Historical Sew Monthly: February 2019



I’m a horrible blogger. I repeat, I am a horrible blogger. As you can tell from the title this post is all about the February HSM challenge, I actually did complete this in February, I just suck at blogging – in case those in the back didn’t hear me the first time. February’s HSM challenge was “Linen/Linens” as in make something out of linen or as in the other use of the word, underclothes. After the 1850 Winter Evening event at Cobblestone Farm, for which I made the last HSM challenge, I had already fallen in love with this new time period and volunteered my children to come with me for the next event at this beautiful site, the Spring Fling to be held on Sunday May 5th. This meant not only would I need another dress suitable for the warm weather, but my three boys would all need full outfits. GULP. That’s a lot of sewing! I’m probably crazy.

I started researching little boys clothes for the 1850s knowing that my youngest (just turned 4 at the end of February) would still be in frocks I decided to start there as information and patterns seemed readily available and easy enough to understand. I dug into Pinterest to look at extant frocks in museums and darling little boys in daguerreotypes (pro tip: center parted hair indicates a girl, side part a boy) and read as much as I could from amazing sites like Elizabeth Stewart Clark’s The Sewing Academy and the blog by Romantic History. I settled on the pattern the Elizabeth puts out, seeing as it seemed the most well researched and with a lot of bang for your buck in terms of everything you could produce with it.

Knowing that every time period requires the use of proper undergarments in order to achieve the look you want, I began drafting up a bodiced petticoat for my little Bug. To be honest this was one of the easiest little garments to make…ever. I measured the munchkin and using the bodice pattern I cut straight into my white linen, no time for mock-ups it’s a simple garment who has time for that lol. Once the bodice was sewn up and was semi-wearable I fitted on the Bug and realized hes actually a lot tinier than said bodice. Facepalm. Not wanting to make another and realizing eventually he will grow I made two vertical tucks at the center back closure of the bodice to take in the extra – when he outgrows it simply remove the tucks!

With the crisis averted I moved onto the skirts. I did some crazy maths and calculated how long the skirts should be and how many panels I wanted. I began sewing them up, hemming and working on the two tucks I had accounted for. I hastily gauged the skirts – no dread and terror this time- and was proud to have finished the petticoat in less than a day. I tricked my little guy into putting it on and SURPRISE I did the math wrong and his skirt was longer than I wanted. GRR.

So now I had to fudge another set of tucks while the skirt was attached to the bodice, what a pain. I managed to finagle it more quickly than I was expecting and decided to give everything a nice pressing – seriously is there anything more satisfying than freshly pressed tucks on a petticoat? **Note that the following images do not depict a satisfyingly pressed tucked petticoat**

With how quickly I put this together I immediately cut out a sweet frock for him and had it finished in another day. Seriously, this thing is darling. I decided to go with a lightweight cotton plaid/check because 1. it was on clearance 2. it’s always dreadfully hot during the summer events and 3. I saw a lot of boys wearing plaids and checks in dags. Once the gown was finished we sat down together and looked at how some frocks were trimmed – plain frocks are no fun and my little man isn’t afraid to be EXTRA. He really enjoyed the sash and belt look on a few extants so we went with that using some scrap brown worsted wool I had from another project. We decided to use that same wool for contrast piping and for a sweet little dagged trim on the sleeves. I think it really gives the frock a more masculine feel.

I’m really excited about the finished project and I can hardly wait for the event next month. I definitely think he’s going to be irresistible to photographers.

PS. Enjoy some photos of him in his adorable outfit, I couldn’t resist sharing them.


The Challenge: 1850s linen bodiced petticoat for a child

Material: White linen

Pattern: The Sewing Academy 220: Little Boys Wardrobe and Romantic History tutorial

Year: 1840-1850s

Notions: Metal hooks and eyes, beeswax, and thread

How historically accurate is it? It’s mostly machine sewn and it seems that cotton was a more popular choice for undergarments in the mid 19th century so I will say its 75% accurate.

Hours to complete: Total was probably less than 4 hours

First worn: Aside from pictures for this post and Instagram last month it hasn’t been officially worn yet

Total cost: $25 for pattern, linen fabric was from the stash

Day 4: Gifts for the Littles


It’s day four and we’re a third of the way through our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping series and coming at you with gift ideas for the littlest ones on your list this year. Last year we focused a lot on clothes and accessories so this year we’re switching things up and sharing mostly gift ideas that can actually be fun like toys and games.

Kids of all ages will enjoy this limber jack dancing toy from Prairie Wind Toy Company which can be the perfect addition to your camp toy box. Older kids delight in building their own limber jack with this kit whereas parents can preassemble one for the Littles. If you’re extra brave and crafty you could even let them paint it!

How many times have you heard the kids complain about being bored in camp? Camp games are a great way to keep them entertained and out of the way. Younger kids especially love quoits and lawn bowling which require little skill. Our boys enjoy this wooden quoits set with safe rope rings from Goutoports and this wooden lawn bowling set from Hey! Play! would make a great fun for both children and adults. Older children may enjoy a game of cricket with this really nice and yet affordable beginners sets. Just take a sanding block to the bat and pegs to remove all of the modern labels and you’re ready to play!

If you have crafty children, as in those who enjoy crafting, you may consider a small sampler kit with their very own sewing housewife. I love the looks of the samplers offered by PrimitiveThingsEtc on Etsy.

Now my absolute favorite gift suggestion for the Littles is a hand carved doll. Boys and girls alike love them and they make the perfect little buddy for all of those camp adventures. You can currently carve your own using the Mill Farms Pattern but for those less inclined to take that kind of project on at the last minute Jess at PennyRiver is in the process of working with a carpenter to offer affordable carved dolls. She plans to offer a small batch for presale before the holidays and in the new year will look at stocking them in her Etsy shop permanently. Follow her on Instagram to keep up to date on the progress of this exciting project.

I think that about wraps it up for the little ones, I think between this post and last years we really covered all the bases and if all else fails you can’t go wrong with wooden toys.

Gifts for the Littles

It’s day… well I don’t know what day it is, but we’re here again to share with you some of our favorite businesses in the living history community just in time for Christmas. Today we’re supposed to be talking about gifts for the Fops and Fashionista’s but I made an executive decision to change it up after realizing we had left out some of our smallest living historians so close to Christmas! So today I’m going to dish on the best gifts for Littles of all ages.

So earlier we shared a DIY gift post that had some great ideas for the little ones on your list, if you missed that check it out here. Today I’ll add a few more DIY gifts and then some nice, already made stuff too. Jumping right into it here with a tutorial on baby and toddler clothes by Sharon Burnston. These make the perfect gift for the youngest members of the family, especially considering how quickly they grow! Each garment goes together quickly and requires minimal fabric so they’re the perfect quick gift whether it be Christmas or a baby shower!

Another good clothing idea for kids is shoes, again because they’re always growing out of them. If you have an older kid who’s not growing as quickly Burnley & Trowbridge have beautiful, quality leather children’s shoes. If your kids are on the younger side and still going through a shoe size every few months I’d recommend a nice pair of black leather jazz shoes paired with black stockings. They’re a great compromise if you don’t want to drop $100 on shoes. I bought black leather jazz shoes from Payless on sale for only $19.99, plus I used a coupon. Can’t beat those savings!

As for stockings, because they make a great addition to new shoes, I usually look in the girls section of stores like Target and The Children’s Place for knee high tight knit cotton stockings/socks or for younger children I like to get cotton knit tights like these from Gap.

Another great clothing gift for kids are head coverings like caps, straw hats, and cocked hats for little boys. I’m loving the hand blocked wool felt boys hat available from Penny River on Etsy.

So, if your kids are anything like mine they probably aren’t too thrilled with receiving clothes for Christmas; so let’s take a look at some of my favorite toys for gift giving. Nothing beats carved, wooden animals softly sanded for little hands.

The adorable wooden horse on wheels by ArksandAnimals on Etsy is just perfect for the youngest living historians. Completely non toxic and without any small pieces you couldn’t ask for a better heirloom quality gift. For preschoolers and young children I’m partial to the small sets of carved animals like those by WoodpeckerForKids on Etsy or this sweet set of carved and painted oxen based on the team at Conner Prairie Living History Farm by ImaginationKids on Etsy.

Older children may enjoy a set of tin soldiers to play with, I know my oldest would love the George Washington On the Move set by ColDavidsMinatureMen on Etsy or perhaps a children’s drum from Cooperman paired with lessons from the local music store or university? Although if you live in a colder climate during the winter you might want to reconsider if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of your sanity for your little one to enjoy the gift of music 😉

Though my children are relatively young I’ve found that the simple toys and gifts of our past tend to keep them entertained far longer than the latest must have toy that requires 27484 batteries and makes the world’s most obnoxious sound. Simple wooden figurines, dolls, and even the cup and ball game can give modern children hours of enjoyment and a chance to stretch their often underused imaginations. I sincerely hope you enjoy some of my favorite gifts for the Littles and may consider them for keeping yours occupied at upcoming events.

– Brittany