March 31, 2015

HSM March Challenge: Patchwork Pockets

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon round it.

For a perfectly period solution to carry my historical (and not so historical!) items during the upcoming museum season, I made a pair of patchwork pockets:

 Much like our modern, increasingly widening and weighty purses, from the 17th to late 19th century, a woman's pockets served as her catchall and receptacle for the day's odds and ends:

"[While] there were no mobile phones, car keys or credit cards in the 18th century...women kept a wide variety of objects in their pockets. In the days when people often shared bedrooms and household furniture, a pocket was sometimes the only private, safe place for small personal possessions [such as money and jewelry]...A pocket was a handy place to keep everyday implements, such as a pincushion, thimble, pencil case, knife and scissors...Other useful things found in pockets were keys, spectacles, a watch and pocket books...Many pockets held objects essential to personal grooming, such as a mirror, scent bottle, snuffbox and comb...A pocket was [even] a useful place to carry food."
Excerpt the Victoria & Albert Museum's neat article on the History of Pockets - make sure to check it out!

Using leftover reproduction cotton and homespun scraps from other projects, I first made a red, yellow & brown themed patchwork pocket, which is backed with (another leftover scrap) a dark, chocolate linen.

Then, just in the nick of time, today, for the March Stashbusting Challenge of the 2015 Historical Sew Monthly, I finished the pair with a blue themed patchwork pocket, backed with leftover fabric from my 1850s striped work petticoat.  A patchwork pocket seemed to be the perfect entry for the stash busting challenge as it doesn't take too much time to make and is a great way to use up some of those scraps.  Plus, what makes these pockets extra worthwhile is that they hold both fond memories of past projects and your keys!

Also, since I missed the February Blue Challenge, I decided to make up for it now with all sorts of blues!

The Challenge:  #3 Stashbusting - make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.  (Bonus: also works for #2 Blue)

Fabric:  Various reproduction cottons, homespun, linen & a neutral colored cotton (used for binding and lining)

Pattern:  My own with a tutorial to follow

Year:  None specifically; intended use for 1800s-1830s impressions

Notions:  Thread

How historically accurate is it?  Except the machine stitching, I would say the pockets are plausible.  The shape looks right as do the materials, so how about 80% accuracy?

Take a look at some of these beautiful originals:

Pocket 1780-1810.
Winterthur Museum Collection
(Image via:

Early 19th century pocket.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(Image via:

Early to mid-1800s patchwork pocket.
Royal School of Needlework Collection, Pockets of History, VADS
(Image via:

Here are some more gorgeous 18th Century Women’s Pockets to oogle over and inspire you! 

Hours to complete:  Didn't keep track, but definitely doable within a day.

First worn:  Not yet, though, once I add some cotton tapes, I am looking forward to using them throughout the coming museum interpreting season!

Pockets are great for carrying period sewing supplies...

As well as hiding more modern items!

Total cost:  Free!  Everything came from the stash.

Want a pair of patchwork pockets yourself?  Stay tuned for the upcoming tutorial where I'll show you how simple & fun they are to make!  Thanks for reading!

March 30, 2015

1850s Sacque Coat: Finishing Touches

The Maple Sugar Festival at the Genesee Country Museum came to a close this past weekend.  And, despite winter throwing its last hurrah, we had a wonderful turn out with lines out the door for the pancake breakfast!  As usual, I had so much fun and am so looking forward to the next event & start of the regular 2015 season!

Tonight, I wanted to share my finished 1850s sacque coat, which was much appreciated on its first outing during the festival.  It sure was frigid; however, between my quilted jacket and flannel petticoat, as well as four fires and modern heaters in Hosmer, I stayed toasty warm!

Trim Inspiration:  I didn't want to get too fancy with a working garment, but contrasting collar, cuffs and lots of buttons were on my mind!  (More inspiration can be found on my 1850s-1860s Research Pinterest Board.)

A young lady from The Barrington House Collection

In my last post, I introduced my 1850s wool sacque jacket showing you the in progress insides & outs.  From there, I added a peter pan collar made from a dark brown wool and matching cuffs, hook and thread loop closures, and matching covered buttons.  I had originally planned to add more buttons on the coat, like on the sleeves, and actually covered 10 buttons total.  However, after spending an entire evening wrestling with the cuffs, I decided that less is definitely more!

The whole shebang!  The interior quilting is machine stitched; everything else is hand stitched.

Hooks & thread loops.

Following the directions in an older copy of the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (now I want a copy of this book!), I taught myself how to make thread loops using the button hole stitch!  They are so neat and simple, not to mention easier than having to line up metal eyes - where have this been all my life?!  I love learning new things!

Blanket stitch method for thread loops.
Illustrated directions from the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Collar & cuff lining detail.

Being a perfectionist, I wanted the insides finished cleanly!  No unfinished edges!  The collar (attached to twill tape and secured at the neckline) and cuffs are both lined in the dark brown cotton.

Project Review

Year: Mid-19th century, 1850s specifically

Pattern: Pieces were traced & altered from an existing jacket in costuming, which actually has similar body pieces to this original c.1862 Lady's Walking Sack from Peterson Magazine:

Lady's Walking Sack, c.1862 by Emily H. May.
Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection, New York Public Library Digital Collections

Materials: Camel, coat-weight wool, dark brown, medium-weight wool, cotton flannel (interlining), dark brown cotton (lining)

Cost: Wool - $8, cotton - $6, flannel - $6, notions (buttons, thread, coat hooks, black cotton twill tape) - $10

March 26, 2015

Warm Clothes for Cold Weather

I think we're over due for a post; but, for good reason...I've been busy sewing!  So, what have I been up to recently?  For starters, in my internship adventures, Sophia, the 1870s wrapper reproduction, trim and all, is *finished* (post pending) and I have moved onto a new, equally-exciting project.  (Though to be quite honest, few projects will ever rival Sophia.)  Taking another look at my spring sewing list, I made great progress with the clothes for the Sugaring Festival and my Cinderella costume is starting, very slowly, to take shape.  Historical Sew Monthly projects and an entire, new wardrobe for the upcoming museum season are on my mind to conquer next!  

However, for the present, I am focusing on warm clothes for cold weather (just look at that snow fall out there!) and the Genesee Country Museum's Annual Maple Sugar Festival.  Last weekend marked the start of the festival and I was so pleased to be a part of the serving staff at Hosmer's Inn again.  For the day, Hosmer's became an 1850s restaurant, serving chili, loaded baked potatoes, pickles on sticks, hot drinks and a variety of tea cakes.  Saturday and Sunday passed in a blink of an eye, with plenty of giggles and grins of course, and I am so looking forward to doing it all again this coming weekend - March 28th & 29th.  Hope to see you there!

According to my spring sewing list, I had five "to-dos" on the list for Sugaring.  How many did I actually complete?  Well...

1)  Repair undergarments - check!  Three petticoats, including my red flannel one, needed some repair from a rather rough cleaning after Yuletide...oops.

2) Replace button with ties on apron - check!  After a few snips here and some sewing there, we have an apron with a brand-new look.

3) Striped work petticoat - check!  Completely hand sewn.  Though it may not look like much on its own, over my red flannel petticoat, it poofs like no other!  Plus, it's fun to flash as I do like the look of other's mid-century working impressions with their dresses looped up into aprons.

36" in length.  Around 120" in circumference.

Hand sewn button hole!

4) Hand-quilted hood - I cut out the brim pieces...okay, not even close.  To the UFO pile it goes!

5) 1850s wool sacque jacket - while the jacket itself is finished and wearable, more or less, the finishing touches are still being worked on (more on this later).  Combination of hand stitching and machine quilting.  Picture time!

Sacque jacket front.  Eventually, I plan to add a collar and buttons in contrasting fabric.

Sacque jacket front inside with machine quilted lining.
Sacque jacket back.

Close up of the sleeve interior.
I learned a nifty, neato trick for setting in sleeve linings!

Too many projects, too little time - it's back to sewing for me.  Thanks for reading!

March 17, 2015

Wearing of the Green

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
~ Irish blessing

Happy St. Patrick's Day, readers!  

(Image via: Pinterest)

I thought it only fitting to blog about something green today; however, I couldn't seem to find any recent project using that color!  For sure, I will have to fix this...Green is such a lovely color.  To me, it just sings spring!  So, how about a past project or two featuring green:

The first show I ever had the chance to design and costume by myself, with many thanks to the assistance of a dear friend of mine, used lots of green!  From the leaves on tunics to Tinkerbell's skirt, Peter Pan (2012) was all about the greens and greater outdoors.  Directed by upperclassmen at Our Lady of Mercy High School, the Children's Theater productions were always a lot of fun and performed for the various Catholic elementary schools in the county.

Tinkerbell (with actual bells stitched on her skirt!)

Tinkerbell's costume was probably my favorite, as well as the most time consuming.   Peter Pan's, all of those lost boys', the Darling family's and other characters' costumes were fun to pull together, too.  I could never have done it without Jenny's help!

Peter Pan.

So when my dear friend, Jenny, asked me in turn to do a favor for her, naturally, I agreed!  Her senior ball dress was a gorgeous 1963 vintage find; the only problem, however, the skirt portion was see-through.  To fix that, I made a gathered petticoat lining with a pleated net flounce which was then stitched to a bias tape waistband and whip stitched to the dress lining.  It was quite the challenge at the time, but the final result was worth the work!


After - much better!

Back view.

The petticoat layer does not add any bulk at the waist and is removable.  Success!

March 13, 2015

Interrupting the Regularly Scheduled Program...

"I've been lucky. Opportunities don't often come along. So, when they do, you have to grab them." ~ Audrey Hepburn

Several really exciting things happened today...

For instance, Disney's new, live action Cinderella (2015) directed by Kenneth Branagh (and costumed by Sandy Powell!) was released.  

Even better, I signed in to find that my 1850s undergarments entry for the foundations challenge of the Historical Sew Monthly was included among so many other fabulous creations in the Dreamstress' favorites post!  What a surprise & great honor! 

AND...guess what came in the mail today...I'm speechless, so I'll let the pictures do all of the talking:

March 7, 2015

Spring Sewing List

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." ~ Harriet Tubman

I am a dreamer.  I want to create, to just hold up fabric and cut, to clothe, and to bring designs of the imagination to life.  I just hope and pray that I have the strength and patience to reach those stars.  I am certain I have the passion.  In fact, correspondence with one of my greatest sewing idols and guidance from the other has reassured me more than they'll ever know that I'm on the right path.  I am just giddy and full of happiness and admiration!  In sum, it's been a great past week - and 2015 so far. 

There seems to be a never-ending, constant stream of ideas flowing through my mind, and my "someday I WILL make this happen" dress list is growing exponentially.  More much needed sketchbooks are on the way...that said, I believe it's time for a new, spring sewing list - the following are the projects I hope to for sure complete within the next few months:

1)  Who's excited for the March 13th release date of Disney's new, live-action Cinderella?  I sure am, especially because Sandy Powell, who is probably my favorite costume designer, worked her magic on the film!  I am hoping to see it, in costume of course, with a few friends.

Cinderella costume inspiration.
(Image via:

Ideally, I had planned a rather complicated costume including a cream chemise blouse and dark red petticoat under a basic grey dress and black wool bodice.  An apron and coif would then complete the outfit, like in my main inspiration image below.  (More Cinderella costume inspiration on my Fairy Tale Pinterest Board)  However, due to time constraints, I will most likely have to scale back my plans.  This would also be my stashbusting entry for the March HSM challenge!

Main Cinderella costume inspiration.
(Image via:

2)  Speaking of the Historical Sew Monthly, I never did finish February's blue, I would definitely like to finish my blue & white chiffon dress, as well as the blue patchwork pocket I had started!

Blue & white chiffon dress materials.

3)  For the Maple Sugar Festival at the Genesee Country Museum (March 21st, 22nd, 28th & 29th this year - mark your calendars!), I will be part of the serving staff at Hosmer's Inn.  Cold weather means warm clothes are a necessity:
  • Repair undergarments
  • Replace button with ties on apron
  • Work petticoat - panels of sturdy, striped cotton are ripped and ready to be seamed. 
  • Hand-quilted hood - fabrics gathered
  • 1850s wool jacket - currently quilting all of the lining pieces (flannel and brown cotton)

Proof of jacket quilting progress.

Fabulous mid-19th century jacket.
(Image via:

4) Looking ahead, I have plenty of items on the to do list for the upcoming museum season!  For a start, these are what I have in mind:
  • At least 2 1830s-style shifts
  • Another 1850s chemise & drawer set - you can never have too many!
  • 2-3 1830s dresses (click to view more inspiration on my 1830s Dress Research Pinterest Board)

Dress c.1825-1830, Snowshill Wade Costume Collection
Perhaps a tad early, but I have the perfect striped fabric for this dress!
(Image via:

Striped floral cotton dress c.1825-1830
Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection
(Image via:

Day dress c.1830
(Image via:

Woven plaid day dress, c.1830s
Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection
(Image via:

  • 1-2 1850s dress(es)

Cotton day dress
(Image via:

Cotton day dress sleeve detail.
Can you tell I'm a big fan of stripes?
(Image via:

Alright, that's the end of the list for now.  Happy sewing & thanks for reading!

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