Total Pageviews

Monday, June 27, 2011

Patience and a sombrero makeover

I've been wanting to make an 18th century hat for a while but balked a bit at the price plus postage of those nice hat blanks I've seen online. I figured I could find an ordinary straw hat and have a play around with it. However in true form, while I was looking I couldn't find anything even remotely suitable. It was only when I stopped looking that one turned up! 
I found this large brimmed sombrero at the charity shop on Saturday for $4. 

First of all I unpicked some of the crown to see how good the straw was - I wasn't sure how well it would stand up to being unpicked and resewn. It turned out to be fine. So I cut off the tall crown and proceeded to sew a flat piece for the new low crown.
Fortunately I had some milliner's needles bought for just such a project. I took my time and sprayed the straw with water and put a weight on it to make it nice and flat.  I also turn the main part inside out because the brim was a bit floppy. Then once my little round flat piece was the size I needed I pinned it into place on the open crown.
Have I ever sewn a hat before - no. Was it hard? No. 
Sewing the new flat panel in was the most fiddly.  It just took a little time and I even reused the thread I unpicked from the hat. It was still strong so it went back into the hat. Ultimate recycling!  
Now instead of paying around $40, I have a 24 inch wide low crowned straw hat for $4 and it's ready for styling. 
I'm going through my stash for suitable trimmings and I'll post on that shortly!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An embarrassment of pool cues

It's amazing isn't it. About a month ago I got tired of waiting to find an old pool cue to make my 18th century walking stick and went off and bought a brand new one.  But today I went to the markets and found not one but three old cues, of various sizes and colours $12.  Well come on, I couldn't leave them there, could I?!?

I also dug out one of the lovely wooden bottle stoppers I'd bought years ago. I think it might end up on one of the cues. It has a shape that reminds me of the onion cupolas of St Basil's in Moscow. Which brings me to these delightful walking canes of Catherine the Great. You can just see the hole under the jewelled head through which a ribbon was passed. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Problems with leaving comments - the joys of Blogger

I am feeling just a little tetchy.  When I try to leave comments on any blog - yes even my own, Blogger is sending me in a continual loop where I have to sign in, enter the authentication letters etc and when I hit send, hey presto I have to log in on Blogger again. Aaarrrgh  Until I can work out why this pesky thing is happening please forgive me if I don't respond to your comments online.  It feels like Groundhog Day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More books, more wonderful reading

Since my local libraries are light on for books about 18th century clothing I am a regular purchaser of books.

Among the latest to arrive is "Costume Close-up, Clothing Construction and Pattern 1750 - 1790" by Linda Baumgarten and John Watson with Florine Carr (published by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).  I love the pictures of the insides of garments because I can see how they were put together and the types of stitches that were used.  I like that I can see where bits of fabric were pieced together to save cost and that sometimes edges weren't even, much like things I've made. It makes those people far more real to me, because the only real difference between us is time.  My only wish is that all the pictures were in colour rather than just a few.

The next book is "The Art of Dress, Clothes through history 1500 - 1914" by Jane Ashelford (published by the National Trust). I like the marriage of information from extant garments and portraits in this book. I like the snippets from people's letters, I liked finding out that even wealthy ladies went from shop to shop all over London to find the right fabric for a new dress - something I can relate to. Home sewing in Australia has been in decline for 20 to 30 years with a resulting drop in the number of fabric shops around Brisbane. I'm not a fan of Spotlight and that means trekking from one side of town to the other to the few shops that are still around.  I miss the fabric shops of my teens - they were wonderful even in my small town.

And if you want blisteringly good colour pictures with close-ups and less text there is "Fashioning fashion, European dress in detail 1700 - 1915" by Sharon Sadako Takeda and Kaye Durland Spilker (published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art).  It covers quite a range of attire and the photos are sumptuous!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Yes I know it's one of the seven deadlies but I do envy people who live in areas where there are lots of reenactment and living history groups. You folk in the US and UK seem to have heaps of lovely events to attend. Even the folk in Sweden seem to have lovely events in gorgeous locations.
In my part of the world (Australia) pretty much unless you are into medieval there isn't a whole lot.  Nothing against medieval but it's not me. (I liked it quite a lot when I was younger but I've matured into rococco!) 

One day I hope I find enough 18th century enthusiasts around here to have an 18th century event. Doesn't have to be large, just something to dress up for and amuse ourselves.
I guess I'd better just stop whinging and remember I live in a wonderful climate and enjoy it. Tomorrow I will be puttering around my herb garden or sewing my 'quasi' dress.