April 18, 2014


I briefly set aside the Romantic stays & gown project to throw together a quickie outfit for another event.  PEERs hosted a Downton Abbey ball recently, so of course I needed something to wear! 

Not my usual ball attire.

Since Curtis and I just happen to live in what may have been the servants quarters of a 1913 house, and our friends and neighbors live a floor above us in the fancy parlor of said house, we decided to combine forces and floors to throw a pre-ball Upstairs/Downstairs Downton shindig.  We left the elegant clothes and manners to them, and prepared to attend an event dressed down for once.  There was just one issue- I only have fancy dresses!

Rummaging around online, I came across the Ladies Treasury of free patterns; specifically their 1912-1914 Ladies Custom-Drafted Skirt in 3, 5 & 7 Gores.  Following their instructions, I was able to quickly and easily draft up the 5 gore version to my measurements.  Since I found a pretty stripped cotton fabric I wanted to use, I did change the suggested grainline to run down the center of each piece so I would be able to pattern match the stripes in a more pleasing manner along the seams.

Sweet stripe
matching, yeah!

I wasn't able to start the skirt until about 10pm of the evening before the party, but I did manage to knock it all out in that one late night session.  It might have gone quicker had I not had to stare at my pattern layout for a good forty minutes trying to recall how to properly lay the pieces to ensure the stripes matched. 

I wanted the bottom edge of the skirt to stand away from my feet a bit, so I added some stiff crinoline fabric behind the wide facing I used to finish the hem.  It's actually a bit too stiff, and makes the skirt have more of an earlier line, but I still like it.    I figure this skirt could end up working as a casual skirt spanning the 1890s through the early teens, especially if I'm pretending to be behind in fashion a bit.

A 4" band of crinoline tucked 'tween the skirt edge and its facing lends support.

The back of the skirt swoops out just a bit, which I love.  Cat alert on the left!

In the rush to get it done, I didn't have time to add hooks and eyes, so the skirt back was pinned closed for the party and ball.  Once I get around to sewing them on, the closure should be nearly invisible.

I couldn't find my pin-tucked shirtwaist the day of, so I wore a striped shirt meant for a man.  With an apron over it and the sleeves rolled up, only the collar gives it away, and I don't care for this event.  With a scarf to cover my hair, I think I made quite a lovely kitchen maid!

It was pretty awesome wearing this and not having to worry about getting my nice clothes dirty.  I felt perfectly comfy bustling about the kitchen baking bread and prepping food in costume.  If I got some flour or whatever on me, no worries, it just adds to the character!

Never fear, this quickie outfit didn't derail me from my Romantic gown project.  I won't likely have the stays finished in time (let's face it, as complex as they are, I was never going to get the stays done on time).  However, I will have a ridiculously over the top 1830s gown done in time for the Gaskell ball.  Here's a few sneak peek photos to tide you over!

Corded side panel of the stays.

Testing, testing...


  1. OMG, I adore your green stays! That cording! ~swoons~ I can't wait to see your 1830s ensemble, it's a time period I absolutely adore, and there are far too few people doing it!

    Your Downton Downstairs outfit turned out really cute! I love the striped skirt, it's one of those pieces that will be good for so many things. ^^

    1. Thanks! A good sized group of ladies will be dressing up in Romantic Era gowns at the end of April, so there will be a whole lot o' 1830ish eye candy :)

  2. Simple (looking) and perfect - I love the mix of stripes, and the stripe matching. Can I be your apprentice?

  3. I loved that skirt. Your whole outfit was perfect. It was so nice to see a well-done Downstairs outfit.

  4. Your maid outfit looked really good at the ball. https://www.flickr.com/photos/7181690@N03/13680633873/

  5. Oooo yummy! And thanks for the free skirt pattern connection. That green sleeve is swoon worthy, I swear!
    Nancy N

    1. You're welcome! There's some interesting patterns on that site.

  6. I am drooling over your stripe matching right now :) and that last picture of the sleeve... In love!!



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