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.


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!


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…..

Alice has given permission…

Shirley asked her sister, Alice if I could post her photos here and she has agreed.  So here we go.  As you recall Shirley made her sisters outfit.

The museum staff were very nice to us…allowing libertys that I don’t think are very normal….

They let us sit on the antiques and go right into barred off rooms.

Love the “real” poke bonnet on the bed!

Here is one of Alice and I together.

One of the museum staff agreed to pose with us in the house.

Now here is the very best photo of the whole day.  It was actually taken by a staff person who’s job it was to go around and take photos of the event and get releases signed for future advertisements…we could be stars some day!

A fellow in the photo adds to it doesn’t it…makes it look more real.

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!

Drat those hooks and eyes!

I made some good progress on my 1850s dress.  I finished all the hemming and put on the decorative buttons yesterday.

Today’s plan was to put on the hook and eyes and fix the sleeve length.  Before I could do that I needed to put it all on.  I wanted to make sure that I was going to have the right fit in the body and that I shortened the sleeves correctly….after all Trudy is a good double but not a perfect one.  One thing Trudy is missing is some of my extra bumps….like arms.

First, I put on my undies.

Eeek! Caught me in my closet in my undies!

Every costumer knows…shoes are next!

These are slip on so if I forget to put them on before my corset, I will be OK.

Then on went the corset and hoops.

Dang it all...bodice put on hold for half an hour while I straightened out my hoops.

I figured out what was causing the wavy hoops and fixed them.  More hockey tape used at the spots where the ends of the hoops met up kept them from twisting on each other and creating the waves.  Then on to the petticoat and skirt.

Looks good when all the waves in the hoops are gone!

Now I could put on the bodice and see if everything lined up and see how short to hack the sleeves off.

I have to learn to pose without my eyes rolled back and appearing like I died standing up!

It looks like Trudy wasn’t going to lead me astray in the lining up of the front closer but something really lead me astray on those sleeves!  I need to hack off 3-4 inches!  But, I’m afraid the hacking is going to have to be another day.  I attached 18 hooks to the bodice (which got me through most of a movie) only to find that I didn’t have them far enough from the edge and the eyes would show.  (Happened in my last two dresses…when will I learn!)Had to take them all off and move them before I could do the eyes…(another movie and a half.)  No time, energy or natural light for hacking up those sleeves.  Next weekend is a long weekend.  I should get those fixed, add some hook and eyes to the bottom of the bodice and the skirt waist band so that I wont be constantly checking to see if the waist band of the skirt has stayed under the bodice, and I’ll get the collar and undersleeves done.  I may be cursing myself but I don’t think the collar and undersleeves will take long…..


I love garage sales, flea markets and thrift shops. (Yet another joy I learned from my Grandma.)  Today I stopped off at one of my favorites because I needed a winter hat.  I found the hat and two shirts and I also scored some good costuming loot!  I was careful to only pick up what I needed for my current project…my 1850s Victoria Day Tea Dress.

About 6 meters of this material. It is going to become my shawl.

I have no idea of fiber content but it looks and feels right!

Some shiny sheer stuff that may or may not go into a cap.

Ribbon and lace for possible cap.

I haven’t decided about the cap.  In my mind, I am going to tea at someone elses home.  That means I would be dressing for the carriage ride to the other home.  Shawl, reticule, parasol and bonnet.  Once I got to the home those things would get taken by the butler or the maid.  Now what is on my head?  Would I put on a cap?  Would I have the cap under the bonnet…that doesn’t seem right.  Would it just be my hair with some ribbons?  Would a woman in the 1850s go to a tea with a shawl, reticule, parasol and CAP and no bonnet?  Anyone out there know for sure?  I’m thinking the correct thing for that type of occasion is a bonnet with hair done up with ribbons underneath.

Anyway I do know I’d have some little mitts at least.

Okay, so I didn't stick to my "only what I need" plan...

 When I saw this I thought what an awesome petticoat or under skirt that will be!  There isn’t enough for an 1850’s skirt but it would be for an 1890-1910 sized skirt.  I just saw all that embroidery and I had to have it!

And finally, I kind of need this but kind of don’t…

A buttonholer from the 50s

It looks like it has all its parts and the instruction book and original box came with it.  The original price is on there too…$11.00.   I paid $3.00.   I’m hoping that it will fit on my 1950s Singer and that it works.  (Crossing fingers).  You know I seem to remember using one of these before.  I bet dear old granny had one…or may be mom did.

Tonight, the plan is to start my mitts and read my instruction manual so that tomorrow I can either post on my new buttonholer or that I finished my mitts.

Working ahead on my to do list…

I’m working ahead on my to-do list for my Victoria Day Tea dress.  I’ve been on-line spending money…my husband is curled up in the fetal position as I type.  It wasn’t much…really.  I got myself and over bust corset which is more in keeping with the styles in the 1850s.  Technically it is a required medical device…I need it to deal with my back pain and it was on sale!  So really that doesn’t count does it?

I ordered this beauty from UK Corsets.

 I have no idea if the color is authentic but the price was right and I need it for modern wear.  Sure hope the girls fit in there….

I also ordered my patterns from my favorite pattern company Truly Victorian.  And really, patterns do not cost a lot unless you are buying vintage… I bought the following:

Truly Victorian’s Victorian underwear pattern.

One day I will make that corset….

Truly Victorian's 1859 pagoda bodice pattern

 I want to do this one in a beige material I have but I have to figure out how to trim it so that I don’t have beige next to my face.  Not a good look for me.  I was thinking if I line the inside of a hat with a more flattering color and then have a mega chin bow in a matching color, I will solve the color issue and perhaps even hide my double chin….

Truly Victorian's 1859 double skirt pattern

 The upper level of the skirt will be in the beige taffeta and the lower level will be in a dark chocolate-brown taffeta.  Left overs of the chocolate-brown could work for the afore-mentioned hat ideas…  I was also thinking a white to pick up the white of the under sleeve and to contrast better with my dark hair.