Another card courtesy of Miss Shirley

For Christmas, my pal Shirley, gave me 3 cabinet cards.  Two were head shots of the same woman 10 years apart.  She also gave me a card that shows the full length of a dress as she knows that this is what I covet most in these cards…the opportunity to see the dresses, as they would have been worn at the time.  And if I can get ideas for my dresses, well all the better.

I'm guessing, by the dress, that it is an 1880's picture.

I’m guessing, by the dress, that it is an 1880’s picture.

It looks like the pattern I used for my Travel outfit. I did the two tone bodice like hers.527235And my Half Grand Surprise dress.293287I had pleats on the bottom too.  Only mine were sewn onto the bottom and hers looks like they are on an under skirt.

I wish I was as skinny as she was!  And she didn’t battle the girls either!

What to wear, what to wear…

I have an event this weekend…a Victorian High Tea.  At first I thought of wearing my 1840’s Copper Penny Dress because it is very Dickens.SAM_1559 (2)

But, Shirley pointed out that it is a Victorian High Tea for Christmas and not a Dickens High Tea for Christmas.

I could wear my 1873 Polonaise because Shirley is going 1870’s….


I could wear my 1850’s tea gown to the tea event…SAM_1356

Gads, no!  It is not fit for human consumption.  Unless you are talking about the illness consumption…in which case one would not care what one looked like.  Thankfully, this photo is very “cell phone camera” blurry!

I could wear my 1880’s Half Grand Surprise Dress as it is a nice Christmas red.


I could wear my 1895 Dinner gown as I haven’t worn it in ages.SAM_0238

Actually, I don’t think I have worn it in public since I have finished the cape and the muff.  Might be a bit over the top for an afternoon tea but what the heck…. Okay, decision made.

Even if I do look like a linebacker in it…

The cape over the sleeves brings to mind a football player standing on the side lines.

The cape over the sleeves brings to mind a football player standing on the side lines.

My Victorian Weekend part 3 of 3

Last Saturday evening, Victorian at Heart rode the Prairie Dog Central Train.  And here are some of our 500 photographs.SAM_1291

I’m a bit glad that we don’t have hundreds of these coal and steam trains rolling everyday!  It sure makes some pollution!


Shirley and I are waiting in the train station and we are wearing our 1880’s outfits.


Coco Worker joined us in Shirley’s 1890’s dress.


Coco took this photo.  NOT the most flattering photo of Moi but, I love the sepia look.

This train ride brings back memories.  When I was a kid I remember being thrilled by the robbers that stop the train and rob us all of our change!


The robbers took $550 for donation to a local woman’s shelter.



What a great day!  So much fun was had by all!

Victorian at Heart gets out again!

In honor of Queen Victoria’s Birthday, Victorian at Heart planned an outing.  We had considered Lower Fort Garry but the weather was just too rotten with rain, rain and more rain.  So we went to Maple Grove Tea House in Captain Kennedy’s House.  After tea we posed for some photos.945471_374847979285725_971187163_n

Shirley wore her 1860s sheer dress.


I wore one of my 1880s bustle dresses.


Mr Mac Leod and his daughter were with us!  After awhile, Mr Mac Leod had to head back to work so he left with his daughter.  Shirley and I were headed to our cars.  We looked at each other, neither of us ready to head home to modern clothes.  The rain had stopped so we decided to head to the Fort as we originally planned and go to the tea they were hosting in honor of the Queen’s birthday.


Last year, when we had gone to the tea, we had it in the basement of the governor’s house.  In later years that room had been used as a dining area for a motor club.  We were expecting more of the same.  It was a bit different this time.  The staff person who was playing the Governor came out and lightly chastised us ladies for not having our men folk with us!  It was fun playing the part  of rebellious females who insist on traveling alone.

We began the tour of the house and saw a few rooms.  When we got to the parlour we found the fireplace was all lit up.  I had never seen it lit and didn’t know the chimney was still in working order! It was cool that day so I’m glad it was lit.


As you can see, the table was set for tea.  I was very surprised to find that the admissions desk had called ahead and arranged for us to sit and have tea in the parlour just like real guests!


Shirley sat between the Governor’s wife and the Governor’s guest.


The Governor sat next to his guest and I sat between the Governor and his wife.


There was a maid that served the cake while Mrs. Colvile poured the tea.  I kept falling out of character and trying to pour my own tea and not waiting for the maid to open the door for me!  Obviously, I am nouveau riche and lacking in the social graces of the upper crust!  All in all a wonderful start to the costuming season.

Got my professional photo!

Wow, July 14th!  Twenty-one years ago I became a mommy.  Time flys!  He turned out pretty good if I do say so myself…..Ok…back to costume blog…..

When Shirley and I were out celebrating Canada day in our latest outfits, we took a ride on a horse and carriage.  We have wanted to do this but they are usually fairly expensive but this was a fabulous deal and we both jumped on it!

We were sent a photo, which we paid for on the day of the ride.  I love it!  It was taken by Aspire Photography.

Ooops…my bustle is showing…..

To see more of the photos click here.  The photos and site are owned by the photographer.

How I did the trim on my Half Grand Suprise Dress

With the exception of sewing on a hook and eye on a waistband I didn’t do any sewing this past weekend.  I told you I was suffering from inertia.  I did take some photos of the process of trimming the bodice of my dress and I thought someone might like to know how I did it.

I had no idea of how much cording I would need so I took a stab in the dark and bought 10 meters.  I had only enough left over to make a drawstring for the reticule when I was done.  When estimating how much cording you might need for a similar project you need to bear in mind that I am a fluffy girl and may have required “an inch or two” more than you may require.  I also started wide at the top and tapered down as I went down.  Having a wide pattern from top to bottom will, of course require more cording.

Step one, is putting your bodice on a dress form and closing it with the hooks and eyes you have already put into the bodice opening.  I have no idea how you would do this without a dress form.  It would be madness!

I did not want to cut the cord and risk it unravelling and I had in mind altering the pattern if I didn’t have enough cording so keeping it in one piece kept my options open.  I did both sides of the bodice using each end of the one 10 meter cord.Here is a tip-start tacking down the cord end before you remove the tape or you will be in a race against time trying to get that sucker sewn on before it unravels.  The end on your left was hidden under a button so I wasn’t to concerned about how it looked but the one on the right was going to stand “alone” so I attempted to get it hidden under the flap of the opening.

In the above picture you can see the pattern I was going for.  On your left I took the dangling cord and lowered it so it was about an inch and a half lower than the loop above it.  (I confess to no measuring…I just eyeballed it.) Then I made a little loop close to the edge of the bodice opening.  The button was sewn on top of that.I pinned the loop and I pinned the point I wanted the strand to drop down to.From the blue and white pin, I laid the cording across the center front piece of the bodice.  I slanted it slightly up on the outside edge because that just seemed right but in hind sight, I think it gave it a bit of a chevron look that is supposed to be slimming.I had the cord go past the seam of the center front and I double backed along the length of the cording.  I flipped the over hanging bend in the cord under the two straight lengths of cord to create the double loop.I adjusted the loops so they sat on the seam and pinned. Next, I ran the cord along the straight bit that was already  pinned down.

I pinned it where I wanted the two cords to split away from each other.

Now to do the other side in mirror direction.  Basically it was the same thing except for a difference along the opening edge.  Instead of making one small loop along the edge of the opening, I made a slightly larger loop ON TOP OF  the smaller loop of the opposite side.  This larger loop formed the button-hole so I had to make sure it was large enough for the button to slip through.  When sewing this, I kept that loop free and didn’t sew it down to the bodice.  I only tacked it at the x so it would stay in a loop shape.The rest was just a repeat of what I have shown you, only mirrored to fit the other side.I kept going in this fashion until I ran out of pins.At which point I took it off the dress form and hand sewed it all down and added some of the buttons.Once it was all hand sewed on I put it back on the dress form and continued down to the bottom.  “Lather, rinse, repeat.”

Don’t think I’m ready for retirement.

I’ve been off work for 6 weeks and will be going back next Monday.  The first 2 weeks sucked as I was just too tired to want to do much of anything.  The next 3 weeks were fun as I kept busy with my hobbies and going out.  This week I felt lethargic.  I didn’t even want to do what was fun.  Perhaps the problem was not having any deadlines.  Prior to this past week I had sewing projects that needed to be done by such and such a date.  This week all three projects were finished (two of them well before I need them) and I had nothing that had to be done.

I worked like a dog for a week to put this together and now I don’t want to anything.

With work there is always several things that need to be done in a day or I fall behind.  The pressure keeps me moving and then when I get home I get other things done by momentum.  With no pressure I slowed down to a crawling, unmotivated slug.    There were things I could do that would be nice if I got them done but there were no consequences if I didn’t do them.  What will I be like retired?  I think I will have to have a volunteer job  or I’ll have to set some meaningful deadlines to keep myself moving forward!  Left to my own thing and I will end up moving from bed to couch and back again! But that’s just me!

Dames, Dandys and Dominion Day.

As I mentioned before, Shirley and I went to Dames, Dandies and Dominion Day which was held in the heart of my city.  We dodged a few drunks and enjoyed a fabulous time at the event which was quite small but very much fun.  It was the first year of the event and likely could have stood some better advertising.  I only accidentally discovered it the previous week because I happened to be on the web site of the tour company that hosted it.  The small turn out worked out in Shirley and my favor.  Shirley won second place with her 1837 gown and her prize was a haunted tour of ghostly happenings in the city (hosted by afore-mentioned tour company), which she will take during Halloween.  Here is Miss Shirley in her lovely gown.

Her dress is made of a lovely cotton print.

I apologize for the shadows on Shirley’s face.  The sun was blazing and it was beastly hot. Shirley’s cotton material and open neck line likely kept her from keeling over but not from burning.  Both of us opted to omit a petticoat of two because of the heat and we lugged around plastic water bottles.  Not very authentic but very necessary.

Note the matching bag.

And for the final view of Miss Shirley’s gown….

Miss Shirley…the parasol should be up!

I won first place which was a one night stay in a B&B here in Winnipeg, the Beechmount. It is a Victorian Mansion (oh joy!)

I wish I could say that I finally exceeded Arlene’s superior sewing skills and won first place because of my blazing skills as a seamstress but nay, it was because the little girl judging liked the color of my dress.  I think she was about 5 or 6. (Seriously, I don’t feel competive with Shirley!  I really value her skill and advice!)

I call this my Half Grand Surprise Dress.

It is Surprise Dress because I didn’t plague people with blow-by-blow details of each completed portion.  And it is also a surprise that I finished it in a week.

The hat is recycled from other outfits. The blue is a bit much but the feathers match.  It did a good job of holding an ice pack on my head so I didn’t keel over in the heat!

The Half Grand part of the dress name comes from getting a speeding ticket while on the way to get the fabric (my third in 30 years of driving-not normal for me).  With the cost of the fabric and the speeding ticket, the dress cost me nearly half a grand (a grand in North American slang is $1,000)

Shirley and I stopped by the nursing home we work in to show off. One of our very oldest folks said “She has a big bum!” I died laughing!

Shirley and I had a chance to talk to the other 4 ladies in costume and they seemed somewhat interested in the Victorian sewing and social club we are trying to get started. (One even said she is connected with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet that is doing Moulin Rouge and she thought it would be nice to have us in costume after the show for an after show cafe.  Wouldn’t that be awesome if we got some free tickets to see that!) We shall see if there is any feedback about the club and Moulin Rouge at a later date.

The icing on the cake for the day was the open horse and carriage ride that we got to take for incredibly cheap!  For $10 we got a nice long ride and some professionally taken photos of us in the carriage.  I can hardly wait for those to come!  I have permission to share those with you once we get them!  All in all, a wonderful day!

Made up some lost ground!

All those trials with my bodice seem to have been worked out (I hope) and I’ve begun to make progress on my trim! A few more hours of hand sewing and it will be done.  Here is a sneak peek….

I’m so pleased with how it is turning out!

I didn’t spend the whole day parked on the couch sewing.  I did get they puppy out for a trot by the man-made lake.  We saw a pelican.

Geese and their babies were swimming in behind the pelican.

The baby geese are starting to get their adult feathers.

The young ones have the markings but they are less distinct…more grey.

Someone is feeding these guys because as I was standing and taking the photos they started coming for me.

Ginger and the geese hadn’t noticed each other yet. Thought I best move along. Ginger would start chasing them and with young ones, I suspect the parents will stand their ground and beat the crap out of my little fur ball. discretion is the better part of valor as they say.

Happy Friday all.


1862 wedding dress from the Canadian Costume Museum

I’ve been madly sewing because I had the dumb idea of getting a costume done in one week for an event that Shirley and I had only just heard of a couple of weeks ago.  I have 2 completed costumes that I have yet to wear out but I wanted to have a new one for this event.  Dumb or what?

I was making good time until today.  My needle broke and I couldn’t get the new one to work properly.  Wasted an hour until I found another package of needles and they worked like a charm.  Then I had construction issues.  I didn’t make a muslin because A) I rarely do. (My bad.) B) I had already made this bodice and the last time it was snug but wearable so I made this one, one size up.  All good right?  Well, for some reason, in spite of cutting it one size up from the last time, it is one size SMALLER than the last time.  I think what happened is I felt I had some wiggle room so I was less conservative on my seam allowance and because my interlining is much thicker this time it takes up more room.  So I had to take the lining off and resew all the seams a bit smaller and then rip out all the old seams.  (Thank god I had not trimmed the seams yet!)  It is still snug but  I think, if I forgo raising my arms I should be able to wear it.  Me thinks the rushing is not doing me favors!   Tomorrow I hope to finish reattaching the lining, finish the arm holes and put all the hooks and eyes.  That will leave me one day for the fancy trim I’m planning.  Once I show you my inspiration piece you will laugh at my madness!

1899 jacket from the Met

I just want the front bit…not all the stuff on the sleeves and back.  And I will use buttons not knots to hold it shut.  Those buttons may be just decorative.  We shall see how hard this is to pull off….in a day….

Time for another installment from my mannequin dressing stint in May.  Today’s dress is a striped 1862 silk wedding dress.We draped it in the shawl (I believe it was 1840s) because the fabric in the bodice was showing great signs of wear and I found it to be distracting when looking at the shape of the dress.  I was distressed to see it so…well…distressed!

The double poofs are really interesting!

Here is the back view.

If you click on the photo, you should be able to zoom in and see the lovely white on white embroidered bird on the shawl.

Well, that’s all folks.  See ya tomorrow!