Fancy Work Friday – Heart Frame

This summer I rescued the sweetest little heart shaped frame from an antique shop changing hands. It was tucked in a little basket on a shelf surrounded by chaos. Delicate items like this are likely to be lost or destroyed in situations where larger items get the focus. I am so glad I saw it.

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.

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 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. (Directions in pdf coming soon.) I think they came out quite darling.

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Published in: on November 4, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Holiday Shop “Officially” Open

I am super excited to introduce my little straw basket ornaments. I love these little guys. Each is hand sewn from the same straw I use for millinery.  They are hand shaped as I make them. So, each one is unique. They are ornament size, under 3 inches. I put them in groups of three, with a mix of natural and color straw. They are ready for you to nest a little gift inside or decorate. 

All holiday items can be found in the Holiday Exclusives Section of my Etsy Shop.

Making these little baskets nudged me closer to another idea. I’ve pondered making straw basket pin cushions for a while. I made a very limited number to see how I like them. Turns out, I like them quite a lot. They are simple round baskets of straw plait with red velvet cushions tucked inside.

I decided to make two past favorites this season: the walnut shell pin cushions and the velvet strawberry pin cushions. My photo studio (aka second bathroom) is filled with pin cushions right now

All holiday items can be found in the Holiday Exclusives Section of my Etsy Shop.

I also brought back the cute nest pen wipers I made last year. I thought these were the most darling things. I also think they would look super cute tucked into tree boughs. (I am tempted to make more of the little straw nests for my tree or for friends.)

Published in: on November 1, 2022 at 7:00 am  Comments (1)  

Wrapping up October

Finishing October with a classic tapered crown, the most common hat of its era.

I finished this hat earlier this week. Then got hit with a migraine. I’m just now getting the photos taken. I don’t anticipate getting another hat made this weekend.

Sadly, this is the second month in a row I am significantly behind on my sales goals. It’s all a pickle. Because of rising bills and prices, I had to raise prices and increase sales goals. Also, because of rising prices people aren’t able to spend as much. 😔

A few hats are in the shop waiting for their homes. They are each 10% off. (Check out last week’s post to see how and why I am offering the discount. )

This weekend, I am hoping to get my mini baskets photographed and ready to post for November 1st. I really like how these have come out.

Published in: on October 29, 2022 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Fancy Work Friday – Pumpkins

In recognition of the coming Halloween, this week’s post will look at various ways of making a pumpkin.

In terms of construction, essentially, a pumpkin can be seen as a large, orange tomato with a stalk.

In the pages of the 1892 Vision; A Magazine for Youth, we find these directions for making a pumpkin pin cushion tucked in next to a tomato:

The foundation of the pumpkin pincushion consists of two circular pieces of stout muslin joined together at the edges, and stuffed with wool. Two pieces of orange silk the same size, are smoothly arranged over the cushion and joined with as small stitches as possible at the edges. The cushion is the caught through the center, the needle being passed in and out through the seam (which should pass along the top and bottom and two sides). Rope silk or twist should be used, and it will have to be drawn very tightly up and down through the center to divide the cushions into sections. Two pieces curved to look like a stem are filled with cotton and caught with invisible stitches to make it “crinkly;” it is then sewed very neatly to the cushion. This cushion may be made any size you desire.

The Ladies’ Home Journal, 1892. Pumpkin Pincushion. By M. J. Safford. The materials needed are a puece of bright yellow surah, satin, or any bit of plain silk stuff, a spool of button-hole twist the same color, a few scraps of dark green silk, a little wadding (wool is preferable) and a piece of thin white cambria. Commence by making the wadding and cambric into a cushion seventeen and one-half inches deep, and flatten it somewhat on the top and bottom like a pumpkin. Gather the yellow material – wool will answer if silk cannot be had – at the top and bottom, and closely together in the center and sewing firmly to the cushion underneath. Next fasten a needle full of twist at the top of the cushion, draw it down to the bottom tightly enough to indent the silk and fasten at the bottom. Repeat this eight times, keeping the threads at an equal distance apart in the center of the cushion, thus dividing it into sections of the same size. Then cut from pasteboard a circular piece two inches in diameter, cover it with dark green silk and sew it to the bottom to conceal the gathering of the silk. Cut from the same green silk a piece three inches long and two wide, and stitch lengthwise four tucks one eighth of an inch to be left outside. Stuff the ease thus made with wadding and hem the bottoms neatly down upon the yellow silk top of the cushion.

Of course, if you can make something into the shape of a pumpkin, you can make a pumpking into something.

Marna found this workcase made from a pumpkin in Godey’s, 1870. I am skeptical of drying a true pumpkin dry enough in my climate. Maybe one of the gourds meant to be dried. The directions begin:

Work-Case Made of a Pumpkin.

Materials. – A yellow pumpkin measuring four and four-fifths inches across, some brown glace silk, thick brown braid, round transparent beads, gold-colored purse silk, fine gild-colored silk cord and ribbon three-quarters of an inch wide, nine round brown glass buttons, some wadding.

The pumpkin to be used for this case must be quite dry when gathered. Then hang it up to be dried. After some weeks cut it into halves, empty each half carefully as far as the skin, and bind each half round the edge with a strip of brown silk a quarter of an inch wide. …… (continued….)

Published in: on October 28, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Candy Sweet Hats?

I found a bit of this pretty mauvy-rose straw in my basket. For the first hat I paired it with natural straw in some vining around the brim edge. For the second, I braided the rose, pink, and natural together.  It reminded me of taffy candy. I may have gone over board with a loopy twist on the back.

The beautiful green hat from earlier this week is still available, and 10% off.

Published in: on October 23, 2022 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Antique shop finds

I stopped at the local antique shop on the way back from the post office to see how it was doing with the new owner. I had not planned on buying anything.

I spent $15.

I got some books for family and friends, a beaded slipper, and a pile of tintypes. Yes. For $15.

The beaded slipper is most likely a local Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) piece, though ladies magazines did try to mimic the look. At first, I thought the red base fabric was a silk twill. After taking closer photos, I think it is wool, maybe a wool/silk blend.

The tintypes were the whole pile for $5. I didn’t even go through the pile to loom at them. I just picked up the pile and added it to mine. They have a lot of damage.

You will see one was folded. This is such a shame because the women’s outfit is amazing. Another of two women either has something on the surface or the surface was smeared. This one has two hats.

Published in: on October 22, 2022 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Good News in Straw!

I have good news!

You may have noticed I started offering my straw millinery pieces at a 10% discount after the first day recently. This is because I know money is tight for nearly everyone. Plus, it doesn’t help me or my budget to have hats & bonnet sitting around unsold. So. I came up with this approach, nervously.

Then something good happened.

But, first a little back story. I had been buying hanks of straw from a wonderful, reliable merchant for years. Hanks were generally $20-$22 plus shipping, with a couple exceptions. Then the pandemic, the shop changing hands, and inflation happened. This summer, hanks went from $20 & $22 to $44 each.


There were 😢 tears.

I had already raised prices for everything else that had been going up. I just couldn’t see raising them again.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. A millinery artist I never met offered natural straw hanks for sale for a pre-inflation low price. I wasn’t sure as I have had very bad second hand straw experiences. I took a breath and anxiously ordered some straw. Actually, I opted to buy straw instead of groceries.

Luckily, the straw arrived and it is Beautiful!

This means…..

For a time, I will be able to offer hats and bonnets in natural straw for nearly pre-inflation prices comfortably!!!!

I am going to continue the second day 10% discount sale approach because that seems to be a way to make the numbers work in Etsy.

Thank you all for your continued support. I hope this helps.

Published in: on October 21, 2022 at 6:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Fancy Work Friday – Boots

👢 Is fall boot season?

This is an example of a boot shaped pin cushion in my collection.  Boots and stocking were fairly common shapes used for making pin cushions and needle-books during the Victorian Era. 

The boot is about 3.5 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide.  This cushion is quite weighty for its size, weighing 2.6 ounces. While the piece is too delicate to squeeze to determine the filling, I suspect it is filled with bran or dense sawdust. It seems too large to be filled with emery, though the weight and solidity feels right. 

From An American Girl’s Book – Cut two pieces of paste-board into the shape of a boot, in length equal to that of a grown person’s middle finger, or larger if you choose. Cover them with black silk. Put between them several pieces of flannel, cur into the same shape. Unite the two sides of the boot, by inserting, between the edges of each, a binding of black gallon.
When this is done, cover the top or upper part of the boot, on both sides, with a bit of thick buff-coloured ribbon, about and inch or and inch and a half broad, to look like the light leather tops on real boots. The. Sew on, at each side of the top, a loop of buff-coloured gallon, to resemble the straps by which boots are drawn on.
The pins are to be stuck in the gallon-binding that unites the two sides of the boot.

Both sides of the boot are velvet with most of the pile worn away. One side was a vibrant blue, the other a deep brown. It seems to have been constructed with a brown thread while a red thread was used to add trim. From a distance,  the trim seems to be a bullion. Under low magnification,  the trim looks to be comprised of two narrow, flat, almost straw like fibers, one light and one dark, set on a thick light brown thread. This trim was arranged in altenating loops along the front of the boot to mimic the look of lacing. Bits of trim remaining suggest a single strand of the trim ran around the edge of the boot as well. The “front” or brown side of the boot has a row of fir or feather stitching. The reverse, “back” or blue side, has a short continuation of this stitching at the top of the boot. Holes in running down this side of the boot suggest this embroidery may have once embellished the length of this side as well.

From Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1861 – Boot Needle-Book. This is made by cutting out two shapes in card-board of the same size, and covering them with bronze kid kid, colored leather, or satin, velvet, or silk, any of these materials being suitable. It is ornamented with gold thread in the pattern given. A row of very small pearl buttons is placed up the front, or else a row of gold or black beads. A bow of ribbon is placed where the buttons commence. Both the shapes are worked the same, and the inside are lined with silk. The tops are finished with a fringe, and the two tied together with a bow of ribbon, having the leaves for the inserted between them, and leaving them so as to open.

 A few pins remain in the cushion. The placement suggests pins may (or may not) have been used to accent the decorative trim in two ways. A pin remains placed inside a lacing loop hints at the possibility pins were placed to mimic the look of boot/shoe buttons. Two pins remain on the “front” of the boot tucked into the embroidery at the vertices of the Vs

Published in: on October 21, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Green Vining

I just added a really pretty hat to my shop. This fashionable hat has a very curved brim with green and natural straw vining around it. The crown has a soft rise to it.

Don’t miss this hat I added late this past weekend – it is currently 10% off:

Published in: on October 20, 2022 at 5:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mini Booklets

I pulled out my old mini booklets to use for something in the modern side of my life. After folding a stack, I thought I would reshare them as it has been quite some time since I did.

These are quick, guide style references. Each can be printed on a single sheet of paper and folded into a little, pocket size booklet.

Directions: Fold in half the short wise to cut along the dotted line. Unfold and refold length wise. Fold each side in to the middle. Pull the opposite side out to create a × when viewed from above. Find the front page and flatten into a book. Press with a paper presser or edge of a ruler.

Basic Sewing Stitches

Pleats, Gathers, Gauging, Button Holes

Common Embroidery Stitches

Decorative Embroidery Stitches – Embroidery for Wool Pages

Counted Needle-Work (not my knowledge area)

Shopping Itch

No Image

Published in: on October 18, 2022 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment