I’m getting ready for the annual family trek to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with the kids. Part of our celebration involves 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 however, 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, created 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 redo 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 involves 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!