Over the summer, my dance group was invited to create a turn-of-the-century atmosphere for a weekend on Bakers Island, off the coast of Salem, MA. Today, the part of the island we were on is managed by Essex Heritage and is home to a lighthouse, but for our visit the idea was that visitors to the island could get a sense of what the island would have been like over 100 years ago when there was a large hotel located there.
We didn’t actually dance, but we played historical games and activities and explained our context to the visitors. They came upon us along various paths during their walking tour.
I wore my 1904 Anne of Green Gables ensemble. This time, though, I had a new belt and I got my hat to behave. It’s supposed to flip up in back, but was misbehaving last time I wore it and was flipped down in back. Boo!
The new belt is green silk covered with the same lace that I used on the skirt. The green isn’t a perfect match to the skirt, but I like that it coordinates without being too match-y. Taking a photo of it also allowed us to capture the subtle lace detail and woven stripe in the fabric of the blouse better than we did last time, which was a bonus outcome.
In between tours, we took some group photos around the lighthouse and the light keeper’s house. The light keeper’s house, in particular, provided us with some really adorable photos. These were provided to us by the light keepers, who keep their own charming blog (currently about their stay on Bakers Island this summer) which you can view here.
Behind the scenes, we needed to arrive before the visitors to set up. Given when boats were available that meant we had to arrive the day before the visitors. There aren’t any indoor accommodations we were able to take advantage of, so it was camping in tents for us. I’m not really a camping kind of person, but thankfully other people had tents to share. Between the modern equipment and food that we needed as well as the historical clothes, games, and amusements, we had quite the pile of luggage for two days and seven people! Here we are waiting for the boat back to the mainland.
A new adventure complete! The croquet set is still in place but the players are gone! Maybe someday there will be others (or maybe us, who knows?) to once again bring history to life on this island.
In 2012, I made and wore a c.1900 green skirt and straw hat at Newport Vintage Dance Week. I had plans to make a blouse as well with it but ran out of time and wore a 1913 blouse I already had instead. I wasn’t terribly pleased with the whole look, so I didn’t ever focus on it in a blog post, though I did include it in my overview of the dance week.
Since then I’ve worn the skirt a few times, but haven’t been able to for the last few years because (and this shouldn’t be surprising given the subject of my last post) the waist was too small!
Thankfully, I had two things going for me that made changing the waist size quite simple. First, I had extra fabric. Second, when I’d originally made the skirt the waist circumference was a few inches too big for the waistband, so I took a tuck on each side of center back. Now all I had to do was let out the tucks and extend the waistband with my extra fabric!
It took me years to finally get around to doing it, but I’m glad I did, because I really like this skirt and it’s fun to remember the lovely wading adventure we had back in 2012 while I was wearing it! What gave me the final push to do the change was the opportunity for an early summer picnic, for which I had clothes but really wanted to have something new. Who hasn’t experienced that desire?
More About The New/Updated Ensemble
The picnic provided some lovely backgrounds to take documentation pictures of all the new and updated pieces that form my Anne-inspired ensemble! I ironed out all the wrinkles in the skirt ahead of time… and then sat on picnic blanket before taking pictures, so the back pictures have a rather wrinkly bum.
The Blouse Inspiration
In addition to wanting to update the skirt, I’ve also had that blouse to go with it on my to-do list for years. Instead of going back to the blouse plan from 2012, I started over with new inspiration. (Never fear, the unfinished blouse from 2012 is still in a box waiting for me to go back to it… someday.)
The new inspiration came directly from the scene in Anne of Green Gables when she’s walking down the lane with Gilbert and his horse (just before she gets mad and whacks him with her basket!). I’ve always love her silhouette and decided a blouse with a similar shape would suit the green skirt nicely.
I researched blouses from this period and decided on the year 1904 for my blouse. I was particularly inspired by this ivory c. 1905 blouse, this black c. 1905 blouse, and this blouse that The Met dates to 1899-1902. The idea to play with the direction of the stripes and to have curling lace trim (mimicking embroidery) was taken directly from this page from The Ladies’ Home Journal for April 1904 that Lauren of Wearing History kindly shared on her blog. Other views of some of these blouses as well as other inspiration are gathered on my Pinterest board for this project, here.
The Blouse Construction
My blouse is made of an ivory cotton that is woven with narrow stripes. In the center front panel the stripes are horizontal, while on the rest of the blouse they are vertical. The blouse is trimmed with lace appliqués in the same pattern as the Ladies’ Home Journal blouse from 1904. Unfortunately, all of the subtle ivory on ivory details are hard to photograph.
The blouse is mostly machine sewn and uses French seams except at the armholes, which are left raw. It is finished by hand and closes up the front with concealed hooks and thread bars. There is a twill tape channel for a drawstring at the waist to help control the fullness and the pigeon front.
The silhouette was looking a little deflated for a 1904 pigeon breast look, so I tacked ruffles down the front seams to help fill out the blouse. It’s subtle-but-useful method and was easy since I already had the circular ruffles in my stash.
The Hat Inspiration
The most direct inspiration for my hat was this image from 1903. While I decided against feathers, the general trim placement as well as the poofs under the back of the brim are present in my hat.
There are more inspirational hats here, on my Pinterest board for this project.
The Hat Construction
The hat in the 2012 version of this ensemble was an admirable idea in theory, but not execution. (I was displeased enough that it was remade into my 1885 Flower Pot Hat in 2015.) However, I had another of the same straw base that I decided to remake for the new Anne ensemble.
In 2012, I had used the second straw base to make a Regency bonnet, another project I wasn’t entirely happy with (this is not the right type of straw to get a good bonnet shape). All that needed to be done was removing the trimmings from the hat and taking out the stitching holding the wire around the edge… and I had a straw hat blank ready to be remade into a new hat!
For a hat block, I used a shallow glass bowl covered in tin foil and plastic wrap. I wet the straw base in the bathtub, then used a paintbrush to cover the straw with a layer of my sizing (a bit of elmer’s glue dissolved in water–no formula, I just winged it). I set the hat out in the hot sun to let it dry, holding the edges down with spice jars to keep it from blowing away. (Can you tell I just wandered into my kitchen to see what I had that would work to help me with this hat?)
I tidied up the edges of the hat with scissors, bound the edge of the straw with narrow strips of tulle to keep the straw from fraying, and then reshaped my wire and resewed it around the edge of the hat. I covered these edge treatments with a binding of ivory silk satin, trimmed the hat, and I was done!
In order to achieve my desired pigeon breast silhouette of 1904, I needed some omph in the back in addition to the ruffles inside the blouse in the front. I tried wearing a small bum pad (about 10″ wide), but then my hips looked sunken by comparison. I determined I needed a new bum pad that would fill in both my hips and backside to help create the illusion I was aiming for.
I also made a new belt to go with this ensemble. I wanted something a little more V shaped in front and a little less dramatic in terms of color. I actually reused the lining from the previous iteration of my new hat to make a new belt. The two shades of green don’t quite match, but they also don’t offend, so I’m pleased.
Instead of a traditional Gibson Girl hair style, I tried a style more like this, with a center part and poofs on each side. It was a bit squashed by my hat, but I was quite pleased with it overall. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any perfect shots of just my hair style. I’ll have to try it again someday and get hair pictures.
#1: Because like many dresses from the first few decades of the 20th century, the method of closure is cleverly hidden, rather complicated, and definitely secretive–you really can’t tell how the dress goes on just looking at it once it’s all hooked up. (Right? Can you figure it out before I show you later in the post?)
#2: The beaded panel on the front might look familiar if you’ve been reading my blog for a few years. It is actually the sleeve (turned upside down) from a 1980s evening gown that I remade into a sleeveless 1925 evening gown.
#3: I made this dress with a train because I had enough fabric, it’s elegant, and I don’t get to have many dresses with trains because I’m usually dancing in them. However, I do plan to dance in this dress, so I included a secret hidden button under the decorative knot at the back and a loop on the center back skirt seam so that the skirt can hook up (bustling, essentially) to be a uniform length all around so I can dance unhindered!
I paired this new dress with my American Duchess Astoria shoes, because they are super comfy and made sense color-wise with my other accessories: plain white stockings, a super long strand of faux pearls, lovely clear/white dangle earrings I’ve had for at least ten years, and two matching metallic silver wrapped hair pins I think my mother gave me also a number of years ago. Underneath is my 1913 chemise and corset.
I’ve had all the fabrics in the stash for at least three to seven years. The underskirt was leftover from a former project never fully pictured here on the blog–an 1890s 2 part dress taken directly from an extant bodice with an extrapolated skirt (the skirt was worn by a friend in Newport in 2012–there are pictures toward the bottom of this past post, and I forgot that the ensemble I’m wearing in that post also uses this same fabric as trim). I had purchased way more fabric than I needed and had more than enough for the new project, so I guess I’ll be using it on another something someday. The matching chiffon and charmeuse I’d purchased with the intention of making a 1910s evening dress back in 2012, but ran out of time that year.
When I was first seriously thinking of making this dress, I thought I had enough fabric to do something like this dress, but I hit a snag when I realized I only had about ½ yd of the charmeuse and that the beaded sleeve I was hoping to incorporate into the dress was entirely unsuited for the shape of the beaded bit on the inspiration dress. I decided to make a dress like my original inspiration someday, but to go back to the beginning for the current dress and rethink what the dress might look like. I would up with something I am quite happy with that is drawn from a variety of inspirational dresses on my 1909-1914 evening gown Pinterest board with this as the most obvious inspiration.
Just the facts:
Fabric: One beaded silk sleeve from a 1980s evening dress that I deconstructed two years ago to make a 1925 evening dress, about ¼ yd of plain weave cotton for the base, less than ¼ yd of silk charmeuse, about 2 yds of silk chiffon, and 3-4 yds of lightweight silk faille for the underskirt.
Pattern: Created by me, loosely starting with the pattern for the bodice of my 1912 burgundy and gold evening gown and referencing skirt shapes in Janet Arnold for inspiration.
Notions: Thread, hooks and bars, and two pre-made tassels.
How historically accurate is it?: It definitely passes Leimomi’s test of being recognizable in its own time. It uses accurate materials and accurate techniques. 95%.
Hours to complete: More than I kept count of.
First worn: In September 2015.
Total cost: Technically this is a stash project because all of the things I used have been in my stash for years, except the tassels, which I bought within the last year knowing this project was high on the to do list. If I had to guess at the cost of the materials it was probably $50-$60 dollars.
The dress was sewn with a mixture of machine and hand sewing. Most of the assembly of the bodice and skirt pieces while they were separate was done by machine, as was the hemming of all the chiffon and faille (though the hem edge of the chiffon is actually the selvedge). The hand sewing came in when I went to mount all of the pieces together. I started with the under bodice and kept adding layers and figuring things out as I went. The closures are also hand sewn.
Incidentally, I’m not really sure what color to call this dress. I’ve been calling the colors orchid and mauve, but I’m not really sure those are the best color names. The chiffon and charmeuse are a shade of pinky/purple that’s hard to put a finger on and the contrast faille is more grey than anything when it’s by itself, though it really takes on a pinky/purple cast when paired with these other fabrics. Does any really perfect color name come to your mind? If it does I’d be happy to know what it is!
As I mentioned, the closure for this dress is quite complicated and as I knew I was going to include it in the sewing secrets challenge we took pictures specifically of the closures to document how it works. If I tried to explain only with words I’m sure there would be confusion, so I think the pictures will clarify things. We’ll start hooked up and unhook as we go.
Overall, I’m super pleased with this dress. It’s very comfortable, has lots of fabric in the skirt so is easy to dance in, and is a nice transitional style between the full skirts and pigeon breasts of the years around 1908 and the much slimmer, longer lines of the years around 1912. Plus, it has a train!
Here’s a comparison of the dress with the train down and then with it looped up. Luckily, these pictures were taken before dancing. Turns out that while I was dancing a very fast waltz, either my or my partner’s foot caught the hem of the dress and caused the loop to break, so I’ll have to repair it more sturdily for the next wearing. Ah well, that’s why they make safety pins!
I was quite pleased with how my hair turned out, so I had to make sure to get a reasonable close-up. Some of the curls are natural and some are made nice and smooth with a curling iron. The key is to put the hair up in a lot of different sections–and I mean a lot!
I call this dress the “Dowager Countess” gown because the shape of it reminds me of what Maggie Smith’s character in Downton Abbey often wears to dinner parties. Look at the bodices on these dresses: this dress, this dress, and this dress are all examples of a similar style–one that the Dowager Countess wears often! And why wouldn’t I want to be reminded of Maggie Smith when I think of this dress? Her snarky comments are highlights of Downton Abbey! (Incidentally, one of my friends wore the just-emerging-in-the-1910s style of pants in the ballroom to this ball–gasp!–and we took some posed snarky pictures. Head over to her blog, Plaid Petticoats, to take a look at her scandalous outfit. When you get to the bottom you’ll find the snarky pictures. You might even find that you think I’m there twice, because I was wearing this new 1910 dress and I loaned my 1912 evening gown from 2012 to a friend who happens to be being snarky with me.)
At the very end of my first post about the Ragtime evening event at Glen Manor, I had just shared with you our series of pictures of the “young set” spelling out our most recent acronym: TNG. You’ll have to read the captions in the pictures of the that post to see what it stands for, because this post is moving on to pictures of the Ragtime ball. Before I start on pictures, I just have to share that this ball had the most fantastic food catered for our dinner. I don’t know what company catered it, unfortunately, but it was spectacular and delicious! We all ate generous first and second helpings and were super full… but it was SO good!
Final tally: 72 pictures between 2 posts out of a total of 1,266 pictures total for this event. Not bad, I say.
The next formal event at Newport was a Ragtime Dinner Reception and Formal Ball held at Glen Manor House in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Glen Manor was designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope to resemble the Petit Trianon at Versailles. Construction began in 1921 and the house was completed in 1923.
It is truly lovely inside and out, as you will soon see in the photos! I have 1,266 pictures from that evening… and even though I’ve slimmed down the number I’m going to share with you I’m going to have to break the evening up into two posts. The first part will be before the ball and the second part during and after the ball.
I leave you for now, in a magical twilight world with TNG.
This fabulous vintage Edwardian dress was recently brought to my attention by one of you fabulous readers. It is for sale on eBay for $2,250! I certainly won’t be purchasing this original, but I absolutely think it is something to add to my body of inspirational images of clothing for future projects… The seller has included many pictures of the dress as well as background information on the dressmaker and a detailed description of the garment. I have included some of that information in addition to pictures for you to view here in this post.
The lace is exquisite! The rhinestones add even more sparkle! I love that there are pictures which show the closures and construction details. I classify this gown as “drool-worthy.” What do you think? Do you like it? Or not? Why?
“This was created by Mrs. Catherine Donovan who was originally from Ireland (b.1826) and studied fashion in Paris. She owned the couture shop “MRS. C. DONOVAN & CO” which was located at 29 East 55th St.in New York. Her dresses in 1910 were billed at $100 and up which was extravagant as a gown from her would cost over $4,000 today!
Many of her garments are found in Museums throughout the world. There are 4 dresses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art alone. But the detailing and workmanship of these garments are worth every penny in my opinion.
This is made of peach satin (formerly peach silk) and covered in exquisite ivory lace with re-embroidered patterns done with silk thread. The lace gives hints of Orientalism (which was made popular by Paul Poiret ) with its Royal Pavillion shapes on the back panels. The rosette and belt details are done in peach silk.
This enchanting garment features a fitted satin strapless bodice covered with a blouson bodice of lace. The bodice features a low square neckline and the dolman sleeves are short. Both the neckline and arms are decorated with cream glass and gold painted cut steel beads. There is an inner netted bodice which helps with the weight of the dress.
The empire waist is decorated with a ruched sash which is adorned with rhinestones, each individually sewn on a gold lame’ backing in the shape of a buckle.
The straight satin skirt is covered in two tiers of lace at the front. Each tier is decorated with cream glass beads and gold steel cut beads in a chevron shape. The tier is separated with a silk band featuring a large silk rosette. The top tier is adorned with crystal cut glass beads around the hemline.
The back has a surplice detail on the bodice with the silk band closing at the back decorated with more rhinestones.
The lace skirt is made of 3 tiers with one extra panel which attaches to the finger as a drape or can be left hanging as a short train. The top tier and second tier are both decorated with crystal cut glass beads.
This closes with several snaps, hook & eyes and tiny crochet buttons at the back.”
Thank you, Kimberly, for bringing this dress to my attention!
As I recently mentioned, my American Duchess Astorias have gained a coat of paint and are now ivory. The buttons have also been moved and now it is time to officially show you how fun they are with feet in them! (By the way, I did include a picture where you could see them on my new portfolio page, which was unveiled before this post… it was a spoiler, though I don’t think it was very noticeable!)
Super fun! Now I have outdoor shoes to wear with Edwardian clothes!
Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.