When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Little Red Riding Dress

The Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society have several events coming up this summer.  My goal is to make several cotton bustle gown pieces for the warmer months, with fabrics that I can mix and match.  As a Victorian Rose, we wear colors that are the color of roses!  Red, pink, white, peach, yellow, purple, etc.  I started with this red and white outfit.  We use the Truly Victorian pattern "Ripple Skirt" as its very full and fits over a horse's rear and covers your legs at the same time. The first time I made a skirt for horseback riding, I used a different pattern which ended up not being full enough, and I didn't find out until I got on the horse for a parade and it was too late!  Lesson learned. This is my red horse skirt (without underpinnings), which I can also use as a walking skirt for events.  Very simple, with pleats around the bottom, topped by red-flecked, white rose trim.  I can use this skirt as a base for other bodices and overskirts.

I found this cute 100% cotton floral print that I really love. It was actually free, as I had a Joann Fabric gift card from Christmas.  The pattern for the over skirt is Truly Victorian Summer Overskirt.  This took 5 yards of fabric.  It took me a few tries to get the folds correct on the sides, and sewn to the inside tapes.  I chose this pattern because of the split front - seems practical if you are astride a horse.  To finish it off, I added ball trim around the edges. It was the most expensive portion of the outfit but again, I had a gift card from Beverly Fabric, so no cost to me.  My family knows what to give me for gifts   😀

I used the TV Day Bodice pattern, as I like the square neck and peplum on the back. I changed it up and added a red faux vest down the front.   I made the sleeves 3/4 length and basted them in until fitting time.  I had some red ball trim left, so sewed it on the bottom of the peplum.  On the rest of the bodice, I used a raised red ribbon trim on top of white lace, around the neckline and down the front faux vest pieces, and around the cuffs.  I used round pearl buttons down the front.

Below is a picture on my mannequin.  I can't button the bodice (manny's chest is too big), so it looks a bit funny in front.

On Saturday, April 29th, we appeared in the Del Mar National Horse Show, and performed during intermission.  LaDonne, "Grandma Rose" and I "Shenandoah Rose" rode in the cart for the performance.

Below left, Dyan, "Margarita Rose" in her patriotic outfit.  She rode her horse Cefiro in the opening 
 ceremonies carrying the American flag!

Above Right and left, this is Hulk, a sweet paint who pulls the cart I ride in.  LaDonne drives him wonderfully!

Here is Karen "Misty Rose" in a gorgeous gig, driving her horse Scout.
The next day, I attended the Lakeside Rodeo in the same dress.  Its pretty dusty now, and needs a good cleaning.  Here I am with Theresa "Harmony Rose".

Cost breakdown:
Floral fabric  -  Free with gift card
Red fabric - Approximately $15
buttons - $6
Trims - Free with gift card except for white rose trim around the top
of the pleats - $7.50

TOTAL   Just under $30

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Houses of Callot Soeurs and Boué Soeurs

These two fashion houses, both established by sisters, made beautiful, delicate, airy and feminine gowns in the early 20th century.

Callot Soeurs (Callot sisters) was a prominent French fashion design house which opened in 1895 in Paris.  The fashion house was operated by the four Callot sisters: Regina, Marie, Marthe and JosĂ©phine.  The eldest sister, Marie, was trained in dressmaking and they were all taught by their mother, a lacemaker. The sisters began by working with antique laces and ribbons to enhance blouses and lingerie.  They were among the first designers to use gold and silver lamĂ© to make dresses.

Three of the Callott sisters.

Right, 1907
Left:   Callot Soeurs, ca. 1926. Silk, silk and metallic lace, and imitation pearls and opals. Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Right:   Two evening gowns circa 1912.

Left, Callot Soeurs Negligée - detail - 1898-1902 - by Callot Soeurs (French, active 1895-1937) From the Met Museum

They designed day wear, lingerie, exotic gowns with an Oriental theme, and evening dresses made from antique fabrics and lace. Their gossamer silk lingerie creations were embellished with bands of exquisite lace and bouquets of silk flowers. Callot Soeurs were among the first designers to use silver and gold lame during the 1910s and 1920s for evening wear, thus their vintage designs were popular with actresses and high society patrons Source

The piecing to refashion antique laces into a garment requires the skill and sensitivity of "couture hands," such as those that sewed the renowned lace-embellished Belle Epoque dresses from Callot Soeurs. 
 -quoted from The Met website, where most of these images were sourced.

Marie served as the primary designer for the house until 1927 when her son took over the business. However, he could not survive in the highly competitive market and, in 1937, the House of Callot Soeurs closed and was absorbed into the House of Calvet (Marie-Louise Calvet) under the Callot label. 

EDIT:  Adding this beautiful Link  about these gowns found in pristine condition!

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The house of BouĂ© Soeurs was established by sisters Madame Sylvie Montegut and Baronne Jeanne d'Etreillis, who worked together under their maiden name BouĂ©.   Their establishment opened in Paris in 1899, with a New York house opening in 1915.

Their designs were extremely feminine, incorporating fine hand-made lace and delicate embellishments such as embroidery and the ribbon flowers seen on the FIDM Museum example (See link for photos). Filet BouĂ©, a floral patterned lace worked on a mesh ground developed by the BouĂ© Soeurs own lacemakers, became a signature of the house. The sisters were also noted for use of gold and silver textiles, which they had to purchase from theatrical supply companies.   FIDM link

Here are some beautiful examples of delicate ribbon rose trim.



 Sylvie and Jeanne BouĂ© took an interest in design at a very early age. In a 1922 article in Arts & Decoration magazine, Jeanne wrote:

"From our earliest childhood Madame Montegut and myself have craved the beautiful: our desire first took shape in the collecting of dainty ribbons, soft silks, all luxurious materials, flowers, laces – everything that expressed beauty in form and color. We began by dressing our dolls in the prevailing mode and later found an outlet for our love of the beautiful in creating our own attire."

Signature elements included fine Alencon and Duchesse lace, embroidery, ribbonwork, and gold and silver textilesWhile some of their evening dresses retailed for $145-150 in the 1920s,  designs with more exotic materials could cost as much as $2,000. Among the house's more elegant offerings was the robe de style, a design popularised by Jeanne Lanvin, which they continued to produce into the 1940s.    Wikipedia

Left:  Les Modes (Paris) January 1926 Robe de Style par Boue Soeurs

Right:  Beautiful Robe de Style

Left:   Paris Fashion - 1926 - Dress 'Aurore' by Boue Soeurs

Bottom Left:  Les Modes (Paris) May 1928 "bouquetiere" robe du soir par Boue Soeurs

 Bottom Center:  Embroidered lace dress by Boue Soeurs, French, winter 1925-26.
Bottom Right: Les Modes (Paris) November 1927 "Serenade" Robe du Soir par Boue Soeurs

Left, Portrait of Baronne Jeanne d'Etreillis and her
children, published in Les Modes in 1913

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Party Dress

Its the holiday season again.  This year flew by so fast!  I didn't get as much sewing done as I would like, but hope that next year this will change.  However, I always try and make a new outfit for the holidays.  This year, I tried something new.  I have never made a ballgown top before, as I can't wear off the shoulder bodices, or low backs, due to my curvature.  Truly Victorian patterns has an 1880s bodice that is cut  higher on the shoulder.  All I did was raise the back neckline to fill it in and round it off, and it worked out great. 

This is TV 460, 1885 Curiass Bodice pattern.  The fabric I used was a lovely red and gold poly brocade, with a snowflake pattern.  My friend Kristen F. bought approximately 14 yards of it, and sold me half of it.  I can't wait to see what she does with her half! I lined it in plain red cotton, and used clear snowflake-like buttons with gold centers.  I purchased gold trim with little sequins, and sewed in around the bottom of the bodice, and the sleeve cuffs.  I put a tiny sheer gathered trim around the neckline.  

The neckline was square cut, so to soften it, I draped red chiffon across the front, which was attached by bows on the shoulders.  For the dinner, I pinned a cream colored poinsettia to the front, and twined woodland winter berries and ice crystals in my hair.  The bodice is a bit wrinkled in this photo as I had been sitting for awhile.

Next, I used a pattern I have been wanting to try for a few years.  Truly Victorian  361- 1880s Butterfly Detachable Train.  Lots of poof, and easy to make.  As you can see from the drawing, the train is attached to a band which is to be hooked onto the back waistband of your skirt.  Then the pleated center is brought up and hooked underneath the bottom edge of the bodice.  I did make one modification.  After the train was completed and fully lined - it was heavy!  So instead of hooking it to the back of the skirt waist band, I made a full waist band, which was hidden under the bodice.

When you make the butterfly loops on the back you are gathering pleats on top of each other in the center section.  See directions here. Then you sew them together in the middle.  

Below left, the center is hanging freely.  Below right, the center is pulled up creating the butterfly wings.  The center will be hooked underneath the back edge of the bodice.                        

The skirt was made from Truly Victorian pattern 261- 1885 Four Gore Skirt.  I found a gold and cream poly brocade that matched perfectly - for $1.99 a yard!  The whole skirt cost approximately $6. I am still going to put a pretty gold trim around the bottom, but haven't found what I want yet.

Left-Before I made the waistband for the train.  I have a bustle cage under the back to help support the weight.  Skirt just has a pinned hem at this point.

Below are some photos from the party.  A couple look like the skirt is white, but the closest color is the cream and gold one in the left photo, on the dress form.


At this angle, my butt looks huge!

$6.25    Skirt 3 1/4 yards   
$20.00  Train and Bodice 7 yards  
$11.00  Train Lining 4 3/4 yards
$2.00    Buttons
$4.25   Trim
Red chiffon in stash
Bodice lining in stash

TOTAL   $43.50

Trudy F.  took a beautiful shot of the back of the Butterfly, so you can see it all poofed out! This was taken at the Riverside Dickens Fest in February 2017.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fortuny Gowns - Delphos and Peplos

 Mariano Fortuny was a Spanish fashion designer and came from a family full of artists. He painted, designed textiles, and created women's clothing among other artist pursuits. However, he is most notable for inventing the Delphos gown, a dress that broke with the fashionable silhouette of the period. Fortuny created his signature Delphos gown in 1907, repeating the design with minor changes until his death in 1949. The Peplos version features a tunic attached at the neckline, falling in points to the hip, giving the appearance of a two-piece garment.

"His wife, Henrietta, was an experienced dressmaker who helped to construct many of his designs. They lived in a palazzo in Venice. Fortuny drew from styles of the past for his fashion design as well, inspired by the light, airy clothing of Greek women that clung to the body and accentuated the natural curves and shape of a woman’s body.  Fortuny rebelled against the style lines that were popular during his time period and created the Delphos gown, a shift dress made of finely pleated silk weighed down by glass beads that held its shape and flowed on the body. He also manufactured his own dyes and pigments for his fabrics using ancient methods. With these dyes he began printing on velvets and silks and dyed them using a press that he invented with wooden blocks that he engraved the pattern onto. His dresses are seen as fine works of art today and many survive, still pleated, in museums and many people’s personal collections."  wikipedia

"This lightweight gown is based on the pleated linen chitons worn by Greek maidens 2500 years ago and seen today on Delphic Greek sculpture. The Fortuny Delphos and Peplos gowns have preserved the poetry of line of the Greek robe. During the Classical period (5th-4th centuries B.C.E.), Athenian women often wore the Peplos in public as a body length garment.

Fortuny used a thin silk satin more finely pleated than anything ever seen in costume. The resulting garment is incredibly soft and liquid, molding to the curves of the body. The richly modulated color of original antique Fortuny gowns, achieved by a series of dye baths, has a mysterious, enchanting depth that cannot be found in modern textiles." 
 Link to full article and more photos here

"It's still partially a mystery how Fortuny achieved these famed pleats — they were gathered by hand and went through a heat-setting process. The secret method involved laying wet silk on porcelain tubes that were heated. Many designers have tried to recreate his pleats, but Fortuny's remain one of a kind. The gown was stored twisted in balls to preserve the pleats, but when the pleats began to wear out the dress could be sent back to Fortuny for repleating.  The Delphos gown was considered anti-fashion when it came out in 1907, but gained popularity throughout the next 30 years. It helped usher in the fashion for soft and draped shapes, tunics, and, most importantly, the rejection of the corset. As women's dress became more liberated and daring, the Delphos gown transitioned from an at-home dress to an evening gown in the 1920s and 1930s."   Source 

Worn uncorseted, and echoing the lines of the ancient chiton, Fortuny’s gowns had a forward-thinking, body-freeing simplicity. But the craft processes used to create them – pleating, cutting, cording, weighting with tiny glass beads – were of course incredibly elaborate.    Lillian Gish in Delphos below.

Right, Mrs. Selma Schubart, by Alfred Stieglitz, 1907. Metropolitan Museum of Art


Above left, Fortuny dress (Delohos, 1907) and cape (Cnosos, 1906) exhibited at the Museo del Traje in 2010 as part of a Fortuny exhibition.   Amigos del Museo del Traje

His style was distinctly classic, a robe which slipped over the head and tied simply with a cord at the waist.  He first showed his work in Venice around 1907, and later in Paris.   His technique never changed.  Fortuny also printed fabrics and stenciled velvet (about right) for his fashions as well as for use in interior design.  His dresses were considered status symbols during the 1920s and 1930s and remain rare, expensive and collectible items today.

Below left, the Delphos gown was inspired by a famous ancient Greek sculpture called Charioteer of Delphi, from the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi c. 470 B.C. Cast bronze.  Archaeological Museum, Delphi.   Below right, a James Abbe Photo of Natacha Rambova in a Fortuny Delphos.

 Three adopted daughters of dancer Isadora Duncan in Fortuny Delphos gowns; L to R: Lisa, Anna, & Margot, circa 1920s.               

On the right is a lovely Delphos gown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Please see this link to read all about this piece, and about Fortuny, who left only one document related to the development of his jewel-toned gowns—a patent for heated ceramic rollers through which the silk was passed to set the pleats.

Below are two Peplos gowns (with tunics)  from the Met Museum.

Msfabulous.com had this wonderful photo from a Fortuny exhibit in 2012 at Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York. 

On these gowns were beautiful, gold stenciled belts.
In Conclusion:
Liveauctioneers.com had this gorgeous green Delphos for sale in 2011.  Their description reads:  FORTUNY DELPHOS GOWN and BELT with ORIGINAL BOX, c. 1920. Sleeveless spruce silk having fixed gently scooped neckline, white and amber Murano glass beads on silk cord decorating the armholes and side seams, gold stenciled silk belt with bow over hook & eye closures, selvedge stamped "Fabrique en Italie . Fortuny Depose". L-58, Belt-30. Drum shaped box with Fortuny Madison Avenue shop label and original card with care instructions.