Stepping Back in Time with Jeannie Watt

Today I’m thrilled to welcome fellow SuperRomance author Jeannie Watt to the lair! Jeannie is one talented lady and I highly recommend you all check out her books including her latest reelease, CROSSING NEVADA! Here’s Jeannie…

I can’t say that I’ve always loved to sew, but my mom made certain that I knew how to sew, which came in very handy when  I immersed myself in Gone With the Wind at the age of fifteen and decided that I simply had to have some southern belle gear.

At that time, there were no readily available patterns for such things as corsets and hoop skirts, but there was the library. I checked out many books, studied pictures and made a plan. I would start from the inside and work out, since corsets took less fabric than hoop skirts. My mother is the sensible sort and had I asked her for nine yards of fabric so that I could indulge in a fantasy, I don’t know that she would have been in favor. Not when that same nine yards of fabric could have made me three school outfits.

I found some sturdy floral fabric that I believe was originally intended to upholster something and began working on my corset. I had no idea what whalebone was, but it seemed to me that baling wire should be a suitable substitute.  I’m pleased to say that my baling wire/upholstery fabric corset actually turned out pretty well, although I never got the chance to wear it. I couldn’t find enough fabric to make a dress to go over it. My baling wire hoops didn’t work quite so well and before I got the design flaws worked out, I started reading Regency romance and abandoned hoops and corsets. From that point on, I was all about empire waists—which also happened to be in style, so I could indulge.

Fast forward a couple of boring, non-costumed decades to December 2011 to when I found out that a friend of my husband sang at Dicken’s Fair.

Dicken’s Fair…hoop skirts…

The seed was planted. The sewing began—for the entire family. It took about six months but I got everyone outfitted. Do you have idea how much more comfortable actual store-bought boning is compared to baling wire? There is no comparison. I still haven’t got to wear real hoops, though. My daughter and I settled for stiff crinolines, which worked, but next year we’re wearing hoops for sure. I have plans for a new dress and my husband, the non-costume guy, wants a fancier vest.

The most wonderful part of preparing for Dicken’s Fair is that, despite a rather hectic schedule, I had an excuse to sew. I became so involved with sewing that when I wrote my December SuperRomance, Crossing Nevada, it was natural to have my heroine learn to sew as a way to deal with the trauma of being attacked and permanently scarred. She never made a hoop skirt, but she did find confidence learning a new skill.

Have you ever made anything comparable to a baling wire corset? Indulged in a little costume mania? Learned to sew? Tell me your secret costume fantasy or what you love to do in your spare time and I’ll give away copies of Crossing Nevada to three respondents.

It’s been great being here. Thanks for having me!

Thanks for being with us, Jeannie! Don’t forget to check out Jeannie’s website:

Lime Muffins

Jeannie Watt

These are a wonderful Sunday breakfast muffin. They have a lovely crunch on the outside and are deliciously moist on the inside.

 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs lightly beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1/4 cup lime juice

Preheat over to 400°F. Grease twelve 2 ½ inch muffin pan cups.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl.

Mix milk, eggs, oil, lime rind and lime juice in a two-cup measure. Add all at once to flour mixture; stir lightly with fork until just moist. (Batter will be lumpy.) Spoon into prepared muffin-pan cups, filling each three quarters full.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove muffins from cups to wire rack. Serve warm with butter.

Note—these muffins are a bit flat on top, but the taste makes it totally worthwhile not to have a mini-mountain muffin.

It’s the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas! From now until December 25th we’re celebrating the holidays with daily recipes and PRIZES! It’s all leading up to a HUGE Prize bundle of books and goodies on Christmas Day so make sure you stop back each day!

Posted in , , , ,



  • Jane says:

    Hi Jeannie and Beth,
    I haven’t indulged in costume mania, but I could see myself dressing up if I were at Comic Con. I’ve seen some elaborate costumes, but I don’t think I could be clever or crafty enough for those. I’ll go in a simple getup as Wonder Woman or Catwoman.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Morning, Jane! I see you’re hanging out with the rooster again *g*

      My older daughter went as Wonder Woman one Halloween though I bought that costume. She still looked cute 🙂

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Jane–I’ve always wanted to go to Comic Con and see the costumes. I imagine there’s a lot of spandex involved. So much less forgiving than yards of taffeta, lol.

  • Amy Conley says:

    I can sew, to a certain degree (4-H). One of the first things I ever did, I did without a pattern, other than a pair of pants my sister had. They weren’t the greatest looking things, but she loved me and she wore them, even to school! Sewing is something I REALLY have to be in the mood to do though, so it doesn’t happen often. I wish I had some sort of dream costume I’d like to make but right now, nothing comes to mind.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      They weren’t the greatest looking things, but she loved me and she wore them, even to school!

      That’s so sweet, Amy!

      I’m with you – I have to be in the mood to sew, mainly because my sewing machine gives me fits *g*

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Amy–Making pants without a pattern is adventurous and your sister is a sweetie. I certainly understand having to be in the mood to sew, which is why my machine gathered dust for so long. Lately I’ve found it’s a great method of procrastination when one hits a difficult scene in a book.

  • Helen says:


    I love those outfits I have always wanted to try one on although with the heat here in Australia I don’t think I couldcope with all of those clothes LOL.

    I learn’t to sew when I was young so as I could make clothes for my dolls and I also learn’t to knit very young I always prefered knitting but these days I don’t do either I have lots of great books to read. Love the sound of your new book

    Have Fun

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Helen, I’ve always wanted to learn to knit but I haven’t had the patience for it. Besides, I’d rather be reading *g*

      My mom taught my younger daughter to knit, though, and she enjoys it.

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Helen,
      Such a good point about the heat. As I was “glowing” during Dicken’s Fair, I was wondering how women in hot climates handled wearing all those layers without passing out.

      My mom is a great knitter, too, but I never picked up the skill. I made a scarf last winter, but like you and Beth, I’d rather read. 🙂

  • Hi Jeannie. Welcome to the lair!

    I learned to sew in high school and routinely made clothes for me – not great ones, but servicable. Everything was done with a pattern though Hats off to you for sewing without.

    I’ve never made anything as adventerous as a corset or period dress. The most exorbitant thing I’ve made are Halloween costumes for my kids – but all with patterns. Congratulations on incorporating this skill in Crossing Montana. Brilliant idea!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Donna, I made my son Halloween costumes (with the help of patterns) for the first three years of his life – he hated them. Hated. So much so that I gave up sewing costumes *g*

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Donna,
      During the years that I didn’t sew much, I made Halloween costumes, too–with patterns. Clowns and brides and once that I particularly loved–the mummy. I ripped long strips of muslin and sewed them to long johns for my son. It turned out to be a whole lot of work, since hand sewing wasn’t my thing at the time, but looked really cool.

  • Mozette says:

    Welll…. I learned to sew when I was around 17… it was a greuling course and I hated it. When I turned 39, Mum bought me a sewing machine which I have hardly used.

    But I am quite arty. I have painted all my clothes pegs – wooden clothes pegs – so my neighbours don’t pinch them. And this Christmas I painted some up for my brother and his partner as I noticed they didn’t have any… well many. Mum and Dad saw them and thought it was so wonderful! They even noticed that I have painted love heart balloons on them and guitars too; very cool. Can’t wait until Christmas Day!

    I’m always painting and inventing stuff for around the house. Like a necklace wall-hanging. This is a wall-hanging to display and keep my necklaces from getting tangled and dusty on my duchess. The necklaces hang from alligator clips off chains which are connected to a painting of flowers (where the chains are connected to the flower by split pins in the shape of flowers) and I can hang my necklaces by the gap in the jaw of the alligator clips; and they’re not harmed or crimped, just hanging there. Pretty cool. Took me weeks to get it together in my head and 45 minutes in an art store to work out if it would work.

    I’m a very textile person… if I can’t do it with my hands, forget it. I’m not a mind person. So, I photograph pretty much everything in my day; which means I have a camera with me all the time 🙂

    I also knit… my Grandma taught me to knit when I was 12 and I blew my Home Ec. teacher out of the water the following year when she asked about who could knit or crochet and only 2 of use put our hands up; and she asked me to knit a square with the most disgusting pink yarn! o.O

    Anyway, over 20 years later, I’m still knitting and I knit beanies, scarves and little blankets for babies and family members and friends. 😀

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Your necklace wall hanging sounds so cool, Mozette! My girls are always making crafty items but I’d rather be in the kitchen cooking or baking 🙂

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Mozette–I love to paint, too, but I don’t do it much and I’m not very good at the small type painting you’re talking about with your clothes pegs, but I LOVE the idea and the description you gave. I would also love to see a photo of the pegs and the necklace hanger. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to hang my necklaces and was thinking of simply screwing ceramic knobs into a board and hanging it,but your idea sounds so much cooler. Wow. Thanks so much for posting!

      • Mozette says:

        Well, I keep an art blog so I can share ideas with other arty-minded people. I don’t mind people using my ideas, so long they say where they got the idea they’re using… otherwise, most times, I can happily make you something and it’ll be an original. 😀

        Anyway, I’ve put my blog site below so you guys can look through it at your leisure. The photos of the necklace wall-hanging is there in the links in the first one. And there’s photos of the clothes pegs I painted for Gabe and Kat are there too… 😀

  • Beth Andrews says:

    Welcome to the lair, Jeannie! I can’t wait to read Crossing Nevada over the holidays – love your books!

    Could you tell us the inspiration behind Crossing Nevada?

    I learned how to sew when I was a young stay-at-home mother but I never did anything comparable to a baling wire corset or period costume *g*

    Now my youngest is interested in learning to sew and wants to make her own dress for the Winter Semi-formal. We’ve had the material since August but just haven’t gotten around to do anything with it yet. Hopefully we’ll get started next week.

    If not, I might just send her and the material your way!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Forgot to say: Love the costumes, Jeannie! Simply gorgeous 🙂

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks so much for having me! The Lair is one awesome place–but what is that crowing I hear?

      As to my inspiration for Crossing Nevada, when I created the characters, I was thinking survivors. The hero is a good-guy single father who’s lost his wife to breast cancer and is trying to hang on to his ranch while battling the medical bills for his wife’s care. He’s surviving, but stressed to the max . Being a good guy, he keeps his problems to himself to protect his daughters. The heroine grew up in a gritty environment, managed to sign with a major modeling agency and make a decent career for herself–which she lost when she was attacked and her face slashed. The person who slashed her face isn’t done with her, so she hides out in Nevada–on the ranch next door to the hero’s. She’s also surviving in the only way she knows how.

      I applaud you and your daughter for sewing the semi-formal dress! I’m sure it’ll turn out beautifully!

      • Beth Andrews says:

        I applaud you and your daughter for sewing the semi-formal dress! I’m sure it’ll turn out beautifully!

        Thanks, Jeannie! I just hope it turns out *g* We should start with something easier but I couldn’t talk her out of this. It’ll be a learning experience either way 🙂

  • Kaelee says:

    Hi Jeannie ~ You do the most marvelous things. I love your outfits. I marvel at anyone who can sew a straight line never mind a men’s jacket. I hate sewing using a sewing machine. I like sewing otherwise. I once crafted Raggedy Anne and Annie outfits out of old clothes complete with handmade wigs using yarn and shower caps.

    Now, I save my eyes for reading, I will say that a needle threader is a marvelous invention. though.

    I chuckled at the baling wire corset. That must have been torture to wear.

    I Have Crossing Nevada in my TBR. I’m savoring the anticipation of reading it right now. I think if our plans for Christmas day fall through I just may sit down and read it.

    • Kaelee says:

      That should read Anne and Andy .

    • Beth Andrews says:

      I once crafted Raggedy Anne and Annie outfits out of old clothes complete with handmade wigs using yarn and shower caps.

      Kaelee, these sound adorable!

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Kaelee,

      Yarn and shower caps? How inventive! I prefer machine sewing, but I’m beginning to appreciate hand sewing–something I can do while I watch TV. I hate having still hands.

      The baling wire corset was not very comfortable. There’s no give to the wire and it pokes. I thought from reading that all corsets were uncomfortable and that women were just tougher back then, lol.

      I hope you enjoy Crossing Nevada!

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Welcome to the Lair, Jeannie! Look forward to reading Crossing Nevada!

    I do know how to sew (though I learned back in the days when you tailor-tacked dress patterns and sewed them on a manual sewing machine!), but I’m not very good at it. In fact, those who know me, know I’m not very good at crafts at all. I’m better at cross-stitch and knitting, but my enthusiasm far outweighs my talent!

    I did make a 20’s flapper outfit for a party at Uni, which didn’t turn out too badly.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Anna, a flapper outfit is one of the things I’ve always wanted to make! I’d want to wear it, though not as a costume *g*

      My sister-in-law made my niece an Old West Saloon Girl costume one year that was a true piece of art. I always thought it was one of the best costumes ever 🙂

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Anna,

      I just bought an authentic 1920s pattern on ebay (I really need to stop looking at vintage patterns) but it isn’t a cool flapper dress. More like a sack with a dropped waist. One of the vintage patterns I’m going to tackle soon has tailor tack holes, so I’m going to learn to make them. Thank goodness for the internet, so I can learn how to do it.

      I’ve never had the patience to cross stitch and so admire people who sit down and slowly create those beautiful designs.

  • Janga says:

    My sewing skills are limited to repairing a seam or reattaching a button. I depend on my sister if I need something more demanding done. I have great admiration for the skills of others however. I watched my grandmother sew everything from underwear to winter coats in addition to quilting, embroidering, and crocheting. I used those memories and a lot of research when I made my first heroine a textile artist.

    I must try the lime muffins. Thanks for sharing. I bet the recipe would work with other citrus fruits too.

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Janga,

      Grandmothers are amazing, aren’t they? As to the lime muffins, that was the first family recipe that my daughter asked me to send her after she left home. They come out a little flat on top, but the citrus and sugar caramelize and make a crunch crust–so good!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Hey, Janga! I’m so glad my younger daughter sews with my mom. It’s a great memory to have. I even have the Vogue Sewing Book my mom won as a teenager for a dress she made *g*

  • Susan Sey says:

    Good morning, Jeannie! I’ve never indulged in real, live costume mania but last summer when the kids & I were in a local theatre production of the Wizard of Oz, I took inordinate pleasure in scrounging around for munchkin gear. We were the craziest, most colorful munchkins you could possibly imagine. But I didn’t sew anything. If it couldn’t be hot-glue-gunned, it didn’t happen. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by the Lair toay! I’m excited for your latest release! I’ve always wanted to learn to sew & will enjoy watching your heroine do that.

  • Sandyg265 says:

    I haven’t dressed up in a costume in years. I don’t sew so always had to put one together from things I had.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Sandy, one of my husband’s favorite costumes from when he was little was the time he went as a boxer. His mom put him in a robe, put a pair of boxing gloves on him and made up his eye so it looked black and blue *g* No sewing required!

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Sandy,
      It takes talent to put together a costume from found items. When I was a kid we loved to be hobos for Halloween. We’d put Noxema skin cream on our faces and pat coffee grounds into it to make beards. Good times.

  • may says:

    I made a bear in high school and that’s about it!

  • Hellion says:

    The short answer: YES, I have. *LOL*

    I made an Elizabethan corset using timber strapping, which made it VERY strong and I thought my ribs were going to snap. (That’s because in my vanity, I made the waist smaller in hopes I could be whittled to it. I did, but at a price.)

    I did make a corset later…but used corset metal pieces to line it. Not timber strapping but still strong. Stronger than the plastic. THOUGH I heard you could use that plastic lengths you buy at Lowes–like to tie up cables–you snip off the ends and they make good bones for corsets.

    I have made 3 bar wench costumes, 1 saloon girl outfit (with black lace bloomers), the wedding dress from Pirates of the Caribbean, a couple pirate outfits, and a few other various odd costumes of whatever suited me at the time. OH, yes, and a Harry Potter outfit. I made an outstanding Harry Potter.

    But I only like to sew certain times of year…I get bent out of shape if things aren’t going well. Right now I’m trying to make a quilt and for the life of me I can’t get any of the lines to line up! *LOL*

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Hellion, that’s my problem, too – the getting bent out of shape thing *g* My sewing machine is a piece of crap and it’s so frustrating to use that I stopped sewing. We’ve borrowed my SIL’s machine to make my daughter’s dress so hopefully it’ll go smoothly.

      Love the sound of all your creations!

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Hellion (so much fun to say that outloud–I teach junior high and I think that a lot, lol)

      You are my hero. Timber strapping tape! Love it! You certainly have made a lot of costumes. Some day I hope to catch up with you. Again, love the timber strapping tape.

  • Louisa says:

    Lovely interview, Jeannie and Beth. And wow, Jeannie, those dresses are amazing!

    I’m a retired opera singer so I spent a good portion of my 20’s and 30’s in costume! Some were great. Some weighed a ton as they were essentially made of heavy brocade drapery fabric. Some were WAY too skimpy to be worn in small European opera houses in the dead of winter!

    I do love to sew and do needlework, but since I’ve been working on breaking into the publishing world I haven’t had nearly the time to indulge my needlework hobby as I would like. I was lucky enough to learn to sew, quilt, knit, tat, net darn and cross stitch from my great aunt. She worked her entire life, well into her 80’s as a seamstress and drapery maker.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Louisa, I would love to do more needlework (I love counted cross-stitch) but after having some issues with my hands/wrists/forearms, I gave them up so I could type more *g*

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Louisa,
      An opera singer? In a word, wow! I bet you had some gorgeous costumes to wear. Also, it’s so wonderful that your great aunt was able to pass on her knowledge–especially to someone who appreciates the art.

      Best of luck in your writing career!

  • Minna says:

    I learned to sew in elementery school. I don’t really sew clothes, unless something needs to get fixed. These days when I make clothes I mostly knit them…for Barbie dolls! There is this swapping webpage where I can swap my knitted Barbie clothes for points which I can swap for Amazon gift cards. Of course I knit stuff I can wear (mittens and other small things), but I can go more crazy with Barbie clothes. I certainly wouldn’t wear a neon yellow or neon pink dress myself!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      How fun, Minna! My SIL made tons of clothes for her daughter’s Barbie but I would never have the patience to work on something so small *g*

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Minna,
      I’ve seen patterns for knit Barbie clothes–they look very intricate. Kudos for being able to do that. And yes, I understand your hesitation at wearing a neon yellow dress, lol.

  • catslady says:

    We had sewing classes in jr. high – I made an apron and a skirt with straps. It didn’t turn me into a sewer lol. But I can do a hem by hand or sew on a button or mend a pair of socks. My older children refuse to do any of that.

  • Mary Preston says:

    A baling wire corset sounds like torture – literally.

    I had a modest hoop skirt under my wedding dress. It was very fairy tale.

    I do enjoy sewing. I’m just a very enthusiastic amateur.

  • CrystalGB says:

    Very inventive corset. I have never had a corset or a hoop skirt. I have always loved the amazing gowns they wore in the past.

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Crystal,
      I love dresses from the past. I wish I would have had the resources to recreate those dresses back when I was in my teens because I so would have worn a costumey dress to prom.

  • Jeannie, welcome! I used to sew. The most complicated thing I ever made was a bridesmaid dress. The skirt had 8 yards of fabric in it. I did once make a hoop skirt for a friend, but it wasn’t a proper one. It had only one hoop, a the bottom.

  • Jeannie Watt says:

    Hi Nancy,
    Nice to meet a fellow sewer. Eight yards is a lot of fabric. I think the dresses I made in the photos above had seven yards each.

  • Lianne says:

    Hi Jeannie .. your costumes look awesome!
    I was in sewing classes way back at school, and don’t remember making anything I’d really want to wear. Nowadays I’m more likely to stitch on paper (scrapbooking pages) with handstitching.

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Lianne–My daughter does some scrapbooking and it looks like so much fun! I especially love the theme stuff that can be done on the pages and all the little cut outs and stuff. Stitching on paper is a wonderful idea.

  • EC Spurlock says:

    Hi Jeannie, thanks for being with us today! I have always wanted to go to a Dickens Faire but have never found an accessible one nearby. 🙁

    I kind of learned to sew by osmosis, watching my sister and aunts. All of the 12th Century garb I made when I was in SCA was done without patterns and turned out pretty well. I haven’t done any sewing in a LONG time but I’m looking forward to putting together my first Steampunk costume, hopefully over this spring and summer in time for Anime Weekend Atlanta in the fall.

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi EC,
      Ohhh–a steam punk outfit. I’ve been thinking those kinds of thoughts myself. I don’t think I’d wear a steam punk costume, but I’d love to put one together. How interesting that you made 12th century costumes, without a pattern, no less. It’s great to meet so many fellow costume buffs.

  • Fedora says:

    A belated hi, Jeannie! I love the cool costumes, but am not that handy with a needle and thread. The fanciest costume attempt I made was in 6th grade, when I added a ruffle to an umbrella to make it more parasol-like, and added that to an already old-fashioned outfit to aim for the Gibson Girl look 🙂

    • Jeannie Watt says:

      Hi Fedora,
      That’s really creative. Did the ruffle work well? I think that kids sometimes come up with more creative ideas to execute their costume ideas. It’s that imagination thing going strong, I guess.