New Dicken’s Fair Dress

I’m getting ready for the annual family trek to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with the kids. Part of our celebration 2-1involves participating in the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, in costume, of course. It’s so much more fun in costume. Even my  husband, who is not a dress up guy, dresses up for Dickens.

This year howev5er, I had a little bit of problem fitting into the old costume. I was close–as in if I wore a corset, I’d be fine. I don’t want to wear a corset all day, so the only thing I could do was to make a new dress. Fast. In the middle of moving. We do not yet have water in our house, but we have electricity, and that was all I needed to make the sewing machine run.

I chose eggplant taffeta and green velveteen. Victorians love purple and green and I wanted to stay with green accents, since my feathered hat is green and I’m not giving up my hat. When I first laid the fabrics on top of one another, my first thought was “I don’t know…” My second was, “Do you want to wear a corset all day?” So I plunged in.

I choose Simplicity 2887, which is based on a German pattern published in 1863. As you can see, the modern pattern, 2-2created by Kay Gnagey, faithfully recreates the original. You can read more about the original pattern here.

I chose not to put fringe on the tabs, and now, having seen the original, which I did not study before I started to sew, I plan to 4-1redo the skirt tabs so that they are not spaced so far apart. But that is a project for another year. I’m debating about tassels on the buttons. The tassels I bought are too small, but Britex Fabrics is one of my San Francisco stops, so perhaps I will have tassels when I attend the Fair.

The dress is closed by sixteen hook and eye fasteners. I love hand sewing, unless it 7-1involves snaps or hooks and eyes. But I persevered and got the darned things sewn on.

The dress isn’t yet hemmed. The first year my son brought his now-wife to join our Thanksgiving celebration, she and my daughter and I sat on the floor and hemmed our Victorian dresses in preparation for our very first Dickens Fair. It was a lovely bonding time. This year I’ll be the only one hemming on Friday, but I know I’ll have good company as I sew.

The dress will be worn with a  lace collar and white sleeves. I hope to get some good photos at the fair and I’ll share them in my December post.

Until then, please have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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Jeannie Watt raises cattle in Montana and loves all things western. When she's not writing, Jeannie enjoys sewing, making mosaic mirrors, riding her horses and buying hay. Lots and lots of hay.

7 thoughts on “New Dicken’s Fair Dress”

  1. You are an awesome seamstress. I sew, but would not tackle a dress like that. Have a great time at the fair and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Wow. Such a beautiful dress! Not only are you talented in making the dress in the first place, you’re obviously patient what with having sixteen hook and eye fasteners–and the hemming. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and a lovely Dickens Day. Can’t wait to see the pictures.

  3. Thank you for the kind words! I’m on my way to the airport with my dress taking up a good bit of space in my suitcase. Hopefully I can talk my daughter into taking custody until next year. 🙂

  4. What a lovely dress. My daughters and I would all like the colors.. (I was going to say we would fight you for it, but that isn’t very nice.) Our youngest daughter has been asking me to make her another ball gown for the Civil War reenactment events. I just haven’t been ably to find the time or the room to start on one. I haven’t sewed in a while and bit rusty. Of course she picked a really detailed pattern. I may try to talk her into this pattern. It is much more simple.
    I wish we had an event like the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in our area. I would love an excuse to make a gown for myself. If I ever get my sewing room straightened up, I’ll consider it. I need to finish a prairie style day dress for my daughter first plus a Cherokee dress I started for myself. The Cherokee dress is on a trade/reenactor pattern and has confusing directions. I still need to finish my shawl for my Native American regalia.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful time at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. I can’t wait to see pictures of you in your gown. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the family time.

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