Category Archives: Late 19th Century Costumes

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 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

The Crazy Bird Lady Dress

The Crazy Bird Lady Dress

On Saturday my friends and husband threw me an awesome-mostly-a-surprise-party for my  30th birthday. I knew I was supposed to wear Victorian, but I didn’t know anything more than that.  I had started this dress (knicknamed the Crazy Bird Lady Dress by Amanda) in 2011 for Belvidere and never gone back to it. By started I mean I made the underskirt and half of the bottom kick pleat, that’s it.

The party turned out to be in Laurel Hill Cemetery. A beautiful, huge, cemetery where the rich and more rich of Philadelphia were buried. We set up amongst the giant tombs in millionaire’s row. (Our tour guide said it is now called “Captains of Industry row” as idiots kept breaking in thinking the mausoleums were full of money…people are dumb).


I can report they’re still dead


The fashion plate that started it all

The fashion plate that started it all

I had this ELECTRIC blue poly taffeta that was originally for something else but hadn’t gotten here in time. MadameKat showed me the above fashion plate and I was in love. Someday to make Amanda happy I’ll find a fake pigeon to hold and take a picture with.


My version

I have to say I’m very pleased with how it turned out. The most time consuming part was figuring out the math and making all the rhombus shapes around the skirt above the kick pleat. It’s just so FLUFFY and fun to wear.


We were in a beautiful location amongst Victorian monuments


you can’t see it but I’m wearing my new tiara


A group photo of the ladies

My friends came from far and wide to surprise me.  And boy did they! Many in brand new dresses and all looking gorgeous. Sadly we had lost Adrienne by the time of the group photo as she wasn’t feeling well suddenly and needed to de-corset and oooh boy can I empathize.

Oh Myyyyy

Oh Myyyyy

It was a was a completely amazing way to ring in my 30s. I am very blessed with the amazing friends I have and I love them all dearly. Even those who couldn’t make it were felt and loved. They know me so well that almost all of my presents involved, orange, plaid or sparklies.

The Bohemian Belle being silly

The Bohemian Belle being silly


My new tiara in the car on the way home (courtesy of the ever tasteful MadameKat!)


Look the sleeve bows I was up till midnight finishing…at home on the couch waiting for me when I got back. *headdesk*