The 19th Century Parlorcraft Circle

The 19th Century Parlorcraft CircleWe use the term “parlorcraft” to refer to 19th-century handwork by people of all social classes. Parlorcraft is not limited to needlework, although all 19th-century women, and many boys, and nearly all sailors, would have been skilled at sewing and mending. For the working classes, sewing and mending clothing for the entire family was a necessity, but they also took in piece-work, dipped matches, fashioned paper flowers, and made other small items to be sold on the streets. For the middle- and some of the upper-classes, home sewing was still a necessity.

The TailorEven a family affluent enough to afford the services of a dress-maker or tailor would still need to sew and mend underclothing, diapers, handkerchiefs, petticoats, and other garments. Young women were expected to sew and embroider items for their trosseau, to have table linens, lingerie, and night-gowns for their married life. For upper-class women who did not need to sew their family’s clothing, needle skills were the hallmark of an educated lady, as well as a leisure activity. Scrap-booking, painting china and glass, basket-weaving, watercoloring, lace-making, paper quilling, decoupage, hair-work, weaving and many other hand-crafts helped pass the time and create beautiful and useful objects. Nineteeenth-century men also engaged in hand crafts, such as leatherwork, whittling, and yes, knitting. Sailors had their own particular crafts, such as scrimshaw, cabinetry, rope-work, shell-work, and embroidery.

The Parlorcraft Circle was launched by Society founders Eva and Zoh, and is currently hosted by Morgana Toglia and Rachel Klingberg. It meets approximately once a month depending on meeting space availability. The events are free and materials, instruction, and refreshments are generally provided by the hosts.

Past Parlorcraft Circles:

April 2017: Sailor’s Valentines and Decorative Knots
December 2016: Snowflakes, Cookie Swap, and Yuletide Social
September 2016: Handmade Books
July 2016: Cravats, Jabots, and Ties
June 2016: Wallets and Reticules
March 2016: Embroidered Samplers
February 2016: Victorian Valentines
January 2016: Handmade Shoes
November 2015: Spencerian Script
September 2015: Crochet
August 2015: Tatted Lace
July 2015: Smoking Caps
December 2014: Tussie Mussies (Christmas edition)
November 2014: Reticules and Scissors Cases 
October 2014: Papercraft (Halloween edition) 
September 2014: Embroidered Handkerchiefs and Lace Edgings
November 2013: Free Sewing
March 2013: Free Sewing 
October 2012: Swap Meet and Free Sewing 
August 2012: Gentlemen’s Accessories – Bow Ties and Suspenders 
April 2012: 19th Century Knitting 
February 2012: Show and Tell, Free Sewing 
December 2011: Knitted Sock Garters 
October 2011: Crocheted Lace 
May 2011: Victorian Embroidery
April 2011: Free Sewing 
March 2011: Gaiters and Spats