Year in Review: costumes worn

I had big plans to wear all my dresses this year but that didn’t happen.  I blame my new job…not having vacation time, Shirley and I were not able to go to Saskatchewan for the Dickens Festival.  That trip alone would have had at least 4 dresses out and about.

But lets see how well I did.

1838-40 Queen V dress.  Check. That was worn at the Coco Gala.172

1845 Atessa dress was worn for Halloween.


The 1860’s  Silky Skies dress got put on for this photo but I can’t figure out where I wore it.  I wouldn’t have put all that on for a chance to try on the apron!IMG_20160807_121745

Oh, wait!  Good ol’ Facebook!  According to Facebook I wore Silky Skies to the 7 Oaks Museum.  For some reason, those photos didn’t get posted here!  I will remedy that next post!

1861 Senora dress was worn to the St Boniface Museum this year.


1872 Basque in Blue was used during Coco’s Steam Punk Tea.  200

My 1872 Lilac dream was worn to a play (I had almost forgotten about this fun event!)SAM_3652

1873 Purple Polonaise went to Little Britain Church.53

1880’s Half Grand Surprise Dress was used during the Circus themed social at Coco.


My 1880’s travel outfit was chosen for our annual ride on the Prairie Dog Central Train.


The 1882 Tea Gown finally got a real wearing during the Sunday breakfast with the artists at Coco.  I still don’t love the gown but I no longer loath it.189

My 1890’s swim suit was worn by the pool Friday night at Coco.29

My 1895 Summer Ensemble made an appearance at the Steam Punk wedding.img_20161022_130710981_hdr.jpg

1900 Widows Weeds got worn twice.  Once by myself at a celebration and fashion show at work…img_20160930_153444423

…and once by another person at the Vaughn Street Jail event last spring. (Serious nip tucking needed on the dress for this event.)



Four dresses didn’t make the cut this year: 1840’s Copper Penny, 1850’s Tea Dress, 1895 dinner gown, 1895 Walking outfit.  It is probably best that I have only one dress on the docket for 2017.  If I can’t get them all worn, then I have to slow down production.  Or I have to part with some of them (gasp!)  Trouble with that is, if I am disenchanted enough to be willing to part with one of my babies, I am disenchanted enough to feel that no one actually would want it!  Then factor in size…nah.  I’m just going to have to find more times to wear them or set my goal to “wear once every two years”.


Coco Sunday 2016

Are you sick of these posts yet? I’m almost done.  This one is about the last day, the next will be about shopping and what I plan to do with my haul.

So, Sunday I was up early enough to catch Breakfast with the Artists.  This is my first real wearing of the Ugly Bag of Tea Gown and its final incarnation, with accessories is passably good looking and is exceptionally comfy.

It was comfortable enough to sit through Luca Costigliolo’s class on getting the correct shape for your gowns.191

The word of the day is “padding”.  We should not alter the pattern to fit the body (because we then loose the silhouette the designer was aiming for), we alter the body to fit the pattern.  You size up the pattern to fit the corseted body.  Those baggy bits in the mock up, should not be altered to make them go away.  They should be padded out.  As a busty girl, I end up with loose fabric on my upper chest near my arm pit.  Apparently, this is a common thing.  The corset causes the bust to create a hollow near the arm pit and that is filled in with padding.  Smaller busted ladies would use bust enhancers.  If sloped shoulders were in then padding was added to help give that illusion. 192

Luca did make a caveat, that this practice of padding was very common in all social classes in places like France and Italy , but not as common in England and North America, but wealthy folks who shopped in France did have padding.  He thought it was a more conservative option to not pad.

Once the class was done (and I was done taking photographs of this fabulous hand beaded number)193

I headed off to the bargain basement and did some more shopping.  Funny story that…  While in Luca’s class, I heard/felt a popping sound and thought it might be my corset, which was first attempt at corset making, settling or shifting, so I ignored it.  When I was shopping, I came to the conclusion that it was actually my petticoat hook that was the popping sound and that the petticoat was now neatly wrapped around my ankles.  Suzi Clark (the speaker I saw on Friday) happened to be standing there and saw my dilemma (how embarrassing!) and asked if she could help me.  So sweet, but having recently injured herself and needing help to get around I thought it might be best if I manage on my own.  I thanked her and said I thought I’d just let it drop and step out of it.  Turns out it was neatly trapped by the corset strings on one side…loose enough to trip and kill me but not loose enough to actually drop.  So in front of Suzi, I jacked up my dress and tucked that petticoat deeper into the strings so I’d be able to walk again.  And off I elegantly glided to the till with my hoard of goods in my arms, my petticoat in my strings and my ego slightly dented.189

In the afternoon, I went to the steam punk tea.  Not my scene.  I probably horrified the true Steam Punks by opting for the “just stick gears on it and shorten the skirt” version of the genre.

I ran into this lovely girl (who’s name I’ve lost from my head…it wasn’t a common name so I couldn’t hang onto it…sorry about that).  We shared a dinner table and chatted at a few events and I really enjoyed her company.201

The remainder of the weekend was spent in the hospitality suite.  A few of us found a brighter lit room for doing hand work and playing card games and we chatted together until it was time to head back to my room for some packing and down time.

Okay, once we get past the shopping post, you will be done with all these Coco posts!  0


Forth and final incarnation of “Ugly Bag of Tea Gown”

Last weekend was fun (Medieval Festival) but it was also productive.  I tried starching a petticoat for the first time.  I know!  Shocking isn’t it!  I’ve been doing this for 5 years in limp petticoats!  I really thought starching a petticoat would be a wretched experience.  My pal Lottie Lovette told me it wasn’t and explained how to do it.  And she was right!  Easy!  And now my petticoat practically stands on its own!img_20160717_160525416.jpg

I tried it on my oldest most beat up one just in case it went poorly but it was fine.  I will eventually get around to doing them all.

Subject change:  I gave myself until the end of the weekend to fiddle some more on the Ugly Bag of Tea Gown and I think I have finally reached a matronly but presentable presentation.  It was on the advice (again) Lottie that I finally settled on the final look.  One of the photos she shared was a tea gown that had the lace going the chevron pattern I first tried.SAM_1619

But it was wider.  There was also way less than what I had in the next incarnation.IMG_20160712_202818628

So I removed a ton of the above fluff and I straightened some of it out so it was more symmetrical and now I’m okay with it.img_20160717_153757.jpgNo I didn’t have a stomach ache.  Just posing awkwardly.img_20160717_153711.jpgYes.  This is less crazy.img_20160717_151850290.jpgWith some accessories and proper hair and head gear, this will do just fine for Breakfast with the Artists at Costume College.

Well…it is better…I guess…or may be not…

That title is definitely not said with a lot of conviction.  I have been working on this tea gown for nearly 3 years.  First incarnation: so ugly it wouldn’t photograph.  It hung like an ugly sack. The second incarnation fit better but was still ugly. I don’t think the third time is working out either.


Can you see the doubt in my eyes?

I do like the tassels on the tie.  And the lace on the sleeves is better.  Stupid lace on the bodice does break up the pattern-which was a goal, but it seems a bit….I don’t know….fluffy bordering on clownish?  Is breaking up pattern with more texture and pattern really helpful?

May be if I take off the bottom row of lace and iron it flatter….Or rip it all off and do something else….

The neck line is actually a high neck but it was nearly strangling me.  (I had moved the button too far over.) For the photographs, I tried turning the neck line down.  I do think my neck looks better in a lower neck line but it is far to much work to change that now.  I’m going to move the button back where it belongs and go with the high neck line with a brooch at the throat.  Question is…will there still be all that lace….  I’m thinking not….

Honestly, this dang thing gets worked on until this weekend and if I still can’t make it look nice I’m going to give up on it – AGAIN.IMG_20160712_202836793

I think facial expression says, “Lord help me.”

Welcome to the reality of costuming.  Not every piece “wants to be made” and not every project is glorious.



Transforming the ugly bag tea gown

Third time is the charm?  I had made a tea gown and was not pleased with the results.  It hung like a sack (I had left out optional darts so it would be more comfortable and added space to accommodate the “girls”-not good ideas!) So after shunning it for a length of time,  I re-did it.  See post here.

I still wasn’t pleased with the results.SAM_1619

Costume College is having a Tea and since it is in MY hotel, I could justify wearing an “at home tea gown” but not with it looking so blah! The fit was better after the first renovation, but the piddley little scrap of lace just wasn’t breaking up all that print!   So off it came.

I’m half way through this third incarnation and I hate it less.IMG_20160706_212645358

More lace does seem to break things up a bit more and the cream color instead of the white doesn’t look so weird. I’m hoping the placement doesn’t look as crooked on me as it seems to on the table.  I’ve not noticed that before…please let it only be in the picture!  Wahhhhh!  I don’t wanna do it again!

Year in review: outing addition

My goal this year was to wear every dress I have made.  How can I justify making more dresses if I can’t manage to wear the ones I have already?  How did I do?

1838- 40 Green Queen V dress

I wore my Green Queen dress to the Dickens Festival.

I wore my Green Queen dress to the Dickens Festival.

1840’s Copper Penny dress.

Also worn at the Dickens Festival.

Also worn at the Dickens Festival.

1850’s Tea Dress

This is what Shirley and I wore the first night at the Dickens Festival.

This is what Shirley and I wore the first night at the Dickens Festival.  I also wore the 1870’s shawl so kinda two for one.

1860 Silky Skies dress

Dickens again. I got a lot of mileage out of this outing.

Dickens again. I got a lot of mileage out of this outing.  Two for one again as I wore the 1871 mantle with it.

1860 Sontag.  There is a miss there.  I wanted to wear it with the dress above but it was too big.  But strictly speaking it isn’t a dress so we wont count it against my goal.

1870-90 Pineapple Shawl.  I still don’t have anything to wear that with so another miss, but again, it isn’t a dress so that doesn’t count.

1872 Basque in blue.

I wore this to our Halloween event.

I wore this to our Halloween event.  I also wore my 1871 Mantle with this so it got used twice this year (after lounging in my closet for a couple of years!)

1872 Lilac Dream

All aboard! The Prairie Dog train ride.

All aboard! The Prairie Dog train ride.

1873 Polonaise

First outing with our tiny groups newest member Lottie

First outing with our tiny group’s newest member Lottie

1880’s Half Grand Surprise Dress-Doh!  This is a definite miss!  I did have plans to wear it but an event or two got cancelled because of weather and this is one of the dresses that didn’t make the cut.  It has gotten a lot of wear other years.

1880’s travel outfit-dang!  Another one that got missed.  Also due to weather.

1882 Tea Gown (aka Ugly Bag of Tea Gown).  First time ever.  That is a win right?

Me in my Tea Gown reading how to be a Victorian. It got worn but didn't see the light of day or other humans other than Shirley.

Me in my Tea Gown reading how to be a Victorian. It got worn but didn’t see the light of day or other humans other than Shirley.

1890’s swim suit

Halloween costume for work.

Halloween costume for work.

1895 dinner gown

Out for dinner.

Out for dinner.

1895 Summer Ensemble

To my favorite house museum

To my favorite house museum

1895 walking outfit

Again, at my favorite house museum.

Again, at my favorite house museum.

1900 Widows Weeds

At the old jail.

At the old jail.

So not too bad.  Two dresses that got a lot of wear in years past, didn’t get worn because of cancelled events.  I think I can justify making two more…

The plan is one like this black one.tv242colorfin

The black will be done in reds and the blue will be cream and black.  I want to use my vintage treadle machine for this one.  The challenge will be to use as many of the attachments as possible.

And the paisley material I bought at the Dickens Festival will become something like this…1840-49 dress day a Augusta AuctionsI hope to make more accessories as well and I hope they will get some use!  I also hope to wear the two dresses I didn’t get to wear this year…we have to keep it fair after all.


Dickens’ day 1

We had a good start to our road trip!

We stopped in a small town for lunch and they had these two little buildings made from glass bottles.

We stopped in a small town for lunch and they had these two little buildings made from glass bottles.

The little church was very pretty.

The little church was very pretty.

I am really pleased with how well my phone takes pictures!

Nice little windows in the church.

Nice little windows in the church.

I guess the people who made this we Bob and Dora.

I guess the people who made this we Bob and Dora.

I don't know if this is a world wide thing but lots of small towns have these random "attractions".

I don’t know if this is a world-wide thing but lots of small towns have these random “attractions”.

We're here!

We’re here!

Now to find places for all our crap so we can walk!

Now to find places for all our crap so we can walk!

Shirley even thought of a Christmas tree!

Shirley even thought of a Christmas tree!

Shirley found the very evil Mr. Scrooge!

Shirley found the very evil Mr. Scrooge!

There was a very cute little parade.  It was so small, they went around the block twice.  I loved it!

There was a very cute little parade. It was so small, they went around the block twice. I loved it!

This is what Shirley and I wore the first night.

This is what Shirley and I wore the first night. Shirley was in an early 1860’s style and mine was early 50’s.

Father Christmas!  We've been good ladies....

Father Christmas! We’ve been good ladies….

Or have we.  Our flasks didn't contain just water!

Or have we. Our flasks didn’t contain just water!

I joke about our booze in our flasks but we really were good girls. Neither of us consumed more than an ounce of Bailey’s or Brandy and we were in our jammies by 9:00.

Me in my Ugly Bag of Tea Gown reading how to be a Victorian.

Me in my Ugly Bag of Tea Gown reading how to be a Victorian.  I highly recommend this book by the way.  It doesn’t seem to have the usual misinformation (aka. crap) that other sources have.

More tomorrow.


Year in Review and Final HSF Challenge

Happy New Year!  And as every sewing blogger knows, now is the time to reflect on how much we managed to get done.  Wow!  It is really amazing how much I got done once I got out of my slump and there is only 2 reasons I was so productive-Deadlines and Challenges.  The vast majority of those came from The Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenges.

There was crochet fingerless gloves and an 1950’s costume for work.  There was my 1900 widows weeds that includes a petticoat, skirt, bodice with hand-made frog closures, a serious hat and a “scary hat” for Halloween, and a cape.SAM_1466

I’ve knit a modern scarf and a Victorian shawl.   I have worn the shawl with my 1840’s Copper Penny dress and that includes 3 petticoats, the dress, bonnet, reticule, hand-made lace collar, and a muff.SAM_1559 (2)

I upgraded a hat for my 1890’s walking suit and made several pieces of jewelry.

I made a complete 1890’s swim suit which includes the suit, the skirt, the hat and shoes.

15I’ve made my first corset and I’ve made a handkerchief to give away.

I’ve made an ugly 1880’s Tea Gown…twice.SAM_1619

I’ve made my 1873 Polonaise that includes skirt bodice and hat.SAM_1371

Now for the final challenge I give you my new 1870’s mantle (that may or may not be worn with the above outfit).




The Challenge: 26 Celebrate

Fabric: Unknown, likely a synthetic blend

Pattern: TV501 1871 Mantle

Year: 1871

Notions: buttons, trims, thread, hooks and eyes.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is accurate, the print is plausible to my eye, it is half machine sewn, half hand sewn which is plausible as well. The fiber content of the fabric is not. 70%?

Hours to complete: 15

First worn: just for this photo.

Total cost: $90

HSF: Challenge #24 Redo

I believe the goal of the challenge was to take something that we really enjoyed making and make another one or to finish something that didn’t get done.  My redo is the 1880’s Tea Gown aka “Ugly Sack”.  So ugly even the camera wouldn’t look at it properly.

SAM_1356It brings to mind this phrase from Star Trek.

It was ugly in so many ways.  There were optional darts at the waist that I didn’t put in because I thought it would be more comfortable.  That coupled with the unneeded extra material added at the front for the “girls” and you had the sack formation.

Then there is the absolutely overwhelming pattern!  I said to myself, “Self, you need to break out of the box and go for a bold pattern.”  Well, Self, I say to you, “Get thee back into thy box!”  When a large woman wears uninterrupted, vast expanses of floral print, she takes on the appearance of a sofa.  Just sayin’.

So my redo was to put those darts in and with some strategic tucking, pull in all that extra fabric I had put into the bodice part.  I attempted to break up some of that wild pattern by adding some lace.  I don’t know.  Would more help?

What is going on with that pose?  A bit Nora Desmond if you ask me.

What is going on with that pose? A bit Nora Desmond if you ask me.

I didn’t change the back because I liked that part.SAM_1620I don’t loath the thing now.  It is warm.  I would make a decent house coat if not buttoned to the throat.  A bit frumpy (there is an understatement) but at least it would get used.  Not any uglier than some of my sweat suits and PJ.

I can’t see using it as a costume piece.  Even if I had chosen a nice sedate fabric, I’m not sure I’d ever use it that way.  I try to wear costumes the way the original Victorian’s would have worn their clothes.  They didn’t wear tea gowns to go on outings on trains or picnics.  They didn’t wear them to GO to tea.  They wore them when just hanging out at home, having tea with close friends or family.  If this were to get wear at a costume event, I’d have to invite some folks over for tea.  And my house just isn’t Victorian enough.  I guess I could try to find a house museum that was from the 1880’s and pretend I was the lady of the house…..

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.