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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Polonaise - from Georgian to Victorian

A while back, my friend Val was selling some of her beautiful costumes to make room for new ones.  One of the first Costume Guild events I went to was a Marie Antoinette Tea.   For the tea, Val made a beautiful 18th Century outfit she called The Pumpkin  Val's Blog   which I always admired.   I purchased just the polonaise of the outfit, thinking I would make my own pannier skirt for it soon.

Well, my yearly fashion show for Gaslight Gathering was approaching, and between planning that, work, and other obligations, I knew I wouldn't have much time to make an entire outfit.  The theme I chose for the fashion show was Lets Go to the Movies!   All models would choose a period movie and make an outfit for the main character in the film.   

Looking through my saved inspiration photos for an easy Victorian gown, I came across a lovely dress from the mini series, Daniel Deronda.  This early bustle era movie was full of gorgeous gowns.  I already had a blue  bustle skirt, so I decided to alter the Georgian to a Victorian!

First, the bodice needed altering.  Here are photos of the Georgian version of the bodice, taken from Val's blog (link above).   Since the skirt was pleated to the bodice, I took apart the front bottom of the bodice and released the first two or three pleats, and brought them forward to meet in the middle.

Before Altering
I removed the sleeves, took a bit off the side seams and narrowed the sleeves.  Then I reattached the sleeves.
After Altering

 The next step was to add trim to the bodice to match the Victorian movie costume.  I found some cotton lace similar to the movie, and added white pleating around the neckline.  I then added some sleeve flounces.  You will notice that these are two different actresses.  This gown was actually used in two different movies, so I had more photos to look at!

The actress on the left is Georgia King in The Shadow in the North from 2007.   I used Georgia's jewelry choices, pearl necklace and earrings.

The actress below is Romola Garai in Daniel Deronda from 2002.  Also in Romola's photo is a lovely perch hat.  I tried making my own by reshaping a cheap straw hat, and failed miserably.   The day before the fashion show at Gaslight Gathering, I was in the vendor hall and found a pretty hat!

Underneath the blue skirt you can see a white,  pleated underskirt (see full length photo above).  I was relaxing in a cabin in the mountains over Labor Day weekend, and brought some white cotton and an iron with me.  I  cut yards of 7 inch strips, and cut a piece of cardboard from a lemon pie box I bought that day, using it as a guide to pleat the strips and iron them in place.   Since I had no machine to sew the pleats together, I used scotch tape to hold them in place until I got home.  Once home, I sewed them to the bottom of a plain white petticoat.

 For the belt she wears, I had a dupioni curtain panel in my stash.   I cut the header off that already had a stiff lining to it, and used a belt buckle from another outfit.

Here are a few pictures of the finished outfit.


$15  Polonaise to alter
$5    Trim
$14  White cotton for petticoat and pleats

Total    $34 for the outfit, plus hat purchase


  1. Fabulous redo Cindy! I love that you took Val's earlier polonaise and made the early bustle one! Brava!!! You look most fabulous in your Daniel Deronda dress my dear!! And your hat is fabulous!

  2. Thank you Gina! That last bustle gown you made was Fantabulous!