Category Archives: costumes


Finished Project: 1002 Nights Poiret Dress

I have just finished up my Poiret inspired dress!

Paul Poiret is one of my fashion design icons.  Making a dress that paid homage to him was really fun!

I felt so “high fashion” in it, because of it’s absurdity, so had fun with editing my photos to capture the way it felt.

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If you missed the prior post with more details about the making of this dress, you can find it here.

This “excuse” for making this dress (not that I needed one) was the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s “Fairytale” challenge.  Here’s the info for the challenge:

The Challenge: #6- “Fairytale”  Inspired by Paul Poiret’s “One Thousand and Second Night” party.

Fabric:  The tunic is all poly with little rubber dots on it.  Pretty horrid, but has a great look when made up for the “Poiret” look.  The dress is a black satin rayon, which they actually did have in this time period.

Pattern: Underdress: My Cordelia skirt pattern and the 1910s Blouse pattern with an altered neckline and no sleeves.  Overdress:  Very loosely based on a bodice pattern from the period, but mostly entirely self composed as I went along.

Year: 1913-ish

Notions: Indian import trim, hooks and eyes, snaps, hoop wire, bias facing.

How historically accurate is it?  If it wasn’t for the fibre content, it would be pretty close.  I’m knocking myself for that, though, and giving myself a 40% accuracy marking.

Hours to complete:  I have no idea.  Maybe 12-ish?  It went pretty fast, but I puttered in 15 minute increments on it over the span of three weeks (didn’t make the “fortnight” due date).

First worn: Today for pictures!

Total cost: Hmm…. considering the only thing I really bought for this was the dupatta, I think it was around $35.  Everything else was from the stash.

More outfit details:  My shoes were thrifted, my hat is authentic Edwardian, and the brooches, etc are vintage, with the exception of the necklace and earrings, and the choker I used as an accent on the belt.  All of those are new from Ebay, bought over the last seven years or so.



In Progress: A Poiret Inspired “One Thousand and Second Night” Dress

The next Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge is “Fairytale.”  I was originally thinking that I would finish my Edwardian tea gown and do “Sleeping Beauty”, but then I got totally uninspired and realized I made some mistakes in construction when I started it last year.  That, and I had about a million pieces of insertion lace to cut the back out of and finish, and I don’t like the fabric.

So my second thought was “The Midas Touch”, and making a gold 1920’s evening dress and cape.  But the event I was going to make it for was last night, and we didn’t go, and I obviously didn’t make the dress in time.

So then, I looked on this lovely Indian imported dupatta shawl (bought at Queens Club on Etsy).  I had bought it to make a 19-teens evening dress for, but when it arrived I wasn’t enthralled with the poly content and little painted gold dots on it.  But the trim on the edges is GORGEOUS, and, the next idea that popped into my head was more costumey, which would allow a little more wiggle room for authenticity than my original plan I had purchased it for, so it was sort of serendipity.

One of my fashion design icons of all time is Paul Poiret, and he had lavish parties themed “One Thousand and Second Night”.  PERFECT theme for the HSF challenge!


Denise Poiret, 1911, at one of the “One Thousand and Second Night” parties (found via Pinterest).

Did I mention I love roses, so I bought it for the rose pattern and then realized not only did Poiret LOVE textiles of this sort, but his signature rose was similar in design to the one on my dupatta.  Serendipity!  Meant to be!  And it’s coming together SO quickly.  Love when that happens.


Poiret Dress from FIT (found via Pinterest)

One of my main inspirations are the “lampshade” dresses that Paul Poiret was incredibly well known for.  This one is a classic.  Katherine of The Fashionable Past actually made a great 19-teens evening gown inspired by the existing black and white version of this dress.


I started with an original vintage pattern, circa 1912, but changed it quite a bit in the muslin mock up stage to accommodate a bodice that would cross in front and in back and have a slightly different sleeve than the original, which was tighter fitting and had gussets.


I pinned the bodice and skirt to the dress form to get an idea of the length of the lampshade skirt.  I did end up shortening it, and decided I wanted it to have a slightly longer length in back than in front.


The dress it’s over is the dress I made for the Cordelia skirt pattern sample of the evening train.  I have never worn it, so chopped off the sleeves, removed the trim, and am making it work as an underdress for this outfit.  I also will have to let out some of the seams, since I’m not the same size I was a few years ago.  But still, better than starting from scratch!

I have decided to make the underdress and overdress separate, so that I have the option to make harem trousers for this at a later time.


After I cut the right length, I assembled the underarm seams, the back seam, and decided on a center back closure.  The original was most likely a front closure, as is normal with period gowns, but I decided the back closure would be easier to construct (though it means I’ll need help getting into it).  After a little thinking, and remembering how period dresses are made that I have, I decided on the inner waistband, with the skirt and bodice gathered to it.  All seams are now encased between the inner waistband and the rayon seam tape.  It will lap over at center back and fasten with hooks and bars and snaps.

IMG_4059 And on the form, ready for the next step!  I will have a waist sash cover the waist where the tape is visible, and I have to sew the inside casing for the hoop wire next.  It’s coming together quite quickly, considering I only started it yesterday afternoon!

I have a board on Pinterest I started as inspiration for this project, with Poiret images, examples from the Ballet Russes, and other period inspirations.

Hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Finished Project: A Tissot Inspired Ensemble

This may be the latest posted “Finished Project” on my blog EVER.  In fact, I finished this many years ago, before I even had a blog!  It’s one of those projects that I felt completely inspired by, intended to wear to an event, but then put away and never took out again.  Well, I was determined to take photographs in it this year.  To be honest, I highly doubted I would actually fit in it, but a little squeezing from my new corset I made this year, and it *barely* fit.  Good enough for pictures, anyways!

When I first became aware of James Tissot’s amazing paintings, I wanted to make a bunch of dresses inspired by them.  This one, “At the Rifle Range” (or “Woman at the Rifle Range”) from 1869 was an instant favorite because it appealed to my inner adventuress.


My husband was sweet enough to instruct me how to stand, so we could play at replicating the feel of the pose.  Here, with photoshopped background to look more autumn/winter-y than we currently are in Southern California.  The pistol is just a toy.


And here is how the plants really look in November where we live.  I honestly wish we had some sort of weather- the years tend to kind of run together when you don’t have a visual representation of the changing of the seasons.


Unfortunately, I can’t give details on it because I honestly don’t remember what I did, but I DO know I used Truly Victorian for a base of top and overskirt (though I can’t remember which ones), and changed the patterns, but the underskirt is my all time favorite base skirt, the Grand Parlour Skirt.  The fabric is an odd, interior decor fabric of sueded synthetic fibres, and the trim is faux fur.

Here’s a view of the back.  I used antique cut steel buttons.


Trying to be Christmas-y with a vintage fur muff.1870fur3webAnd some kitty pictures for good measure :)1870fur4web1870fur5web

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! Many blessings to you and yours.

Curtain Along Dress: A 1790s Robe D’Anglaise- Part 1

Fair Warning:  This is a long and picture heavy post.

I have been trying very hard to keep up with the clock in preparation for Costume College!

Jen Thompson of Festive Attyre started a great idea to use Waverly curtains from Lowe’s as the basis for a group project called the “Curtain Along“.  We can select any of the color ways from the “Felicitie” curtain panels and join in, with a meet up at Costume College on Saturday.  Of course, you need not be a Costume College attendee- lots of folks all over the blogosphere have been participating and posting their lovely projects.

I knew, almost at once, that I wanted to do a transitional gown from the 1790s.  At first I was thinking more of the Regency style, but as my thoughts progressed, I thought I’d like to do a little earlier- the transition between the high waisted styles of the late 1790s and the gowns at the natural waist of the 1780s.  These types of images inspired me:

Circa: 1795-1797  Source: Pinterest

Circa: 1790  Source: Pinterest

I purchased one curtain last year, and another I received as a birthday present from Ginger of Scene in the Past.  When I finally got my stays finished last week, I cracked into my curtain packages only to find that they were much different due to different dye lots.  Woe!

A quick trip to Lowe’s, and I secured two more new curtains, so I could have my pick of the two.  In the end, I used about two curtains, with a strip from the mismatched one as a facing at the skirt front.

Next was on to the pattern.  A long time ago I drafted up a Circa 1770-1780 Robe Polonaise en Fourreau from Janet Arnold, and I made a mock up of the bodice and then adapted it to fit.

First try, and lots of waist length to take out:

Second try, and it with a few other simple changes it became a good base to adapt for what I was envisioning.

I cut the gown from two curtains, and mounted it on a base of a linen blend white fabric, then draped it to form the desired pleating on the back:

These were secured with hand stitches.

 Then I started pleating in the skirt.

After both parts of the skirt were on, it was time to start thinking of sleeves.  These required some pattern changes and adaptions, but thanks to Katherine of The Fashionable Past’s great articles (Setting 18th Century Sleeves & Draping-Sort Of-A-Sacque- The Sleeves), I was able to wrap my head around how the sleeves should be set.  Here’s the first try:

Then a friend helped me to fit it at work to make sure the sleeves were hanging right.  SO handy to have a talented fitter I work with who is willing to help on her lunch break!  I look super dorky, but you can see how it looks so far:

Then home to make my corrections and then cut my sleeves on the cross grain of one of the remnants left of the curtain. See how bizarrely they are shaped?

This morning I made some other little changes.  I admit I have become fascinated with late 18th century sleeves.  It seems to me that changes in fashion can be tracked through the placement of the sleeves and the width of the bodice back.  I LOVE nerding out over things like this!  So I made the point extend a bit farther in the back, separated my three pleats into a few more to make it lay smoother at the tip of the shoulder, took in my dart, and set my sleeves.  I was smart enough to mark there the sleeve intersected the bodice seamlines on my muslin, so setting them was a breeze.

All pinned and ready to go:

I actually can do tiny hand stitches if I want to!

And Bertie reminds me that making costumes is tiring work!

I’m hoping to finish the bulk of this gown by the end of this weekend.  We shall see!

Historical Costuming- Likes and Dislikes

Hello, my lovely blog followers!  I have so neglected my blog as of late that I’m actually surprised there are some of you who still follow me on here.  But I’m glad you’re still around!  My life has been a roller coaster since nearly the beginning of the year.  Big challenging life things, loss of one I held very close to my heart, and changes and things to adjust to professionally as well.  I have not forgotten the lovely old blog, I just had no time at all to spend dedicated to postings.  I hope to rememdy that soon.  In fact, my life suddenly started slowing down and I got smacked with a horrific virus, so while I’m over here coughing up a lung and staying home ill from work (which is not NEARLY as much fun as having a real day off for play), I got to thinking about things having to do with historic costuming.  You see, Costume College time is yet upon us again.  Where I usually like to spend most of the last six months trying to figure out what to wear I’m finding I have about a month to get all my outfits and gears ready to go… which is somewhat frantic, and somewhat fun all at the same time.

I know I post mostly pretty little inspiration images from the past, but every once in a while I’ve got to let myself out of the bag and share some (gasp!) opinions.  I know they are not shared by everyone, but let’s take a moment to be silly and indulgent, and share my personal likes and dislikes.  This time I bring you the Historical Costuming edition of my persona Likes and Dislikes, complied with some of my favorite costumes I’ve made over the years to illustrate.  This goes both into the making of and wearing of historical costumes, which I usually think of as anything portraying 100 years from today and older.


Like-  Feeling pretty in a costume.

Dislike-  Being called a “Pretty Pretty Princess.”

There’s this little thing going on around the costuming world that seems to divide the hobby into two camps.  There’s the “Historical Accuracy” club, then there’s the “Pretty Pretty Princess” club.  Surely, there has to be middle ground here?  I love historical accuracy.  I like getting the look right for the time period.  But for me it get to be “this is close enough”, and I think that tends to group me into the “Pretty Pretty Princess” group.  I love costumers from both worlds.  I like to look pretty accurate and feel pretty.  I may use modern technique and (gasp!) convincingly good looking synthetic fibres on occasion, but I like to have as accurate as possible of period cut and silhouettes but not put unnecessary pressure or stress on myself if I don’t get it 100% right all of the time.  But I hate being called a “princess”!!  That “title” was bandied about quite a bit when I was a senior in high school and I always hated it.  I have no illusions of grandeur,  I just like what I like and I want to get a good result.  So I think it’s fair that we can play a little bit in both camps.  Just don’t call me a princess, please.


Likes- Shopping for Fabrics in Person

Dislikes- Shopping for Fabrics Online

I’m totally spoiled and have the Los Angeles Garment District within distance to make it daytrip-able, so I love being able to hunt for fabrics in person.  There’s nothing like being able to feel a fabric in person and see the color accurately.  But there always comes a time when you need just a yard or two of coordinating fabric to  make your project work right, and it usually comes when the budget and time for fabric is very slim.  I stalk places online, but you just never know quite how it will feel or look in person.  So I go for online shopping for things that take few yards or I know I won’t need something to coordinate with it, or when it’s just a basic I need.  Otherwise, my online shopping finds always end in disappointment.  I know for my own sake I need to stay away from the garment district as much as possible, because I go crazy and never have the time to sew all the things I have fabric for.  And why is it that no matter how much fabric you have, you never have the right thing for your project?


Likes- Getting the period accurate silhouette with foundation garments

Dislikes- You have to make the foundation garment before you get to the fun part of making a costume.

Darn it, I’m now in my 30s and my figure it different. Which means I have to revisit making foundation garments if I want to make pretty dresses!  I HATE making corsets.  I think it’s SOOO boring!  But I like the silhouette I get with the right corset and other foundations that are needed for the period!  I think just about the only period underwear I like to make are Edwardian, because I can slap as much lovely lace on them that I want to.  Otherwise, sewing underwear and corsets is a snorefest for me.


Likes- Going to dress up events.

Dislikes- When my somewhat timid nature is misconstrued.

I like going to dress up events and talking to folks.  I love geeking out about costumes and vintage clothing.  But I have to fight pretty hard to overcome my shyness and somewhat timid nature.  You know that whole introverts vs. extroverts thing?  I’m totally in the first camp.  The interwebs makes it easy on us introverts, because we can say our peace and post pictures, etc, but we can then back away from it and keep petting our kitties and hiding out in our houses.  I only half jest.  But in reality, I have been told more than once by now dear friends that when they first saw me they thought I was a snob, and then when they actually talked to me they realized I was just shy.  How sad that makes me!!  I have since found that other shy types have had similar experiences.  I’m learning to be more outgoing as I get older, and once I’m confortable I’m quite a bit of a ham, but it takes a while to gain that confidence.  I don’t understand why there are many of us who have no problems putting on some big outlandish costume, but then when we actually have to talk about things our tongue gets tied.  Have you ever tried hiding out in the background in a bustle dress?  And yet we forget what we look like and retreat to our same ol’ social habits.  So if you ever meet me in person, don’t think anything of it if I’m shy or don’t introduce myself first. It’s not that I don’t want to meet you- it’s just that sometimes I don’t know what to say to get the ball rolling.  But I have learned with time, that when in doubt, we can always talk about our hobbies, and I love asking questions about how people made what they wear.

Which brings me to…


Likes- Admiring other’s costumes and talking technique

Dislikes- Snarkiness or unsolicited advice

I LOVE love love admiring and looking at other people’s costumes.  If I get the nerve up, I love to ask questions and drool up close at all the beautiful details.  Ask Colleen, of Costume College, how costumer’s greet each other and she’ll show you.  We look, we fondle fabric, we pet trim, and then we look each other in the eye and give a big hug.  Haha!  It’s so true!  But what I don’t like is observing or hearing snarky comments some people make about other people’s costumes. It makes me sad and hurts my heart.  Once upon a time I thought it was amusing, but thankfully, for a long while since, I found that all that snarkiness just came from a jealousy or a need to boost up ones self, knowledge and skill.  It’s sad.  I’d much rather encourage and see people grow and learn and keep on going and doing their thing.  We all had to learn.  So instead of being snarky from afar, or in comments, or giving unsolicited advice, learn to be gracious and help each other out.  There, I’ll get off my soap box now.  But wouldn’t it be so much more fun to play dress up if we didn’t have to worry about what other people were saying behind or back (or, to our face, or in our comments?)


Likes- Playing with Trim

Dislikes- Finishing

The thing I love the MOST about a dress is when it’s almost done and I can play with all the trims I want to make or put on a dress.  I love LOVE doing self trims and pouring over books and period sources to figure out how and where the trims would go.  Especially on early bustle dresses from the late 1860s to early 1870s when trim was THE THING.  But I HATE doing finishing steps, and usually I have to do that before I sew on on trim.  Hems! Blech!  Snaps and hooks and eyes! Blargh!  There has been many a time I have had a skirt permanently fasten with safety pins at the waistline.  I can make a whole darn dress but when it comes to five minutes to sew on that fastener- forget it!  And boning! Snore!  I have putting boning in Victorian bodices.  If I can get away without it I will.  And now you know my dirty little secrets.  At least two of them ;)


Likes- Getting all dressed up and ready to go out the door!

Dislikes- And then remembering you have to put your shoes on!

Shoes and then corset.  But I always forget that.  It’s hard to put your darn shoes on after you’ve been corseted.  Nuff said.


Likes- Planning how I’m going to make a costume.  The design bit.

Dislikes- Having to enlarge or make a pattern, especially if I’m in a time crunch.

I love patterns.  I have an abnormally large pattern stash.  But no matter how many patterns you have, they all need some finessing to get them just right.  None ever fit straight out of the packet, and the more I learn about period cuts and construction, the fewer options I have for ready made patterns for exactly what I want to make. There are some tried and true patterns I return to time and again (like Truly Victorian, which I used to make the outfit above), but some of them I’ve sewn so many times it almost feels like cheating to use them again.  But I really dislike having to draft a pattern once I’ve got my design I want squared away.  Le Sigh.  I truly am a designer in spirit.  I dislike making patterns.  There, now you know another little secret ;)  I do, however, LOVE draping.  Too bad there’s not more opportunities when time allows for it!


Likes- Feathers and Old Paper

Dislikes- Allergies!

It’s been nearly a year since I was aware I had allergies, and this will be my first Costume College with my awareness of my allergies to feathers!  WOE!  If you haven’t gathered, by the photos I’ve shared, I LOVE feathers.  They make hats that much more special.  But I am sadly now aware I’m allergic to both feather and the mold that grows on old paper, vintage clothing, and vintage fur.  Alas!  I’m still battling the allergies and going in for my allergy shots, so hopefully one day I can indulge slightly in my loves more than I have so far.  But if you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting as much in the way of original source material or listing vintage patterns as much on Etsy, now you know why.  I can do it with my ever so elegant Darth Vadar-esque face mask on, and sometimes without, but with my hyper sensitivity to these things, it’s often better to just do without.


I had fully intended to make it to number ten, but I’ve run out of things to say.  Instead, I’ll give you my version I made of a meme that was circulating on facebook a year or so ago.  That says enough ;)

Can you relate?  Do you have your own likes and dislikes?  Let me know in the comments below!

Finished Project: Blue Corset from 1868

I just put the finishing touches on this today, and I’m so glad to finally have it done!  I started the mock up for this sometime last year.  I really wanted a corset I could wear to get a decent silhouette for late 1860s/early 1870s gowns.  I have one Victorian corset I made myself, but it’s more appropriate for the 1880s and didn’t give me much form.  I started reading up about how women who weren’t endowed got their shapes, and talked to other costumers about it.  Jen of Festive Attyre was especially helpful in figuring out what to do.  This corset has sort of revolutionized my thinking about making them, and I’m glad to say that I’m no longer paranoid about making corsets.  It was revolutionary to me to realize that I could make myself fit a corset shape, and fit a corset to fit *me*, when my shape is so not what was the period ideal for the Victorian era.

When I started thinking about this project I knew I wanted a blue corset, like in Edouard Manet’s painting Nana, from 1877.  Although later than this corset by nearly ten years, I have always loved this painting and knew I wanted to mirror this color scheme when I made mine.

The pattern for this corset came from Francis Grimble’s Reconstruction Era Fashions book.  It was reproduced from an original Harper’s Bazar pattern from 1868 and then scaled down by half.  I re-enlarged the pattern and did my mock up. I found in the mock up stage that the original sizing of the corset pattern was several  inches too big for me, so I did some adjustments at the side seams, and some smaller adjustments to the hip and bust gussets, but made sure to leave enough room and not over fit it, so that I had room to pad out to achieve close to a period shape.

The original pattern called for boning across the back, but I decided I would rather have cording as I thought it would be both more comfortable and more decorative.  My husband was a darling and did the grommets up the back for me.  That’s one thing I really don’t like to do!  The chemise I am wearing is an antique in my collection.  Although I wouldn’t really wear it under clothing for fear of damaging it (although it is quite sturdy), it was fun to wear for pictures.  I need to make one along similar lines someday.

I should also mention that when I went to do my boning channels I realized I missed a tuck that was called for that went from the bottom of the front bust gusset to the bottom of the corset.  Oops?  Since I had already done all my fittings without this tuck I just decided to leave it be, but that accounts for one of the bust gores having a squared off shape at the bottom rather than a point.  Doesn’t bother me, but in case others wanted to try this pattern I thought it should be mentioned.  And as with all period patterns of this age, no seam allowances were included in the original pattern.

The fabric I used was white cotton coutil, to which I flat lined blue cotton sateen.  I was sick for quite a few days last week, so I used the opportunity to do something I don’t usually do- and embroider a little motif up the front of the busk and add some flossing.  I don’t have much skill at this sort of handwork, but it was fun to do and I think it looks kind of pretty!  My initial thought was to do flossing and add a contrast binding and wide lace at the top, but I really like the simplicity of these accents and I’m glad I didn’t go with my first plan.

Just like today, women would pad out what nature didn’t give them naturally.  As I mentioned previously, I was on a quest to get a bit more of a Victorian shape than I had naturally or with my previous corset.  When I took my mock up of this corset to work with me, I had some help from a theatre perspective and found that they still use this trick. One of the “tricks of the trade” are to use men’s tailoring shoulder pads and place them strategically at the sides, both at top of the corset, and at the bottom, to create more of an hourglass shape.  Then you can use little pads in the front for extra support- to create a bit of a shelf.  I tried this, and lo and behold, I actually had a decent shape for the era! Much better than I had had previously.

Since this project was done in conjunction with the Dreamstress’ great group, The Historical Sew Fortnightly, here’s the info required.

The Challenge: Under it All

Fabric: Cotton coutil, cotton sateen

Pattern: Reproduced Harper’s Bazar pattern from Frances Grimble’s Reconstruction Era Fashions Book.

Year: 1868

Notions: Metal spiral and flat steel boning, corset busk, grommets, corset lacing, cotton embroidery floss, stay tape, thread, set of pre-made shoulder pads, cotton quilt batting to make two more pads, white muslin to cover shoulder pads.

How historically accurate is it?  Looks accurate on the outside (embroidery inspired by, rather than reproduced authentically from, period examples), but the inside and construction are done with modern methods.  The gussets were flat lined then serged, and applied with  lapped seams rather than flat felling.

Hours to complete: Several.  From start to finish, perhaps around 10 hours, including several mock ups and time to enlarge and alter the pattern.

First worn:  Not worn yet other than for photos

Total cost: Didn’t keep track but I’m guessing $35-40ish, not including the book cost.


Finished Project: The Tissot Dress

Fair warning- this is a long and picture heavy post!

This dress had been a long time on my wish list.  I’m an ardent fan of James Jacques Tissot’s paintings, and a particular dress that appeared in a few variations in several of his paintings really inspired me.  The dress is not an exact copy, but is inspired by the following paintings.

This was the first one I found, called The Gallery of H.M.S. ‘Calcutta’ (Portsmouth), 1877.  This image is from the Hermitage Collection Connection’s blog.  My good friend is eventually going to make the one in blue so we can go about together in our ensembles :)

 Then I found several more paintings in which this image appears:

Portrait of Miss Lloyd (on left) from loveisspeed.  July (on Right) posted by a friend online.

July: Specimen of a Portrait from Flickr (on left), Fete Day at Brighton from Wikimedia Commons (on right) has different color bows but is the same dress.

  I started this dress in June of last year and actually did wear it to Costume College last year, but only for an hour or two, during which I taught a class.  After Costume College last year I finished it up and meant to take pictures the entire year, but after a bit of thought decided I liked it too much to not wear again, so it made another (longer) appearance this year.  The photos below combination of photos taken at Costume College this year and afterward at a public park.

The skirt was made from the Truly Victorian natural form Fantail Skirt pattern.  I wanted this to be a transitional dress between early bustle and natural form, so I actually tied the back of the skirt looser (it’s on a drawstring) and fit it over my Truly Victorian Petticoat with Wire Bustle, and tied the tapes inside the bustle somewhat loosely to have a smaller bustle shape.  The “polonaise” was made using the basis of Truly Victorian bodice shapes and I compared the cut with several in Francis Grimble’s Fashions of a Gilded Age (I don’t remember if it was book 1 or 2).  Since I am already familiar with the cut of Truly Victorian bodices I found this to be easier than scaling up and fitting a bodice from an original pattern I wasn’t familiar with.

The skirt and polonaise are both accented by pleating that is edged in lace.  The front fastens up the center front with hook and eye tape, and the bows are taffeta cut into bias strips and then tacked on.  The dress is made from a cotton/poly blend.  I was told it was all cotton when I purchased it in the Garment District in LA, but boy- was pleating it a pain!  I used the Perfect Pleater, but since it had poly in it, it did not want to hold the pleats.  In the end I used a combination of vinegar/water to set the pleats- sprayed it heavily and ironed the pleats in until they were well dry.  I waited for it to cool.  I then did a heavy coating of spray starch, gave it a second to set, then ironed it well (too soon after spraying and it would stick!), and then waited for that to cool.  Part way though this project I realized how beneficial a press cloth can be!

Yes, it took FOREVER and is not something I’d like to repeat soon.  I’m actually unsure of the yardage. I just kept going until I ran out of fabric! I’d still like to make the matching jacket but I ran out of fabric.  I just saw it again on the last trip to LA, but forgot why I wanted it.  Of course, now I remember! I hope they still have it whenever I go back- I went on a wild goose chase last year trying to find the darn fabric again with no luck!

At the last minute before Saturday at Costume College I remembered I didn’t have a hat so threw one together very quickly with fabric scraps and hot glue on a straw base bought from Truly Victorian when they sold these.  My husband painted it white for me last summer.

I just posted my favorites here (and I know there’s a lot) but I have several more photos of this dress on Flickr which aren’t in this post.  You can see them here.

This dress feels like a dream to wear. I just adore white dresses from the Victorian and Edwardian eras!  I need more excuses to pull this one out in the future