There’s a lot more to textiles than sewing costumes. If you do sew, some people may assume you dabble in or are proficient in any type of textile art: beading, embroidery, weaving, crochet, etc. Each of those things is it’s own unique and specific art and only some people are masters.

Here’s a beautiful map of Pakistan done in each area’s most famous technique:

Pakistan embroidery map 2017

Pakistan embroidery map from Generation


After a healthy smattering of posts I seem to have run out of things to talk about… Or I’ve been working diligently on gift projects I can’t yet discuss. ‘Tis the season.


Today I’d like to share an interesting website I just stumbled on via Pinterest. It’s called Unsung Patterns: An Archaeology of Home Sewing. The image above is from this post on, of all things, corset bags. It appears to date from the 1910s or so and features an embroidery design bag. The bag itself is made from a strip of fabric 9″ x 1 1/2 yards long, folded in half and stitched on the long sides.

I must say, though I store corsets and have seen modern commercial versions of bags (usually one side is clear plastic), it never occurred to me to make one. My corsets tend to live folded into large handkerchiefs. Silly me.

Other entries on the blog feature some other unique items, including early 19-teens aprons, 1930s pirate costumes (not as bad as you might expect), a 1920s Martha Washington costume, some German patterns and a variety of early century work wear, all with a little history and background included.


I’m rather interested in aprons right now, so this post on a 1926 “Bungalow Apron” from the New Jersey based Aladdin Apron Company (great name!), with its musings on the possibilities of women going beyond the home sewing realm into cottage industry is particularly appealing.

It’s an interesting site to peruse. Enjoy!

Emily Magone Edinburgh Skyline Scarf

Edinburgh Skyline Scarf

These scarves (and pillows) have nothing to do with historic costume (not that one couldn’t wear a lovely silk scarf in a number of different periods), but I thought they were pretty and worth a share. The artist is Emily Magone, a painter who has recently discovered silk painting. I’ve never really tried painting and certainly have only limited drawing skills, so I really appreciate someone who creates beautiful things and makes it seem effortless. I found her via a Dharma Trading artist feature. You can find her on Pinterest and from there to Etsy and other places on the net. Enjoy!

Emily Magone Red Poppy silk throw pillow

Emily Magone Red Poppy silk throw pillow

Emily Magone infinity scarf

Emily Magone infinity scarf

Couture Rani image

As I was talking about the bridal corset I’d recently made a friend who normally wouldn’t be terribly interested in fashion or historical clothing piped up to inquire about my sewing. It seems that when an Indian woman, his wife in this case, buys a sari she is only purchasing the beautiful sari skirt (I’m sure there must be another name for it, but I don’t know it yet). The matching or contrasting, midriff baring blouse does not come ready-made, but as a piece of fabric to go with the sari. Now clearly if I don’t even know what the different pieces are called, I’ve never made a sari blouse (Wikipedia’s sari page informs me that the blouse is called a choli or ravika). I’m sure someone provides ready-made choli, but this is not the standard practice.

I would love to get some beautiful sari fabrics and I’m always interested to learn about new aspects of clothing, whether that is historical, cultural or technical. Not only do choli not come ready-made, but neither do the patterns. Each woman has her own pattern(s) made custom. I’m intrigued. Further reading shows that there are many, many ways to drape a sari (great image here), depending on region and personal preference, and in a way, dressing in a sari has quite a bit in common with the wearing of a great kilt (today is National Tartan Day in the U.S., by the way). Obviously they are of very different origins and function, but I’ll leave that to you for pondering…

What I wanted to share was a site that has some stunning couture sari. The site is called Couture Rani. Check out  their blog page and particularly the images from India Fashion week 2013 for a different take on high fashion. The fabrics! The shape and movement of the clothing! The embroidery! Want! Hmmm… I think I need to start by mocking up a choli pattern…

Varun Bahl red gorgette sari Payal Singhal 2013 fashion

All images are from the Couture Rani website.

You get a pretty good view of the horse at about the one minute mark.


A Young group of “Artists” put together a steampunk trojan horse to use as a Mardi Gras float as they party their way past Rouses (A&P) through the French Quarter, New Orleans LA, Mardi Gras 2012

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I don’t know if I’d call this Steampunk, but it is pretty interesting. I love the red boots! i watched it with the sound off, so I can’t make any comment about the track.


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It has occurred to me that I never explained the name of the blog – By the Bodkin.

The most obvious reference, that many sewers will know, is that little tool that allows you to grab something like elastic and feed it through a casing. It makes such a task much easier than using a safety pin. I have one that is about 3″ long that resembles a tiny clamp. You put the elastic in the little jaws and slide the ring down toward the gripping end which clamps that end tight. It is also useful for turning slender tubes of fabric right side out or anything which sews to a point and also requires turning.

Most sewers through history would have known a bodkin as a sort of large needle with a big eye (or two) and a blunt tip. The use would have been the same, though of course most of them would have been pulling ribbon or twine, not elastic. If you google “sewing bodkin(more…)

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