*Be in a hurry.
*Choose fabric you already know probably isn’t appropriate for the project (but look how well it coordinates with the trim!).
*Don’t prewash the fabric.
*Be arrogant enough to think that just because you have made oodles of complicated Victorian era costumes, surely you can easily do one from a ‘less challenging’ era.
*Don’t study the pattern or instructions ahead of time.
*Don’t make a muslin.
If you follow these simple steps, you too can have a costume that will fit terribly, look hideous, and end up in the trash can. Have fun!
I suppose it's fitting that I don't have a name for this costume yet. The finished outfit was put together for the first time to teach H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. In the story, the main character is not named, simply called the Time Traveller. So, until she decides to tell me her name, she doesn't have one. ;-)
You may have seen this costume before. I call her Chocolate BonBon. (Scroll back on the Costumes tab for the full description.)
This version is actually kind of 2.0 because I originally did not have the pink bows at the bottom of the skirt. Here's a quick pic of the absolute original 'first time worn' version... Like I said, the only difference is the lack of bows on the bottom hem of the skirt. The quick back story on this costume is that I was working with what I had at the time which was a bunch of brown satin fabric, one yard of pink taffeta fabric, a couple of yards of white lace, a detached bridal train (found in one of my fav thrift stores), a need for a fancy outfit and not a lot of experience with authentic Victorian patterns. I had one bodice pattern and not much confidence in proper fitting. I was never happy with the final result. It's one of those situations where I didn't know what 'finished' looked like so I never thought it was... finished. Adding to the frustration was that although it looked decent enough from the outside, underneath was a hot mess of tricks and things to make it work. The cute waist sash was actually there to cover up the botched job I did on the waist seam that shouldn't have even been there to begin with. The white lace around the neck line was added to camouflage the fact that I had made the bodice too low cut. In my mind it was 'all wrong' but it was the best I could do. That was about 3 years ago....
So at long last, here is Cocoa 3.0. I am totally happy and completely finished with her. As you can see, I scrapped the original bodice and started over. I found an authentic pattern to work with and fashion plates for inspiration. The overall fit and function was drastically improved (I know you can't see that part but, trust me, it's a big improvement!). What was the waist sash became the bows and trim for the bodice and more bows on the skirt so that they went all the way around. I was also able to salvage just enough white lace to add some to the skirt as well. All of which helped to achieve the 'decadent chocolate confection' look I was wanting. Looking back, I think I know what silhouette I was trying to achieve with the first bodice. Many Victorian ladies had two bodices for their outfits: one for summer and one for winter. What I now have is a bodice for cooler weather. Maybe one day I'll create a summer version as well. But that won't be for a while. This Cocoa is done.
I adore the Victorian era but I live in the 21st century. I strive for authenticity but not to the point of obsession (usually). Unless the TARDIS shows up, I'm only ever going to have to 'look' the part. Sometimes close enough really is good enough.