How is a Tie-on Pocket Worn

I was asked to talk about and show how a tie on pocket is worn. Here is a short video that looks at how a separate pocket ties on around the waist and how they are accessed through the skirt. I also give examples of what might be found in a pocket whether it is worn for interpretive use or keeping modern essentials.

I forgot to mention in the video that having the emergency/essential items in a tie on pocket reduces to chance of losing or forgetting something in transferring from one dress pocket to another.

Left: Items for interpretation or period use: notebook and pencil, fan, workpocket with sewing items, hairpins, candy, lavender sachet. Right: Modern essentials: Emergency or medical needs, hand sanitizer, lip balm. Inwould also include: keys, emegency/medical forms, phone. Note: I wear period items on the right and modern items on the left.
Published in: on May 9, 2022 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Hairnets – The Basics and More Indepth

I am reposting favorite helpful posts each Monday throughout March, April, and May.

There are several resources available to learn more about hairnets…..

Are you confused about the word “Snood”? Read Getting Snoody by Elizabeth Stewart Clark.

Do you want to know what basic hairnet to buy and have in your hair kit? Watch this video:

Want to know the basic ins and outs of hair nets? Read To Net, or Not to Net an article by Anna Worden.

Want to know the details of hairnets, who wore what kinds and when with lots of photos and illustrations? Read the full-length e-book To Net, or Not to Net: Revisited, by Anna Worden Bauersmith.


Are you one of the many readers enjoying my millinery blog posts?

Consider becoming a Patreon patron. Doing so helps support my work and helps me write more useful articles.

Published in: on May 9, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  


We all yearn for connection,

whether we know it or not.

My goal for the day was a simple one: sew a doll dress by the end of the day.

After a slow start, I found myself thinking about connection.

We connect in many ways. We connect with our senses. We connect emotionally. We connect physically. We connect through story.

To lack connection, or worse, to be denied connection can be detrimental, can be tragic.

On this Mother’s Day, sitting in the sun and shadows, I found myself listening to a story. I often listen to stories in this spot. This story was different. The words came from their mouth but the story came from the heart and eyes. The story was one of lack of story, of being denied story. It tugged at my heart.

I am grateful I heard what I could in that moment.

As days filled with sun and people go, moments fly away.

I was no longer working on my simple goal for the day. I was connecting with one of my Grandmas by sitting where she used to sit, while connecting with one of my Grandmas by sharing a love she loved.

I share with you Theo:

Theo was named by a moment, a moment created by two pairs of siblings. As I finished her dress and was ready to put it on her for the first time, the first pair of siblings came in. They were darling in how captivated they were. They watched wide eyed, both eager and polite, as I tucked and fussed and adjusted, then presented the newly dressed doll. I said: “She still needs a name.” The first sibling said “Theo.” The second sibling said “Yes, Theo.” both said “Hello, Theo” as two more siblings walk in and one says “Hello.” One of the new pair of siblings was also named Theo. It was obvious to me, the doll is Theo.

Theo is dressed in an 1850s style dress made from one of GCVM’s reproduction kerchiefs. This is one of three reproduction kerchiefs based on originals in the Susan Greene Collection and produced by Burnley & Trowbridge. When I saw this beautiful red and black on white print, I knew it had to be made into a doll dress. I am delighted with how the dress came together today. The skirt is the full 36 inch width of the kerchief with the border design around the hem and up the front. The design lined up creating a circling leaf motif centered on the bodice. The sleeves are open sleeves with the border edge at the wrist. This is the one change I would make: I would make the sleeves more funneled.

The dress will be accessorized with a black belt and mother of pearl buckle. I will add a broach as well to the deep V neck bodice. Theo will also be getting hands soon.

If you read my “Transparency” post you may be wondering how the day went for me, the part of me that has been exhausted. Today was much needed. Approaching this weekend, I was not sure how I was going to do it; I wasn’t sure if I could do it. The morning started hard for me. I was struggling to feel my groove and zone. Then I got there. The above happened. Suddenly it was closing time and I wasn’t tired. I reached the end of the day without feeling like it was the end of the day or the end of me for the day. I wasn’t even tired a little bit until the drive home. When I got home, it didn’t hurt to get undressed, well except for the bit about gravity. I hoped in the shower. I ordered dinner. I uploaded. started editing and writing. In this moment, I am good; I feel that soft sigh of “this is good.”

Published in: on May 8, 2022 at 6:40 pm  Comments (3)  

Free Printable Sewing Resources

As part of the 5 year anniversary for Fanciful Utility I created these goodies for the workbox. These are “Fill Your Case” useful PDFs you can print and put in your sewing case.

Basic Sewing Booklet from Eliza Leslie’s Lady’s House-Book 1850

Basic Sewing Booklet from Eliza Leslies Ladys House Book 1850

Mini Quick Reference Booklets

Mini Booklet Sewing Guide

Mini Booklet Gather Gauge Button Guide

Mini Booklet Gather Gauge Button Guide

Mini Booklet Basic Sewing

Directions for folding the two mini booklets:

Mini Booklet Directions images

Needle Packet Labels

These are scanned from antique packets in my collection I’ve included directions for the two ways these packets are folded as well as label and packet measurements.

Sewing Needle Labels to Print and Fill Your FanU Case

*note: These are direct scans. Some were on the packets angled.



Each of these packets can be made of black paper slightly lighter than writing paper and the label printed on white paper.

  • Print your labels on white printer paper. Cut them to the size indicated on the print out.
  • Cut the black paper using the dimensions accompanying each label – 3 times the width and 3 times the length. ie – if the folded packet is 1″x1.5″, cut the black paper 3″x4.5″
  • Fold the black paper in thirds lengthwise. Fold the paper in thirds width wise.
  • Looking at the placement chart and the notes with each label, glue the label in the corresponding location on the exterior. Use either a brush or small glue stick for the best control.
  • You can also cut a second piece of black paper, slightly smaller to fit inside the outer paper to help hold your needles.


Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility?

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Published in: on May 7, 2022 at 12:40 pm  Leave a Comment  


It isn’t often I get out my laptop to write anymore. Usually, I thumb-type away on my phone or tablet, squeezing posts together between bonnets, before driving to work, at lunch. I know my thoughts are far more fluid when I type on a keyboard; more fluid, more complete, more many things. Yet, life in the twenty-first century utilizes mobile technology and squeezing of time.

This morning I find I have a myriad of thoughts whirling around in my head. Along with the din of wanna-be-migraine noise that sorta combines the sound of ceiling fans and old tube lights, I am having difficulty focusing on the detailed sewing tasks that need to be done. Best to get the thoughts out.

Those details sewing tasks – Moments ago, I cut the pieces for the kerchief doll’s dress and my dress’s collar. These are the items I need for tomorrow, my first nineteenth century day of the season. I should be excited. I have a new wool challis dress to wear. I have a great project dressing a Jenny Lind style porcelain doll in a reproduction kerchief based on an original in the Greene Collection at the Wehle Gallery. The weather is going to be lovely. The people are going to be lovely. I should be excited.

Yet, I am exhausted.

I feel like I am constantly saying that lately: exhausted. That is because I am saying it constantly. At least I am feeling it constantly. I recharge my battery. I refill my glass. But, rarely ever to 100%. I am lucky if I get my battery to 50%; my glass to half full before I need to start back in.

Work is work. I actually enjoy the tasks, even the extra tasks to help out coworkers. I enjoy the problem solving, the challenges. What has worn me down is the stuff I am probably not supposed to talk about, the startling, the worrying about kid safety, the worrying about coworker safety, the worrying about kid mental health, the worrying about coworker mental health, the worrying about my mental health. Too often I get to the end of a week and find myself sitting on my couch so tired I could just cry, but I am too tired to cry. Even this past week, when I started the week feeling great, feeling like I was on top of what I needed to do, feeling optimistic, feeling like my body was good, I got to Friday and again found myself feeling like I could cry but was simply too tired.

This is why, in recent weeks, there is less millinery. My goals for the year were to complete 2 pieces each week for you to choose from. That is about 22 hours of sewing, photographing, and listing if they are undecorated, closer to 20 if they are decorated. Today is May 7th and I have only made one piece this month. It is hanging out in my shop waiting for someone to buy it along with one adorable little bonnet from last month.

That brings me to one of the thoughts whirling around – Millinery waiting.

Without a doubt I find far more joy in watching bonnets and hats sell quickly. I get very excited when pieces sell in less than an hour. I have this “yes” feeling with a please sigh when I see a piece selected by a person it matches well with. I love these feel-goods. I thrive on them.

Lately, I haven’t been getting them.

I suspect the longer, much longer at times, “shelf” time is due to my increase in prices. Keeping prices manageable is important to me. I managed not to increase from my $125 and $200 base prices for the whole of 2020 and 2021 despite the rise in costs for materials and overhead. (Okay, let’s call overhead what it is – living – rent, utilities, taxes. My rent and fees went up nearly $200 this year.) I made the price increase. The side of me waiting for pieces to sell regrets it, is reconsidering it. The side of me that has to meet budget knows I had to. My hands that get painfully tired and weird knows I had to. The choice was raise prices and increase two pieces a month or leave prices and increase 4 and 5 pieces a month. Pushing my hands to 10 pieces (18 in the summer) a month would likely mean I would be done, unable to sew in a year or two.

Yet, I am considering pulling back the prices or offering more discount options. Please know – returning customers and Patreon supporters receive discount codes currently. I just need to figure out how to make up the difference.

Now on to a less depressing whirling component – The next blog series idea. As the current series of Monday Millinery reposts is coming to a close in a couple weeks, I am considering two options for the next series. 1) Continuing on Monday Millinery with answering the most common questions I get when interpreting. This would mean freshly written posts each week. This is both an appeal and hesitation as time is a big factor for me. 2) A Fancy Work Friday with a combination of revisited past posts and projects along with some new projects. The ability to repost some projects is very appealing. But, during the summer, I really prefer to stick to millinery so I don’t distract myself. So….. decisions must be made.

And now, as I get this far into my typing I find I can hear the birds singing outside rather than that din of wanna-be-migraine sound. This is good. This means getting some of my thoughts out was a good idea. If you’ve read this far, thank you for reading.

I need to go press the waistband for the doll dress along with the inner bias piece for my collar. Then I need to put the hooks on my dress. I am also going to prepare two pockets because I want to squeeze in a pocket video tomorrow. It is a very good thing I stepped back from doing both days this weekend. While I do regret not being there for opening day, I don’t think it would have been doable.

This needs a cute photo.

White tabby cat ducking out from under a red, white, and gray wool skirt that is draped over a chair.

EDIT: An hour later – She bit holes into the front shoulder of my dress.

Published in: on May 7, 2022 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Decorated Hat in Shop

This is the fashionable tapered crown style in natural straw with a fancy straw and faux horsehair trim around the brim. It is decorated with a dark green German moire ribbon and red/white roses. This hat is suitable for the fashionable waredrobe ca 1860-65. This hat measures 21″ around the inside of the crown with the ribbon lining.

Published in: on May 6, 2022 at 5:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Publications Available

Here is a list of publications I have available.


Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases and Needle-books is a guide packed full of directions and templates for making your own period correct sewing cases, housewifes, and needle-books. FanU is available directly from the Publisher at


To Net, or Not to Net: Revisited is an in-depth look at hair nets of the mid-nineteenth century. This e-book is packed full of cdvs and illustrations, covering how nets were worn and what they were made of. This e-book is available through my Etsy shop.



Paisley, Plaid, & Purped: Shawls of the Mid-Nineteenth Century looks at the types of shawls worn in this era, from the sizes to the materials. This book includes original directions for making shawls. This e-book is available through my Etsy shop.


From Field to Fashion: The Straw Bonnet was my first book covering the the materials and processes used to make straw hats and bonnets. This book focuses on the mid-nineteenth century. This e-book is available through my Etsy shop.


In Detail

I developed the “In Detail” series to take a closer look at original handmade items. These publications are packed full of close-up photos and details of how these pieces were made. Many of these publications include directions for making your own using period techniques.

In Detail: Blue Ribbon Sewing Case looks at an amazing sewing case made from a single plaid ribbon. (Note: this publication does not include directions.)

This e-publication is available through my Etsy shop.

In Detail: The Velvet Slipper Pincushion takes a close look at this example of a popular sewing accessory.

This e-publication is available through my Etsy shop.


In Detail: “Earl’s Ball” A Corded Ball looks a darling toy made in the style of a popular corded pin ball pin cushion technique.

This e-publication is available in my Etsy shop.

In Detail: Frozen Charlotte Pen-Wipers is a close look at two pen-wipers made with small porcelain dolls. This e-publication will appeal to doll and writing enthusiasts.

It can be found in my Etsy shop.

In Detail: Paper Pieced Pin Ball examins a pin ball constructed using a paper piecing method. This technique can be used to recreat the nineteenth century pin ball or a Victorian ornament.

This e-publication is available in my Etsy shop.

In Detail: The Pillow Pin Ball is near and dear to me as it was written at a very difficult time. This edition looks at a well loved pincushion made of pillow segments. This is a great project to use you scraps or to share with friends.

This e-publication is available through my Etsy shop.

In Detail: Embroidered Velvet Needle-book looks at a staple of the 19th century workbox: the needle-book. This edition focuses on recreating this sweet example.

This e-publication is available through my Etsy shop.


My Wadded Hood Workbook takes a pictorial look at multiple original wadded hoods and guides you through making your own with period construction and techniques.

This workbook is available in my Etsy shop.

My Fichu Pattern previously sold out quickly in its paper form. As a downloadable pattern, you can start you fichu in the middle of the night if need be.

This e-pattern is available through my Etsy shop.

The Princess Capote Hood Directions are a collaboration between Jamie Quick and myself. This e-publication takes the period directions and re-explains them with some corrections.

Remember: I also have numerous free templates available here, on my blog for period correct projects. I also have modern projects available on Don’t Paint the Cat.

Published in: on May 6, 2022 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Class Announcement! Strawberry Pin Cushions

Come Celebrate Strawberry Season!
Make deliciously soft, flannel strawberry pin cushions inspired by tasty Victorian fruit and vegetable cushions.

On Saturday, June 25th, I will be teaching a modern sewing workshop at Chestnut Bay Quilt Shop in Caledonia, NY.

I’ve taken the much loved Victorian era strawberry pin cushions and given them a twist using bold strawberry red and pretty leafy green flannels. I think they look adorable.

To attend this class, you must register in advance through Chestnut Bay Quilt Shop. Do this by calling 585-638-4420. The Shop requires class attendees to be vaccinated. See the Facebook event page here.

The class will last two hours (1-3pm) in the Shop’s classroom. During class, we will make one berry with the option of putting it atop a wooden spool stand. The strawberry class kit includes two beautiful strawberry red and leafy green flannels, enough to make four strawberries in two different sizes.

Please bring your basic sewing kit with scissors, wax, thimble, and favorite turning tool.

Be sure to contact Chestnut Bay Quilt Shop to register in advance. There are only 8 spaces available.

Published in: on May 3, 2022 at 12:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Free Resources

Did you know I have pages packed full of free projects and free resources?

I do!

Check out this page for Free Printable Resources:

Check out this page for Free Projects:

Published in: on May 3, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

For the Love of Pockets

I am reposting favorite helpful posts each Monday throughout March, April, and May. This is the newest of the reposts.

If you have been following even for a short while, you know I love pockets. I love making pockets. I love having pockets.

For years, I carried a basket or a purse. It would get filled with a myriad of this and that, period and modern.

All this stuf I thought I needed to have on me.

Extra water, a camera, a little money…. You know what? It all just added up and added up. Frankly, it was heavy and a PITA.

It also wasn’t accurate.

Then, one glorious day, I learned about pockets. Dresses had pockets! We aren’t talking the wimpy pockets in women’s jeans that barely hold a few dollars and a small set of keys. We are talking huge, mother of all pockets!


Don’t think they could be that big?

Take a look at my dress from a few years ago. Okay, 15 years ago. (Ignore the hair falling down and the gloves for rusty nails. This was a heavy work day, building fences and moving corn.) The pocket in that dress is holding my lunch including a couple bottles of water and bananas. Can you tell?

I wear two pockets when dressed in Victorian era clothing. Each of my 1830s through 1860s dresses has a pocket on one side, preferably the right side. In this pocket goes the things I need throughout the day of the event, the period items. On the other side is a separate pocket that sits either below my skirt or below my skirt and upper petticoat. This pocket holds the modern items I hope not to need during an event but should have on me in case of emergency or when I leave.

The dress pocket with period items holds:

  • Building key
  • A small wallet/pocket with ID and cash. This is roughly 3.5”x2.5”.
  • Handkerchief
  • Possibly a workpocket
  • Possibly a purse (a small item that carries money)
  • Possibly a fan
  • Possibly a glass

My seperate tie-in pocket holds:

  • Epipen
  • Medications I need immediate access to
  • Car key (mine pop apart)
  • Phone if I need it

This video shows a sampling of what I carry in my pockets:

Want your own pocket? I have a few available in my Etsy shop:

Pocket Basics

Plain cotton pocket set into the seam of a cotton plaid skirt. The pocket is nearly rectangular shape with a fold down the long side, and a seam on the bottom and short side.

Pockets as tie-on, seperate pockets appear long before the nineteenth century, centuries before. In the eighteen century, they were often worn in pairs, one one each side of the body. They were accessed through the two slits formed when putting on petticoats. When skirt supports were worn, pockets hung beneath the supports. (That was an incredibly short generalization about centuries of this accessories history. I highly recommend reading into these eras further.)

Wearing tie-on pockets continued into the nineteenth century with a short interlude during the Regency era with the wearing of higher waisted, often diaphanous dresses.

By the mid-nineteenth century, pockets became part of the skirt construction. They were most often set into the seam of a skirt. Originals show pockets were long, wide enough for the hand to fit comfortably, and both rounded or squared on the bottom. They are often a plain or cotton print with the seam to the outside of the pocket. Sometimes a support stay attaches to the pocket part way down and to the waistband. A straight edge of the pocket lines up with the skirt seam, and the skirt edge folds over the edge of the pocket. I prefer to do two rows of stitches around the edge of my pocket for a strong pocket.

The Lady’s Guide to Perfect Gentility and Manners, by Emily Thornwell, 1859.

While seperate pockets grew less common by the 1840s and 50s as dress pockets became more common, they were still in use and recommended for situations like travel.

Separate pocket beneath the petticoat for travelling – Eliza Leslie’s The Behaviour Book , 1853 & 1859.  Republished as The Ladies Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners, 1864.

When I first wrote this post, there were a pair of pockets embroidered by sisters Mary Ann and Hannah Rose Brigham of New Hampshire in an Etsy shop One is dated 1850. Both show wear indicating their use.

The Behaviour Book: A Manual for Ladies, Eliza Leslie. 1855.

What did they carry in their pockets?

The Behaviour Book: A Manual for Ladies, Eliza Leslie. 1855.

I plan to make a post/video showing how a pocket looks under the skirt and how it is accessed.

Additional Resources

List of pockets from the 19th century:

Section on pockets from the Workwoman’s Guide, 1837:

The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives by Barbara Buurman. Available on Amazon and your local bookstore.

Articles about Pockets:

  • Pockets of History (VADS)
  • Women’s Tie-on Pockets (V&A)
  • Picking the DAR Museum’s Pockets
  • What’s in a Pocket? (RICHS)

Are you one of the many readers enjoying my millinery blog posts?
Consider becoming a Patreon patron. Doing so helps support my work and helps me write more useful articles.

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