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.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

1880 Summer Promenade Ensemble

Hello!  Its been awhile since I've made myself a new Victorian costume.  Over the last year, I have been focusing on my other sewing project, making dresses for the Dress a Girl Around the World charity.  I have been posting mostly on my other blog   See my dresses here

Anyway... I wanted a new dress for Nancy's fashion show at Dickens Fest in Riverside, one that I could also wear as a member of the Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society.

Our club colors are pink and burgundy, and we also wear other rose colors such as red, purple, lavender, peach, yellow etc.  Since I ride in a carriage and not on horseback in parades, my skirt does not need to cover the backside of a horse.  Here are some of my sister Roses' skirts. These are made from Truly Victorian pattern 296, the Ripple Skirt.  Its a very full skirt so it fits over the horse's rear.

As I am broke again, I dug in my stash to see what I could put together.  I found 5 yards of pink I was going to use for a  Victorian Roses Ripple Skirt, but I need this fabric for February's fashion show.  I also found 5 yards of a pink stripe, which was only $1 a yard!   So, I will be using the following patterns:

Skirt - Truly Victorian 225 - 1878 Fantail Skirt  with train option
Overskirt - Truly Victorian 326 - 1880 Hermione Overskirt
Bodice - Truly Victorian 422 - 1881 Dinner Bodice

First, I just laid out my pink fabric to see if I had enough for a skirt and the back and front pieces of the bodice.   As you can see, I had help.....  there is plenty of fabric left over.  Now to iron and cut it out.

The stripe is folded up next to it. This will be my overskirt and possibly the sleeves or body of the bodice, if there is enough.  Thankfully, Heather of Truly Victorian has digitalized most of her patterns, as I realized I had borrowed my friend Val's overskirt pattern before when I made it and returned it.   So, I downloaded the pattern at work and printed (don't tell my boss).  It taped together perfectly.

Here are a few of my inspiration fashion plates from 1877 to 1880.

I cut out the base skirt, and it sewed together perfectly.  For the draw string channel inside, I used wide single fold bias tape, and ran my ties through it, and cinched it down to 10" wide. 
For the first round of pleats, I used a light weight poly cotton from Walmart, which sells pre-cut, 2 yard packages, perfect for what I need to do.  This first row is 7 inches tall, folded double, so there is no need hem the pleats.  This does take twice as much fabric, but I also want the extra weight around the bottom.

Hermione Overskirt

My Helper, Casey.  He will be 18 on April 15, 2020.
This is fun to make. It has a lot of pleats/fabric manipulation.  First, the panniers.  These will be attached to the apron down the sides.   As I mentioned, I downloaded the pattern and taped it together.  The pieces were huge!  Once cut out, I marked on the side seams with pins the places where your pleats meet.  On overskirts, you pleat UP in the front, and DOWN in the back.  These two panniers will be sewn together in the middle, and the side seams will attach to the apron.  Here is a picture of the pattern piece, and what the two panniers look like pleated and pinned.  I had to stand on a chair to take this shot, the pattern piece is so long!

 I decided that before I added more rows of pleats to the skirt, I better finish the overskirt to see where it hit around the bottom.  These show the finished overskirt, un-ironed and untrimmed. I will add another row of pleats to the skirt.  Then I get to trim it, my favorite part.
Speaking of trim, on the night I finished the overskirt, I was looking on Pinterest for inspiration.  I came across this photo.  The same overskirt! I love the burgundy contrast, so I will be looking for trim that color. This is velvet, not suitable for what I am making, but very pretty.

(next day)
I just ordered this trim on ebay, for $1.79 a yard.  More of a dark red.

(a few days later)
I received the trim, and I love it!    I put it all around the bottom of the overskirt, and the bottom of the upper layer of pleats.  Also, I bought some pretty white lace to top off the pleats.  Below, I am almost done adding the second row of pleats to the skirt, which will be topped by white lace as well. I actually mounted the white lace on pink bias tape, as the lace was too open weaved to lay nicely on top of the pleats (if that makes sense).  The bias tape also covered the top of the folds and made it look neater.

For a petticoat, I am using an old white ruffled fantail skirt, made from a sheet, perfect for this new outfit.   Once I fluff out the ruffles, it will really hold the pink skirt out.


I really had to squeak out pieces of the stripe fabric for the bodice.  I even had to piece it at the bottom front, as there were not enough long pieces left.  I used the long pieces for the back tail.  So, sleeves became solid pink, and I created a contrasting vest look with the pink.  I wasn't happy with the solid pink, and Val suggested lace over the pink vest portion.  She even provided the pretty rose lace for me.  You can see below how I pieced the stripe at the bottom, covered most of it with pink, and then added lace.  The rest of the piecing was put in the seam and/or covered in trim.  Next, I played with trim and pinned it on. Buttons were added, and on the back, I made a big pink bow with matching trim at the bottom

 Finishing Up

Last minute rush on Friday night before the show on Saturday.  I did not get the boning in the bodice on time for tomorrow, but will add it after.  I will be wearing it to Costume College in July, so I have time before then.  Here are some shots as I finish up.   I still need to iron again,and hand sew a few things.

Photos from the fashion show.

Here are a few photos taken at Dickens Fest.  After wearing it, I need to rethink how to handle the train.  With the ruffled petticoat and the skirt both on, it was heavy!!  I had to pin the petticoat to the train at corresponding spots, and it was so heavy, it was collapsing in on itself.    I think what I will do is make a regular, straight petticoat, and under the dress train, add lightweight ruffles directly to the underside.  I think that will help with the weight a lot.  Also, I ran out of time before the show to add boning to the bodice, but it didn't look too bad.  I will wear the improved version to Costume College in July.

Right are Nancy Smith, coordinator of the Dickens Fest Fashion Show, and Heather McNaughton-Stewart, creator of Truly Victorian Patterns.



Pink stripe fabric - $1 yd @ 5 yds = $5
Solid pink fabric -  $4 yd @ 5 yds = $20
Solid pink ruffles - $2.50 yd @ 5 yds = $7.50
Dark red swag trim - $1.79 yd @ 5 yds = $8.95
Dark red ribbon - $4
Buttons - $1
White lace - $7

Total cost  $53.45


  1. I enjoy your Broke Costumer blog. The Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society sounds so interesting, do you have a blog for that also?

  2. What a beautiful ensemble! And hooray for cotton!

  3. I just found your blog, following a post about wrap dresses on Pinterest! I love your articles and I'm so glad I found you :)