Posted on

Make Your Own Shoe Roses

shoe roses

Make Your Own Shoe Roses

If there had not been a Netherfield ball to prepare for and talk of, the younger Miss Bennets would have been in a pitiable state at this time, for from the day of the invitation to the day of the ball, there was such a succession of rain as prevented their walking to Meryton once.

No aunt, no officers, no news could be sought after; — the very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy.

Even Elizabeth might have found some trial of her patience in weather which totally suspended the improvement of her acquaintance with Mr Wickham; and nothing less than a dance on Tuesday, could have made such a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday endurable to Kitty and Lydia.

-Pride and Prejudice

During the Regency women’s shoes took a dramatic turn from the high-heeled bejeweled creations of the previous generation. Instead, simple kidd leather or satin slippers were worn, and dainty ankle boots protected feminine feet when venturing abroad. Adding to the over all effect these shoes were often adorned with ribbon, flowers, bows or rosettes.

When searching to complete your Regency ensemble, it can be difficult to find shoes that look period appropriate which are also comfortable to wear. The addition of shoe roses to an already owned pair of flats can transform the look from 21st century to early 19th century in a few moments. As shown in the photos of antique shoes, the trims added were the same color as the shoe they adorned, so keep this in mind while choosing your ribbon.


How to Make Ribbon Shoe Roses To Adorn Your Footwear

Wire-edge ribbon which can also be found as wired ribbon, is a very versatile ribbon to use in crafts. You can find the ribbon in craft and fabric stores or your local florist may have an ample supply. Wire-edge ribbon is most commonly seen in bows on floral arrangements or on fancy gift wrapped packages. The ribbon is called wire-edge because a thin wire is encased along the edges of the ribbon giving it body and the ability to be shaped.

My favorite thing to do with wire-edge ribbon is to make flowers, especially roses. You can find great ribbons sold by the spool or you can get some fancier ones by the yard. I like using variegated and ombre ribbons for the flowers. Variegated ribbons are shades of one color while ombre ribbons use a blend of different colors. The following photos show the different ways flowers can look by how they are manipulated.

This is a rolled ribbon rose that is made by gathering one long edge of the ribbon. Do this by pulling out part of the wire along one edge and then gather. You then roll the ribbon along the gathered edge.

show rose

This is a gathered rosette and a folded rose. The rosette is made by sewing the short ends of a length of ribbon together forming a continuous loop, then use a basting stitch about one third of the way from one edge and gather. The folded rose is shown at the end of the article.

These two roses are made from the same ribbon. The bottom one is the rolled ribbon rose while the top one is the folded ribbon rose.

Here are leaves made from various widths of ribbon. Notice how the leaves changed when using different sides of the variegated ribbon. I used the directions for boat leaves found in The Artful Ribbon by Candace Kling. The rosette instructions can also be found in this book but the roses are made a little differently plus there are several more types of roses as well as many other flowers.

Here are a couple of different looks to the folded ribbon rose by using checked and plaid ribbon.

Here are the steps to make a folded ribbon rose:

First cut a length of ribbon 18″ – 24″ (ribbon length will be shorter for narrower ribbon – 1″ and longer for wider – 1-1/2″). Begin by folding down one corner as shown in photo.

Second, roll the pointed end to the inside as seen in the next photo.

Next, fold the long length of ribbon down as shown. Then begin turning the small end toward you.

Continue to fold the ribbon down as you continue to turn the flower. When you reach the end pinch the bottom to temporarily secure the rose. Most instructions I’ve found say to use floral wire to secure but I find it stays better if you take a few stitches with needle and matching thread through the bottom.

Once your rose is complete, you can affix it to your boot or slipper with a few stitches or even glue. Voila! Instant Regency Fashion. You can also experiment with bows, jewelled buckles and other instant decorations. Have fun decorating!

Ribbon Rose instructions and photos by Donna Lannerd, for, July 9, 2007. Used with kind permission.


Posted on

Easter Eggs to Dye For

“Mrs Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle understands boiling an egg better than any body. I would not recommend an egg boiled by any body else; but you need not be afraid, they are very small, you see — one of our small eggs will not hurt you. Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart — a very little bit.

The tradition of dyeing Easter eggs or eggs for Spring festivals goes back hundreds of years to the ancient Egyptians. In the Spring, they would dye eggs in bright colors and give them to friends as tokens of new life. Early Christians who avoided eating eggs during Lent would preserve them by boiling them. It is said that they dyed them red, using onion skins, in remembrance of Christ’s blood, shed for them. Boiled eggs are also a part of the Passover tradition. Later on, during the 16th century the tradition of exchanging eggs as Easter presents was in full swing and lovers would hand decorate special eggs with a variety of colors, gilt, wax and even paper for their sweethearts.

We don’t know if Jane Austen ever decorated Easter Eggs. If she had, only the most natural ingredients would have been available to her.

Here are some basic guidelines for transforming eggs into beautiful works of art:

  • Canned produce will produce much paler colors.
  • Boiling the colors with vinegar will result in deeper colors.
  • Some materials need to be boiled to impart their color (name followed by ‘boiled’ in the list below).
  • After your eggs dry, use a vegetable oil and soft cloth to polish them.

There are two basic ways to dye eggs: Cold dip and hot dip. The cold-dip method generally produces softer, more translucent tones.

Cold Dip Method #1:
Boil the eggs and ingredients separately. Let the dye cool, strain it and dip the eggs for 5 to 20 minutes (longer for deeper hues), then dry them on paper towels. To avoid uneven coloring, rotate the eggs occasionally.

Cold Dip Method #2:
I’m not trying to get complicated here by including another “cold” method, but some materials produce a nicer color by not being boiled. In this case, cover the boiled eggs with water, add dyeing materials, about a teaspoon of vinegar, and let the eggs remain in the refrigerator until the desired color is achieved.

Hot Dipping (preferred method):
This method involves boiling the eggs in the dye, which gives darker colors. As the eggs roll around in the hot, dye water, they take on a uniform color. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan. Using a ratio of one tablespoon white vinegar for each quart of water, add liquid until the level is an inch or two above the eggs. Add dye ingredients and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water.

If you don’t have the patience to experiment with natural dyes, but want to make Easter egg dye from scratch, try using good old food coloring. Drip (liquid, paste or gel) food coloring into bowls of water, and stir until the water reaches your desired hue. Try combining different colors to make original colors.

Colors to Dye For
Working with natural dyes generally takes longer than commercial, day-glow dyes, depending on how intense you want the colors. For darker tones, let the eggs sit in the dyes overnight in the refrigerator.

Here is a list of dye materials I’ve collected over the years from a variety of sources. Don’t be afraid to experiment on your own.

Pomegranate juice and lots of red onion skins (ask the produce man to save some for you). Boil with the eggs for 1/2 to 1 hour. Hibiscus flowers (you can find it in a dried tea form). Red wines (you don’t have to add vinegar) also work great.

Beets (shred or grate first), cranberries or cranberry juice, raspberries, grape juice, juice from pickled beets, crushed red currants.

Soak hardboiled eggs overnight in hot water to which you have added crushed violet, pansy or geranium blossoms.

Lavender and Blue
Use purple pansies, violets, or grape juice. For a darker lavender use frozen, fresh or canned (with the juice) blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage leaves(boiled)

Yellow and Gold
Orange or lemon peels (boiled), carrot tops (boiled), celery seed (boiled), ground cumin (boiled), ground turmeric (boiled). To use turmeric, add 1 to two teaspoons of the spice and 1 teaspoon white vinegar to a cup of hot water. Also try ground yellow mustard, saffron, curry powder; goldenrod, tansy, dandelion and daffodil blossoms.

Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to a bowl of “violet blue” colored water before soaking the eggs. You can also soak eggs in boiled spinach water or liquid chlorophyll (available at natural food stores) or I dare you to try mixing a handful of fresh grass clippings and a little vinegar and water in a blender.

To a cup of hot water, add 3 tablespoons instant coffee and 1/2 teaspoon vinegar. Boiled back walnuts shells also produce a nice brown color.

How to Produce Color Variations
Rub or squish blueberries and cranberries directly on the dry shells for soft blues and pink. Mix them up for blotchy colors. Also, I’ve heard that a brown egg boiled in red cabbage dye and then soaked overnight, will come out a deep royal blue.

Designs and Patterns
Once the eggs have been hard-cooked and dried, hold one egg in your hand and drip glue (such as rubber cement) onto the egg’s surface. Drip the glue carefully to make a particular pattern, or just let the glue drip freely for an abstract effect. Place the egg on a stand that will allow the glue to dry without getting smudged. When the glue has dried, place the eggs in a prepared dye mixture until they are tinted to your liking. Remove them from the liquid and peel off the glue.

Tie-Dyed Eggs
Collect a handful of different sized rubber bands. Wrap the bands, one at a time, around the eggs. Dye the eggs, remove them from the liquid and let them dry completely before pulling off the rubber bands.

Crayon Eggs
Perhaps the easiest technique of all is the color-with-crayons method. Simply draw a design onto your eggs and then dye as you would any other Easter egg. Using a white crayon mimics the ancient art of decorating with wax before dyeing the eggs.

Half ‘n Half Eggs
Dip dyed eggs into a second coat of darker dye to add a whole new color. The first coat is boiled and the second is cold-dipped for 5 to 10 minutes. To cold-dip, place egg in a small glass bowl or paper cup and prop it up against the side. Some great color combinations include coffee and blueberry; turmeric and red cabbage; and onion skins and cranberry juice.

It’s a Wrap: With Onion Skins
This method is a little messy, but the results are always a pleasant surprise. Rub eggs with white vinegar and wrap in onion skins. Secure the skins with cotton string, dental floss, narrow rubber bands or nylon stocking. When boiled, the skins dye the shells giving a natural tie-dye look. To achieve a full, rich effect, practice using many layers of onion skins. Hint: Pre-dampening the skins helps them stick to the egg.

After dyeing eggs with your own colorful concoctions, you’ll find yourself looking at your garden and products in the store with an artist’s eye. Remember, don’t limit your egg dyeing adventures to the Easter holiday. Colorful, hard-boiled eggs are fun any time of the year. Red and green for Christmas eggs?

Marion Owen is President of PlanTea, Inc. and Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul

Posted on

Colours of the Regency

“I took the liberty a few days ago of asking your black velvet bonnet to lend me its cawl, which it very readily did, and by which I have been enabled to give a considerable improvement of dignity to cap, which was before too nidgetty to please me. I shall wear it on Thursday, but I hope you will not be offended with me for following your advice as to its ornaments only in part. I still venture to retain the narrow silver round it, put twice round without any bow, and instead of the black military feather shall put in the coquelicot one as being smarter, and besides coquelicot is to be all the fashion this winter. After the ball I shall probably make it entirely black.”
Jane Austen to her Sister Cassandra
December 18, 1799

Colours are always integral to fashion and the names given to the new shades of the season as imaginative as they are confusing. Where trend gurus of 2006 push aubergine, petrol, raspberry, mustard, and moss on us; their counterparts of two centuries ago were not slow in urging its female readership to wear coquelicot, canary, pomona, jonquil or puce. But what did the colours really look like?

While ivory, rose, peach and lavender are quite easy to figure out, others are more obscure. Many colours were named after plants; roses being rosy red and lavender a delicate pale greyish purple. Slate, a dark grey reminiscent of paving stones, was popular for riding and walking dresses, while light purples, such as violet or lilac, adorned many a modest maiden. In Jane Austen’s time dyes were expensive, pigments made of natural substances and the resulting hues rather muted compared to our modern artificial dyes, hence even a bright yellow would not be as bright as we would imagine. Few pigments were colourfast; many faded in the sunlight or ran in the wash.

Anne Pratt 1898-1900 Yellow, green, rose, blue, pale purples and the all-dominating white were the most popular colours of the era. Yellow in particular was very fashionable and the different shades had interesting names such as Canary (bright, intense yellow), Jonquil (after a small wild daffodil, hence a pure yellow), the delicate Primrose, named after the popular English spring flower, and the deeper and richer Evening Primrose. It’s suitable to here also mention the yellowish shades of Straw, the golden beige hue of ripening corn, and Drab, a dull yellow brown as dreary as it sounds!

It should perhaps be noted that Blond is not a colour but a type of lace made with satin stitch on a mesh background. The lace was dominantly white or off-white, sometimes black and only rarely dyed in a fashionable colour. Lace was extremely expensive and, since rarely worn out with a dress, would probably do duty on several gowns. A neutral colour would certainly be easier to incorporate in the new design than one dyed a bright red!

Pomona green bonnet and redingote, lined in slate silk, worn over a white walking dress. A puce reticule completes the picture. Right; White satin ball gown, topped with an evening primrose yellow robe and a turban with white ostrich feathers. Lady’s Monthly Museum, July 1807


Among the greens no colour is more Regency than Pomona Green. This is the deep and rich apple green shade that got its name from the goddess of the apple orchard. When comparing it to a colour palette one notices the good helping of yellow in it. Napoleon was partial to it as was the Swedish Crown Prince Bernadotte, who’s suite of rooms all in Pomona green are still on view at Castle Rosendal. This colour has sometimes erroneously been equated with sea green, creating confusion in the mind of the reader, however, Ackermann, in the descriptive text of a Morning Dress from 1825, equates Pomona with apple green, thus settling our confusion. Since the pigment most often used to achieve this colour had an arsenic base it was quite dangerous to use in excess.

We cannot end this discussion without mentioning Puce, the oddest colour of them all. It might help to know that the word puce is French for flea, a small insect our ancestors were all too familiar with. Yes, the colour is a brownish-purple or a purplish-pink, the colour of the blood-sucking flea; coagulating blood in other words. It may seem astonishing to the modern reader that one of the most popular colours in 1805 was puce!

The next time you hear the words Pomona, Jonquil or Puce you know exactly what colours the writer was talking about.

Choose your colours and make your own dress! Visit our online shop for Regency dress patterns!

Yvonne Forsling is a culitvator of exoctic Hibiscus and Regency Enthusiast. Visit her site, Yvonne’Space for a look into her passions and talents. Further discussion of Regency colour, as well as many other period plates can be found in the Regency Section of her website.

Posted on

The Power of the Written Wordle

A Wordle. It sounds like something from Dr. Seuss– and yet, these word clouds, originally used as a way to gauge the content of a site or database, can be remarkably attractive and even addicting to create!

Created using

Now, thanks to Jonathan Feinberg’s site, anyone can create their own wordle using text, or even a web address. You choose your fonts, colors, orientation (horizontal or vertical….or both!), then sit back and let the fun begin. I’ll give you one truth, univerally acknowleged… once you start, you won’t be able to stop!

Simply paste in your text and let the editor do the rest. Once the text has been cataloged, you can edit away to your heart’s content.

Created using

Save them to the gallery to share… post them on your site… (you can even keep them to yourself using “print screen” and an editing program!)

Imagine Jane Austen’s letters….

This wordle was created for the blog


Or even the letters from her books!

Created using

Created using