Mary’s 19th Century Costuming

The links below contain photos of actual Regency & Victorian garments, which I find useful for inspiration.

An excellent source for photos of extant clothing is Démodé: Extant women’s clothing 1750-1919.


Click on thumbnails to view larger images.

I just started making Victorian costumes in 2001.  Here are the costumes I’ve made so far the the patterns & methods that I used to make them.

My first Victorian costume was a dress for my daughter.  I used Period Impression’s Girl’s Day Dress with Fichu #304 pattern.  You can see the neckline, fichu and sleeves in the picture at the near right, and the length and tiered skirt in the picture at the far right. 

I also made the hoop skirt that she is wearing in the picture from Period Impression’s Girl’s Underpinnings #307 pattern (although, it came out too short for her).


Next, I made myself a bodice and skirt from Past Pattern’s Darted Bodice #702 with the full pagoda sleeves.  The skirt is made from Past Pattern’s Fashionable Skirt #700 pattern. 

I also made a corset from Past Patterns #703, although I did not care for the way it fit (probably my own fault) and have since cannabilized it.

The picture is not very good, but seems to be the only one of me in it!


In 2002, I made a new dress for my daughter, because she wanted something “more grown-up.”

I used Simplicity’s 7212 pattern, but substituted the “modified pagoda” sleeves from Past Pattern’s Darted Bodice #702. I got the idea for the trim placement from a period photo.

I made her a corset from Laughing Moon’s Ladies’ Victorian Underwear #100 pattern.


Also in 2002, I made myself a new bodice, which I am quite proud of. I combined elements from 3 different patterns:  Simplicity’s #7212 pattern for the main bodice; the pagoda sleeves from Past Pattern’s #702; and the skirting from Simplicity’s #9761 pattern, modified quite a bit.  It’s made from red velveteen, with black piping and black ribbon ruched trim.


In 2003, I made my daughter an early bustle period gown (c. 1870s) out of lavender and cream silk dupioni. I used Truly Victorian patterns: #TV108 for the bustle; #TV416 for the bodice; and #TV208 for the bustle skirt. The patterns were fairly easy to use and I really like the way that the gown came out.

I was still sewing the gown the morning that we were going to the Dickens Fair (as usual…), so the gown is not completely decorated. I also had a problem with the closure of the bodice. I only sewed the hooks & eyes to the lining, which caused the opening to gap horribly. I plan to remake the bodice... someday...


In 2006, I finally made myself a new costume for the local Dickens Fair, because my old ones are waaay too big for me now (I know, so sad, huh?). I usually don’t have time to work on anything besides Nutcracker from Sept thru Dec of each year, but I made the time.

It’s nothing fancy and I used really, really cheap fabric (like $1/yd) but I’m pretty happy with the results. I used Simplicity #4551.   


I did not make these costumes, but I have included them on this page, because the Simplicity #9761 pattern seems to be a very popular pattern.

My friend’s daughter made both of these dresses, and I will tell you that they take a lot of fabric.


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