Lecture Report

March 24th, 2011

Last night, I gave a “hands-on” presentation at the museum where I work. It was called Hand-Sewing in the 1850s — 60 Years before the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, presented in collaboration with Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition’s 100th anniversary memorial.

The Song of the Shirt

The Song of the Shirt, by Anna Blunden — one of the illustrations I used in my talk.

To my great delight, 35 people turned out for the lecture, despite miserable left-over-winter weather that included rain, snow, sleet, hail, and thunder. Everyone seemed very interested in the topic at hand, and after the slides were finished, the crowd proved their good nature by trying out some of the hand-sewing stitches we’d been discussing. I was particularly pleased to meet so many fellow sewers, including two ladies who work at an historic farm, and a costumer from a local ballet company!

I recorded the talk for some friends who couldn’t be there, and though I haven’t had the courage to listen to it myself, my husband assures me it was quite presentable. I wonder when I’ll have the chance to do it again, and what I shall talk about.

Now back to my stays…

Ta Da

February 27th, 2011

Finally, I’ve finished something.


The armband I designed for the 146+ Triangle Fire Memorial is ready to be mailed. I am very pleased with the way the roses came out. The 77 is harder to read than I’d like, so I outlined it in gold beads. That didn’t do very much either. Oh well. It’s there if you look closely. It’s also much easier to see when you hold the piece up to the light.


I didn’t sew it into a tube since filet is much less elastic than knitting, and I don’t know how big of an arm (or how bulky of a sweater) is going to sport this armband during the festivities on March 25. Instead, I made 5 little crochet loops on one edge, and a set of matching bobble buttons on the other. It’s too big for my little arm, and too small for my husband’s bulging bicep, so hopefully it’s just right.

So, in honor of Kate Leone, I am off to put this into an envelope and get it ready to mail to the organizers.

146 Plus

February 23rd, 2011

On March 25, 2011, New York City will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. 146 people, mostly young immigrant women, died in the sweatshop blaze, in a factory just north of Washington Square Park. In addition to remembering those who died, we’ll also honor the ongoing labor movements that their ordeal inspired.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Ruth Sergel, founder of Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, will be speaking at the Victorian Society on March 8. I hope to attend myself. Then, on March 23, I’ll be speaking at the Merchant’s House on Hand-Sewing in the 1850s — 60 Years before the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

And last, but definitely not least, I (and my dear friend Zoh, among many others) are participating in an art project called 146+. We’ve each signed up to create an armband memorializing one of the victims. I chose 14 year-old Kate Leone, no. 77. She was Catholic, and unlike many of her fellow workers, born in the US.

The organizers of the event suggested that we knit the armbands, but also opened it up to other types of crafting. Since I can never do anything the easy way, I decided to make my armband in filet. Here’s the pattern I made:

Filet Pattern

And my progress so far.

Armband in Progress

I hope Kate would approve. I know a lot of 14 year old girls have already outgrown the whole pink thing, and she may have hated roses. But perhaps she would be tolerant considering the spirit in which it is worked.