Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was very honored to be nominated by Romancing the Sewn for the Sisterhood of the World Blogging Award.  It means so much that others have enjoyed reading my little posts and that I have, hopefully, made a positive contribution to the world of historical sewing.

Along with the nomination comes several wonderful questions, provided by Erin and Sophia of Romancing the Sewn, which I have been asked to answer.

So without further ado….here we go!

What is your favorite classic movie (pre 1970)? It can be for the plot, costumes, songs, sets.

I would have to say Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  While the costumes are in no way historically accurate, they are bright and colorful and evoke such fun!  I also love how athletic the dancing is along with the rousing songs like Sobbin’Women or the Barn Raising Dance.  A true musical classic!

If you could make your dream outfit with no time or money constraints what would it be?

This is an easy one.  I would make a late 1860’s gown with as much emerald green velvet as I could use.  A long train, full skirt, with as many swoops, and tucks as I desired.  And of course I would want matching lace along the neckline, sleeves, and each hem.   That would be glorious!

What is your favorite fashion designer or trend in current times?

This is a great question…I don’t have a favorite designer per say, but I love anything Kate Spade creates.  As far as my favorite current trend, it is hands down loose, flowy blouses over skinny jeans.  It’s my go-to look almost everyday!

What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with?

Abraham Lincoln.  Period.  To be able to pick his brain and listen to him speak would be the ultimate!

What is usually the starting point for your projects? (For example: original museum pieces, fabrics, color, etc) Where do you get your inspiration?

This depends on where I am.  If I am out, let’s say shopping for fabric, I will let what I find “tell” me what it should become.  Many of my gowns have been created this way.  Most often though, I get inspiration through primary sources and then rummaging through my rather large fabric stash to see what would work the best.

Share your secret! What’s the best sewing trick you’ve picked up over the years?

This one is rather a recent discovery, but it is to create your gown on a half-scale model before you make the real deal.  I used to create a full size mock up but wasted so much fabric and money on a gown that I would never use.  However, the half size dress form allows me to use up old scraps, as well as become familiar with the process and layout for the actual gown.  Huge time and money saver!

If you had an extra day in the week, what would you do with it?

Go for a day trip.  I love going for long drives and checking out local places that might be just too far away to visit in an afternoon but close enough that I could still sleep in my own bed.  One finds the neatest places by just traveling an hour or two from their hometown.

 What’s your favorite day-off ritual?

Starting with a hot cup of coffee on the front porch, writing until lunchtime, sewing until it is time to start dinner, and then finishing up the day with a long movie and a bowl of popcorn.  Ahhhh….I get excited just thinking about this wonderful little routine! 🙂

What inspires you to continue creating and blogging when there are so many other things competing for your time every day?

I had worked very hard to get to a place in my life where I have allowed myself to open up to my writing and how important it is that I create something everyday.  I am a happier and more fulfilled person when I allow myself this time, and therefore my family gets a “better me.”  Rearranging those other things in my day so that I can write or sew…even if it is for only 30 minutes, is what keeps my mind fresh and a fountain of new ideas.


I would like to nominate the following blogs for this award:

SpringyStitches:  I love the fun, “springy” pictures Becky shows of all her wonderful creations.

PumpsandNeedles:  Brigit always has such bright creations and a sweet way of writing.

My questions for those I nominate:

  1. When and why did you start sewing?
  1.  Who is your biggest fashion icon that either influenced your sewing or your personal fashion?
  1. What is the best investment you have made for your sewing habit?
  1.  What gets your creative juices flowing?
  1. What is the favorite thing you have ever made and how did you decide to create it?
  2. If you could wear any hairstyle from the past three centuries on a daily basis, what would it be?
  3.  Outline your dream vacation.
  1.  What movie is your go-to for either sewing ideas, or simple gown envy?
  1.  If you could give one piece of advice to those who are interested in starting to sew, what would it be?
  2.  Describe your perfect sewing room.  What would it have, how would it be decorated, and where would it be?


Many thanks again to Romancing the Sewn, for the nomination, and I hope you all have enjoyed learning a bit more about me!

See you all in August!


Rules for Award

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.(√)
  2. Put the Award logo on your blog. (√)
  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you. (√)
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer. (√)
  5.  5. Nominate ten blogs. (sorry, many of the blogs I follow already have been nominated)


A 1930’s Accessory in Ten Minutes or Less…

Looking for the perfect accessory to go with that 1930’s outfit?  Why, yes you are!

Have 10 inches of the perfect fabric?  As a matter of fact, yes!

Have ten minutes to spare?  Of course!

Then this little scarf is for you!

 Add another 20 minutes and you can also whip up the flower pin…look for the link to the tutorial below.


2 pieces of fabric cut to 10″ x 32″….or however long you would like the scarf.


1. Slightly round the edges of the scarf.


2. Then stitch right sides together, leaving an opening to turn the scarf right side out.


3. Turn scarf right side out, then pin the opening closed.


4. Whipstitch closed.  This side will be the “bottom” of the scarf.


5. Figure out where you would like the scarf to be gathered, and run a long gathering stitch from one side to the other.


6. Gather and secure in place with a few stitches on the backside.


7. Repeat with both sides.


Pin around neck and add any decoration you would like!





Add your own Flower Pin for an extra bit of elegant fun!

Happy accessorizing!


Beauty for the Traveler

I don’t know if it is just me, but I never feel that as look as good when I get ready in a hotel versus at home.  I use the same products, apply everything in the same manner, yet I think to myself “eh….it’s been better.”  Then I remember… I forgot my foundation.

Yep, that would explain the difference!

Oh and that new bottle of sunscreen with the light floral scent I bought specifically for this trip…it’s on the shelf in my linen closet.  Sigh…

Perhaps I should have followed this wonderful advice from a 1930’s author:

“Vacation time finds us all atingle.  For aren’t we all going somewhere, even if it’s only for a day or so?  Most summers I’ll warrant you’ve planned for your vacation weeks ahead, and then, at the last minute, as an afterthought, you tucked a jar of cold cream in your bag and forgot to take it out until a night or two before you came home.  And, instead of arriving home a dazzling vision of health, your nose was red and peeling, and you had an unbecoming half-burn, half-tan that took months to wear off.  Skin must be cared for on long trips by motor, train, or boat, and beauty care must be continued consistently just as at home.

Experienced travelers “travel light” for too much baggage is a vexation.  Therefore, preparation is key when it comes to packing.  For skin care, I recommend assembling a beauty kit with all of the essential items of skin care.  In addition to your cold creams and lotions, you’ll very likely need extra cleansing tissues, too, and a roll of absorbent cotton, the latter providing convenient powder puffs that can be used and thrown away.  The small guest-size cakes of soap are very handy, especially for short trips.  A holder for your toothbrush is also indispensable.  Then, of course, you’ll need toothpaste, a nailbrush, and a brush and comb, and you’ll do well to include dental floss.  Don’t forget that care of your hands, either.  You can secure complete manicure sets in flat, easy-to-pack boxes.  And by all means, take along a lipstick.  

Suppose, with these suggestions in mind, you list the most necessary articles for personal comfort and grooming, considering the sort of vacation you plan to take.  Then there will be no last minute confusion and you’ll have a pleasanter and more successful trip.”

I wish you all better luck than I have had with packing, and may your sunscreen always be waiting for you in your toiletry bag!


Source: Fashion Service, 1931

Painting by Emilian Lăzărescu (1878-1934), ‘Cochetărie’, oil on board.

Beauty Care for the Traveler

One Piece Dress: 1920’s Style

This dress started in the same way that many of my sewing projects have started…with a picture.  A simple, little picture of a dress.  This particular picture was tossed among waves of other dresses, yet it popped right out of the page and straight into my imagination.

You see, I have a hard time with 1920’s dresses.  Not because they aren’t cute, or because they aren’t stylish in their own way…but because then have little to no waistline.  And being a girl with a body shape that emphasizes finding said waist, this style goes against the grain.  Nonetheless, the little image of an early 1920’s dress just wiggled it’s way right into my heart, and I knew I had to make one of my own.

Created out of a soft yellow cotton with a brown check, this easy-to-create dress is made unique with the three panels that hang down just below the hem.  As always, I have included the pattern as well as the list of materials needed.



  • 5 yards cotton for dress
  • 1/2 yard cotton for revers and belt/band.










How to Behave at a Hotel: Advice for the Single Woman in the 1860’s

Following in the footsteps of Monday’s post, once one’s trunk is properly packed, the next step is, of course, to travel.  And much like today’s journeys, overnight stays at a hotel were very common.  While it may not be all that usual for a woman to travel alone during the 1860’s, it was common enough that guidelines were suggested for a lady to follow to ensure a safe and proper trip.

“In America, where the mania for traveling extends through all classes, from the highest to the lowest, a few hints upon deportment at a hotel will not be amiss, and these hints are especially addressed to ladies traveling alone.

When you arrive at the hotel, enquire at once for the proprietor. Tell him your name and address, and ask him to conduct you to a good room, naming the length of time you purpose occupying it. You may also request him to wait upon you to the table, and allot you a seat. As the hours for meals, at a large hotel, are very numerous, it is best to mention the time when you wish to breakfast, dine, or sup. … Request one of the waiters always to meet you as you enter, and wait upon you to your seat. This saves the embarrassment of crossing the room entirely unattended, while it shows others that you are a resident at the house. The waiter will then take your order for the dishes you wish. Give this order in a low tone, and do not harass the man by contradicting yourself several times; decide what you want before you ask for it, and then give your order quietly but distinctly. Use, always, the butter-knife, salt-spoon, and sugar-tongs, though you may be entirely alone in the use of them. The attention to the small details of table etiquette is one of the surest marks of good breeding. If any trifling civility is offered by the gentleman beside you, or opposite to you, thank him civilly, if you either accept or decline it. Thank the waiter for any extra attention he may offer.

Remember that a lady-like deportment is always modest and quiet. If you meet a friend at table, and converse, let it be in a tone of voice sufficiently loud for him to hear, but not loud enough to reach ears for which the remarks are not intended. A boisterous, loud voice, loud laughter, and bold deportment, at a hotel, are sure signs of vulgar breeding.

When you have finished your meal, cross the room quietly; if you go into the parlor, do not attract attention by a hasty entrance, or forward manner, but take the seat you may select, quietly.

A lady’s dress, when alone at a hotel, should be of the most modest kind. At breakfast let her wear a close, morning dress, and never, even at supper, appear alone at the table with bare arms or neck. If she comes in late from the opera or a party, in full dress, she should not come into the supper-room, unless her escort accompanies her. A traveling or walking-dress can be worn with perfect propriety, at any meal at a hotel, as it is usually travelers who are the guests at the table.

After breakfast, pass an hour or two in the parlor, unless you are going out, whilst the chambermaid puts your room in order. You should, before leaving the room, lock your trunk, and be careful not to leave money or trinkets lying about. When you go out, lock your door, and give the key to the servant to hand to the clerk of the office, who will give it to you when you return.

If you see that another lady, though she may be an entire stranger, is losing her collar, or needs attention called to any disorder in her dress, speak to her in a low tone, and offer to assist her in remedying the difficulty.

Be careful always in opening a door or raising a window in a public parlor, that you are not incommoding any one else.

Never sit down to the piano uninvited, unless you are alone in the parlor. Do not take any book you may find in the room away from it.

It is best always to carry writing materials with you, but if this is not convenient, you can always obtain them at the office.

In a strange city it is best to provide yourself with a small map and guide book, that you may be able to find your way from the hotel to any given point, without troubling any one for directions.

If you wish for a carriage, ring, and let the waiter order one for you.

On leaving, ring, order your bill, pay it, state the time at which you wish to leave, and the train you will take to leave the city. Request a man to be sent, to carry your baggage to the hack; and if you require your next meal at an unusual hour, to be ready for your journey, order it then.”

As one can see, a little decorum and proper behavior will go miles in creating and maintaining a pleasant trip….no matter what year in which you travel!


Source: The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness: A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society  by Florence Hartley, 1860

Hotel Cover


How to Pack a Trunk in 1870…

At some point in our lives we learn the best way to pack a suitcase.  Whether we learned it from a parent, an instructional tutorial, or through trial and error, efficiently packing a suitcase is a much desired skill that makes the difference between being prepared or being caught without some needed item.  When you take into account all the restrictions placed upon modern travelers, properly packing a suitcase is almost an art form in itself.

To learn how a woman in the 1870’s should pack for a journey, read on:

“To pack a trunk neatly, everything should be laid out in readiness, neatly folded and sorted, the light articles divided from the heavy ones, and a supply of towels and soft wrapping-paper at hand. Spread a thick, clean towel over the bottom of the trunk, and place upon it the hard, flat things, such as the portfolio, workbox, jewel-box, music books, writing-desk, and boxes; take care to fit them well together, so as to be level on top, filling in crevices with such small articles as will not be injured by compressment, as stockings, towels, or flannels….Never use newspapers in packing, as they will certainly ruin whatever clothing rubs against them.



An early Louis Vuitton trunk

In packing shoes , it is best to have a shoe-bag, or two pieces of calico bound together and divided into pockets, each large enough to hold one shoe.  Spread this flat over the bottom of the trunk, if there is room left by the flat, hard articles.



A trunk with an ironing board…brilliant!

Over this first layer spread another towel, and then put in your flannels, linens, such dresses and petticoats as will bear pressure, and any paper boxes for gloves, handkerchiefs, or perfumes.  On top of these put the more dressy petticoats, and handsome dresses, unless your trunk has a tray in the lid expressly for this purpose.  If the trunk has no bonnet-box, put your bandbox in near the top.  In the tray put collars, muslins, handkerchiefs, and a supply of writing paper, and envelopes, a box of sewing materials, your laces, ribbons, gloves, parasol-box, veils, and any light articles you may wish to carry.


An advertisement for a trunk with tray…

Under-clothing of all kinds will look much better at the end of a journey if folded instead of rolled, and will pack quite as easily.  Shawls, cloaks, sacques, and veils should be folded in their original folds before packing; gloves should be drawn out smooth and put in a glove-box.  Collars and cuffs must be lie in the tray or, better still, in a paper box.

Leave always room in your trunk for a bag to receive souled linen, if your journey is to be a long one.”

For a more modern take, why not check out this tutorial for packing a suitcase.

Happy Packing!



Source: The Art of Dressing Well: A Complete Guide to Economy, Style, and Propriety of Costume by Annie Frost (1870)

Who’s Ahead – Vacation Clothes

It is a warm summer evening and anyone who is anyone is mingling down by the bandstand.  You know, the one in the center of town that has a lovingly placed plaque dating it to some bygone era, where the once crisp white paint is starting to chip and show signs of one too many harsh winters.  The reason for the gathering is clear: the town orchestra is playing a summer concert of past favorites, a few marches, and one or two sing-alongs for the whole crowd to join.  It happens every year and is looked forward to with eager and earnest anticipation by old and young alike.  It has become even more popular to tote along a packed picnic basket of those delightful treats that are musts for outdoor eating.  Cold cut sandwiches, hot dogs, thermoses of hot or cold soup, numerous types of potato salads, and mugs teeming with ice and refreshing lemonade: a feast for all.

As the wrist and pocket watches indicate the start of the show along with the customary squeak and groan of string and woodwind instruments warming up, parents hustle their children to the family blankets while grandparents nestle into their sturdy folding chairs.  All are dressed in proper flat footwear, shorts or capri pants along with cardigans and jackets located nearby to ward off the encroaching night air.  The conductor bows and starts the group off with a crowd favorite when you notice a nearby tourist struggling.  She is wearing a lovely sleeveless blouse, a flowy long skirt, and beautiful, yet very skinny high heels.  She seems rather chilly as she walks precariously to an empty park bench, heels sinking into the soft grass, and mentally bemoaning the inevitable mud kicking up to the hem of her skirt.  If only she had brought her sweater and a pair of flats….then she too could be swaying gently to the music and not from severe cold chills and lack of proper footing.

I have been that woman too many times to count and have firmly learned the invaluable lesson to dress for the event….not just for my personal taste! 🙂

Here are a few more dressing for location tips from a 1949 Good Housekeeping article entitled “Who’s Ahead”

Who's Ahead 1

Who's Ahead 2

Plan well for those vacations my friends and always be “ahead!”


Source: Good Housekeeping, Volume 129, July 1949

Travel: By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Many of us are born with a wandering soul.  That insatiable desire to always see what is past the next mountain peak or what potential beauty awaits around the next bend of the river, drives one’s life.  Some may view these dreamers to never be satisfied or unable to “settle” in one place, but I see them as entrepreneurs, explorers, and kindred spirits.

This poem is for them:

Travel Poem


Cover Painting by Ray Ottulich

Poem Painting: The Old Railroad Bridge by Leslie White