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.
I previously posted about the drafting method used to pattern my Saratoga Dress bodice, so in this post I am going to talk about the actual sewing of the bodice, with lots of in-process photos.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The End of the Ball by Rogelio de Egusquiza
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!
Well. It’s been a lot longer between posts than I meant for it to be. I’ve been drowning in a project that I started back in December and fought with right up to April 1st, and it took up so much of my time and caused me so much doubt and frustration, that although I meant to write a post about my Victorian corset, I haven’t been able to until now.
This corset gave me a bit of trouble, and in the middle of it last year it felt like it was weighing on me quite a bit (though now I know how much worse it could be, after the project I’ve just finished…). But it did turn out very well in the end, and once it got finished I was quite happy with it, and boy is it comfy to wear, too!
The finished corset, on my duct tape dress form.
We’re in the middle of a nasty cold snap here in the northeast, and it made me remember that I never posted photos of my bliaut that we took way back in February during a snow storm.
You can see the construction notes for the bliaut in this post. It’s wool and linen and quite heavy, so it kept some of the chill out during this photoshoot… but not all. The wig I’m wearing is just a $10 ebay wig I bought years ago that I put on to give a fantasy/elven vibe. The photographer is my boyfriend, Dan, whose photo site you can see here.
Please enjoy the photos, and I hope you’re staying warm!
It’s finished! Time for a blog post!
I conceived of this gown almost a year ago when, with Rufflecon still on my mind, Lauren of American Duchess posted a photo on Intagram with a vintage sweater that had scarlet and gold Gryffindor-like stripes. I thought it would be super cool to try to get a group together at Rufflecon representing our Hogwarts houses through historical clothing. My own house is Gryffindor, and I’ve been wanting to try Natural Form era for a while, so I thought it was the perfect time to try!
I started by looking at tons of Natural Form era fashion plates as well as the patterns available from Truly Victorian, and then I started sketching.