Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

Costumes Parisiens, from Les Modes Dames (1817)

Costumes Parisiens, from Journal des Dames et des Modes (1817)

Historically, hats have always been trimmed in a variety of different ways. Flowers and feathers were very common trimmings, but artificial fruits, ribbon, lace and different types of fabric also were frequently used.

It is always a puzzle to me to figure out exactly how different trimmings were made, and my task this week was to come up with something for a bonnet that I am finishing.

I decided that a ribbon flower was what was needed and my inspiration was a fashion plate printed in 1817 in Journal des Dames et des Modes. I liked the look of the several flowery-looking (or maybe bow-looking) things in this picture, which are additionally adorned with feathers. Here are my efforts!

Step One: Take the ribbon and fold it to make the first petal. Here I have used two contrasting layers of ribbon that have been laid on top of each other. Gather the petal at the base.

Gather the first "petal".

The first “petal” gathered

Step Two: The second petal can be done in the same way, leaving about an inch of space between them.

The second petal

The second petal

Step Three: Keep going in the same way until you have the number of petals you want. I wanted a flower with four petals.

The four petals completed

The four petals completed

Step Four: Arrange the petals in the way they will sit and tack them in place in the centre of the “flower”.

The petals are tacked in place through the middle of the flower.

The petals are tacked in place through the middle of the flower.

Step Five: Turning to the back of the flower, pinch together the top layer of two adjoining petals and do a small stitch to hold them together.

Tacking the top layer of the petals together

Tacking the top layer of the petals together

This will have the effect of the petals sitting closely together and being more puffy and round.

The resulting "flower"

The resulting “flower”

Step Six: For the centre of the flower, a covered button will work wonderfully. Unfortunately the centre of my flower was too large for a button to work well, so I made a “yo-yo” by cutting a circle of material and gathering the edge. The diameter of the circle should be double the diameter of the finished centre.

The circle, gathered at the edge

The circle, gathered around the edge

Step Seven: Pull the threads to bunch up the material.

The little "puff"

The little “puff”

Step Eight: Tack the centre piece to the flower, making the stitches as invisible as possible.

The finished flower!

The finished flower!

The finished flower can now be attached to a hat.

Hopefully this bonnet will be featured in my next post, once I finish trimming it!

Related Posts

How to use Ribbon to make Decorative Trims

How to make a piped band

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: The Costumer’s Manifesto

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – a great book on hatmaking and trimming

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Regency spencer sleeve, c. 1815.

Regency spencer sleeve, c. 1815. The bands that are tucked inside the sleeve head appear to have been piped.

Finding ways to reproduce elements of historic clothing can be difficult, particularly when it is unusual or when viewing or handling the garment is impractical or not allowed. Sometimes historic handsewing has produced more tricky or fiddly aspects on a garment, which can be harder with a sewing machine. And sometimes it is all about learning something that you haven’t tried before!

This weekend I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to do multiple strips of piping together to form a band. I have been keen to use this on a garment I am making but working out how it might have been done (and then figuring out how I might be able to reproduce it) was quite difficult. I have detailed my efforts below.

Step One

Cut a wide bias strip in the fabric you want to have piped. Cut another strip of fabric on the grain for lining. Position your cording along the inside of the bias strip in the same way that you would for normal piping. Pin your lining strip underneath, right sides together, and sew using a zipper foot.

The material to be piped is on top, with the cording pinned in place. The lining sits underneath to be caught in this first line of stitching.

The material to be piped is on top, with the cording pinned in place. The lining sits underneath to be caught in this first line of stitching.

Step Two

The lining strip is then turned under to form the “underlayer” of the band. The raw edge of the lining should be trimmed and turned inside to meet the other raw edges.

The remaining raw edge of the lining is folded to the inside of the band.

The remaining raw edge of the lining is folded to the inside of the band.

This raw edge will be caught in the next line of stitching.

Step Three

Pin the next line of cording inbetween the lining and the outer fabric and sew, making sure that the fabric and cord is pushed close to the first line of piping to form a ridge.

The next row of cording is pinned in position ready to sew.

The next row of cording is pinned in position ready to sew.

The underneath should look like this:

Under the piped band

Under the piped band before sewing the second row of piping.

Continue on in the same way, sewing the desired number of rows of piping until you have reached the last one.

Push the cord close to the previous row of piping to get that characteristic bulge in the material.

Push the cord close to the previous row of piping to get that characteristic bulge in the material.

Step Four

Once you have reached the last row of piping you will need to trim your material. Lay your cord against the material to give yourself a guide of how much may need to be trimmed. Once the excess is cut off, fold the material over the cord, tuck the raw edge into the edge of the lining, and handsew it in place.

Handsewing the last row of cording in place

Handsewing the last row of cording in place

The band of piping is now finished!

The finished band should look something like this.

The finished band should look something like this.

Piped bands make an interesting addition to a hat.

Piped bands make an interesting addition to a hat.

I really like how it turned out, especially because it looks different to the normal things for sale in dressmaking and craft shops. This decorative band can be used as a thicker alternative to ribbon or as a trim on hats or costumes. I will be using this band on the new Regency spencer I am currently working on. I also plan to use something similar on this late Regency bonnet.

Related Posts

How to use Ribbon to make Decorative Trims

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: from Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

How to make and attach your own piping

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Making a Needle Case

I recently found out about the existence of a needle case made by Jane Austen for her niece. According to the Jane Austen Centre, it is on display at Chawton Cottage and bears the inscription “With Aunt Jane’s love”.

The directions for making it are on their website and are very straightforward, so I decided to give it a go.

The materials

The materials

You need a layer of cardstock, a layer of patterned paper, a layer of felt, and two ribbons, 30cm long. The measurements are all on the website, but I altered mine a little bit. Now it is basically a process of sticking it all together.

Step 1

Step 1

First, lay a piece of ribbon horizontally between the cardstock and the patterned paper and stick it down with glue.

Step 2

Step 2

Then lay the felt on top of the paper layers, with the other piece of ribbon placed on the inside of the “spine”. Hand stitch a vertical line of running stitch through all layers down the centre.

Step 3

Step 3

The vertical ribbon can be tied in a bow on the outside of the “spine” and the front can be decorated as you wish. The horizontal ribbon can also be used to tie the finished booklet closed.

The inside

The inside

Needles or pins can now be put into the felt on the inside of the little booklet. Very cute!

My finished needle case measured 7 cm by 9 cm. Have some fun making your own!

Related Posts

A Regency Letter Case

Sources and Relevant Links

Make Jane Austen’s Needle Case – The Jane Austen Centre

Jane Austen’s Sewing Box, by Jennifer Forest – a book all about Jane Austen crafts!

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I recently re-read one of my favourite books, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I had intended to do a post with a little blurb of the storyline and a little bit of my amateur text analysis and maybe some reflections on the themes. However, there seemed a hundred-and-one websites to find such information, and I resolved that I should not rehash that which has already been written, and probably by a person more skilled than me!

Instead, I thought I might show you how I share my love of literature, in particular Pride and Prejudice, with my like-minded friends. I got the idea after seeing a card that a fellow card-maker had made.

“Miss Eliza Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, “despises cards…”

When I saw my friend’s card, I distinctly remember feeling a sudden and intense feeling to rush straight home (maybe even running some red lights) to read the book again! I remember really enjoying that feeling. Almost an awakened desire. And I remember thinking what a cool gift that is to give to someone.

Mr Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode of passing the evening…

That weekend, I hightailed it to the second-hand shop and searched for a copy of Pride and Prejudice amongst the piles of discarded paperbacks. Ten minutes and two dollars later, I was heading home with my creative juices fairly pouring!

She could only imagine, however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present.

Once I was seated at my craft table, I promptly opened the book, scanning the pages for a suitable text. I had never been so eager to begin tearing pages out of a book before!

Chapter Eight: At five o’clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half-past six Elizabeth was summoned to dinner.

I decided, in order to increase the enjoyment of the card, the entire page of text should be visible so that you could read the full script across the page. Nothing would annoy me more than to have a page chopped up into pieces that rendered the text unrecognisable.

“It is from Miss Bingley,” said Jane, and then read it aloud.

I also decided that it would be cool to match the text content to the type of card it was going to be. So maybe a wedding text them for a wedding card. Or a sickness text theme for a get well card. Or a gratitude text theme for a thank you card. It doesn’t always work that way, but it is cool if it does!

“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.

To this day, this has remained one of my favourite themes for card-making. As you can tell by the similar nature of most of these designs, I often sit down and make about ten at a time. These are the only ones I have left at the moment. They are pretty simple but, for my fellow literature-lovers, they are cards that really stand out!

“My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not dancing?”

Since I first got this great idea, I have made cards featuring other literature texts, including Romeo and Juliet, and Anne of Green Gables. Maybe I might share some of these with you another day!

Cards are my cup of tea!

Related Posts

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

On Love, Shakespeare and Marianne Dashwood

Sources and Relevant Links

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – read online

A book review of Pride and Prejudice

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At the Jane Austen Festival Australia (JAFA) in April 2012, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop run by Aylwen Gardiner-Garden, making a Regency lettercase to hold love-letters. Aylwen, with the help of Kleidung 1800, instructed us in the basic pattern and embroidery of some original examples of lettercases from this era.

I have since discovered that there are instructions for how to make a Regency lettercase in Jane Austen’s Sewing Box, by Jennifer Forrest, though from the pictures I have seen it is a different design.

My lettercase is made from cream silk, backed with cotton to stabilise the material during embroidery. It is embroidered with a purple and green thread, mostly in a small chain stitch and french knots, with a little bit of back stitch and satin stitch as well. It is lined with a layer of white cotton voile.

After much deliberation, I eventually came up with my own embroidery design by searching through the diagrams of embroidery designs that were published in Ackermann’s Repository from 1816 to 1825. I also decided that, as well as embroidering a French saying on it, I would add an English translation.

My three embroidered pieces

To give the lettercase a bit more rigidity, I inserted two thin pieces of card inbetween the lining layers of the two sections that would face the outside (i.e. the front and back, the ones embroidered with a bouquet of tulips).

In order to stop the silk fraying, I folded over all the raw edges and hand stitched each piece to its lining with a small running stitch before I assembled the pieces together.

The front and back are the same design

I then layered and folded the pieces together to form the lettercase and bordered the side edges with a thin piece of white crocheted lace interwoven with dark purple ribbon. I hand-sewed along these side edges, through all thicknesses, to form the inside pockets.

The inside, with the flaps sitting up

The finished lettercase opens in half to reveal two pockets on each side – one in front of each flap and one behind.

The inside, with the flaps sitting down-ish

I cannot honestly say how useful these items would have been in the eighteenth century or Regency times, as people received a prodigious amount of mail whenever they were separated from others by even a small distance. My understanding is that letters would generally be packaged up, maybe tied in bundles, and then stored in boxes either for future reference or to be passed on to future generations. In Madame Bovary (1856), Emma Bovary stores her letters from her lovers in a box in the attic.

In terms of storage, this type of lettercase would not hold very many letters, maybe 10 at the most, so it could have been more of a way to carry letters or documents to show others. Sarah Hurst (in 1759) often took the letters she received from her beloved to show to her friends.

Mine might hold the love-letters written to me by my husband, although these are admittedly not very numerous. I do regret not making my lettercase large enough to put a modern Valentine’s Day or anniversary card in it! I might have to get my husband to write me a little poem instead!

Embroidery is my cup of tea!

Relevant Posts

My Regency Journey: The Destination – JAFA 2012.

Sources and Relevant Links

An extant Regency lettercase, lavender with cream embroidery, around 1800.

An extant early Regency Silk Purse, pink with beige embroidery, 1780-1800.

A late Eighteenth Century pocketbook, white with coloured embroidery, 1780-1800. (scroll half way down)

A late Eighteenth Century lettercase, red with white embroidery – hopefully you can see it, as I did, on page 76 of this book, Fashion: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, A History from the 18th to the 20th Century, as it is available through a preview on Google books.

A Lady’s Pocket Book or Letter Case, cream with coloured embroidery, 1780-1800.

Man or Woman’s Pocket Book, green with coloured and gold embroidery, 1700-1750.

Pocket Book with a lock of hair, cream with coloured and gold embroidery, 1760-1780.

Regency embroidery designs – from Ackermann’s Repository (1811-1815)

Regency embroidery designs – from Ackermann’s Repository (1816-1820)

Regency embroidery designs – from Ackermann’s Repository (1821-1825)

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

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My sister received a present from a friend this week, and I had to take a picture to share with you! It is a chocolate cake dressed up as a teacup!

A chocolate teacup!

There is chocolate cake inside the cup, and the cup and saucer is made from white chocolate with some piped decorations on the outside. Chocolate gnache covers the top of the chocolate cake.

Now that is my cup of tea! Delicious!

Related Posts

My Christmas Present!

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A reticule to match my ball gown, with tassels, pearls and white embroidery.

The ninth stop on my Regency Journey is to make a reticule, the Regency version of a handbag.

In the 18th century, women had carried their various personal effects in pockets worn underneath their wide dresses, but with the introduction of the long slim dresses of the Regency, pockets were discarded. Instead, women began to carry small bags, called reticules.

There was no “common” type of reticule in the Regency era, much like there is no “common” handbag today, but instead there was a wide range of designs, colours and embellishments used. There were knitted ones, netted ones, and others made out of fabric. They were decorated with embroidery, sequins, lace, tassels, ribbon and beads.

I wanted to make several reticules to match the different outfits I had made for the Jane Austen Festival. This meant that I could experiment with several different designs.

A round-shaped reticule to match one of my day dresses. It has a decorative strip of pin-tucked material sewn around the bottom half.

Making a Regency Reticule

There are many online tutorials and free patterns and instructions for making Regency reticules, so rather than repeat what has already been done, I will outline the basics.

The basics to making a reticule:

  • To make a reticule, make sure your material is at least 10-12 inches deep and, if you are doing a round-shaped reticule, 20 inches across. You need to have it big enough to put your hand in, as well as a fan, gloves and maybe a purse, car keys or mobile phone. (Mobile phones are DEFINITELY Regency! *wink*)
  • Regardless of your design, lining your reticule is preferable, as it gives a nicer finish because there are no raw seams showing. If you are gathering the bottom edge of the reticule (as you do for a round-shaped one), the lining will stop items falling out the bottom, as there is a small hole around the bottom gathers in the outer fabric.
  • Gather the top with a two-way drawstring, that way it is easier to close. It also means you have two nice handles to hold it by.

A reticule with matching bonnet. I embroidered my initial on the bag and did some ribbon embroidery flowers to decorate it. The pattern for this shape is pictured below.

My reticule pattern, on 1/4 inch grid paper

Other ideas:

  • There are quite a few different shapes that a reticule can take, so experiment with different patterns.
  • Embroidery on reticules was very common in Regency times. If you are not very confident doing your own embroidery, try and find some fabric that is already embroidered.
  • It is a good idea to finish decorating the outer bag before attaching the lining! I was amazed how difficult it was to attach tassels once the bag was made!
Whilst reticules did not always match the dress worn by a lady, making matching ones is a great way to use up left-over material! It’s my cup of tea!

The next stop on My Regency Journey is looking at Regency accessories.

You can read all of my posts in order at My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: In the beginning…

My Regency Journey: Making a ball gown

How to make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Sources and Relevant Links

Different types of reticules – this site has links to quite a variety of period museum examples of Regency reticules

Free pattern for a reticule – I used this to make my ballgown reticule.

Video Tutorial for making a round drawstring bag

Regency Embroidery Patterns

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website


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My Christmas Present!

I thought I would show you one of my Christmas presents!

A teacup pin cushion! Perfect for a sew-er who likes pretty china!

It is my cup of tea!

Related Posts

A Chocolate Teacup!

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Quilting refers to the process whereby two layers of fabric and a middle layer of padding are sewn together. It has been used in different contexts for different purposes for centuries. In European history, the quilting method was initially used to make garments warmer and thicker. The earliest examples of quilting patchwork bedspreads in England are dated in the early 1700’s, but patchwork quilting is more commonly associated with American history.

Winona Ryder, in How to Make an American Quilt (1995)

My love-affair with quilting began when I watched the movie, How to Make an American Quilt (1995). The movie follows a young lady, Finn, who visits her grandmother for the summer to consider a marriage proposal from her boyfriend and to finish her masters thesis. She discovers that her grandmother’s quilting group are making her a quilt for her wedding. The theme of the quilt is “Where Love Resides”, and the patchwork comes to represent each of the stories of love from the different ladies who contribute to the quilt.

What I loved most about the concept behind the movie, is that these women weave their lives and their experiences into this quilt, which they then pass on to the next generation. The gift of the quilt becomes a tangible event to represent the passing down of stories, advice, and wisdom from the previous generation. The patchwork becomes a visual representation of these womens’ stories.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided that this was something I would like to do for my own children, and now, 14 years later, I am still at it!

My Latest Quilting Project

I have just finished making a small quilt to use in our lounge room as a throw rug. It is actually a “quillow”, which is a quilt that can be turned into a pillow (or in this case, a cushion).

In order to make it cheaper, I decided I would limit myself to using the scraps of material I had left over in my fabric box. One of the problems was that none of it really matched, so in the end I picked a design that would allow me to use two types of matching fabric and make a square out of them. This meant that I ended up with a lot of squares that looked fine on their own. Then, in order to make a more cohesive design, I joined them together on a background of the same material, which helped to “marry” the squares together in the design.

The front of the quilt

Then I embroidered the names of all of our family members on the different squares, as this quilt will sit on our lounge for everyone to use in the colder months of the year.

Embroidery on the quilt

I made a nice square to have as a cushion cover, and sewed it face down on the wrong side of the quilt to form a pocket.

The back of the quilt; you can see at the bottom where I have sewn the "pocket".

The quilt is then folded to fit into the pocket. The pocket is turned inside out to hold the quilt, revealing the decorative square and forming a cushion.

The "quillow" as a cushion

It ended up costing me about $90 AUD for the backing material, the bamboo wadding, and the binding, where I would usually spend about $300 on the materials for a quilt. I am quite pleased with it!

One thing my husband really likes about the “quillow” is that the pocket is also very useful for putting feet into while watching TV, keeping them toasty warm!

My Other Quilts

I have 5 children and have intended to make them all a single-bed patchwork quilt. Unfortunately, I thought it would be so romantic to handstitch them all. I pictured myself by the fire, leaning over my needlework, sewing my life into my childrens’ quilts! The very image of domestic bliss! This ideal ground gradually to a halt when my first quilt for my first son took 9 years to finish, with over 1000 pieces!

My first quilt

My second quilt, for my next daughter, has taken almost 7 years and I am still not finished! I still have 19 squares to put together!

The beginnings of my second quilt

Considering that this “Quillow” took me three days to patch together on the sewing machine, and then two days to machine quilt and bind, I am seriously considering giving up on my romantic ideals of handsewing quilts just so that I will be able to complete all these family heirlooms before I am 80!

Do you like patchwork? Its my cup of tea!

Sources and Relevant Links

How to Make an American Quilt (1995) – the movie

How to make a Quilt – a useful website for beginners

How to make a Quillow – a blog tutorial

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Here are a few different types of ribbon trims that can be used to decorate period hats or costumes.

Plaiting Ribbons

Start with 3 lengths of ribbon about 1cm wide. Pin the three pieces together at one end, as shown in the picture below. (I used sticky tape initially, but it created problems when I ironed the folds of the ribbon!)

Plaiting Ribbon - Step One

Fold the ribbon to form a plait.

Plaiting Ribbon - Step Two

I used an iron to flatten the ribbon and stop it slipping. I then did some small stitches at the junctions of the three ribbons to hold it in place better.

Plaiting Ribbon - Step Three

The resulting length of plaited decorative ribbon can be used just like a normal ribbon to decorate any of your particular projects. Simple, but I think it looks great!

Ribbon Rosette

Use some thick ribbon and sew a loop in one end of the ribbon. My loop lengths were 3cm.

Step One - Sew a loop

Sew a second loop close to the first, leaving some space between the loops. Do not cut the ribbon.

Step Two - Sew a second loop

Continue to sew loops in the same manner. I had 12 loops for my rosette.

Step Three - Lots of loops

Repeat the above steps in a matching or contrasting colour to make an inner layer. For this one, I again made 12 loops but made the loop lengths a bit shorter, at 2cm.

Step Four - The same in a contrasting colour

Hand sew the first layer of the rosette to a patch of buckram or stiff interfacing, arranging the loops around in a circle as you go.

Step Five - Arrange loops and sew in place

Hand sew the second layer of the rosette in a similar way.

Step Six - Sew the second layer

For the middle, gather one side of a piece of ribbon and pull the threads to form a tight circle.

Step Seven - One edge of ribbon gathered to form a circle

Hand sew it to the middle of the circle to cover the exposed buckram, making sure your stitches are small and close to invisible.

Ribbon Rosette - finished!

Ribbon Flowers

Using some thin ribbon (2mm wide), wind it around a rectangular piece of paper. The width of the paper will be the length of the petals. You can wind another length of ribbon of a contrasting colour  over the top for a two-toned effect, if you desire.

Step One - Wind ribbon around a piece of rectangular paper

Lay another length of the same or contrasting ribbon along one edge and sew through all thicknesses.

Step Two - Sew a piece of ribbon along one edge

Then rip the paper out from underneath. This will be a bit fiddly, and you will leave some paper behind.

Step Three - Rip the paper out

Pull the ribbon rings around in a circle and hand sew to a piece of buckram or stiff interfacing.

Step Four - Hand sew to a stiff backing

Sew a button to the middle of the flower to hide the exposed centre. You may also need to trim the stiff backing so it is not visible from the front.

Step Five - Sew a button to the middle

This is a two-toned flower that I made for a bonnet recently. Here I have used a covered button for the centre instead, so it matches the bonnet material.

Two-toned Ribbon Flower on a Poke Bonnet

Related Posts

How to make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Sources and Relevant Links

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – I discovered these trims in this book.

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