Sunday, August 21, 2016

Historical Sewing Challenge #6: Travel

Housewif all rolled up
I'm excited to have finished another historical sewing challenge! I finished this one in July in time for my best friend Mairi's birthday present. She had embroidered these lovely 18th century pockets for myself, my daughter, and done an adorable initials patch for my son's 18th century shirt as Christmas gifts, so I wanted to make something for her in return! She didn't have a housewif, so it was the perfect gift idea! A housewif is a foldable or rollable traveling sewing kit. It's small, so it's easy to stuff in your pocket, and from what I've learned, many women in those times also used them as coin/money purses.

I had a lot of fun selecting the fabrics for this. I only had two options in my stash that I felt would work, so gosh dang it, I had to go get some more! haha! The one from my stash that I used for the outside of the housewif was one I found at my favorite fabric shop - Needle & Thread in Gettysburg, PA. It's a print taken from the Winterthur Museum collection (a lovely museum in Delaware). I'm not sure what the print dates to, but it's such a gorgeous fabric! Love at first sight! :-)
The beautiful Winterthur Museum collection fabric!
For new fabrics I selected two brown prints that look about 1850s-60s (Mairi loves brown!), and a blue print that's an 1830s reproduction print. The rest of the fabric I used is pretty general and could pass well for historical. While my fabrics aren't tied to a particular decade, I wanted to find historical prints that had meaning behind them.

I decided to hand-sew the whole thing which I thoroughly enjoyed! I've been doing a lot of 1940s sewing which is all on the machine, so it was a nice change to slow the pace to a simple needle and thread - while watching North & South! I have a good idea about how long it took, because I started and finished sewing the housewif with the movie which is 4 hours. Nice!

Here's the break down.

The Challenge: June - Travel

Material: 100% cotton prints, cotton homespun

Pattern: Housewif - hand drafted from studying originals and tutorials

Year: early-mid 19th century

Notions:  cotton quilt batting, cotton thread, cotton tape, mother of pearl button

How historically accurate is it? 90%. A housewif is pretty straightforward, but I didn't bind the edges like all the ones I've seen in my research. I wanted it to look more tidy and I'm horrible at binding. :-p

Hours to complete: approx. 4.5 hours

First worn: Gave it to a friend as a gift for her to use

Total cost: about $10 for fabric. The rest was in my stash.

Enjoy some more photos!

The light blue is the 1830s reproduction print.
Both browns I felt were good 1860s options, as well as the plaid.

I love the blue and gold print and the gold print is one I've had in my stash and used in a quilt.
Here you can see a peek at the beeswax I stuffed in one of the pockets.

The back of the housewif
Rolled up and tidy with button and cotton tape ties
The button doesn't actually button. It's just to cover and anchor the ties, as well as give them something to wrap around if desired.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Historical Recipe: Blueberry Cake

Are you a breakfast person? I know some people aren't. I love breakfast and have a weird fascination with it. I hoard breakfast recipes, and yet what do we usually have for breakfast? Eggs or cereal. *sigh*

I was excited to come across this wonderful 1941 cookbook featuring the famous singer, Kate Smith. This entire cook book is an advertisement for Post brand foods, and Grape Nuts have a starring presence in many of the recipes. I plan on trying a few of them soon! In the book, Ms. Smith talks a lot about the benefits of eating enough fiber as in this example below:

I had some blueberries languishing in the back of my fridge (what is wrong with my family??) and knew I had to use them soon. So, when I saw this recipe for Blueberry Cake, I thought it was the perfect use for my sad blueberries!

It was a simple recipe with easy ingredients, and it went together much like a coffee cake - where you alternately add the flour and milk to the creamed sugar mixture until you have a rich, thick batter. Then you fold the blueberries into that which is really hard! I didn't want to squish any of the blueberries. If you use fresh, your cake will remain white. If you use frozen, like she suggests you can, your cake will be more streaked with purple.
Blueberry Cake, ca. 1941

I didn't wait for it to cool down after I took the cake from the oven. I dug right in, and oh boy! Was it delicious! Nice, rich flavor with the yummy punch of blueberries and a nice texture. I think in these modern times, people would try to "fancy" this up with a crumb topping or ice cream or crazy stuff like that. Just don't do it. The beauty is in the simplicity. It doesn't need a thing!

Blueberry Cake yumminess!

This is one that would definitely be worth trying. But since Kate Smith says this should be for breakfast, don't even think about serving it for a dessert!!

A neat historical note: I love that she mentions Bird's Eye frozen blueberries. I wrote my History capstone course paper on the advent of the frozen food industry in 1939 starring Bird's Eye Foods. In 1941, the brand was only 2 years old! Frozen, or "frosted foods" as they were referred to, revolutionized the American menu and challenged the idea of only being able to eat things seasonally. It's a very cool piece of history! :-D