Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Historical Sew Monthly 2020 - July - No-Buy and Being in a Bubble

July:  No-Buy:
Make something without buying anything.  Whether it's finishing off a UFO, using up scraps of fabric from earlier challenges in the year, sewing entirely from stash, or finding the perfect project for those small balls of yarn, this is your opportunity to get creative without acquiring more stuff.
The Dreamstress

Well, hi there!  I've been away a few months and it's so nice to have you here!  If you are reading this in July of 2020 you know life has taken an incredible turn.  If you are reading this in the future, I'm confident we came through this with a new understanding of ourselves, a new social conscience, and a renewed appreciation for some parts of life we may have not even realized we took for granted.

2020 was to be an amazing historical costuming year for many of us who love this creative hobby.  In 2019 I began to study and recreate 18th century fashion in preparation for a trip in 2020.  My last post here on February 2nd was the 18th century underthings I made for the Foundations Revealed Competition.  In January I had travelled to Atlanta, Georgia for a class in 18th century passementarie and ribbon embroidery.  In February I made my first trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia for Fashion Week.  I learned so much!  But already news of the virus was reaching us and friends were already cancelling travel plans for June.  In May I was to return to Colonial Williamsburg for a costume weekend and the following week I would begin the trip of my lifetime.  Travelling with friends I would begin with a few days in New York City, a crossing on the Queen Mary 2 to Southhampton, 5 days in London, and 11 days in Paris with a final costume event at Versailles.  I had saved and sold every piece of costume clothing and accessories I could to fund the trip.  It was my once-in-my-lifetime chance to experience Europe.  By March those dreams turned to dust as the virus marched across the world.

My family is high risk for severe complications if infected.  We have maintained a bubble of safety and I volunteer in a virtual setting to assist others with the physical, mental, and emotional difficulties of the ever-changing environment we have had to create.  I haven't been immune to bouts of extreme sadness and evenings of tears.  I'm now in my 18th week of quarantine but, thankfully, feeling physically healthy.  What I had lost was my desire to create.  It seemed so purposeless while social distancing is a necessity, and just getting through some days left little energy to devote to my tiny sewing room.

One evening I received a text from a costumer I know only virtually but I have so much respect for her creativity and talent.  She asked if I would test a new Victorian hat pattern she had developed.  The current social distancing and economy has been a gutpunch for those who make their living in this hobby.  I had purchased some excess fabric and trims and taken some classes from small businesses that service the costume community and just couldn't say no to this talented lady.  Although I wanted to.  It will be quite a while before I could wear a Victorian bonnet.  But I said yes and I always keep my commitments to others even when I don't keep them to myself.

She emailed me the pattern and her inspirations which were lovely, and with no desire whatsoever, I began to create.  

I checked that my printer was printing to the correct size based on the 1" comparison marks on the pattern, taped the several pieces together, and the pattern was ready.  This pattern has options for several brims or brimless, and several heights.  Having a pdf pattern makes it easy to cut the size you desire and then just reprint for a different size.

Whenever I create a hat I gather fabrics and trims knowing that I will probably not use them all.  This allows me to try combinations of colors and fabrics until I see what I love.  I want an autumn/winter style and have scraps of silk, silk velvet, a polyester with a great design, ribbon, velvet leaves, and an assortment of scrap trims that have potential.

I hand sew all my hats and as I cut the buckram and attach millinery wire with locking stitches I realize that I am more relaxed and at peace than I have been in months.  I have a good cry for everything my family and all the friends and families around the world have been experiencing during this time.

It takes me a few days to continue with my creation but I put myself back in the tiny sewing space.  I add French elastic to cover and smooth the millinery wire and then add scrap flannel to mull the brim.

The brim is covered with two pieces of chocolate-colored silk velvet with a handsewn seam slightly behind the very top of the brim and then a piece of scrap trim handsewn to cover the seam and peek over the top edge of the brim.  I remember using this trim for a Historical Sew Monthly Challenge years ago and am so glad I saved this bit.


Now I can cut the fitting tabs into the brim and sew it to the crown.

I love the shape!  And now I can drape the silk and the polyester over the crown.

 When I walked into my sewing space the following morning I was surprised at my smile.  I had taken bits and scraps of nothing and was turning them into something beautiful!  It didn't matter that this Victorian hat may never be worn.  All that mattered today was watching it come to life out of my imagination and with my needle and thread.  In the midst of the sadness of the world I felt a hope that beauty and creativity would survive and it was happening just the tiniest bit on my table even as I was in lockdown in my home.

The pattern in this polyester is beautiful and a perfect overlay for the draped cap.

There is enough trim to finish the lower edge of the crown and the 1880s Draped Cap is finished.

I have taught many classes of ribbon flowers and have enough ribbon to create some here with twisted and looped ribbon embellishment and ties and a touch of green with velvet leaves.

After all the embellishment is stitched in place I add a silk lining.

The 1880s Draped Cap is finished!

I love it!  And the pattern designer loves it too and puts my photo on her website with the pattern!  I'm so happy she is pleased with her pattern and my design.  What incredible fun!

For those of us who have a hobby, a passion, an interest, that has been necessarily interrupted by our world situation, I believe it is important that we take some time to honor that passion as best we can during this time.  A mental break, no matter how small, to give yourself the opportunity to use whatever talent you have been graciously given, is healing and necessary.  We can't lose our desire to add beauty, to share beauty, and to appreciate the beauty around us and the beauty we create.   Hugs and love to everyone!!

Historical Sew Monthly

The Challenge:  No-Buy
Material:  Silk, silk velvet, polyester
Pattern:  Penny Dreadfuls 1880s Draped Cap
Year:  1880s
Notions:  Buckram, millinery wire, French elastic, trim, ribbon, leaf spray, stamens.
How historically accurate is it?  Based on historical illustrations of the period with modern available materials.
Hours to complete:  6 hours
First worn:  No future plans
Total cost:  Scrap materails and test pattern.  No cost.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your cancelled trip, but glad that you were able to gain such enjoyment from making something. The bonnet is lovely.

    1. Thank you for your sweet thoughts and words!! Stay well!!