Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013 Escondido Renaissance Faire Ensemble

In the faraway land of Escondido, California there came to be a Renaissance Faire held twice yearly for the fun and entertainment of all that chose to attend.   This is the story of a gown that went to Faire….

This ensemble may be a precursor piece to my Costume College “Cavalier” project.  I started with the Simplicity 1773 for my Overgown and then used the Burda 2493 for my Undergown. 

Starting with the Overgown, it was pretty easy overall, but time consuming for the slashed sleeves.   I made one big change, in that I hand set grommets down the front of the bodice instead of the called for ribbon, as I knew the fabric I was going to use needed grommets.  Also, I would suggest using your “fashion fabric” to line the slashed sleeves as well.

About five years ago I had commissioned a renaissance gown to be custom made.  I had seen some fabric used for a gown worn by “Anne Boleyn” on the Cable TV series “The Tudors” that I later actually found and purchased for this commissioned gown.  The skirt alone took six yards of this upholstery-weight tapestry brocade and it weighed a ton.  So much so, that it collapsed each of the three different hoop skirts I tried.  See, this is where I had to admit there are limitations to what fabric can do – while my imagination is limitless and all-possible, a twenty pound top skirt in this fabric just was not going to work.  (in fairness, AB’s skirt was not a hoop – they must have known something I learned later – lol)  So, I had packed this skirt away years ago, and it was that skirt that I used to make this new Overdress!   This Overdress is all one piece, where the bodice and skirt are attached.  It can probably be worn with a small hoop skirt or bumroll, if you added more fabric to the skirt, you can probably wear a larger hoopskirt.  My Underdress is also all one piece, but a separate chemise and underskirt will work just as well. 

Next, I needed something for the Undergown.  I decided that I could use a Regency era gown, and with a little tweaking, it should work for an elegant Undergown.   I wanted a fabric that was complimentary, but strongly contrasting, to the Overgown.  So, I decided on a dark teal shade in a textured gauze fabric.  I love gauze, I just do not like sewing with it.  To me, it’s like a wild animal; it is all over the place with a four-way stretch.  So, I used matching teal cotton sateen lining for body and structure.  Also, I lengthened the sleeves.  Where you see the ribbon is where the sleeves are suppose to end.  Lastly, it makes no allowance for larger cup sizes in the bodice if you wanted to wear traditional undergarments.   

This Regency gown (view B) is not period correct by design, but you can probably pull it that way if you opted to go with drawstrings instead of elastic, which is what I did for the bodice, but I did use elastic for the sleeves (oh my!).   This project was super easy even with the lining, which I added – start to finish was five hours.  The time consuming part was sewing in the drawstring/elastic casing.  Plus, I decided to make my own bias-cut double fold tape from the teal sateen for the neckline casing just so everything would match color-wise.  Two notations:  First, period correct undergarments will make this gown look much better.  Secondly, I would lengthen the sleeves.   Enjoy!  

Friday, April 26, 2013

1860 Cotton Brocade Ensemble

Stars & Stripes Apple Pie with a Lily border
I had every good intention of attending the Costa Mesa Civil War event, but logistics conspired against me.  I had worked on a new gown and had even made an apple pie for the Ladies Tea. 

1860 Peg Sleeve
I knew I wanted to go with the big hoop skirt, I also knew I did not want to go with the pagoda sleeves styling, so that was going to push my gown in the late 1850's to early 1860's era.  I did my research, and found several V-necked bodices (usually for Summer Gowns) with a straight or “Peg” sleeve from around the 1855ish and later timeframe.  This was going to be my inspirational jumping off point.

For the gown, I used one of my old favorites, the Simplicity 3727 (see my previous post “Flirting with Civil War Fashions") pattern for the skirt and as a starting point for my bodice.  I did change the collar configuration as well as the sleeves. 

Have you ever looked at your high necked bodice and wondered, “What if I just fold the edges down and make a V-neck?”  Well, that was my idea as well.  How difficult would it be to make the change?  I used the same basic bodice pieces and just changed out the interior facing piece.  The facing needed to be much bigger if I was going to lay the collars edges back.  I played around with the facing and got it to work just perfectly.  Not even a difficult change to factor in - I would encourage anyone to consider something like this minor change for one of your upcoming gowns! 

Gathered Sleeve Cap
Next, was the sleeve configuration.  Straight sleeves were certainly not the norm for the late 1850 or 1860s, but they did exist.  I found several references to them as “Peg” sleeves.  Some sleeves had the gathering at the sleeve cap, some at the elbow, some had pleating, and some were just plain straight.  I decided to factor in the sleeves from Butterick B5832, which is suppose to be a modified “Romantic Era” pattern with modern techniques like a zipper (Gasp!  LOL)  I liked the sleeves.  Heck, I purchased the pattern just because of the sleeves.  The pattern called for a lot of piping, which I left out.  I must admit the sleeves were very labor intensive.  Start to finish was about five hours just for the two sleeves, but I love they way they turned out.

The skirt has approximately 5 ½ yds.  There are no pattern pieces, you just cut four really big pieces of fabric and start sewing them together.  It calls for cartridge pleating, but I went with a really tight basic gathering and it works for me.  The pattern also includes a “Bustle” but it really looks more like a “bumroll” – LOL.  It really helps give your gown the Bell Shape for the bodice peplum to lay correctly.  The skirt has a great little drop yoke in the back to accommodate the bustle. 
This is w/only the tulle petticoat -
picture another foot on each side when
all undergarment are in place!
I was really pushing the edge with my fabric choice due to the overall weight of the fabric.  A heavy cotton brocade with a cream background, white and taupe roses with sage green leaves.  I loved the pattern and the fact that it was cotton, but the gown is very heavy.  I needed a large hoop skirt, a full flounce tulle petticoat, (ballgown sized), a cotton petticoat, another tulle petticoat, plus the bumroll to get the proper look.  While the underpinnings may not be period correct, it was more important to me to get the proper exterior silhouette.  It really made me sympathize with those ladies that actually had to wear these gowns with all the necessary undergarments that society dictated was mandatory.  I have noticed when I wear these big hooped dresses I actually have to change the pace of my walking to accommodate the movement of my hoop skirts, as well as simply being more aware of my much larger personal space.

All button are in place, but for a quick shot
I only used a couple to fasten close.
Turned back lapels (Revers) and vintage
lace under collar.

Next, I had the perfect vintage straw hat to finish off the late 1850 to 1860's look I was going for.  The low sloped crown with the wide brim was trimmed with vintage flowers, feathers, and ribbon.   While I love bonnets on other ladies, on me - they just looks ridiculous.  So, when I was researching appropriate headwear for the era, this was a great “hat” that I knew I would enjoy wearing.  This lovely confection is a gorgeous golden sand colored straw that compliments the colors in the gown exactly.  I had been given a really sad and beat-up 1960’s bubble hat the seller was going to throw it away, so I asked if I could save it, and he gave it to me.  I re-purposed the off-white velvet and chiffon roses as well as the green silk velvet ribbon.  The nap on the green velvet was so plush it almost felt like fur!  A good rinse, dry, and a quick press with a cloth and the velvet ribbon was as good as new! 

Sleeve detail showing crochet trim
Lastly, I added a vintage lace collar, some vintage crochet trimming on the sleeves in place of the piping, a taupe grosgrain ribbon belt, and some vintage cream colored ribbon lace trim on the ruffle of the skirt.  Start to finish was seven days working on and off.  It was another great sewing adventure with a few added challenges just to keep things interesting!  Enjoy!   

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flirting with 1940 Fashion

Well, our small group had a fun time at the OC Great Park Chamber Music and Picnic event dressed in our 1940’s attire.  The Park had a retro "Farmers to Flyers” art exhibit covering the start of the El Toro Marine Base in the 1940s to current times.  From there we enjoyed the final installment performance of the OC Great Parks Chamber Music series, which was all classical music from 1940’s as well. 

For this outing I opted to go with an actual 1940s Butterick Pattern #4381.  What drew my attention was the clever little “Bustle” back on the jacket.  I think if the ruffles had gone all the way around to the front it might have been called a peplum, but as it was only on the back the pattern referred to it as a “bustle”.  I also really liked the way the front of the suit looked so fitted, but the back of the jacket had this flirty little ruffled bustle and the skirt had a lot of softly gathered fabric with great movement.   So feminine!   

Now, you can see from the picture it was a Size 14 w/a 32” bust and a 23” waist!  LOL  Might be more like a size four by today’s measurement standards.  I needed to scale it up to my size, and knew it was going to be a challenge. 

  I started with the skirt.  I hand scaled, cut, and sewed it three times before I got it to drape correctly in the back.  After that I knew I was going to be in trouble with the jacket.  So, I cheated.  I hand drafted all the pattern pieces, taped them all  together, and went to Kinko’s and enlarged it 120%.   Next time I will make sure to get the 25% off coupon!  So, I get this revised pattern home, cut it out, and try pinning it onto my dress form just to see if we are still in the range for a fit, and as luck would have it, for the most part, it was right on with a few minor corrections!  I did decide to make two mock-ups for the bodice for sizing, but felt I was right on for the last one.  Third time was a charm!

I really liked the short sleeved version, and had found a brilliant turquoise, medium weight, linen up at the LA Garment District that was in my stash, then I opted for a true black linen for the skirt.   Lastly, I had purchased some vintage black 1 ½” buttons at the Irvine Antique Market the month prior, so I was finally ready to cut. 

I love washed linen, the more it is washed the softer it becomes.  I know it wrinkles, but that’s a small price to pay for how comfortable it can be on warm days, and how great it drapes and flows.   The skirt came together quickly and easily, cut to fitting probably less than three hours with a metal zipper (lol – as they did not have synthetics ones yet right?  So ugly it was cute!).

The jacket, well that was certainly a problem right from the start even with the upsizing.   Can you say “shoulder padding”?  Absolutely necessary to give it the correct fit and fall of the fabric on the jacket.  I tried it on the first time without the shoulder pads and was going crazy as it was drooping at the shoulders approximately one inch, then it hit me – I forgot to insert the pads, added the padding and walla – perfection!  

Finished hem on Left & Right w/unfinished hem in the middle

Next, there were so many little ridiculous sewing instructions that I wanted to cry.  I am including a photo of just one.  I have two finished hemmed edges and a third “middle section” that ends up unfinished that now has to be hand tacked to line up correctly with the other two hemlines on the jacket.  You can see exactly what I was working with in the picture of the pattern instructions.  Those were the easy fixes.  The rest was a struggle.  It was the instructions; I just could not make them work to my full satisfaction.  I think I ripped it apart more than it was actually sewn together.  The collar was a nightmare from the get go.  It had an interior facing that was attached after the exterior portion was attached to the jacket bodice and it had squared edges at the shoulders.  The collar itself has a softly curved edge.  I knew where I needed to get to; I just could not get the pieces to fall into place easily.  There are eleven pieces or twenty-two pieces total to the bodice after you doubled it, and I opted not to line this jacket due to a time constraint.  I finally resorted to an age old panacea, wine!  After a couple of glasses, I was ready to get back into the ring with this jacket and wrestle it to a finish!  

I wore the finished ensemble with some basic black 2” T-strap pumps, a vintage black handbag, vintage beaded black ¾ length gloves, and I finished it off with a vintage black felt tilt hat with some greenish blue feathers and net veil.  I am such a fiend for hats with veils.  I really made the entire outfit so I could wear the hat!

My hairstyle was researched as well.  It was a low, thick “Victory Roll” on the sides and back, and was finished off by pulling the front sides up into a soft bun that I then used to anchor the hat pins to for the tilt hat.

 From the first day I took the pattern pieces out of the envelope (very carefully as both the envelope and the pattern pieces themselves were very fragile) to the day I wore the outfit was only seven days.  It was a big challenge, and I am proud that I pulled it off.  

Looking at it objectively, I made this suit three times – never the same way twice, as I was tweaking it each time.  I will probably remake it again, and the one big change I will make next time will be to shorten it length-wise.  I had originally thought when looking at the picture that the arched panel on the front of the jacket was a couple of inches lower than the waist, or at high hip, but now I think it should be at the waist.  I will also go with a longer hem.  I think at THAT point it will be perfect, but I really liked how this version turned out and it was a lot of fun to wear.  Enjoy!

PS: Yes, I know that Simplicity has a pattern similar, but it lacks the draping in the back of the skirt that I liked, and does not have the double ruffled bustle back on the jacket either.  Plus, I wanted to work with an actual vintage pattern

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Butterick B5696 - Skirt Only Pattern Review

Butterick B5696 - 1883 Bustle Skirt Pattern 
I wanted to leave a quick pattern review for this bustle skirt for everyone’s perusal.  I had some lovely printed cotton voile that I wanted to make into an 1883 Bustle gown based on an inspiration gown of a similar fabric style.  I looked at what I had in my pattern stash and came across the Butterick B5696.   It had the requisite poofy bustle back that I was looking for, and I had never made it prior, so I thought to give it a try.  I will say upfront that I truly like the way it turned out.

The pattern itself, while it states “historical”, is not historically accurate, in that the foundation skirt does not have the needed 3-4 longer back length or drop yoke to accommodate a bustle cage or pad.  The foundation skirt is a mere 3.5yrds without trimmings.  The train is a separate piece and is four feet wide and nine feet long, so ‘another 3yrds for the train.  Then I went with a 12” fancy pleated ruffle, plus a 4” tight pleated trim on the train.  Between these two trims I used up another 2.5 yds.  Lastly both the skirt and the train were fully lined.  So, another 3.5 for the skirt of a basic white cotton, but then I opted for a lining of medium weight organdy for the train to give the fabric some body as the voile was very lightweight.  So, all told approximately nine yards of fashion fabric plus another 6.5 yds for lining for a grand total of fifteen yards for just the skirt.

The pattern was rated “Advanced”, but I would rate it an “intermediate”.  As long as you go slow and carefully follow the instructions, it should be an easy project.  As a caveat, be prepared for working with a LOT of fabric at all times.  Sometimes it felt like “me vs the skirt” and the skirt was winning! LOL

The foundation skirt went together quickly as expected.  Things get tricky with the way they set the waistband.  The foundation skirt opening is back center, but the train, once attached, is offside to the left.  The train also goes together quickly.  The tricky spots are the strategic placement of nine “gathering” spots that are needed to give the train its “poofy” look.  The instructions call for “gathering” then “sewing directly” to the foundation skirt, but I opted for ribbons and loops for a more authentic feel.  Plus, it allows me a little more leeway for how I want the poofs and puffs to look.  Also, as the foundation skirt lacks the extra bustle length, the actual bustle pillow (included in pattern) seems to work best directly under the train.  The pattern calls for the pillow to be sewn into the skirt, so you get to decide if you want to attach it or go a more traditional way. 

The train, once you get the gathering spots completed and the necessary trims attached, calls for you to “blind-stitch” down both sides to attach it to the foundation skirt.  This is all hand work from waistband to hemline on both sides.  Don’t forget to leave plenty of space for the left side waistband opening.  I stopped my blind-stitching right below this point.   The organdy lining was a great idea to help add some much needed support for the cascade of poufs down the back, it turned out perfectly. 

Overall, the pattern uses some longer or slower techniques to achieve a familiar look.  Sometimes I thought about a shortcut here or there, but as I had never made this pattern, and with so much fabric at stake with a mistake, I simply went along with the original directions.  Start to finish was approx seven days; I would pick it up and put it down when I got frustrated.  I like the look and fit of the finished product, and will probably make it again.  For a “cheat” in the future I might consider my regular TV foundation skirt pattern and just use the train portion of this pattern for a “marriage” of convenience!  LOL

(PS:  Please see my prior blog posts for a pattern review of the bodice (Flirting with Civil War Fashions) as well as more information on the inspiration gown (1883 Bustle Gown Project)  Enjoy!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

1868 Baschlik Mantilla - Those "In-between" Projects

Well, it was a great day at the 2013 Vista Civil War Event.  I thought the weather might be a bit challenging, but the day ended up being sunny and bright.  The walkways and roads were still a little bit wet and muddy, but overall it was a wonderful event to attend.  I wore the civil war era gown I made last year, and went with a new accessory, the Baschlik Mantilla.  These wraps were very popular before, during, and after the Civil War.  What I very much liked about this pattern was the hood and the scalloped hemline in the back.  Very different from other styles that I have seen.  I had made a quick trip up to the LA Textile Market a few weeks ago and found this cotton lace, which is something almost impossible to find, and purchased a couple of yards for this project.  The pattern calls for a stiffer fabric, but I wanted to try it with a lace.  Start to finish was approximately two hours.  I think when I make it again it will take longer as I want to try to make it with a heavier fabric and incorporate the box pleated trim, and that will take a bit more time.  This cotton lace version criss-crosses over the front and is held in place with a belt, then the long ties are knotted in the back.  In the pattern it shows this mantilla gathered up with a bow in the back, but I liked the easy tie option this time around.  Also, I used a simple "zig zag" stitch for the edge hem.  I have an original vintage lace shawl that is finished this way, so I simply followed the example of my extent piece.  This cotton lace was loose and open in places and would never have allowed a rolled hem anyway.   Lastly, with my next attempt  I will probably do an overall enlargement.  While it states "One Size Only" it is based off of their sizing from 1868, and women were smaller in general back then. 
With the finished Lace Mantilla, I liked how it draped over the shoulders like a shawl, the hood feature was very unique, the scalloped hemline is very pretty, the weight of the hood in the back kept it well centered, the belt keeps the front cross-over securely in place, and the back tie was very convenient as well.  I very much liked the overall finished product of this accessory.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What type of Vintage Lace is this?

This is the vintage cotton lace I used on my most recent bustle gown.  It is 4" wide and I had approximately eight yards of it.  I used several yards on the 1883 ensemble.  I purchased it a couple of years ago from a lady in England.  The entire length was in perfect condition.  I have done some research, but to date have not been able to identify this lace.  If anyone reading this blog has some insight, please feel free to share!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dust Ruffle Petticoat - Those "In-between" Projects

Some of you reading this blog might be like me and my friends, in that we like to shop around at the local vintage antique markets, thrift shops, and antique malls for vintage textiles.  Next time you are out and about keep an eye out for a vintage dust ruffle!  This was a project I had sitting around for a couple of months, and finally sat down and committed myself.  It was quick and easy, less than two hours, and I very much like the finished look of this project. 

I took a beautiful cutwork, white cotton dust ruffle, full sized, trimmed the 12" gathered ruffle off, regathered it, and attached it to an existing petticoat to give it an updated "vintage" look.  The cutwork is just wonderful and eyelet detailing is so pretty!  I love how the finished petticoat turned out.  You will probably need a full sized or larger to trim out a basic petticoat.  If you go larger to a queen size, you might even be able to use the interior fabric for the body of the petticoat and simply add a drawstring or set in waistband.  Enjoy! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1883 Bustle Gown Sewing Project

1883 Bustle Sewing Project

Okay, well the gown is finished.  It was a great sewing challenge, and just what I needed these last few weeks to keep my mind busy. 

I used two different patterns, the Burda 7880 for the bodice, (Most of you reading this blog will recall my review on this pattern in late 2012) and the Butterick B5696 for the skirt. 

The Butterick skirt pattern had a very poufy “waterfall” drape to the bustle train, which was exactly what I was looking for.  It was already in my pattern stash, so I thought to give it a try, and I very much love the way it turned out. 

 I saved the buttons to sew on last.  Sad thing, I lost ALL my buttons in the move recently.  I have not been able to find them anywhere.  Hundreds of buttons, some wonderful vintage glass buttons from the late 1800’s, real pearl buttons, all the buttons I had just purchased in December, plus the hand painted Limoges cabochons with the perfectly matching coral colored roses that I was going to use for this gown – such a disappointment!  I used a new sewing machine with a built-in automatic button hole sewing feature, and now I love sewing button holes!  The Bodice took two days, and the skirt took about seven days of "on-off" working.  There is  approximately fourteen yards of the fashion fabric, and everything is lined with the exception of the sleeves.   The fabric is a cotton voile with a very subtle plaid stripe, it is then stamped with the coral roses.  The train is four feet wide and nine feet long.  I lined the train with organdy to give it more structure and body as the floral fabric is very sheer and light, and I wanted the poofs to puff correctly - LOL!  The gown is shown over a lobster-tail bustle cage. 

What really drew my attention to the inspiration gown was the floral fabric.  When we look around at vintage pictures and even the actual gowns themselves, we do not often see the bright florals in the 1880's - obviously they were out there, and we know the Victorians loved bright colors, so I thought this gown would be great to re-create.

I did make some slight changes - first of, the apron front, I did not opt for the side drapes, not my personal favorite style, so I left that off.  Secondly, on the bodice front, it was hard to tell if the white lace at the "V" point went all the way around the hem of the bodice or was simply an accent, I opted for the simplicity of the accent of white lace due to the bodice design of the bustle back.  Next, I used some creative liberty interpreting what I think the back of the gown may have looked like based on the back of the other dress to the far left.  Lastly, the description of the original gown was "Ecru with Pink Carnations", and my fashion fabric is "white with Coral Roses".  I wish I had thought before had to give the gown a quick dip in a tea stain dye before I added the white lace to make in more inline with the original, but I thought about that after the fact.  Next time!

The lace is vintage and is in perfect condition.  It is the first lace I could not identify, so if any of you know what it is, please let me know!  It is cotton, 4" wide, white, and very sturdy.  I purchased eight yards of it years ago from a seller in England.  When I was pressing it, it had that "old" smell to it.  Those of you that purchase vintage textiles know what I am referring too yes?   I thought it was just the perfect lace for this ensemble and added that authentic detailing. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed the project and working with the new Butterick pattern for the skirt.  I will be posting up a pattern review on the skirt next week.  Enjoy!


I did use a 4” vintage lace for the apron trim and the bodice front, plus a 1” vintage lace trim for around the cuffs on each arm.  Lastly, I used a wonderful vintage lace jabot at the neck opening of the bodice.  The bodice went together much fastest this time around as I decided to go with “flat lining” instead of the bag lining as I did the last time.  There is a simple 4” pleated ruffle off each cuff and at the bottom hem of the bustled train.  I will post a “Pattern Review” on the Butterick Pattern in the future.  For now, I will state that the pattern is not period correct in its construction.  The skirt proper is only 3.5 yards.  The train is four feet wide and nine feet long.  Next, I added the 12” fancy pleated ruffle at the hemline.  I also elected to make some changes to the pattern; I lengthened the apron by approx six inches to get the right look to match the fashion plate, I also opted to change the apron design as I am not a big fan of the split “v” apron personally, so I kept it simple with a longer rounded hem apron, and I changed the double row of pleats at the hem for a 12” fancy pleat to also match the fashion plate.   However, I did keep the 4” pleated ruffle on the train.  I decided to go with a 3” faux horsehair trim into the hemline to give it some extra body as the cotton was very relaxed and I had the same idea for the train.  I lined the entire train with single piece of cotton organdy to help give it body and hold the poufy look I wanted.  I went with ribbons and loops to bustle up the train instead of just sewing it into place.  With this option I can tie the last two rows higher and get the train off the ground if needed. 

While this ensemble will not be to everyone’s taste, I do very much love the overall effect and look of this gown.  It brightened my day every time I looked at it, and every time I picked it up to work on it.  Funny how a piece of fabric can make you smile isn’t it?  Enjoy!


Monday, February 18, 2013

1883 Bustle Gown Project

Okay, well my 1883 ensemble is completed.  Here is a picture of the inspiration gown and here are a couple of the gown I made:

I will post more on this in the near future!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

1883 Bustle Gown Sewing Project

2013 Sewing Project:  1883 Bustle Gown Ensemble

Well, while many things have changed recently for me and my family, sewing has remained my one constant.  I craved the comfort and familiarity of the efforts of sewing.  How my first sewing project of 2013 created a sense of normalcy in a world that had greatly shifted, I will never forget.  The touching of the fabric, knowing what it could become with careful efforts.  The slowness of time to get something exactly correct.  That tiny sense of accomplishment in the perfectly sewn rolled hem.  These small measures brought peace and solace to my troubled heart and mind.  Where with my own two hands and creative spirit, I would create something tangible of beauty where none had existed prior.  Such is the love of sewing that it can heal a heart. 

Just prior to the Christmas season, I had been able to make a trip up to the LA Textile market and found this lovely sheer floral cotton fabric for ninety-nine cents per yard.  I purchased fifteen yards!  On the same trip, I came across a bolt of cotton organdy for the same price and purchased five yards.  Lastly, I selected a basic white cotton fabric for the lining fabric, also at the ninety-nine cents per yard.  The days journey further yielded up buttons, ribbons, silk flowers, and some wonderfully droopy ostrich feathers.  It was a good day of shopping!

Later that same night, somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered ear-marking a gown that had a similar floral look.  I was lucky in that the first book I pulled out, the “Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898”, had the ensemble I was trying to find on page 153, note the gown on the RIGHT side. 

The description reads:  “Spring Styles 1883 Figure C:  This gay dress of cotton sateen has an ecru ground strewn with clusters of pink carnations.  The Marie Antoinette over-skirt is very bouffant, and is caught back in points on the sides.  Two rows of the open Irish point embroidery are the trimmings.  English straw bonnet, with pink roses and an ecru ostrich plume”.  Perfection!

This is the gown I am going to use as my inspiration gown!  I very much love the print on the fabric, so different from what we normally see for the Victorians, but perfect for a Spring or Summer ensemble.  Can you just picture an off-white background with beautiful pink carnations all over it?!  Trimmed with white lace?  I also very much like the long unusual pleated trim at the hem of the foundation skirt, the clever placement of the bows, and I have just the right vintage lace jabot for the neckline!!  Plus, the year 1883 is noted as the first year of the “Return of the Bustle”.  The bustle backs are poofy, drapey, and oh so feminine!  The bigger the bustle the better for these gowns, and my ensemble will be no exception!  

The fabric that I selected is a sheer white cotton with an understated plaid that is brightly offset with coral colored roses and forest green leaves throughout.  While not exactly an “ecru with pink carnations”, I think my “white with coral roses” fabric will do a wonderful job in bringing this fashion plate gown to life!