18th Century Muffs

& Covers

Ever since Burnley & Trowbridge held a muff-making class I’ve been wanting to make an 18th Century muff. They are relatively small, very quick to make, and you can use as many covers on the same muff as you want, to match any outfit.


I’d read several blogs by friends on these, especially Katherine’s excellent tutorials here. I also looked over several extant muffs and fashion plates of muffs linked from Karen’s excellent page here.

The Internal Muff

I started with one of the same dimensions as Katherine’s but it was a bit too small for me. Back for another scrap of linen, I ended up with a muff 13″ wide and 17.5″ in circumference when stuffed. Stuffing was difficult… I thought I had some wool roving in the house, which would be the accurate stuffing, and didn’t. So I dug through the stash and found poly fiberfill, absorbent cotton, pure cotton batting, and cotton batting on a thin poly base. The cotton on the poly base was very fluffy so I tried pulling that off. And gave up. I finally gave in and tracked down a bunch of tiny packets of wool roving from needle felting kits.  It was lumpy and not quite enough so I used a layer of the pure cotton batting as the outermost layer of stuffing in the linen, then the roving. It’s now just the right smoothness and firmness.

The First Cover

I keep scraps of better fabrics if they’re a decent size, and this baby blue embroidered silk taffeta was just screaming to be a muff cover! It was left over from the vest of my Traviste 18th Century man’s suit. It was a little too narrow so I found some other scraps of the medium blue and gold shot silk taffeta that were left from the same suit and made ruched panels for the edges. Just to punch it up, I added some gold spangles to the flowers, some gold military lace at the ruched border, and a dark pink ribbon for the side ties.

The Second Base & Cover

My pal. Loren, made me a muff for my birthday and it’s so cute! This base was made out of flannel and is just perfect for colder days. It’s is about the same diameter, but is narrower and can be scooched up my arm if I need both hands free. It’s a perfect size to make more covers for. The cover is silk satin with a lovely portrait and flat spangles around it.

The Third Cover

Next up was Loren’s birthday and I knew her muff bases were about the same size as the one she gave me. This year (2013) she made a spectacular Victorian Fancy Dress costume of a Raven, and I thought it would be nice for her to have a muff to go with it. I found the most awesome embroidered crow patch on ebay, and some various trims I has set aside for the project. The best part was locating two beaded panels on net that were probably originally supposed to be collars. They were curved and made the end-caps of the muff – awkward to work with but if they had been straight they never would have gathered up enough on the ends to work. I also had some small feathered trim but opted to not add it. It was too much with the beads, the pleated ribbon and the crow on satin.