Loving Linen

My sister has always laughed at the fact that I have a favorite fabric.

But how can you not love linen??


It’s perfect for historical clothing.


But it’s also perfect for everyday wear.


Some of my favorite me-made pieces are linen, like this dress I blogged about the other day.

My tip for finding great-priced linen? Look at your local thrift shop! I’ve found numerous lengths of linen (3-4 yards!) over the years for around $5 apiece (silk too!). Just don’t be afraid to dig into the bins and have fun hunting.

Fashion in Family Photos

One of my favorite things about genealogy is coming across pictures of my ancestors. It’s amazing to see what my family members looked like and what they wore generations ago. They give me a peek into my past and offer plenty of inspiration for the fashion of days gone by.

I’ve shared some of my favorites below –

Nellie Stowell Howard and Stella Sexmith (cousins)7de6d617-08b9-4a69-a12d-e94a172af83382dde54c-cd67-420d-9bdb-a2fafd0828e87520e098-f354-49df-8cef-6456a9bcfdecOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have the physical copy of this photo of my great grandmother on my bookshelf.

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Ngaio Blouse {Or, I Got to Test a Pattern!}

It’s always been a dream of mine to test a pattern.

And last spring Leimomi of The Dreamstress offered the chance for my dream to come true.

I got to test the Ngaio Blouse!


I had so much fun doing it! And the blouse turned out so well!


I made one out of checkered cotton…


And another out of sateen!

I used a test pattern for these and there’s a newer version published, but I was super impressed with the fit. One of my favorite things about this pattern is that it comes with different cup sizes (I used the “Large Bust” pattern pieces) which makes it really easy to fit to my body.

I wear these all the time and can’t recommend this pattern enough!


1950’s Wrap Dress

This dress is another one of my summer staples.

This is the pattern I used.

I made it out of some beautifully-printed linen fabric that I picked up at Joann’s on major clearance last spring.

Red-tag sale so it was really $3/yard.

I picked up a ton of fabric that day and had enough to make the dress + two sleeveless tops (one for me, one for my sister) after.


The pattern was super fun, quick, and easy to make. Intended to be a breathable, cool summer dress to bum around in when it really heats up here, it really lives up to its name. I wear it all the time!

It closes with four small vintage snaps and, when I made it I was really worried that it would pop open during the day. But I’ve worn it for two summers now and it’s never happened! Those tiny snaps are stronger than they look!

Stuffed Pears & French Toast (1930)


I like to cook, but I don’t often put much effort into breakfast. Usually it’s cereal. But there was one time last summer when I decided to make breakfast for my whole family.


I chose one of my newer-to-me cookbooks, “New Delineator Recipes” (that I think I actually have two editions of).


This menu comes from the 1930 edition.


The menu reads as follows:

Baked Pears

French Toast

Maple Syrup




The stuffed pears recipe was in the dessert section and I thought Dessert for breakfast?! Sign me up!

Stuffed Baked Pears

Pare and core large pears and stuff with seeded dates, raisins or chopped nuts with some tart marmalade or shredded coconut. Place close together in a baking-dish, cover bottom of pan with water and bake slowly until tender.


To make it a little easier on myself, I simply halved the pears and filled the core with ginger peach jam and chopped peanuts.



French Toast

12 slices of bread 1/2 inch thick

3 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar

Beat the eggs, add the milk and salt. Dip slices of bread into this mixture and saute’ in a little hot fat until a delicate brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot.


The pears didn’t take too long to bake – but I don’t remember exactly how long they were in the oven.


Even a year later, this is my favorite way to eat French toast – with powdered sugar! It’s delicious!


Some maple syrup and breakfast was complete! We all loved it.


I’d definitely make this recipe again – especially to try out different combinations of stuffing for the pears! What would you put in the pears?

Love Story from 1881


I have a very special book on my shelf.


A beautifully decorated copy of “Beauties of Shakespeare” by William Dodd.


It was originally published in the 1750’s and has gone through many, many editions over the years. The one I have dates from the mid-19th century and has several special details inside.


Little notes about Shakespeare’s writing…


Notes about Shakespeare’s life…


Signatures from the students who used the book…

“Ben, J.M. Boggess, Bradford, 1881”

With some of the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen!

“Maggie Clancy and Lulu Hensley 1880”
“Doug and Herman” — “Tis sweet to be remembered”
“Guy & Pearl”

But the sweetest thing of all comes from these two: Guy and Pearl.

“Guy and Pearl. School of 81.”

They signed the book in multiple places.


And left such endearing love-notes in the back of the book that my heart melts every time I think about it.

Dear Pearl;

Never forget the school days of 1881. Alas, perhaps our last. 

Yours lovingly,


And her response:


I never will.


I picked up this book at a library book sale for 50 cents and, over the years, have dug as deep into the census records as I can to try to find anything I can about these people.

I triangulated most of the names in the book (ten in all) to a town in Illinois called Yates City. They were all born around the early 1860’s and one of them, Lulu, moved to Washington after her second marriage so I’m guessing that’s how the book got to Seattle.

The most frustrating thing, though, is that I can find nothing about Guy or Pearl. I’ve read the census records cover to cover for that town and nada. I’ve expanded my search to go beyond the state and still nothing! I’m still holding out hope, though, that someday I’ll find some tidbit about their lives. I’m dying to know!

If you’re curious, I’ll list some information about the students under the cut:

Continue reading “Love Story from 1881”

A Necklace Months in the Making

The closest Renaissance Fair is an hour and a half away from me. I’ve wanted to go for several years now, but couldn’t ever seem to make it work. Today, however, I finally got to go!


As they say at the fair, huzzah!


I had a lot of fun perusing the shops, sampling the food, listening to the music, watching the shows, and rooting for the green knight.


Unfortunately, he didn’t do so well…

But fortunately for me, I found something to add to my Renaissance ensemble that I’ve been searching for for quite a while now.

Portrait of a Young Woman c. 1475 Tempera on panel, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence Botticelli.

When I made my pink Renaissance dress I based some of the design on the portrait above and what intrigued me about her outfit was that she seems to be wearing a necklace on a black cord.


— Portrait of Maddalena Doni, 1505, Oil on wood, Palazzo Pitti, Raphael. — Portrait of a Young Woman c. 1490 Oil on poplar Staatliche Museen, MAZZIERE. — Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni, 1488, Tempera on wood, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, GHIRLANDAIO. —

Some more research turned up these three images which showed slightly different views of ladies with pendants on black cords, wearing outfits ranging from the everyday to the grand.

Of course I had to have one for myself!


I picked up the black leather cord from Jo-Ann’s for about $2 months ago and have been searching for the perfect pendant ever since. Well, I happened upon the one in the picture tucked away in the back of a tent today at the fair. It’s mounted on an old coin and has a substantial weight to it.

Costanza Caetani
DOMENICO GHIRLANDAIO (1449 – 1494) | Portrait of Costanza Caetani – 1480/90. The National Gallery, London.

I bought it for $6 and brought it home to mount on the cord. Since there seems to be multiple ways to tie the cord, I went with the way the lady above seems to be wearing hers.


Just slip the pendant on, measure the length of the cord, tie a knot at the back of my neck, then one more about two inches up from the bottom. Easy peasy!


This is how long it hangs. Long enough to slip over my head and tuck into my dress if I want.

Hurray Huzzah for unexpected finds!