Nov 24, 2017

Balmoral Bonnet

Balmoral Bonnet in the Charles Wade Collection at Berrington Hall, UK.
National Trust SNO 1228

Two-colour diced band in process

Diced band complete

Increasing the beret

Me, testing what the bonnet might look like. A bit big.

Decreasing to finish the top of the beret. Double point needles used at this stage.

Bonnet knitting complete. It is soft and large.

Starting the hand-felting process.

Felting over, blocked and drying in the sun.

Photo taken inside while wet and blocked.

Nov 16, 2017

Australian Cabbage Tree Hat

Last weekend the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy in Canberra hosted a Cabbage Tree Hat workshop with Sue and Don Brian. Sue and Don had spent five years on Norfolk Island where they became interested in the history and practice of making the cabbage tree hat. The tradition of hat weaving continues on Norfolk except hats are made these days with flax, banana bark and Norfolk Palm.
Men's Cabbage Tree Hat, c. 1860-1880, owned by John C. Read, Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol from 1861-1889.

The earliest reference to wearing cabbage tree hats in Australia refers to an incident with Flinders in 1799 in An Account of the English Colony in NSW 1788-1801:
"Flinders was wearing a cabbage-tree hat, for which a native had a fancy. The fellow took a long stick with a hook at the end of it, and, laughing and talking to divert attention from his purpose, endeavoured to take the hat from the commander's head. His detection created much laughter; as did that of another black with long arms, who tried to creep up to snatch the hat, but was afraid to approach too near".

Feb 7, 2017

My Tidens Tøj Regency Gown (updated)

Original Gown

This Danish wedding gown has long been of interest to me, and this week I received the fabric that I'd had custom embroidered for it. The original can be seen at

My version of the embroidery pattern

Closer up of fabric with white embroidery along the hem.

I've chosen a fine white cotton with matching thread for embroidery and will be making a size 12 using the pattern below, which is a screenshot of the pdf that is back online at

Below are the photos I took of this gown on my recent trip to Denmark. It was so fantastic to see it up close, right in front of me. Unfortunately, it was behind glass, so these are the best photos I could get.

Patterns you may wish to use to replicate this gown include:
  • Nehelenia's 1790 Chemise Dress Pattern (based on this exact gown) gives a good bodice base and overlay.
  • Sense & Sensibilities Elegant Ladies Closet Pattern is good to use for dress construction methods as this gown is constructed like the drawstring gown. I used the skirt pattern but adjusted the fabric widths to fit my gown - my front pieces were wider and I used 2.5m for the back panel. Another pattern you could try that I did not experiment with is the Laughing Moon Chemise Dress, but it does not have the pleated collar overlay and I am unsure how the front is gathered.
My recommendation for beginners/intermediate is to make the Sensibility drawstring gown with elbow length sleeves and add the overlay from the Chemise dress pattern.  It's not quite what I did but would probably end being a lot easier.

Dress Base:
I put together two of these from sturdy linen for the boned bodice
and one from fine linen for the lining. 

The bodice is boned with cotton cord.

The back is pleated over the top of the boned bodice.

Laced at the front.
Eyelets are sewn by hand using a thick linen thread
from Burnley & Trowbridge.

Back view of laced bodice.

Bodice Overlay:

Pleated overlay with cotton stay tape as mentioned in the pattern instructions.

According to the instructions the ends are mounted onto cotton stay tape.

Tape pinned for sewing down.

Once the tapes are sewn down the back is sewn together by hand. 

Overlay is attached to the front skirt panel.
I made a french seam for tidiness and then ran a cotton tape through the casing.
Don't forget to sew the ends into the side seam before you finish constructing the gown.

Pleating the back and finishing off the gown:

2.5m fabric pleated onto the back.
Using 2" pleated I make a pleat facing towards center back,
pin it, then measure 1", stick in pin, and do next pleat to that pin. 

Starting to look like a dress at last!

3am selfie after sewing all night to get it finished. 

Front view with proper camera - must check my son's camera
settings because my iphone photos ended up a lot better than this.

Back view.
My husband wouldn't take the shawl away
so its a bit hidden.

Close up of the back. I must say white
is a really bad colour to photograph outdoors.

Jan 17, 2017

Preparing itinerary takes longer than expected

Every time I plan a new overseas adventure I am surprised by just how much time I have to spend on the computer bringing it all together. Over the Christmas break I seem to have spent most of my time organising my trip in June, tidying up my sewing space and planning the program for JAFA in April. Very soon I'll be back at University and I haven't had a chance to do any sewing yet!

Before Christmas I thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas Carol Ball and love this photo that Dylan took of John and I doing a candle dance. Every year we dance the dances from John's Christmas Carol Dance Book and its so nice to have all our friends around us.

However I can now report that my flights are booked! I'm going to be in the UK from 4 June-31 July spending four weeks researching and photographing costumes in museums for my book "Trims, Frills & Furbelows" and then I'm planning to attend needlework classes at the Royal School of Needlework, a textile conservation workshop in Glasgow and then a 3-day Jane Austen event in Winchester. From 1-16 August I'll be attending a historic textile summer school in Denmark, details still tbc.

I really must thank my husband John for staying home this trip to look after our adult son with disabilities and to making sure our younger teenage son gets his homework done and exam preparation completed and my English friend Jane for offering me a room, giving me a home base to come back to when I need it, companionship and encouragement to keep on track.

Dec 29, 2016

Trims, Frills & Furbelows Pre-order

Pre-order your copy of Trims, Frills and Furbelows
This is a pre-order to reserve your copy of the book "Trims, Frills and Furbelows". Delivery is planned for December 2017. Subscribers may follow this project between January-December 2017 in the private Facebook Group at

"The finishing touches of the Georgian Era - padded hems, furbelows, rouleaux, piping, ruffles, soutache and fly fringe - oh my!" 

There are many books available with a broader scope of different fashion eras, but Aylwen's goal is to focus on trimmings of the late 18th century and early 19th century. She will expand on the details of application and technique using original garments for information. There is a growing group of historical costume enthusiasts and textile conservators who wish to enhance or repair their Georgian, Jane Austen, Regency, Empire and Biedermeier gowns and learn how to make all the lovely trims you see in the pictures.

This full-colour A4 book (21.0 x 29.7cm OR 8.27 x 11.69 inches) will study the construction details of historic trimmings so they can be added to skirts, bodices, and sleeves. You will see close-up photographs of both the front & back of the trimmings and step-by-step pictorial instructions showing how to make the trimmings so you can add them to your garments without needing to buy any new patterns.

"it will become a standard reference for those who study such material..." 

Aylwen already has permission to conduct research in collections in the United Kingdom (including the Charles Wade Collection from Snowshill Manor, the Hereford Museum and the Olive Matthews Collection, Chertsey Museum) and private collections in Australia to take photographs for publication and if funding is generous will be able to pay for rights to use photographs from other institutions and the UK National Trust. Aylwen brings an immense knowledge of historical textiles and professional desktop publishing experience to this project. She will be combining Adobe InDesign's professional layout and design features with book planning project management software to ensure the book is completed in a timely manner and stays on schedule.

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