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.

Photos from the Victorian Heritage Festival

It was a fun weekend and the weather held. For March way up here, that’s nothing short of a meteorological miracle. Unfortunately, none of the pictures I took at the fashion show came out; the lining of my purse shredded and got all over the lens. Drat! There were some really great gents and ladies in lovely suits and dresses. But I did get some nice shots from the Uptown and Downtown Insider’s Walking Tours. Enjoy!

End of the Day



My scouting expedition this afternoon was a 50/50 for results.

There appear to be no shoelaces in this town that will accommodate a 17-hole high boot. Another rummage through the closet unearthed my “old lady” shoes that I wore to my first Victorian event. They’re all leather and have nicely padded insoles – got ’em on closeout from JC Penny for $20 a few years ago. It would have been more fun, and less comfortable, to wear the antique boots, but so it goes. If I can manage ladylike behavior for the whole weekend (oh, the stress!) no one should be the wiser. Here they are, paired with the purple and black striped over-the-knee socks, which I might need after all if this wind keeps up. I call it my “Wicked Witch” look. And yes, my feet are ridiculously small for my height.

2014-03-21 15.03.32

I had better luck in the hair department. One small can of BedHead nuclear spray should do the trick. I hope.

2014-03-21 15.04.43

No luck finding the curling iron, so it’s roll the hair in thin fabric strips and see what happens. This could be exciting.

So (I think) I’m all set for a wonderful weekend of fun. Now it’s time to wind up the hair and go to bed. Stay tuned for photos!