Mini-Millinery Success!

This stems from yesterday’s post. Doll size straw plait bonnet take #2 fits Jo’s head and hair just right. I look forward to decorating her bonnet. I’ll be making Mae’s next. Working with her wide hair while getting a 50 shape will be an interesting challenge.




Button Keeps

I may be enjoying making these button keeps, or balloon bags, a little too much. Nah…

Here are a few I’ve been making. These two got the last of the pretty ivory soutach a goodie angel sent me. The one on the bottom right is made with three different color pieces. I keep changing my mind on whether I like this or not. I think I would like it more if it had three more lively fabrics.


I need to dig through my stash to see what other ribbons and cords I have that might work for these. Those that will be ornaments, may also visit Joann’s with me to see what decorative cording they have.


Here is the funny thing, after I cut a stack of cardstock for the “guts”, I proceeded to cut oodles and oodles of solid pieces. Then I remembered, duh!, I have a bunch of small pieces of prints that would look fabulous as keeps.

I cut a few pieces for these this weekend, and proceeded to sew. Lacking a tree to display them on, I strung them in a row. (Now, I’m picturing smaller ones all strung together as garland. How pretty. How time consuming.) They like to spin. So, trying to grab a clear photo was a challenge. These will also need ribbons.





I have more pieces cut and waiting to be assembled. I need some truly Christmasy fabrics to play with. The solid shot greens are the closest I have. I would love some red and green plaids, some candy-cane strips, some blue and silver stars…..

The next bit of fun will be filling these with little gifts.

An update on November 7th…. Decorations!


Okay, this one needs ribbon.

Published in: on November 4, 2013 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  

Peppermint – Full Size, Mini Size

I have waited so patiently to share the photos of this project. Now that the Agricultural Society Fair at the Genesee Country Village is underway and judging has taken place, I can share. Yeah!

This bonnet is called “Peppermint”. The striped pale red and creamy white just begged to be made into a bonnet. (This is one of the silks that was swapped in the FanU Silk Swap). The bonnet is drawn on canes over a buckram base. The flowers are paper in blues and rosey reds.


This is the bonnet that made me a little ribbon nutty for a few days. I just could not decide which ribbon to go with. There were several ribbon colors that would contrast so nicely with the stripes, a royal blue, a blue-lilac, even a warm brown. But, the more I looked at original drawn bonnet, I saw most of them went with a matching or nearly matching ribbon. With this in mind, I opted for a four inch wide ivory satin from The Ribbon Store, which is much more ivory than the cream of the photo.


I did say “full size, mini size”. So, here is the mini-size:

A bonnet Mea and Jo to share.


 In this miniature version, made from the left-overs from the full-size version, the silk is drawn on wire over a small buckram frame. The lining and frill are of the same materials. The flowers are tiny blue paper from the larger roses in the full size bonnet. The ribbon ties are the same as the narrower ties above.


A Must Dress

You know those moments when you see a dress you absolutely must make?

This is one of those moments. This is the dress, the must dress….

Opnamedatum: 2013-04-16

I just love how this simple plaid fabric has so many special details.

Look at that neckline. At first, I thought it had two wide ruches applied on the bodice. But, looking closer, that neckline is made from strips of gathered and flat fabric. I think the bodice would have a flat lining with the fashion fabric layered over it. At least, that is how I would do it. The very center of the bodice appears to be pieced together along the plaid. Then there is that cord. I have to ponder that cord.

Moving down to the skirt…. Oh, my! that hem!! (The zoom feature is a must here.) Those corded tucks, for a lack of a better word, in two different sizes are stitched to make the horizontal plaid lines disappear. Amazing! I can see how the stripes may have been hidden as the fabric wraps around the smaller cords. I would just stitch right on the stripe. But, those larger ones? Were the threads pulled out? Or was this section of the fabric different? There are white sections side-by-side. Is there piecing hidden in those tucks? I would be very tempted to do sets of corded tucks emphasizing the white in a couple bands and sets of corded tucks emphasizing the color in other bands.

Looking at the sleeves, the upper sleeve looks like an easy assembly with a larger cord and an inch to inch and a half tuck or fold inserted. The cuffs mimic the neckline with the alternating gathered and flat bands along with the thick cord.

This is a dress that will take a good bit of hand sewing, tiny hand sewing in some cases.

Now, I just have to find the right fabric at the right price at a time I have the cash.

Published in: on October 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm  Comments (1)  

Doll Millinery

For quite some time now, I have wanted to do a line of millinery for dolls. I finally have a set of patterns for hoods and bonnets drafted for a couple different size dolls including collectable china dolls, like my Mae, fashion dolls and 18″ character dolls.
As the weather has already turned cool (or cold) here, I started with some snuggly warm quilted hoods. Both of these are black silk entirely sewn and quilted by hand.


This is Jo in her 1850-1865 silk hood. (She needs clothes made for her and a chair to sit In.) Her hood ties below her chin with a black silk ribbon. The inside is silk with the edges whipped for finish.


Here is Jo with the same style hood done in a dark blueish grey silk quilted in black.

Here is the larger hood in the same style that will nicely fit a doll with a 9″ circ head as most 18″ character dolls have. This hood is also black silk with a period cotton lining. The interior seam are turned under for durability. The future wearer, or her dresser, will need to pick the perfect ribbon and best placement.




I’ll have a section of doll millinery up on Etsy soon.

Yellow Silk Sewing Case

I have to admit, when I opened the envelope from this month’s Fanciful Utility Silk Swap with the bright yellow silk, I thought “Wow, Bright!”. This bright yellow silk puzzled me. I was worried I would not find a sewing case project for it.

Then I was flipping through the photo files I’ve stacked up in my phone. There they were. Not one, but two sewing cases made with bright yellow silk! I remember saving these from an auction of Shaker items. Here they are cropped together:

Yellow silk

Now, which to make? The on the right is fairly straight forward. The one on the left is very similar to one of the cases in Fanciful Utility. But, I’m not too keen on the closing case inside. Okay, I really think they, the auctioneer’s photographer, took a photo of the cases open and a photo of the cases closed, then layered the closed on top of the open. If I make the case on the right, I far prefer something like this:

Yellow silk remake

This is the same case as above with the center piece from another case replacing the center. This structured center has a compartment and a pincushion. You can see the pincushion was well used. Actually, the light blue case shows far, far more wear than the other silk and leather cases in the lot.

Now, the problem… I have black leather rather than brown at the moment. So, I must decide whether to wait for super thin brown leather or use the black I have……

Published in: on September 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm  Comments (2)  

A Modern Needle-book

Tonight we have a little modern sewing tangent – A coworker has been making little coffins for her Death and Dying health class this week. When I saw those little coffins, they scream “needle-book”.

Here is version 1 of my take on a Halloween Coffin Needle-book:

il_570xN_503271529_t5zbThis fun case is made using the techniques in Fanciful Utility.The exterior is a silk I had stashed away with a bit of padding for the front. Inside, the pair of white wool needle pages are placed like a pillow at the top of the coffin, while a black wool pocket is at the bottom for a small pair of scissors. It closes with a silk ribbon. All the embroidery is cotton. il_570xN_503271549_ng9o il_570xN_503271593_o9zzI do have another sewing case version in mind as well. This would be a multi-sided case with a pillow-pincushion inside. I’ll add that to my project list.

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 8:01 pm  Comments (2)  

New Project – Late/Post-War Commemorative & Memorial Pieces

First off, this whole project does need a better name. That said…

The concept here is with the 1864 & 1865 anniversary years of the American Civil War approaching, I would like to see a comprehensive display of items made by the wives, mothers and daughters in commemoration or memorial of their loved ones serving in or who served in the War.

Recently, at an event for the Hunt, NY Memorial Hall, I was able to talk with a few ladies about this project. To my delight, they expressed interest in working on it as well. How wonderful to make this a community project!

During the war and in the years following, a great many handmade pieces were worked in memory of a family member or friend who served during the war and may or may not have died. I would like to see those interested in participating reproduce these items. The list is an ongoing, growing one, changing as we learn more about commemorative and memorial works. This is what we have so far:

  • Quilts – (Examples include: 1, 2, 3, 4 also GAR signature quilts and GAR ribbon crazy quilts)
  • Embroidery pieces – (Examples include: 1, these are each pre-war )
  • Pen and ink art – (Examples include: looking)
  • Personal items and jewelry – (Examples include: Handkerchiefs, Hair piece, silhouette brooch, gutta percha, jet, bog oak, etc.)
  • Hair Pieces (Examples include: 1 )
  • Memorial die-cuts (Examples include: scroll down)
  • Patriotic items that may or may not be memorial/commemorative pieces but are worth looking at & thinking about: Needle-book 1, poke bag?

If you are interested in participating, please send me a message or leave a comment. It will be nice to have some of these items available for visitors to see at events in the coming year with a comprehensive display available for 2015.


While this particular piece (center) is earlier (1785-1793), I would like to see if this was still done in the mid-19th century. If this does turn out to be appropriate, the next question will be whether it would have been a commemorative/memorial piece for our purposes. Then comes the question of how to replicate it. This one has a simpler frame that may be easier to recreate. (must learn some jewelry techniques.)

Two earlier embroidered pieces: 1800 and 1875. It will be important to look at the development of memorial art as it progresses through the century.

Announcing the FanU Fabric Swaps

Love Fanciful Utility? Want more fabrics to play with? Here is just the thing for you – FanU Fabric Swaps!!!

To meet a variety of interests, we’ll have three different swaps – a Cotton Swap, a Silk Swap and a Crazy Swap; sign up for one or more! You can even sign up to be in more than one swap group within each category if you’d like.

sewing group

What is a Swap?

This is a chance for to exchange fabric with a small group of people. Each group will have 8 people exchanging pieces of fabric. All you need is a half yard of fabric and envelops along with your copy of Fanciful Utility.

To Participate:

1: Sign Up Day!
On sign-up day, groups will be assigned on a first-in basis; the first eight will be the first swap group, second eight in the second group, etc.

Cotton Sign-Up Day: July 15
Silk Sign-Up Day: August 19
Crazy Sign-Up Day: September 23

2: Mail-Out Day:
Place a 9×9″ piece of fabric suited to the mid-19th century in envelopes for each of the 7 other people in your swap group, stamp them (be sure to double check at the post office, but the small 9×9″ pieces should mail in a regular envelope with a normal stamp), and send them off no later than the Mail-Out Day.
Cotton Mail-Out Day: July 23
Silk Mail-Out Day: August 26
Crazy Mail-Out Day: September 30

3: Get Fanciful!
Use your Fanciful Utility templates and techniques to make a project from the book, or copy your own from 19th century sources. We’ll all look forward to seeing your projects! You don’t have to sew right away, but don’t keep us waiting forever to see all the fun things!

(If you need a copy of Fanciful Utility, you can purchase them from the publisher at

Fabric Guidelines:

  1. For the cotton and silk categories, your fabric should be mid-nineteenth century appropriate. (If there is a want for an earlier or later group, we can do that.) Prints and motifs should reflect those available in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. Cotton should be 100% cotton. Silk should be 100% silk.
  2. To keep the swap and sewing possibilities interesting, please avoid solids as best we can.
  3. Fabrics that do not work well for sewing cases should not be swapped. These include sheers, gauzes, heavy, thick, easy-to-fray, slippery and stretch fabrics.
  4. For the “crazy swap” category, think crazy quilt in a sewing case. This could include satins, velvets, textured fabrics. Quality synthetic fabrics are invited.  


Yes, you can participate in 1, 2 or 3 of the swaps.

Yes, if we end up with multiple groups, you can participate in more than one group to swap more fabric. If you participate in 2 groups, you should swap 2 fabrics.

Yes, you can swap large and small scale prints.

Yes, you can swap now and sew later.

Yes, we would love to see what you’ve made with the swapped fabric.

Yes, you can use your own fabric in your swapped project.

Published in: on July 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm  Comments (4)  

Netherfield Ball

I’ve had a few people ask for photos. So, I want to get the few I have up asap. I’ll add some text later.

As a summary – Had a lovely time. I slid all over the place. Finally got to waltz with my husband for the first time since Fort Stanton. Barb’s shawl to the rescue.

Netherfield Ball

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