Preparing for the Holidays

Oh it Snowed, oh it snowed, oh it snowed!!!!

The area got hit with an early heavy snow Thursday evening through Friday morning, blanketing the museum in snow just in time for Preparing for Winter, aka Preparing for the Holidays. It was quite the sight to see the bed of snow covered in leaves and pine needles. The snow came before the trees had fully given up the last of their leaves.

Before long the village was filled with families out for this special day. It was nice to see the snow and mud did not deter many and didn’t dampen moods. It helps that the museum takes such good care of paths.

Inside Foster it was cozy, warm, and welcoming. Meg and I set up the pinking machine in the kitchen along with Sharon, who was working on dressing Genny.

Meg had wanted to tag along to show off the pinked tiers of her skirt.

I precut 2+ yards of black silk taffeta to pink first. I made over 20 yards of 2.5 inch and 1 inch black trim. Then I did a few rows of a beautiful pearly blue silk taffeta for a winter hood. Then I finished off with a large piece of black and blue check silk taffeta. I have no idea how much of this there is.

The dining room and kitchen were filled with visitors almost consistantly. I was pleased with how the pinker went over. There was a balance of interest between adults and children, men and women. We talked about the timeline of pinking, patents of the era, how the trim was used, and the mechanics of the machines.

Here, Meg helps show off the blue and black trim.

Honey came to nap and visit. She is a very sweet cat, who I understand does a very good job.

This was my first time getting ready in period clothes at the new place. It was also the first time trying to do up my shorter hair. I realized I forgot about accessories this morning. I know which box those are in, I just couldn’t reach it. So, no jewelry for me. My hair went okay. I am going to make some new rats to roll the back over.

When I got home, my new phone/camera tripod was waiting. I ordered it so I could do videos of me working. So, here is something completely different, a post event video of me:

I failed to get a single photo of me. I also failed to get a decent video of pinking despite a few attempts. Oooppps

Published in: on November 17, 2018 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Winter Weather Safety Tips

We spend a decent amount of time talking about staying safe and hydrated in the summer heat. We should give equal time to the cold wintery conditions as well.

At the very least, know the signs of frost bite and hypothermia:

Frostbite from the MayoClinic

Hypothermia from the CDC

Areas to watch for Frostbite: From my observation of reenactprs and interpreters in historic clothing, there are several areas to watch for frostbite.

Women who wear fashionable bonnets and hats often have exposed ears , leaving them susceptible to cold air and wind. While you are enjoying yourself in the excitement, you might not notice the toll it is taking on your ears. The same can be said about the back of the neck , which is also left more exposed with the hair dressed up and a silk bavolet being the only protection. Be sure to check your ears. A winter hood and scarf are your best protection.

Next, are the feet. Period footwear was not designed our slushy, salt treated roads and walks. This can lead to wet, cold feet. Be sure to have dry socks and get your shoes/boots completely dry each night.

For women, the knees can also be a spot that gets colder than we are accustom depending on the length of the stockings and drawers. This area can easily be forgotten about during the day and surprise you come evening. Wool stockings pulled over the knees, long wool flannel drawers, and knee warmers can save some surprise pain.

Our hands are a frostbite risk in any century is we don’t have warm, dry gloves. Please keep them warm too.

Layers – 19th Century Wisdom

Honestly, I am far more comfortable in my 19th century winter layers than I am trying to fuss with modern winter layers. It will be fun tomorrow to see how I do because most of those pieces are still packed. My ideal goes like this:

  • Wool stockings (over shoes if they can be found)
  • Flannel drawer if it is really cold
  • Regular cotton or linen chemise
  • Wool petticoat
  • Quilted petticoat
  • Crinoline/cage with pettis
  • Wool dress
  • Wool undersleeves if need be
  • Coat for outside, shawl for inside
  • Hood
  • Scarf if needed
  • Gloves and mittens, maybe a muff

I would love for you to share your period cold weather safety tips in the comments.

I have a couple previous articles that may interest you:

Published in: on November 16, 2018 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

November Update

Wow, this has been quite the fall. I have been procrastinating writing a proper update because I just don’t know what to say about a few things. I feel as though quite a bit has happened since my State of the Sewing Address in early October.


In a nutshell…. Shortly after moving at the end of September, it became just Clara and I. Around the same time, my blood lab numbers spiked nearly as high as they were in the hospital. I had some downright pissed off organs. Basically, October going into November has been an epic emotional roller coaster. This week that roller coaster is pretty deep underground because we got some crushing family news with the loss of a dear loved one.

Currently, I am in a grey area while I try to find a new normal, as well as “balance and routine” as my awesome gi doctor calls for, while working out those many details. (One of those below.) I am currently checking the radar for the storm that is headed our way. Its timing and status will determine just how much I enjoy my massage appointment this afternoon.


I am quite pleased with filling my Etsy shop’s Holiday Shop in advance of Thanksgiving this year. It is all ready for browsing and shopping. There has already been a nice response to my miniature straw hat ornaments. I added a new bunch last night. I may add a few beaded strawberries next.


By filling my Holiday Shop early, this means I can transition some of my sewing back to straw and to some of my own holiday projects. Working with straw will help me with the goal of “balance and routine.” There is a wool table mat idea I want to work up with reindeer. This is if I can find the dense black wool.


This weekend is Preparing for the Holidays at GCVM. This has become a favorite event because it promises a day shared with one of several very skilled friends and lots of interested visitors, young and old. This year I am going to try something new: I will be demostrating the pinking machines. This is going to cause some era mixing because I simply don’t have attire contemporary to the machines. I am anxious to see what happenes in terms of the quantity of silk. I will have roughly 6 hours of potential pinking. Given how quickly these machines can work, that can be a lot, I mean A LOT, of pinked silk. I may bring a sewing kit to ruche some of it.

Photo by Ruby Foote

This weekend will test what and how I packed. I packed two sets of clothing in anticipation of fall events. I have already discovered I can not remember where I packed my boots. I am also noticing the difference between the fall I packed for and the winter it distinctly is. I suspect, the wool and quilted petticoats may be in that one last pink tote that would not fit in the car. Fingers crossed.

Looking Ahead

One of the things I have to figure out going forward is some financial stability. Basically, I need to sew and sell an absolute every month to get by. I recently had someone encouraging me to use Patreon and a couple other platforms. I would like to get your thoughts on Patreon I am trying to decide whether Patreon is the right match for me, if it is a good fit or distraction. Here is what I would like to know from you:

  • Do you know what Patreon is?
  • Do you feel comfortable supporting artists and educators with it?
  • Would you encourage me to use it?

I think that is all for now. I hope everyone has a warm, safe Thanksgiving. I plan to enjoy chocolate cream pie and self healing.

Published in: on November 15, 2018 at 7:01 am  Comments (5)  

Mini Straw Hat Ornaments

For a few years I have toyed with the idea of making mini straw millinery ornaments. I finally took the time to make some. Each of these inch and a half to three inch straw hats is sewn by hand using the same techniques I use for my full size millinery. I decorated them with ribbon, flowers, and feathers.

These hat ornaments are available in the Holiday Shop section of my Etsy shop. Please take a look.

Published in: on November 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm  Comments (2)  

What is in the Holiday Shop?

Are you looking for the perfect historically accurate or fun, historically inspired gift?

My Holiday Shop, inside my Etsy shop, is now open. In my Holiday Shop you will find historically accurate and historically inspired items ideal for gift giving. Don’t worry, it is okay to buy for yourself as well.

Here is a look at what you can find. I will be adding items as I finish them. I will try to mark what is sold out as that happens.

Work-Pockets Filled with Sewing or Hair Essentials.

These work-pockets make a grear stocking stuffer gift as they are, or you can add your own gift. They happen to be just the right size for gift cards.

Whimsical Heart Pin Keeps

This whimsical heart pin keep was inspired by an original piece in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection. When I saw the shape, I was just swept away. It is so beautiful.

The velvet keep holds a couple dozen pins suitable for dressing.

I will have ornaments in this shape as well.

Oval Silk Pin Keeps

These simple oval pin keeps highlights the pretty silks covering them. Each holds a couple dozen pins suitable for dressing.

Velvet Scissors Holders

These were popular this past weekend, so I will beed to make more. These scissors holders come in two sizes. The outside is a cotton velvet, while the inside is silk. Each is beaded simply.


By request, I have a larger, practically shaped yet still pretty needle-book. These needle-books span 4 inches and have two wool pages cut on my pinking machine. Some are paired with a pin keep for easy selection.

Walnut Pin Cushions

I listened and made sure there would be a few walnut pin cushions.


Coming soon! This year I will be offering a fun, yet still historically accurate twist on the very popular strawberries.

Woven Ribbon Pin Cushions

I have a very limited number of woven ribbon pin cushions to offer. These are such pretty cushions. I know some people are putting them in their trees.


I may have gone a little over-board with the ornaments this year. I have 3 kinds for sale and a special one from Clara. You can find strawberry ornaments, whimsical beaded velvet hearts, and miniature straw hats in my shop.

My Etsy Shop

Published in: on November 7, 2018 at 7:00 am  Comments (2)  

Domestic Skills Symposium – Part 2

The third day of the Symposium was my workshop day. This year’s workshop was “A Band of Millinete.” This workshop was all about making the foundations for headdresses.

Each attendee received wire, fasteners, buckram, crinoline, a handout packet full of references, and yards of Hyman Hendler ribbon. The goal was to make 4 foundations and one finished headdress.

I was over ambitious.

I had figured we would make all the foundations before lunch. Then, have fun making the flurfy ribbon headdress after lunch.

Not so much.

Somewhere around 2 most people were starting their 4th piece or their finished piece. I don’t think a single person finished.

I have discovered I do not like ending a class without attendees having finished peices to feel proud of and take home. I miss having that “lookmat what we did” feeling and photo.

So. This will be a major planning factor in future workshops.

I do think people still enjoyed it and learned some things.

I already have heard requests for next years: theorum shell pin cushions and bonnet/hat stands. We shall see….

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Domestic Skills Symposium – part 1

This weekend was the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s 5th Domestic Skills Symposium. Attendees from multiple states and Canada traveled to the Genesee Valley at the near peak of autumn color, for three days packed full of presentations, workshops, and period food.

While I needed to be at work on Friday, Saturday I decided to try something new.

For the first time, I put together a table of Fanciful Utility and FanU sewing items for sale and give attendees a sneak peek at the pieces I am offering in the Holiday Shop this year.

I had no idea how this little adventure was going to go. But, a coworker inspired me to give it a try and see what happened. It turned out to be a lot of fun because I got to talk with readers and fans. I was surprised by how many people already had Fanciful Utility. I even met a few blog and Etsy followers I didn’t know I had.

There were three groups of items I brought. Of course there was Fanciful Utility along with some starter kits and vintage needle packets. I also brought some of the mini-projects I share each year.

I brought an assortment of the pieces that will be going into the Etsy Holiday Shop this week.

There were some favorites. I only have two scissors cases left. I will need to make more. People loved the heart shaped velvet pin keeps that were inspired by a beautiful original at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These feel so good in the hand.

I also brought an assortment of favorites from previous years. I was reminded how much people love the strawberries and seashells. I had one person who asked about shells with theorum. I would love to do those for sale as a workshop.

All in all, this was a lot of fun to do. I didn’t quite meet the passing thought of “hmmmm, I wonder if I could buy a washing machine?” sales wise. This was definitely for the experience and for just this event. It is not something I want to do regularly.

I will be adding pieces to my Etsy shop’s Holiday Shop section this week. I need to take photos and write all the listings. I did figure out the crazy bright lights in the hall bathroom are useful for photos. They are far to bright for regular use. Alas, the cloth has lots of wrinkles. It appears I need to buy a pn iron as well as a washer, dryer, and drill.

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Coming Soon!

Are you going to the Domestic Skills Symposium this weekend?

Get a sneak peek and early chance at this year’s Holiday Shop items.

After the event, I will fill and open my Holiday Shop in Etsy.

I can only do cash at the event.

Published in: on October 29, 2018 at 9:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday Millinery

This morning I have an adorable hat to offer. This hat has a gently curved shallow crown and fashionable brim. It has a 20″ crown 1.5″ deep, with a brim 11″ across.

Find this hat in my Etsy shop:

Published in: on October 15, 2018 at 6:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Good morning….. With a new hat

I just added this hat to my shop. With a 21″ crown it is slightly larger than average. It has a really neat brim that tapers down on all sides while having just the right amount of fashionable curve.

Find this hat in my Etsy shop now:

I was going to try to get away from innundating my bkog with sales posts. But, I just found out FB is tightening restrictions on sales posts that are not part of their platform. Considering the pages there have become nearly useless there, I will continue as I have.

Published in: on October 12, 2018 at 6:23 am  Leave a Comment