Hi! I’m Liz.

I am an English scholar and folk artist who enjoys learning about the lives of literary characters beyond their literary descriptions. Researching historical context occupies a large chunk of my time when I am not teaching. A habitual, almost obsessive collector, I love gathering vintage, antique, and handmade costumes as well as creating a few limited pieces of my own. My favorite aspect of costuming, however, is the educational aspect. Understanding history is the key to understanding humanity and conserving what small pieces of our past we have left–be it a shoe button, family bible, or vase– will help educate future generations about the “why?” and “how?” of culture.  I’m currently using this site as a research and history collection for folks interested in the quirks and tricks of costuming/everyday historical life, but any questions are welcome!

37 Responses to “About Me”

  1. It looks like you just started this blog. I look forward to more.

  2. I rummaged a bit more and , wow ,there is a lot more for me to savour here! I’ll be back!

  3. Karen Ralston Says:

    Beautifully written–love your site!

  4. dear liz, congratulation for winning the “lovely blog” award here mentioned http://madamedepique.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/madame-is-oficially-lovely/

  5. You’re bestowed (again) the “Versatile Blogger Award”! Come here to claim it! http://madamedepique.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/versatile-blogger-award-reaches-madame/

  6. carol haley Says:

    Hello Liz, I just subscribed to your lovely blog. I am a graphic designer developing a product, and have come across a historical image on this blog. I believe it’s authentically an old image and public domain (hope so). I want to send it to you in the hope that you might be able to tell me it’s source. I am trying to get a higher res. image. I do not see the option of an upload on this thread. Would you kindly contact me so that I can send the image to you for id.? thank you very very much

    • Liz Says:

      Most of the images on this site are from elsewhere on the internet or are my own photos. If you right click (or click and hold on a mobile device), you can find the image’s url by choosing “View Image.” If you can paste the image url here, I can tell you where I found the image and any history I have on it. You can also contact me via Facebook where you can upload the image in a message so I can see it: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Pragmatic-Costumer/286342218062090

  7. Pam Luke Says:

    Hello Liz,
    I ran across your blog in an effort to learn more about the design of waistcoat buttons. I’m an avid button collector and current editor of the Texas State Button Society Bulletin. After reading your blog and researching deaths head/leek buttons, I find that you’ve provided a great start for an article. I was wondering if I could have permission to use some of your info – or better yet – collaborate with you on writing an article? I managed to find a few of these buttons in my own collection but had no idea about their origin or how they were made. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and excited to know more about these buttons.

    • Liz Says:

      Hello, Pam!
      I am by no means an expert on death’s head buttons, but you are more than welcome to use my short article as a base for your own. Much of the info in my article is considered “common knowledge” level, but I am an avid researcher. If there is something you would like to know, I’d be more than happy to help you look for it! What sort of specific information or resources are you needing?

  8. Pam Luke Says:

    Thanks for your reply, Liz. I reread your article and I was thinking that there might be more on who made these types of buttons and how they came to be. I actually have one that was made with human hair. I think I can take some photos of the ones I have and maybe compile the common knowledge that’s out there and point them to your blog if that would be ok.

    I just now cruised through more of your blog and clicked on Stuart crystals. In my 16 years of collecting, I’ve NEVER heard these buttons called Stuart Crystals. They are called breeches buttons to us. I had no idea that there was more history to these as well! I know that buttons are an important part of costumes/costuming, but this information is very interesting and important to button collectors too. Unfortunately, what you have on Stuart Crystals is more than I’ve ever heard about them. I don’t mean to get off on another subject – but I’m intrigued by your blog. Thanks for providing some great historical information on these items. I just might have to write an article about your wonderful blog. :) Either way, I will keep you posted as I progress. I’d like to run it by you before I publish if that’s ok. It won’t go to press until December so I’m a few months out so I might not catchup with you for another month or so.

    Thanks again for your insight and permission to work from your info as a base. I’ll be in touch.


  9. steampunker Says:

    Hello Liz,

    very interesting blog and nice collection of clothes and costumes! Best wishes from germany,

  10. pinkpuss1234 Says:

    Hi! I’ve just found your blog but I love it and I would like to nominate you for the One Lovely Blog Award!
    You can find out about it here: http://teenagetailoress.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/one-lovely-blog-award/
    Please do follow me on my journey and well done!

  11. Matty Says:

    Hi Liz
    Matty here. I am a PhD Student and would love to know the book you read to find out about silk and shattered silk. Would like to read some more.

    • Liz Says:

      Hi, Matty! I did not gather all this information from one source, unfortunately, so there is not one catch-all book that I can point you to. There are many links in the article that you may find useful. If you need a specific source for a thesis or other academic paper/application, you might try “Textile Conservation” by Frances Lennard and Patricia Ewer or contacting a textile preservationist/restorer directly.

  12. Lynne Says:

    Hi Liz,
    Am an avid collector of 18th century dolls, so do get in touch if you are ever down near Brighton.
    Love your blog. It is great

  13. Emily Says:

    Great site!
    As a collector, I must ask…. Would you happen to have any antique shoes you would like to sell? Always looking!

    • Liz Says:

      I don’t have any antique shoes for sale. Sorry. :( Do you have a website for your collection? I may not actively collect shoes myself, but all costumers love to research and drool over beautiful antique shoes.

  14. Libby Toews Says:

    Informative and beautiful site.

  15. Hi!
    I’ve nominated you to the “Sisterhood of Bloggers Award”!
    To read more and to claim your award visit:

    Best Regards
    /Åsa – Fashion Through History

  16. Hi,
    We wanted to nominate you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. https://romancingthesewn.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/ If you have time to participate that would be great if not no worries.

  17. Margaret Says:

    I stumbled across your blog, and am so glad I did! A retired elementary school teacher, I do re-enactments for the Civil War and Edwardian periods. Your ideas have already inspired me. Thanks so much for sharing them. I look forward to reading more.

  18. DinahW Says:


    I’ve been a keen follower of your site for some time. I’ve just started a blog on corsets “why a corset”. I’m not going into construction, or selling – just why we have worn corsets for so many years, and continue to do so. It’s at


    I’d like your permission to use one of your images. Why not post a message on the blog – noone else will see it as I moderate all comments. OR use the address that you will see linked to this post!


  19. Nice site… I landed here becauseI am writing a comment on two Rembrandt painting very much in the news these days: “Maerten Soolmans en Oopjen Coppit” full size standing paintings of 17th century Amsterdam couple… Now I am interested in a detail (for some special reason) being the material of the rosettes worn both by the gentleman and the lady and the silver white lines in the dress of the gentleman. My guess is that silver-thread is used here… The rosettes are made of ribbons says one of the few texts that goes into any detail on the dress of these two, Fashion and Fancy: Dress and Meaning in Rembrandt’s Paintings By Marieke de Winkel page 63 and 64.
    You can find them online at: https://books.google.nl/books?id=WEQy3xkbU9cC&printsec=frontcover&vq=Oopjen+Coppit#v=onepage&q=Oopjen%20Coppit&f=false

    Nobody details the materials of these “rich rosettes of ribbon” and to me it looks like silver threads have been used…

    I would like to hear your opinion on this… a reasonable size reproduction that allows you to study the dress a bit can be found at: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maerten_Soolmans_en_Oopjen_Coppit

    My interest are about the use of silver in the Netherlands and its meaning right after the state pirate Piet Hein Heyn) capture of the Spanish silver-fleet in Cuba in 1628.

  20. harriet Says:

    Hi! Love, love, love your blog! I also love that you LOVE stockings!

    Have you come across anywhere that sells 1900-1920’s style stocking anywhere? I would love to embroider them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  21. Carrie Gale Says:

    Could you make the black and yellow soccer formal dress? My daughter loves it and wants to where one to prom. Black and purple or black and white. How much would it cost?

    • Liz Says:

      Carrie, I am not a professional seamstress, just a hobby costumer, so I don’t take commissions. I would recommend looking for a local seamstress or checking Etsy for someone who could make a prom dress for your daughter.

  22. Rose Says:

    Love your site. I do some research on antique and estate jewelry for my husband’s business (usedjewelrybuyer.com) and have found your site most useful. Thank you!

  23. 5ammy Says:

    hi liz wud

  24. Hi Liz, I just found your blog tonight when googling “gibson girl costume”. I’m ridiculously excited to check out more of your posts. I have always had a love of history, American in particular, and am thinking of dressing up as something historical and fun for Halloween. Last year I was a 19th century saloon girl and this year I may go as a gibson girl. I just love your blog because everything seems so do-able. I’m not a seamstress and am definitely not willing to spend $300 on a costume so I can’t wait to read more here (love how much actual accurate history you’re including) and learn from you. On the history topic – any specific books on historical fashion that you would recommend? Thanks!

    • Liz Says:

      Hello and welcome! Edwardian Gibson Girl costumes are super fun! Hopefully you will have better luck with the big puffy hair than I. :P As for books, there are so many! If you are looking for research only, like for shape, color, and design inspiration, I recommend things like Dover Books, which have volumes like “French Fashion Plates of the Romantic Era” and “Fashions and Costumes from Godey’s Lady’s Book.” If you are looking for more in-depth manuals covering techniques, I like Francis Grimble’s books quite a lot! I have her “Fashions of the Gilded Age” series and I love it! There are tons of books out there, so I’m going to recommend checking out Goodread’s Practical Historical Costuming list, which has many of the books you will find historical costumers talking about most often: http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/16346.Best_Practical_Historic_Costuming_Books

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