Workshop – Pocket of Pockets

wpid-2015-10-01-19.31.19.jpg.jpegI am very excited that I will be facilitating two Fanciful Utility workshops at the upcoming Domestic Skill Workshop hosted by the Genesee Country Village and Museum during the first weekend of November.

IMG_7791The Sunday afternoon workshop will be a “Pocket of Pocket” Work pocket. Attendees will make one of the most versatile and useful work pockets. Each can choose among a wide assortment of period cotton prints to make their rolled pocket. The workshop directions will be easy to follow for beginner sewers and open enough for those who are more experienced.

wpid-2015-10-01-19.32.08.jpg.jpegOriginal work pockets, made of a row of pockets which roll up, can be found spanning from the 18th century through the 19th century. Their pockets held numerous sewing needs, nicely organized. Some pockets were made with various prints of a single color or shade such as this Turkey red example or this blue example. Other pockets used an assortment of prints, stripes and plaids. This example used a plaid, print and check for the pockets.  The size of the pockets varied through time as well. On the left hand side of this photo, you can see many different sizes.


Published in: on October 2, 2015 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Workshop: Pin Cushion Sampler

I am very excited that I will be facilitating two Fanciful Utility workshops at the upcoming Domestic Skill Workshop hosted by the Genesee Country Village and Museum during the first weekend of November.

The morning workshop will be A Pin Cushion Sampler. Attendees will be able to make two or three pincushions of their choice during the workshop. Don’t worry, all attendees will take home the directions for each of the cushions. I have put together an assortment of pin cushions that will meet a range of sewing abilities, beginner to experienced alike, as well as meet a variety of sewing case needs.

wpid-2015-10-01-06.15.38.jpg.jpegThe easiest pin cushion is the heart shaped cushion from Eliza Leslie’s American Girl’s Book. This simple, silk cushion is both easy to make and quite pretty. It can be made small (as our cushion will be) or rather large to suit the needs of the sewing box.

wpid-2015-10-01-06.15.20-1.jpg.jpegThe most challenging cushion is this multi-media ring pin cushion, made with a silver tone ring and silk. In making this cushion, you will practice covering pasteboard, manipulate the batting and finish it off with a pretty silk. Multi-media pin cushions such as this one were popular throughout the century.

wpid-2015-10-01-06.16.50-1.jpg.jpegFor those looking for a small, whimsical pin cushion, this pyramid cushion will suit. This cushion will be worked in firmer fabrics, including wools and velvets. This cushion is inspired by this adorable original. (I’ll have some pretty ribbons you can add as well.)


If you love ribbon, this ribbon pin cushion may be the one for you. This cushion uses Fanciful Utility techniques in a unique way to create this pretty cushion. It is inspired by originals such as this one.wpid-2015-10-01-06.14.57-1.jpg.jpeg

For those with a playful eye, this ball pin cushion is a fun choice. We will be making ours with silk pieces. Originals can be found in an assortment of materials.


Variations of a gored pin cushion are found in both published books and originals. This cushion is easy to make, while being very versatile. As these are similar to the ‘tomato’ pin cushions, I am going to bring along some simple circles too in case those are the preference.

Oh, I almost forgot…. Here are some of the fabrics we will get to play with….


Published in: on October 2, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Domestic Skills Symposium at the Genesee Country Village & Museum

The Genesee Country Village has announced their Domestic Skills Symposium for this fall. Please read the invitation below and download this Registration Form:

Genesee Country Village & Museum is pleased to announce registration is now open for our 2015 Domestic Skills Symposium!

The Symposium will be held November 7, 2015 at Genesee Country Village in Mumford, NY. We have planned a full schedule of presentations for Saturday, and optional pre- and post-symposium workshops and tours of interest to women and men. Like last year, the Symposium also features a full luncheon composed entirely of delectable 18th and 19th-century period receipts!

Complete details for optional workshops and the Symposium are available on our web site at

Please plan to join us!

Deanna Berkemeier

I will be teaching two Fanciful Utility workshops on Sunday:


A Sampler of Pincushions (Limit 15)

Anna Worden Bauersmith, author of Fanciful Utility, will instruct attendees in making their choice of two or three small period styles of pincushions. All materials for your chosen designs will be provided and instructions for all designs will be given to each attendee. Participants should bring: a sewing basket with scissors, thimble, pins, needle, seam ripper, marking pencil/pen and a notepad.


Make a “Pocket of Pockets” (Limit 15)

Using the techniques from Fanciful Utility, make one of the most useful and versatile rolled work pockets. Also known as a sewing case or housewife, this work pocket is made of period correct fabrics in a row of pockets, bound with ribbon. Use it to hold your thread winders, flat tools, small scissors, buttons, a cloth measure and still have plenty of room for more. The pocket-of-pockets is rolled or folded up and tied closed with a ribbon. Participants should bring: a sewing basket with scissors, thimble, pins, needle, seam ripper, marking pencil/pen and a notepad.

2015 Domestic Skill Symposium Registration Form


Published in: on August 24, 2015 at 5:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Workshops at the Domestic Skills Symposium

This past weekend was the Genesee Country Village & Museum’s first Domestic Skills Symposium. Saturday was filled with 4 exceptional presentations and an incredible period lunch, while Friday and Sunday held workshops throughout the day.  Attendees came from approx 6 states and Canada to participate. I really enjoyed meeting new people and catching up with old friends during our sewing.

wpid-2014-11-02-08.45.08.jpg.jpegWhile Saturday was a drizzly chilly day suited to being inside for the presentations, Sunday was bright. The sun made all the fall colors sparkle. You can see the beautiful colors out the window of Foster, where I taught a rolled sewing case workshop in the morning and a sewing box workshop in the afternoon.

wpid-2014-11-02-08.54.14.jpg.jpegThe kitchen of Foster was toasty warm and very welcoming after the morning’s chill. Here is our work table all ready for the first workshop. Attendees were able to choose from an assortment of pre-cut 19th century reproduction fabrics selected at the local Chestnut Bay. In the center, you can see the projects of the day along with the free Fanciful Utility templates available on this blog (a button-keep aka “balloon-bag”, a boot needle-book, and a shell needle-book)

Here are a couple photos from the morning class. Everyone was so focused on their work there were times the room was silent. It was so quiet actually, we learned we really could hear a pin drop. In fact, a pin makes quite the ding noise as it hits a painted floor cloth.


imageI neglected to take photos in the afternoon as my phone died. We completely lost track of time too.

Published in: on November 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm  Comments (4)  

Count Down to the Symposium

There are just 3 days until the Genesee Country Village’s Domestic Skill Symposium.

I will be teaching two workshops on Sunday. We will be making a rolled sewing case in the morning and a sewing box in the afternoon.

Some of you may know I am an obsessive pre-planner. That being so, I pre-cut the fabric in my mind a half dozen times before actually starting cutting it last night. Yep, that’s me.

But, check out these pretty fabrics: image

Each one is a reproduction cotton from my favorite fabrics shop: Chestnut Bay.

How great is it to have a fabric shop with a reproduction room so close by?!?

When I sat down to cut, I opted not to use the larger prints because I thought that would be unfair to participants. Plus, bigger prints are harder to work with if you happen to be one obsessive about centering motives or getting balance or symmetry.

I am so excited, not only to hold my workshops but also to see the museum hold this symposium. They have such a great venue for this.

FanU Workshops at the Domestic Skills Symposium


I will be teaching two Fanciful Utility workshops at the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s Domestic Skills Symposium. 1

The Symposium takes place on Saturday, November 1st, with Workshops on Friday and Sunday. This is an incredibly affordable program at $75 for Saturdays Symposium with 4 full presentations.

Key lectures include:

  • A survey of printed fabrics from 1760-1860 by Susan Greene, author of Wearable Prints
  • Midwifery from colonial times to the Civil War, by Nancy Webster
  • A history of 19th-century sweets and confections by Patricia Tice
  • Kitchen Gardens and Seasonality by Emily Conable.

Friday and Sunday Workshops cover domestic skills such as:

  • 18th century Pastry Making
  • Wool Spinning
  • Making Your Own Trivet
  • Choosing Appropriate Fabrics for Reproduction Clothing
  • Sit Not in Idleness
  • Make your Own Hand-bound Notebook
  • Custom Draping a Personal Pattern
  • Recreate a Day Cap From the Susan Greene Historic Clothing Collection
  • Making Green Sage Cheese
  • Civil War Cookery
  • Fun will flax
  • Tin Care & Make a Tin Nut Grater
  • The Complete Confectioner
  • Making a Rolled Sewing Case **My Workshop**
  • Making a Mid-19th Century Sewing Box **My Workshop**
  • Make a Cheese Basket

The only bad thing about teaching workshops is missing attending the others. “Sit not in Idleness” sounds like so much fun. I’ve really wanted to get Lily a trivet. I would love to have a hand-bound notebook for when I set up the millinery. Um, Yum, Cheese! And, a basket too?! It would be great to know more about taking care of tin. Plus, I loved the little tin nut grater we had when I was a kid.

I hope to see many of you there. The museum is just outside of Rochester, NY; about an hour from Buffalo/Niagara Falls and 2ish hours from Syracuse. There is a beautiful B&B right down the street. There are several nice hotels in Henrietta too.

The full description of the program along with registration information is on the museum’s site:



Up-coming Needle-Book Workshop

Join me on Saturday, February 16th for a Fanciful Utlity workshop at the Genesee Country Village as we make a needle-book.


“Spend the afternoon making one of the popular shaped needle-books from the Victorian era.

 You will create a seashell-shaped needle-book with beautiful silk and embroidery. This needle-book is excellent for the novice sewer while giving the experienced needle-worker a place to display her or his skill. Please bring your sewing basket with you, including scissors, needles and thimble.  Age 16 to adults.  Registration deadline February 7.”

Full program details and registration information is here.  All registration goes through the Museum itself. Simply click on the “Reservation Form” on the Museum’s adult education page; fill it out and mail it in. Reservation questions – 585-538-6822.

Keep reading for information on an up-coming book signing tea for Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases and Needle-books at the Mumford Library.

Published in: on December 18, 2012 at 10:29 am  Leave a Comment  

2011 Workshops and Conferences….

I’ve been invited to speak at several workshops and conferences over the past months. While I would absolutely Love to, I can’t commit to any until we are relocated and have everything settled down. Since I can’t go, the very least I could do is share the 2011 workshops and conferences I am aware of.


 Corset making workshop at Genesee Country Village and Museum (Western NY) – January 8th and 9th. The cost is $50. For more information contact Bevin Lynn (link to come)

Mid-Western Civil War Civilian Conference – Friday, January 28, 2011 at 8:00am – Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 12:00pm. For registration and information contact Marta Vincent  or visit

Caps – Plain to Fancy with Marta Vincent-  January 8/9 – Hampshire, IL


Bonnets – With Marta Vincent  – February 25/26 – Hampshire, IL –


 Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference (Harrisburg, PA) –  March 3-6

Frontier Women’s Living History Association Conference – (In Texas) Please see thier blog for more information

Ball Gown Bodice & Berthes – With Marta Vincent – March 26/27










Published in: on November 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Masquerade Dress

Now that the Masquerade has past, I can share photos of the dress I was working on. I don’t have any “in-process” photos though. I’m horrible about that. Here is the dress:

And here is my husband and I:

The fabric is one I’ve had for at least a few years. We’ve been calling it my sunset plaid. It is a taffeta weave with thicker threads and moderately tight weave. It is a bit more red then it seems to appear in the photos.

The bodice is just a basic basque bodice with the  basque cut as part of the bodice rather than as an added piece. I generally like this approach. The challenge is getting the lower part of the darts right. I’ve decided to shorten the darts to get a better front flair. I think the front is too flat. I am also going to change the outside dart because that has some pulling. The neckline is actually a jewel neckline just turned down into the V neckline. I couldn’t make up my mind. So, I did it that way. The back is a two piece back. I tried to line up the plaid horizontally. I think I did fairly well given how the pieces curve. The pepulum is shaped with two box pleats underneath the pleating. The trim was actually an after-thought when I had some left.


The sleeves started as a funnel sleeve even though you can’t really tell with the tiers. The base is just muslin. Under the top tier there is some extra tucked out so I can change the sleeve to have the bottom two tiers detachable. For the silk, I took the base pattern & cut it into 3 pieces adding an extra inch to the top of the bottom two for overlap. Each silk piece is cut on the bias. An important thing to know if you want to do this – While three pieces will fit on the straight grain, all three pieces will Not fit in one row on the bias of 60″ fabric. It is most economical to cut each piece open separately where they fit. The undersleeves are a temporary make-do from a semi-sheer fabric I had. They are just tacked inside.

The trim is bias strips pleated with the top edge turned down. There is approx. 10 yards of finished trim for the bodice – two rows around the basque and one row on the sleeves. The 30ish yards of bias came from about 1 yard of fabric.

One last note – Yes, there is a balance thing going on with the skirt. I made the skirt first. Then I didn’t try it on until the night of the event. Oooos. It was a good 4+ inches to big. I did a couple quick tucks in the back to get it to stay up. But, there was still some sagging in the front. So, the horizontal lines dip in the front. I’ll be fixing that.

Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm  Comments (1)  

Ribbon info requested at the Conference


Someone requested the color, width and design charts. Here they are.

Feel free to ask questions or comment.

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment