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.


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!

Victorian Lover’s Crack!

I had some nice adventures today which will be good for at least 5 posts.  I was in the vaults of the Millenium Center where the Canadian Costume Museum is in storage.  The curator and I were down there digging up some 1960s dress for a display later on in the month and she promised me some candy as a treat for my work!  And she paid out in spades.  For todays installment….

Look who is holding Queen FREAKING Victoria’s stockings!

I was as giddy as a school girl.  I’m quite proud that I didn’t cry and I didn’t sniff them!  Lol!

Her symbol was knit into the stocking.


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!

Queen Victoria’s Tea

The Lower Fort Garry (an original fort-not a reproduction) hosted its annual tea in honor of Queen Victoria’s Birthday.  My buddy “Shirley A. Victorian”, Shirley’s sister, and myself dressed up for the occasion.  The Fort was built in the 1850s and so that was our theme for our outfits.  Shirley’s sister was dressed in an outfit made by Shirley.

I do not actually have permission from the sister to throw her photos out into the wild blue yonder so I will refrain from using face shots of her but I will assume that the permission I got from Shirley last time, carries over to this time.

Wanna know what got me thinking a shot of whiskey might be better than a cuppa tea?

When I first arrived at the fort, I felt something odd across my legs….

“Oh, crap! My hoops just fell off!”

Had to go behind a wall and a bush….

And Shirley’s sister had to “reapply” my hoops!

Mercifly, I decided to don some modern undies under my split drawers or I’d be more than a little embarASSed!

This is my favorite photo of just myself…

To bad it is in the basement and not the parlor!

I like it because I have a nice expression on my face and you can see the reticule my mom bought me.  You can also see my very modern camera….

I also like this picture of myself in front of the store.

Is it getting hot out here?

Here is a good one of Shirley and I.

“Shirley…we must keep our porcelain skin protected…”

I take up 3 seats in this dress!

Good Gravy! No snuggling on the porch with a fella in this dress!

It is time to head home….

Time to leave this quaint little world….

And head on back to the modern one….

You can drive in a hoop skirt!

I have two things added to my to do list.  One is to ask Shirley if her sister will give me permission to post photos of her face to the world because there is a really awesome one of the three of us!

The second thing is to shorten my petticoat and skirt by about 2 inches because I nearly killed myself walking in those things.  They worked fine on flooring-gliding along nicely.  But on brick, gravel, grass, rough wood….they clung to the surface and I ended walking on them.  I was having enough trouble managing my fan, bag and parasol without having to haul my skirts around by hand too!

Happy Victoria Day

Here in Canada it is Victoria Day.  To most Canadians, it is just another day off of work (with pay).  To others it is the beginning of summer and camping season and the end of ski season.  In Quebec, (which has a historical bond with France and not England) they call the day National Patriots Day.  The day falls on the Monday before May 25 (the queens actual birthday). For a quick write-up go here.  (Sorry, if the link doesn’t stay up long.  I’ve never tried linking to yahoo before.)

Victoria Day is a day off in my mind (Yippy!) But, as a person who loves Victorianna, I got to love her.  I really should take some time and study the woman more because my knowledge is sketchy at best.  I liked her strength.  I liked that in a day and age when women had to struggle to get the vote because they were “unable to comprehend politics” this lady was successfully running an empire!  I have to wonder if her ability to do that was part of what convinced the average woman that what she had been told all her life was not right.  May be it convinced a few of the fellas as well.   I liked how devoted she was to her husband.  It was kind of fairy tale wasn’t it?  The princess found her prince and they lived happily ever after (or at least till death do us part.)  In our world, marriage is disposable.  For un-widowed people working on spouse number 3 I have to wonder why they bother getting married.

I do accept that Queen Victoria was human and as such, would have had failings or times when she didn’t measure up to her own code of ethics.  She was also a subject of her time and some of that eras belief systems would account for some of her behavior and politics as well.  I doubt India has a great love of her.

I like to think of the Victorian era as a growth time.  Anti-slavery was a new concept and she embraced it and had her navy patrol the waters looking for slave ships.  But, children worked under horrible conditions.  The industrial era saw a growth in the middle class and this gave more and more people leisure time and money to spend.  Some of those people used that time and money to become pleasure-seeking jerks.  But, some of those people became artists, inventors and researchers and they came up with things that make today’s world more wonderful.  Some of them began to look around at their own lives and the lives of their neighbors and saw a need for change and they started several social movements that impact how we now think about things like child labour, abuse to animals, sanitation for all (including the poor), women’s rights, worker safety and rights, etcetera.  Let’s face it.  For most of us, the reason we think enslaving people and beating animals is bad is because we were taught that it was bad.  I think if my parents hadn’t taught me it was bad, there is a chance I would be oblivious to it…especially if it was kept hidden from me or if I was busy with just trying to stay alive.

The Victorian era is like childhood.  No one yells at a 2 year-old for falling while learning to walk.  They were learning new ideas and messing up a lot.  They were slow to realize some things needed to change because they didn’t know what they didn’t know.   I think of modern times as being like teenagers who think they know it all and are slightly bent towards self absorption and can be pleasure-seeking.  May be the next great era we will be adults.

I hadn’t intended this post to get so mellow dramatic.  It is a day off of work (with pay) after all!  I do have some fun things planned for myself today and will post some pictures in a couple of days.  Have a great day!

I don’t know which fan to use…

I had one fan and I lost it.  So I went out and bought a bag of 6 plain paper fans that will one day need to be redone because they are boring and the paper warped anyway.  I also bought this fan with a kind of Spanish (if Spain were tacky) feel to it.

Spanish Senorita....with a lazy eye.

Then last week at Craigdarroch Castle I bought this little fan.

More of a Japanese look.

 Neither fan is particularly accurate in material or even pattern for the 1850s.  That will have to come at another time.  I think the blue suits my coloring better. But, I think the red and yellow one will suit the dress better.  I guess we better wait and see when it is  done.  And then decide which one I will use for Queen Victoria’s Birthday tea.

My next project…

I like to have a goal to work towards.  And I like to think that when I finish making something I’m going to use it.  My next goal date is Victoria Day next May. 

There is an original Fort just outside of the city I live in and it was built in the late 1840s.  This is not so exciting when you think of how old some of the buildings in Europe are but one must remember we are a new country and the original peoples of Canada did not build a lot of permanent buildings!

Plaque outside of the Fort.

 The Fort walls are made of stone and in spots you can see where the soldiers carved their names.


The exterior of the Lower Fort Garry


 This Fort has had a tradition of having a tea in honor of Queen Victoria’s Birthday.  Lady A and I are planning on going to the Fort and having tea on Victoria Day (which is a holiday here) and we plan on doing it dressed in 1850’s attire.  Once we have had our Tea, will take some photos around the fort.

The Big House exterior

I particularly want to get photos in the Big House.  There are lots of nice spots that would fit the period of our dresses.

Dinning room of the Big House.

Any many pretty antiques!

Want it...

In a previous post I showed the material I’m going to make my dress out of and that I was going to use Truly Victorian patterns.  I started on the petticoat but I stopped when it seemed like it was going to be far, FAR to long.  I’ve decided I need the hoops first so I get an idea of how far out the petticoat and skirt will stick out.  Unless I’ve totally got it pictured incorrectly in my mind, I’m thinking I’m going to have enough material from the petticoat left over to make a chemise, a corset cover and some bloomers.  (I don’t think they wore bloomers in the 1850s but I’m not about to go running around the old fort with just me and mother nature under those skirts. 

Speaking of which…even with bloomers on it is likely a good plan if I practice sitting and moving in those hoop skirts.  And how on earth will I get into the car….?