How to Make a Hair Rat: The Modern Way!

I was asked a few weeks ago how to create this hairstyle with shoulder length hair: Post on how to create this look HERE



Now women in the 19th century would use hair rats, which are little rolls of their hair that either fell out or was brushed out.  Of course going that route is still an option, but I did a little research and found a great way to create a hair rat for your 19th century hairstyles the 21st century way!  All you need is a sock bun and a pair of scissors!

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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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How to make a pleated skirt ruffle..

So I am working on a new outfit which requires a lot of pressed ruffles.  I thought that I would show you how I made the ruffles that are attached to the skirt.  May I recommend a good movie to help with the monotony.

So however many yards of fabric you want your skirt to be, you will need that many for the ruffles.  I had 5 yards for the skirt, thus 5 for the ruffles.

Start by cutting the ruffle yardage in half.  You will end up with four very long pieces.

Then fold each strip in half and hem.


Then take the strips and press them so the seam is in the middle.  The side with the seam will be your wrong side and the non-seamed side will be the right side.


Attach all the strips together so you have one long strip.

Begin pressing the pleats.  You can make them as wide as you would like.  Don’t worry about the pleats falling apart as you press.  The “crimps” you make with the iron will hold until you sew the pleats together.


Then stitch the pleats on the right side.  You can place the seam anywhere you want.  I put mine around an inch from the top.


Then attach the ruffle to your hemmed skirt.  Again, place the ruffle anywhere you want.  I have my ruffle extending 2 inches from the hem of the skirt.


Stich away.

I also am using a lot of black velvet ribbon for trim so I attached the trim to the ruffle and stitched over the original stitching line so it won’t be seen.


This is how it will look after the ruffle and trim is attached.


Make your skirt as usual, press and voila…a beautiful pleated skirt!


Fort Niagara French and Indian War Reenactment

Well apart from the mugginess and occasional downpour, the reenactment at Old Fort Niagara was wonderful! There were so many different battles and activities going on as well as many sutlers to visit. My two favorite being Smoke and Fire and Smiling Fox. I so enjoyed myself that I am debating about getting involved in this time period for reenacting. I have always just done Civil War, however I thoroughly enjoyed reliving the history and costume of the 1750’s. Something to definitely think about!
Here are a few pictures. It was really muggy and cloudy out, so the pictures turned out a little drab.
If you want to visit this amazing fort check out their website for future events!

As for shopping I got surprisingly little. Although the conversations I was able to have with the sutlers was wonderful!
Here is what I did pick up…

The beeswax heart is wonderful for strengthening thread and reducing the amount of knots. I usually use the wax when I do buttonholes. All you do is take the thread and drag it over the wax.
The stork scissors are just cute and perfect for reenactments and clipping those tiny threads.
The stays I picked up for my new corset I am going to be making this week.
To get any of these items or to see what else they have to sell check out these sutlers!
Smiling Fox
Smoke and FireIf you do 1700’s reenactments please let me know! I would love to hear what from you!