Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sewing with Charles Dickens


I fell in love with the writings of Charles Dickens at the tender age of 12, after having read "Great Expectations". One of my prize possessions is a set of Dickens books, with  copies dating from 1843 to 1857 . 

 These books are tattered and delicate, but there is something dreamy about reading great literature from the pages  0f a b00k printed during the  very era of it's inception. The tiny raised print on rag paper, the marvelous etchings, marbled book covers and endpapers, all add to the mental time travel experience... back to the days of Dickens. 

          But for the present, I am ever so grateful for the string of Magnificent movies that have recreated the world of Dickens so perfectly, usually the productions of BBC or Masterpiece Theater. These movies were of great service to me this week, as I needed the inspiration to create a Victorian outfit for the Dickens Festival this weekend.  I am making a Victorian Day dress, using a pattern from Simplicity's "Fashion Historian. I have pulled out dozens of my movies, mostly Dickens, to put me in the time frame, the mood and give me grand ideas for costume.

  And therefore, this week, I am sewing with Dickens.

I keep a trunk of  fabrics in my attic, (really, I do!), for projects like this. My first choice was this dark green cotton blend with tiny red roses ( formerly curtains) because it is very Christmas-y.
   BUT there was not enough yardage. So I chose this lovely tiny print (also former curtains), from my fabric stash.

    Scarlet O'hara has nothing on me when it comes to making a dress from curtains. Of course, her's was more elegant, and made from velvet DRAPES, but at least I am doing my own stitching!
 


 
          I started with the bodice. This will be a day dress, for a Middle Class Victorian Lady. Starting with the bodice and the movie "Bleak House", (thank you Masterpiece Theater). The novel was  written by Dickens in  1852)  
I cut out my pattern and begin to sew.

  These are drop sleeves and they are wonderfully huge!
It took the entire "Bleak House" movie to get this far... and it has 3 disks! 

 
  "Our Mutual Friend",  is now playing and I am still working on the bodice. Our Mutual Friend was Dickens last Novel and the adaptation by  the BBC is simply one of the best! I love the eccentricity of  Dickens Characters, and British actors are simply fabulous in portraying them.
 The clothing and sets are perfect in this movie.  I am in a very Victorian state of mind.

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  There is a lot of hand-stitching involved here. Simple sewing with needle and thread is so relaxing.

 Collars were detachable, in order to wash them separately, AND to change the look of ones outfit by exhanging one style for another.
 

  I made the collar from crochet trim off an antique pillow case that was in tatters. 


The buttons are actually old shoe buttons, but I loved the size and used them down the bodice front. The bodice has 14 hook and eyes to fasten it together. This was a period before zippers, so all is snaps, hooks ,eyes and ribbon ties)
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This dress takes a huge amount of fabric for the skirt , just look at all these pleats!


The skirt needs to be pleated like this, in order to accommodate the Crinoline,( hoop petticoat), worn beneath it.

I purchased the hoops online.
 
  Finally, my dress is finished, and I like it very much

Since I am a lady Merchant, my dress is simple. This could also be used for Civil War re-enactments.
   
   I went through "Cranford " AND "Return to Cranford" while working on the skirt. Dickens was not the author, but Elizabeth Gaskell, another Victorian writer. If you love this sort of thing, you will adore these movies... I adore the hats! And that is good, for now I am on to making my Bonnet.


 I've taken a misshapen old straw hat and cut away a section.  I will be using the large section. I steam ironed it into the proper shape for a "spoon Bonnet".

  Using netting, ribbon and crochet, I fashion Bonnet number 1 


  This is what ladies did, they purchased the hat form and added the decor of their choosing.  The decor may change with the seasons and the hat form could be "redecorated" accordingly.
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 Bonnet Number 2 was made with a felt Bonnet "form" purchased online and simply adorned.  I used two sets of ribbon, brown and pink. These are hand stitched to the hat form.
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Here is a little ribbon rossette on the back of the hat.
   add some netting.

Create a band using old silk roses, antique netting and doodads from here and there.
   Apply to the front of this bonnet and WAH LAH!  A Victorian Ladies bonnet suitable for any occasion.





   Add a purse  Or RETICULE..





    Add a woolen cloak for warmth...

 
  Shoes and stockings and pataloons.
 Victorian women wore brightly colored stockings with stripes and patterns, they loved red ones!
 The only thing I do not have is a corset. A corset was a must in the day. But I think I will do fine without it, and breath a bit easier.
 Here it is

If you have never flounced around in a hoop skirt, you are really missing out! It feels so good, I want to waltz!


  This was fun,,, it took me all week and a stack of movies. but now, I think I am ready to go caroling with Charles Dickens!  Actually, I won't be caroling, but participating as a merchant in the Dickens of a Christmas". Held for 2 days in Historic Franklin  Tennessee. There will be sleigh rides, carolers, Dickens players, and all manner of mirth and merriment.  If you live in the area, you should come!
  You can borrow one of my hats...

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I will take more photos at the Festival, maybe a few videos and definitely a picture with a blogger friend whom I am meeting here.

'

CHEERS!
And, as tiny Tim would say "God bless us, everyone."

59 comments:

  1. You look beautiful! I agree with Tasha Tudor when she said that women have given up a lot when they gave up their skirts....Mary

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    1. You know Mary, I can understand why Tasha Tudor dressed in Vintage clothing. It is so feminine and beautiful and just feels looks wonderful when you walk!

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  2. Merveilleux moments que de voir l'évolution fascinante de votre travail et quel joli résultat. Bravo ! Vous êtes très talentueuse.

    Gros bisous

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    1. Merci ! J'avais l'habitude de coudre tout mon habillement quand j'étais dans le lycée, mais ce projet était très agréable

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  3. Beautiful! I didn't know among your many talents that you were also a seamstress!

    I mean it is just absolutely BEAUTIFUL! And my darling you look Marvelous!

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    1. Patti, I sewed my Halloween costume when I was 7! I made most of my own clothes during high school- I love to sew!

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  4. You ought to be in pictures, come on sing along.. Oh Jeri! What an enormous amount of work... The dress came out beautiful and you look lovely. You are one heck of a seamstress.. Love the hats you made.. This is my love, hats...Of course no one wears hats anymore.. Very sad.. I have always wondered what it would feel like to wear a hoop dress. Now thanks to you I know..

    Have a great time at the Dickens Festival, safe travels.
    Great job Jeri!
    fondly,
    Penny

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    1. Penny, I will surely be singing along, I love Christmas Carols! You are so right about hats, why don't we wear them more often?! Women has such style back in the day... all the way up to the 50's, but not anymore. What a shame!

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  5. Lovely - Dickensian and also Louisa May Alcott. I'm looking at your attention to detail - the hat, the fancy stockings! I know what you mean about vintage clothing. Although heavy, it moves wonderfully and makes sashaying quite natural. You look quite the picture.

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    1. Frances, I Do wish I had the corset, just to add to the whole experience. Next year I will surely get one.

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  6. GOod morning my dear and beautiful JERI LANDERS!

    OK, where do I begin. That you are sewing and making a costume is wonderful, so RIGHT UP MY ALLY, and the mark of a true artist. From your bonnet to your undergarment, everything rings CELEBRATION and HONOR to the great eras in literature. I am close to The Christmas Carol, for that was my first stage production in which I participated. I played the role of Mrs. Filcher, and did I ever milk that role for what it was worth! I won many an applause for that one! I wore the button up boots and I learned to speak with my best Cockney accent. To this day dearest, I would LOVE to dress up and partake in a stage production.

    There is something precious about the old books and the care that one took in designing the covers and pages. I have my share of French classics in the prettiest bindings....oh the joy of not only reading them, but holding them and wondering what other lover of literature held them before me?

    Your sewing escapades are making me want to get out to Franklin and join you! IS CHRISTIE GOING TO BE THERE? Give her a hug for me?

    JOY JOY JOY to you! Anita

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    1. Anita, How did I know that you were an actress?! Hah! So was I! Dramatics class was my favorite and my first lead role was Gramma in "An AMerican Dream". My first line was, "None of your damn business!"... in gramma speak, of course. YES, Christie will be here too, AND Erin, ( from Erins Art and Gardens) Also Our Mary,of Heritage Hall. We will miss you!

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  7. OH JERI! OH YES! I was a drama major WAY BACK in the day and I have taught French theatre and I was going to go to Juliard School of Music in New York City and......then I got married. teehee!

    BUT I love the fact that YOU TOO were (are) an actress and had such a DÉBUT linguistically! WOO HOO! I have had some fun roles but later on, I did more musicals. I danced the part of Anita in Westside Story in a show; my voice never allowed me to have lead roles in musicals - TOO LOUD and ugly! But I danced like an angel, thank GOD for that gift, and I can act up a storm. Just ask RUBEN!

    GIVE ALL THE GALS A HUG FOR ME at the fair? I really wish I could be there, all dressed up with all of you! Hugs, Anita

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    1. What a time we would have had, dear Anita! I fell in love with the bonnet, Jeri graciously allowed me to try on. I am now inspired to pull out the sewing machine..notions and ribbons and bobbins of pretty thread and yards and yards of calico fabric. Then on to a bonnet...straw or felt...or both!! Jeri is just filled to the brim of her pretty bonnet atop her head, with talent and creativity and information ...such a treasure! How blessed we are to have kindreds far and wide!
      Much love to you, Anita, and to you, dear dear Jeri! What a trio we would be, waltzing down Main Street in our Dickens of a Chrismas!
      Christie

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  8. This was truly a delightful post with a glimpse into the past. I really loved the "Cranford" series.

    You look so lovely in your Victorian attire. A genteel lady indeed. You inspire me Jerri with your gentle ways.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  9. Your bonnets are simply amazing! You make it look so easy--sewing that complicated dress and designing those bonnets--but I know it's only because you're so talented. The Festival sounds terrific. I look forward to your post about it. Thanks!

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    1. Cathy, Honestly, those bonnets are easy as pie to create. You just need a basket of ribbons, lace,feathers,dried and silk flowers and artificial fruit! AND a hat form... you can purchase the hat forms online from any civil war re-enactor site.

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    2. Cathy, I cant seem to leave comments on your blog, although I am a member. you Might want to look into that.

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  10. Its the perfect ensemble, and does looked as if it walked off the set of Little Nell (did you watch that too by chance)? I loved the information about the stockings; a little secret surprise of color as they spun around or raised their hoops a few inches to climb a step. The whole thing just looks so right. Beautiful craftmanship. December seems made for reading and watching Dickens!
    xx
    julie

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    1. Oh dear, how did I miss Little Nell??!

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  11. oh my goodness, you are entirely talented! how fun to see this piece come together stage after stage and you look gorgeous in it. no i have never tried on a hoop skirt, must some day, you make me want to.

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    1. Tammie, Those hoops are light as a feather, like walking with a cloud around your waist! AND they are quite easy to sit down in too.

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  12. Unbelievable Jeri. Is there anything you can't do? I too love all the BBC and Masterpiece Theatre pieces. And the old Dicken's books are a treasure. You will be the perfect lady at the fair.

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    1. Donna, I can't change a tire or use those blasted remote controls that my husband has for the telly... ( why does it take 3 remotes to control a TV??!)

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  13. Wow! When you began talking about using curtains I immediately began to think of Scarlett. I love hoop skirts. You must be careful when you sit down though. You look wonderful! I love Franklin, Tennessee. Have a wonderful weekend. Bonnie

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  14. I can still imagine Scarlet wearing the green, velvet "curtain" dress. And then, another vision appears, that of the comedian Carol Burnett doing a skit as Scarlet in the Green velvet dress, with the Curtain rods still attached!

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  15. LIke all the others I am in awe of your very real talent, and you do make it all look so easy and effortless, and when dressed in the costume, you look exactly right!!! Once again, a smashing blog to read... you are such a delight to follow... more please, and thank you so much for sharing... all the best from across the pond!! janzi

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    1. Janzi, thank you for the nice words from across the pond. I love your name! It feels so good to dress in that time period, I wish I had an excuse to do so more often.

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  16. And she can sew to....envious here!!! Hugs Susan

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    1. But I don't sew little mice.... I leave that to the experts, like you.

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  17. Truly amazing Jeri - what a wonderful dress, hope you have fun you certainly deserve it. Love Dickens too. xxx

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    1. Chris, we had a lovely time, even with the rain and wind and drizzle. I ripped my skirt 3 times on my table, drat! But I am surely going back next year in a NEW dress.

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  18. Jeri,

    I love the dress!!! And you look wonderful in it! Have a blast in your trip to the past!!!

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    1. Bev, You would look perfect in one of my bonnets!

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  19. Dear Cousin Jeri,

    What fun to wear an old fashioned frock, bonnet and cape to the fair! How lovely you look! If only Fiona in her bonnet could go, too! What a stunning pair you would be!

    Your cousins,
    Diane and daughter Sarah and Tillie Tinkham the seamstress mouse at the Corgyncombe Courant

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    1. Diane and Sarah, Fiona was excited to come along to the Festival,until she heard about an Olde English Recipe for "Roast Goose stuffed with Chestnuts and Cranberries". Well, that did it, no amount of coaxing could move her from the center of the pond after that!

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  20. Jeri~ I "met" you today through my daughter's photos of you at a book signing. She saw you and immediately thought of me, kindred spirits she told me. She put a few photos together and posted them to my facebook page. As I "researched" you and found your blog, (also requested to be friends on facebook, but see you have very few, so I assume it is family and close friends) no matter, your blog has inspired me today. I was in somewhat of an artist's slump! but Miss Potter is my very favorite movie of all time, besides Mary Poppins, and you remind me of Beatrix, so it has been fun learning of you. Thanks for sharing yourself to the world.. we need you and appreciate you... robin

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    1. Robin, You are too kind. I also love Beatrix, her art , her life, her stories. She has always been the number one inspiration for me. As far as facebook, I have tried to close it down several times, but it keeps rising from the dead like a zombie. I can't remember the last time I went there. SO, I am not avoiding anyone, I just don't use it. However I do plan on visiting you on your blog.

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  21. oh and by the way, I have that fabric you used for your dress, it is so sweet!

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    1. No kidding? And I have had it for years and years. I bet you have too!

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  22. In this moment and time, you took me back to a place where I'd love to belong. Beautiful and heartfelt times. What a treasure Charles gave to the world. Merry Christmas time!
    Jacqueline
    Once Upon a Fairyland

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    1. I can see myself walking down the streets of Cranford being a genteel lady. But, there was a seamier side to life, and Dickens always portrayed it so vividly. One would never wish to be a member of the lower classes in London during the 1800's, they had such a life of squalor. The upper classes had it made!

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  23. Dear Jeri - this is wonderful. I love hats - so I will certainly be coming by to borrow one of yours. Hope you have a wonderful time being a merchant. Take care my friend and have a blessed week!

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    1. Any time Debbie, I plan on making a lot more hats, I've become obsessed.

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  24. I am lost for words! What a very creative endeavour and so very accomplished.

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  25. Dear Jeri, you are a real fairy ! You have many many great talents ! You sewed to the perfection a magnificent crinoline.
    Bravo Jeri !
    I wish you a wonderful Advent time and December month on the Christmas path.
    Blessings,
    Nathanaëlle

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  26. Jeri, I must say, you are expert seamstress !!! Making this outfits are not easy. I know because I have made some but not quite well as yours. You look " perfect" , and beautiful! Thank you. For taking your time and doing just a detail post, I truly enjoyed reading and looking your progress !!!
    Smiles,

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  27. Dear Jeri, is there anything you cannot do???!!
    Oh my....you look so beautiful in this creation...what a fun event this must be...
    Enjoy!!
    I fell in love with Dickens around the same age! :)
    Blessings!
    xoxo,
    - Irina

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  28. Love everything you made by yourself!

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    1. Hara! Darlin daughter-in-law... we miss you!!

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  29. BEAUTIFUL JERI! HOw did this shindig go? I am sure you and the others were the belles of the ball! Thank you for coming to my post and I too adore Anton Pieck's work. That photo I found does resemble his style and the different shades of gray and black for some strange reason, give me such joy. I think that having an artistic bent allows some of us to IMAGINE and fill in the colors ourselves, giving us such pleasure.

    May you have a marvelous weekend my dear! Anita

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  30. Hi Jeri,
    I am still in awe.. Now I have a bug to attempt to make a hat!
    The dress I would not even attempt... My sister is a wonderful seamstress like you..

    You asked about the music... I sent you an email..
    I hope your festival was GRAND... I can't wait to see some photos!

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  31. Jeri you are just so talented. I loved how you recreated such beautiful millinery from those plain ole hats and you looked just the part in your attire. I love all those Victoriana type movies too.

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  32. Jeri would grace the stage of any period she chose, but how befitting that she selected one of the most genteel and feminine.
    She alights upon her surroundings like a gentle butterfly and colors the atmosphere with her sweet temperament. Hoops and all,
    she floats among us recalling a distant time of refinement and
    quietude with her creative spirit. To know her is to love this dear Friend deeply and to be ever in awe of her accomplishments that she so generously shares with us all....
    Bless you, Jeri ~
    Mary

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  33. How fun!!! You look wonderful! Wish I could have seen you in person.
    xx

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  34. Enjoyed your post and bonnet tutorial very much, thank you! Wonderful job!! Everything looks beautiful~

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