Month: February 2017

Victorian Costumes

A few years ago, ok 2008 to be honest, I worked on creating 6 different Victorian looks for a role-playing convention in Sydney.  I think I had maybe an 8 week lead time on these costumes and at the same time I was working on 6 equally cool, if not as historically accurate, pirate costumes for the same girls.  Crazy some would say.  Some would be very very right.

I don’t have any of the cool in progress posts that that Mel has, nor have I gotten around to getting all the details photographed as I want to so other posts may follow this one with more detail into the construction and finer elements of each costume but for now I will give the overview and direct people to my blog for more individual information in the meantime.

Now there are a number of images I have seen of Victorian costuming that make this look like amateurs day at the Victorian school book parade but I am proud of them non the less.  What I will focus on here is the basic pattern reviews for the companies I used and the reasons that others have been more successful.

Firstly the patterns are either Ageless Patterns or Truly Victorian.

Ageless is not for the faint-hearted, using actual period patterns with maybe so much as a translation from french to English on the instructions and not much else.  I have seen reviews praising them and others admonishing them for unprofessional presentation (yes one of my patterns had a wrong line crossed out with ooops written next to it) and for the pattern not including everything needed to make something that looks exactly like the picture.  This is likely because things like over skirts should be hand draped rather than patterned out, or because things that we would consider integral pattern design was at the time of first drafting considered nothing more than an embellishment.  In any case if you know what your doing the patterns seem to be amazing but if you are a beginner stock up on the neurofen because there is a head ache a coming.

The two ageless patterns are the brown toned bodice and the green dress.  Both amazing looking pieces though both required a lot of extra drafting and reshaping to make them adequate to the modern corseted shape rather than one of waist training old timely glory.  They were however I believe worth the effort.

By contrast Truly Victorian are a modern draft generally based on period images, work great in a mix and match capacity and the owner of the business is more than happy to communicate with you and trouble shoot any issues you may have come up.

Truly Victorian comes with a sizing system that in all 6 costumes I found infallible – every piece fit right first time no resizing required.  Which is no mean feat when you look at the varying sizes and shapes represented in the photo.

So now onto Part two – Why my costumes don’t look as good as some other peoples here is a laundry list of things that I will be doing differently.

  1. Time – 2 months for this many costumes is crazy no doubt.  I did it but it didn’t allow the time to pay proper attention to the small details.
  2. Fabric – with the exception of my gold skirt in the brown costume, which is duponi silk bought at a big sell out all the fabric used is not of good quality.  The better fabric you get, in the correct weight etc suited to the style the better your result will be.
  3. Embellishment – This also ties into the time issue, but Victorian should have more frills and spills than a two year old princess party and these costumes are decidedly lacking in those things.
  4. Foundation – Three of the girls here are wearing a petticoat at all, all have on a corset of some kind but not necessarily Victorian in shape, and certainly none are correctly fitted and made to the body it is on.  Any bustle is made using a pillow rather than a cage crinoline bustle.  Modern Bra’s all round.  All these things add up.  If you create the right silhouette with your undergarments you get a much better result with the outer garments.

Anyway that’s it from me for now, if you have any comments on what I could have done differently I would love to hear them.