Your Weekend Wow – The Victorian Heritage Festival and Fashion Show Report

Who says historical costumers are dull?! (Agnes Gawes, Valarie LaBore and Mara Perry)

Think historic costumers are dull? Not! (Agnes Gawne, Valarie LaBore & Mara Perry ham it up at the Commender’s Beach House.)

I finally got around to downloading my photos from the Victorian Heritage Festival! Ever since I upgraded to Windows 10, the only way I can manage and attach images from my camera is to download them in one big chunk, then copy them individually to my desktop and go from there. It’s a pain and takes forever but it’s done. Better a bit late than never (I hope).

The Heritage Festival

The weather was cool and a bit breezy, but no rain. Unfortunately, this year seemed a bit lackluster. Not nearly as many people promenading downtown in period dress. And many of those in costume went Steampunk or in Edwardian dress which, on the one hand, bugs me a bit (since it’s not true Victorian) but, on the other hand, it’s a weekend for fun and if Victorian Steampunk or Edwardian floats their boat then OK. A lot of locals didn’t even know about the festival. I think perhaps better advertising is called for.

A number of demonstrations were ongoing, but they were held in a dark room that prevented photos without harsh flash lighting. I did get to play with an antique treadle sewing machine, which only made we want one more (and taught me I definitely want one that is capable of operating in reverse – the earliest ones didn’t and, as a result, jam quite easily as I proved…repeatedly).

One nifty feature was a gentleman who took photographs using genuine antique equipment and processed them as was done at the time. Unfortunately, the unreliability of the process meant many re-takes and the line was long. But it was fascinating to watch.


Valarie LaBore – Watches and How Women Wore Them

Val LaBore, who many of you may know from Costume College, gave an excellent presentation on watches. It’s a detail often overlooked, but once you start paying specific attention to old photos and paintings it’s amazing to see how many women are wearing watches. And how they wore them changed with time. Val’s presentation spanned from the 1500’s to the 1920’s and included not only a great range of photos and paintings, but extant examples. You might think this a bit of an exotic topic, but the room was packed with both women and men.

For more info on how watches were worn, visit Val’s “Watches and Watch Chains” Pinterest board: (with info and images of both men and women).

High Tea at the Commander’s Beach House

I didn’t get my bustle dress finished and wasn’t seated at the “costumed” table, but the ladies I did have tea with were delightful and I got so carried away that I missed taking photos of the table with everyone in period dress. Rats! But I did get some nice photos with Agnes Gawne, Valarie LaBore and Mara Perry – all in period dress they personally made.


DSCF1209 (3)

The Victorian Fashion Show

I feel the need to apologize ahead for the quality of these photos. The fashion show is held in the local First Presbyterian church, which was built in the late 1890’s so although the interior is great, the lighting isn’t geared towards photography. The stained glass windows cast a golden glow on everything, so colors are often skewed a bit, and it’s just dark enough that sometimes the camera speed stops down and I end up with blurs. Even professional photographers run into these problems, so at least I’m not alone. I will say the pipe organ is pretty darned impressive.

Most of the participants either made their garments or wore extant garments, be they purchased or handed down through family. There was some truly magnificent work and I’m disappointed that most of it doesn’t show half as nice as it looked. I also regret not being able to get a photo of everyone who participated. But here’s an example of the costuming talent on display. It is wonderful to see to many men participating – more every year.

Included in the fashion show were examples of traditional Norwegian dress (the Bunad), as large areas nearby were settled by Norwegian immigrants.

The finale!



No Need to Hustle with the Bustle (sorry)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) Marie-Thérèse Durand-Ruel Sewing, 1882.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) Marie-Thérèse Durand-Ruel Sewing, 1882.

Well, as it turns out I don’t have to worry about burning the midnight oil to finish the bustle dress after all. It’s a long story that involves re-financing my car and having to make an extra payment to fill the gap while the paperwork dragged. (Apparently, when there are people involved, electrons flow as slowly as paperwork shuffles.) The end result is that, until my extra payment gets refunded, I can’t afford to go to the Impressionism exhibition in Seattle this coming weekend. I would have gone even without the dress, but the costs of these excursions (driving, 2 ferry trips, admission, lunch) add up quickly and it’s just no longer an option. I’ve known it for a little over a week, when the need for the car payment arose, and thought it time I let you know.

While I am truly disappointed, all is far from lost. I’ve decided how I want to trim the dress and this allows me plenty of time to do just as I envision. When the Victorian Heritage Festival rolls around again in March I’ll have the bustle dress I wanted from the start and a pile of fake hair to support the hat. I can wait for that.

In the meantime, it’s time to put together another post of hair-raising vintage Halloween costumes and there are a lot of creepy photos I really want out of the folder so I don’t have to keep looking at them. Especially the clown…

Old Friends: One Found and One Resurrected

Fichu and fabric for Early 1870s-style Bustle Dress

Fichu and fabric for Early 1870s-style Bustle Dress

I don’t know if this happens to you, but many times I find things happen for me in a series or chains of events. Today was an excellent example, which is why I’m up writing at this insane hour. But news is news and there’s no time like the present to share so I can get it off my mind and go to sleep without a buzzing brain.

Here’s the story, which is a bit long and so I beg your indulgence.

I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook. In a lot of ways I find it irritating and too invasive for my preferences. However, it is the best way to keep in touch with a number of historical costuming groups and a few dear FB buddies. So I have an account and a rarely active page for the sake of maintaining contact with everyone else. But I don’t check or even sign in regularly.

As I was posting my HSM #9 Challenge on the HSM Facebook page, my activity page caught my eye. I’d been invited to a gathering at the Seattle Art Museum on October 11th for a special exhibition of Impressionist paintings: the classic images painted by the historic masters. The website describes it best:

The Seattle Art Museum is proud to present Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art (in Washington, DC). The collection is comprised of extraordinary paintings, considered to be the jewels of one of the finest collections of French Impressionism in the world.

This exhibition features 68 intimately scaled paintings by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masters, including Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh, among others. These works, which are prominently presented in the East Building of the National Gallery, have long been treasured by the museum’s visitors and prized by art historians.

A small group is attending dressed in fashions of the era, which formally ran from the 1870’s to the 1880’s but in reality started in the 1860’s and ran into the 1890’s. I marked my attendance as “maybe” and immediately changed it to “going.” Who did I think I was fooling? Pass up the opportunity to attend an exhibition of the Masters of Impressionism while dressed in period garb? No. Way.

My internal happy dance lasted a few hours until I realized two very important things: 1) the exhibit is only one month away, and 2) I have nothing to wear. Knowing how well I can dither over things like this I allowed myself one day – today (well, yesterday, actually) – to figure it out. Either I was going in period dress or jeans and a pullover. And I wasn’t going to take 3 weeks whining over historic fashion plates only to end up in jeans by default.

Plan A: Because this expedition involves the usual antics (car ride to the ferry, the ferry ride, car ride to the museum, strolling through the exhibit whilst looking as cool as the paintings themselves, probably going for a late lunch afterwards, car ride again, back on the ferry and the car ride home) I really wanted to go with a Natural Form gown. The only things standing in my way were no appropriate undergarments, a lack of patterns for that era and a fairly complete ignorance in how to make them if I’d had them. That’s too much stress for a thirty-day deadline, so no dice.

Plan B: I have bustles, petticoats and the lot for both the early and late periods plus lots of patterns for both. I have enough fabric to make a couple of different dresses. Excellent.

Plan C: I dislike driving in a bustle. Given that fact, the smaller the bustle the better. Therefore, Early Bustle Era wins. In addition, I’ve learned that if I’m going to be walking through crowds the safest thing for everyone is to go without a train. So, Early Bustle with no train. I can do that.

Better yet, a long time ago (March of 2014, to be exact) I started an Early Bustle Era dress, got hung up on some silly detail or something and put it away. Somewhere in the sewing room there was a nearly completed underskirt, a partially completed overskirt and the fabric for a waist. Since I was so far along, thirty days is more than enough to finish it up. And I would finally be able to wear the fichu  and hat I made and have yet to wear. The blue dress and ruffled fichu would be perfect for the Impressionism exhibition. Here’s an abbreviated pictorial flashback. Note that the brighter, deeper blue is the actual color of the dress fabric.

Now I only had to find the fabric and bits…and I did! Not only that, but when moving a box to get to the drawer where I was pretty sure I’d stored the dress-in-progress, I found my Rowenta iron!

Since taking the photos, I’d hemmed the underskirt. I’d also cut, sewn and prepped the bottom ruffle for gathering. All it needs is hemming and it’s good to go. I do need to let out the waistband on the skirt, since I’m a bit wider than I was over a year ago, and decide which waist to make. But that’s all easy-peasy stuff. Obviously, it all happened the way is was meant to and I am tickled pink.

And now it’s definitely time for bed.

The “Dunnton Abbey Picnic and Garden Party” was a Success!

The centennial year fundraising picnic for the Seattle Dunn Gardens was a great success. The weather behaved, as much as Seattle weather is wont to do. No rain, no mist, no gusty winds. It stayed in the mid-to-low 70s (F) with intermittent high clouds, a bit of a breeze now and then, a tad humid at times, and sporadic outbreaks of sunshine.

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There were lots of attendees – some even came in garden party attire, which made it all the more enjoyable. As someone said, “It’s so nice to see people take the time to dress nicely for a change.”

There was a wonderful music from The Cornucopia Concert Band. They played a wide range of period music, with everything from Stephen Foster to John Phillip Souza to those fun 1920’s songs. Some of the numbers turned into impromptu singalongs – it was wonderful to see that so many people remember the 11th most popular hit from 1911: Let Me Call You Sweetheart, by the Peerless Quartet.

2015-08-08 12.32.54

The ambiance was helped immensely by the fact there were no hoards of electric (or electronic) gizmos. Not very many people were talking on cell phones. There was one electric pump to keep the garden organic “tea” fertilizer (for sale) circulating. And there were cameras and cell phones for photos. But that was it. The primary sounds were conversation, laughter, the band and the wind in the tree tops. It was heaven.

The local croquet club set up on the formal croquet lawn. A lot of people played for the first time and were surprised to find they liked the game…not nearly as dull as they had imagined. Rather exciting at times, judging from the squeals and shouts of accomplishment. Another area hosted the bocce court, though it was more sedately played. Sadly, I neglected to take photos of either. Sigh.

The antique automobiles came courtesy of LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA. Each was in pristine condition and had a “watcher” – necessary because, despite the signs, most folks’ natural reaction was reaching out to touch the wood and leather and engraved glass. Even wearing gloves did not spare me from a “Please, don’t touch!” reminder.

There were demonstrations of Edwardian-style flower arranging with the final settings auctioned off to the highest biddder.

And SITU-Seattle members came dressed in fashions ranging from 1911 to the mid-1920’s. Picnics were spread under the trees and a good time was had by all. 2015-08-08 12.23.33

HSM #8: Heirlooms and Heritage.

It is said there’s no rest for the wicked, so I’m diving straight into HSM #8.

The Challenge. Heirlooms & HeritageRe-create a garment one of your ancestors wore or would have worn, or use an heirloom sewing supply to create a new heirloom to pass down to the next generations.

I don’t have any “next generations” to specifically pass anything on to, so I’ll be making an Edwardian Summer Dress for SITU-Seattle’s “Dunnton Abbey” Picnic, which is on August 8th. SIX DAYS. Best get myself moving.

As you may recall, I’d thought about the dress long before so I know where I’m headed early on – a bit of a refreshing change for me.

The fabric:

My lovely rose-striped fabric

My lovely rose-striped fabric

The result of playing with rough draping:

Roughly draped concept check.

Roughly draped concept check.

The inspirations:

1912 (Montana Historical Society)

1912 (Montana Historical Society)

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

The pattern I’m using as the base to get the drape and proportions correct:

Butterick B6190

Butterick B6190

The goal:

I haven’t made a real dress for quite a while and I’m looking forward to it. Now it’s time to lay the thing out and start cutting. Since time is short, I’ll start with a basic dress. Then I’ll dress up the lower part of the skirt and the sleeves – after the picnic. Unless a minor miracle happens and I whip through this more quickly than I think I will.


Here’s a information about the event, gleaned from the SITU-Seattle member’s website:

It’s the Centennial Garden Party, the one held out on the great lawn behind the manor.  You’ve probably been invited in the past to the annual gatherings, but this year you simply MUST come to this grand event!  The who’s who of society will be there to play a game of croquet, maybe join in a bocce match too, old boy.

Dunn Gardens, Seattle, WA

Dunn Gardens, Seattle, WA

What is this garden party you say?  Why, it’s “Dunnton Abbey,” of course!  Together with the prestigious Dunn Gardens of Seattle, SITU will be participating in a charity fund-raiser at the gardens.  They are located in north Seattle, just northwest of Northgate and near Carkeek Park.  The gardens are just stellar!

The plan is to have all of us sign up in advance so the organizers know exactly how many people are attending.  We, as SITU members, are allowed to bring in our usual picnic supplies (chairs, tables, hampers, etc.) as we will be creating a colorful and charming vignettes amidst the backdrop of the gardens. The rest of the participants will be paying substantial amount of money for the entry fee.  (Note: this is a fundraiser, so the entry fee is $65.)

Professional milliners will be on hand for those who would like to top their crowning glory with a pretty chapeau.  There will also be a Parade of Fashions for the participants, by some of our member volunteers.  There will be Edwardian florists on site demonstrating with their items for sale. There will be a “cake walk”, vintage cars, and more!

 Sir Harry will set up bocce and the Croquet Club is bringing in croquet, so people can play a lively game or two or their favorite pastime.

 If you do not wish to plan your own picnic menu, there will be prepared box lunches available for an $11 purchase. They will be prepared by Il Fornil Bakery. You will need to have pre-paid this so the organizers can order enough lunches in advance.  We understand that a private reserve wine will also be made available for purchase on-site.  The bottle price has not yet been disclosed, but will certainly be a collectible!

Picnic basket – oh yeah – it’s around here somewhere…

World Wide Knit in Public Day

Today* is World Wide Knit in Public Day. I myself am about to meander out, project bag in hand, to join the local contingent of participating knitters. WWKIP Day is unique, in that it’s the largest knitter-run event in the world ( Nearly 900 knit-in-public events are being held in 56 countries around the world. And that’s the whole point: the WWKIP Day slogan is “Better living through stitching together.”

For those unfamiliar with the craft, the concept behind knitting is pretty straightforward. It’s defined as “the process of using two or more needles to loop yarn into a series of interconnected loops in order to create a finished garment or some other type of fabric. The word is derived from knot, thought to originate from the Dutch verb knutten, which is similar to the Old English cnyttan, to knot. Its origins lie in the basic human need for clothing for protection against the elements.” (Wikipedia)

Now let’s see just how coordinated these fingers are today. Hope the sun stays out…

a permanently public knitter (artist and location unknown)

A permanently public knitter (artist and location unknown)

* WWKIP Day was yesterday, Saturday. The fact that I wrote this and then completely forgot to post it suggests not all of my mental cylinders are firing in sequence yet. Sigh.

HSM #6 – Easily Out of My Comfort Zone

The HSM Challenge for June is “Out of Your Comfort Zone” Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before.

This one is a no-brainer for me (sadly, that’s likely all too true) since I have limited experience creating garments from any time period before the 1960’s. Deciding what to make has been a challenge in and of itself – everywhere I look there’s something I’ve never tried before. I’m overly spoilt for choice.

However, this year I’m trying to make smarter choices for my HSM Challenge projects and pair them with things I’ll want for upcoming events. Two birds, one feebly thrown stone.

There are three events that I would like to attend in period dress:

July 12th: “The Romance of Roses.” It’s a private showing of a collection of vintage and antique fashions featuring rose colors, patterns and motifs. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to attend in period dress, anywhere from Victorian to 1950’s, that features roses or the color rose.

July 19th: “Seaside Get-away.” A Victorian-style picnic with a seaside theme.

August 8th: The SITU-Seattle Summer Event – “Dunnton Abbey Picnic” which will be held at a private estate for Downton-attired SITU members (period dress is not optional for this one).

I don’t have the time to make a dress for each event, but I think I can manage two if I don’t let enthusiasm get the better of me. So now it’s just a matter of mix and match.

Rose + Victorian seaside dress?

Rose + Edwardian summer dress?

Too bad I can’t get away with a rose Edwardian seaside dress…

I do have a bit of a cheat, though, and it’s become the deciding factor. Instead of having to make both dresses from scratch – i.e., copying an extant garment without a pattern to go on – I do have a pretty-darned-close pattern for one. It needs a few changes to make it more period-correct, but nothing too drastic. This will be my Victorian Seaside Dress, with fabric colors subject to change. (The pattern photo is from eBay. I do not wear a 6-8-10 anymore. Sigh.)

So, that leaves making a rose-inspired Edwardian summer/picnic/garden/tea dress. As much as I’d love to do a really frou-frou dress, I don’t have the time or the skills (yet) to pull it off as well as I want to. And, for comfort’s sake, I’m foregoing hobbled skirts, high collars and S-bend corsets. But that still leaves me with some very nice styles from which to choose.

And since the rose-inspired event is coming up first, this is the one getting tagged for HSM #6. I’ve never made an Edwardian-era dress before. I’ll have to cobble together pattern pieces and learn a bit about draping. I have some beautiful rose and off-white stripe fabric ready to go. Guess it’s time to choose a dress.

This one would be relatively easy to figure out and it obviously works with vertical stripes. But would I look too dumpy in it?

Day dress, circa 1910.

I love the center dress, but not too sure about the layers of ruffle draped over the hips – camouflage or “hey, look at this!”?

1910's Day dresses - lamp shade or tunic styles. An elongated top over a tight skirt. Large hat. Note the change from Gibson Girl fashion at the turn of the century. Art Nouveau slim, trailing gowns are coming in.

I like this style because it looks comfortable for warm weather, should that ever happen up here, but I’m not sure how the stripes would look.

Instead of lace, I think I’d like to use a solid rose-pink for the trim at the neck and sleeves and for the pleated underskirt. Might try draping the dress form to see what happens visually…could be interesting or a total headache. Only one way to find out…

Electromagnetically Challenged. Again.


(photo by

Although I’ve been sewing along and keeping up with the deadline for HSM#4 (The Case of the Contraband Crinoline) and doing some other sewing as well, there is nothing to show for it. At least nothing for me to show you. There’s been a multi-phased electronic meltdown in the Threading Through Time Media Department with a rather annoying domino effect.

As you recall, I took photos of the crinoline and couldn’t upload them to Dropbox. As it turned out, my suspicions of impending iPhone death were spot on. It went completely bonkers. After a long and exasperating online search I discovered two critical nails in its proverbial coffin: 1) Apple doesn’t support iPhone4 anymore (4S – yes, just plain 4 – no) and 2) they also no longer support iOS 7x.x. I never installed iOS8 because the word on the street (and on-line and just about everywhere else) was that iOS8 was not compatible with iPhone4 and chaos would plague all who embraced the latest toy.

So: no iPhone and no money to get a replacement – not even a refurbished model.

No problemo, though, because I have a compulsive streak and still have two of my pre-iPhone flip phones, complete with instructions, chargers, ear buds. I pulled out the newer of the two and charged it up. I called my carrier before pulling the SIM out of the iPhone to make sure there wouldn’t be any problems on their end of things. There weren’t. Then I extracted the SIM cards from both phones and “remembered” that they’re different sizes. Oh, bother.

Finally something sparked and I recalled that when I got the SIM card package from the carrier there were two sets of cards – one for AT&T phones and one for TMobile phones. Even better, I still had them. So I punched out the center of the TMobile SIM card, which left a perfectly sized frame. I put my active SIM card in the frame, settled it into place and hey presto – a FrankenSIM was born! Even more amazing: it works. I don’t have all of my contacts, but I can transfer them from the iPhone, and the calendar didn’t transfer, but I can deal with that manually.

So: now I have a working phone that can take pictures. But it can’t upload them to Dropbox. Nor can I e-mail them to myself. Why? Because it’s so old that Gmail isn’t one of its options. Yahoo? Yes. Windows Live Mail? Yes. Do I use those? No.

No problemo. I have a camera, I’ll go back to using that. I only started using the iPhone because it takes better closeups, but so it goes.

Over the next two days I turned the office/sewing room upside down looking for the camera batteries and the charger. Because my friend packed some of the stuff and I packed some of the stuff, I had no idea where the camera stuff had ended up. I finally found both the batteries and the charger in a box underneath some knitting yarn. I also needed the card reader, but I knew where it was. Now the only thing missing was the camera. The camera. The camera? Rats!! Although it has a bright metallic blue finish, it’s also a small pocket model – and I can’t find it anywhere. This is super-frustrating because about four weeks ago it was sitting on my desk. I remember picking it up to move it put it somewhere safe. And then…I’m blank.

Still no problemo, though, because I still have my old camera. It’s only 5.whatever megapixels, but it does the job. I found it yesterday. The cards were in the case. Yay! It’s battery operated, so no charger needed. Yay! The lithium batteries were dead and I have no replacements. Boo! But it also runs on 4 AA’s and I can get those today. Then I’ll know if it still works. (Is that a half-Yay!?)

Hopefully, the next post will be replete with photographs. Some photographs. Any photographs.

Downton Abbey Hits the Road in “The Colonies”

(image from

(image from

As you may, or may not, know, costumes from Downton Abbey have started their North American road tour, thanks to the generous folks at London’s top-notch costume house Cosprop, Ltd. And what a tour it is. It began February 5th at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, and will run there until May 25, 2015.

(image from

Costume worn by Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, during season 1 of “Downton Abbey” covering the years 1913-1914. (Image from, photo of Dame Maggie Smith from Carnival Films.)

At present, they are scheduled to be exhibited in 22 cities. You can find the latest and most complete North American tour schedule at These are the dates published as of today:

  • February 2015 – May 2015: Asheville, North Carolina


  • June 2015 – September 2015: Oshkosh, WI

    Paine Art Center and Gardens

  • October 2015 – January 2016: Richmond, VA

    Virginia Historical Society

  • February 2016 – May 2016: Chicago, IL

    The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

  • July 2016 – September 2016: Cincinnati, OH

    Taft Museum of Art

  • October 2016 – January 2017: South Bend, IN

    Northern Indiana Center for History

  • February 2017 – May 2017: Anaheim, CA

    Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center

  • June 2017 – September 2017: Nashville, TN

    Cheekwood Art & Gardens

  • October 2017 – January 2018: St. Augustine, FL

    The Lightner Museum

As you can see, this “only” covers the next three years.

Intricate beading on Lady Mary's proposal dress (image from Huffington Post)

Intricate beading on Lady Mary’s proposal dress (image from Huffington Post)

So far, the closest exhibition for me will be in Anaheim, California, in two years. By then young Master Crawley will have graduated Eton and Downton may well be into the days leading up to WWII. But it doesn’t matter – it’s on my calendar for 2017. In ink.

And if Bates and Anna aren’t safely, comfortably and quite happily together – forever!! – by then I shall never forgive Julian Fellowes his hard artistic heart.

Bates at work. (image from Huffington Post)

Bates at work. (image from Huffington Post)

A Need to Re-Think My 2015 Plans. Or Not.

(original source unknown)

(original source unknown)

DELUSION n. A belief that is unsupported by the facts. SYN. illusion, mirage, self-deception, misconception, fantasy, “pipe dream”, figment of the imagination.

Now that I know there are twice as many HSM challenges as I thought there would be, I need to take a step back and look at that project list again. Or find a better pharmacy. Or both.

Although it would be tons of fun and I’d learn a lot, the single most expensive item, by far, is Costume College 2015. Airfare. Dog sitter/ boarding kennel. Hotel room, even if I share with someone else. Food and beverages. Four complete costumes. And I won’t kid myself, I know I’ll come home with additional goodies from those fabulous vendors…they’re right there – at my fingertips.

I started the 18th century outfit and I want to finish it…there’s not much left to do and it’s all easy.

I’m going to finish a Regency/Georgian outfit, as I’ve already said, if it kills me.

I’m also doing the HSM, at least as many challenges as I can.

I also want to finish the Victorian dress. It needs a finished overskirt, which is half done, and it needs a bodice, which is a lot like the first Victorian bodice I made.

And for reasons I can’t explain, other than a mild moderate complete break from reality, I am drawn to the 17th century challenge. Totally new territory for me, which is part of the appeal (and, I can bet on it, the source of many a difficulty). But we are given an entire year to complete one costume and I’m going with a servant’s outfit, so no over-the-top mountains of silk, Cavalier sleeves, neck ruffs, heavy jewelry, exposed cleavage, metallic embroidery and eternal miles of lace.

(original source unknown)

(original source unknown)

I’m pretty sure I’m not ready for this. But I’m pretty sure I’m going to do it anyway.

Leaving out Coco and the Victorian bustle dress, here’s how the math looks:

18th century:

  • need overskirt, bedgown, apron, fichu and cap
  • only need fabric for overskirt or apron, depending on which ends up where
  • total number of items to make = 5


  • need gown, cap, fichu and spencer (or cloak)
  • already have the fabric and patterns
  • total number of items to make = 4

HSM 2015:

  • I only know what the first challenge is
  • already have the pattern and fabric for it
  • total number of items to make = 12

17th century:

  • still deciding on which painting to use for the reproduction, but going servant
  • need the lot – cap, fichu/kerchief, chemise, jacket/top, apron and 2-3 petticoats
  • have pattern and fabric for the cap, fichu/kerchief and under-petticoat
  • total number of items to make = 6 (can re-use the fichu and 2 petticoats

That’s 27 pieces of clothing, not counting Victorian (2) and CoCo (a lot). Impossible, at least for me. Fortunately, the 17th and 18th century items are neither fussy nor difficult. (Rationalization? You bet!)

Prioritizing the projects:

  • Let go of CoCo for next year. As much as I want to go, it’s just not practical financially, even if I got a college scholarship.
  • The Regency/Georgian (whatever I end up with) can wait until later in the year, but want to be done in time for Jane Austen’s birthday celebration on December 16th. (The year was 1775.)
  • Do the hand sewing (the caps, fichus and all the hemming) at night, while watching the tube.
  • Get going on HSM #1 (due January 31st).
  • Make 18th century top petticoat, bedgown and apron. Not at all difficult, so get them done NOW.
  • Work on the 17th century things throughout the year (and yes, that does mean I can expect a mad scramble at the end).
  • Keep an eye on HSM – pick my battles.
  • March is Victorian Heritage Festival time. Can I finish the dress in time? We’ll see how it shakes out.
  • Stay open-minded and flexible – change whatever as needed.

As you can see, the only thing I’ve actually removed from the list is CoCo 2015 and all of those costumes. (If I’m going, I’m going with costumes.) That still leaves way too many.

My decision: I’m going to head into this adventure expecting the obvious inability to get everything done. Then whatever I do manage to complete will be its own little celebration. So I’m just going to start and work my way through as much as I can. Piece by piece, costume by costume, era by era.