My eldest daughter is participating in an Historica fair at her school. It’s actually required, but it’s still fun. This year she chose Canadian women’s fashion from the 17th century to the present. Large scope, yes. I tried to tell her she bit off a bit more than I thought she could chew, but as she was working with a partner, it’s been manageable. Part of what the girls wanted to do was wear period dress during their presentations and the fair. DD’s friend is to be dressed as the “New Woman” c. 1900. After perusing every single book on the history of fashion that she could get her hands on, DD presented me with a picture and asked me to replicate “if it wasn’t too much trouble”. Initially I’d thought her friend could just borrow one of the existing ball skirts in my closet (regardless of their bright colours), add a shirtwaist and be done with it. Easy peasy.
Then I wandered through my local Fabricland looking for a pattern for DD1’s Napoleonic costume and stumbled across a table of taffeta for $4/m. I used to have a black ball skirt from my performance days, but thrifted it years ago and regretted doing so ever since. And here was the perfect excuse to have a (completely unnecessary) replacement!! I made it up from Vogue 1015 – an old Belleville Sassoon evening ensemble that was the pattern for the sorely missed original in my closet. I decided to go the whole gamut and put in the lining and the full-length net petticoat with a hem ruffle. We added a jabot – not a proper period lace jabot – but one that I slapped together with 1.5 metres of eyelet edging gathered and stitched at regular intervals to a strip of shirting remnant. And I mean slapped together. The edges are totally unfinished and the neck band is simply folded over into thirds and stitched together from the right side with a zigzag stitch down the entre length.
It’s not perfect, but it gives the period silhouette, which is what we were aiming for. Then we pulled together an RTW shirt and jacket, and it looks pretty good for a wannabe costume on 3 days notice!