Refinements Challenge

Research evolves as more resources become available. Sometimes, it is “Wow research really evolves.”

This is great. How it should be.

But … there are those favorite things that we put so much time into researching, years ago; checking and double checking the details, making sure it is as correct as possible. We have used them for years. We absolutely love them … Yet, with all that new research…. they’re just not as good, as correct, as they once were.

These are old research items living in a new research world.

Take a Deep Breath….

….. It is Time….

It is time to let it go. You learned so much researching it and making or choosing it. It has served you well.

It is time for a personal Refinements Challenge

The Refinements Challenge:

  1. Select 1 material culture item or clothing accessory you currently use that is based on old research.
  2. Make a plan to replace this item, including how you will use newer research to determine what is correct and a timeline with replacement goal.
  3. Replace your retired old research item with an improved new research item.

I invite you to share the item you chose to retire in the comments below. When you do step 2 and develop your plan, please share that as well. Of course, as you accomplish your goal and complete the challenge, share your new item as well.

Local folks are invited to share their Refinements Challenge on the GVHI Facebook group.

My Refinements Challenge Choice:

1. The Item: The item I’ve selected to retire is my much loved carpet bag. I love this bag for many reasons. It was much loved by my dear Cleo. The frame was hand bent by my Dad. The plush deep red upholstery is the remnant of the chair I reupholstered for him. It is just the right size to fill and still be able to carry.

The bag was acceptible when it was made 15 years ago. It is still better than many bags curently in use. I just want a bag that is exceptional for reviving my traveling impression. Correct ingrain carpet. Correct construction.

This bag will be retiring to home use.

2. The Plan: I prefer to purchase a well and correctly made carpet bag made from real reproduction carpet. If purchasing proves to not be an option, I will acquire reproduction carpet and make my own with the remaining frame I have. (While I do have 2 original ingrain carpets, I prefer not to make a bag of those because original carpet is extremely dirty.) My timeline is comfortably a year because I do not anticipate reviving my travel impression for quite some time. In the meantime, I also want to do an indepth visual survey of travel related paintings to see what domestically made baggage was used, beyond what is currently commonly used.

3. The Replacement: tbd….

Published in: on February 12, 2019 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Millinery part 2

I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this today. But it was turni g out so nice, i just had to. This is a rather awesome hat. I may have to make one in my size.

This hat is inspired by the Duchess’s garden hat in episode 3 of PBS’s second season of Victoria. I made the brim a little narrower and shaped it with just a bit of curve.

This crown is 21″ around, rounder and 1.5″ high. The brim is 12″ across.

Find this hat, and others, in my Etsy shop.

Published in: on February 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm  Comments (3)  

Today’s Millinery

This dome brimmed hat appears most often in Civil War era recreational photographs such as groups playing croquet or relaxing in a garden. This fashionable shape is beautifully balances and shaped. It has just enough brim to help shade the eyes.

This crown is 20″ around and 2.26″ high. The brim is 11″ across.

Find this hat in my Etsy shop.

Published in: on February 10, 2019 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Millinery

I am trying really hard not to call this a small hat for a larger head. But, I don’t know how else explain it. I wanted to make a fun style for those with larger than average heads. This hat has a fun, petite up turned brim.

This crown will fit an average to larger head. I highly recommend lining it though. This crown is 21.5″ around. The hat is o.5 inches across, 9.5 inches front to back, rising barely 3 inches tall. This hat is not wired. I Highly recommend lining it for comfort and fit. Yup, I said that twice.

I had thought about trimming this. But, my to-do list is too long. I imagine a couple options: a) lining it with a pretty colored silk, in gathers coming up around the curved up brim showing that color, and tiny, soft white flowers nested in the brim curve…. b) lining the inside and brim with white and filling the brim curve with loosely laid ribbons in two or three colors…. c) lining the inside in a neutral silk, edging the brim in a deep brown or maroon, criss crossing the crown with narrow velvet ribbons of the same.

Published in: on February 2, 2019 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Pinking Machines

Not really a post. Just putting the pinking machine photos together for someone. I really should make this into a post about each machine at some point.

The Gems and Gem styles start in the 1860s. The Columbus come after. (I have a stack of their patents if needed.)

Published in: on January 29, 2019 at 8:58 am  Comments (1)  

January Reflections

This year, I want to do end of the month reflections. This is an entirely selfish endeavour to keep track of what I do each month and have a little “feel good” over what I have accomplished.

This month, I finally made Mi a dress, made 7 hats that went up on Etsy, and worked on a coat that now has 1 arm. I had friends over, for the first time in a long time, for an informal “sip ‘n sew”. I hoppednover to the museum for a corset workshop, part 1. Part 2 tbd.

Here is Mi. The fabric for Mi’s dress was the perfect little scale. Her dress had to be sewn on to her tiny self. For more on Mi, be sure to check out my other blog Don’t Paint the Cat.

7 hats for January… These were each fashionable hats, one being a “fancy hat”. The decorated one is still available as I hit post.

The one sleeve coat was originally meant to be worn to Seneca Falls. But single degeee temps and a coming storm kept me home. Oh, it would have had the second sleeve for the event if I went. When it is finished, it will have both sleeves and a quilted blue silk edging. This coat will replace 10 and 15 year old coats, one disintegrating from over wear and loose weave, the other having the plague.

I had a new original plaster bonnet block arrive. A friend found it for me. I will be posting about that soon-ish.

For home, I started my portrait wall. The symmetry rebellion is pleasing. Who knew.

Looking forward to February… February will focus on the 1850s for a special grouping….I unpacked Serenity, the big wood block … I made two softly curved crowns that will be my first attempts at casting in plaster. I am finding the foam blocks just don’t hold up to the blocking long-term. Fingers crossed this works….I decided one day of February recess will be dedicated to sewing stash sorting…. I need to name the newest bonnet block….

Published in: on January 27, 2019 at 10:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Snow Storm Millinery 2

Yesterday, day two of the snow storm I worked on hat two. Initially, I wanted to make a Mousquetiare hat. But… I was thinking about the Glengarry hat someone has asked me about. This became proof I can not work on one style while thinking about another style.

I ended up making this fun tapered crown toque style with a pointed dip in the front. This would be a “fancy hat” as they were called in fashion illustrations. You can find this hat in my Etsy shop

Here are some decorating ideas:

Published in: on January 21, 2019 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Snow Storm Millinery 1

The stow storm meant a shift of plans to weekend of sewing millinery. This first hat is a fashionable Civil War era style in a larger 22.5″ crown size. Find it in my Etsy shop!

Published in: on January 20, 2019 at 10:22 pm  Comments (2)  

Today’s Millinery: First Decorated Hat of 2019

I trimmed this fashionable Civil War era hat with a soft black velvet ribbon and vintage green satin ribbon. I can see why the original cast was fond of this green and black combination against straw. The crown of this hat rises just a bit hightper in the back, accenting the curve of the brim dipping in front.

This crown is 21″ around and 1.5″ high. The brim is 11.” across.

Find this hat in my Etsy shop.

Curious numbers: 4-5 yards of ribbon. 4 hours to decorate.

Published in: on January 16, 2019 at 8:58 pm  Comments (2)  

Post Abdominal Surgery Corset Notes

Sitting here in the corset workshop, I am realizing I should share some of my thoughts on body changes after surgery and wearing a corset. Please keep in mind these are my personal thoughts and observations. They may or may not apply to others.


Two summers ago, roughly a year and a half, I had four surgeries due to a gallbladder insurrection sticking gallstones in my bile ducts. I have residual problems with my pancreas, liver, and drain scar tissue swelling.

Corset related results:

The most immediate problem was trying to participate in events between surgery 2 and 3. I could not handle any pressure on my rather ballooned abdomen. The biggest worry wasn’t my corset, but the pressure and weight of skirts and petticoats. I opted to wear a combination of my Regency short stays with some bust adjustment, and a skirt support what transfered the weight of the petticoats to my shoulders. Please see this post for those details.

Fast forward… My first attempt at wearing my corset, I discovered just how much asymmetry resulted from organ removal. The gallblabber is fairly central as organs go. On my body, my left abdomen got smaller and softer. My right abdomen got bigger and tougher. This is also the more sore area. My bust was also effected. My right stayed pretty much the same. My left softened and sagged. In a corset, this means three things:

  • The right side doesn’t want a tight corset. It also swells up some days.
  • The left side wants a tighter corset. There is almost a cavity over the rib area.
  • The left bust likes to sink into the bust gusset.

The plan is to tweek my current corsets for use this year. Then make an adjusted one that will meet the needs of my body after it has healed more. This will also let me tone my abdomen and drop the extra fluff I gained in the past few stressful years.

The current corset is going to get a crescent of padding in the bottom of the left bust gusset. The cup area will get some quilting to add firmness. Dresses may need bust padding to smooth from the shoulder through the bust. The rib area on the left will get additional support. It may also get a little dart pinching bulk out. The goal is smoothness and support.

The diagonal \V/ bone placement runs a section of bones over the area where my scar tissue gets irritated and painful. This placement protects this area from waistbands. I am considering expanding the quilting for the hip gusset to cover the rest of this area.

Published in: on January 12, 2019 at 1:00 pm  Comments (3)