A Little About Me

Welcome to My Blog

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A Little About Me…
As a kid, while my friends were interested in playing games like ‘children in the corn’ or ‘bloody mary’, I was far more interested in digging for treasure, trying to make little ‘clay’ dishes painted with dandelion paint, or searching through antique shops with my Grandparents. Looking back, that all makes perfect sense.

I am primarily a milliner who focuses on straw plait millinery, seasonally making winter millinery.

For me, straw millinery is about more than just the finished hats and bonnets. It is about a connection with the thousands of nineteenth century women and children who worked the straw transforming blades of golden grass into the styles of the season. It is the many hands along the journey from field to cottage industry to millinery shop for fashion.

I prefer to use wheat and rye straw plait for its authenticity, loving the shapes it can achieve as well as the smell of the straw. My shapes and styles come from studying original millinery pieces and working from my collection of original and antique millinery blocks.


A Mini-Tour of My Blog


On the right, you will see a section called Pages. Here you will find pages of information on my current and upcoming publications as well as resource pages covering some of my favorite topics – Shawls, Straw Millinery, Millinery Ribbons and Social Movements. Scroll down to the categories on the right to find regular blog entries. This includes seasonal millinery, sewing cases and various research topics. There is a search box to help you find what you are looking for.

Looking for a little more?

Please be sure to follow me on my Fanciful Utility Facebook page or my Millinery Facebook page.

To learn more about my program development as well as my books, articles and workshops, please visit my portfolio site.

Gathered V-neck Wash Dress

Plaid silk dress, late-war.

Late 1850s basque bodice dress in sunset plaid silk

Published on January 5, 2009 at 11:02 am  Comments (28)  

28 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sounds like it will be an awesome blog, Anna!! I’ll be sure to check back soon.
    Brooke Whitaker (off the Sewing Academy)

  2. My dear Ms. Anna, where are you headed???

    My family is from New Mexico & are very familiar with things drying out!

    Hope this is a good change for you!

    ‘Ms. Jean’
    Route 66
    The Sewing Academy

  3. Anna, This is a great blog, especially for a person who is just a researcher, not an active participant in reenacting. Thank you.



  4. I am interested in your book and straw plait. Where can I send you a check?

  5. Hi Barbara, Thank you for your compliments. I’ve enjoyed your blog as well. Actually I have been active in CW reenacting since 1996 in the Western New York area. Before that, I began volunteering as a kid at the Genesee Country Village and Museum.

  6. Dear Anna,
    I am researching the straw hats in Winslow Homer’s 1870’s adn 1880’s paintings in order to see if any of them might have been produced at the Knowlton Hat Factory in Upton, Massachusetts. Can you point me toward people or reference materials that would behelpful?
    Thank you for your incredible work!

  7. Hi Betsy,

    Let me look around this week and find some suggestions for you. Interesting connection to look into. Could you tell me what it is for?

  8. Anna,

    Found your blog, obviously… Just a quick run down on local events.
    Sep 12-13 Fort Selden Frontier Day Annual event, living history, primarily 1873, but we will see about everything

    Sep 26 Fort Stanton (near Ruidoso) clelbration of Fort Stanton Cave National Conservation Area designation with state and national ‘big-wigs’. Living history and tour of fort

    Oct 10 Fort Selden encampment, Girl Scout camp, living history, special activities and a tea.


  9. Am eagerly awaiting next month’s article as being useful for my writing . . . if I can read all of it :(. You know the line that goes down your page to the right of the article? Well, on my computer it cuts off probably one-third to one-half of each line of text. Am using Firefox under LINUX. Connie, newbie from The Sewing Academy

  10. Thanks. I’ll look around and see what can be done about that line.

  11. I’m fairly new to 1860s costuming but have been making historical clothing for myself for many different eras. I came across an old post of yours on GodeysLadiesBook Yahoo Group on hair nets, and am thoroughly enjoying your entire informative blog. Thank you for being an addition to my education.
    Val (San Diego Costume Guild/Costumer’s Guild West)

  12. Thank you and welcome to this time period.

  13. Hi Anna, it’s ‘felicite’ from the Sewing Academy (actually called Amie, also known as Ava – it’s a long story, but I’ll answer to a lot of nicknames!). I was delighted just now to run across your PDF on making wide bonnet ribbons, since I’m working on an academic independent study (yay for what a wacky hippie college will let you get away with!) on late 1830s (specifically 1838-39) women’s clothing – researching, documenting, and reproducing, and those bonnets have the most MASSIVE ribbons. How much of your mid 19th century bonnet ribbon research would you think relevant/accurate for this slightly earlier period? It’s a remarkably difficult time to research, but that’s part of the reason I chose it. 🙂 I would absolutely love any bonnet feedback or resources you could suggest!

  14. Hi,
    Which parts are you curious about? The information on fiber and weave will be useful. You will find wider ribbons generally for that time. I also think you will see a greater ratio of florals set within stripe borders. I will need to double check that though. I would highly suggest looking at some of the bonnets on the MET site. I’m pretty sure that is where I saw a good handful of 30s bonnets with ribbons.

  15. Could you please let me know how I could obtain a copy of the book, “From Field to Fashion: The Straw Bonnet?” I am the curator of the American Museum of Straw Art and we would like to obtain a few copies. Thank you.

    Mr Morgyn Owens-Celli

  16. Dear Anna,
    I have often read your articles written for The Citizen’s Companion and always gain some new insight. I appreciate the time you take to do your reseach. Time I uaually lack, so thank you. I am the owner of The Dressmaker’s Shop and I am interested in your book “From Field to Fashion”, both for myself and to sell in my shop. Do you wholesale? I am currently working on a straw bonnet pattern that is both historically correct in shape and in technique. I hope to offer a well done pattern, with good clear directions for women to use to improve their impressions.

  17. Hi Kimberly,
    Thank you for the compliment. I am glad you enjoy my articles and get something out of them. I would love to have you carry From Field to Fashion at The Dressmakers Shop. I will send you an email.

  18. Hello Anna,
    I truly enjoy your blog. Such wonderful information! I make cloth dolls and you have been the inspiration for their bonnets, and my bonnet too. Thanks for all your hard work.
    Sherri Farley
    http://littlecabincreations.blogspot.com/ to see my Dolly’s bonnets!

  19. Trying to subscribe to your blog. Help needed. Thanks

  20. Hi Jean,
    I’m glad you want to subscribe. What happens when you click the “follow” button near my photo?

  21. Oh my goodness, absolutely love your dresses & your bonnets are breathtaking!!!!!

  22. Sorry to bother you but I’m having trouble subscribing to you

  23. Via WordPress’s feed or email?

  24. Anna, what languages can you speak, I can speak Cantonese Chinese, French, English, and little bit of Mandarin. Tell me the languages that you can speak.

  25. Sadly, I did not learn additional languages. I wish I had. The French and Latin language programs I started in school were canceled. It is wonderful you can speak so many languages. This will be a great skill.

  26. So, Good morning Anna! My name is Bernice!

  27. Hello, did you have any antique books at home, Anna

  28. Anna, did you want to see my drawings, of 1860s clothing, the bonnets that you make (wearing it)

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