Hat Pin Tutorial

I’m sure you are all bright enough to figure out how to make a hat pin from an upholstery needle, but a girl has to have something to write about on her blog, doesn’t she?  The need is heightened because tomorrow I leave for a sunny vacation in Mexico and I need to set this blog on automatic pilot for the next several posts. So lets pretend you have no hot clue, shall we?

The upholstery needles I bought came in 4 sizes.  For this pin, I chose the smaller size.

SAM_1702Since it was already on the shorter side, I decided to only have one bead on it as I didn’t want the length taken up with decoration.  I wanted to maintain as much of the business end of the pin as I could.

Upholstery needles come with an eye which is useful when sewing upholstery but not so desirable in a hat pin.  I took some pliers and attempted to squeeze the eye shut, with the hope that the bead would then slide over it and hide the eye.SAM_1704

The squeezing resulted in the eye breaking off so I decided that wire cutters would be the way to go hence forth.  (I was going to have to cut the longer pins shorter anyway or risk taking the eye out of anyone sitting near me.)


I chose my bead and slid it on, securing it with some strong glue.


I did not like the fact that I could see the end of the needle in the hole of the bead…


…so I finished it off with a dab of paint.



I think this pin with go nicely with my Silky Skies dress when I finally finish that.

Upholstery needle hat pins

On Sunday, I had a nice afternoon of crafting.  I should have been visiting my father but the crazy winds and blowing snow made highway travel unwise.  I wasn’t in the mood to sew so I sat with some knitting and watched several episodes of “Cranford” and “Cranford Revisited”.

When I got tired of that, I rummaged through my bead supplies (yes, another dreaded stash) and made several hat pins with the upholstery needles I found on sale on Saturday.  It was a bit of a challenge to find beads that had holes that were big enough.  But, on the whole I am pleased with the look of them.SAM_1711

I’ve made some longer than others because two of my hats are very hard to keep on my head and I think the longer pins will be helpful.  I made a valiant effort to make at least one with pink in it, in case I don’t finish my real project for the Pink Challenge in Historical Sew Fortnightly.  SAM_1712Unfortunately, two beads on two of the pins chipped a tad in the making but I think those are small enough that they wont be noticed.  The glue, once dry will, of course, be clear.

To bad I’m not allowed to buy more wool

Have no fear!  I am not living with a tyrant.  “The no more wool (and books and fabric)” rule is my own.   I’m not allowing myself to buy more of these things until I’ve used up what I have.

There is fine print in that contract that I have with myself that reads “I can make exceptions to that rule if some project is likely to languish in the UFO pile if I don’t buy more of the above”.  I also make exceptions if I encounter a price that is beyond belief.  The silk from my latest project was one such example.  Can I seriously walk away from silk at $12 a meter when I normally find it at $52 a meter?  I say “Nay!”

I do have a project I’d like to make one day but I don’t NEED it in the strictest sense (even though a shawl in black to balance out the two I have in white would be ideal).  So alas, I shall have to wait until the plethora of wool balls in my basement is seriously diminished before I can tackle this project.



Why don’t I use what I have in stash you ask? Well, some how, I don’t envision this in hot pink fuzzy wool.  Seriously, most of the stuff in my stash was acquired before relaunching my Victorian costume hobby and during my “mother of young children” phase.  The fiber content and color is simply impossible.  Sigh.

An older lady with a cute hat

In my collection, I have a few tin types.  Today, I’m going to share one of an older lady in a cute hat.  I can’t really see her dress well enough to try to date the photo so we will just have to enjoy it for its own self.SAM_1637

These things are fiendishly difficult to photograph.  Use a flash and all you see is white glare, don’t use a flash and it is hard to see.  The same thing happens with cabinet cards but not to such a great degree.


The poor dear looks so gaunt in the face…I should like to feed her some ice-cream and send her to bed for a nice long nap.  She does have a darling little hat though.

There’s an app for that

I’m always a bit slow to get on board with new trends.  When answering machines came in, I hated them.  When cell phones came in, I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t just make their phone calls before leaving home.  I finally got a flip phone when my Dad got sick and I needed to be easily reached.  I hated texting on the thing because you had to hit the number buttons various times while it scrolled through the alphabet.  It would take a half hour to write a message.  Unfortunately, it was the only way my teens would communicate with me.  You can text your mother discretely but you can’t phone her without all your pals knowing.

I finally retired my flip phone last summer (yes it is true, I had a flip phone until last year) and got an iPhone.  Well, dang it all!  I now get what all the fuss is about.  I’m never far from that thing!  It is for that very reason, I don’t have a data plan and rely on wifi hot spots.  If I had a data plan I’d be surgically attached!

One thing I like is the apps.  Especially the free ones.  I’m all about the cheap thrills!  My latest fun thing is Photo Lab.  Oooo the great “WORKS OF ART” I have been creating.  How about me as an oil painting…


Or me in my husbands pocket watch.


I can’t remember what this one is called but it is pretty cool too.eab86cc1_o

My favorite is the sketch look.  I did several of these.


Shirley and I at the train station was followed by me on the beach.


I think the beach one looks most realistic.  The next one could be a future tattoo…


Awe!  What is your favorite app?  Would you give up your phone and computer if you could go back to the good old days?

HSF ’14:Challenge 2 Innovation

I have completed (more or less) my submission for the Innovation Challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge.  I will preface my submission by saying that I have very little knowledge about dresses pre-Victorian Era so I can’t say that this is truly an innovation.  It is very possible that this is merely a trend.

But, from what I have been able to find on-line it seems that in the 1860’s women’s skirts went from being huge pleated rectangles to being several gored panels.  They also moved from the round hoops of the 50’s to the oval hoops that moved the bulk of the skirt to the back.  Two sources I found with this information are here and here.

I give you my gored elliptical 1865 Silky Skies Skirt.  SAM_1686

I think I did a pretty good job of pattern matching.


I have not hemmed it yet.  That will have to wait until I have 1) decided on what shoes I’ll be wearing with this and 2) completed the hoops for this dress (to be done for the “Under it all” challenge.



When I get to the hemming, I will iron this puppy (visions of scorching real silk are now dancing through my head….tremble!)

The Challenge: 2 Innovation

Fabric: silk

Pattern: TV247

Year: 1865

Notions: thread, hook and eye

How historically accurate is it? Fabric content (for a change) is good. I used real silk rather than a synthetic one.   I think the color and pattern is pretty good on the fabric as well.  Machine sewing was possible but modern machines sew differently than a machine from the 1860’s I believe.  The pattern is accurate. I’d say 85%

Hours to complete: @12

First worn: not yet

Total cost: @$50

Oh boy! Here we go!

While on vacation last fall in the States, I found a place that sells real silk fabric at prices I can only dream of here in Canada.  I found some at a price that I’m hard pressed to find in a decent cotton.  If I do find it here at that price, it is so hideous that you’d have to pay me to cart it out of the store.

The thing is, the cost of silk is ordinarily so prohibitive for me that I’ve never knowingly used it.  (I did hope that a bolt of fabric I once found at a thrift store was real silk but I’ve never found out for sure).  That prohibition has caused me to fear the day I’d cut into it and sew it.  What if I botch it up and I’m left with a huge pile of expensive useless?  What if I pull it off and manage to sew something that fits and stays on my body and I wear it and dump cranberry juice on it or tear it on the car door before I even get to my event?  What if I try to wash it and it shrinks into some sort of horrid worm shaped doll dress?  Oh the humanity!  These fears have hung over me, even though I didn’t actually pay the high price.  KNOWING that I would have paid a high price for it HERE has frozen me solid!

I’ve stalled and procrastinated on that project long enough.  Today I took the plunge.

Hard to tell in this dark "selfie" but I'm cringing as I make the first cut!

Hard to tell in this dark “selfie” but I’m cringing as I make the first cut!

The skirt is cut out now and there is plenty left over for a bodice and perhaps I can use the scraps on a hat.  SAM_1685Tomorrow we bite the sewing bullet and put this puppy together.

Now I have to decide what to call this dress.  1860 …..hmmm….Silky Skies Dress?  Sure why not.

They fight like children!

One of my “duties as assigned” at work is pet care.  We currently have 5 birds and 1 geriatric rabbit that I look after.  Two of the birds fight like children.  (Neither will seriously harm the other but it can’t be relaxing to always be in competition!) I have to give them two food dishes or they fight.  But, I’ve noticed that they also fought over their little tent.  And the darn thing was ratty and full of holes.  I decided that if two food dishes keep them from fighting over the food then two tents should keep them from fighting over that.  It was that or simply remove the thing.  But I didn’t have the heart to.  They like it!

That being said, I’m not going to run out and pay tons of money for two things that are essentially  tubes of fabric!  My fabric tub runneth over after all.  I think I can spare some scraps and a few minutes of sewing.  I give you “matching bird tents”.SAM_1681

The red rings on the one on the left are for attaching the clips that attach to the roof of the cage.  The one on the right doesn’t have its rings attached.  Once I got to work yesterday, I removed the ratty tent from the cage and hacked the rings off of it and sewed them onto the unfinished one.  I hung them in the cage and I put some of their favorite treat inside of them.  I’m hoping that after a day or two of looking at them and realizing the old one is gone and the new ones wont eat them, the birds will like them and use them.  If they actually take to them, I will try to get a photo with my phone and share it with you.

To be 18 again

I’m not feeling to wordy today.  In fact I feel a bit of a cold coming on.  So lets go with a picture that speaks a thousand words.  This particular one is a tin type of a young girl.  Judging by the clothes and hair I’d guess this to be late 1870’s or early 1880’s.SAM_1633

She seems a bit sad to me.  It seem more than the usual serious face…she seems sad.  But, she is very pretty.  I’d guess her to be about 18.

I like her bodice.  It seems to have a faux jacket look with some lapels on it.  The lapels have a pleated trim on them that I really like.  It looks like the bodice is closed with lots of self covered buttons.

Her hair really suits her face but I can’t figure out what she has done.  Obviously there are heavy bangs and the sides are pulled tightly back.  What is going on at top?  There are two lighter colored things.  I think the one on the left is her scalp showing through a part in her hair.  What is the other thing?  Is it a pin holding a wave of hair in place?

For someone who is not feeling wordy, I’m getting wordy.  I think I should call it a day.