Monday, March 28, 2011

Accessories Showcase

There are so many types of accessories for ladies of the 18th century, some of which are rarely seen.  But add them all together with a nice set of clothes and the effect can be almost transporting.  However, the argument for accessories is to come another day this week.  Today, I just want to show you some of the things I've made.

Flamestitch wallet:  While relatively simple in shape and construction, the amount of time taken in embroidery makes this a rarely re-created object.  It's wool floss stitched to a linen backing.  Hundreds of different patterns and colors can be found.  I bound the finished piece in navy wool tape.  Very simple, but time consuming (and sanity consuming).

The inside is lined with silk taffeta.  There are two pockets controlled by a quarter circle on each side.  There is a layer of heavy interfacing inside of the flaps, but I wish I had used something more like pasteboard (cardboard).  

Here is the back layed out.  Very simple rectangle with curved ends at the top (also an optional design choice).  It makes for a wonderful piece to pull out at events to give business cards or even just to pay for an item.

Gloves:  Leather gloves are very much a staple of 18th century life.  A riding habit isn't truly complete without them.  And they do far better than mitts in the cold weather.  My pair is made from deerskin, the seams whipped with linen thread.  I'm hoping to make a slightly longer pair to meet up with my gown sleeves and a very short pair to go with the riding habit.  I also need to make the bicep length Regency style out of white pliver leather (skimmed down to the very thinnest skin possible).  Interesting note if you do try to make your own pair, leather does have a grain.  Therefore a bias.  Use it wisely.  Or you'll end up ripping it out rather quickly.  Most of my glove leather I get from Uncle George.  Pliver or Skiver is the thinnest, Kid is often a little heavier.  Deer, Kip, and Goat can also be possibilities but are sometimes too heavy.

Mitts:  I've got at least five pairs of these.  They're so simple to make and can add a very nice accent or wind/sun block.  These are worsted wool lined with persian silk.  My other pairs are un-lined worsted, lined linen, un-lined linen, and a fancy embroidered pair.  Covers the range of temperatures.  But, I'm sure there are more to come.

Pinballs:  There are so many ways to make these.  I'm just showing a cross-stitch, crewel, and a pieced geometric (paper in each piece to hold the shape).  You can do just about any embroidered stitch you would like, such as the flamestitch like the wallet.  I usually put a ribbon around the seam to finish them, although a metal ring would also work (it's just very expensive).

Needlecase:  Based on the original in 18th Century Embroidery Techniques.  There are four petals attached at one point with a shell button.  The leaves are taffeta with silk floss and ribbon embroidery (2mm wide from Hedgehog Handworks).  There is a small square of leather on two of the leaves to put the needles through.  The edges are bound with a woven silk fabric cut on the bias.  This is a deceptively fast project.

Buttons:  They are almost an accessory unto themselves, really.  Fitting out a jacket with death head buttons can make a massive difference.  Here you see plain, two color, and metallic.  The stripes can be any width.  You can also do six point instead of four.  When deciding on a pattern for a garment I like to take circles of paper and pencil in the lines.

Caps:  They come in all sizes and shapes.  I often make mine out of linen for regular use.  Cotton was more common post 1800.  Silk gauze, embroidered cotton, or a woven stripe cotton or linen are viable options.  This one is plain linen, made with a double ruffle.  The base is a very simple caul and ruffle connected with a band.  I used two parts for my bands to sandwich the other edges inside (less finishing!).  The second ruffle is self finished and whipped onto the edge of the band.  The ribbon (pinned on) hides the edge.

There's a small drawstring in the back bottom to fit it to the head and give it a nice poofy look.

This cap shows the band a little more clearly.  I made the band very wide in this cap to cover the ears well.  It's a nice weight of linen with a check'd pattern woven in.  I cheated a bit and added a lining to the caul and a third layer in the band for warmth.

Hand fan:  You can't last a summer without one.  Of course, they don't have to be this fancy.  My favorite fan is just one layer of plain silk taffeta (I used fray-check on the edges) glued to a nice set of sticks (near the bottom of the page here).  This fan was painted on habotoi silk with gauche.  I did use an anti-diffusant primer on the silk, although I'm not sure it was necessary.  The design is based on an original in a book of fans I own.  The sticks are just the cheap bamboo kind painted over (I hadn't found a resource for good ones yet).  There are sequins sewn on it as well.  The gold is done with acrylic paint, which helps to finish the edges.


Anonymous said...

Your items are absolutely beautiful. I really love the purse.
Great color combination and the work is definately worth it. I have been wanting to make one for my brother for sometime but just don't know where to get started due to the endless possibilties of designs.

Time Traveling in Costume said...

Having just come back from the accessories symposium there, I'm loving to be able to see more goodies.
Your objects each have perked my interest. One of my friends mentioned seeing the pinballs. Is there any place we can find out more about them, patterns, etc?
I love your mitts. I'm dying to make a pair.
Accessories do indeed complete the lady.

ColeV said...

I found some sampler patterns for cross-stitched pinballs at . From what I've seen though, this seems to be a place where anything goes. Plain, embroidered, knitted, etc. I haven't been brave enough to try the knitting since it takes such small needles and yarn (a lady I know did it on hat pins).

Kirsten S said...

Thanks for this Post!!! I've got to make me a pair of those gloves, they are simply wonderful! Both of the caps are gorgous, no one could be able to tell that you took those short cuts! Really wonderful post! Thanks again.

ZipZip said...

Good heavens: lovely! The gloves and fan are personal favorites. So elegant.

Very best,


Time Traveling in Costume said...

Thank you, I'll look thru there. Does it give any instructions on constructing it, or is this just the designs, and you wing it?

Leigh said...

Needleprint also have a book "Tokens of Love - Quaker Pinballs" (at the bottom of this page It has several ways they were finished and how to create them and has patterns that can be either knitted or stitched.

Time Traveling in Costume said...

Leigh, thank you very much. I noticed the link to that book and photos from it on the needlework website, and put it on my Wish List with Amazon. :D

American Duchess said...

Ooo! I love the pin balls especially...oh, and the fan..and the mits...and those buttons! /sigh

Lauren said...

Very beautiful! It's the small details that make the ensemble for sure :)

lahbluebonnet said...

Where can I find the extant 18th century needle case? Thanks!

ColeV said...


I haven't seen it pop up anywhere else.

Alexa said...

Hi! I've always been inspired by your accessories, but lately I find myself wanting to make a flame-stitched housewife sewing kit. So I have two questions ... 1) where can I find wool floss that works? and 2) Do you know of any good tutorials? I understand how the stitch works, but I'm curious about making the stitches the right size, and don't know whether I should draw the pattern onto the fabric before sewing or not..

ColeV said...

Hi Alexa!
I got my wool floss from Hedgehog Handworks. Wm Booth Draper also sells a flamestitch kit which might be a great choice for tutorials as well. My design came from an original I had a picture of from a museum. I think I mapped it out on paper first, but I didn't draw on the linen. A big tip if you don't use a kit- invest in embroidery linen. The regular stuff used for most sewing isn't "even". Count stitches of warp and the weft and they'll be different lengths. It'll skew any designs that way. This site is also helpful:

Alexa said...

Thanks Nicole! I've been doing a lot of research on extant wallets.... they're absolutely everywhere! And so many possibilities.... I had to put a ton up on my blog to keep all my examples together :) I didn't know that Wm. Booth had a kit - I love that site but all I've ever found on it was yarn and fabrics. Back to checking it out!

Thanks again :)

Danielle Grguric said...

Hi, I have just found your blog and I really like this post. Research can be very frustrating. I love all the things you have made.

I noticed you questioned the drawstrings on one of your example caps. I have come across patterns for this type of cap. They were designed for children with the idea that the drawstrings could be let out as the child grew. Patterns for these are available in The Lady's Economical Assistant dated 1808. I have never seen one with a button closure though.

Kind Regards,