Made the best of a rainy weekend

Shirley and I had plans to go out this past weekend to see an old church in our mourning gowns and then for tea afterwards.  But we have had weather that looks more like a monsoon than a spring rain.  So we cancelled.  And we both had a weekend of sewing, sewing, sewing.  I managed to go from cut fabric to a finished bodice in one weekend.  Gads, I feel so relaxed!

I’ve now got the bodice of my 1838-40 Green Queen V dress done.  Again, here is the inspiration for the HSF Art challenge and the Politics of Fashion Challenge. It is an 1840 John Partridge painting of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria is obviously a political figure and many fashions were launched by her…for example, wearing white gowns for weddings.

Queen Victoria 1840 John Partridge

Queen Victoria 1840 John Partridge

And here is the gown so far.

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The bodice is done but I need more jewels and the hooks need to be put on (but they don’t get done until after the skirt is sewn and attached.) I’m especially pleased with how this turned out!

The Challenge: Politics of fashion

Fabric: polyester sheer fabric, polyester solid fabric cotton lining

Pattern: TV455 Romantic Era Dress

Year: 1838-40

Notions: boning, beaded ribbon, hooks, buckles

How historically accurate is it? Hahahaha NOT! Fake jewels and machine Sewing and polyester says it all! 30%?

Hours to complete: 20 hours

HSF 14: Challenge 10: Art

I’m a bit late for this but here goes.  I’ve decided to combine challenges 10 and 11 and do a copy of this painting…

Queen Victoria 1840 John Partridge

Queen Victoria 1840 John Partridge

…for the art challenge and the politics of fashion challenge.

For the art portion, I will submit the head portion of this painting.

photo (2)

The head band is a bit tight and I think I shall have to get a longer chain, but the look is right.  Then for some fun I used my paint program.


And then my photo filter program.


The extent of my sewing was the lappets or cap.

The Challenge: 10 Art.

Painting: Queen Victoria 1840 by John Partridge

Fabric: Sheer Poly something or other.

Pattern: Self Drafted

Year: 1830-40

Notions: White fringe, chain, broach.

How historically accurate is it? Everything is synthetic or fake.  Machine sewn.  Shape is about right 30%.

Hours to complete: 2 hours

First worn: For photo

Total cost: $3 for broach.  May be $3 for fringe.  Fabric is scraps left over from the dress.

Now I have to get going on the dress.  Something tells me it will be late too.


First event of the season part two

Okay, I got some permission from more of my models and for the one I did not get, I decided to “conceal her identity”.SAM_2059 - CopyHere is the crew in order of decades and appearance.  There was a 90’s dress and a bathing suit out on mannequins as well.  My dress is sitting funny because we were too close to the wall and that made it sit oddly.  Glory be, the dress fits.  I still find the sleeves to large and I must remember to make note of that on the pattern for future reference.  But, it doesn’t bother me enough to take it apart again to fix it.  The sun fading is there but again, not bad enough to remove the panel and try to make another with the left overs.  I made the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 80’s dress and Shirley made the 30’s and 70’s (which she wore for the show).

Time for the amusing stories.  Myself and the model in the 1850’s dress had some work to get used to the hoops.  For myself, I needed to get used to how far the elliptical hoops stuck out behind me and for the other model, it was getting used to having hoops at all.  Sitting, of course is the biggest challenge.  Poor Miss 1850’s ended up knocking her chair over.SAM_2057 - Copy

And she got it caught in the dress itself.SAM_2058

We were all very supportive and stood there laughing and taking photographs.  She was a great sport about it.

The other amusing story happened to me.   I often get asked what I am wearing under the dresses so I asked the audience if they wanted to see.  They did, so after the tea and dessert (which I thought was the end of the program) I went and striped.  At first I was very pleased, they were interested and I was roasting alive in the dress and therefore much cooler in my undies.  I forgot that these teas always end with small gifts being given to the new brides (the tea originally started out as a bridal shower 20 years ago) followed by flowers being given to women celebrating new babies and major wedding anniversaries.  Guess who had to go up and accept a flower for her 25th wedding anniversary in Victorian underwear.  And yours truly can not keep my mouth shut…even in church…and I said loudly “this is how you keep a marriage fresh!”  Had some misgivings about it later but it seems no one took offence and I shan’t be excommunicated or shunned!


First event of the season

I had a Victorian fashion show at my church’s annual spring tea.  I haven’t been given permission from all my models yet so I’ll have to dole out photos as they allow me.  And I don’t have to many of them either!  I forgot to arrange for someone in the audience to take photos of the actual show. SAM_2051The model on the left is wearing my 1880’s Travel outfit.  It only took a pack and a half of pins to take it in.  The model on the right is wearing my friend Shirley’s 1830’s dress.  Ain’t she cute!  Then we realized that she had striped down and made her put all the extra’s back on.SAM_2052Still cute.  Thanks ladies!

Story update.

On June 6 of last year, I posted about an 1830s wedding dress that is being stored in the Canadian Costume Museum.

SAM_1002In response to the post, I was contacted by a family member of the original owner who wanted to see the dress in person.   Last Saturday, we were able to arrange for the family (about 8 of them) to see the dress.  They took photos of themselves with the dress and swapped some information with us.  SAM_1030Unfortunately, the photo of Ray (the family member who contacted me) with the dress is blurry.  To bad!  The funny thing was seeing how much taller Ray was than his great-grandma!  We had the hem of the dress near where it would have been when worn and Ray was standing at the same level!

The family shared a photo of great-grandma taken a few decades later than the dress was originally worn.  I would guess this was done in the 1860s.SAM_1029It was a bit of a buzz to allow the family the contact with the dress and I felt pleased that my ramblings here helped facilitate that!

“Must have” 1830s accessory

This weeks must have accessory is a fichu dated from the mid 1800s, which to my thinking is 1833-66.  It seems, from my on-line searches, that fichus were more common in the 3os with capes and shawls being more common in the 40s.  I hope there is someone more knowledgeable out there that can set me straight if I’m wrong on this.

It is made of pina cloth. Pina comes from the Philippines and is made from pineapple leaves.

I don’t know how easy it would be to find pina here in Canada so if I made this, I would have to use some other sheer material or order it on-line.  If I made this, I would definitely keep the color.  That purple trim really drew my eye to is.  Wouldn’t that be lovely on a white or mauve day gown or purple evening gown?

Canadian Costume Museum 1830s

A couple of weekends ago, our defunct Costume Museum pulled out some of its objects for display at the Open Door event in the city.  (As a recap, the Open Door event is held annually so that the public can tour older buildings they wouldn’t normally get to see.)  As promised, I will start showing you some photos from the event.

1835 white cotton lawn wedding dress.

You know I don’t love this era…its the night-gown thing…. But, I did appreciate the workmanship.

All hand sewn.

The tiny little pleats are lovely!


And up on the shoulder.

Tiny pleats at shoulder.

For the display, we posed the mannequin with a shawl for two reasons.  The first was because the original dress was believed to have been worn with a shawl.  The second was because the mannequin was too big for the dress and we were unable to close the back.

The bride was a Jennet Watson (my maiden name…hmmm I wonder) when she married Robert Ormiston in Scotland.


Must have from the 1830s

I’m liking the general shape of the 30s very much but most of the photos I could find had a horrendous tendency towards beige.  Not my favorite color! The irony is that 2 out of the four dresses I have made have been beige.  It is a safe color.  I’m not likely to have a time when it is pointed out “that particular color dye was not invented during the period you are sewing for”.  Also, no one else loves that color so in the sale racks, it is the only color that has enough yardage to make a full dress.  If the color is pretty (and suitable for a woman of my slightly advanced years) I’d have to buy it at full price if I hope to have enough.

There is this really wild yellow dress at the Met that I’d love to show you but for some reason I can’t convince my computer to load the photo on to my blog.  You’ll just have to get there via this link.  I really like that dress but I’m not thinking I can pull off that yellow!  If I made that dress I go for a softer yellow.  Or a mauve.  Or a more sedate shade of blue like this dress.

Front of an 1837 dress from the Met.

I refuse to believe that the other color in this dress is beige.  It is grey…ish.  The sleeves are really fun aren’t they?  The poof below the elbow is so different from what we are used to now that they seem almost counter intuitive to me.  The smocking or pleating at the upper sleeve is really interesting too.

Close up of the sleeve.

I do wish the bodice had more pleating like they yellow one in the previous link.

Here is the back.

It seems to be gathered in the back rather than fitted so it would be easier to make (unless you factor in the hand sewing I’d have to do if I was aiming to make a reasonably accurate 1830s dress).

So to sum up:  I’d make both of the dresses I linked to-just no beige and no wild yellow.  I don’t mind the pattern in this blue dress just may be not so drab.  I wonder if it is drab due to fading and if originally it was a bit more vibrant?  This blue dress would look very nice with some white collar, cuffs and apron.  A big poke bonnet with bright ribbons would help too.