My Very Victorian Christmas 2015

Heritage Square is a museum where I try to volunteer at least once a month. It’s a museum that has several Victorian homes and usually I lead tours. However once I year I get to pretend I have a tiny bit of acting talent and spend one weekend performing in the Lamplight program.

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This year I was Virginia, a woman in my early twenties (ha!) who had just been engaged to Martin, a man who literally swept me off my feet. We perform a scene every 20 minutes from 4pm to nearly 9pm. It is exhausting. It is fun. It is a good excuse to make a new pretty outfit.

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Welcome to my home!

This year I was in the Hale house. It is the most restored home and quite lush inside! It’s also incredibly creepy and I think haunted. But at least no ghost sightings during our weekend! Just a few odd footsteps.

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And I made my whole outfit (except the corset)! Whew! It was a lot of sewing for a few weeks, but a little bit each night makes it easy to accomplish. I ended up making a corset cover, blouse, and skirt. Plus refashioned two petticoats. Thankfully I made a light colored chemise this summer so it was one less items to churn out in November.

The blouse came from an out of print pattern (Butterick 3417). The largest size I had was too small, but I did adjustments to the front, back, and sleeves to size it up a few sizes. I over compensated a bit, but no worries! It fits the style of the time. The fabric came from a new favorite shop, Renaissance Fabrics. I purchased the last of some dimity and fully lined the blouse with cotton lawn since this was for a winter night time event and the weather is often quite chilly. Then I finished off the blouse with lace from a fellow volunteer (thank you Kristine!) and some buttons a fellow knitted sent to me (thank you Liz!).

Really I owe Kristine a huge thank you for helping me with fabric selection. I am a novice when it comes to historical accuracy and she held my hand through the hold process.

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The skirt fabric also came from Renaissance Fabrics. It is their well priced cotton velveteen and was a dream to work with. Washed beautifully, a fabulous garment weight, and heavy enough that it didn’t need a full lining. I used Truly Victorian’s 1898 Flared Skirt pattern which was borrowed from another fellow volunteer. It eats up fabric (6 frickin’ yards), but was also simple to follow. The error I made was forgetting I’d be corseted when I cut the waistband. My waist corsets down 4 or 5 inches so the waist was much too big. Eventually I’ll re-do it.

The skirt trim was a light bulb idea. I wanted to trim the skirt with something I could sew right into the seam instead of having to hand sew to the velveteen. I ended up using Robert Kaufman’s Mammoth Flannel but on the bias. Then added the same lace as the blouse. So simple. The I added snap on black silk bows as the finishing touch. I just love this skirt so much. It was a joy to wear.

The weekend went by in a flash and just like that the whole program was over. But now I have a few new pieces I’ll get some wear out on my usual weekend tours.

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Happy Lamplight!

 

 

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5 thoughts on “My Very Victorian Christmas 2015

  1. Awesome! I’d love to chat about the logistics of the program – does it happen during regular museum hours? We don’t do costumed events, but we might start – except trying to figure out when to do it has proven tricky. Since it’s more involved than a regular tour, we’d want to charge extra, but then you can’t do that during regular hours. Are you all required to provide your own costumes, or are there costumes available for volunteers who aren’t sewists? Who creates the script you use? SO MANY MUSEUMY QUESTIONS. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Curvy Sewn: Your Creations for December

  3. Thank you for sharing this gorgeous Victorian outfit. I haven’t ventured into the challenge of historical clothing (but I used to work as a “Historical Interpreter” dressing up in appropriate costume in a historical house for visitors) but I’m tempted seeing your outfit. I think it would be fun to just implement some of those design features into a modern outfit. Victorian clothing is just so delicious. (I live in Victoria BC Canada so I’m especially partial to “Victorian” 🙂

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    • Oh yes! Adding Victorian details doesn’t have to be too hard. I made a summer dress with insertion lace this past year and besides taking more time it was simple to do and added a ton of interest. Maybe I’ll show some examples as the weather warms up.

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