Wednesday 28 February 2018

For the love of the Muff (part 3)

When I made my first muff in 2006, there were not many patterns available and very little information on the internet. I made a muff and cape set from an old faux fur coat from my husbands maternal grandmother.

Some years later, after purchasing this vintage/antique muff, I gave the cape and the muff to a friend.

When friends gave me a vintage 1950's/1960's polar fox stole (without head) I immediately knew I wanted to turn it into a white muff. To go with this jacket and hat! Although my trusty black muff looks quite well as well!

As I have always been happy with how my first muff turned out I used the same description which I found in 2006 floating somewhere on the internet.

"...I have some muffs from this period and they are made thus:
Make 2  tubes of muslin cut about 13/14" x21", one should be about 2" less
than the other.Stitch one end together and make a 3/4" chenille for elastic,
and fill with feathers (or you may opt for heavy poly quilt filler)Stitch
the open end; make a chenille as in the other end .
(you may wish to sew satin facings of about 6" oh each end of the inner bag
as the lining might show.
Cut and thread 2 pieces of elastic about 10" in the ends
Make a second (well, third) tube of fur, chenille, or other fabric of your
choice about 1" less than the tube already assembled, and cover the inner
Add a handle on one end, of silk braid or rope.
Embellish with tassels to taste...

I couldn't find the original source anymore but wanted to share this with you anyway because I found it really helpful. If you wrote this or you know who wrote this please let me know. I would be very happy to give you credit!

I did make some small changes when I made my second muff. For the first I used heavy poly quilt filler. To make this muff a little more historically accurate I used kapoc, a natural plant fibre. Which was oftend used in pillows and muffs. It has the added bonus that is not only more historically accurate but also warmer! 

The tubes where made from scraps of white cotton. The invisible one is striped, the visible one a nice satin weave.

I also decided to add a pocket. I had no idea how to do it and I am really bad at just winging it. So I decided to call in the cavalry in the shape of a workbook by Historical Sewing, the Faux Fur Muff pattern. I was very easy to follow and had very clear instructions, if you are thinking of make your own muff this would be a wise investment.

After putting the lining together it looked like this, in front of the lining is the polar fox fur.

You see that the tube has been filled but not sewn shut yet. Note: make sure you put in enough filling so that it can stand on a side without collapsing.

My new white muff turned out a little bigger than my vintage/antique black one. Although I suspect most of it is due to the fur being longer!

All in all it took about a week to complete this project and I am really happy with how it turned out!

Why the pocket in the muff, you might ask. It can be used for a wallet or a mobile phone but I use it to hold a hand/muff warmer.

My very small collection of vintage and antique muff warmers (small hot water bottles).

Unfortunately only one of them still works! The copper muff warmer leaks and the antique pewter muff warmer doesn't open anymore. And as hot water is in short supply at most of my Victorian themed events, I cheat and use a modern zippo handwarmer, which stays warm for 12 hours. This type of handwarmer was invented in 1923. 

Not just hot water bottles were used in the Victorian  and Edwardianera but also small charcoal burners, like these:

Visit for more information and pictures.

Interesting read.

Both are still available!

So Ladies no need for cold hands, let's keep them warm in style!

Tuesday 20 February 2018

For the love of the Muff! (part 2)

The previous post has been all about the size of the muff and the eye candy in the shape of fashion plates. I choose to use fashion plates instead of pictures of antique muffs because it's much easier to see the size of the muff. However there are such wonderful orginal nineteenth century muffs out there, that I can't resist the urge to show some of them.

Flamingo feather muff lined with sheep skin.

Shawl and Muff set of fur, American

Pelerine and Muff set of Osterich feathers, French 

Fur Shawl and Muff, British

Peacock feathers, ermine and linen muff, French

Silk evening muff, American
1880 - 1889

Wool and silk muff, decorated with wings of a bird.
ca. 1886

1890's Ermine Cape and Muff

Silk shawl and muff set, French
ca. 1895

Worth Walking Suit with Large fur muff
ca. 1905

Muff are still quite easy to buy here in the Netherlands. There are usually some for sale on Marktplaats and they are still being sold at antique and collectors fair. Even after looking at a whole lot of images I find it hard to distinguish the vintage from the antiques. Muffs stayed in fashion untill the 1950's/1960's and I suspect most muffs you can find are from that era. Having said that, there are some real gems out there, like these two currently sold at Marktplaats. They look like the real deal to me but I lack the knowledge to be sure. I escpecially like the fact that they both still have their original boxes.

If you want a muff buying is not your only option! There are lots of tutorials on how to make a (faux) fur muff. And if you don't want a fur muff you can also crochet or knit one!

Crochet Muff
Godey's Lady's book, February 1863

And if you are interested be sure to read A knitted muff from 1847 from the blog The Fashionable Past. 

Seller schmetterlingtag has often antique crochet and knitting patterns up for sale on Ebay. 

This is all I have time for today, more on how I made my own fur muff, next time!

Thursday 15 February 2018

For the love of the Muff! (part 1)

Ever since I can remember I have loved the idea of owning and using a muff. I blame the Quality street tins my mother and grandmother owned for this. Actually I blame them for my entire obsession with costumes from the Victorian era.

This is not mine, I have two of them but both ended up in a box in the attic after we moved, but this is one of the two version we had when I was little. The picture of a lady with a muff was on the side if I remember correctly. I really want to know but I am not to fond of the ladder leading up to the attic and besides that I wouldn't know in whcih box they ended up...

 **Cue hours a me looking on the internet looking for the right version, seeing all the other wonderful Quality street tins and wanting to have them all.**

I mean it is hard to resist these beauties!

Okay, getting back to the original topic which is Victorian Muffs and not Quality Street tins and where to find them... (or how to collect them all!)

Muffs it is!

In Regency times the muff tend to be quite large. Although smaller ones were used as well.

In the 1830's they were still usually quite large

But it looks like they got smaller the closer you
get to the 1840's. This fashion plate is from 1837
and the muff here is quite small!

Around 1840-1845 the muff became the size I prefer, big enough to cover both hand when they are laid on top of each other and the wrists. Pretty, functional and most important manageble. It seems that the ladies from the Victorian era had the same preference because it stayed this size untill the Edwardian era, when the muff encreased in size again.








source:De Gracieuse

Now that I had established that the size I wanted to make was in use for most of the nineteenth centuries I have in my historical wardrobe. It was time to figure out how to make one! But as this is quite a long post, with lots of eye candy, already. I'll write about it in the next blog.

Please note that I have been looking for documentation for the size, shape and sort muff I was planning to make. There are many more historically authentic styles and size. So if you want to make something else, don't be put off and do some research. You'll find that a lot is possible!

Friday 2 February 2018

Sewing roll, sewing rollup or hussif/huswif/housewif

I often spend January and February working on small projects, finishing ufo's or doing some crochet. After all the stress in December trying to finish my costume in time. I feel entitled to some time off but I am to restless to do nothing, this year is no different. First off I finished the lace cap I had started working on at an event in December. My second project was a making myself another sewing roll. I had made several sewing rolls last year to give as gifts to friends for Christmas.

They where made with pretty fabric and a pattern by Merchant and Mills. Running out of time, as always, I made myself a simple version of natural colored linnen and cotton. Functional but not spectacular.

One of my friends had also made a sewing roll and when I saw hers I absolutely loved it. It was made with a whole lot a small quilting fabrics and the construction she had just made up herself. Being the sweatheart she is for christmas she gave me a package with some small squares of quilting fabric, some embriodery designs and her sewing roll to copy! I hadn't done cross stitch embriodery in twenty years so it was quite a challenge. With her help and inspiration I made this and I am really happy with the end result.

Please remember it is not intended to be a reproduction.

However I do think she got the look quite right!

Needlework Case 
Place of Origin: United States, North America
 Date: 1795-1820
Materials: Cotton; Wool; Silk

1816 sewing rollup of housewif

Roll up Huswif Sewing Case, ca 1830, New England
Image no longer available at the website 
but definitely worth a visit.

1850's housewife
I just love the fabrics !

Huswif from 1856

Silk Roll-up with seam covering embroidery
from about 1880.
(unfortunately the images no longer seem to load)

Up untill now I have only shown you sewing rolls on which our versions are based upon. Here are some other variaties!

An early 19th century  American Canvaswork Sewing Case Pocketbook

Pocketbook pattern from Godey's Lady's book 1862

1864 Housewife for a Gentleman

Sewing case closed

Sewing case open

This one I would like to make some day.
Source: Groot Handwerkboek uit Grootmoeders Jeugd,
Ilonka & Leonard de Vries & Margrit Reij.

On the subjects of UFO's I today I finally finished my crochet christmas blanket after working on it on and off for over two years!