1882 Lemonade Dress

1882 Lemonade Dress

Aren’t you hot in that?!

This past weekend was our annual outing to Belvidere Victorian Days in Belvidere, NJ. Every year this event is in early September and I start thinking fall thoughts. I’d say half the times I’ve gone it was actually autumnal and half it’s been summertime heat…This year was sadly the later with temps in the high 90s.

Our friend the Earl of Westwood was setting up his camp from 1882 Egypt and I simply had to have a natural form dress to match. I love a good theme. (we’ll pretend the classic car collection and large array of pop-up vendor tents are a different theme).


1880s afternoon dress in the FIT collection

I found this dress that I deemed PERFECT. It was autumnal it was cool and light, it was sophisticated and I wanted it. So I headed over to my favorite voile pusher on etsy and ordered 12 yards (which wasn’t nearly enough) of their finest “off white” voile. I named it “The Coffee Victorian” and eagerly awaited it’s arrival.

Like a kid on Christmas morning I eagerly dug into my package of fabric…it was yellow. Not like warm beige, or ecru, or dark tan..no it was YELLOW.  I put it in the naughty pile for a week.

I tried bleaching a sample. It became a slightly lighter yellow…it sat in the naughty pile…finally time was running out, and I decided: when life gives you lemon fabric, make a lemonade dress.

You can hardly tell it’s 150 degrees Celsius can you?

Having spent so long pouting I kind of ran out of time to do all the finishing touches I wanted, and sewed the trim on the front at 11pm the night before. There is a lot I’d like to revisit about this dress before it’s next wearing, but surprisingly I like it enough that it will definitely have a second wearing.


I’m not shopping…nope

The skirt is actually Truly Victorian TV208, I just added more fullness in back and ties behind the knees. I’ve used this pattern now three times for victorian skirts and I just adore the sweep of the train.

The bodice is TV 420 with some mods. The original had a high neck and a fake v-neck out of trim. But I have a plate in Harper Bazaar from 1883 with a deep V and it was 100 degrees.  For the same reason I did 3/4 sleeves.

pay no attention to the fact I’m wrapped in my train

Amanda made my adorable bonnet for herself and promptly decided she hated it…so I giddily made off with it. I think it was a Lynn McMaster’s pattern? But not having made it I’m allowed to not really know.

Posing for our tintype

We had such an amazing time hanging out after the public left when the lit the lanterns and we relaxed listening to good conversation, live music and I laughed till my sides hurt.

Serenaded by the Earl himself


Amanda looking dashing


I’m not sure what I like more, the backwards flag or the spyglass “accidentally” aimed at Alice’s bustline

Christmas, 1830s style

Christmas, 1830s style

Six more weeks of silly

Well I’m just a smidge behind on posting this dress…that I made for Christmas…heck I should have waited another month and done Christmas in July. But I resolved after moving to try to be better at posting so here you get a Christmas-in-June post.


Me, Alice, and Amanda looking so cold and Christmasy (photo from the Asbury Park Press)

*sings carols in the 90 degree heat*



Who am I kidding it was 70 at Christmas this year…but don’t worry climate change is a myth



Hey look it’s real bread!

I made this dress for another trip to Historic Allaire, they were having some Christmas shenanigans, honestly it’s been so long I forget the specifics. Oh wait there were long lines for carriage rides and decorations.

Anyway, I had just come off the high of Gettysburg (what do you mean I never posted about that either…son-of-a-sock-monkey, more catch up coming later)…where was I..right so Katherine C-G was in my house and when I wasn’t squealing over a celebrity IN MY GUEST ROOM she was getting me all convinced that I could make an 1830s dress in a week. Or something close to a week it was months ago.




Dress on the right


Nice wonky bow there Robin

Part of Katherine’s brilliant plan was pointing out I could use my nicely fitting 1860s ball gown bodice pattern and just cut it straight at the waist.

We were flipping through Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion and boy she seemed to be making a lot of sense (this is how you end up with the costume equivalent of buying a time share).

The 1830s often featured wide, almost off the shoulder necklines, and the sleeve pattern in PoF is so huge and gathered you could just put it in any old armscye. aaaand then I made a dress in a week.



Not having time for proper sleeve floaties I just gathered a wad of netting (technical measurement) and tacked it to the sleeve lining so it was in between the lining and the plaid.  It cross laces with attractive black lacing as that’s what I found when running out the door.


Stink eye is given

All in all I’m really happy with it. It’s a very simple cut in a very loud fabric. oh and crazy hair. The fabric is a some kind of synthetic I bought off a vendor at Belvidere. Nice hand but definitely dead dino.


Remember 1830s is ALL about dat hair

1830s lavender voile dress

1830s lavender voile dress

For those who haven’t been to the Historic Village in Allaire NJ it’s a sweet working village set up from the 1830s at Mr. Allaire’s iron works. Our friend Tessa was getting faked married as Maria Allaire on Sunday and that mustered some of the local Philly costume contingent to invade.


The blushing fake bride is in the middle

It being June and hot as hades I figured a new voile dress would be a great idea…what was NOT a great idea was starting the dress the Tuesday before I needed it.


Am I capable of not being talking during photos? I KNEW IT WAS BEING TAKEN


I ordered 7 yards of voile form this AWESOME etsy seller, fabric was fabulous, got here ASAP from NYC, will be ordering again. ($2.99/yd?! yes thank you) I miss cut the front and had to recut it and ended up piecing one sleeve..so yeah only scraps really left.

The bodice is the Truly Victorian Ballgown bodice with a few alterations, second time I’ve used it for 1830s. The sleeves are out of Janet Arnold. Bodice and sleeves are lined with muslin and there’s a yard of hex net cut in half and gathered up in each sleeve. I would like to get around to making real sleeve puffers..but like I said started tuesday. The skirt is three panels two of which are in the back one in the front.


I did also finish a corded petticoat which I’ll pretend will get it’s own post someday…for when I never get around to it it’s two length’s of Joann’s Premium muslin (not that crappy crappy stuff) and sugar and cream cording. I was very pleased with it, body but now super stiff.


And a few more pictures

Before I re-wear it I need to add real closures (it has one at the waist and one at each wrist causing gaping) and actually iron it.

Alice’s Attic: 1898-1905 black and cream silk bodice


Godey’s 1864 knitted under petticoat

Godey’s 1864 knitted under petticoat
Eeek look my underwear!

Eeek look my underwear!  Photo Courtesy of JennylaFleur

The knitting kick continues. For my 30th Birthday my dear friend Amanda (maker of all things awesome) gave me a bag of ORANGE worsted weight yarn from Grandma’s-Dead-Friend (where we all end up with the most random craft supplies from). When searching around for something to use 11 skeins of yarn for I found this pattern for a knitted under petticoat. We’re going to Gettysburg in November when it’s cold and drafty under those hoops, seemed like a match made in heaven.



I of course had to make a few changes because I was using worsted weight yarn on size 8 needles instead of lace weight (beggar’s can’t be choosers). I only did two panels instead of three, each of which ended up around 35″ wide. I only did four stripes of five rows instead of the six called for in the pattern, and only 16 rows of ribbing instead of 24 to avoid having a floor length skirt.

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I really thought it was going to take FOREVER to knit but it took almost exactly a month, big needles FTW!…Although I still have I think 5 skeins of orange left…any one have any ideas what one can do with a ton of orange worsted wool yarn? I’m definitely looking for something.

An 1847 knitted muff

An 1847 knitted muff

My friend Katherine recently made a knitted muff from an 1847 pattern. She has a great blog post about how she did it with the complete pattern.  This tickled my fancy for a few reasons. 1. saying “muff” repeatedly in a blog entry (snerk, I am an adult). 2. We’re deep in planning for Remembrance Day weekend this year so I have Mid-Victorian on the brain. And 3; I can’t close the knitting basket (it’s a big basket) due to all the yarn in there due for a project or mostly leftover from a project. So I grabbed some silk-bamboo leftovers and decided to have a go.

I don't do subtle

I don’t do subtle

I used size 8 needles and Paton’s silk-bamboo-something-I-bought-two-years-ago-and-lost-the-label-for. The only change I made to Katherine’s pattern was to increase the number of stitches I cast on to 56. The original pattern was for a child’s muff, and well Katherine has child sized hands!


The way you knit it with two colors makes a cool overlay effect. I think I liked it better on Katherine’s more subtle pink and white…buuuut this is what was in the basket.

close up of meshy mesh

close up of meshy mesh

I made draw strings out of self yarn but they didn’t seem like enough so then I added purple bows. Why purple? I have this ribbon still left over from my wedding. It. Never. Ends.


Overall? I feel pretty meh about it. I used ever last scrap of blue yarn I had and barely got it to 16″ long so the muff isn’t as big as I wanted it. and I was scraping by on fumes to get the tassels out of the cream so they seem kinda piddly to me. Apparently I like big fluffy muffs [insert inappropriate comment]. But I’m really glad I did it, by far this was the most complicated thing I’ve ever knitted, and the first with two colors! (odd then that it was just a rectangle).

So anyone want a blue muff?

A red wool spencer

A red wool spencer

The birthday girl with Alice and Jessica at the Betsy Ross house

We celebrated Amanda’s birthday with a fun day in historic Philadelphia on saturday. We went to the Betsy Ross House, Christ Church, Independence hall and had a delicious lunch at City Tavern.  As it was winter and we were going to be outside a lot none of my other regency dresses would do, I would simply have to make something new!

I started with this dress from the MET as my inspiration


But as I was finishing up the bodice portion on Thursday night I suddenly realized it was pretty much a complete spencer…and if I just put a bodice on the top..voila a jumper! And then I could have a dress and a spencer and be warmer! The only downside of this brilliant plan was that I hadn’t planned to put something under my sleeves so I had not cut them with extra space. I used red gabardine because it was in the stash, but we’re going to pretend I did it for Go Red for Women! Don’t forget how dangerous heart disease can be in women.

I remembered to get ONE photo of me ta da!

I remembered to get ONE photo of me ta da!

The skirt is two panels, one the 60″ width of the fabric and one 40″ wide, why 100 inches? I dunno it seemed full enough. One seam is on the side front for the closure, the other is buried somewhere in the back pleats. I did scallop trim around the hem. I traced a hot chocolate container and then stitched piping around it, very easy but I was pleased with the impact.


The collar took me the most figuring. It’s a roll collar, but not a full role, and it’s a peter pan collar, but not a full peter pan..so in the end this is as close as I got.



fashion fabric
fashion fabric

In the end I was pretty pleased with how it came out. And aside form stuffing way to full shirt sleeves under a spencer with fitted sleeves it was very comfortable.

Sitting in Washington's Pew at Christ Church

Sitting in Washington’s Pew at Christ Church

It's so preeetty

It’s so preeetty

Last two photos stolen from Amanda, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!