This Week’s Millinery

After a sewing spree the last couple days, my shop has a nice sampling of 1860s hats, including a staple formthe fashionable wardrobe, a variation on my popular tapered crown, and a little hat I’ve been wanting to get just right for a long while.

My decorated 1880s capote bonnet is also looking for its home:

Published in: on June 19, 2022 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fashionable Hat

This fashionable hat has a crown deeper in front and shallower in back, with a narrow, shaped brim.  This hat will sit high on the head. A staple for the fashionable waredrobe ca 1860-65.

This hat measures 21″ around the inside of the crown.

Published in: on June 14, 2022 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Summer Series – “How much did a milliner make?”

This is a harder question than it seems on the surface. A woman may take many roles from an assistant to an employed milliner to a millinery shop owner. Each of these roles could take place in a larger or smaller shop, in a large city, small city, or small town. 

Skill level and shop sales were factors as well.  In the agreement between Newman and Stout, Emma would initially be paid $8 per week. A clause was included that if after 6 months “if business is good”, her pay would increase to $9 per week. (The full document, with notes is available to Patrons in Patreon.)

There are a few resources that help us understand what a milliner made.  Virginia Penny breaks down many of the rolls within the millinery industry in her book The Employments of Women. Penny looks at their pay as well as the training needed and some of the negative ramifications of some roles such as influence on health. This excerpt shows that overall some women in the role of milliner could make more than those making many other items. but the details show a wide range of income:

Looking at her more detailed sections, Penny breaks down her findings by city and type of job. Millinery shop assistants, who she calls “girls” are noted as being paid between $2.50 and $6 per week in Philidelphia in 1853. These are the young women who decorated bonnets and hats. In New York City, a shop owner would pay “first class workwomen” between $6 and $7 per week. Sales women in larger urban shops are said to have been paid $1 per day (Philadelphia, 1853.)

The workday would be long by our 21st century standards. This was true for both larger, urban millinery shops and smaller goods shops. Some passages I’ve read talk about work days starting before dawn, being fed quickly at the shop, and working until mid-night from Monday through Saturday. Penny accounts as slightly shorter day:

I called in a small store of dry and fancy goods, with which was connected a millinery. The young lady waited on customers, and in the intervals trimmed bonnets for the store. She received $1 a day, and is at the store by half past seven, and leaves at nine at night.”

It is important to understand the millinery industry was a seasonal one. Shop assistants were often employed for the spring and fall seasons with the work hours running from dawn to past nightfall during the busy times and minimal to no work during the off seasons.

I would be remiss if I did not include this particular passage of Penny’s. She is discussing the work and living conditions in New York City, including how they vary. She notes “On the back streets and avenues in New York, women work longer, and the stores are kept open later than on Broadway. On Division street, large cases of bonnets are exposed for sale in summer on the sidewalks. In the poorer portions of a city, people live much and sell mostly out of doors. Their crowded apartments and the high price of rent account for it.” Her observations differ from this shop owner:

“He [D., on Broadway] says his girls spend all they make on dress. He has two forewomen, to each of whom he pays $500 a year. They never save a cent. He had one to whom he paid $1,000, but she never aid by a dollar. Women, he thinks, have not as much originality of thought as men. They seldom invent. He would give $1.000 a year to a woman who would think for him, and originate styles, and combine and arrage the trimmings of his bonnets with taste. He walks Broadway, and studies the fashion of bonnets; but none of his women ever do. (Perhaps they have no time.) Women, he thinks, never acquire such proficiency as men. They advance to a certain degree in the art, and ever after are stationary. He thinks it is partly because they majority look forward to marrying, and partly because they are constituted that they are not susceptible of acquiring the highest decree of excellence. (I fear that D. does not consider that women have not had as much time nor so many opportunities for improving themselves as men, nor have they as much to stimulate them.) He pays women from $3 to $8 per week.”

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Published in: on June 13, 2022 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

1860s Tapered Crown

I barely finished this one under the weekend wire.

This is my fashionable tapered crown style with a more dramatic curve to the brim. This curve makes the crown shallower, particularly on the sides. The look is striking.

Published in: on June 12, 2022 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Summer Series – Sneak Peek

Millinery Monday’s Summer Series kicks off tomorrow with the first of my visitor question posts.

Each week through the summer, I will answer one of the common questions I am asked by visitors when interpreting millinery.

Here is a sneak peek at the first few questions I will be writing about:

  • What is cottage industry?
  • How much did a bonnet cost?
  • What bonnet should I buy first?
  • Do you hand sew it all?
  • How much did a milliner make?

Do you want to be a virtual visitor and ask a question I may include in the series? Ask in the comments.

Published in: on June 12, 2022 at 11:55 am  Comments (1)  

One Tired Milliner Presents…. 1880s Capote Bonnet

Vining straw encircles this 1880s capote style bonnet. All of the straw plait is hand shaped and hand sewn, then blocked on an original millinery block. The vining curves around the brim and back, with archs in the crown. Love the look.

If you want a bonnet already decorated:

Published in: on June 9, 2022 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Introducing a New Series

I enjoyed having a regular series of Monday posts through the Spring. This Summer, I will continue with regular Millinery Monday posts.

This Summer Series is inspired by what inspires me: Visitors

Each week’s topic will be a question from visitors, either a commonly asked question or a unique question.

Starting out, some of the questions that come to mind are:

  • How much did a bonnet cost?
  • What is Cottage Industry?
  • How much did a milliner make?
  • How long did it take to make that?

I plan to focus on one question each week. I expect more past questions to come mind and new questions as the summer progresses.

Published in: on June 6, 2022 at 6:05 am  Comments (2)  

Sad Question

I am sad to say, I need to ask a tough question. Bonnets and hats have been sitting in the shop much longer than they have in the past. At the new year, I adjusted prices to reflect the increase cost of materials and overhead of the past three years. I know money is tighter for many people. I understand that. I myself need to make a minimum number of sales to make an income goal each month. With this in mind, I need to reflect on the slow in sales.

Are you, or those you know, not buying because….

○ The pieces cost too much

○ Others are selling pieces for less

They aren’t the pieces you need

○ You don’t like the pieces

○ You have enough millinery

You aren’t seeing new pieces

Please know, it takes me about 10 hours to hand sew, wire, and block most pieces. I can do it a little faster if I push myself by sewing straight through.

Published in: on June 5, 2022 at 2:54 pm  Comments (11)  

Wavy brim hat, times 2

I want to give this hat a special name, but I don’t know what. This brim has hand worked waves winding around the brim. I love the look of the waves.

Edit to Add:

I finished another wavy brimed hat tonight. This one is just too cute:

Published in: on June 5, 2022 at 10:01 am  Comments (2)  

Sometimes, the straw gets what it wants

The straw told me what it wanted for this hat, from the dome crown to shaped brim to striped silk decoration. This hat makes me smile. The same striped silk taffeta wraps the edge on the brim, lines the brim, and encircles the crown with an pentagonal knot in front.
This hat is suitable for the fashionable waredrobe ca 1860-65.

This hat measures 20″ around the inside of the crown with the ribbon lining. The brim is a little narrower than my norm.

Published in: on June 4, 2022 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment