New!

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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!

Review: Puresilks

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.

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Drafting the Saratoga Bodice

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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.

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Refashioning Saratoga: Planning Stages

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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.

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1830s Underthings

Back in November I heard that a local Historical Society would be hosting an “1830s costume ball” in March 2019, so I decided it was finally time to join the crowd of costumers who have been making 1830s ensembles recently. We bought a house at the end of November and spent December moving and painting, but in January I was able to get my new sewing room organized and start my underthings.

I knew I wouldn’t have time to make brand new period-appropriate corded stays, so right away I decided to cheat and just wear my mid-century corset under the dress (sorry not sorry). The corded petticoat was a must, however, to get the correct bell shape for the 1830s skirt. I had purchased Izabela Pitcher’s Victorian Dressmaker book back in November(ish), so I primarily used her corded petticoat pattern and instructions for guidance.

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The Pink Confection Gown

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There has always been something about a frothy pink Natural Form era gown that has caught my fancy. Any time I came across paintings of heavily trimmed pink Natural Form gowns on Tumblr I would fall in love all over again.

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The End of the Ball by Rogelio de Egusquiza

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Young Watercolorist in the Louvre by Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

When Prior Attire announced the date for their 2018 Victorian Ball in Bath, and that the theme would be Natural Form era, I decided it was time to finally make my pink confection, and to take a chance and go to the UK for the first time–for a costume event!

Very long, so please click to read more!

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