Historical Sew Monthly: March 2019


I feel like I’m cheating with March’s challenge of  “Sewing Kit” but honestly my sewing kit is a bit sparse so there weren’t many tools to choose from. The challenge calls for you to make something with your favorite tool or gadget from your sewing kit or make something for your historical sewing kit, like a housewife or pinball. 9EC540EE-2833-4CB6-8497-2CC1E3143468Since I have my historical sewing kit in order already, I turned to my favorite tool: the Bohin needle, a French company in business since 1833 and manufacturing needles since 1860. In this day and age it can be difficult to find sewing tools and notions that are produced by manufacturers that are focused on quality and not quantity and cheap labor. I love these needles, they glide like through fabric like butter; yes even that tough K&P wool doesn’t stand a chance with these and I gladly pay to have these little fellows shipped to my door from Burnley & Trowbridge.


For this challenge I am entering my Barbara Johnson fine white muslin apron which was all completed by hand, using period techniques, and my favorite french needles. This post will be short and sweet since I’ve already detailed the project in this post here, so let’s get down to business.

The Challenge: Fine white ruffled apron

Material: Fine cotton muslin “mull”

Pattern: None, self drafted based partly on the American Duchess Guide to Sewing

Year: 1780s

Notions: Thread and beeswax

How historically accurate is it? Nothing will ever be 100% accurate so let’s put this at a close 95% accurate.

Hours to complete: Honestly not as long as I thought, I didn’t keep track very well because I was sick but realistically maybe 6-8 hours.

First worn: Hasn’t been worn yet but fingers crossed we’ll have a photo shoot in a couple of weeks. If the weather doesn’t cooperate then it will make its debut at the Crabill Homestead event the last weekend of April. 

Total cost: About $36 in fabric between the apron and the handkerchief

Day 8: Something to Read



We’re moving right into Day 8 of our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping with “Something to Read”, this is arguably one of the easiest themes for shopping with a whole plethora of books out there for costumers, historians, and reenactors alike. With so many choices we’re going to share just a few of our favorites that we’ve encountered over the course of this year.

5966B2FF-40CB-48CD-A21B-861C402B54DCIf you have a Janet Arnold fan on your shopping list this year chances are they’ve been wanting to get their hands on the new Patterns of Fashion 5: The content, cut, construction, and context of bodies, stays, hoops, and rumps c. 1595 – 1795. The book is currently only available for order through The School of Historical Dress and at this exact moment their store says they are out of stock. According to their Facebook update of Monday November 19, 2018 “when our web shop page for PATTERNS OF FASHION 5 reads ‘Out of Stock’ what it really means is ‘We have taken as many orders as we can dispatch tomorrow’. When they are processed we will add another 100 copies to the shop. We will proceed in this way so that we keep up-to-date with the orders.” We recommend checking in daily to snag your copy.

The next much talked about book is The Victorian Dressmaker by Izabela Pitcher of Prior Attire. While the Dutch Milliners events don’t typically take us into the Victorian period I’ve begun to slowly work my way into the 1840s and this book is on my wishlist. It covers a wealth of information on patterns, cut, and assembly of women’s clothing from 1838 to 1902 and includes both modern and historical sewing techniques, tools, and materials. It sounds like a veritable bible for anyone interested in Victorian costuming and clothing.

Our next recommendation is Strano Books, whom we had the pleasure of meeting at Locust Grove’s Jane Austen Festival this past summer. His hand bound blank journals are breathtakingly gorgeous as are his bound copies of various Jane Austen novels we had the opportunity to see in person. At the moment he doesn’t have an Etsy shop but you may contact him through either his Instagram or Facebook for more information on ordering and custom works.

The last suggestion for our ‘Something to Read’ theme is not actually a book at all, but more of a clever way to disguise your phone while in costume. We’ve all been there, needing to check our phone or at least have it easily accessible while at an event but trying desperately to keep it out of site. These leather book phone cases from JTB Company iPhone Shop on Etsy are a really great option for those wanting a close enough phone case that isn’t glaringly modern. Bonus points they can double as a wallet for making cash and cards easy to reach. For a little more you can find similar wallet/phone case options on Amazon that have that great leather bound book look to them, I especially like the BookBook brand. For cosplayers or history/literary enthusiasts, they might enjoy a monthly phone case gift box from Once Upon a Bookcase designed to look like popular book titles like ‘The Handbook for the Recently Deceased’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice’. If a monthly subscription is more than you’re looking for, instead pick out just the right literary case from CustomizeMeAZ or ChickLitDesigns.

E85570C9-DE09-4529-8D02-597F327F4D27If you want something that is going to pass muster a little more than these cases you might want to consider a DIY phone book case using the tutorial by Kozy Kitty. I picked up an old book from the local museum with a good solid spine and binding for only .50¢ and created my very own hidden phone keeper which is perfect for events when you need to fool the public.

That’s a wraps for our book suggestions this year, as we’ve mentioned before there are countless titles that you can find on Amazon perfect for costumers, reenactors, and history lovers but we don’t have the time to list them all. Check back on Wednesday for my favorite theme this year, ‘Unforgettable Experiences’. As always happy shopping!

Day Three: Gifts From the Heart

I love surprises.

I am a twenty-eight year old woman, and if you mess with that couple seconds of unbridled joy as the wrapping paper comes off–you are dead to me.

Or at least, not my favorite gift giver.

Accordingly, gifts that have significant sentimental value will always win me over. I am about 75% sentiment anyway. This doesn’t release the giver from applying good taste, mind you! Which is where day three comes in: gifts from the heart. If you are looking for sentimental gifts that will hold up to the test of time, this is the post for you.

1. Hand Decorated Busks

Busks have much lore wrapped around them, and if you wish to read more, the always lovely and fabulous Julie has plenty of additional commentary here that I don’t have the space for in this line up. Suffice it to say that they are insanely practical for avoiding the dreaded sneeze-pop. If you are unfamiliar with the sneeze-pop, it’s that moment where you sneeze and your stays go, “pop!”

Fortunately, I haven’t had a pop turn into an actual crisis, but the busk keeps my piece of mind… and belly, right where they belong.

If you are a XXLCrafty™ sort, you can find a nice piece of wood, carve/cut/sand it to the size and length of your dearest’s needs, and decorate it to taste. This could be anything from carving to wood burning–even painting! Be advised that Dearest will be doing a considerable amount of sweating, so if you decide to paint it, seal it well with polyurethane or a similar sealant.

If you are only ModeratelyCrafty™, both William Booth Draper and Burnley & Trowbridge have simple, unadorned busks that can be wonderful starting points for a very sentimental gift. I find the B&T busk to be more appropriate for early 19th century, whereas the Wm. Booth Draper busk more accurately fits the later portion of the 18th century. Both would be easy enough to simply inscribe a simple message on, or even initials.

If you are NeverCraftsLLC, you will find that either busk above combined with a sweet note is still a very sentimental gift that hearkens back to lovelorn couples from centuries ago.

Busk, 18th century French, metal; [no dimensions available] The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1930 (30.135.36) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/85408

Keep it simple or go crazy! It’s the individuality of this gift that makes it special!

I definitely want one with a mermaid on it. Heck, if you’re into casting metal, give it a go! Whale bone is not advised.

2. A Portrait

Now, you’re going to have to stick with me through this one. We, interpreters/nerds/buffs/costumers are an interesting bunch. If we wanted something fast and easy, this wouldn’t be the hobby to find it in. In keeping with that, it’s only appropriate that I include one gift option that’s just a little bit extra.

I dug around, trying to find portrait painters, but even if I had found one that had serious acclaim, they would be out of the financial reach of 90% of the people reading this post. If you can afford that, you’re not reading this blog for gift ideas! So, I’ve ultimately settled on suggesting a few, slightly more realistic options.

Firstly, find an artist you like! One only has to peruse Instagram for a few moments before you can dig up a full spectrum of artists. If you want something that can be utilised in your interpretation or persona, commission a watercolor miniature or an oil painting.

Secondly, having a piece done in your historical duds, but with a more modern style can be a fun way to incorporate your hobby/career into your personal decorating. Some of my favorite artists on Instagram right now are Chelsea Dawn Leopold, Elena Corradino (not so much for portraits, but her abstract/mixed media is really cool, and incorporates historical elements), and Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk–these photos… I mean, they are unreal. I have no idea what her waiting list is like, but if I had some $$$ to spare, you can bet she would be doing some Flemish inspired sesh’s on me ASAP.

Thirdly, if you are fortunate enough to dabble in an era where photos were historically possible, a daguerreotype or vintage photo shoot can be a great way to freeze a memory with a little twist As mentioned earlier, these images can be a great asset to your persona as well! To give and keep on giving, consider shopping around places like thrift stores, antique stores, Ebay, and Etsy to find a vintage or antique camera that still works!

3. Bespoke Jewelry

This can seem like a tall order. However, custom jewelry doesn’t have to break the bank!

All the women in the historical jewelry community that I have interacted with are so obliging and sweet! K. Walters could turn your freshly painted miniature into a beautiful piece of jewelry. (P.S. you’re going to want to follow that link).

For that matter, the jewelry doesn’t have to bespoke. Dames a la Mode has some of my FAVORITE rings. She keeps a steady collection of antique conversion pieces in stock as well. Who knows, maybe she could make a ring with some locks of a loved one’s hair?

I have mentioned in passing on multiple occasions that I am not the biggest fan of the Victorians and their copious amounts of fabric. But guys.


Lady Detalle's Black Victorian Hand Earrings
Lady Detalle’s Black Victorian Hand Earrings

I would wear these earrings every. single. day.

If you desire simplicity, (I mean, I guess hands aren’t for everybody.) Fleur de Lys Originals has beautiful, real gemstone options. I have never been a huge fan of my birthstone, but if someone were to gift me this Citrine necklace, it would hit me right in all the sentimental feels.

Remember that men all throughout history have loved to accessorize as much as any fairer heart, (puka shell necklaces, anyone?) But let’s leave the pukas for our descendants to dig up and offer our gentlemen some shiny, new sleeve buttons. I love the oval versions from Wm. Booth Draper. I honestly would buy one of each design if I could!

4. Little Bits

I find that little tokens sometimes have the biggest sentiment pay-off. There’s something special about an understated, “I’m thinking of you.” versus a more grandiose offering.

I do still realise I am the same ninny who suggested commissioning a portrait two options ago.

But if funds are tight, or you’re looking for a sweet and simple way to show you care, these little tidbits might just fit the bill. They might even fit in the bill. Garters are barely there, but boy do they impact your stockings’ ability to stay up! I suffered lived in obstinacy without garters for two whole seasons before I finally gave in and just bought the darn, wool tape. Praise be.

I am very inspired by Katherine’s multiple garter projects–and honestly, if you have a hand for a needle and a good handle on Youtube, you could have your own custom set done in no time. If you have no needle nor time–just buy the darn, wool tape.

If you want the embroidery without the fuss, Penny River Costumes always makes life easier. I think these lizard stockings give the perfect example of how much meaning a simple gift can hold. Honestly, Jess’s stockings are some of my favorite accessories on the market right now!

Speaking of Little Bits, how fun is this rose scented ink from LBCC?! Nothing defines sentiment better than a letter scented by the sender. It’s the perfect way to leave a unique calling card on all the gifts you give this season.


Number Five

So many of my favorite stories growing up included a moment where the heroine receives a pretty package from Paris, (or anywhere chic) but mostly Paris, and she excitedly tears into and finds the prettiest, most perfect, immaculately fitting gown that could be procured for her. Call it the patriarchy, but I love the final stitches when a gown comes together and you stand connected to a moment that’s been shared for generations. We want to help create that moment.

The Dutch Milliners accept a limited number of bespoke gowns per year, and we still have some spots open! Let us help you give a gift from the heart.


A Proper Petticoat

Woman in a Kitchen, Paul Sandby c.1754

The petticoat, or skirt looking thingy, is the basic garment for your bottom half. Every woman no matter her social class or trade wore at least two petticoats, but often times they wore more. They could be left plain or could be trimmed lavishly, could be hemmed or bound with wool tape, and could be printed, solid, striped, or even checked!

For a basic wardrobe for a working class woman you’re going to want two petticoats to start with. These are going to be the easiest garment to sew in your entire kit since they are nothing more than two rectangles of fabric pleated to your waist measurement, hemmed and sewn into a waistband. When selecting fabric we recommend striped linen as it seems to be the most common. Both Burnley & Trowbridge and Wm. Booth, Draper offer a large selection of striped linen perfect for petticoats. If you decide to shop elsewhere for striped (or solid) linen we recommend sticking with shades of blue and brown. If you’d prefer to go with a solid linen we recommend sticking to earth tones, again with shades of blue and brown being the most common. Linen did not take dye colors as well as animal fibers like wool and silk. If you’d prefer a wider selection of colors we recommend looking at worsted wool or even wool flannel for petticoats. Wool petticoats were quite common then, in fact they were so common we need to see more wool gowns/petticoats represented in the hobby than we do now. If you’re concerned with being too hot in wool, do remember that wool like many other fabrics comes in a variety of weights. Tropical or summer weight wool can be so fine and light that you’ll scarcely believe its wool at all. When selecting a wool fabric buy from a reputable seller and pay attention to fiber content. Many wools are sold as wool blends and laws allow for fibers that make up less than 5% of the fiber weight to be simply listed as “other fiber(s)”, so understand what you are buying. Nylon is frequently added to wool to improve durability of the fabric, the NWTA allows for up to 25% of a wool fabric to be made with nylon. Polyester is another fiber frequently added to wool. We believe it’s a decision best left up to an individual as to whether a blend is appropriate. We highly encourage you to research why nylon and polyester is added to wool, how it affects the fabrics wear, and what it means for safety and risk around open flame.

The basic construction of a petticoat is simple and has been covered at length by many before us. We have listed below a number of tutorials as well as relevant research and resources relating to petticoats of the 18th century. The average petticoat requires roughly 2 ¼ yards of fabric, more if you want a fuller petticoat or have a larger waist measurement. The fabric is cut roughly to the length you’d like, which can be anywhere from top of the foot to two inches above the ankle. When

“Departure from a French Inn”, Grimm, 1775

deciding on the length of your petticoat consider its function and your tasks performed while wearing it. Longer petticoats are easily tripped on when not held out of the way, this could be both difficult and dangerous to manage when hauling wood or water. Both Hayley and myself keep our petticoats right above the ankle bone. Another consideration is how do you want to finish your petticoat, hemming or binding? Binding a petticoat hem with wool tape is a great way to preserve and protect your fabric investment and was a common way to finish a petticoat. Hems of gown skirts and petticoats get a lot of abuse being walked on, drug through the mud, catching on things all will eventually lead to the fabric fraying and even ripping. A binding or tape would take the brunt of this wear, leaving the fabric underneath relatively unharmed. When the binding began to fray or wear excessively it could easily be removed and replaced. When just helming a petticoat the fabric itself is exposed directly to the abuse of daily wear and when it finally gives you’re left with no choice but to clip the ruined edge off. Your poor petticoat would then slowly shrink over time as each successive hem was worn out and cut off again, not a very sound way to treat your investment.

Well, I really think that sums it up for petticoats, they are a pretty basic garment. So rules to remember:

  1. At least two, worn at all times, sometimes more but never less.
  2. Stick to linen or wool for working class. Stripes are your best friend.
  3. Cotton print petticoat only with a matching cotton print gown or jacket (for Anglo descent personas- some ethnic groups through that rule out the window)
  4. Ankle length is a good place to start for working class. Too long and you’ll trip, too short and you’ll look French, Dutch, or German.


Petticoat Research and Resources

Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls by Don Hagist

Petticoat Tutorials
http://www.marquise.de/en/1700/howto/frauen/rock.shtml (measurements in metric)



The Art of Keeping Warm: Cold Weather Clothing


We received a special request, in light of this recent cold snap, to talk about winter clothing for women of the 18th century and figured what better time than now as we thaw out from these -22 temperatures we’ve been having here in the Midwest. So sit back, grab a blanket, and think warm thoughts as we share some of the best ways to stay toasty for those upcoming chilly events.

Layers are the name of the game when it comes to staying comfortably warm in the 18th century. So let’s start with those toes! Silk works as a great insulator and is still used today for base layer garments. It’s lightweight, easy to layer, wicks moisture away better than cotton and can help you regulate your temperature which makes it perfect for winter events. When getting dressed don your silk stockings first before putting on those wooly ones and your toes and legs should stay reasonably warm.

If you know you’re going to be heading to a handful of winter events I’d recommend investing in a flannel shift and flannel under/modesty petticoat. If you tend to run hot, overheat easily, or know you’ll be frequently indoors/near a fire you may want to consider if a flannel shift is needed. If you’re on a march or doing demos outside exposed to the cold you’ll probably be ok with that flannel shift. Overall, soft, warm base layers can be the difference between shivering at an event and being comfortable.

Speaking of petticoats, layer those up to help keep your thighs and legs warm. Adding a quilted petticoat can help keep the warmth in, it almost creates a pocket of warm air especially when layered with other petticoats on top. On any given day I wear at least two petticoats, sometimes three, but when expecting an event to be chilly I may wear up to five petticoats if that’s what it takes to keep my butt warm.

Next I’d consider adding a quilted waistcoat before putting on my gown. There are a few surviving examples of these waistcoats, which may have been the inspiration behind that mythical (and terribly inaccurate) “bodice” so frequently worn to 18th century events. Sharon Burnston has written a great amount of research on quilted waistcoats for women and has graciously provided a pattern for making one of your own. This garment, like jumps and stays, is meant to be worn underneath your gown or jacket. This is not an outerwear piece like our modern down vests, but more like an 18th Century long john/ long underwear style top.

So now you’re essentially dressed, you have your gown on and the next layer to help keep you warm would be your cap. I’d opt for a cap with long lappets that I could tie under my chin or otherwise use to cover my ears. Atop my cap I’d tightly tie a handkerchief to help block out the wind, again silk would be my top pick because of how great of an insulator it is without adding bulk. Speaking of silk handkerchiefs, I’d be layering my neck handkerchiefs to help keep my bosom warm. First I’d start with silk before adding a heavier handkerchief like one of those nice linsey-woolsey ones from Burnley & Trowbridge. Aside from a hooded cape/cloak/mantelet I’d afix a bonnet, preferably silk or wool to help block the wind from head and face and keep in all that heat.

So now we’re left with exposed lower arms and the upper body to keep warm. Mitts are the most obvious answer for keeping the lower arms warm. We see mitts made of silk, leather, wool, and even repurposed from old worn out stockings. We’ve previously shared a DIY pattern for making your own 18th Century mitts which are a serious must have item for any event. They’re great at keeping the cold and bitter wind away during the winter and perfect for sunburn prevention in the warm summer months (ask Hayley how we know this!). For keeping hands and lower arms warm we’d also consider a muff, depending on the event and what we were doing. Muffs of fur or silk made with a wool or silk lining are perfect at keeping hands warm. They’re great for events when you’re not doing much of anything but seem, IMO, impractical for any event where you’re actually needing to use your hands.

Last layer we’re going to mention is the cloak, mantle, cape or what have you. These often had hoods and were commonly made of wool, most popular color seems to have been a pretty shade of red which earned them the name cardinals. A nice close fitting hood can help keep the heat in around the head and neck area. The cloak itself could be made in different lengths and works the same as a modern coat by acting as the outermost layer to block the wind and trap the heat close to the body. We are working on cloaks of our own using the research and pattern graciously made available by Sue Felshin. We definitely recommend a cloak as the bare minimum for winter clothing.

So there you have folks! Layering up is about the best way to keep warm for chilly events. As with anything we recommend using your best judgement when preparing for an event. If temperatures are in the negatives or with severe wind chills we’d highly recommend the use of modern base layers and hand warmers. These kept out of sight are a compromise I’m willing to make since they don’t outwardly affect my overall interpretation, but that choice is a very personal one to make.

Stay warm and happy sewing!




Lucy Locket and Her Pocket



“Lucy Lockett lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it.
Not a penny was there in it, only ribbon wrapped around it.”

To most modern folks this nursery rhyme simply makes no sense, pockets for most of our memory have been sewn into our garments, sans ribbon. 18th Century pockets, on the other hand, were essentially medium sized bags with an opening that were tied to the waist (along with everything else). Pockets varied in size and shape as well as the materials used to make them with. Sparing you the pockets lecture I’d highly recommend the following sources before starting your project.

Pocket Research

Pocket Tutorials

I’m generally one of those people who prefers to buy everything in a kit rather than having to track down each little piece, while pockets seem simple enough they do have lots of little tedious bits that need purchased like the fabric itself, something to bind it with, tape to secure them to yourself, and embroidery thread if you so choose to have pretty pockets. I decided not to waste time and money and just bought a pocket kit through Wm. Booth, Draper. The basic pocket kit comes with ½ yard of unbleached linen, 2 yards of ½” wide linen tape, one spool of beige 50/3 linen thread and a bundle of strips of reproduction cotton prints for binding . The kit is intended to be made in a class so there will not be a pattern or instructions that come with it but that’s not a big deal at all.

You can easily order a pattern for pockets, Kannik’s Korner has a pattern for stockings, pockets and mitts that is available for $14.00 through Wm. Booth, Draper. If you’d like to save some money, and who doesn’t?, I’d advise improvising with your own pattern! My pockets are being made with the tutorial provided by the V&A Museum, as well as help from the Tea in a Teacup post. I ironed my linen and roughly drew out the shape I wanted based on the pocket dimensions in the “Teacup” post. I then scaled up a design I wanted to embroider on each of my pockets and transferred it to the pockets.

Now I won’t lie to you fine folks, my pockets are not finished. They are on the back burner… way, way, way back there. I know I should have them and they could be useful but for now I have gotten by without them. In their stead I have been using a market wallet for general carrying of stuff, small hand basket, and a frail from Mrs. Boice’s Historie Academie. Will I ever finish my pockets? Yes, eventually. Should you make your pockets? Yes! They really do provide an interesting topic for discussion with the public, sort of similar to the “What’s in your purse?” question and they can be used to easily hide away those modern necessities like cell phones, keys, credit cards, and cash. Two pockets makes that even easier if you devote one solely to modern items while the other remains the “show and tell” pocket. For a more detailed look at what a woman might have carried in her pockets check out this blog post written by Carrie Fellows over at the 17th Regiment of Foot.


So pockets, while not necessary are extremely useful, simple to make, and great little projects that can be worked on while at events- perfect for an entire pocket discussion!


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


“There is no accounting for tastes.”

Welcome back to our Twelve Days of Christmas series here at the Dutch Milliners!

We’ve covered some big gifts and small gifts, but today we are covering something a little less glamorous: practical gifts.

Once you’ve been in “the hobby” for any amount of time, you quickly realize that there are things you simply haven’t the time or the skill to create on your own. I have even come to this realization despite being an avid DIY-er. And I do mean avid.

Additionally, things like jewelry, clothing, and other accessories are highly personal, and as, “there is no accounting for tastes” sometimes it is safest to err on the side of practical when it comes to gift giving.

However, just because something is practical doesn’t mean it has to be boring!!! Here is our list of beautiful and unique, but incredibly useful gifts for the historical interpreter in your life.

For holding things:

You have a lot of stuff. And invariably, there are never enough places to put it. For foodstuffs; crocks, bowls, and basins make de-farbing your outfit a durable and easily rinsable endeavor. This redware from Westmoore Pottery is just too beautiful. Baskets are a lightweight option for storing dry goods, sewing projects, and other containers. Townsends has a simple, but roomy option here.

Money a little tight? One of my favorite tricks for stoneware and basketry is to compile several reference images of 18th century still life and hit up your local second hand stores. You may strike out, but occasionally you can find a really nice piece. Print your reference images, the information nicely printed on the back, and give the gift of documentation this Christmas season.

If you have a little more to spend, this document box from the American Heritage Shop is a great way to hid a little farbery, or protect your reproduction books and journals… or your actual 18th century books. Drool.

For the over-tasked seamstress:

I like to sew.

Even so, sometimes, there are just some small (boring) items I don’t want to take time to sew. Especially when I could be sewing another cupcake gown.

Bumrolls are a really useful garment that are often overlooked by the average interpreter. Aside from improving your 18th century silhouette, bumrolls also help support the weight of numerous petticoats and increase air circulation in the, ahem, nether regions–useful for those toasty July events. The Needle Workers have a very moderate option that will be appropriate for most personas.

Pockets would make my life so much easier, and I completely intend to make a pair with my kit from Wm. Booth Draper.

…have intended to make them for about about six months now. You could save yourself the procrastination battle and just snap this set up from a Fashionable Frolic.

Thread is not glamorous by ANY means, but it is useful. The 60/2 thread from Burnley and Trowbridge is my favorite! Make a little sewing kit out of a spool and one of these sweet little needle cases. A threadwinder and a thimble will round out the gift nicely.

To make camp life a little easier:

Campfires… they can make or break you. Get ahead of the curve with a fire starting kit from the Quarter Master General. Fire tongs can also make your life easier by saving the time you would usually take to find a fire poking stick. Making your coals mobile will also improve the efficiency of your fire.

The Tekla dish towel from IKEA is a VERY inexpensive option for a camp towel. You’ll want to remove the tags and maybe re sew them if you want to avoid machine stitching, but you can’t beat the price.

I ALWAYS want to take my shoes off about halfway through a typical event, and this usually results in me mucking about in my socks.

Choosing a pair of reproduction mules may be a better option. Burnley and Trowbridge has a nice option. Sarah Juniper can make the custom mules of your dreams become a reality.

To make pack up a little easier:

You’re hot, sweaty, and just want to get home. The following items will help reduce the extra 21st century items you have to have on hand, and maybe speed up your exit just a tad!

Patagonia’s classic Baggies shorts are lightweight and quick drying–also elastic waisted–making the quick, cramped quarters change from interpreting duds to civvies a much simpler process. They have options for both men and women. Along those lines, the Outdoor Research Mirage tank top combines both tank top AND bra, minimizing the amount of extraneous items floating around in your overnight “leave it in the car” bag.

Speaking of that bag, having a durable and easy to dig through tote on hand will simplify the pile of necessary farb. Speaking of L.L. Bean, their adventure duffel would be a great option for organizing your garb for the drive in and the drive out.

Smelling a little gamey is just a part of camping out. Spritz your garments down with a natural odor eater, and purchase a shaker of the Dutch Milliners scented body and hair powder! Patting yourself down with this stuff right before bed and also before changing into your going home clothes will greatly improve your mood, and the scent experience of the humans around you. *wink*

Don’t ever let anyone in your life rain on your practical parade, because as this post just proved, basic is sometimes best.

I love me some PSL and Ugg boots, so fight me.

Now, to go convince the family that I really do need that L.L. Bean tote…


DIY 18th Century Powder Brush


Hey everyone thanks for being patient with us as illness has taken over the Frederick household staying on top of blog posts and writing hasn’t been at the top of the list, sorry guys! To make up for the lack of content we have a great post from guest writer Bryn Kelley which ties in perfectly with our two series we’re running right now, The Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping and our Thrifty Reenactress series. Without further ado…

DIY Historically Accurate (Hair) Powder Brush

Raise your hand if you want big hair! So you have your hair powder, which you can make for cheap, you have a way to store it, but how do you actually apply it?

With a powder brush!

image3Now the big question is getting a historically accurate powder brush without breaking the bank. I am always looking for a bargain, in all aspects of life, I was at Marshalls shopping deals when inspiration for this project struck. I saw a small powder brush that only had a tiny aluminium handle that could easily be covered, the price made it sweeter, only four dollars.

(Powder brush before historically inspired makeover)


The trick with extant powder brushes is that wood 1512941549951and animal hair are two of the most susceptible materials to moisture and pest deterioration. To study brushes of the time therefore requires studying images, paintings and prints that show women at their toilette. The image here shows a brush that I used as my model for my brush handle.

Block not yet in the round

Now the actual work begins! I started with some oak I happened to have from making tent poles in a previous project. I hate how hard the wood was, but it was nice because A.) I owned it already and B.) it was almost in the round. I had to glue the two scraps I had together so I used Gorilla glue because of the durability. Then I was ready to roll!

I started out hand sanding, intending to whittle to taper the handle. I quickly regretted the choice of oak. I am not one to back down; I simply get creative. I rigged a lathe of sorts and started sanding with 80-grit to get it into the round. Fast-forward to getting it rounded, next step is tapering it down so it is actually usable. Sadly I did not take any pictures before it was tapered, but it generally looked like a dowel. If you want to not hate yourself during this I recommend finding inch and a half dowel of a wood.

Block tapered and sanded

This next part was the trickiest part, drilling out the indent for the actual brush to get set into. The trickiest part of this was the fact that since the wood now had a finish sanding on it I did not want to mar the wood, so attempting to use the drill press with the narrow end of the handle at the base. I got some help from a second set of hands. Here is another time where I wish I had used one-piece dowel-rod, since mine was pieced together the bore bit did not like the joints, skipping multiple times. In the end I needed to use the Dremmel a little and ended up cobbling it together successfully. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this step either.

Final step! Now to set the brush into the handle. I used E6000 glue to set it but you could epoxy or super glue. The E6000 took up the extra space I had from the bit being too big.

Here’s the final product!



Bryn Kelley

Handmade with Love – DIY Gifts to Give

Today’s theme for our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping series is all about handmade gifts from the heart. Having three children I do a lot of hands on projects with them and Pinterest has become my favorite place to find ideas. Last year Santa brought them some homemade holiday scented play dough that they still love to use. This got me thinking, so many of the things we use and need in this hobby can be made at home, so what better way to check off your shopping list than making gifts yourself?

IMG_3571Let’s jump right in with where we left off yesterday, DIY earthenware marbles for children. There are dozens of homemade clay recipes out there so if you have a favorite go with that, but this recipe from Savvy Homemade is currently my favorite tutorial for making your own clay marbles. Unpainted marbles left in their natural shades of red, brown, and white seem to be the most common kinds typical of the 18th century but feel free to paint your marbles if you’d like. Sew up a small linen sack with a drawstring to hold your marbles and you have the perfect gift for your little living historians. Just for fun we’re going to give you a free download of marble games to enjoy those homemade marbles even more!

Another great DIY gift for kids of all ages, that is seldomly seen at events, paper kites! We all have heard the story of how Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite during a thunderstorm, but did you know that kite flying was a common pastime of Georgian children? Check out this amazing tutorial from PBS on how to recreate your own 18th Century paper kite and then head over here and here to get some inspiration from some recreated Georgian kites.

Next gift is a a simple project perfect for the ladies on your list, 18th Century mitts. Even if you don’t live in a cooler climate these mitts are perfect for preventing sunburn in the scorching summer heat. Silk, wool, or linen are great options for these mitts and if you really wanted to cheat you could assemble everything needed for making the mitts and present them as a DIY kit, perfect for that friend who enjoys sewing. Check out the tutorial here.

Our next DIY gift is for the knitters out there. Check out these great, free patterns on Ravelry from Colleen Humphreys! She has shared patterns for both a Monmouth cap and a striped 18th century knitted cap as well as a new test pattern for 18th Century military mitts.

1512577804783Next DIY gift is for those arts and crafts people. I love those Fashionable Lover’s Eye jewelry and miniature portraits and thought it would be great to have my very own of some of my favorite people but without the price tag of a custom piece. Check out these picture frame pendants with glass covers from indi-pendants by Solid Oak. All you need to do is draw and paint (or print if you’re artistically challenged) a miniature or detail of a beloveds eye and then follow the directions on the pendant packaging. Add a pretty ribbon and they’re perfect for gift giving (or keeping)! I created one using ink, watercolor, and acrylic with a detail of JJ Feild’s, Major Andre from AMCs TURN, eye for my very own nerdy fan jewelry.

IMG_3576Our last DIY gift suggestion comes from Isis Wardrobe and the Toilet of Flora. 18th Century hair powder can be super easy to make with just regular household ingredients and makes a great gift when presented in a pretty box or shaker. Use it for dressing hair at events and as dry shampoo when you’re too busy to wash your hair daily, so it’s multipurpose! Picking up a few ingredients like alkanet root, cochineal, jojoba oil, and beeswax from Amazon or speciality shops and you can make quite a few different goodies listed in the Toilet of Flora. My personal favorites are lip salves and pomatums.

These are just a handful of great DIY gift ideas to get you started, but the sky’s the limit. Chances are if you can think of something there is probably a tutorial already out there on Pinterest!