Year in review: costumes that got out of the closet

I really thought more of my costumes got out of the closet this year but I guess not.  I think it was because there were no events like the Dicken’s Festival or Coco where multiple costumes get worn. Here are the ones that did get out.

Seven in total.  Eight if you count the time I played a hooker at the old jail and stood in my undies for the audience.

I’m hoping, this new year, my costuming buddies and I will make it out to the Dicken’s Festival in Saskatchewan.  That will increase the number of dresses that get worn!  I also hope that I will have the opportunity to wear the ones that didn’t get used this year.  I don’t like the idea of dresses languishing in the closet too long.  But perhaps that may encourage me to part with the ones that no longer thrill me.  The ones that have flaws that now seem glaringly obvious.

PS.  I hope you folks had a good New Year’s celebration and you enjoy this new one.  May your troubles be few and your joys be many!


A night on the town

Shirley and I launched our costuming season last night by attending a musical evening at our/my favorite house museum, Dalnavert House.

The featured band was Simpson’s Folly.


Shirley and I dressed up in some 1890’s ensembles in honor of the house’s age.IMG_20170408_200811727

I don’t know why my hair looks so “slept in” in that photo!  Isn’t the cane Shirley is carrying fabulous!  She says the vendor she bought hers from has an elephant one!  I think I need that!

Simpson’s folly had a quiz question about a young private that came to Manitoba in the 1870’s to deal with the upstart Riel.  He later became a premier in Manitoba…who was it? Shirley thought it was the builder of Dalnavert House, Hugh John McDonald.  She was too shy to answer the quiz in case she was wrong.


I was fairly sure she wasn’t.  I remembered hearing that he had been involved with the fight against Riel but couldn’t remember much about his political past.  I took a chance that Shirley had remembered that part correctly and answered for her.  (When it comes to talking I don’t have much fear of looking the fool.  I think I actually need a bit more fear.)


We won a CD from the band!  Nice launch to our costuming season!


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”.


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.


Fancy dress dinner

Shirley and I went out for dinner this past weekend.  The intention was to take some photographs by the river first but it was too cold.  So we opted for some window shopping at an antique store.1

Then we headed off to dinner.3

It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday evening…dressing pretty and planning our next big event…next month!  Hope you had a good weekend too.  Cheers!9

I’ve met the Queen (insert wink here)

Yesterday, Shirley and I went to a small city south of our larger city and attended a church sponsored Victorian Tea.  My expectations were for something very modest.  Tea in plastic pots and matching industrial tea cups, bad costumes and piped in music.  For the decor I expect…I don’t know what.  It was a day out in costume with a good friend.  That was where I expected to get all my joy from.

Was I pleasantly surprised!

Then they opened the doors and I saw a wonderful staging in the hallway.

When they opened the doors, I saw a wonderful staging in the hallway.

If the hallway was so wonderfully done, I decided I might need to lift my expectations a bit.

There were several trees done in Victorian decorations.

There were several trees done in Victorian decorations.

Had we been able to see the tickets before hand (we picked them up at the door) we may have been prepared for how much work they put into this!

Very well done tickets!

Very well done tickets!  Ignore the date.  For some reason we got the tickets for today’s show and not yesterdays.

We were seated with some lovely ladies from the Red Hat Society.  They were so friendly and sweet!SAM_1581We were served tea by some maids who stayed in character the whole time.SAM_1583Another thing I was not expecting was that is tea with a show.  There was a play that ran through out the event featuring what was going on “downstairs” while the Queen was “upstairs” hosting a Christmas event.  The kitchen departments were trying to come up with a special treat for the Queen.  The Queen herself was part of the play, delivering a welcome speech to her guests.SAM_1593

As the rest of the play went on, the Queen and her Lady-in-Waiting had tea with us at their own table.


After the play and food part were done, Shirley and I arranged to “meet the Queen”!

meeting the QueenIt seems I am much taller than the Queen!

Time for photo ops!

Shirley in the Queens seat!

Shirley in the Queens seat!

Shirley and I in the office of the head of the Confectionery Department

Shirley and I in the office of the head of the Confectionery Department

Shirley posing with some of the treats we could buy during the event.  Profits went to charity.

Shirley posing with some of the treats we could buy during the event. Profits went to charity.

We were very saddened to hear they only do this every second year and each time it is possible they will not have the energy to do this again!  I’ve marked my calendar to look for it in two years time.  Hopefully, we will be able to fill a whole table by then!

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.

Project machine!

Before we begin the fun, let us pause for a moment of silence to remember our fallen soldiers.  If it were not for them, we wouldn’t have the freedom to pursue our odd little hobbies and interests.


Project machine.  That’s me.  Just firing them off one by one.

I have an event next weekend (if all goes well) and I’m excited about it but I’m also shaking in my shoes in fear that I will be shaking in my shoes in freezing conditions!  I went out and bought some fall boots and if you squint in the dark, they will look like something that may have been worn in the 1840’s.  I will likely be modern with my heavy socks and waffle fabric long underwear but over that I will be wearing my new flannel petticoat.  

Wearing an embroidered cotton flannel petticoat in cold weather is authentic.  Having machine embroidery…not so much.  But I am pressed for time and if you squint in the dark…well you get the picture.SAM_1546

Once that was done, I needed to think about my poor hands.  I went for the muff I made here. I had made it so I could change the cover to co-ordinate with other outfits.  But, in removing the cover, I remembered that I hadn’t put in proper ties yet…it was still being held together with wool.  So proper ties jump to the head of the to-do list.  I made the channels too narrow, so what should have taken a few seconds to do took and episode and a half of Murdoch Mysterys! SAM_1547

Once the cover was off (and finished) I decided to steal my friend Shirley’s idea and flip my muff inside out and sew a pocket into it for slipping a “hot pocket” package in. SAM_1548Then I flipped it right way out again so that the pocket will be next to my hands. (We will call this last paragraph a tutorial “How to keep your hands warm and hide modern conveniences.”

Okay, with that done, it was time to make the new cover.  I wanted it dark brown to go with the trim on my 1840 copper penny dress and hat.  I went rummaging in my stash but couldn’t find a big enough piece.  What I did find is two smaller pieces attached to pieces of light brown.  They came from hacking the ends off of my pagoda sleeves when I decided that they were too long.  I sewed the pieces together and ended up with a muff cover that will go with my copper penny dress and my 1850’s tea dress.SAM_1552I hated that sewing line.  And it really was quite boring.  So….SAM_1553Now I have a submission for Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge 25 1 meter. Not bad for a half day of work.  I’ll likely rip that bow off and replace it with something more interesting when I have the time and the idea.  It will do for now.

My new toy leads to a new toy.

My sewing machine has been around for decades.  I think it is from the 1950s or 60s.  It still works wonderfully.  BUT…..all it does is go forwards and backwards.  And the reason it has been around this long is it is made of solid steel.  The steel means that it is only portable because I have the men in my life move it for me.

Recently I changed all that.  I took all my birthday and Christmas money and bought this….SAM_0252Bells and whistles galore!  It does more than forwards and backwards!  Way more! And doesn’t weigh a thousand pounds! I wanted to try it out on a small project to see what it does.  I thought a muff that goes with my 1895 dinner ensemble would do the trick.  I have a cape for it so why not a muff as well.

I cut a rectangle out of some white broad cloth and out of the left over fashion fabric.  I used the overlock stitch on the edges.  This particular project didn’t really need it but I wanted to see how it worked because I have had some projects that I would have benefited from it.SAM_0258 I sewed the white cloth into the base of the muff using these instructions. SAM_0259I whipped stitched the edge by hand and got this.SAM_0261It was a bit shorter and fatter than I thought.  How is it one can follow instructions and end up with something different from the other person?  I think I may have over  stuffed mine.  It is still usable.

Then I worked on the cover fabric.  My purse and my cape have a leaf pattern in it so I decided to use the leaf stitch on my machine.  I’m thinking machine embroidery is not exactly historically authentic but we wont dither over details.

SAM_0262The next step was to put the cover together following these instructions.

I added an antique I had in my stash.SAM_0264Ta da!  I now have a new muff and I have a new love for my new machine!  Button holes are the next exciting option I now have….

As an added side note, I now have a submission for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge 4: Embellish.

100th anniversary.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery held its 100th Anniversary this Saturday and Victorian at Heart was invited to wander through the gallery in costume as sort of ghosts of the past.  We spent most of our time wandering around the gallery with the Victorian era paintings.  We also hung around the main lobby and allowed people to pose with us.   I love that part.  I think I’d make a good movie star as I love to schmooze with my “fans”.  I wore my 1895 dinner outfit as it was the “youngest” outfit I have and the best suited to a visit to an art gallery.  Drat it all!  I forgot to put the memory card into my camera and don’t have one photo to show for it!  Hopefully, I will get copies from someone elses camera!

I spent the rest of my Saturday with my aching feet up and my over heated body in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  Now let’s see what Sunday brings.