshops or discussions/presentations. Those responding to my survey showed a strong interest in virtual programs and in-person programs. I need to develop these on the logistical end.

As with this type of post, I may come back and add to it as new ideas develop. Thank you for your continued support.

Published in: on January 5, 2023 at 7:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy New Year

Published in: on January 1, 2023 at 12:09 pm  Leave a Comment