Without further ado, this post is going to be photos of my finished Saratoga dress. Photography by Out of the Ordinary Photography.
For quite a long while now it has been my intention to synchronize my online handles and change them to something that makes more sense for what I use my online presence for. My online life has become centered around costuming, and I want to do more programs and presentations about costuming in my area, so to make it easier for people to remember how to find me online, I’ve changed my blog title and my Instagram username to The Victorian Archivist. The name comes from the fact that my Real Job is as a librarian who does some work in the archives at our library, and I tend to find excuses to wear my historical costumes to work (or just around town). So I’m that librarian lady who wears Victorian clothes, hence, The Victorian Archivist.
The content I post will remain pretty much the same. You may see a bit more about archival costume illustrations or patterns now and then, but my focus will still be on creating costumes and posting about my construction process.
Does the new name mean I will only be sewing Victorian costumes now? No, I will still be sewing other eras as well; Victorian just seems to be the most recognizable and nameable era to the general public, so Victorian Archivist is easier to remember and catchier than, say, the 18th Century Archivist. Or the Historical Costuming Archivist.
I look forward to bringing you more historical costuming content under my new name! I still haven’t shared all of the pretty finished photos of my Saratoga dress, so that will be coming very soon!
This post is going to be a bit different from my usual posts about my sewing projects and processes. This is a review of sorts of my experiences purchasing from a website that I learned about from other costumers. I’ve only been able to find one other blogger’s review of their experiences with the site, so I want to contribute my narrative to the community in hopes that it will help someone else make an informed decision when deciding where to purchase their fabrics.
In order to construct the skirt of the Saratoga dress, I relied on a combination of basic printed patterns, draping, and drafts of extant patterns reprinted in books to get the look that I was going for. The original skirt looks like it consists of several layers of overlapping fabric, so a lot of experimentation had to be done to get the angles and overlaps right.
Once I had chosen the dress for my project, I had to develop a pattern for the bodice. I didn’t want to simply use a paper pattern that had already been developed by someone else; I wanted to do my best to draft a new pattern that would mimic the original image as closely as possible. For this I turned to Fashions of the Gilded Age by Frances Grimble.
Even before applying for the grant for this project, ideas were swirling in my head about what dress to do and how to do it. There were several images that I had come across in the collections at the Saratoga Springs Public Library that I thought could work, and a couple of them stood out in my mind, but once I was actually awarded the grant I went back to the collections to get a better idea of all of the options.
My focus was on the Robert Joki Stereoview Collection at the library because the library owns approximately 1,400 of them. There are a lot of options. And while the individual images on the cards are a bit small, when scanned at high resolution they scale up really well. The library had a local organization scan all 1,400(ish) of their stereoviews a few years ago, so it was just a matter of looking through and saving the ones I was considering (the images were all taken and published for sale pre-1890, so their copyrights have expired and they are now in the public domain. This eliminates the need for getting permission to publish, alter, and use them for advertising and other projects, short of crediting the library for providing me with the scans).
The more I looked at the images, the more intriguing dresses I found, and what I had thought were my top two choices were quickly crowded out by an abundance of other options.
I’ve been posting about this on Facebook and Instagram for about a month already, but this is my official blog announcement about a project I will be working on this year!
Almost one year after completing my pink Natural Form ballgown, I completed a new ballgown for a new event. I tried to go the quick and easy route with this one, so I purchased a pattern rather than draft one, and kept it simple to let the silk fabric speak for itself.
One of the most distinct things about fashions of the 1830s is over-the-top hair. One cannot complete an 1830s outfit without it, so although I often get lazy and can end up skimping on my hair arrangements for my historical outfits, I had to at least try to do something with my hair for my 1830s ball outfit.