Making A 1933 Summer Hat

Last post, I shared my 1933 Sunshine Stripes dress with you. One of the accessories that I loved wearing with that dress was a modern sun hat that I remade into a 1930s shaped hat. Now I’d like to share how easy this process was. I hope it inspires you to try remaking something yourself!

I started with this modern ‘straw’ hat from eBay. I say ‘straw’ because the fiber is really plastic rather than any sort of natural material… but I digress. The price was good and I thought white would be a nice neutral for my 1920s summer wardrobe. But the crown on this hat was soooo tall! 5″! It came way down over my eyebrows and combined with the floppy brim it was not a great look nor was it historical. I think I tried to wear it a few years ago but was displeased with the shape. The only bonus is that it squishes well and pops right back into shape–that’s great for packing! (As a side note, in trying to find the link for the hat I realized I ordered this back in 2015… it only took me a few years to make it something I was really pleased with!)

While trying to decide what to accessorize my 1933 dress with, I looked at the hat in my closet and wondered if there was anything to be done to make it better. I figured the white would coordinate well with the white stripes in the dress fabric. I looked for hat inspiration on my 1930s sportswear Pinterest board and 1930s day wear Pinterest board and decided that the main problem with my hat was the tall crown. I wanted a hat that just perched on my head, so I needed to shorten the crown.

I started by ripping out the stitching on the lower part of the crown just above where it connected to the brim. Here’s the hat at this point with the shallower crown and brim still technically attached.

After determining that I liked the new crown height, I cut away the extra braid. Then I wrapped the loose ends around the crown and brim and stitched them down so I had two nicely finished parts.

Then I reassembled the two parts, carefully stitching them together while avoiding the inner hat band. I matched the stitch length to what was already on the hat (rather long, by my usual standards). Because the hat is so malleable it was easy to squash onto the sewing machine.

After stitching, the join blends right in! The only thing left was trim!

I decided on a simple brown band to trim the hat. I had the brown cotton in my stash and it matched my shoes well. It is nicely complimentary for the outfit without being match-y and it’s neutral enough that I can easily wear this with other outfits as well. The brown is carefully hand sewn around the crown with the ends spreading over the brim of the hat. Ta da! Elegant sun protection!

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1830s Sleeve Puff Tutorial

Why make sleeve puffs, you ask? In order to keep the large sleeves of 1830s dresses from deflating, of course! Here’s an example of my 1832 dress without puffs (on the left) and with puffs (on the right). They make such a difference!

I chose to use a sewing machine for much of the assembly of my puffs, but you could easily hand sew all of these steps instead.

To make these sleeve puffs you will need the following materials:

  • Fabric: ¾ yard of 44″ wide or ⅜ yard of 60″ wide (cotton, linen, and silk are the most historical options, but you can use whatever is comfortable on your skin, just make sure it’s not too loosely woven or too heavy in weight)
  • Stuffing: I used scraps of stiff net and organza, but you could also use batting, tulle, down, etc.
  • Thread

To begin, you’ll need to cut out your pieces:

  • Two rectangles: 25″ wide x 13″tall
  • Two shaped bases: 18.5″ wide x 7.5″ tall at the center and curved down to 2.5″ tall at the sides
  • Four end caps (two for each end of your shaped base): use the shaped base as a pattern and cut the end caps so they are 2.5″ wide

Next, you’ll assemble your puffs:

Step 1: Lay your end caps on each end of the shaped base. Sew around the three exterior sides, leaving the side towards the center unstitched.

Step 2: Trim your seam allowances, corners, and clip through seam allowance close to the end of your stitch line on the shaped base.

Step 3: Turn each end cap so the right sides face out–the clip through the seam allowance allows the end caps to sit nice and flat on the shaped base.


Step 4: Run gathering stitches along each individual side of the four sides of each rectangle (not one long gathering line that turns the corners).

Step 5: Pull up your gathering stitches on the long sides and pin to the curved edges of the shaped base. You want to pin the rectangle to the side of the shaped based that does not have the end caps on it.

 

Step 6: Sew the gathered rectangle to the shaped base and turn it right side out.

Step 7: Now pull up the gathering threads on one short side of each rectangle. Turn the raw edge under and pin the gathers in place. Hand sew these gathers through all the layers, making sure to take small stitches and catch the gathers in many places. Leave the other side open for now.

Step 8: Stuff those puffs!

Step 9: Now pull up the gathering threads on the remaining short side of each rectangle. Turn the raw edge under and pin the gathers in place. Hand sew these gathers through all the layers as well, making sure to take small stitches and catch the gathers in many places. (This is the same as step 7.)

Step 10: Overlap the end caps about ¼” and sew them together.

Ta da! Now you have some sleeve puffs of your very own!

Extra tips:

I strongly suggest taking a look at extant puffs. As a starting point, I suggest this pair at the MFA and this pair at the V and A.

If you’re worried about keeping your puffs in place, ties can be added to the puffs which would be secured to additional ties in the armholes of dresses. Take another look at the those two pairs of extant puffs and you’ll see ties.

I also suggest looking at the puffs other people have made. It never hurts to see more methods of construction. I referenced Fresh Frippery and Stepping Into History when creating my puffs. Have you come across other 1830s puff making resources? If so, please share!

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Project Journal: Versailles Sacque: Finished Shoes!

After the many coats of paint I shared about already, there was one final coat that I convinced myself had to be the last because I needed to move on and finish decorating my Kensingtons. After that I went ahead and put on a matte acrylic finisher as suggested by Lauren at American Duchess. I then made the holes for my buckles using this tutorial also from American Duchess. The shoe buckle tutorial was invaluable and made the process incredibly easy!

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Finished?

I told myself the shoes were done, but I still wasn’t entirely happy with them. I think perhaps I was not satisfied because I had painted my shoes a color I’ve only really seen in cloth shoes rather than leather. But I moved on… and then this shoe-remake popped up on Pinterest and I was captured by the idea of adding metallic lace trim to my shoes to finish them off.

And so I went on the hunt on eBay, settling on this. It was a reasonable price and arrived quite speedily. As in the inspiration re-make, I used hot glue to attach the lace to the shoes. It was easy to work with and is generally reversible if I decide to change the shoes sometime in the future (though that’s pretty unlikely…) I think the trim suits my dress fabric nicely and it was narrow enough to follow the curves of the shoe without too much hassle, even on the latchets (which were the trickiest parts).

I also considered creating a design for the toe box area of the shoe, but decided against the idea once I realized how tricky it would be to get something I like. The lace doesn’t do tight curves easily and all the ends would need to be finished if I used non continuous pieces of trim, so all the ideas I came up with were going to be time intensive or poorly executed. I decided on simplicity.

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Ta da!

Now when I look at my shoes I have a smile on my face. They finally feel done and like they make sense! Yay–cross that off the list!

  • Panniers
  • Petticoat
  • Robe a la francaise (with a subset of trimming)
  • Hair
  • Shoes
Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.

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Waterproof Picnic Blanket V. 1

I really don’t enjoy picnicking on wet ground, especially when it’s the sort of picnic with blankets, not chairs. I’d say that 80% of the picnics I attend are the sit on the ground sort, and I’d say the ground is at least a little bit damp at least 30% of the time.

I’d searched around a bit for a nice thick wool picnic blanket that would be generic enough to use for 19th and early 20th century picnics without looking glaringly modern, but found that the nice thick ones were more money than I wanted to pay. So I thought creatively and found a nice remnant of wool fabric to use as a picnic blanket. But it’s a little thin, and when the ground is damp the fabric doesn’t have much to defend itself.

So I thought about things some more and decided to make a non-period accurate waterproof blanket by backing my wool fabric with some waterproof modern material. I considered tarps, or a plastic-y tablecloth, or just waterproof fabric… but all of these things would cost money, even if not very much. But then I bought a new shower curtain liner for our bathroom, and I thought: “Ah ha! Now I’ll have an old already grungy large piece of waterproof plastic that I can use to back my picnic blanket!”

To make it, I first cut off the top few inches where the rusty grommets were and the bottom area where the rusty magnets were. Then, I cleaned it. (Of course, part of the point of buying a new shower curtain is that I didn’t really feel like giving the old one a really good scrub… irony!) I didn’t clean it as much as I would have if I planned to still use it in my shower, since after all the point is to put it on the dirt and grass, but I did clean it enough.

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Cutting off the top edge.

Once I had cleaned it, I laid my wool fabric piece over the plastic and cut it to be just a little smaller than the fabric. Then I used tacky glue to adhere the plastic to the back of the wool along the hems. (As a side note, Mr. Q thought I was crazy while I had all of this spread on the living room floor…)

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Gluing the plastic to the wool.

I did serge the edges of the blanket before hemming them. I figured that since I was adding inaccurate shower curtain plastic backing to my blanket a little serging couldn’t hurt!

At home, the plan seemed to be working out fine. Once the glue dried, I had a plastic-backed picnic blanket! But, in using it multiple times last summer I encountered a few flaws. #1: The plastic backing is bulky, making the blanket hard to fold/roll and take up a lot of space. #2: The tacky glue didn’t hold very well. The wool slides across the plastic when anyone sits on it, pulling at the edges. The tension has caused the two layers to detach in some places. Of course, I could have solved the second problem by sewing the layers together instead of gluing them, but I was trying to avoid sewing through plastic.

So, a partially useful solution to the waterproof blanket idea. Over the fall and winter I wasn’t super motivated to do anything with it, but perhaps now that picnic season has come again I might have to tackle the idea again and try Waterproof Blanket V. 2!

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Ice Skates! (And Polka Dot Soakers)

I bought ice skates! I was so pleased with skating in my 1895 Skating Ensemble that I really wanted to skate again this winter. I had plans to skate on a lake (so exciting!), but unfortunately we’ve had too much snow here in Boston and the lake was covered in huge drifts and unskate-able (also, we just had a day above freezing, the first in over a month, so it might also be unsafe to go out on naturally formed ice at this point). I’d still like to use my ice skates to skate on an outdoor rink like we did in January, it just means I’ll only have to pay to skate, not to rent the skates! We’ll see if these plans materialize…

In the meantime, here are skate pictures! I bought vintage skates from Etsy. I’ve never bought ice skates before, so I was definitely guessing on the size. I gauged the size partly based off the size 8 skates I wore in January (too small) and also asked the seller for the length of the boot before purchasing to compare to my foot length (he sent me pictures with a ruler, very helpful!). It worked out and the skates fit! We’ll have to see how they work out once I’ve been in them for a bit while skating.

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I’m guessing these skates are from the 1970s based on the clothing of the illustrated skaters. If anyone has thoughts I’d be happy to hear them!
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They came not only in the original box, but also with their tag, skate scabbards (and packaging) and a hook-y thing. Does anyone know what the hook-y thing is used for or what it is called? Do I carry my skates with it? I feel a little silly not knowing what it is, but it’s a cool thing regardless, all wood and metal.
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These skates have never been worn! The only time-damage was on the tongue lining, which had been glued originally. The glue had entirely disintegrated, leaving a dusty foam behind. I cleaned it off and re-glued the tongue lining in place. So far it seems to have worked beautifully!

But those polka dotted doohickeys are not vintage. I made them! They’re called soakers and I understand that they are put on the skate blades after being used to soak up any excess moisture in order to keep the blades from rusting. I came across them while looking for skate scabbards (the doohickeys you wear around the rink while not on the ice to protect the blades from getting dull) while I was researching skates to purchase. The different pictures I found of them looked so cute that I wanted some for my new skates! (Ha, remember my post about thin-gummies? Yup, here I am using the word doohickey.)

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One soaker on, one soaker off.

This is the tutorial I followed for making my soakers. It was super easy. I had to piece my fabrics because the scraps I had were small, so that added some time, and I made my towel two layers thick since it was thin terry cloth, which added a little time and bulk, but those are the only things I changed. The polka dot exteriors are scraps from my 1953 Polka Dot Dress and the terry cloth linings are cut out of a failed robe I made years ago when I was first learning how to make clothes. Yay for repurposing! I love how silly and girly they are. They make me smile! Plus, I don’t use elastic for many projects of my own, but I happened to have just one piece in my bag of random scrap notions that was the perfect length, so the whole project was free and from my stash!

I have no idea if these skates are sharp. I assume that skates come sharp when you purchase them? They don’t feel very sharp… but I thought I’d try them and see what happens. It’s not like I’m a great skater, I sort of just putter around the rink, so if they’re not terribly sharp I expect I’ll be ok…

Safety Pin Pillow

I completed a little project last week! It’s one I’ve been hoping to complete since the summer, when I realized how helpful it is at work that I have a safety pin pillow with open safety pins stuck into it near my fitting area, but that at home I keep my pins closed and in a plastic container. The solution was simply to make a safety pin pillow for home that can also travel with me when I do independent work outside of my normal costume shop!

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The pillow is a simple square. It’s made from leftover bits of 1850s reproduction cotton (also known as Georgina) flatlined with muslin to help give the pins something to bite into and stuffed with polyester batting. I love that the colors are very me, the fabric has a story, and it won’t show hand oil dirt for a long time.

The pillow is about 6″ square and as you can see I have space to add lots more safety pins. (Plus, it’s squishy, and I like squishy things!) Really, safety pin pillows are genius ideas! It makes fittings so much more efficient to have pins easy to access and already open. Maybe you need to make one, too?

Making A Sort-Of 1920s Long Handled Parasol

Over the last few months, I’ve been chipping away at creating accessories for this weekend’s upcoming 1920s Lawn Party. Today, I’m going to show you how I turned a standard ebay Chinese parasol into a long handled parasol. I’m curious to know what you think about it!

I started with a child size parasol. I picked it because I really liked the design (gold flowers on orange). I didn’t really want a plain color and I didn’t like the other design options as much. I also didn’t mind the smaller canopy size (adult size parasols are about ⅓ larger across the canopy).

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Parasol as I received it.

But… the handle was so short! And I really didn’t like the tassel on the end… but that was a small issue. “Haha,” I thought, “craft time! I’ll lengthen the handle!” First, I got Mr. Q to saw off the original orange handle. Turns out that the main part of the handle is actually bamboo, but I didn’t realize that at first, not that it matters. Second, I bought a new end piece and gold acrylic paint online for about $5 (I didn’t feel like driving around to craft stores and it fit in with other amazon things to make a full order with free shipping!). Then, I went to Home Depot and bought the supplies I didn’t already have at home. I already had Gorilla Glue, but I needed a dowel to make a longer handle and a piece of something to connect the two pieces. I also decided, while at the store, to get some wood stain to try to make my dowel look more like the bamboo of the original handle in terms of color.

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I bought two different gold paints because I wasn’t sure which I would like better in person and they were about $1 each. You can see how light colored the dowel was when I bought it (this is before I used any stain). It really looked different than the bamboo. The two little pieces in the middle are the new end piece and the copper pipe that I used to join the dowel to the bamboo parasol handle.

 I laid out a paper bag for my work surface and started painting! First, I painted the end piece and copper piece gold. While those were drying, I started staining the dowel. I just used muslin scraps to apply the stain, which worked wonderfully. As I was going along, I decided to paint the top solid orange bit of the parasol gold, too, to match the other gold pieces and because the edges of it were starting to flake from when I opened the parasol all the way.

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In order to keep the orange top part from continuing to flake off, I wrapped a piece of plain old masking tape right around the edge of the base before painting.

I decided to use both gold paints. First I used the more antique gold paint until I had a solid opaque surface, then I used the brighter gold paint lightly over top to really make the paint shine like the flowers on the parasol cover.

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The three painted pieces after applying both shades of gold paint.

The final part was assembling the pieces. I used Gorilla Glue, which is super sturdy when dry. The thing to be aware of, though, is that Gorilla Glue bubbles and expands while it dries. In this case, that actually was very helpful. The first part I glued was the copper joiner onto the dowel. The copper piece was a bit roomy, so I put a ring of glue around the inside and let it partly dry so it had expanded, then added more glue and put the dowel in. It worked perfectly and when dry, the dowel had been solidly glued about to the halfway point of the joiner.

After that, I glued the end piece on the other end of the dowel. Turns out that the opening on the end piece is actually close to 1″ across but the dowel is more like ½” (you can see the difference in the picture with all the supplies laid out). I did a little bit of letting the glue expand, but I also took Mr. Q’s suggestion and stuck broken bits of yellow toothpicks (I only have colored ones in my house and yellow matched best…) on four sides of the dowel to keep it from wobbling in the hole. Again, it worked perfectly and once the glue dried it was super solid. I didn’t fill in around the toothpicks, actually, and if you look straight down the dowel you can see them, but one would assume that my hand would be there, or that whoever is looking at me is far enough away not to see such small details.

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Finished!

And this is the result. The dowel and bamboo don’t match perfectly, but I spent enough hours painting, staining, and glueing that I don’t really care. I plan to have more pictures of this in the next few days, so you’ll see it again soonish, and from more angles. In the meantime, here are some inspiration images of long handled parasols in and around the 1920s.

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Anna Q. Nilsson and Ethel Clayton – 1919
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Josephine Dunn – c. 1920
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c. 1920
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Mary Pickford c. 1920
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Anna Pavlova, Ivy House, c. 1927