Hexagons, Now and Then.

Last weekend, I sat with a local crafter at Chestnut Bay, the quilt shop with the great reproduction room within dangerously close distance, making the cutest paper pieced wreath ornament. A cute, modern project that I wasn’t going to mention on either of my blogs because it is her project. Well, I am going back on my decision because I saw this listing on Ebay:

A velvet pin cushion in nearly the same shape as the wreath, just with a center piece.

(Apparently, I just missed it, it having ended on Monday. I hadn’t been looking at Ebay because ’tis-the-season-of-not-shopping-for-myself. Then, Pinterest decided I needed to see it anyway.)

Well, let’s see…. we have tiny pieces, velvet, little stitches, and cute bead-work.

Of course, I am going to have to make this thing.

My version uses a silk/rayon blend pair of silks in forest green and russet brown. I really like how the velvet looks around the paper base. It does get pretty bulky on the back though. Mine came out larger, 2 1/2″, using the same hexagons as the wreath. I made two changes: The center is wool and packed fuller with batting rather than a fabric over a paper base. This way the center could be a pin cushion as well. I am so-so on how much I like that. I set the beads in trios rather than fives because i am a bit tight on beads. 

Published in: on December 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Coming Up

33 degrees!

That is how cold it was this morning on the drive in to work. Brrr!!!! By the way… the car currently has no heat. Did I mention Brrrr!!!!

It is most definitely full on fall here in New York.

With the past few crazy months, I am really looking forward to some happenings coming up.

I have two workshops coming up during the Genesee Country Village & Museum’s Domestic Skills Symposium, November 10th, 11th, and 12th. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend registering for this symposium.

IMG_20170818_153458I’ve been cutting the materials for my new Exploring the Work-box: Tools and Trims. This is the workshop held on Friday. Next, I have to make sure I have all the samples organized and pretty. Attendees will be making their own sample book filled with trim samples made with the antique pinking tools I am bringing.  I hope this will be the first in a series of “Explore the Work-box” workshops. Btw, I think I will be naming the pinking machines.

_20171002_181826The materials for the Sunday’s Pin Cushion Sampler are almost ready. Well, they have to all be put in one box to make their way to the village. We will be making popular pin cushions of the nineteenth century – strawberries, seashells, walnuts, and acorns.

fb_img_1479602076155.jpgThe weekend following is GCV’s Preparing for the Holiday’s event. This is a great opportunity to see the historic village in the fall as it will be packed full of interpreters planning for the coming holidays and getting ready for winter. Last year, I made strawberry pin cushions by candlelight with a fellow interpreter. The visitors were wonderful, with the best questions. I have yet to decide if I will be making strawberries or walnuts this year.

After that…. I will be working on smaller gift items for the holiday season. I will also be making more winter hoods. I hope to have more writing time because I have two publications I am working on. I am anxious to get To Net or Not to Net: Revisited and Warmth for Winter (Wintering Warmly?) written and available to all of you. If you missed the information on these:

  • To Net, or Not to Net: Revisited. A deeper look at the hairnet, how they wore it, and how to capture the correct look. This booklet expands on the article I wrote about hairnets a decade ago. This updated and expanded research will include extensive photographs and a new details.
  • Warmth for Winter: Sewn Domestically Winter Hoods and Bonnets. A detailed analysis of construction methods spanning fifty years of quilted and wadded bonnets. This e-book will be photo heavy with close-ups of original hoods and bonnets in my collection. (This title keeps changing between Warmth for Winter and Wintering Warmly.)

Lunch? Yes, I still want to do the off-season local history lunches. I’ve fallen behind on planning those, as with so many other thing.

Agricultural Society Fair – Part 1 – Entries

This year, I decided to give myself an extra little challenge – Make my entries in doll scale. I set this goal for myself at the beginning of the year. While I didn’t manage to find the time to make as many pieces as I wanted, I was able to make few. There are also a couple human size pieces as well.

IMG_7915Since I spent so much time this summer making straw hats and bonnets, of course, I needed to make a pair of straw hats, one doll scale and one human scale. The full size straw hat was a favorite of this summer with its bias plaid silk lining and calla lilies. The doll hat is in the same style, simply trimmed with ribbon. If I ever find lilies small enough, I will be happy.

IMG_7921IMG_7917It was fun scaling down the winter bonnet patterns to doll size. I did one in a quilted style using a double twist pattern and one in the corded and wadded style that I find to be nicely warm. These are for dolls with 9.5″ to 10″ heads.

IMG_7918I had lots of fun with this little doll quilt. Triangular piecing was both easy and relaxing. But, as I was almost finished, I realized I needed to bind that curved edge I created. Thankfully, it was a lot easier than I thought. I am tempted to do a full size one in this design. Sometime.

IMG_7908When Mandy found these steel rings, I knew I wanted to do an embroidered pin ball. I did a trial run with simple embroidery on wool. Then jumped into the needlework for this one. Needlework like this is not something I have done much if any of. Some parts were enjoyable. Other parts, well, they made me think “aren’t I done yet?” After finishing the full size one, I wanted to see if I could do the doll size one.wpid-2015-10-01-06.13.49-1.jpg.jpeg wpid-2015-10-01-06.14.02-1.jpg.jpegOne challenge was deciding on what to use for the ring. I pondered an actual ring, but didn’t find one in the right size as I was working. The next challenge was turning the embroidered linen right side out at that small of a scale. I think it came out pretty cute.

IMG_7923I had every intention of doing my household quilted item in both doll and human scale. Then, as I made the full size one, I decided this was the one and only I was making… ever. This quilted tool case was inspired by an 1872 illustration in Peterson’s Magazine. It could hold sewing tools or toilet tools nicely.

To-Make List

My current wish to-make list. It only seems challenging when it is to be finished by Thanksgiving. 














Published in: on October 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm  Comments (2)  

“I have not seen that”….. Yet

As many of you know, I am working on a not so little project. I have been trying hard (really, really hard) to keep quiet about what I am doing and what I am finding. But, I am horrible at keeping my own secrets. I’ve slipped. I’ve hinted. I’ve nearly screamed out-loud, jumping up and down, “you’ve got to see this!”

This has very much become a project of Yet.”

In a world where we look for common construction techniques and norms in materials, it is rather exciting to be working on something where all sorts of materials and construction techniques.

I really feel as though when I say “I have not seen that yet“,  “yet” is truly a “I just might see that” or an “it wouldn’t surprise me if” or a “let me see it”, rather than a “that wasn’t common” or a “they really didn’t do that.”

How fun is this:

Cotton batting/wadding… yep
Wool batting/wadding ….yep
TBD wadding… yep
Paste-board… yep
Paper… yep
Woven straw… yep
Cotton cording… yep
Stiff paper cording… yep
Silk…. yep
Cotton… yep
Wool… yep
Fur …. yep
Beads… yep
Ribbon… yep
Drawn… yep
Gauged… yep
Gathered…. yep
Piecing… yep
Selvages… yep

Now, this said, I am one who loves patterns, trends and tendencies. I would love to chart out the years, the regions, the urban to suburban, the age of maker/sewer, and anything else I can to get an even better understanding.

Published in: on October 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm  Comments (1)  

The Quilted Items….That Weren’t

If you follow me on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve heard me whine about the last Ag. Fair entry that wasn’t to be. This last item was to be something in the “Quilted Garment” by hand category.

Prior to September, I had it in my head I was going to quilt a little quilt, something in the “Household” category. When the deadline for the entry form came, I decided a quilt, no matter how small (unless it was a doll quilt), was not going to happen. I determined I would make a yet to be determined quilted garment.

I should back up and say…. If only I hadn’t done the seams in my quilted petti with a machine. 😦

At first, I figured I could make a quilted bonnet in one of the nifty different shapes I have been looking at. Quilted bonnets are fun. I enjoy them. I think what sub-consciously squashed that was that I entered quilted hoods a couple years ago. To be personally satisfied, I would need to draft a completely new pattern from an original soft bonnet for this entry. I just didn’t get that far.

A few weeks rolled by…..

A few ideas came to mind….

and were quickly forgotten…..

As of mid-day Wednesday, I had it in my head I would hurry home to draft a baby bonnet pattern and make a silk baby bonnet. After all, I have plenty of friends and family with babies in belly or recently from belly. Ah….. nope….. Staring at the silks, none said ‘baby bonnet’ to me other than the black silk which is for something else.

I officially called the last entry a ‘fail’.

(mind, I still have the second to last entry to finish)

As of this moment, mid-day the day before I have to drop them off….. I am still toying with the idea of actually pulling something off. Insane…. yeap

While warding off the potential insanity, let’s look at some of the quilted garments that were not to be… at least this year….

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm  Comments (3)  

Spring Millinery Sneak Peeks

It is amazing how our belated spring has come in full force. I, for one, Love it!! It seems like over night the trees are green and blooming in white and pinks. Beautiful.

Inspired by the warmth and color, I dove deep into some new spring millinery. (okay, I finally got the Mother’s Day Fashion Show dresses done at the same time flowers and trims starting coming in.)

Here are some tiny sneak peeks of the three of the pieces I am currently working on. The only one not spoken for is the organza.



Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm  Comments (1)  

“Don’t Hack Your Sleeve”

While I patiently wait for the photos of this weekend to come out of my sister’s camera, I’ll share with you the story of the sleeve. While this sleeve did not go well in the making process, I am okay with the end result.

I knew I didn’t want another open sleeve as that is what I used for both green sheer and semi-sheer dresses from last year. I wanted something with shape. Looking at this inspiration sleeve,


this is what I came up with: ???????????????????

After the sketch, I added a bias cut, double gathered ‘puff’ to the top. I liked the idea of the extra drop before the fullness.

In the drafting, I wanted to make sure I had a good length and a nice curve into the enlarged elbow. I thought this is what I had. It looked pretty good.

2014-04-30 19.27.03-1Well, not so much…

2014-04-30 20.12.50-1

Full, yes. But, way too long. (do ignore the corset-less state.) So, I took off the bottom sleeve. Cut 2 inches off. Re-gathered. Re-attached. Oh, I also rotated the sleeve, moving the gathered fullness towards the back and added some trim.

Two inches should have worked. Right? …… Wrong. It was still too long:


Oddly, it actually looks longer. Doesn’t it?

To make matters worse…. there was this screaming blue horizontal stripe that was driving me crazy. (again, please ignore the corset-less, dress over the clothes state.)


So, what do I do? What any over-tired, over-hungry, cranky person would do…. I got out the scissors and hacked off the lower part of the sleeves. One big crescent shape. Yeap. And the moment I did, I knew I did bad.

I lack photos of the hacking and the hacked state. I decided it  was time to put the dress down and go eat something.

After a few moments away, the sleeves told me they were going to be an open sleeve after all; they were even going to make use of the odd, dipping V in the opening created from the hacking. As such,  I finished off the edges and trimmed away… down the outside of the sleeve and around the new opening. I added a second vertical piece trying to play with the curve and down play that blue line. In the end, I am okay with how it came out.

2014-05-11 09.14.00-1At one point, I thought I would use this sleeve for the show, then make a new one more like the sleeve on Lily’s dress, just longer (these are ‘matching’ adult vs teen dress comparisons). But, after wearing it on Sunday, finding it comfortable, I may just leave it as is. We’ll see what the other photos say.

Published in: on May 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  

What I’m Up To

I have had a couple of inquiries of late as to what I am up to. I suppose I ought to share. Well, share what I can as some of these projects are secrets for now.

In the sewing realm, it is bonnets, bonnets, bonnets. I have had one particular special request I was excited to receive. This follows a few requests I was quite honored to make. In the next few months, you will see a few 1860s and 1850s bonnets from the French plait that I just love becoming available. For personal sewing, I really, and I do mean I really, need to get going on the new corsets and the matching fabric dresses. Those need to be ready for wear soon. (It is a good thing “spring break” is a week away. But, just how much can I really fit into one week while still taking care of a husband?)

In the research, writing, educating realm, I have a trio of secret projects. I am waiting for a “thumbs-up” on two of them. The other is in the information acquisition and planning stage, with the in-depth writing taking place this summer.

I have fallen way behind on the Commemorative and Memorial project. I feel quite bad about that. I have such a vision for it. Hopefully, I’ll get back to the details and the making of the objects soon. As these will each hopefully be relaxing projects, the spring and summer might be best suited for them.


Welcome 2014!

Happy New Year!!!!

This is the time of year a great many people make New Year’s Resolutions and those of us with historic sewing obsessions put in writing the projects we hope to accomplish in the coming year. While I don’t have the standard list of garments, I have some projects and a small wish list.

In hopes of starting off on the right foot, I have pre-arranged a new Tuesday Millinery Fashion series. I actually have posts for the whole year prepared already. This Tuesday there will be a brief introduction to the series. Then, each week I’ll share some  millinery fashion information from 1864.

I have previously mentioned the Commemorative & Memorial project This year I want to see the research turn into a strong collaborative presentation display filled with recreated examples of what the wives, mothers, daughters and friends  created in memory of those who fought in the Civil War.

In the land of millinery, I plan to get ahead on straw millinery this winter so there will be plenty available when people are looking come spring. I will be making a few fashionable 1864 forms for those who want to be on point fashionably this year as well as favorite late 50s and early 60s shapes. I also have some post-war hat shapes I will do because they are just fun. There will be more doll millinery available as well in both straw, buckram and soft styles.

Fanciful Utility fans have a new round of FanU Fabric Swaps to look forward to. Those will be announced soon. I would like to do at least one social or educational gathering this year such as a book signing or workshop. I still need to work on that.

With Lily’s increasing interest in interpreting history, this year must result in a whole new wardrobe from the skin out. For my sanity, I hope this will include some weekend sewing sessions where she will be learning the skills to make her own clothes as well. This to-do list includes:

2+ drawers
2+ chemises
2-3 petticoats
remaking her cage
Altering her current dress for summer cooking
New plaid dress *see below
New tbd dress

A fun project for both Lily and I is a set of matching dresses. Well, sort of matching. We have a blue and red plaid semi-sheer. The plan is do up the dresses to show how dresses of the same fabric can be made differently including age differences.

At the top of my short need and want list this year is a new cage. The cages I use are now well over 10 and 15 years old. It is really time for a new one. I also have a particular necklace I want to recreate. I would just buy the original, but it is too small. Beyond that, this will be a year of creating what I am in the mood for.  I do have a stack of fabrics that are waiting to become the assigned garments including several dress lengths, my travel ensemble and a bolt of off cream wool/silk that could become coats for all three of us. I also have a length of carpet that is waiting to become carpet bags.  

I have absolutely no idea what Dan needs for this year.

I have a few non-sewing projects I want to work on. First is the chair I started working on over the summer. This will come back out when the weather turns warm again. Working on the porch just doesn’t work in the cold and snow. I want to try some wood carving for a couple small items.

I am still in search of the right replacement trunk and a commode.

Oh, I almost forgot. We need to at the very least get a large fly that can be set up in multiple ways including a sleeping area. The A frame tent I have just isn’t large enough for two or three of us. (It also needs repairs.)

Published in: on January 1, 2014 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment