1850s · In-Progress · Reproducing an original

In-Progress: 1850s Embroidered Collar

First off, I just want to say a big “thank you!” to everyone who left such lovely comments (both here on the blog, and also on my BurdaStyle and Flickr pages) about my dress from my last post. I truly appreciate each and every comment I recieve, and I’m hoping to be able to respond to all of them this weekend when things calm down a bit. 🙂

Anyways, before I start my weekend, I just thought I would show you an in-progress pic of the 1850s collar I’m embroidering as part of the exhibit that I’m working on for my internship. Unfortunately, we don’t have any original artifacts from the gal that this exhibit is about, so reproductions have really been a necessity. In this case, the collar here is meant to be a reproduction one that is shown in the earliest existing photo of this woman, from the 1850s.

The reproduction! I need to add seam allowances and hem the bottom and top edges before I attach the tatting. Unfortunately, the blue marking pencil that I used to mark the edges has faded quite a bit, so I decided to place the tatting around the edge to show where the edge will be.

My reproduction is made from cotton batiste and will be trimmed with this vintage tatting that almost perfectly resembles the tatting on the original collar. Oh, and the whole thing will be dyed black when I’m done, as the original is black. I debated about dyeing the individual parts and then putting the collar together, or making the collar up in white and then dyeing it, and I decided on the latter. While I’ve never dyed anything, I do know that using different dye baths can make the colors of the items dyed different, and I want to try to make the whole collar the same shade of black that I can.

Anyways, the exhibit opens at the end of April, and I also have a straw bonnet and embroidered letter case that I’m working on. I have to say, making museum-quality reproductions that aren’t just costumes for me has been challenging, nerve-wrecking, and incredibly rewarding all at the same time. And I’m incredibly flattered that I’ve been entrusted to complete this task, one in which I think my OCD-tendencies will come quite in handy. 😉

Have a great weekend, everyone!

1850s · Millinery · Reproducing an original

Reproduction quilted bonnet vs. the real thing

I briefly mentioned the handsewn quilted bonnet that I finished in my last post, but the gal who comissioned me to make it for her had an excellent suggestion to post a comparison between the repro hood I made her and the original that we based said reproduction on. So, this is that post.*

And for general background, in the mid-19th century, quilted bonnets (also called “hoods”) were used as an insualar alternative to the silk and buckram bonnets that, while fashionable and very nice looking, were not very warm or practical for the winter. You can see some really lovely original quilted hoods here.

So, the original hood belonged to Lettia Work Huggins and is in the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum collection (and as a result, all photos of the original hood posted here belong to Fort Nisqually). I just so happen to volunteer at this museum, as does the gal who commissioned this hood from me, so it was super cool to make a reproduction of an item that has such prominence in our neck of the woods.

And now, on to the comparison!


The original is made out of silk and printed polished cotton, and we made a very concerted effort to find silk in the closest color possible to the original.

In the case of the reproduction, we weren’t quite able to find a blue silk as muted as the one in the original (although this is also due to the fact that the silk is 150+ years old and has faded over time), although I do think that this blue is a good alternative.


I love the diamond-shape quilting design on the original! Interestingly enough, I didn’t actually see the original hood in person until I was about half-way through the reproduction, but when I did see the repro, I was shocked at how tiny the quilting pattern and hood were. As a result, this was probably meant as a child’s bonnet.

The quilting pattern on the repro is about 2″ long diamonds. I’ve never quilted the hood of a bonnet curtain before, but did so because I was following the original. I used wool batting, quilting all of the separate pieces before assembling the hood together.



This is my favorite comparison because I think I came the closest to reproducing the bonnet on the inside, not just with the blue silk turnback, but also the lining.

The original was lined with a printed polished cotton:

and my reproduction is a tan polished cotton.

So, that’s the quilted bonnet! As part of the payment for making this quilted hood, I also got supplies to make my own hood, so I have one in the works, to be made out of this gorgeous golden yellow silk. Now, if only I could find the time to quilt it. 😉

*Note: My deepest apologies for the tiny photos of the original! When I got the photos through e-mail, there was a picture viewer where you could see them much bigger, but for some reason, they stayed tiny once I saved them to my computer and then uploaded them to Photobucket.