September 29, 2015

To Pin, or Not to Pin...

...That is the question.

To pin, of course!  What a silly question, especially if you have a collection of new pincushions to pin upon!

I haven't posted much about actual sewing recently, only because I'm in the middle of several projects.  CADD (Costume Attention Deficit Disorder) strikes again!  Anyways, one of those projects happens to be a new period appropriate, early to mid 19th century, sewing box.  Usually my sewing supplies are scattered all over my basket (and all over the house), so I think it's time they find a home in one spot...enter the perfectly period, wallpaper covered sewing box:

Here's a period example:

Mid 19th century wallpaper covered sewing box, 4.5" h. by 6.5" w.,
with a pincushion lid and blue floral decoration on an orange ground.
Live auctioneers, Lot 229

And here's mine: 

Reproduction wallpaper covered box, 8" by 8"
Courtesy of C. LeCount, thank you! 

With the pasteboard band box acquired, the next question is what to put in it?  So I turned to Anna Worden Bauersmith's blog, If I Had My Own Blue Box, for answers!  Anna is definitely a star in the historical sewing world, known especially for her excellence in millinery & sewing accessories.  (I've even had the privilege of meeting her in Mumford!)  Make sure to order a copy of her latest and greatest, Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases & Needle-books, and go follow her blog, if you don't already!  Seriously, both are outstanding resources.  

After a few searches there, I came across the best blog post I've ever read on all things sewing box related: What is in Your Sewing Box?  Not only does Anna share some great period resources on work boxes, but she details her own sewing box and basket, as well as two of Bevin's (which I've seen and even used in real life - yup, perks of being her intern!)  All of this together has proven most useful in assembling a sewing box of my own!

While still a work in progress, my next step is to create some sort of insert with dividers for the inside.  These are the fabrics I've chosen to use:

Two period calicoes, light green silk & chocolate silk.
(For some reason the coloring is funky in this picture...)

In the meantime, I have started to acquire a decent collection of pincushions and sewing accessories to fill my sewing box!  (Probably thanks in part to my Sewing Accessories Pinterest board.)  So, without further ado, onto the pincushion fun!

Number One:  Round cloth pincushions.  

Historical inspiration:

"Pincushion by Fanny Waddell made from material brought during the blockade from England and printed with the pattern of the Confederate second national flag, which was adopted in May 2, 1863" - North Carolina Museum of History
(Image via:

Pincushion collection: "six tomato pincushions in silk, velvet, cotton, multi-color floral patterns, and silk plaid...scallop shell with red silk silk covered disk with red velvet interior."
(Image via:

My version:  These aren't new by any means, but are my tried-and true-pincushions, which have accompanied me to work for the past two seasons.  I couldn't imagine my sewing box without one!

Number Two:  A Berlin work pincushion.

Ever since my brief introduction to needlepoint, thanks to my friend and fellow coworker, Judy, I've become obsessed!  (Needlepoint Pinterest Board)  Hopefully, more projects to follow...

Measuring a little over 3" by 3", the square features five different crewel wool yarns in a chevron-like pattern.  Backed with silk, flat-lined with cotton muslin, and embellished with handmade cording.  Such a fun, little project!

Number Three: A scalloped sea shell pincushion.  

Historical inspiration:

A trio of antique sea shell sewing pincushions, possibly Shaker.
According to the seller: "[Each] are fashioned from two shells that are hard-stuffed with velvet.  Similar pincushions made from scallop shells were made and sold by the Shakers in the 1880s from shells collected along the Maine shore"
(Image via: Etsy shop - AmericanaAntiques)

My version:

While my inspiration had two matching(?) shells, and originally my reproduction did as well (until one was stepped on), the finished pincushion features just one scalloped sea shell with a red velvet interior.  I have also seen similar historical examples using just one shell.  

And, it just so happens that Anna Bauersmith has a fantastic article of her own on shell pincushions and recreating them:  Shell Pincushions.  Go check it out!

Number Four: A basket pincushion. 

Historical inspiration:

Antique Sterling Silver Basket Pincushion, c.1800, England.
(Image via: Ebay seller - toys4boysandgirls12)

My version:  Constructed using a small, woven basket and silk, flat-lined with cotton muslin, for the cushion.

Number Five:  A button & thimble drawstring keep.  

While not exactly pincushions, I couldn't resist the opportunity to share the button & thimble keep I made for my sewing box!  Both circular keeps are fully lined and close by embroidery floss drawstrings.

Perfect for keeping antique china buttons, thimbles & mother of pearl buckles safe.

Well I'm off to fill my box with plenty more sewing goodies!

Scissors large and small, spools of thread, bone instruments...
all I want now is to find some nice bone or wood thread winders!

But, first, here's a bonus peak at my latest short gown study:

I have high hopes of finishing this outfit in time for September's Historical Sew Monthly Challenge, but another, spur-of-the moment project is taking my attention away from my entry...Thanks for reading!

September 24, 2015

Welcome to my world, Won't you come on in?

Knock and the door shall be open
Seek and you will find
Ask and you'll be given
The key to this heart of mine
 ~ lyrics by Ray Winkler & John Hathcock

Welcome to my world, won't you come on in?
Photo courtesy of Mary Flynn.

It's about time for a blog post again!  A whole lot can happen in one week, and here's positive week in a series of snapshots & words:

Saturday the 12th: High Tea at Hosmer's Inn.

Now this was really fun, my first tea at Hosmer's Inn!  Like any other special event at Hosmer, there was plenty of set up and clean up to be done.  It was a cold and dreary day, so a fire was the first order of business (with my mad fire-building skills!), followed by plenty of food and activity preparations.  Our ten guests, eight ladies and two very young ladies, arrived at one in the afternoon, and Lyn immediately (and effortlessly) slipped into character as Mrs. Smith-Smythe.

Mrs. Smith-Smythe (Lyn) tending to the stubborn candle holders.

Tiffany, or shall I say, Jane, as we were called, in the parlor.

Set up for the flower arranging activity.
I had the pleasure of trekking out to the Hyde gardens
during the downpour to pick all of those flowers...

The ladies' parlor, all set for tea!
Alright, I admit that getting to play around with
flower arranging was worth the morning's rainy trek...

Tea provisions, two kinds of salads and two kinds of
sandwiches (chutney and ham & cheese), all piled up! 

The guests had a riot - enthusiastically playing along with Mrs. Smith-Smythe as she taught them all about the history of tea and proper tea etiquette!  The guests also enjoyed taking part in the tea preparations by making their own cucumber tea sandwiches and flower arranging to their hearts' content for the next day's Sunday services.  The two servants, Jane (Tiffany) and Jane (me), knew their parts and places, and made sure each guest had their fill of tea & scrumptious provisions.

A minty potato salad.

Yummy tea cakes!  Fancily iced 1-2-3-4 cakes & raspberry fruit tarts.

Called "petticoat tails" or shortbread.

'Twas much fun, and I do hope that the opportunity to serve at similar events comes again!  

Sunday the 13th: 19th Century Games at Thomson's Tavern.

As usual, on weekends I interpret at Thomson's Tavern, running the indoor and outdoor children's games.  There's never a dull moment, especially with stilts around!  (Though, seriously, the stilts are by far the best perk of the job!  Between teaching and playing games with visitors, I try to spend as much time as possible up on my favorite pair of stilts.)   

Yes, the little dot in the picture is me playing around on my favorite pair of stilts. 
Come to the tavern and try it out yourselves! 
Photo courtesy of Hannah Webster.

Monday the 14th:  Often a breather, this Monday was well spent sewing a new purple checked apron & packing for the fun-filled days ahead.  (Sorry, no silly pictures...)

Tuesday the 15th:  Fall Hosmer Dinner & Overnight at the Inn. 

At the museum, we work hard & try to have fun doing while doing it!  Enter...Hosmer Dinners!  A great experience for guests and us servers, alike, including a first-person, four course, 19th century dinner, an exclusive look around the tavern, upstairs and down, & a candlelight, behind the scenes tour around the village.  For this particular dinner, I served as the tour guide and took our guests to the requested Hyde, Hamilton & Livingston-Backus houses.  There were lots of stories to be told, random factoids and objects to point out, and, yes, everyone did get a chance to climb up to the cupolas!

Walking into Hosmer's Inn.
Photo courtesy of Hannah Webster.

As for the dinner itself, the 2015 Jane Austen tribute continues with a new fall menu featuring the same favorites for the first course: white soup, Bath buns, herbed butter, strawberry jam, and East India & Irish cucumber pickles.  An all new second course: mashed turnips, steamed broccoli, forced meat balls & a roast pork loin with onions & apple compote.  The third, cold course features the ever-popular and wildly colorful salamagundi with Mrs. Loyd's dressing, a cheese platter, and a raisin & nut platter.  And, if that wasn't already enough food, the fourth, dessert course pairs sponge cake with freely flowing and fortifying, heritage chocolate, hot cocoa!  

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures again, but thanks to JANSA Central & Western NY, here's a picture of the salamagundi:  Oh, would you look at those sleeve puffs, it's me!  I believe that was the first Hosmer dinner I participated in as the tour guide.  Also, make sure to check out their blog post: "Is It White Soup Yet?" for more details on their stay at Hosmer! 

The ever-popular and wildly colorful Salamagundi,
featuring a bed of mixed greens, eggs pickled in beet juice
and an assortment of freshly picked, edible flowers!
(Photo credit: Lisa Brown, via JANSA Central & Western NY)

Best of all, the fun didn't just stop with the dinner!  One of my best friends, dubbed my "museum twin," Ariana & I stayed overnight.  Silliness, of course, ensued...what happened in Hosmer, stays in Hosmer...  

How about an upstairs tour of Hosmer's Inn?

After you ascend the stairs, take a look at the accommodations for the night...

The 75 cent room features a four poster bed with a canopy, walk-in-closet, fireplace,
writing desk, woven rug, and a lidded chamber pot among other comforts.  

One of the 50 cent rooms with a nice, feather tick on the bed.

Through the delicately stenciled ballroom you'll find more 50 cent accommodations.

Adjoining rooms!  Perfect for the large, traveling family.
Each room comes with its own chamber pot though...  

My room for the night!  And, if you're wondering, rope beds can be quite comfortable...
it's like sleeping on a giant hammock! 

Wednesday the 16th:  From Mumford to Ithaca, from past to present.  Time travel, in three easy steps...

One:  Wake up early in the morn at Hosmer's Inn, 1818.

I don't think I've ever been at the museum so early, so I took a picture!

Two:  Work (yes, actual interpreting job) your last day in the Foster-Tufts House, 1836, for the 2015 Season.  Arrive and prepare to mourn: the third and final theme of the year.

Sure gives a whole new meaning to funeral parlor...
The deceased would be laid out in a simple, wooden casket to be remembered and mourned by family, friends and neighbors.  Perhaps a priest would come to say a few words, and they would be buried as soon as possible.  Notice that the paintings and mirrors are shrouded in black crepe, it would be simply indecent and vain to fuss over ones appearance when in mourning.  Not to mention the superstition that the first person to look in the mirror would supposedly be the next to die.

More customs and objects associated with early 19th century death & funerals. 

I really enjoyed working in Foster-Tufts, and will miss it!  I'm so pleased that I had the chance to interpret each theme: birth, marriage & now death.

Foster's unique "birthing room."

In addition to the three, annual themes, Foster serves as the home for the spinning and dyeing!  *With the "e" this time, haha.

Look at the rainbow of cochineal-dyed yarns!
All achieved with cochineal dye over various mordants and fiber contents.

Three:  Back the the present, 2015.  Travel from Mumford to Ithaca to visit a dearest friend of mine, who also happens to be the museum's dressmaker.  Let the sewing & fun begin!

Thursday the 17th:  Honestly, I could probably write a whole other blog post just on the Ithaca Trip...Rhonda & I had a marvelous time!!  Chatting & caching up.  Draping.  Hair arranging.  Exchanging patterns and sewing tips & tricks. Winding tassels.  Plying cording.  The perfect sewing day for two historical clothing & costume enthusiasts!  (Many, many thanks, Rhonda, for everything!)  

Friday the 18th:  Spent the day with Lisa, our exchange student from Germany (blogpost on her to come).  We cooked some, talked a lot and she enjoyed her first cannoli, courtesy of Wegman's bakery - yum!

Saturday the 19th:  Proudly attended another friend's debut at the Fringe Fest.

Emma, on Nothing is Written
"A collection of short plays by local playwright E.F. Milligan, spanning several centuries and examining the nature of the human heart throughout history. From an estranged father and daughter meeting at the feet of the crumbling Raj, to the grieving wife of a familiar aviator trying to come to terms with the losses she has suffered, these plays, emotions and characters transcend time and bring us closer to the love, fear and loss that make all of us real."
 ~ Emma Milligan

 I had costumed Emma's brilliant series of one acts, Nothing is Written (2014), when they were first held at YOHP.  But to see it polished and sparkle upon the TheatreROCS Stage at the Fringe, was an honor!  I am so proud for my friend, Emma, who is going great places!  

Sunday the 20th:  Round-robin to 19th century games again at Thomson Tavern!

Photo courtesy of Hannah Webster.

Plenty more stilting to done, and a bonus, after-hours, photo shoot around the square with Hannah to wrap up the week.  (Thanks for the laughs, Hannah!)  You bet that there will be plenty more pictures of our antics around the village!

Photo courtesy of Hannah Webster.

Knock, knock?

Hannah is a regular interpreter & tour guide for the dinners at Hosmer's Inn.

Thanks for stepping into my world for the week!  Well, time to do it all over again...

Photograph courtesy of Hannah Webster.