September Reflections

Ack! Somehow it is nearly the end of September and I feel I have nothing much to say about the month.

With it being back to school, I find it all quite the exhausted blur. I can say my fabulous time, eating, and exercise routine seems to have gone out the window as I come home from work most afternoons and want to just curl up with a blankie. This certainly does not work since I some how need to fit in 3 to 4 hour of millinery, a 1 to 2 mile walk, healthy food consumption, care of the house, and personal sewing, all between the hours of 4 and 8, assuming I complete all errands in a timely manner.

Okay, enough complaining.

The vast majority of this months sewing can not be written about until next month’s posts about the Agricultural Society Fair. All I will say is there is a particularly fun assortment this year.


For millinery, I focused on decorated pieces this month.

Coming up

I have started a blog series looking at winter hoods and bonnets from my collection. I will share about a dozen pieces over the next several weeks.

The Agricultural Society Fair at GCVM is next weekend. I will be posting about that.

In November, I will be at the Domestic Skills Symposium teaching a workshop on how to care for and repair straw millinery.

I also plan to open the Holiday section of my Etsy shop in November.

Published in: on September 29, 2019 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Mousquetaire in Rose and Blue

This sweet Mousquetaire hat is made with a beautiful rose pink straw plait and trimmed a vintage cotton/rayon grosgrain ribbon hand pleated around the crown. It is a simple yet dynamic piece of fashionable CW era millinery.

Published in: on September 28, 2019 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Quilted Winter Bonnet

I have decided to share select pieces from my winter hood/bonnet collection. Every few days, I will post a new piece. My collection currently spans most of the 19th century, though lightly at the very beginning and end. The pieces I share will be from the early and mid-Victorian eras, roughly 1830s through the 1870s. All but one of my pieces originate from the United States.

This adult size winter bonnet is a quilted piece, ca. 1840s-1870s. The exterior is a brown silk which has some staining. The interior is a cotton in a slightly lighter shade of brown on the brim and bavolet, while the crown has a darker polished cotton. The batting is not visible at any point, leaving it undetermined, likely a wool.

The bonnet is constructed of three main pieces, typical of many winter hoods of this era. These pieces include the crown, brim, and bavolet. The brim was cut on the bias, while the bavolet was cut on the grain. The shape and construction could classify this as a winter bonnet rather than a hood.

The quilting is is by hand with a running stitch. The front most edge around the brim having a narrower and slightly thicker section. The quilted rows appear to be done by eye rather than being fully traced out. This can be seen in the cheek area (below) as the rows curve and narrow imperfectly.

There is evidence that this piece was either made from fabric taken from a previous garment or the quilting was redone. In this photo you can faintly see the holes from former threads.

The gathered seam along top of the bavolet where it meets the crown.

The interior seams are treated in multiple ways. The neck edge where the bavolet is gathered to a gathered crown, the seam is covered with a darker fabric. This may or may not have been a later addition/change. Often this neckline has a channel for drawstring to assist with fit. The seam where the bavolet meets the brim is turned under. The seam where the brim and crown meet was trimmed and overcast


Note 1 – Additional Winter Millinery can be found in posts from September though November, 2019 using the search term: Winter Millinery Series or clicking here.

Published in: on September 25, 2019 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Winter Hood Patterns

As the earth’s orbit moves us into Autumn, many of us are looking ahead to fall and winter events. These some times chilly, some times down right cold events often call for warm head wear.

I currently offer two winter hood and bonnet patterns. Hopefully another is on its way… once I decide which from my collection to offer.


First is a long hood based on originals in my collection, one made up with silk on the outside and one made up with wool on the outside. Both are in the same green with pink color ways.

This hood is great for light warmth, while blocking wind and rain or snow. My first time wearing the sample, I found myself caught in quite the driving rain/sleet storm. My head was perfectly cozy while my face was protected as I walked through the village.


Next is my first winter bonnet pattern. This makes up with more structure, making it fit more like a bonnet than a hood, a snuggly warm bonnet. The original it is based on was made up with a silk exterior with silk ruche trim. Filled with warm wool batting, this winter bonnet will keep your head warm at the coldest of events. It is great for Yuletide events as well as working in the sugar camp.

Since we are talking about being ready for colder weather, don’t forget your shawl. You can read up on mid-nineteenth century shawls in Paisley, Plaid, & Purled.

Will I be making winter hoods and bonnets this season?

I haven’t yet decided. I have plenty of silk and wool batting as well as dozens of originals to copy…. I just have to be in the mood. So… Maybe.

Published in: on September 23, 2019 at 5:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Corded Pin Ball

Every so often, I come across one of these ball shaped pin cushions I have come to call Corded Pin Balls. I find them fun and playful between the layers of colors and intertwining of threads.

Years ago, I made a few of these corded pin balls weaving the threads over a sewn canvas ball. This was based on original directions from An American Girls Book (below.) I found the process to be imperfect, as the ball wasn’t as firm as I wanted.

For many weeks now, I’ve been toying with another approach, working right over a tightly wound ball of wool.

This weekend, having caught the funky virus going around school, I am not really up to the tiny stitches for another [on a deadline] project, but, of course, I can’t manage actually resting. Instead, I found myself giving this method a try. I am glad I did because I find it has a very nice rhythm to it.

The steps:

Wind a tight ball of wool about the size of a small clementine. Roll it firmly so the end doesn’t come loose. Using a long sharp, yet strong needle, run crochet cotton through the center creating even partitions. (This is the one challenging part. You may find pliers are needed to pull the needle through the center.) With wool, silk, or cotton*, start at one end weaving around the crochet cotton as you would a Gods-eye as a child. Be sure to keep the threads snug up on the cord, but not so tight as to pull them. Work about a third of the way down. Then repeat on the other side. Do your best to even up the sides s along the cords so the center is even all the way around. Finish weaving the center.

*There isn’t a large enough pool of examples to determine what was the most common fiber for the color threads at different points in time. So far, from the couple dozen I’ve seen, wool, silk, and cotton were used during what may be a 100 year span from the early 19th century through the early 20th century.

A Corded Pincushion

Cut out two round pieces of linen. Sew them together, and stuff them with bran, so as to form a round ball. Begin on the very center of each side, and with a large needle lay coarse thread or cotton all across down to the middle of the pincushion where the binding is to come. These threads must spread out from the centre in every direction like rays; the space between them widening of course as it descends. Make them very even, and do not allow them to be loose or slack. Then take a needle threaded with sewing silk or fine crewel, and, beginning at the centre from which all the coarse cotton threads diverge, (they may be called cords) work the pincushion all round by passing the needle twice under each cord, taking the stitches very close, even, and regular, and completely covering with the sewing silk both the cords and the space between them. The stitches, of course, become gradually longer as you go down towards the seam that divides the two sides of the pincushion. Supposing that you begin with pink silk, you may, after a few rounds, take another colour, for instance green, then yellow, then blue, and then brown. In this manner your pincushion will be handsomely striped, and the cords will give it a very pretty appearance, if evenly laid and well0covered. When both sides are finished, cover the seam with a binding of dark-coloured ribbon, and put on a strin and bow of the same. Always begin and fasten off in a place that is afterwards to be worked over. (The American Girl’s Book, 1831)

Example at the Manchester Art Galleries.

Published in: on September 21, 2019 at 3:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Mousquetaire Hat in Shop

This gorgeous Mousquetaire hat makes me think of the fall grape harvest. This Civil War era fashionable hat is made with a beautiful grey straw plait and decorated with a thick lush wine color Hyman Hendler ribbon and stunning velvet leaves.

Published in: on September 20, 2019 at 6:31 am  Leave a Comment  

This may be one of the lushest Civil War era hats I’ve made. The silvery gray straw has a tapered crown and fashionable brim. It is decorated with shades of purples including velvet violets, blumes that remind me of thistles, and beautiful purple and green velvet flowers. The ribbon is a high quality double sided satin.

Love theis straw.
Love these flowers
Love this ribbon.
Love Love this hat!

Published in: on September 14, 2019 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  

New Hat in Shop

This was a hard hat to photograph on either type of stand. So, you get me!

This is the same hank of blush straw I used for the previous hat, but there is a lot more variation in the color. This has the pretty pale pinks intertwined with a more natural, earthy color as the straw holds through the dye. What I find to be really neat is that the lower the light, the more rosey pink the straw looks.

One of the things I love about this chapeaux cloche style is that it is historically accurate, but also makes a great hat for modern wear. Historically, this style is described as a country hat, one for relaxation and recreation. The dome shapes of the crown and brim create a very comfortable balance.

Published in: on September 1, 2019 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

New post on Don’t Paint the Cat

Published in: on August 31, 2019 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

August Reflections

I am going to call my August a pop-up month. It has been filled with pop-up thunderstorms complete with wind and hail. It has also been filled with pop-up miscellaneous projects.

One night I made a new seam ripper with a mother of pearl handle because I think my first one plunged into the depths of the trash can. Since I had to dig into the jewelry stuff for the glue, I made a couple pairs of earrings. Not my skill set, but functional.

I had another spur of the moment doll purchase. Duchess arrived and Clara instantly claimed her.

In preparation for the Literary Weekend, I went on a Regency turban hunt because I realized I didn’t have a straw Regency bonnet anymore and didn’t have time to make on.

The maroon scarf above caused a little mischief when I accidentally dyed a load of laundry pink. I was quite pleased with my newly pink silk stockings.

I spent a day in the collections staring at the tinest beads. I discovered I could take photos through a magnifying glass.

Fiddlers’ Fair Pin Holders

I also worked on some projects for the coming Agricultural Society Fair. But, you can’t see those yet.


This was another busy millinery month. I made 13 or 14 straw millinery pieces, several of them decorated.

Published in: on August 30, 2019 at 11:02 pm  Comments (3)