So much to do so little time to do it

I’m feeling a bit tired as some deadlines move forward. So I’m going to cut myself some slack and go to my “go to” post subject when I’m tired or having a sewing slump.  Cabinet cards.  I have an English lady that I’m guessing is from the 1890’s judging by her sleeves.



I think she has a really lovely face but you almost miss it because of the very severe hair style!  The dress looks like a dark velvet.  She has a nice brooch holding her collar shut.  It looks like cording or a chain is coming from the broach and goes into the bodice.  I’m guessing a watch is on the end of that.

I’ve got quite a collection of cards now and I’ve decided that I want to be more selective in my purchases from now on.  This will likely be one of my last head shots as it really is the dresses that I want to see.  That being said, I did just buy two more head shots but one had an interesting face and the other had this HAT!  But, I get ahead of myself…those will just have to wait until I’m out of sewing projects or out of energy.

Look at this…Monday again

Weekends do go pretty fast don’t they?  Don’t get me wrong.  I like my job and all its little

I’m the only person at work that has the little perk of having Stevie the Wonder Bird relax into my strokes.  Look at how his eyes are starting to close to slits!  Sometimes he relaxes to the point that he can’t hold his head up and he rests his beak on the floor by his feet.

That is a nice perk but the weekends still go to fast.

Some non-Victorian projects

A friend of mine has a table at a craft sale every Christmas and I sometimes help her.  I thought it might be fun to have a few things to sell myself.  If they don’t sell, I’ll donate them to (1)

The good lord knows, we need these things in this country!

I found a nice little antique shop today and scored some new cabinet cards.  I also have a pile of sewing to get to (motivation…why have you forsaken me today?) so hopefully I will have something more Victorian to share with you tomorrow.

HSF challenge 8: UFO

This has been done for a couple of weeks but still within the guidelines of the challenge (which is 6 weeks before the due date).  How refreshing to be done with a ton of wiggle room compared to high pressure last minute sliding in across the finish line or coming in 2 weeks after every one has packed up and left the race track.SAM_2026

I had started the bodice for the bodice challenge but only got as far as the mock up.

The Challenge: 8 UFO

Fabric: silk

Pattern: TV 443

Year: 1861

Notions: lace buttons

How historically accurate is it? probably one of my more accurate because it is real silk and not a fake. I didn’t use an 1860’s sewing machine, my buttons are plastic, the lace is machine-made and I have no idea if that was happening yet. I have no hot clue if my fabric is weaved (wove? woven?-lol) like they did it in the 1860’s so I’ll give it an 85-90%

Hours to complete: I forgot to count. 30?

First worn: not yet. I hope to wear it May 7th for a fashion show. That is if emotional eating doesn’t cause so much weight gain that I grow out of it 

Total cost: about $50

I also finished the hem on my skirt, which I had left undone until I had the hoops finished.


Sweet little Granny

A quick post after a long Easter weekend with a headache.  (Insert grumpy face here).  I got a couple of new carte de vistite and today I’ll show you a sweet little Granny.  She is so cute I just want to grab a pot a tea and have a jolly old visit with her!

SAM_2039She looks like she’s be 4 feet tall and kind to boot.  Her dress is interesting.  There appears to be a bustle.  There are some beads at the bottom of the bodice and cuff of the sleeve.  And that hat!  It is loaded with ribbons and lace.   Across the front of the dress there is a fold and the bodice seems a bit too big.  I like to imagine that this is a best dress that stayed safe in the cedar chest until special events call for it to be brought out.  Perhaps she has lost a pound or two in the mean time.

According to this site, the photographer was working in 1892.  Bustles were a feature of the 70’s and 80’s, 10-20 years earlier than this known date.  It would not be unheard of for a woman to have a best dress for 10 or more years if she were not a woman of means.  This would be even more likely the case if she were an older woman like our Granny here.  She would feel more comfortable in the styles of the past and not in what the younger girls were wearing.


A new hobby

Oh, yeah, just what I need! A new hobby.  I have stumbled on a new skill while on the internet-needle tatting.  With the aid of a YouTube video, I have managed to pick it up fairly fast and after only 3 failed attempts, I have begun a strip of lace.



The start looks a bit wonky but the later bits are looking pretty good.  I’ve read that needle tatting started in the early 20th century so using it on my Victorian dresses would make them less than authentic but then again….all that poly machine-made lace I’ve been using isn’t exactly up to par either.  I’m thinking that it might be my yellow challenge submission.SAM_2040

Now why did I buy that?

I had just finished a quick project (I’ll show you that in a second) and had gone to my pile of future projects that I have neatly cued up in order of deadlines.  I stood there staring blankly at the HUGE pile of black broad cloth with no clue as to when or why I had all this fabric.  There was more than enough to make one adult and one child mourning gown but I had no plans to do that.

photo 1It is a good thing I didn’t go with the mourning gown idea and start chopping because I did eventually remember what I was going to do with all of this.  I’m making 12 square table clothes for an event at work.  The material is not mine.  My work will be paying me back for that!  Thus far, I now have them ripped into a dozen squares and two have been hemmed. I have to get going on that as I have two dead lines that are fairly close to one another (this one) and a Victorian fashion show at my church and I want to whip up a few accessories and petticoats for that.  It is doable if I don’t waste a lot of time with “I don’t feel like it today” and if I keep them simple bordering on down and dirty.

The project that I finished prior to starting this work one is this:

photo 2It was made from this hat that I got at a thrift store.SAM_1676

And it is made for this dress:403893

The bright blue of the hat I have been using seems to clash with the deep dark red of the dress.  I know that blue and red “go” but this blue is too festive.  The red on the hat is pretty bright and festive too but at least it is red.

I’ve submitted this hat as a second entry into HSF’s challenge 7

The Challenge:7 Tops and Toes

Fabric: None


Year: 1880s

Notions: straw hat, feathers, buttons, ribbons, hot glue

How historically accurate is it? Shape and straw hat is good. Feathers are not bad except they were backed with a weird plastic (I ripped them off of a mardis gras mask that was falling apart) One ribbon was synthetic. Buttons were plastic. Hot glue is a no no so I’d say 40-50%

Hours to complete: 2

First worn: for photo

Total cost: the hat was cheap (about $4) the rest is stash.



How I made my hat

Disclaimer: I*have only vague ideas about how a hat may have been made so don’t take this tutorial as the gospel on millinery techniques. *

I wanted the general shape of this hat.CI60.23.23_S

I know many hats were made with a wire frame for a foundation.  I could not find my floral wire anywhere (which is what I’ve used on other hats) so I used the next best thing I could find-wire hangers.  I cut, bent and taped (with electrical tape-sue me-I have an electrician in the house) until I ended up with this frame. The bottom was formed to my head.  The top was the same shape but a bit smaller. The sides were just cut bars of similar lengths.  If I were to do it again, I’d make the bottom wider and I’d make the side bars shorter.



Yeah, I know that tape is ugly but it is only temporary.

Guess what? Wire cutters and fingers don’t mix well. SAM_0006

Nice little blood blister there.  It reminds me of the tall tale my dad used to tell me.  He told me that blood blisters came from mosquitoes who bite you after biting a moose.  The mosquitoes inject the moose blood into you.  Thanks for that visual Dad!

Once I had the frame built, I traced the top and two sides onto the buckram and I cut two for each section.  If I were to do it again, I’d cut of piece of each pair about a 1/4 inch smaller on all of the seam edges.  You will see why later on.

SAM_2000Then I traced the buckram pieces on some flannel…one for each buckram piece.SAM_2001

That is a bit hard to see with the white on white.  Also, because my frame is not perfectly symmetrical, I labelled the front, right, left, inside and outside on all the pieces I cut out.  I feared that if I’d mix them up, they wouldn’t end up fitting each other or the frame.

The next step was cutting out a single lining piece for the top, left and right sides.

SAM_2002I made it much bigger than the buckram so I could wrap it.  Then I cut one piece of the fashion fabric for the top, right and left sides (also made bigger for over lapping.)SAM_2003

The grey underneath is the fashion fabric.  As you can see, it doesn’t need to be pretty or exact.

The next step was to glue a piece of flannel on each buckram piece.  The flannel goes on the side that the fabric (either the lining or the fashion fabric) will be on.

SAM_2004It is impossible to tell but this is buckram and flannel glued together.  I used hot glue…and no, that is not authentic.

The pieces that were going inside of the hat were my next goal.  I hot glued the lining down to the buckram, with the flannel sandwiched in-between.  Again, not pretty.  It doesn’t really need to be.

SAM_2005Once that was done I switched my attention to the outside of the hat.  I dismantled my hat frame-bye bye electrical tape.  I hot glued the frame pieces to the corresponding buckram pieces and then wrapped and glued the fashion fabric down.SAM_2006

To hide all the down and dirty seams I was creating, I glued in some cord piping.SAM_2007

Further damage was done to the hands-ie first degree burns from the hot glue.

The side pieces were a bit trickier to manage.  I had to glue them to the bottom of the frame.SAM_2008

You can see one of the support bars there in the middle.

I ran cording along the bottom edge and then stuck a tab on for sliding a hat pin in.  That turned out to be a waste of time.  It was totally in the wrong spot.  But, the pin does slide pretty easily into the cording….


Next step was attaching the top to the sides and then gluing in the lining.SAM_2010

I missed the obvious fact that the inside of the hat is smaller than the outside (duh) and that is why I should have cut the seam edges smaller.  As it was, I had to do some folding, wrinkling and jamming to get it in.  I couldn’t be bothered to redo that properly.  I was too anxious to get to the fun bit…DECORATING!

So I glued lace, ribbon and cording using this as the inspiration.

1865 hat

1865 hat

Fabulously gaudy isn’t it!

Unfortunately, the mess with the too big innards made a nasty gap in the front of the hat that I couldn’t hide.SAM_2011

I wasn’t too pleased with the seam in the lace either.  What to do?  What to do?  Ah ha!  I had three tassels left over.  (I had used four of them to cover the cut ends of the cording that was hanging at the side of the hat).  I also have a small stash of buttons.



The hat has taken on a decidedly Scottish flare, has it not?  Perfect with a plaid dress.  Inspired!  Sometimes my screw ups are very serendipitous.

SAM_2015There are some of the cord and tassel details I mentioned before laying on my shoulder.  The tassels came on a strip that I bought from the curtain section of my fabric store.  I cut the strip apart and applied glue to the strip and wrapped that around the cut ends of the cording.  Those puppies wont be unraveling any time soon!

And that is my down and dirty tutorial on how to make a hat in just about any shape you want!






The sun really does fade fabrics!

I knew the sun has the capacity to fade fabrics over time.  What I didn’t know was how fast it can happen.  My new, as yet unworn, 100% silk dress has faded. I had it in my living room window for a couple of weeks-cloudy weeks at that!-and it has faded.  Grrrrrr.

SAM_2035Can you see the difference?  Lie to me and tell me you can’t.  All I can say is I’m glad I didn’t spend $52 a meter.  I’m also wondering if I should ever buy silk again (even at the great prices I found in the States).  It is just too fragile.  I doubt the dresses I made out to curtain fabrics would have done this! Sigh, live and learn the hard way!