Friendly faced cabinet card.

This week I will share another of my ladies faces.  As a costume maker, she is interesting to me for two features.  The first is she obviously weighs more than 85 pounds.  When you touch a few existant dresses and they all have waists that I can easily span with my hands you can get the twisted perception that I am not authentic in SIZE. Here is a poser for you.  If Queen Victoria was so revered, why didn’t all the girls start packing on the pounds to look like her?

I also like the material on her bodice.

The fabric of her bodice seems to be a dark-colored lace with a floral motif.  I might like to try to make a top out of this type of material.

For dating, I couldn’t narrow it down to anything more than a guess.  The hair says late 80s.  The bodice could be a shirtwaist that is moving into the pigeon front of the 1900s.  The bodice could also be from the 90’s like the one Truly Victorian has a pattern for.

The Photographers label reads “Drew Dover, N.H.”  I found a few interesting sites mentioning him.  The first is a list of business men, which was written in 1890.  His name is the second one on the page.  It says he started his business in 1859 and by 1890 he was doing very well for himself.  He had 3 large rooms in his studio, had 7 assistants and provided a framing services for his photographs.  He was considered quite artistic.

The next page I found says the poor mans business was wiped out by a flood and fire in 1896.  He must have rebuilt because the page also says he retired in 1914 and died at the age of 81 in 1917.

The back of the card had an interesting statement….What is the instantaneous process?  For all you photo geeks, you probably already know.  Photo geek wanna bes go here.  The answer is about a quarter of the way down.  Basically, the instantaneous reference is not for the developing process but for the length of time required to sit for the photograph.  This process was a real bonus for subjects who had a hard time sitting still (children, animals, elderly with aches, pains and tremors).  This process was getting popular in the 1870s (which doesn’t help us with dating.)  I couldn’t find a reference for when the process stopped being popular because all the articles I found usually went in the direction of how this process quickly lead to the idea of moving pictures.  (Several instantaneous photographs of a moving subject documents the movement).

Tomorrow I bring you a photo shoot of fun!  Till tomorrow!

Final installment on the making of 1850s dress.

I did one more step to the dress…I added some jewelry.

I found a cameo I like. All fake but if I had the real thing I'd be afraid to use it in a costume!

I took the longer chain that came with the purse for this costume and clipped it to a locket I found and made a faux watch.

The faux watch.

Ultimately, I’d like to have a real one.  This will do for now.  If the real watch doesn’t happen soon, I may remove the clips (which are a bit tacky) from the chain and reattach the locket.  I don’t want to do that unless I am sure I will never use the long chain on the purse.  Then I want to put a picture of a watch face in the locket as well as a picture of a person.  The person picture could be changeable so it suits what ever era I am wearing.  For now I just wont open it!

I have been on-line shopping for an 1880s pattern because Shirley A Victorian and I are tentatively planning another event in the fall.  It will be 1880s travel themed.  I’m ordering the patterns so early because of needing time for shipping and for finding the right material.  It needs to be a dark color as travel can be a messy affair.  I’m feeling brave enough to consider a bold stripe or, dare I say it, a plaid.  I want to try pattern matching.  Any pattern I have had in my last three outfits have been “quiet” and any matching that happened was strictly accidental.

While I wait for the patterns to arrive and the perfect material to materialize I will be pulling the back burner outfit out.  It is for an event Shirley and I are tentatively planning for August (the biggest question is whether I will be up to it…I am scheduled for surgery at the end of May…nothing serious).  The theme is “green”.  There will be a mixture of era’s but they will all have greens and be summery.  Hopefully, we will have more folks than just Shirley and I (all dressed by Shirley) because two people could hardly be called a mix!

Must have Tuesday a la 1770

I know my “must haves” thus far have not been Victorian but, even someone who wants to be Victorian can appreciate the “go big or go home and eat cake” style of the 1700s.

Todays dress is, of course, from the Met.

I wish they had put proper panniers on the mannequin.

I also wish the stomacher was not missing.  May be it could have had something like this one….

It is from 1720 but I don't think they changed to much over time.

Side view of the dress.

This is pretty.

Back view.

I just love that look....sigh.

But it is the fabric and details that make me want this dress…and I wouldn’t change a thing about it!

All that detail work makes me drool!


I’m getting to the bottom of my cabinet card stash….

I have only two more cards left to show you.  Good thing I got on to eBay and ordered 7 more for a mere song!  Hopefully, they get here before I need them!  The one I am going to show you is actually a carte de visite (to speak French all you have to do is put and e on the end of every second English word and put de in between.  Lol, my French mother would cringe if she read that!)

Now the beauty of this card is it has been colored!   Her hair and the ribbon at her throat have been colored but not the dress so one may assume the dress itself is a black or brown color.  Who did this photo?

C. Shakespeare Photographic Artist 162 King's Road Chelsea London.

According to this site, C. Shakespeare (Charles) was born in 1835.  In the 1881 census he is listed at 162 King’s Road as a photographic artist.  The census 10 years later has him listed at a different address and as a photographer.  So my card is at least 1881-1891.  I could believe the skirt part is from the 80s but those big sleeves stumped me.  Those seemed so 60s or 70s to me!  And the hair is early 70s too!

I sent out a request to watch the birdie  who has extensive resources on Victorian photographers and when and where they set up shop.  I asked her look and see if she could get some better dates for the photographer.  I got an email from her today (I must commend her on her promptness!) saying her sources put Mr. Shakespeare at that address from 1871-1886 so I’m thinking this card is in fact early 1870s….cool!

A possible regular feature.

I need a regular post that is a low brainer once a week.  I work and evening shift once a week and come home too drained to write anything inspired.  I was thinking that on that day I’d like to show photos from museums (mostly the Met at first because that is the one I’m studying).  I haven’t decided what to call it yet.  May be it will be something like Must Have Tuesdays.  I’ll show a dress I like and could possibly see myself making one day.  And may be I’ll comment on what I would do differently. 

So this is my first Must Have Tuesday.

I generally prefer Victorian styles but I have it in my mind that I will one day have something from the 1700s.  Usually, when I think it I am thinking something with panniers as wide as my garage door but I do like this little number from the Met.

1740 dress robe a la francaise

I like that it is hand painted and simple in that the same fabric is used throughout.  I’m not likely to find hand painted silk I can afford but I would like to use a bright floral pattern like this dress has.  I like the lace bits that seem to be crocheted or knitted…I could do that!  I also really like the watteaux on the back-that is something I must do on something!  Some Victorian dresses had this feature.  I think the only thing I would change is I would hike that neck line up a bit.  I would be too afraid of a wardrobe malfunction even with lacy cloth stuffed down the front!

1740 dress rob a la francaise watteaux

 Bed time for me folks…see you tomorrow!



I love to read other sewing blogs.  I mainly like blogs that sew Victorian clothes but I have found one blog that takes vintage style patterns and makes them for everyday wear.  3 Hours Past the Edge of the World.  I like her style fashion wise and writing wise. 

I have often thought I should try to find ways to hack my Victorian patterns so I can wear Victorian with a twist every day but I’m not feeling confident in my ability to hack.  So I thought I would start with something modern and hack it.  On her blog, Steph offers a free t-shirt pattern that she has made.  I down loaded it eons ago (Steph has since up-graded it and corrected a few typos and made it all pretty.)  But, I used her old version and printed it up on my printer.

Then I went shopping for a stretchy fabric that I like.  There seems to be an abundance of really ugly t-shirt material on sale these days and I despaired of finding something I liked until I found this….

Ohhh shiny bits!

It isn’t t-shirt material but it is stretchy. 

The hack was the next step.  The first thing I did was change the neck line.  I have a double chin so I dislike things that come up close to it and accent it.

Ignore the words "back" and "front" on the pattern pieces. It is one of those typos that are now fixed up on Steph's blog.

Then I decided that it needs to be way longer.  I have a big tummy and a hem line running across it does nothing for me…even with a corset.  I simply cut the pattern pieces in the middle and added another sheet of printer paper to it.

That'd more like it.

I also have matronly arms and prefer a bit more coverage than Steph’s pattern has so I added pieces to the arms.


Me:"Should I go longer?" Self:"I don't know if I have enough material."


 Now, my material has a vertical stripe that was going to make me look slimmer in the trunk but cutting the sleeves out with the trunk was going to have the stripes run horizontally on my arms.  Not pretty.  So I printed up Steph’s drafting instructions for her Bow Tie Tee. 

You can buy the bow tie tee pattern from Steph or you can follow the instructions and hack her free basic tee pattern.

I didn’t need the fancy bow tie as my material was wild enough but the yoke provided me a way to change the directions of the stripes on the sleeves.  I hacked the top off of the two pattern pieces.

Then I had to take the plunge and cut the material.  (What! No muslin…!  I live on the edge folks!)  Do you know what they don’t tell you in sewing class in school?  The unwritten laws.  And unwritten law #1 is THE MORE YOU LIKE A MATERIAL THE BIGGER THE PAIN IN THE BUTT IT IS TO WORK WITH.  This particular fabric did not cut well.  The edges look like I had sawed them out with a plastic butter knife.  Oh well, at least it didn’t fray like my other favorite fabric.  The patterned fabric on my 1895 dinner gown had a 2 minute shelf life.  That means I had two minutes to get that stuff sewn together before the edges dissolved into something that look liked a cat’s hair ball!

Sewing the top together went surprisingly well.  But the hemming!  I hate hemming!  I hand hemmed the sleeves and bottom down and hand sewed the back of the neck down.  I thought it was going to be too small and was bracing myself for another hack to add a few inches to the side seams but it didn’t need it.


I hate photos of myself but I think I like the shirt.

And here is the side view.

Okay, so now I know that I have enough material to have made the sleeves longer. I really should have. Not pretty but not nasty.

And the back view.

I'm pleased with the back view too.

A close up of the neck line. 

Ahem, I guess I should iron that neck edge!

I’ve been wearing the shirt all afternoon and it feels Ok.  Would I make it again?  Probably not.  Not because I don’t like it but because there just isn’t a lot of stretchy fabric that love.  I don’t really like t-shirts anyway.  If I were to wear more t-shirts I can get them for cheap at a second-hand store.  But, the reason for doing this was to develop some hacking skills/confidence so I can think of one day adapting Victorian patterns.  And this did the trick!