Stash Bustin’ Bustle: Dickens on the Stand 2022

WARNING: This post rambles more than the Allman Brothers. Pour yourself a tasty drink and settle in. I recommend mint tea.

It’s been YEARS since I’ve posted here regularly (almost 2 years to the day, in fact). I’m going to try giving ye olde blogging routine another try, even if just for the sake of my vanity!

Vanity…and sanity! It is really hard to get motivated to sew with no events to go to, so maybe getting back into a semi-regular blogging cycle will give my sewing mojo some oomph until I rustle up some events to crash.

A lot has changed since I’ve been active on WordPress regularly. Heck, I don’t even know the interface anymore: everything on the admin side of things has changed, especially the way you type up and add pictures to posts. If there’s wonky formatting, I do apologize. Like, seriously, why is all my text centered on the author side, yet half is right-aligned in the reader side?! Lame. Guess my blog posts may match my haphazard sewing style for a while!

I completed a few projects between 2020 and now– three of which were pattern tests for Margo Anderson’s ever-growing line of Renaissance and Stuart-era patterns. I didn’t post about them at the time because the patterns were still in the testing phase, but now that they’ve been released and I’ve gotten permission to post here about them, I will post the write-ups about them the next couple weeks!

The Magical Mylar 1490s Gamurra, Jaco”bee'”an Jacket, and Juliet Cap

But first, I’m going to dive into the largest project I’ve done in a very long time: a full 1870s outfit for Dickens on the Strand. Many moons ago in 2018, I went with Megan of Cluster Frock (formerly known as Mistress of Disguise). It was an absolutely smashing time! Again, I slacked off on writing a full blog post about it, but I did make a Flickr Album for it and write about my Reclaimed Trilby Hat, while Megan wrote about her gorgeous Aubergine Ballgown here.

After sharing pictures with my fam, my mom– who is a first-class reader and Charles Dickens nerd– expressed interest in attending Dickens fair in the future. Well, we all know what happened in the intervening years, so let’s skip forward in time to last year, 2022…

Finally, Dickens was on the table once again! Now, I knew about this plan well in advance. My parents and I had talked through it since the start of the year, reserved the house for it over the summer, the works. My mom even decided that instead of wearing her first brown and teal 1840s version of Simplicity 3723 (which you can read her pattern review of here), she was going to sew an entirely new dress in a more festive plaid!

Her first historical costume!
It’s never too late to start playing dress-up!

She wanted a more mid-century silhouette, so she used Simplicity 3723‘s “Colonial-style” sleeve pattern and the undersleeves from Simplicity 2887 to create fashionable 1850s pagoda sleeves.

1850s Plaid Silk Dress with Tiered Pagoda Sleeves

My mom is a careful planner; thus, she started her dress well in advance of the event so she would have plenty of time to make the changes she wanted properly–carefully fitting her bodice and hand-hemming her skirt. And it worked beautifully!

My mom’s dress is made from unlined plaid homespun cotton and she opted not to wear a corset. It was very warm during Dickens on the Strand this year, so it was more comfortable for her.
My dad is wearing the Callahan Frock Coat from Historical Emporium, a top hat from Hats in the Belfry, ascot tie from Amazon, a thirfted vest, and wool pants. He crafted his own walking stick from a broom handle and a fancy cut-crystal drawer pull.

I did not inherit the same methodical, preemptive-planning prowess as my mother, so I did not start sewing until October, and even then, did I sew for myself? Heck no! I sewed a waistcoat for my husband instead, complete with wildly frustrating welt pockets. I got too cocky after perfectly sewing the first one, only to royally bungle the second one and had to piece over the blunder with scraps.

Shhhhh! He never needs to know!

Chris is a large man. He’s over 6 feet tall and has a 54 inch chest. I used McCalls 8133 and had to enlarge the pattern to fit by performing a Full Belly Adjustment, adding 3 inches of length, and by adding 1 inch panels down the sides to let it out/in as needed. I omitted the back belt and darts because he preferred a looser fit at the bottom, but if you are fitting over a large belly and don’t like the “tenting” flare that sometimes happens on the bottom of vests at the bottom, a few small darts can nip in the excess fabric to get the smoother fit you see in older portraits. Performing a Full Belly Adjustment also curves the front edge, which helps accommodate the round of a protruding belly.

I used some fabulous reproduction quilting cotton I got from Thousands of Bolts for under $6 a yard few few years ago– and this vest only took 2 yards even with the sizing-up! The buttons are large 1″ antique mother-of-pearl from the early 19th century. I added an extra button (totaling 5). Buttons are one of those things that it’s better to figure out on the body than relying on pattern markings. Sometimes you need more, sometimes you need less.

When I looked up from my madly whirring sewing machine at the haphazardly-hung space cat calendar on the wall, I was gobsmacked to discover it was the dawn of November…and I had only three weeks to sew my entire Dickens outfit!

Now I may not have inherited my parents’ ability to start anything on time, but they did teach me some handy math skills. I calculated that if I dedicated all my free time in November to sewing (~5 hours), I would have 140 hours to get an outfit done.

Please don’t look at the notation too closely! The only BS I have is the sort you can be full of.

Now, depending on how long you’ve been lurking on this blog, you may recall how many times I’ve LITERALLY WAITED UNTIL THE NIGHT BEFORE to whip something up in an avalanche of insomnia-fueled madness. 140 hours? That’s basically an eternity, right? But that was before I had a full time job and had outgrown all my sloper patterns with the Covid 19lbs (more like 30lbs). Nothing fit! None of my old dresses, none of my favorite patterns, none of my old Easy Edwardian bin stand-bys. Even my 1840s dress from 2020 and my newest my Lavender Edwardian dress from 2021 fits me anymore.

I am devastated I don’t fit in this right now! I only got to wear it once for a few pictures in the park. I may have to do a brief write-up about this outfit just so I can tell the tale of how I decided stretchy spandex lace was absolutely the perfect material to make a historical costume out of

I was absolutely dreading starting entirely from scratch. But my closet–a cobwebby crevasse filled with the darkness of disappointment– yielded up one ray of hope. There was one dress that fit because I had accidentally made it too large to begin with: my 1870s Sally Dress from Halloween of 2021.

The dress is a Natural Form spin on Sally’s outfit from the Nightmare Before Christmas. I wore it in 2021 as Sally and again as a cottagecore kitchen witch in 2022, so I knew it still fit, and more properly than when it was first made…finally a dress that I grew into rather than out of! I considered wearing it (it’s Christmas themed, right?), but the overall air of this Dickens trip was more historically accurate-ish, so I refrained!

For years I have been tracing my fitted mock-ups onto Christmas wrapping paper from the Dollar Tree and hording the mounds of curled, scribbled-on pattern pieces in a tottery set of plastic drawers. Now my labor of paper hoarding had come to fruition! I dug through my drawers and found Sally’s original paper patterns and, since I knew it (mostly) fit, I had a base to build on. Like the beloved character herself, Sally’s dress was a mashup of patterns including Simplicity 3723, Butterick 6400, an old duct-tape dummy, Butterick 6093, and a lot of slap-dashery. It’s a gloriously terrible hot mess– which is why it didn’t really neatly fit when I made it originally. But it was a start! Gathering all my odd-ends and bowl of pins, it was time to drag myself weepy-eyed to the top of the project and and just yeet myself in.

Behold, my Fast (food) 1870s Skirt pattern!
It is made using the skirt back pattern piece from Butterick 6093– yes, the 1910s pattern that is now sadly out of print. If you own it, you can easily make it yourself! Add 4 inches of width at the center back (to accommodate pleating over a small bum pad) then measure to just above your knee and add a rectangle “step” between 8 and 12 inches wide (depending on how full you want the flare) to form an L shape. The L shape is pleated, forming a fanned hem that trails enough for that delightful Natural Form languidly, but not enough that you’ll get stepped on constantly. Similar in shape to this 1877 petticoat.

I didn’t have the time to spare for fabric shopping. This was a good thing, really. Let’s face it, if you sew at all, you likely have closets/tubs/storage units full of hoarded fabric you bought before the attempted resurrection of the gastric-brooding frog (or perhaps your stash was born long before it went extinct in the first place). Way back in the early days of this blog, while scientists were attempting amphibian de-extinction, I was in Carlsbad New Mexico shopping for fabric in the dingy back corner of Walmart. I found a wild feathery quilting cotton in the value section next to a teal polycotton that sort of coordinated.

Ah, the halcyon days of $1-$2/yard mystery fabrics!

I bought the the entire bolt of each with the intention of sewing a bustle dress out of them, but I had no confidence to attempt it at the time. The pair languished for nearly a decade until panic and desperation swung the spotlight in their direction. They were perfect! In fact, I had fallen in love with a dress from Augusta Auctions that had similar vibes.

I vowed to myself that I would make this entire project– from fabric to thread to buttons to trim– 100% from my stash.

Oh, the hubris!

You may have noticed my preliminary design sketches in the pic of my cheap-o fabrics. You can also see my original intention to try Simplicity’s steampunk pattern, 2172. The top isn’t one piece, though. It’s a bustier with a jacket, which wasn’t the level of historical I was looking for in this project. Instead, I chose a different brand of Suffering™. I decided that I was going to make a faux jacket front in every wrong way possible and waste yards of my precious fashion fabric to do so.

I waffled over the color because I had this awesome red that made the feathery fabric pop, but I felt bad home-wrecking the decade long Teal/Feathers marriage, so I opted to stick with the original match-up, especially since the inspo dress was the same color.
In the past, I had padded out my basic dressform with an old bra and some pantyhose filled with beans (a la American Duchess) to match my inverted triangle shape. But the padding was no longer adequate for my new shape, making design choices difficult since the bodice just hung limply on it. So as a joke, I turned my ancient hip pads into boobs. I had a conniption when I discovered they were the perfect size! The t-shirt cover tamed the perky polyfill pillows into a much more accurate silhouette.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember what exactly I did at each step. There was a metric heck-ton of floundering and false-starts that ate shark-worthy bites out of my 140 hour math pie. I do know I created a full flat-lining of cotton partially covered with the feathery fabric overlaid with the teal (originally supposed to be a free-floating over piece that I then had to applique down). The lapels are appliqued on by hand as well, snapping shut at the front to hide where I cut the neckline of the teal an inch too low on one side.

Shhhhhhh! No one except you, me, and the entire internet ever need to know!

Considering the number of weird sewing choices I’ve seen in the extant Victorian bodices I own, I’m going to take comfort knowing that the glory of the bustle period is that if you make a mistake, you can cover it in trim– by carefully cutting some dumpster-dived navy velveteen into a 10 yard long strip 1″ wide, followed by tediously peeling threads off the jagged edges so they wouldn’t fray.

(Pic 1) Aforementioned velvet strips to cover the bottom edge of the bodice.
(Pic 2) PRO COUTURE FINISHING TIP: Use a color-matching Sharpie to hide the white lining that pokes through your machine-made button holes . Seriously. It worked magic.
(Pic 3) I also only used stash thread. I exhausted three whole spools plus partials of other. There’s about a half mile of thread in this dress!
(Pic 4) Cuffs are just trapezoids the size of my wrist on the smaller edge.

I also decided that the origami pleated hem absolutely needed tassels (since I couldn’t get the fabulous ball fringe of the original inspo dress), so I made them by using some leftover Sally dress dye to turn the also-leftover embroidery thread hanks navy. It’s delciously easy to make tassels! There’s tons of tutorials online, but you can click here to visit a tutorial similar to the method I used.

You see, I have a not-so-small collection of trims in my stash, but absolutely nothing in teal, red, or navy! I did have some smashing mustard picot ribbon I wanted to use for a collar bow, but as the dress progressed, it was just didn’t jive. Yet, without it, the neckline looked really barren.

One of the tricks I have learned over the years is that cuffs and collars are the two places that can really make or break the “authenticity” of a historical costume. In the past folks often had detachable cuffs and collars for all their formal outfits and the farther back in time you go, the more important these accessories were. Victorian magazines are brimming with cuff and collar patterns for a reason! These accessories have largely been lost to us in modern fashion for decades now and we’re not used to using them anymore. However, I love that current fashion trends have kind of revived the collar/dickie! If you’re looking to level up your basic costumes a bit, a cheap lace dickie from the ‘Mazon or eBay can really work wonders. For an example, here’s my plain green Butterick 6093 dress when I first made it compared to after adding some lace cuffs (hacked from an old blouse) and wearing a stretch lace tanktop underneath:

In the case of my Dickens dress, I had some scraps of vintage lace that worked miracles to make the outfit look much more finished…just in time, in fact! I finished my dress just in time on the evening of November 30th– hardly more than 24 hours before we were supposed to leave! Whew!

Don’t let my unambiguously enthusiastic expression fool you: I was in a pure fugue state. I literally don’t remember half of those last two weeks.

Jokes aside, I was incredibly exhausted, but proud of myself for pulling together such a huge project– the first of its size and complexity I’d made in many, many years! It was definitely a challenge trying to revive rusty skills and overcome the material limitations I put on myself, yet even with all of the flailing, fumbles, and foibles, this is one of the most Historically Accurate™ outfits I’ve made, especially in the overall final look of it. It’s unambiguously “VICTORIAN!” from its over-complex layering to its fancy-but-functionless buckle and excessive trims. Even the feathery cotton, which looked more 1980s than 19th century on the bolt, plays into that Victorian taste in experimental fabric (even if it should be silk and wool rather than cotton and poly blends).

So, overall, outgrowing my entire wardrobe may be immensely sad, but it did have a positive outcome:
1. I was spurred to action for the first time in a long time
2. I had to get extra creative to work within my material and time constraints (self-imposed as they were)
3. I ended up with an outfit rather than a costume, a design that I feel is very close to what a “Victorian Me” would have worn in the time period.

Bonus: One of my old dresses did get to escape the dark recesses of my closet and let them go for a promenade once more! After I performed some intensive rehab on the hem pleats, my sister borrowed my favorite old outfit: my beloved yellow plaid Croissant Dress!

Much like my first trip to Dickens on the Strand in 2018, it was forecast to be suitably English weather, chilly and foggy, but it was a bare, baldfaced LIE! It was, indeed, quite foggy for a good portion of it, but it was quite warm and sticky. Why does this always happen?! Oh, right. Texas. Despite the sweat soaking my petticoats, the dolphins were out on the pier during Tea with the Captain’s Wife, we got to people-watch, received lots of compliments from happy passersby, enjoyed the museums, and wandered the grey beach. I didn’t get a ton of pics since we were incredibly busy the whole time, but here are a few:

Thank you for reading this protracted post!
This dress has still yet more fun stuff for me to write about, like the origami hem pleats and how to make a very simple bustle overskirt. Hopefully since I’ve promised to write some some posts (Margo Pattern posts, Sally post, Lavender Dress post, origami hem post, overskirt post), I’ll be able to use these older projects to fill the time between now and the completion of the next project.

Happy to be back and

One Pattern to Rule them All: Making a “Jane Eyre” 1840s Dress from Simplicity 3723

One Pattern to rule them all; One Pattern to make them; One Gal to sew them, and with some changes, fake them!

One of the first project goals I ever set for myself way back when I started this blog was to see just how many different eras of dress I could squeeze out of Simplicity 3723.

I made three different ones between 2013 and 2014:

1: Mid-18th Century “Lady’s Maid” Dress
2: Bustle Dress (aka the future Lizzie Borden Costume)
3: Late 1850s-early 1860s “Civil War” Dress

I am a big fan of using something you are familiar/comfortable with as a starting point for creativity. Not everyone likes to dive into a new hobby or project head-first! If you start with something you are familiar with, you can make small tweaks over time, continually refining and changing it, learning along the way. That’s what Simplicity 3723 was for me. You can see the evolution of my sewing skills and styles in just those three dresses. Playing around with this pattern built up my confidence enough for me to branch out into other patterns, testing fit methods, and eventually doing my own (unabashedly reckless) drafting.

Simplicity 3723 is one of the simplest costume patterns that touches on four basic skills: gathering/pleating fabric to fit, attaching a sleeve to an armhole, inserting a zipper, and using darts to make a close fit– plus it’s often insanely cheap! On sale, you can buy a copy for $1-$5 and you can find second hand copies readily. From a historical costuming perspective, it also helps you learn how to wrangle large amounts of fabric in skirts, recognize a few key features of different eras (like collars, stomachers, sleeves), and begin making basic accessories like caps and shawls/fichus.
Though there are four “looks,” there are really only two base dresses: one with a darted bodice (Pilgrim and Prairie) and one with a stomacher/insert bodice (Colonial and Rococo). The more specific “looks” come from little add-ons, like the tall collar for the Prairie vs. the wide white collar for the Pilgrim.

Views A and B both share the same base dress, made from just 5 simple pieces.

Recognizing that, we can take the 2 basic dress types and change up the pieces and accessories to make even more options! Simplicity 3723 makes a great sloper– the sewing term for a basic, fitted pattern that has been personalized to fit your body so you can use it as the base for a variety of styles. These dresses aren’t Historically Accurate. Instead, it is designed to be Historically Inspired and quickly sewn, whether by machine or by hand. However, you can easily tweak the pattern to suit your accuracy, style, or fit preferences.

For example, my pink 18th Century Lady’s Maid dress was only my second costume sewing project– ever. It is far from perfect. I was using whatever vaguely accurate fabrics I could scrounge up. I was still learning the ropes of fitting and historical shapes. But you can see, even with my limited skill and knowledge at the time, I was able to make a presentable 18th century dress. I even sewed the whole thing by hand since I was terrified of sewing by machine. By the time I made my bustle dress version, I knew the construction wasn’t going to be Historically Accurate™, but I had begun to feel confident enough to start exploring with modifications and shapes, like using the polonaise swag pattern from the 18th century dress– View C– as a bustle “overskirt” instead. And for the Civil War dress, I had begun applying some historical techniques, like flatlining, plackets, and adding a hem facing, and I branched into drafting sleeves.

So Simplicity 3723 is a growth-chart of sorts for me. However, I’ve gained weight and moved on to other pattern methods. For 5 years, my (many) copies of Simplicity 3723 had sat mostly unused in my drawer, aside from its perfect one-piece sleeve pattern, which I used for many other dresses.

Before Covid 19 hit, the DFW Costumers Guild had planned on having a Romantic Picnic themed around the 1830s. I have long loved the 1830s! In fact, the fourth dress I had planned to make from Simplicity 3723 back in 2015 was an 1830s version. I just got distracted and never go around to it. However, with Romantic Picnic on the agenda, I decided to revive the idea.

Then the Pandemic hit. I suddenly had tons of free time, but no event or motivation…

However, my mom had also planned on going to the Picnic. It was her first historical dress project. When she asked my opinion on where she should start, I recommended Simplicity 3723, of course! She had sewing experience sewing darts, zippers, and gathering, so I knew that the pattern, while not Historically Accurate would make the process of creating her first Historically Inspired outfit much less stressful. She is much more principled and disciplined at sewing than I am, so she started and finished her dress for the event well in advance, rather than at the midnight-or-later-hour as I am apt to do. And guess what, she knocked it out of the park!

She made View A without the standing collar, which most closely resembles  early-to-mid-19th century styles, specifically the 1840s:

Left: Wool Dress, 1840s, Tasha Tudor Collection via Augusta Auctions
Center: Fashion Plate, April 1846, via The Met Museum
Right: Silk Dress, circa 1844, via Museum at FIT

Sophia Finlay by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, 1843-1848

Together with my sister’s green Butterick 5832 dress and my dad’s dapper top hat and vest (plus the fancy crystal-topped walking stick he made), my family was looking darn spiffy in their 1840s outfits!

A few weeks ago, I dug out some tobacco-colored fabric I’d bought on super sale years ago. I have a penchant for ugly brown fabrics, apparently. Anyhoo, it immediately screamed “Jane Eyre” at me.

The 1840s weren’t just calling, they were pounding on the door and standing in the yard with a boombox over their head…

Having gained weight, I had to start my Simplicity 3723 sloper over from scratch. To do this, I used the “half-n-half” method: I measured my front half from side-seam-to-side-seam at the fullest part of my bust. Then I measured the bodice front pattern piece on the tissue and cut the size that most closely matched, in my case, a size 22. Then I measured my back from side-seam-to-side-seam and measured the back bodice pattern piece to match: I used a size 14 because it was the smallest in the envelope I had (12 would have been ideal), but tapered the shoulder line so it matched the bodice front shoulders.

I fit my dress over corset. This is optional, but it vastly improves the historical look, as you can see in both my 18th century and 1850s version of this pattern.

I used thifted sheets to make two mockups until I was comfortable with the fit. It’s still not perfect, but I was itching to get to work on the dress proper.

One of the hallmarks of 1840s dress is either a very long, straight, plain bodice or a floofy, pleated, fan-front bodice like this:

Left and Center: Wool dress, circa 1843 via the Met Museum
Right: Portrait of an Unidentified Woman, circa 1845-50 via LACMA

Because Simplicty 3723 already resembles an 1840s dress, that means we don’t have to do many major changes unless you just like to make your life more difficult for the sake of fanciness…

Me? Attempting to overachieve? Never!

By the time I widened the pattern piece enough to get the fullness over the bust, my front bodice pieces were going to take up a whole yard!

I reeeeeeeally wanted that floofy fan front! But, alas, I tried a few different ways, but in the end, my fabric proved to thick and too scarce to pull it off.

So I resigned myself to just doing a smooth fitted bodice, which was much quicker, easier, and while not super fancy, looked nice. Like I did for my 1850s version of this dress, I turned the back zipper into a front closure. Eventually I’ll get around to installing hooks and eyes properly, but for now, my Jane Eyre dress is closed with tiny straight pins.

But lo and behold, I put on my bodice after merrily sewing it together and discovered it was slightly too large because I accidentally cut double the amount of seam allowance. My solution? Remove the extra width in the front with the world’s tiniest fan-front–just two pleats! Serendipity at its finest!

Inside-out view of my bodice, showing the pleats. You can also see the placket I added and the extra skirt fabric folded over at the waist. This is a period method for attaching a skirt to a pointed bodice. I could trim it off, but if I ever want to let the dress out to be larger, keeping the extra fabric will make it easier. Oddly, I found the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking to be most helpful figuring out how to do this, despite my dress being a full 100 years later in date. Here is an example of a one-piece early Victorian dress with the extra skirt material folded down around the point. Simplicity 3723 accounts for a small point in its skirt pattern already, if you decide to use the skirt pattern they provide rather than a rectangle panel like I did.

To make the pleats, I literally just stood in front of my filthy bathroom mirror armed with a teacup full of pins and got to folding. Then I top-stitched the pleats down to make them stay.

The shallow V neckline and two simple rows of ruffles on the sleeves compensate for my rather plain bodice. Both things were stylish in the 1840s and both are simple additions to the basic 3723 pattern. Just trim the rounded neckline of the pattern into a V shape and for the ruffles, I cut four strips of fabric (two for each sleeve), hemmed one edge, and gathered them before sewing them to the sleeve while it was flat.

PRO-TIP: Trim your sleeves while they are flat! It’s sooooo much easier than trying to trim one once it’s sewn into a tube. Trust me!

For skirts, I always prefer to use one long panel rather than the multiple cuts Simplicity recommends. It happens that most 42-44″ cottons are just about right for a skirt length on me, plus using the selvedges at the waist and hem really cuts down on fraying!

NOT-A-PRO-BY-ANY-STRETCH TIP: In a time crunch or just lazy like me? Use the selvedge edge as your hem! If you selvedge is white/printed with color testing rather than being edge-to-edge printed with the fabric pattern, you can turn it up and do a little 5/8″ hem or add a facing. Another trick I’ve used before is utilizing the hemmed edge of a sheet at the bottom edge of the skirt!

I pleated rather than gathered the skirt into the waist. I used a piece of fabric 112 inches long and gathering that much is too tedious. Pleating is fiddly, but faster for moi. Plus, I like pleats in general.

I intended to do a slash placket like I did for my 1850s version, but I was a dum-dum and got so excited about my pleats that I didn’t realize I’d put the skirt seam up the front instead of the back…

PROFESSIONAL-AMATEUR TIP: A small, busy print helps hide seams and little mistakes. If you’re new to historical sewing, take a few minutes to look at Pinterest (I made a small board with examples) or a museum collection website like the Met Museum to familiarize yourself with the fabric colors and patterns popular in the era you want to wear. Some costuming folks look down on the quilting calicos, but let me tell ya, those fabrics have been an absolute joy for me to sew with: easy to find, easy to clean, easy to assemble, easy to hide mistakes with. Seriously, a nice, small repeating floral on a colored background is impeccable for this pattern.

Thanks to the busy print and the pleating, it’s hardly an issue. Crisis avoided!

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Seriously. Victorian costumes in particular are surprisingly forgiving. Wonky seam? Just add some fancy trim. Weird neckline fit? Cover it with some lace or a big ribbon bow. Fabric has a smudge because the Entenmann’s chocolate-dipped donuts were on sale? A brooch lives there now! Mistakes are opportunities for creativity, whether design choices or choice words.

Besides dog-ear hairdos, tunnel-vision bonnets, and fancy pleating, a classic bit of 1840s fashion is the pelerine. An 1840s pelerine is like a little cape/shawl/collar made out of the same fabric as the dress. They were used both for warmth and to protect the shoulders from the sun during the early part of the decade when off-the-shoulder and wide boat necklines were popular.

Right to Left: Via Augusta Auctions, via Pinterest, via the John Bright Collection, via Pinterest

Looking at the 3723 “Pilgrim,” I couldn’t help but notice how her oversized collar resembled a little pelerine….so I pieced together the last few little scraps of my fabric to make one!

I didn’t have enough of the antique grey ribbon to use on the pelerine, so to jazz it up, I used antique tape lace collar had been languishing in a drawer since 2014 when I bought it to put on my 1850s version of 3723. It was the wrong length to fit that dress, but fit the neckline of the pelerine/collar perfectly.

So here is my final 1840s Jane Eyre/Mrs. Bates look!

I decided I needed some last-minute lappets, so I just slapped some chunky lace on my head like a Victorian Unfortunate Biggins. Ain’t I gorgeous?

Yes, I am.

(And I’m not the only one!)
(Though, honestly, this crochet cap with chenille dangles is pretty baller)

I also owe a huge thanks to both American Duchess and Mistress of Disguise aka ClusterFrock. In addition to my corset, I am also wearing two petticoats — an Ugly Puffer based on Lauren’s blog post here and a wonderfully ruffled cotton petticoat made by Megan— that absolutely help transform this dress from sad flat frump to sassy plump frump!

Ugly Puffers also make fantastic scarves.

If you’ve been a fan of the Simplicity 3723 series, thanks for your continuing support. One of the highlights of my life is when I get a comment or message from someone who saw a project on my blog and felt inspired to give it a try! Now that I have updated my measurements and have a new 3723 sloper, I hope to pick the series back up, finally completing the projects I had planned 6 years ago.

Better late than never! Stay tuned!

Note: This pattern is available under a couple of different names, including Simplicity 3723 (standard misses’ sizes), Simplicity 3725 (girls’ sizes), Simplicity 2354 (extended misses’ sizes, OOP), Print On Demand EA235401 (extended misses’ sizes), and It’s So Easy H0113 / S0321 / S0705 (Pilgrim and Prairie only, in girls and standard misses, OOP). The pattern pieces are similar across all these patterns, so and tweaks I make should be possible regardless of the pattern number you are working with.