November 10, 2015

A Young Queen Victoria

"I am young, but I am willing to learn, and I mean to devote 
my life to the service of my country and my people."
~ The Young Victoria (2009)

Perhaps it is no secret that my favorite monarch in British history is Queen Victoria.  Ever since I saw Jean-Marc VallĂ©e’s film, The Young Victoria (2009), I have been smitten with the powerful, outspoken and imposing queen and empress who stood at no more than five feet tall.  Therefore, it only made sense to pay homage to her by dressing as the young queen for this past Trick-or-Treat Day through the village & Halloween.  

Take a look at this neat, early 19th century, Chinese portrait of Queen Victoria
& more on my God Save the Queen Pinterest Board, featuring all things Queen Victoria!
(Image via: Pinterest)

Inside & Out

Maybe not the most historically accurate royal attire, but oh so fun to wear!  Two nights before the Trick-or-Treat event in the village, I pulled out this refashioned, 80s prom dress from the back of the closet, and literally had hours to transform a sad, wadded up, bundle of fabric into a dress fit for a queen.  I originally received the pale, pink prom dress and lace back in high school in exchange for helping sort the costume basement of a local community theater.    Since then, after it had graced the stage as Emma's "Protest" Dress in the Finalle of Doctor Dolittle (2013), the dress has sat in the closet waiting to be given a face lift.

The inspiration - this portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter:

Portrait of Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.
(Image via: Women's Fashions of the Victorian Era: From Hoop Skirts to Bustles - 1837 - 1901)

First, I gathered my mid-century undergarments - white silk stockings, modesty petticoat, flounced bustle pad, plain petticoat, tucked petticoat - as well as the pink, striped hoop I made for theater.  Trying the dress over all of the undergarments, I took note of all of the alterations and repairs needed.  Repairing rips in the lace, entirely redoing the sleeves and altering the bodice took an entire night.  I then added the trimmings on the bodice and sleeves by hand:

Close up of the bodice with lace, ribbon and pearl brooch.

Inspiration for the broach taken from this portrait in the Royal Collection:

Portrait of Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1845.
(Image via:

Then, I tackled the royal sash.  Using a scrap of dark blue, crepe back satin left over from a previous project, I cut four strips about 30 inches long by 6 inches wide, with only an inch of fabric to spare.  Seamed and pressed the centers with a generous allowance; and, pinning right sides together, seamed the sides, leaving about three inches open to turn.  Finally, after a good pressing and careful top stitching right at the edge, the royal sash was ready to wear.  (And then, I ran off to play Snow White in Spirits of the Past...)

Pinning my royal sash from right shoulder to left hip.

Inspiration for the sash (and also my hairstyle) came from this portrait: 

Portrait of Queen Victoria by Robert Thorburn, 1844.
(Image via:

Next came my one and only royal order:  Made from white, double faced satin ribbon and a cameo broach.  Hand-stitched in between Spirits of the Past scenes.  (For truly fantastic reproductions of royal orders, check out Gina's tutorial at Beauty from Ashes: Royal Family Orders Round 2 - what an inspiration!)

Original Badge of the Order of Victoria and Albert (first class):

Badge of the Order of Victoria and Albert (first class), c. 1860-2.
(Image via: Royal Collection Trust)

My version: While most royals wear their orders and decorations on their shoulders at formal events, I chose to pin mine to my sash.

Finally, I accessorized with a small portrait of Prince Albert:  Made from the same, white, double faced satin ribbon, narrow, black velvet ribbon, metal frame, card stock, mod podge, and a printed portrait of the Prince Consort.  On such short timing, I thought the portrait looked quite official! 

The original portrait painted by Charles Brocky:

Portrait of Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg & Gotha by Charles Brocky, 1841.
(Image via:

My miniature, pinned to royal sash:

Adding a vintage, paste necklace, paste broach, opera length gloves with pearl wrist fastenings, and paste crown completed the royal look!

Completed Project Shots

"We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist."
~ Queen Victoria

With shorter days, it was a race against the setting sun to get my royal attire photographed.  The photo shoot took place in the picturesque West Garden of the George Eastman Mansion (same place as my senior year photos).  My photographer, Maria, the sister, had less than half an hour to work her magic, and she sure outdid herself. *All photographs courtesy of Maria - thanks a million!* 

Series the First:  At the Wall

Series the Second:  On the Grounds

Series the Third:  By the Door

Project Review

Year:  1840s-1850s

Materials:  Pink polyester (80s prom dress), several types of white lace, dark blue crepe back satin (left over from a previous project)

Notions:  Spool of high quality, double faced, red satin ribbon; white, double faced satin ribbon; narrow, black velvet ribbon; narrow elastic; buttonhole twist thread in several colors; several buttons & broaches

Cost:  Mostly cobbled together from the stash, only had to buy the tiara, white, satin ribbon, narrow, velvet ribbon, mod podge (and brush) & white, pointed toe flats.  (Total cost estimation: $50)

Ad Victorian.  For victory.


  1. this is so fantastic and clever! you look beautiful and very royal! may i ask where you got the metal frame for the prince albert miniature?

    1. Thank you for all of your kind words, Samantha!! :)
      The metal frame was a lucky find in the jewelry section of Jo-Anns. Though, I'm sure you could find a wider variety of them on Etsy...

  2. Ooooh! I LOVE that Chinese portrait of the Queen! What a great image! Your Prince Albert ribbon is gorgeous...and your hair! Perfection! I love all the bits and bobs you made for your impression of the Young Queen Victoria! Most excellent! And how convenient to have that dress that you just needed to adjust a wee bit!! This was a fun post to read!

    1. Thank you so much, Gina!! As I've said before, and I'll probably say again, you leave just the nicest comments on everyone's blogs! Whoohoo! :)
      And isn't that a great, unique portrait of Queen Victoria? As soon as I saw it scrolling through Pinterest, I knew that the impression was destined to happen!

  3. Wow! I would never have guessed how quickly your whole outfit came together! It looks lovely, very royal!

    1. Thank you very much, Jill! It sure did come together quickly - it was meant to be! :)


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