Dickens Fair, events, Gwendolen, projects

Gwendolen – Done, Worn, Yay!

So I had two things left to do on this project before I wore it:

1) The skirt. I made it to have a long train, which was great for Costume College (carpet!) and not so great for Dickens Fair (gross Cow Palace floor complete with sawdust!).  So I put the bustle, petticoats, and skirt on my dress form, grabbed a lot of safety pins, and started pinning up the train.  I futzed with different options and basically ended up making the “pouf” part of the skirt bigger. I tried to mostly pin it to the ribbon tie, but that didn’t totally work so I pinned it to the top petticoat as well, and then just put those on at the same time. I also cut off the ribbon ties and made an actual attractive pieced bow, rather than the hastily tied bow from the first wearing — altho you really can’t see it in the pictures!

2) The bonnet. I had the time for once to indulge my seldom indulged love of millinery.  I’m not terribly good at it, but I like it!  So I made Lynn McMasters’s Mid-Victorian Winter Bonnet. It all went together swimmingly — there were a few confusing steps in the pattern instructions, but they were relatively straightforward construction elements so it all worked out fine.

The difficulty was in choosing the covering/trimming.  I constantly pick up bits and pieces of ribbon, flowers, feathers, etc. thinking, “This will be perfect for hat trimming!”  But I don’t really get around to hat making/trimming often enough.  So I REALLY wanted to make this out of things from my stash.  However, normally I try to avoid the matching hat, as I feel like it looks too costumey (most historical women probably wouldn’t have had a hat to match every outfit).  But looking through my stash of leftover fabric and possible trims, I couldn’t find anything else to use.  Plus, I had this FABULOUS purple and white striped ribbon that would go so perfectly — the purple was a darker shade, and the stripes were narrower, but that made for interesting contrast.  So I sucked it up and covered the hat with the leftovers of the dyed velvet.  Then I used a lot of the purple/white striped ribbon and some ivory plush velvet to make a bow and other fiddly bits.  It wasn’t quite working until I sucked it up and went to Joann’s and found the white soutache-y trim — until then, it was just this huge expanse of velvet with a bow on the side!  I also bought some short ostrich feathers, which I wired together and curled using Lynn’s instructions.

I really like the finished hat, except when I went to wear it, I found that it really needed a LOT of flat head on which to sit.  Which meant that my hairstyle, which normally would have crossed the top of my head to carry the weight, had to really hang off the back of my head giving me an instant hair headache (yes, I made anchoring buns!).  Oh well, we suffer for fashion, right?

Thanks to Sarah for a lot of these final pictures!  You can see my other photos from our trip to Dickens Fair on Flickr.

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  • Reply Anie December 19, 2009 at 6:15 am

    The hat is made of awesome! You look fabulous from head to toe.

  • Reply Kate in England December 19, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Aaahhh, this pushes my buttons on SO many levels! Stripes! Velvet! Purple/lilac! Jacket-style bodice! Big ass! Lovely fit! Just total, all-round gorgeousness.

  • Reply Hana Marmota December 19, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    It’s fantastic! From head to toe.

  • Reply Loren December 23, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Yay! It looks fabulous! We should plan a time to channel our inner (and outer) Gwendolyns together.

  • Reply The Dreamstress December 27, 2009 at 2:31 am

    You look amazing! The whole ensemble is beautiful, but more than that, it looks perfectly right on you – you just have the most amazingly bustle-era figure!
    And I’m sure that every once in a while a Victorian woman covered a hat in fabric left over from a dress and ended up with a perfectly matching hat ;-)

  • Reply Jeannette Ng January 13, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    It’s a particularly fine bustle. It does all work together wonderfully.

    The cane is terribly familiar, I do believe I know a fictitious Viscount who wields a similar one with great fervour, but I digress.

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