Add That Finishing Touch to Your Winter Costume with a Muff
Every time I see a fellow costumer all dressed up with the proper accessories like a bonnet, outer garment and reticule I instantly think of the accessories with me at that moment and take a mental note of what I need to make for next time. I’m always thinking about how to make my costume better.
I mean, goodness, I thought my dress was fabulous, but then here she comes sauntering through the gate in all her Victorian splendor with everyone admiring from afar. But what really catches my attention is the small furry pillow dangling gently from her left wrist…sigh… No wonder everyone wants to talk to her.
That fuzzy accessory puts a finishing touch on the costume. Take it away and she still looks great. You might even say nothing is missing. But add the muff and some winter sunshine just broke through.
I don’t think the muff ever went out of style with our ancestors. But as I see it, the muff is one of the lesser made costume accessories that accompanies our modern cold-weather events. Muffs not only keep the hands warm but complement your outfit. They can even be used in place of a handbag or reticule. How cool is that?
And muffs look great with any 19th Century outfit, so there’s no need to wonder if it’s appropriate for your time period. You’ll notice in these plates that muffs were popular winter accessories. Here are examples from 1800, 1838, 1858, 1875, 1880, 1885 and 1899. See! They’re carried throughout the entire century.
I’ve read that antique fur muffs were made from all sorts of animals: silver, brown and black bears (silver must be a European bear?), ermine, sable, beaver, fox, white fox, sealskin, chinchilla, and squirrel. All muffs were lined and some were stuffed with down or feathers for additional warmth.
Many muffs had a wrist strap attached for ease of carrying so it would not get lost. Drawstrings on the end were used to gather up the lining to snuggle the hands within the warm fur. Matching fur cuffs were also popular accessories worn with the muff. Ahh… snuggly outerwear!
Sometimes you will see period muffs with gathered ends appearing like a modern neckroll pillow. These sections, pulled up with ribbons or elastic around the wrist to block out wind and the cold air, were decorated with tassels. (Time for snuggly AND fancy!)
Sizes of muffs vary greatly with a width from 8” to 14” long and a circumference from 15” to 22” or more. Most are simple small pillows with just enough space for your hands. In Regency through 1830s fashion plates you can see very large muffs that could cover a small table top. Makes you wonder just what those women secretly stashed away within so large a bag….
When dressed out in your lovely new pelisse, paletot, talma, or jacket while you stroll the park or make your way to the holiday party, the simple addition of this fine piece will make your outfit look stunning. As it can take as little as an hour to make – I’m racing off to make one now!
If you want to whip up your own muff – made from faux fur and NOT the real thing, thank you – take a peek at the sewing workbook: How to Sew a Faux Fur Muff.
Have you made a muff? What do you like best about it?