The 1898 Ensemble – 5 days to go

"Myrna Primm, town librarian" (Image used with permission of

“Myrna Primm, town librarian” (Image used with permission from

Now that I have a realistic goal, things are moving at a better pace. I spent most of last night relaxing, just pulling out the pieces and putting what needs to be done in order for a low-stress finish Friday night.

This morning, I started dressing my dress form in all the layers (except the chemise and corset cover): drawers, corset, flannel under-petticoat (to help hold back the cold breeze), 2 petticoats, the skirt and the jacket. Everything fits.

2014-03-17 15.43.21I moved the collar button over and thought about the ribbon tie. Then I remembered I have an antique Victorian bar brooch in 9kt gold with seed pearls and a chalcedony center stone that will do a nice job of hiding that top button. It’s not in perfect condition, but I don’t mind. The C-clasp is tight and I don’t have to worry about it falling off. I think it will be much nicer than a black ribbon tie. If I clean it up a bit, that is.

I can’t afford $30 for a black cotton belt, so I pieced the last two bits of black fabric I had left into a plain 1 1/2-inch belt. There isn’t enough for a wide band or a fancy shape, so it will have to do.

After looking a bit more critically at the dress form, I’m not happy with the way the skirt hangs. It looks rather blah, like it needs more support. A quick consultation with Jennifer Rosbrugh for the Victorian Undergarments class confirmed my fear – I need another petticoat. And a bustle pad. Fortunately, the petticoat (the last of the class projects) is ready to go. We’ll see about the bustle pad. I really hate to compromise on the silhouette, but I am not going to make myself crazy over it, either.

This compromising is taking me into new mental territory. For so many years doing it “perfectly right” has been a big deal for me. A very big deal. And now that I find myself having to choose between absolutely correct and good enough, it feels strange. It’s not as if I’m using polyester stretch satin and tiers of tie-dye nylon lace, after all. My hyper-critical eye needs to give it a rest, and this just might be the event that drives that lesson home.