Category Archives: Misc

Historical Clothing related fun!

April 1! 10 Honest Answers to 10 Honest Questions

It’s April’s Fool’s Day! In honor of this silly day, I decided to conduct an “interview” and give honest answers to honest questions! Warning: you might find out more than you want to know! So here goes!

Q: Why do you make historical clothing?

A: Because I do not like teaching. Wait- isn’t that supposed to be the other way around? You know, those who can’t- teach? So cliche. But seriously, I was a visual arts teacher for a while. I loved working with kids but found the educational system most frustrating. I was the only creative in the building and that was a very lonely feeling.

Q: What is your favorite time period to design from?

A: Hmm. That’s a tough one. I love the understated elegance of the Regency Period. But I also love the over-the-top styles of the Bustle Era. I am not a big fan of the 1860s/early 1870s. I guess hoops just aren’t my thing anymore.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: The diversity! Checking emails is like playing the lottery! Today you might be stitching together a couple stock petticoats and tomorrow you might be working for Spike Lee! (True story! Although they called instead of emailing.)

Q: What do you dislike most about your job?

A: Deadlines.

Q: I see you are celebrating 25 years in business! That’s a long time! If you could go back and change one thing from the last quarter decade, what would it be?

A: I would have taken more time off when my second child was born. Literally, the day after he came home, I brought the sewing machine in from my studio and set up a mini sewing station in my kitchen. Why? Because I had deadlines.

Q: What do you think of social media? You know because it didn’t exist 25 years ago!

A: Short Answer: Overrated. Long Answer: I think social media can be a useful way to disseminate information and share ideas with people who have common interests. But somewhere along the lines, social media has become all about money and manipulation and while I do like money, I am not willing to let the social media giants be puppeteers over my life and business. Are you?

Q: Are you hot in those clothes?

A: Why yes. I am “hot” in these clothes. Thank you for the compliment but I am happily married.

Q: Do you dress like this everyday?

A: See photo below.

Q: What advice could you give people just getting started in this field?

A: Follow your passion. Ask yourself: What makes you happy Marie Kondo? What type of lifestyle do you want to live? What are you passionate about? Now what can you do for a living (You know- because you need money to live people!) that allows you to live the life you want? Get a plan and get to it! But be prepared! Success is measured in a variety of ways. Money is NOT happiness and nothing ever happens overnight!

Q: Where do you get your design inspiration?

A: Lots of places! I look at photographs of original garments. I read books (like ones with paper…) because context is important. And, sometimes I even have the chance to get up close and personal with original collections (thank you Costume Society of America!) It might be the overall silhouette I am drawn to or simply a small detail. Sometimes I make up characters or events in my mind. Then I just work up a design in my imagination and go from there! But I always try NOT to copy other creatives’ designs and I do NOT LIKE IT when others copy mine. (Yeah, you know who you are…..)

Q: After 25 years, what keeps you going?

A: I ask myself this question EVERY DAY and even more so when I am at an ebb in my workflow. I always try to focus on the positives. I practice thankfulness- like I am thankful I do not have to sit through a one hour staff meeting in some concrete building; or I am thankful I do not have to miss my daughter’s field trip because the boss would not let me have the day off. I love getting to meet people from all over the world who share the same passions about historical fashion. I thrive on creative collaboration! In short, I am grateful I have been given a skill and talent that allows me to live the life I really want.

Business Bevies: Royalties and why you should charge them

Let’s face it. After being in the creative business for over 25 years, I’ve seen it all. Nothing really surprises me anymore. Recently, I saw a conversation on a social media network geared toward historic costume professionals who design, create, and/or provide research and garments for large companies. The issue was they never received credit for their work and did not know why.

Sadly, this is a pretty common practice and there are a variety of reasons for it. Unions are a large factor. Unions are powerful conglomerates that protect their members by advocating for fair wages and universal working conditions. In addition, unions advocate for companies to only hire union members. This is not necessarily a bad thing except annual membership fees are ridiculously high. And being a member of a union does not guarantee you get hired on for a project.

One trick of the trade is for union costumers to contract or buy from non-union creatives and treat the transaction as if one is buying supplies. This works well for creatives who are just getting started, use the industry as an auxillary form of employment, want to build connections in the field, or simply do not want to join a union. However, the trade off is your work goes uncredited as you now become a vendor rather than a creative or designer. Under no circumstances does a buyer even have to acknowledge you.

More unscrupulous creatives can also pass your work off as their own. While this is ethically alarming, legally it is not. This is because creative property laws are vague and are inconsistent on an international level. Creative property laws rarely protect “articles of everyday use” such as clothing, furniture, pottery, some textiles, etc. The legal water becomes even muddier when one sells his/her work to a buyer. Does the buyer now own just the object as is? Has the buyer purchased the object with the ability to deconstruct it and replicate it? Does the buyer now own the idea behind the object? US laws are weak on these topics and as a creative, one must always assume the answer is “Yes.”

So what can you as a creative/or designer do?

Charge a royalty.

Royalties are a form of payment paid to an established brand or designer for the use of their work. The key here is ESTABLISHED BRAND or NAME. Royalties are a “right to use” fee and typically pertain to intellectual property (works that can be trademarked, patented, or copyrighted). Royalties protect both the buyer and the seller from claims of improper use. One could possibly argue that an object created under a trademark could be eligible for a royalty.*

The benefit of charging a royalty here is you are financially compensated for your ideas. Even though they are not written down in pen and ink, your “article of everyday use” is indeed a product of your intellect, talent, and skill. And for this, you should be compensated. Writers, composers, fine artists, and graphic designers receive royalties all the time. Why shouldn’t you?

But I am not an attorney nor do I pretend to be one. I am a business owner and a creative. I understand the rules of the free market. But I also know the value of my work. By charging a royalty, you send a clear and concise message to the industry that you feel your work has merit, you demand creative respect, and there is more to what you do than just “sell stuff.”

However, it is up to you as a creative whether or not you feel the need to require a royalty and whether or not you are willing to let clients to pass you by if they are not willing to pay it.

*All comments are my opinion and not meant to be interpreted as legal advice. For more information about royalties, licensing, trademarks, and unions please visit your local creative property rights attorney or small business administration.

Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday Menu

For your dining pleasure- We are proud to share our menu for Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday Tea!

Please join us on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 2:00pm CST as we will be turning back the clocks to Victorian Era England! Join us for a fun afternoon of light refreshment, music, merriment, and of course TEA! in the historic Victorian era town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Event to benefit 2 selected children’s charities.

Food historians note Queen Victoria had a well versed palette and a distinct love for both the sweet and the savory. Mutton, potatoes, and Beef were most commonly seen on her menus as well as a variety of fish and an assortment of breads. Her favorite sweets consisted of sponges, wafers, biscuits (or shortbread cookies), drop cakes, Scottish tablet (a dulche de leche-type fudge), petit fours, pralines, almond sweets, pies, and berry tars (specifically cranberry) with creme. But perhaps my favorite of hers are the Langues de Chat (or Cat Tongues) which is an elongated shortbread dipped in chocolate.

I imagine the royal kitchen was a very busy place! And the royal garden diverse! The Queen advocated for fresh foods and discouraged ingredients out of season. The exception was pineapple- for which the Queen had a passion- and was thus grown year round in the Royal hothouses.

More fun facts and information about Queen Victoria can be found on on our blog. If you are interested in attending our QV birthday tea, online ticketing can be found via Eventbrite. Paper ticketing is available on our website. Current information is available on our Facebook page.

Romantic Era straw bonnet

This lovely Romantic Era straw bonnet is headed to a museum in Pennsylvania as part of a larger commission. This straw bonnet features gingham ribbon, paper flowers, and silk ties.

For more information about this style bonnet or any of our custom millinery, please visit our website at

Research- upcoming 1890s project

I am currently doing research on the dress styles of rural American women in the 1890s. I will be designing clothing based upon garments from photographs. Here are a few favorites:

1890s_prairie  1890s_prairie_detail

Source: Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection, NDIRS-NDSU, Fargo. Modifications © Jone Lewis 2001.

ep.owh.wom.0006.03  ep.owh.wom.0006.01

Source: University of Nebraska- Lincoln


Source: Conneticut Historical Society


Source: Old Photos


Source: Ohio Historical Society


I recently made 2 WWII Era WASP hats for the Arizona Commemorative Airforce Air Base Museum in Mesa, Arizona. The beret is based upon a pattern I developed a few years ago and is made of wool. The cap is based upon images I was able to locate from period photographs and one other museum display photo. The cap is made of blue denim cotton.




Image source:

The hats were commissioned for display in the museum’s gift shop.



suzanne-parishwasps-e1e593b98c93d841  miriam-bat-ami-fly-girls-of-world-war-ii-air-zoo-8842efda044a4f83

Source: Jill McLane Baker/Kalamazoo Gazette, July 17, 2010

A blog award

I would like to thank Alison Boulton over at Thread-Headed Snippet for awarding me the Versatile Blogger award!  Alison is a fellow Southern blogger and has the most enlightening and humorous blog about historical sewing I have encountered to date! Thank you again for choosing my blog as one of your favorites!



Rules- Share 7 things about yourself:

1. I live on a farm. Our current four legged family members include 2 horses, 3 llamas, 6 hens, 2 ducks, 3 dogs (4 if you count the neighbor dog who spends 95% of her time here), 4 cats, and one bunny rabbit!

2. I am a stay at home mom. I have a husband and preschool age daughter.

3. My claim to fame/shame is when I was 19 I rearranged the furniture in a historic home I was the costumed interpreter for. Because the way they had it did not make historical sense and because I was YOUNG AND STUPID! Fortunately, everyone had a laugh about it and I learned a very important lesson that day. Never presume to know everything. This is a lesson that continues with me today.

4. I wanted to be a veterinarian. However after college A&P, I changed my major to history and became a vegetarian! Yikes!

5. I wear my corset while sewing. It helps reduce the blood flow to my brain which in turn reduces the urge to second guess myself and commence to ripping apart everything I just spent hours putting together (because it really was just fine the way I made it the first time).

6. I would not like to have lived back then. Really.

7. I am Southern to the core. (No, not like the “Hell ya! The South will rise again!” kind of Southern.) Think Steel Magnolias. Being Southern carries with it a distinct way of thinking, behaving, and interacting with others. And no, I do not think the world would be a better place if the South had won the war.

Share blogs you like to read (in no particular order):

Thread-Headed Snippet

Defunct Fashion

Fashion is my Muse

FIDM Museum

Genesee Country Village and Museum

Jane Austen’s World

 Kleidung um 1800

Life Takes Lemons

Natalie Garbett

Past Perfect Vintage

The Mended Soul

Commitment to Costumes