Monday, August 24, 2009

An Afternoon Dress for the Afternoon

The perfect hat never appearing (although I'm still on the keen look-out for it!) I decided to wear the 1914 dress I posted about a month or so ago yesterday when we went cemetery-walking and historical-site-visiting and grocery-shopping.

As I mentioned last year, David and I both greatly enjoy cemetery walking. We don't go on "dates" very often but when we do it is more often than not an enjoyable ramble through an old cemetery. We have great delight in looking for the oldest stones, the most intricate stones, the most worn stones, the stones with mysterious symbols and those that look as though they are not often visited.

Yesterday was a perfect afternoon for such delights. While we were thus walking David obligingly took some pictures of my dress so I can at last share the finished item with you all.

I look quite grim in some of these photos. I almost always go automatically into "look like you are from the 1860's" mode when someone is taking pictures. So that often means not smiling. So excuse that, if you will. This is one of those items that would go well on a list that begins "You Know You Are a Reenactor When. . ."
I like the finished dress although there are a few things I would change on it if I were to make it over and that I will definitely change on my next one from this pattern. The first is the neckline. It was too wide for my shoulders so I had to take a little tuck on each side of the neck so it would not gape open in an unbecoming and immodest manner. I also think the bodice is a tad long. There is too much puff at the waist and it obscures for the most part the pretty satin sash which is actually quite wide. This also obscures my waist which makes me look horrendously Fat. Thank you, wide hips. Not that my waist is terribly small by any means, but its smaller than my hips! I think a period corset would help the overall look a lot. That, and shortening the bodice. My hair really isn't long enough to up that well so I parted down my whole head and each side I divided into three shanks. Starting with the shanks on the top of my head, I twisted them upwards and draped them across the top of my head and pinned them in place. I repeated this for the remaining shanks and pinned in a silk flower at the end. Ta da. Not period correct but at least old fashioned looking. The shawl is likewise a modern one that my mother in law gave me. But since this is not a totally period outfit anyway (just "inspired-by") I thought there was no harm in wearing it. Wearing a shawl makes one feel so lady like.
I wore my black Civil War boots but would eventually like to get some high heeled cream colored "granny boots" to wear with it instead. But that will be after Malachi is old enough to walk on his own. I just can't wear anything high heeled while I have to carry him about. And so, that is all! What kind of a hat would you all suggest for this dress? I do hope I can find one eventually!

Have a lovely afternoon! You are cordially invited to go cemetery-walking with David and I the next fine afternoon we have. We shall all don long gowns and shall feature much lace and flowers and ribbons and search for the queerest old stones imaginable and wonder about the olden people and what their lives must have been like.




  1. I too noticed a gaping neckline and to long of a bodice with the Afternoon Dress pattern when I made the white one a few years ago. All in all though, Sarah, your dress is very pretty and that color looks becoming on you.

  2. Oh so lovely!! I wish we lived closer, for I would LOVE to join you on a ramble through the cemetery in our long beautiful dresses. :)

    The dress turned out so beautifully! Is this pattern from "Sense and Sensibility?" I have wanted to try it... and I think I shall. I love the fabric you chose and your hair looks lovely!

  3. You look beautiful. Don't we have the most wonderful hobby? I too love graveyards, as did my grandmother. She and grandpa went to New Orleans for their honeymoon just so grandma could meander through the graveyards.

  4. Yesterday WAS absolutely lovely! As is your dress, and the cemetary. Shaune and I love to do that, but we usually take our sketch pads and camp out for a few hours. It sounds like so much fun to do it all bedecked in ribbons and fluff!

  5. It is so hard to wear heels when you have a baby to carry around. I totally understand!!! Draven is close to walking now.

  6. I love cemeteries too! They are so calm and peaceful, and a history lesson on each stone. I enjoy imagining who these people were and trying to make them real.

    I met my husband in a cemetery, so they are now extra special to me!

    You look perfect there in your beautiful dress!

  7. The dress is beautiful, Sarah! I do think shortening the bodice would improve its looks, though. The fabric is so pretty.

    I also love cemeteries. There are a lot of neat old ones around here which I've spent many happy hours in.

  8. I would recommend the corset route before surgery on the dress - I just finished one from the era, and I can assure you that in my experience it transformed the wearer from looking like a reject from the 1980's, to a very successful 1914 silhouette.
    (and also I wonder if the photographer was standing slightly higher or on higher ground, and this has the effect of shortening the overall effect)
    I think that the dress is just beautiful as it is, and with just the right amount of pouff!

  9. You look beautiful! What a lovely gown! Your sewing always inspires me :)

  10. Sarah Jane, the dress is lovely and I agree, it isn't too poofy. It reminds me of a picture of my grandmother from that era and her front was poofy also. As far as a hat to wear with it, in the picture my grandmother was wearing a cartwheel with a sheer kind of veiling around the brim and it appears there were some flowers under the veiling. That sounds ghastly, but it looked quite beautiful.

    Kay Allen


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!