A finished Apron

So last August I was able to attend the Stepping Back Accurately Civil War Era Ladies event in Washington, Arkansas. It was a new adventure for me that I didn’t know what I was getting into. All in all, it went well and the next time I go, I will be better prepared for what is happening.

But to this apron. One of our classes was the making of a Gathering Apron. Now you could take a sewing machine with you and all pertinences but being me, I didn’t want to go to that trouble and my machine is older and decrepit and in our last move was very mistreated by the movers. Wonder it actually still works, but it does. Sort of. Well, more than sort of, but her better days are well behind her.

I began my apron at the meeting by hand stitching the binding on the main panel of the apron. I will have to say that I was pretty pleased with how it came out.


Binding to the apron

I even was even more happy with how the join I made with the binding looked. I would say it almost looks sewing machine sewn, but no it was just me.


Join on binding

With such an auspicious start, you would think that the journey would have finished rapidly and well. Alas, should I admit that by the time I got home and things in the house, I spent a few months not even knowing where it ended up. Sad to say but true. Well, I did find it and what else I was missing, and finally this week got back to finishing it in the hopes it would help me to get on with another project. So it was time for the pockets.


The poor pockets

This I did on the sewing machine. I took the perceived easy route. Well, for most people. That doesn’t mean it is for me. I still think they look like ruffles and the picture upside down, but this is as close as I came to the directions. Which I might add I thought I did pretty well on that point. Well, it would look a lot better if I had gone by what was back in 1860s Texas. You see the sewing machine didn’t make it here till after the war so no apron like this would have been made with one inside of Texas as far as we know. Now just maybe someone in Galveston got one before the war and brought it over from New Orleans, but then the story of Galveston and the war isn’t pretty, and I doubt they were using it at all – if it happened to be there.

But back to my apron. I did get the pocket on but don’t you dare look at the backside. Yes, the bobbin decided to rebel for a moment and though we were working again, I didn’t look at the previous sewing and well it does have those bunches of threads in an area. May cut them out yet and if it falls apart hand sew it back. I must admit though that I like the seams to be hidden and they show quite well. Or maybe not quite well if you aren’t looking for them. This is a bit of business in a plaid to be looking for matching color in thread.


The waistband

After doing the quick easy way for the pockets, I decided to go back to the old way for me. There were two options for putting on the ties and waistband that included a major stressed point that one must realize the one way was faster and easier than the other. Well, it didn’t take two seconds to know I was going the slow and easier route for myself. I did use a machine on part of it. I sewed the two pieces together for the center and then folded it wrong side out and sewed up the ties on the two ends. Then turned it right side out and hand stitched the ends closed. Next was pinning it over the top of the waistband and sitting down with Time Team to sew tiny stitches on both sides to get it attached. I didn’t get the gathers all nicely spaced but it did go on and after ironing it again, I believe it doesn’t look half bad and would have looked worse with my sewn seams showing from the machine.


The finished apron

So this day, I have finished the apron started last August. It really isn’t too badly done. Well, except for that sewing machine. So just remember that no matter if a project gets lost or well past the time most have theirs done or whatever excuse we can come up with, it is better to go ahead and finish it. Learn while your doing.

And now maybe I’ll get back to my BIG project that scares me.

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Darning Good Socks

I have three pair of good thick wool socks, and yes, my feet get cold even in a Central Texas winter. I love my thick wool socks. Alas, I wear them all over and it doesn’t take long for heels to wear out. Now these three pair of socks I just couldn’t get rid of so I decided that I must learn to darn socks. So to YouTube I went and found out that it is quite basic and not much to it but practice.


Getting started

So the first lesson I learned in the practice of darning is that if you are going to darn socks it is best to do it before holes get too large. The above sock was the smallest of my holes to fill. Small is easier. But anyway,off we went with each individual sock. I picked some of my early handspun yarn that was lacking much. It seemed a good dimension though.


Warp finished

Now one is to weave back and forth till you have a warp to then weave through with the weft. I did learn that it would be better to try and get the threads closer together but then also I need to use better yarn the next time.


One sock done

Alas, it looks sad but I finished this green one with one piece of yarn that didn’t come apart once in the pulling of it. It is not remotely really good but I can wear the sock and as soon as it wears out again we will know how to fix it better the next time.



See that missed thread above. Yep, a bit to learn and practice at this yet. But it totally does its job so whose complaining. And they look so much better once turned right side out again.


Two pair and do you see the mistake?

Time passed as I worked on 5 of the socks and got to thinking to well of what as happening. When I finished the sixth one and took the lightbulb out of it (yes, I went old fashion for a round object inside or at least twentieth century old fashion), I realized I had forgotten to turn it inside out first. YIKES! Doing them inside out hides so much when it is actually worn. So I have one reminder of how not to do it but it still will work. Will just have to correct it when it wears out again. The third pair missed the above picture as they were already on my feet. I can tell the heel isn’t quite the same as the rest of the sock, but it is covered and has been warm since it was completed on a cold night. I am happy.

It seems I have found several uses of late for all that badly spun, learning to spin, fiber yarn, from the beginning years of learning to spin that I still have sitting around here. Need a few more projects but I am pleased with this one and will be darning socks from now on. Will check on some cotton ones next.

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An Indigo Apron

I wanted to make something from my indigo dyed pieces from Art Camp. Looking them over, I decided that two pieces were the top and bottom of an apron. Then I cut other pieces for the straps and ties. I hand sewed it all, and it came out pretty descent. Probably would be better if I’d gathered the bottom waist, but the pattern shows this way, so I went the easier way. Finished it at my folks this week.

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My Old Workhorse

I originally wove and sewed my workhorse back what seems like years ago but was only about 5 years give or take. I wrote about it in Weaving With Handspun. Now these three pieces, at that time, were a pocket, bonnet, and apron. The bonnet went the way of bonnets with me. It was lost somewhere, besides at home. Only the Good Lord or whoever came across it later know what became of it. I do tend to loose bonnets when out and about. But alas I really didn’t cry over it much as I never looked good in it and it seemed a bit smallish. Actually stuffing all my hair in it was a chore. The pocket gets used everytime I go out to events. Always need somewhere to stash stuff on myself.

But the apron. Ahhhhh…. I love that one. It is a bit short and could have been several inches longer, but that doesn’t hinder its usefulness.


Getting ready to put her away again.

I wrote before about how sturdy it is, how it was woven, but I did get some close ups of it this time.

IMG_2549 (1)

The thick learning to weave cotton weft

Version 2

We are getting better and thinner at this cotton spinning

Version 3

We’ve gotten much better at spinning cotton and even have it in thin close rows now.

This apron is good to wear when demonstrating or reenacting as I can show the difference in my learning to spin cotton with the three sections of weft with the thicker at the bottom and the thinner at the top.

But this isn’t where this post is really going. You see, Saturday I was at Winedale Old Fashion Christmas with some friends having an 1850s Christmas in the rain. Yes, it rained and there were some intrepid visitors who came around and saw us but for the most part we just enjoyed being with each other.. getting wet.



A moment of little rain so time to get a picture.

When it was time to leave it was raining, of course, and I needed to go get my car. So not having a hat, I made the decision to not wonder how I would look, but that I would take a hint from Dilue Harris. You see, she was involved in the Runaway Scrape (If you don’t know what that is, just ask. I will be happy to tell you more than you ever wanted to know.). When crossing the San Jacinto River she lost her bonnet (we have something in common) which wasn’t a good thing. After the Battle of San Jacinto and her family was returning home, they came close by the battleground. She wanted to go and see it but alas had lost her bonnet. What was a girl to do? So she tied her apron over her head and thus went to see where the battle that gave Texas her independence took place.

So yes, with little ado about how silly I looked, my apron was tied on my head and off I headed into the rain. Can I just say she came through again for me. I hurried off holding three petticoats and a full 1850s skirt up out of the puddles. Actually, that was useless, I was really holding them up to make quick walking a good bit easier. I sunk in over my shoe once. But what of all the apron covered? That piece of linen and cotton never let a drop of rain through. My head and back, as far as it reached, were as dry as if we were sitting at home by the fireplace. It held up once again to its workhorse image. Nothing that beautiful but if you ever need to pick up a castiron pot on a fire, just fold over once and have at it. If it is hot and dreadful day, just wipe away and it will keep the sweat at bay. If you have to run in the rain, it will keep you as dry as being home.

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Projects Abound

Well, I am still working on the loom but as the left side kept getting worse, I decided that the best action was to cut it off and start fresh with retying it and making sure all the broken warps are in good order in the back of the loom, so here is where it sits at the moment. I am really liking what is happening in it if it would just go well.

Starting over with same project

Starting over with same project

I have also been weaving on my zoom loom with my handspun. Have quite a few swatches done and I am liking how these are looking. These are a great project for something easy that takes up little space and is fun to do. I am getting better at them as well which is a plus for liking more of them. I am hoping for enough that will go together that they will make a nice shawl or something of the ilk. With these it would be thick and warm so maybe something else by the time I start putting them together.

Zoom Loom swatches

Zoom Loom swatches

Then what is taking so much thought with time right now is my corset. I won the class from Boy am I glad I didn’t tackle this on my own or I would be already headed to the looney bin. I have made two mock ups and still have it too tight in the waist. So just took pictures and am about to send them on to get an expert opinion on the problem. Not the easy fixes I was hoping for that wonderful fit.

But as I came up to my room one day this week, I just stopped and took this picture of my table. Can’t remember now if that is corset one or two but the way it is laying should have been a hint. About how it stretches around my middle.

Trying to make a corset.

Trying to make a corset

So anyway, now back to all three projects. First to watch video and read about the corset sizing and then posting pictures for advice. Then maybe get to the loom if my brain isn’t fried and finish tying on and start weaving. And to relax this evening making some more Zoom Loom Swatches.

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Corded Petticoat

The warp from the back beam through the heddles and the reed ready to tie on the front beam. I love the soft light of just this one on in the dark.

I love the soft light of just this one coming down. Ready to tie the warp onto the front beam.

After finishing the dress, I felt the great need for a corded petticoat. Alas I searched and read and searched and read and got a bit discouraged on this as today those who make them for their early 19th century period dresses sew all the cords in. Can anyone imagine I being able to sew cords onto a piece of cloth in perfect rows? I certainly couldn’t see it coming out well and was more than discouraged with the feat. But then I read one little sentence that changed the whole project. It stated, in essence, that “of course the women of the day just went to the store and bought the cloth with the cord already woven in it and so they just had to sew up the panels together and hem and band it.” Eureka! I could figure out to weave the fabric and sew it then together. No sewing of each individual line of cord.

So then to figure out exactly what I wanted to use for this project, and I bought some 16/2 cotton and warped it at 30 epi. I had some cotton cord that I thought would work great for the top of the skirt. In viewing quite a few I had seen that many had a thinner cord at the top and thicker at the bottom. Oh to find something for the bottom. I wanted it natural and that was hard to find. I ended up getting some Jute. Though I did find some stuff that would have been perfect but it would have cost over $100 for just this petticoat and I just couldn’t justify the cost. There are times when one could just wish they were filthy rich with money to throw away.

I now had all that I needed for the project so started weaving a plain weave header. Wove 6 inches and then started the thin cord and wove cord with four shots of the 16/2 cotton in between. I wove this for 12 inches and then switched to 18 inches of the jute with 10 ends between each one.

Weaving the thinner cord.

Weaving the thinner cord.

Weaving the thicker cord.

Weaving the thicker cord.










I loved how fast this wove up, and it seemed to go pretty well except for a problem on the right selvedge that I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I think I know now, after cutting it off, but for the weaving, I did figure out how to work around it. Oh, and it probably had its source in the fact that when I wound this warp on the warp beam I wound it backwards and after I tied on the front the brake didn’t work. So I ended up winding it all forward (6 yards) and then back onto the beam again the correct direction. First time I ever made that mistake. Hope to never do it again. But anyway it didn’t quite wind back on as perfectly as it was to start with.

After cutting it off I just washed it in the bathtub with my feet and tried to iron what I could of it and then hand sewed the side seams doubly and then used the machine for the hem and top which I just made a case of and ran a draw string through. It did come out a bit shorter than I thought it would. But despite that, it still seems to be quite good. I hope with another petticoat with it that it will be fairly smooth on the surface, but it will be closer to the bell shape that a proper skirt should have under than they do now. I think though if I get another insane moment though and want to do it again, I would make one all the thin cord and not use a thicker one. It would be a fairly quick project and of course the second one is always better than a first.

Corded petticoat finished.

Corded petticoat finished.

It will be interesting to see how a skirt looks with it under it. Oh and by the way. The bathtub is draining real slow since washing this. I didn’t think much came off the jute while in there but obviously enough that I better work on it soon or someone else will not be too happy at my procrastination.


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