Monday, 18 March 2013


A report on the things I am currently working on for the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the challenge, but I am having trouble getting things finished on time. I finished the UFO and the Under it All projects before the deadlines, but my Embellish project and Peasants and Pioneers project are nowhere near finished. I'll probably be able to finish my Stripes project on time, but I'm busy working on about 5 other projects besides these ones and it's difficult to focus on just one. This is why I don't have a decent amount of sewing progress to post about.
Anyways, here is where things stand on these 3 Historical Sew Fortnightly UnFinished Objects.

Challenge #4 Embellish-

I'm going to make this hat.

Journal de luxus, 1786 (source)
 Well, almost that hat. I only have one black ostrich feather, but everything else will be pretty much the same. I have made a pattern and accumulated most of the materials.

Most of the materials for this very embellished hat.
 There's textured cotton for the main fabric, crisp silk that I can cut up and hem to make those ribbons, light, thin silk for that drapey thing in the back, one decently fluffy ostrich feather, and two old pieces of fur.

Reason for delay- Lack of stiffening materials. I'm not sure what was used for stiffening gigantic cloth hats in the late 18th century, and I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to use either. I read Lauren's tutorial on making structured hats and her method looks like it works quite well. Her finished hat is smooth and stands up straight and tall. The only problem is that the sheets of materials you buy at craft stores are probably too small for a hat as enormous as this one. I do have a very large piece of some sort of mesh which could stand in for the needlepoint canvas, but the only pieces of felt I've got are way too small. I also don't have any wire that is suitable for hat brims.

Enough mesh stuff, insufficient felt.
I'm going to see if fabricville has any really heavy sew in interfacing. I don't want to rush through this project and and end up with a crappy hat.

Challenge #5 Peasants and Pioneers

I am making this apron.
Going to market by Henry Singleton. (source)
Plaid aprons are definitely a lower class garment. This painting is from the era I'm working on right now, and I already had the fabric in my stash.
So far I've cut out the pieces and sewn up the apron string.

Reason for delay- I don't know exactly how to put this thing together. The part the apron is pleated into is wider than the bib part, yet I don't see anything that looks like a waistband. Pleating the panel into a very narrow waistband seems like the best option, but then how would I attach the bib part? I need to do more research on 18th century pinner aprons.

Challenge #6 Stripes
I am making a striped fur muff. Sort of like this one.
Gallerie des modes, 1784. (source)
Mine will be brown. I'm going to cut up these two old fur hats and combine them to make one muff.
Two old hats in two different shades of brown.
Reason for delay- I wanted to dye the fur, also, one of the hats has a bit of white mold growing on the leather side of the fur. I wanted to make the reddish brown hat a bright red and the geyish brown one a dark charcoal grey, but after trying several different techniques on small scraps of fur, I have given up on that. Nothing I tried had any effect on the colour of the fur, and it usually destroyed the leather part. The two shades of brown are already different enough to make obvious stripes, so I'll stick with them.
A quick photoshop job to give an idea of what the muff will look like.
I'll start sewing the muff as soon as I've removed that nasty mold from the greyish brown fur.

I'm going to finish all of these eventually, even if they're too late to qualify for the challenge. Perhaps I'm starting too many projects. I know Leimomi said that it's okay if you only get a few of the challenges done, but each one gives me so many ideas, and my historical wardrobe is so small that they're difficult to pass up.
Hopefully next week's post will have some actual sewing in it.
Does anyone have any advice on removing mold from fur?
Update. I got the mold off.


  1. The 1840s bonnets I've studied have the brims stiffened with cardstock and the crowns made of buckram (both of which can be sewn together to make larger pieces). I can't pretend to know if they used the same stuff decades earlier, but it seems possible. Sadly I can't find anything like this one to look at in a museum. But I think felt may not be necessary, so you could take out that barrier!

    Where is the mold in the fur? Is it among the hairs or on the reverse?

    1. Thank you! I've heard of buckram before but I didn't know exactly what it was, I just looked it up and it sounds fantastic. I hope it's available in Fredericton. If not I could try layers of coarse fabric with shellac, like top hats are stiffened with.

      The hairs are fine, the mold was on the reverse side.

    2. I used crinoline in my bonnet and it was defs a bad choice - way too light, even though I doubled it. So you want to make sure it's strong enough!

      In museums mold(/mildew) is generally a death sentence for an object because you can never really get 100% rid of it and it can spread, so you want to keep the furs away from your other clothes, maybe in a sealed plastic bag. If you freeze it for a couple of days, it should stop it growing; then you can vacuum it and wash the moldy area. It might not fully go away, though - my mom has a typewriter case that she periodically cleans with bleach and the white splotches still come back.

    3. Oh dear, mold is scary. I generally keep anything with animal hairs in it sealed up and segregated anyways, because of moths. There was only a small amount of white mold and it just sat on the surface, but now I'm reconsidering using this piece of fur, the back side is still quite scruffy looking.

  2. Instead of using bleach, which would damage both the fur and the hide, there are a couple of other things that could work. We have a bottle of stuff called "Mouldex" that is for killing mould found in the household. It doesn't seem to be caustic and I don't think it would damage the leather. I also have some Potassium Metabisulphite which is used to kill nasty organisms in wine so it won't spoil in the bottle. It is also something that shouldn't damage the tanning of the leather backing, and shouldn't affect the fur at all. You can try some samples with both of these. Chlorine based bleaches attack and damage a lot of materials and would likely do so to the leather and the fur.

    1. Papa, I would NEVER use chlorine bleach on fur, I only use that stuff for sterilizing bones.
      I think I've dealt with the mold. I found instructions on removing mold from suede, since suede has a similar texture to the back of a piece of fur. It said to rub the moldy spots with petroleum jelly, which I did, and the mold isn't there anymore. There wasn't very much, so it probably won't grow back as long as it's stored correctly.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. How rude you are Mama. A homework reminder and not a single word about sewing? I shall have to delete this comment.

  4. Again, I had left a comment which I thought has published but I don't see it here.

    I would think that sulphur would also kill the mold. I've used sulphur to kill mildew on plants. It may be harder to get now than before but I still have some at home that I bought at a pharmacy years ago.


  5. Lovely sewing. And I have seen the partially completed muff and it looks fine and cosy. All of your sewing projects are very well done even if I don't understand why anyone would want to look like a pouter pigeon. Your problem solving of construction problems is nothing short of amazing.

    Now is it OK to say the H word?

    1. 1. Thank you.

      2. Because pouter pigeons are awesome! Also because it's really fun to look like silly ladies in old fashion plates.

      3. No. You live in the same house as me, there is absolutely no excuse for posting homework reminders here.