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Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Size Hoop Skirt Should I Wear?

1860's Lady
c. 1865-1867 Lady wearing an elliptical hoop

Ohhh the frustration of what size hoop skirt to wear!

It can stop you in your tracks and leave you stumped. It puts a catch into even the best laid plans.

After all you can't create that dress you always dreamt of without having your foundation pieces completed first! Of course this means conquering the dreaded question that everyone who must wear a hoop skirt is forced to ask; just what sized hoop should I be wearing? A question that I myself have spent many hours pondering.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Victorian Bonnet Styles from 1865 to 1869

For this post I am continuing on with Victorian bonnet styles where I am highlighting some of the most common types of bonnets that were worn during this time period as seen in the Godey's Lady's Book.

Again I have included short explanations on materials, colours used and trimmings as well as the overall style of bonnets in general and if you are looking for bonnet styles from 1860 to 1864 then visit my previous post.


Bonnets from Godey's Lady's Book
Winter Bonnets, Godey's Lady's Book, January 1865

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Victorian Bonnet Styles from 1860 to 1864

A couple of months ago I decided that it was time to make a new straw bonnet. I figured that if I started it then, I would have it done in time for spring. But other projects somehow got in the way and I didn't get it finished.

So I have decided that over the next few weeks I will dedicate my posts to the topic of Victorian straw bonnets from the 1860's. Perhaps it might actually give me the inspiration to finally finish the one I am working on!

Here are my notes on some of the most common styles of bonnets that were worn worn during this time as seen in the Godey's Lady's Book. I have included short explanations on materials, colours used and trimmings as well as the overall style in general.

1860 & 1861

Bonnets, Godey's Lady's Book, March 1861

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Willcox & Gibbs Chainstitch Sewing Machine

Chainstitch sewing machine
Willcox & Gibbs Chainstitch Sewing Machine c. 1885-1892

I like sewing machines; especially those from the Victorian era. To me if a sewing machine has a motor than it is way too modern for my world (well almost), but that is a whole other story!

In the Tailor shop I am lucky enough to be around a few different machines; most of which don’t really work and are more for show than anything else much to my disappointment. However over the past little while I have taken an interest in these machines and seemed to have made it my goal to get them working again. I know it seems a rather lofty goal!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pattern Review: Edwardian Bust Improver

Bust Improvers
Victorian Bust Improvers from

I don't remember where or when I first came across a Victorian bust improver; but I do remember thinking how naive I was in believing that 19th and early 20th century ladies were actually quite blessed in the bust department.

Boy was I wrong!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Evolution of 19th Century Paper Sewing Patterns

I often get asked about the patterns that I use for my historical clothing. Some want to know where I get them from while others want to know how exactly I find them in the first place.

My answer is this: I try to use original patterns whenever I can... but they are not always the easiest to find.

You see today we can buy patterns for almost anything imaginable but in the 19th century this was not always the case. Just like us, ladies wanted to dress in the latest fashions of the day and they took their inspirations from fashion plates pictured in popular ladies magazines such as Godey's and Peterson's. By the late 1860's sewing machines were becoming widely available and affordable and it was quite common to find one in many households; therefore garment making became much faster and easier for the average lady.

Demorest's Mirror of Fashions, 1865
Demorest's Mirror of Fashions, 1865

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Sewing a Victorian Fur Muff

Victorian Lady with Muff
Civil War era lady wearing a muff

Throughout the 19th century the fashionable lady often used a muff to keep her hands warm in the winter. While popular during this time; muffs have actually been worn since the 16th century and were even at times worn by men.