What’s On My Bookshelf?

Last summer I created a post of my favorite historical fashion books…but I accidentally erased the pictures and well, I decided to create another post to replace it.  I do not have a lot of books or magazines…if I came across one that I really liked, I would buy it.  I have found that I mostly use the books as a launch pad for an idea, and they have been valuable to my overall knowledge of historical sewing.  Although nothing has been as helpful as trial and error.

So without any further ado,  here are my 7 favorite and most helpful historical sewing/fashion books!  Drumroll, please!  Oh and just for fun, I have decided to list them in my order of importance, starting with number 7…


The Way They Were: Dressed in 1860-1865 by Donna J. Abraham.

A great picture collection of clothing both from men and women.  A little bit of text, but mostly visual.  Donna Abraham is the owner of Abraham’s Lady and very helpful.  I have visited her shop and found many great items and fabric.



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Old Fort Niagara: The French and Indian War

Well, this weekend was the huge reenactment at Fort Niagara focusing on the tension during the French and Indian War of the 1750’s (a.k.a. The Seven Year’s War.)  The fort is unique and very beautiful as it sits on the side of the Niagara River on the border of New York and Canada.  I spent the day there yesterday and was surprised at the large amount of re-enactors (Native, French, and American) who participated.  While the majority of those reenacting looked amazing…I did notice a few people who, well, just looked plain sloppy and tried to hide the tops of their Nike socks by turning them down….not a good look in any century.

There were many sutlers there and live music which made the whole place a giant flashback to 1750!  Although in spite of all my wanderings through the shops, I didn’t buy anything.  There were two reasons why…one legit, and one personal.  First the legit reason:  I focus on 1860’s fashion and I found myself wandering through thinking “too old-fashioned” or “no longer in use…something else has been invented” or “while beautiful, this is something an 1860’s women’s grandmother would wear…soooo nope!”  Don’t get me wrong, the fabric and trims were beautiful, but just not my era.

The other reason I didn’t buy anything was that I was completely and utterly ignored by the majority of sutlers.  It seems that if you aren’t dressed in period clothing than you are invisible.   Literally.  Not ONE shop owner even acknowledge me.  Am I so special that I have to have to world stop? No, but it is good business practice to greet each customer…especially one who (if found the right fabric) was ready to plunk down hundreds of dollars to stock up on accurate fabric.  I know I have ranted about this before, but between getting snubbed at small quilt shops by older women who think I’m an idiot, to sutlers who do not see me, I am getting very disappointed in the reenacting/sewing community.  We need to be welcoming so more people WANT to get involved!

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1860’s Color Combinations

Daydreaming and obsessing over fashion plates can lead to the discovery of some pretty unique color combinations.  I mean, when all you see are black and white photographs, one just assumes that the color tones chosen were just as blah.  But let me tell you….many color suggestions shown in fashion plates and in actual garments suggest quite the opposite.  While I would not be likely to wear these duos in my modern clothing, I would absolutely use them in my creations of 19th century clothing.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Black with Sapphire



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The Traveling Trim Book

I was out shopping for new fabric and was struggling trying to remember what types of trim I had in my studio.  Well after thinking I had one tone of trim that I didn’t, I decided I needed some sort of organization.  So I picked up a small 4″x6″ mini spiraled notebook at Target for $2.  I then went through all my trim of 1 yard or more and stapled a small sample in the notebook along with the yardage.  Because it is so small, it will fit neatly in my purse and will hopefully prove to be an effect tool.  I might even make one for my left over fabric…but we’ll see.


In other news, I am painting my filing cabinet with chalkboard paint.  I saw it in a magazine and thought it would be a great place to make a weekly list of blog posts or social media posts.  Will post pictures when it is complete.  Right now it is busy drying before I put on the next coat.

And this weekend is the War of 1812 reenactment at Fort Niagara.  I am super excited and will post pictures of the goings on and if I come home with any goodies.

Happy Birthday to all my Canadian friends!!  Congrats on 147 years!