My Favorite Things

Today I want to share with you a few of my favorite things that help make my sewing and reenacting just a little bit easier.  For the most part, these items are simple in nature, inexpensive and relatively easy to find.  But don’t let their simplistic nature fool you, all these are immeasurable in their usefulness!  I have also done my best to link each item mentioned.  I hope you enjoy!

PART ONE – My Favorite Sewing Things

  1.  Moldable Ruler
  2. Mary Ellen’s Best Press
  3. Fiskars Thread Snip Scissors
  4. Fiskars Sharpener
  5. Thimble
  6. Dritz Small Iron
  7. Wrist Pincushion

PART TWO – My Favorite Reenacting Things

1. . Basket

2. Notebook

3.  Stockings

4. Fleece Leggings

5. Quilted Petticoat

6. Shawl – I used this pattern.

7. Handwarmers


As I mentioned above, none of these items are all that fancy.  But I have found them to be true workhorses and my go to items.  As you begin to build your own sewing and reenacting tool kits, take note of what works and doesn’t work.  And while we always want to be as accurate as possible, sometimes a little modern cheat can make a difference between freezing or enjoying your event!



Handsewing 101

Before the invention of the sewing machine, hand sewing was the only method used  to construct garments.  There are various styles, techniques, and types of hand stitches used to do and create different things.  While many of us (especially for those sewing items 1850’s and on) use the sewing machine for the majority of our projects, there are still many parts that need to be sewn by hand.  I have created four little videos showing you the most commonly used stitches in historical sewing….two of which I use on every single gown I make.  

Note** I am left handed – and as such the angle may seem strange to you.  Simply hold the needle in your dominant hand, and follow the verbal instructions to create each stitch.

The Running Stitch


The Back Stitch

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Recreating the Look – 1810-1890

Today’s post came about in a rather unexpected way.   About a month ago, a member reached out and asked for my help in finding sewing patterns to create an entire outfit.  They were unsure the best place to start and how to look at a sewing pattern and figure out if it could be used to create a specific item.  After spending a bit of time looking, I was able to find a variety of patterns and with great success!

They found this so helpful that I thought I would do the same thing for all members!  I found four images from the 19th century and found as many patterns as I could to recreate the entire look (minus hair.)  While there are a few specific patterns I have personally never used, I am very familiar with all the companies chosen and have been quite pleased.  A few patterns and courses from this membership have also been linked below  The patterns range in skill from moderate beginner to more advanced.  I also included patterns for undergarments to make sure that you are able to to achieve the proper look for each outfit.  Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have! 🙂

Now on to the looks!


1805 – Regency Era

A lovely day gown which features elbow length sleeves, gathered v-neckline, a cap with veil, and reticule.

1810’s Fashion Plate

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Finding the Right Neckline

I remember my first ever 1860’s gown that I made.  I was about 17, had my parents 1970’s Singer sewing machine on a TV tray in my room, and a .99  costume pattern.  I purchased 8 yards of what I thought was the most Laura Ingalls Wilder looking blue calico (back when you could get a printed cotton from Joann Fabrics for under $4 a yard) and went to town cutting and sewing.  I was very proud of this gown although commercial sewing pattern instructions are ridiculously confusing (even to me now) and were not all that accurate.  But it didn’t matter. I loved it and it loved me and I rocked that v- neck…..cue that sound of a record screeching to a halt.  Yes, a v-neck.  Which I wore with nothing underneath (I know, I know)….but I didn’t know any better.  And guess what, that’s ok!  I later realized that a v-neck wasn’t exactly the norm (at least without a chemisette) and moved onto the next project.

If you are anything like me and want to continually improve your knowledge and skill, you may also have realized the value in having some background on the types of historical gowns you wish to create.   This is helpful not only in creating an accurate look, but also when trying to find the right sewing pattern/company.  One of the best places to start to see if something is accurate, and what decade the pattern is from, is the neckline.  Necklines really help guide a person in creating an historically accurate gown.  This can also be said for sleeves, although for this post we will stick with necklines.  So today, I have created visual boards for the various types of necklines one might use for fashions of the 1800’s-1860’s. Side note –  just like all things, there are always exceptions to the rules.  Other necklines may and probably were worn then shown here.  However, these are the most common necklines one will see from each time period.


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How to Create a Skirt Placket

Knowing how to create a skirt placket is a very easy, yet very vital skill when it comes to sewing.  Whether you sew historical pieces, vintage or modern, a properly sewn placket adds a crisp and tailored look!

But what is a placket, you ask?  Great question!  It is actually something I learned years into historical sewing.  A placket is a small strip of fabric attached to a slit in back or front panel of the skirt.  It is carefully constructed that when you skirt is closed, no gaps or glimpses of your petticoat will be seen!  Handy, right?

Begin by taking a 3-4 inch wide piece of fabric and cut it as as long as you need. I usually cut my plackets 4″ x 10″, but it is up to you – let your waist measurement be the guide.  The wider the waist, the longer the placket needed.

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Intro to Sewing Video Series: Using Patterns from Books

In this video,  we will complete the sewing patterns series by focusing on patterns one can create from books.  Once I began delving into this type of pattern creation and design, my sewing really began to flourish!  While it may seem daunting and a little confusing at first, with a little time, patience, and some discount fabric, pattern creation from books can be extremely rewarding!

In today’s video I will cover:

  • The differences between patterns from a book versus a ready made pattern
  • My favorite historical fashion books ( list and links will be under the video)
  • How to create and store your patterns
  • Pros and Cons of sewing from books

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Intro to Sewing Video Series: Intro to PDF Patterns

Today’s topic may either instill excitement or dread: print-out-your-own PDF patterns!  Perhaps you have never tried, or perhaps you have had limited luck, or perhaps you are one of those lucky few who have had nothing but success.  Either way, today is all about helping you understand this wonderful sewing pattern option.

In today’s video I will discuss the following topics:

  • What are PDF or downloadable patterns
  • How to store these patterns
  • Digital patterns
  • Pros and Cons of PDF patterns

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Intro to Sewing Video Series: Paper Patterns

Hello my friends!

Today we start the first part of a three part series focusing on the many ways to find, create, understand, and store sewing patterns.  In this ten minute video, I will focus on the following topics:

  • How to read the back of commercial sewing patterns
  • How to care for and store commercial sewing patterns
  • How to read and store historical sewing patterns from specialized pattern companies
  • Tips to remember when working with vintage patterns
  • The Pros and Cons for purchasing, working with, and storing paper patterns

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