A Happy Compromise

(I've seen this image in many places but cannot locate the original source.)

(I’ve seen this image in many places but cannot locate the original source.)

The first four panels of this cartoon show exactly how I felt yesterday. The haystack on the left is my desire to dress appropriately for next weekend’s Victorian Festival. The haystack on the right is my desire to make a complete springtime Early Bustle Era Victorian outfit that is correctly done and fits. The harder I struggled to get both haystacks, the worse things got until I finally called a halt to the useless tug-of-war going on in my head.

Happily, the answer to my dilemma announced itself last night, but it didn’t exactly rush to make itself known.

After fixing and eating lunch, designing a scarf to knit for myself, watching the 4-episode mini-series “The Doctor” (with a very non-Harry-Potter Daniel Radcliffe – extremely funny if you have the perverted sense of humor that medicine requires to cope and stay sane) while starting to knit said scarf, cooking dinner, watching the movie “Haute Cuisine” in French without sub-titles (and understanding 90% of it – those lessons are paying off!) while eating dinner, and finally watching “Mansfield Park” (while sipping a small glass of Port) for period drama inspiration (however inaccurate the costuming at times), my mind drifted back to the comment about at least having all the underwear for my Victorian outfit.

And that started a cascade of thought which led to a compromise that will work. The elements are simple.

1) I do have a complete set of Victorian underwear.

2) I do not want to rush sewing the bustle dress and do a sloppy job that I will have to go back and fix or re-do completely. I want to learn how to make this clothing correctly. And I do think of it as clothing, not costuming…I’m making it to last.

3) I suddenly remembered that, some time ago, I purchased an outfit from Ladies’ Emporium consisting of a white shirt and an Eaton-style jacket and skirt in burgundy with black trim. The quality is fabulous and the workmanship is excellent. And, best of all, it is period-correct for the late 1890’s. Talk about just squeaking by! I am so eternally grateful that I went with the “town librarian” outfit and not the “wild west madame” look.

4) I also have gloves and a hat which, although not ideal, will suffice, and sturdy antique hat pins to hold it in place. I have 2 small black purses, either one of which will suffice. And, if it indeed does not rain, I have antique boots I can wear – or modern boots if it does.

5) Therefore, I have something “Victorian” I can wear after all – even if it’s not the Victorian early bustle ensemble I was hoping to wear.

Following a restorative nine hours of sleep, the first thing I did this morning was try on the outfit. I haven’t worn it yet, which is why I’d forgotten it, because when I ordered it I was losing weight and it was a tad too small. To my surprise and delight, it fits. The only fiddling I want to do is to move the button over at the top of the high-necked shirt so my neck doesn’t pleat itself into the collar (thank you, genetics). It needs a tie, which I can easily make this week, and a fabric belt, which is also easily done. Then I’m home free as far as dressing for the Festival goes. Better yet, the outfit has enough layers that I’ll be warm enough without a wrap.

It’s the equivalent of munching on the first haystack in the cartoon above.

And doing this gives me time to complete my Victorian bustle dress with care, so it will be done correctly, fit perfectly, and be ready for the next Victorian event. I can spend the same amount of care on my Victorian Bustle Hat and the Victorian Undergarments petticoat can get underway so I’m finished on time. I can meet the deadline for the Historical Sew Fortnightly plus take my time to figure out the best way to cut the Talma Wrap and match the pattern.

That’s the second haystack.

By giving up a little now I get a whole lot more in return. It’s a clear “win-win” and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer solution.

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