January 30, 2016

1820s Mad for Plaid: Photo Shoot

The way a crow Shook down on me
The dust of snow From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart A change of mood
And saved some part Of a day I had rued.
~ "Dust of Snow" by Robert Frost

Happy Friday, dear readers!  As of late, I've been rather uninspired to blog, focusing my writing rather on the plethora of papers for my college classes.  (In fact, in my script analysis class, which has quickly become my favorite, we just wrote about "Moony's Kid Don't Cry," which is one of Tennessee Williams' early, but brilliant, one acts.  I highly recommend it to those looking for a quick and deep read - fans of The Glass Menagerie will especially like it!)  Anyways, onto the 1820s Mad for Plaid Photo Shoot (paired with some Robert Frost poetry, of course) that I've been promising for the last few posts!

I was almost not going to post this photo shoot, feeling a little displeased with the results - not to mention the lack of snow - and the departure from historical accuracy.  However, I couldn't bring myself to delete the post.  SO, please keep in mind that this outfit is not meant to be a purely historical creation, but rather a fun, historically inspired costume piece!  Knowing what I know now (a whole year after the project was initially planned), some of the materials are wrong; though, for the most part, the construction techniques are on the right track.  Regardless of its inaccuracies, I still like wearing and twirling around in it, and it's become one of my most fun - and certainly most time consuming - outfits that I've made yet! 

Silliness!  I believe at this point that I was spinning around the hallway
& giving the little sister, my photographer, a hard time...

Also, a special note on the plaid trim: it's actually recycled, err upcycled, from what I consider the first garment I ever made - a 100% machine stitched "Civil War" skirt with a zipper and all...I've come a long way since.  You can read more about the outfit's bonnet here, the creation of the accessories here, and the initial planning & inspiration (way back in January of 2015) here.  

Completed Project Shots

*Photographs all courtesy of and thanks to the great talent of my younger sister and budding photographer, Maria M.*

Nearly the day before leaving for Pittsburgh, Maria, my favorite sister & photographer, indulged her older sister with one last photo shoot 'till the summer.  It was absolutely frigid at our location, once again the East Garden of the George Eastman Museum, despite the rather green surrounds for it being early January in Upstate New York.  Since neither Maria nor I tolerate the cold well, our shoot lasted all of maybe 15 minutes before we moved to find an indoor location.  

From the inside-out, the outfit includes the 1820s inspired dress and belt worn over a shift, mid-century corset, white silk stockings, strapped petticoat and ruffly chemisette.  The costume is further accessorized with a matching bonnet, furry muff, reticule, pashmina shawl, vintage gloves and pointed-toe slippers. 

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow. 


My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

~ "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost 

Along with a few more hallway shots, just because...

My best attempt at the "Dreamstress" pose :)

2016 Historical Sew Monthly January Challenge: Procrastination

While, unfortunately, with college and all, I won't be officially participating in the 2016 Historical Sew Monthly, hosted by Dreamstress, this project (specifically the dress and bonnet) coincided so nicely with the first challenge of the year that I couldn't resist one more entry!  Left an abandoned u.f.o. (or "un-finished object") for an entire year, completing the 1820s Mad for Plaid project at the beginning of January was oh so satisfying!
The Challenge:  #1: Procrastination - finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting. 

Material:  For the dress - 5 yards of black cotton broadcloth, navy blue cotton (for the bodice lining and hem facing), dark red cotton (for contrast piping and bias tape) & plaid cotton for the trim.  

Pattern:  A combination of experimentation & an 1890s balloon sleeve diagram

Year:  Late 1820s

Notions:  Again for the dress - thick wool yarn for the piping, hooks and eyes, twill tape for the interior waistband & matching threads 

How historically accurate is it?  All right, this is where you should not look too critically...this outfit was made for fun, rather than historical accuracy.  While I would say it's overall look of the costume would definitely be recognized in its time period, its materials and and perhaps some of the construction methods are unorthodox.  Points could be awarded, however, for being mostly hand stitched with only a few machined interior seams.  So...how about 50%?

Historical inspiration:

Tulle summer gown, c. late 1820s to early 1830s.
(Kerry Taylor Auctions)
Carriage Dress, December 1824.
(LACMA Fashion Plate)

Hours to complete:  Lost count! 

First worn:  For the photo shoot 

Total cost:  Unfortunately, I did not keep track...but my best estimate for the outfit would be $45-50 total. 



  1. So, are the materials the only inaccuracy? I don't think it's much of a problem. They did have cotton at the time, just didn't use much of it due to trade restrictions and the availability of wool and linen, right? What else don't you like about the dress? I don't know much about this time period, but it looks fantastic and not inaccurate.

    1. Thank you, Kaela! I seem to be my own worst critic when it comes to judging my creations...The materials are the main inaccuracy that bothers me. While cottons were available at the time, as you said, it seems that solid colors were mostly reserved for sheer weights. If money were no object, I would much rather see such a fashion forward dress constructed in a wool with silk trim. Also, there are a few synthetics, and I am not too sure about the bright contrast piping or shape of the bonnet. I too need to learn a lot more about the time period! :)

  2. First of all....Congratulations to you on your "Take Back Halloween" win!! Whoo hoo! You sooooo deserve it!! Secondly, I am so in love with your Mad for Plaid Regency outfit! It is beyond fabulous! The color is so "warm" looking and I adore your bonnet!! It frames your face to perfection! Job so very well done my dear!

  3. Thank you so much, Gina, for both of the lovely comments!! It always makes my day to receive the "well done" of my favorite sewing bloggers :)

  4. Very lovely! I want to steal your accessories, especially the muff - it's so fun! Anyhow, I'm so excited to have stumbled on your blog and look forward to seeing more of your historical creations! :)

    1. Wow, thank you so much, Sanna!! It is always such a great privilege to hear from new readers - thanks for the follow :)