August 21, 2012

The Much Belated Dickens Dress Post

Silly me!  I bought some fabric for this years Dickens Faire dress last week and thought about showing it to you today, but then I realized I never showed you the finished dress from last year!

I'd say it ended up fairly close to the original design plan.  Due to a time crunch (I finished this the night before the last day of costume approval!) I ended up using a simpler design for the sleeves and not trimming them.  As dresses go it's quite plain, but given that I was going for middle class I think it's just fine.

The main fabric is a lightweight herringbone brown wool with light blue and white stripes.  I used a blue plaid wool fabric cut on the bias to trim the skirt.  The skirt is simply three rectangles of fabric sewn together, lined with cotton and cartridge pleated to a waistband.  It ended up a bit shorter than I originally planned, but I like my dance skirts on the shorter side anyways.

The bodice is a heavily altered version of TV443.  I shortened it, got rid of the double points in front and put in totally different sleeves.  The seams are all piped with the blue wool fabric.  The undersleeves are cotton and simply pinned in so that they can be easily removed for washing.  Since this dress was going to see some heavy action I chose to sew the bodice to the skirt to avoid any threat of gaposis.  

The bodice is flatlined with cotton organdy.  Some choose a lightweight canvas for this purpose, but I found that the thin crisp organdy gave great structure and support and was light and super breathable to boot.  I spent most of faire at Fezziwig's dancing my butt off, so having a light and breathable bodice was important!   Oddly enough, I didn't bone the bodice at all.  I think I simply ran out of time.  During dress rehearsal I was quite surprised to find that you couldn't tell it didn't have boning!  While it looks wrinkly on the mannequin, it lay pretty smoothly on my body, even while moving.  I will be adding boning in before it gets worn again however, since it will still improve the overall appearance.

The back of the bodice didn't look nearly as good as the front.  I had a terrible wrinkle issue there, but it appears to be because the back and sides are about three quarters of an inch too long.  Pinching excess fabric out makes it lie perfectly, so at some point I'll have to disassemble the pieces and shorten them.  Boning would certainly have helped, but there would still be too much fabric back there with no where to go.

I picked up a beautiful collar from a seller at the Dickens workshops.  I've tacked it down so that it can easily be removed for washing.

The whole ensemble is worn over the bell-shaped hoops I made using my custom hoop drafting instructions.  They've got a circumference of 95", so they're the perfect size for Faire.

I used Truly Victorian's free hoop petticoat instructions to make a petticoat out of cotton organdy.  It looks a little worse for wear here, but that's because it's been through a season of Faire and is in need of a good washing!

I don't seem to have any good photos of me actually wearing the dress, which means this grainy iPhone image is the best you get for now.  No idea why my petticoat suddenly decided it wanted attention, but there it is peeking out!

Bonus photo: Ty can't go go Faire, but that doesn't mean he can't play along at home!


  1. Did you ever know you are my hero? You're everything I wish I could be. I can fly higher than an eagle, because you are the wind beneath

    I think this dress is so awesome! I love the little piping details on the bodice. Basically I just love you.

  2. So yeah, I just sang that it my head... Then I had a mental image of you all Marilyn Monroe style but with Victorian petticoats!

  3. THAT photo shoot NEEDS to happen!!

  4. How many petticoats are we talkin'? Do we need to break out the BIG fans?


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