Saturday, December 25, 2010


In the later part of the 19th century the Aesthetes would be inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites.  Here is a cartoon from 1881 making fun of Aesthetes

For More information on Aesthetic dress go to
Here is some information about Aesthetic dress from

"Aesthetic Dress Fashion History

Aesthetic dress was a protest against the contemporary fashion for bustles in various forms and restrictive corsets.  Costume history picture of aqua asethetic gown from Liberty 
catalogue. Fashion history.In fashion history terms only a very small section of the community ever wore it initially, but it did spread to middle class intellectuals, to artistic and literary people.  Aesthetic dress was made of wool or Liberty silk or velvet fabrics.
Aesthetic fashions were cut looser and was unstructured in the style of medieval or Renaissance garments with larger sleeves.  The dress appeared loose compared with figure hugging fashion garments of the era.  Loose waited corset free women were considered to have loose morals and it did not help that many of the Aesthetic women were thought slightly Bohemian and beyond the normal social conventions and morals of the time.
Above Left -  Dress from a 1905 Liberty catalogue.
The typical fashionable aesthetic lady would have red flowing hair often henna enhanced, a pale face, green eyes and wore heelless shoes.  This model of aestheticism was frequently ridiculed in Punch cartoons where the wearer might be shown with her hair brushed into her eyes.  The idea of red hair itself was ridiculed as red hair was thought of as social assassination."

Lewis Carroll

I have just finished Jenny Woolf's "The mystery of Lewis Carroll".

She is completely unbiased and presents all data accordingly.  She also was fortunate in that she discovered his banking records that had been hidden away for over 100 years that disclosed much welcome information on our author.

I must say after hearing all the nonsense of his "hidden" perverseness and the like, it was refreshing to read this biography.  I was pleased to discover that the accusations were not founded in any fact, and that all the children [but one who was never a friend of his] who befriended him had positive things to say about his friendship when interviewed by other biographers later in life.

It is clear after being taken through the facts that the hideous gossip about him was merely that, gossip.

I wholeheartedly agree with the author that the sexual overtones of any analysis of Carroll's work is merely shining a light upon the obsessions of the critics.

In addition to the ridiculous sex obsessed viewpoints of Freudian criticisms of Carroll, there is one analysis that I found absurd by Prof. Paul Schilder who in 1938 found "preponderant oral sadistic trends of cannibalistic character in Carroll's work", in addition to another "doctor", psychoanalyst John Skinner, who upon reading a letter Carroll had written to a young friend the was full of his trademark humor decides that the funny letter was, " full of rejection, with little friendliness in it's tone."

After reading about his schooling and the drab and dried up social atmosphere of Oxford/Christ Church it becomes clear to the reader that his relationships with children were a welcome oasis from his life as a mathematics lecturer.

That his oath of celibacy which ensured his position at the college was both a source of stress and financial stability for one who did not come from a family of entitlement.

After a thorough examination of his bank records one will discover his silent support of over 30 different charities yearly, mostly to aid women and children who were victims of abuse or to hunt down and prosecute men who abused children.  In addition to his role as head of his huge family after the death of his beloved father he supported his 10 brothers and sisters in whatever capacity they might need, that was quite a feat, and in today's society would be nothing short of sainthood.

I also found touching his being torn between Oxford conservatism, & the unconventional-ism that colored his life.  The expectations put upon him due to his vow and being a male in Victorian society were at constant odds with his treating women and children as equals and unashamedly being seen in public visiting with unchaperoned women and children.

Most of the gossip appears to originate with the other men at Oxford/Christ Church. One can only imagine the jealousy they felt when viewing the sensitive stammering professor constantly surrounded by women and children.

In addition to the disdain he received from his pupils, who were of the entitled upper-crust and not at all fond of someone stepping outside of their "proper" place in the Victorian caste system, he was under much duress due to his speech impediment that seemed to plague many members of his family that caused his daily public speaking to be horrific for him. Also he seemed to have a knack for climbing up and down the ladder socially without concern for the disapproval of his contemporaries.

I know the works of Lewis Carroll have influenced my life for the better and I am so glad to have found Jenny Woolf's book.

I have this to say to those who slander Carroll :  

The "people" who populate this world we live in have a knack for taking something innocent and wonderful then strangling and cutting it into a perverted reflection of their own ugliness.

Overall I am so glad she wrote this, I read it in less than two days, I couldn't put it down.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

PreRaphaelite Model Jane Morris photos

Found at

If you love Elizabeth Siddall you will also know Jane Morris as well. I found some amazing photographs of her.

I am going to make a pattern of this dress, will post soon.  Photographs: Copyright: ©Victoria & Albert Picture Library

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rebels of the Victorian Age.... The Pre-Raphaelites

Many do not know of the Pre-Raphaelites... a passionate artistic movement during the middle Victorian Era whose paintings still resonate with us today.

A characteristic of Pre-Raphaelites style with which they painted was to portray women & men in un-corseted bodies with free flowing hair and loosely draped robes and dresses that are reminiscent of the Greco-Roman era and medieval times.  Portraying religious, historical, or common everyday moments in a romantic idealized manner.

Here is a slide show of this movements most notable paintings
I've included paintings by Elizabeth Siddal in the slideshow, her artwork was not as publicized as the men of this era.

photo of Elizabeth Siddal [model for Ophelia]

Regina Cordium
Rest In Peace Elizabeth, 
you will remain in our hearts forever.

a poem by Elizabeth Siddall
To touch the glove upon her tender hand,
To watch the jewel sparkle in her ring,
Lifted my heart into a sudden song
As when the wild birds sing.
To touch her shadow on the sunny grass,
To break her pathway through the darkened wood,
Filled all my life with trembling and tears
And silence where I stood.
I watch the shadows gather round my heart,
I live to know that she is gone –
Gone gone for ever, like the tender dove
That left the Ark alone bloomers & lolita skirt tutorials

Really great tutorials on lolita or period style clothing reproductions for the "modern" girl...

Her bloomers tutorial:

Her tutorial for : a Sewing Tutorial: Lazy Lolita Skirt (DIY Hime Style)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Victorian Hairstyles & tutorial

 I actually, finally found a hair dressing tutorial from 1871, the instructions themselves are a bit complicated.  

click to enlarge, or save to desktop by right clicking and select 'save as' whatever

Here are some Victorian era hair pieces:

children's hairstyles:

I made a collage of all that I have on hand for a visual reference.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Making Victorian era style photos or photos that look like daguerreotypes and tin types

Do you have a digital photo you would like to give a tin type or daguerreotype finish to?  You will need Photoshop for this, I am using CS3, these steps should work for nearly any version you may be using?

You will need a basic understanding of how to use Photoshop for this trick.

If the images aren't large enough click to enlarge. ;)

First make it black and white. 

This will create severe shadows on your face, so use the healing brush tool or what have you to correct this before going further.

Layer duplicate or [ctrl + j] to create background layer duplicate.

Now add a layer mask. [Layer>Layer mask>Reveal all]  to the new layer.

Make sure you select the upper layer instead of the mask and apply a Gaussian blur 4-7 pixels should do.

Your image should appear fuzzy like this.

Now click on the icon for the mask on the upper layer.  Use a soft big brush and select black, paint over the areas of the image you would like to sharpen.

You will see your progress in the mask icon as you go.

To give more textural interest to your image go into brush library and try out the huge selection of faux & natural finish brushes to apply various shades of darker hues to create a really crusty tin type image like I did below.  Create a new layer to apply your added special effects as you see in the finished portraits below.

the tiny arrow opens the brush library:

Completed black & white daguerreotype 'style' image

Or you could do a sepia tone version to really capture a moldering effect.

What is a daguerreotype and a tin type image

This is from

"The Process

The daguerreotype is a direct-positive process, creating a highly detailed image on a sheet of copper plated with a thin coat of silver without the use of a negative. The process required great care. The silver-plated copper plate had first to be cleaned and polished until the surface looked like a mirror. Next, the plate was sensitized in a closed box over iodine until it took on a yellow-rose appearance. The plate, held in a lightproof holder, was then transferred to the camera. After exposure to light, the plate was developed over hot mercury until an image appeared. To fix the image, the plate was immersed in a solution of sodium thiosulfate or salt and then toned with gold chloride.
Exposure times for the earliest daguerreotypes ranged from three to fifteen minutes, making the process nearly impractical for portraiture. Modifications to the sensitization process coupled with the improvement of photographic lenses soon reduced the exposure time to less than a minute.
Although daguerreotypes are unique images, they could be copied by redaguerreotyping the original. Copies were also produced by lithography or engraving. Portraits based upon daguerreotypes appeared in popular periodicals and in books."

and information about tintypes can be accessed here at

Saturday, December 11, 2010

punk rock Victorian childrens ruffled skirt

This little girls dress was my inspiration for this design.

punk rock version of the Victorian children's skirt

I have no idea what the fabric is. Some weird satin that I preshrunk, purposely, because I always PRESHRINK, and I like to be surprised by the fabric after washing it to see what happens to it. 

I prefer the more intense textures of many dryclean only fabrics after machine washing them 0.o call me crazy. lol They are so unique.

Here are a few steps to illustrate adding ruffles to a simple a line skirt:

Adding ruffles to the skirt:

Here I have begun to pin the 1st layer of ruffles to the skirt 1/4 section at a time. I describe this in detail in my post here.

After you make your division marks on the skirt and the ruffles you will want to provide excess thread for gathering when sewing your basting stitches onto your ruffle fabric between every section. You don't want to make one long straight stitch for gathering ruffles, it will break and unravel all your ruffles. So smaller sections make it easier to gather ruffles with out thread breakage.
Here you can see I am gradually pulling the excess string I left when applying basting stitch, for those of you who have yet to make ruffles by hand patience is key!  Go slow and gently, if you pull hard the thread may break and you will have to baste stitch again. ;)

Stitching on the ruffles after hand-basting the finished ruffles onto the skirt with white thread.  I think ruffles are more flattering added at the hip line rather than just below the navel.

Trim details:

Added bias tape trim to cover where ruffles are stitched onto skirt and made bias tape trim with leftover fabric to make the bias tape trim fancier.

Waistband improv:

Here you can see I've stitched two pieces of single fold bias tape to make it wide enough for a waist band. You can just buy double fold bias tape for this, I didn't have it on hand and used this method instead.

Here you can see the finished side of my bias tape waist band and the under side. You will want to iron flat the edges that will be stitched together and then iron them back to their previously folded state after stitching together as you see here.
I am adding the bias tape waistband here.  I finish off the waist band by leaving one side 2 inches longer than the other, fold half under and finish tab,  and stitching in a hook and eye to fasten above the zipper.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Victorian Nonsense screensaver

This is a background I made. I used Darwin for Victorian Nonsense because he was full of it! "n_n"

To save right click and select 'save image as' etc...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Victorian" style bloomers mod for pants

I made a pair of bloomers from some pants of mine I had already made a while back. This mod will work with stretchy material [like the type I use here] or whatever lightweight fabric you may have.

Here are the steps I took:

I cut the pants off at 22" down from my waist and over locked the raw fabric edge at the knee.  Since the fabric was stretchy I pulled it taught while applying a zig zag stitch and it makes the edge very curly as you can see here.

I marked all about the circumference of  of the knee , inside out of course.  I marked the pants inside every 1/4 of the way about & 3" from edge for elastic.

Here you can see how it appears after applying the elastic, make sure you pull the elastic and fabric tightly to achieve this.

Here is the finished pair of bloomers that were once wide leg pajama pants.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Make your own "Gothic Lolita/Kuro Lolita" inspired ruffled skirt

I know true 'Loli's' wouldn't call my mod Lolita, it needs to be bell shaped with a pannier to be true Lolita I suppose.  But it's lovely nonetheless. Let me know.

I recently saw this at and had to redesign it and make a version for myself.

 Here are the steps I took.

First I made an a line skirt

Here I have marked in my sketch how much shorter I made the skirt to make room for my sheer treatment at the hem. At the end this of post you can see this sheer trim in detail.

Then I measured from my waist line to where my hip bones were and marked that on the skirt all the way around to the back.

Here you can see I am adding a layer of 3 tiered ruffles I have made at the hip bone line. I will show how to make a layer of 3 tiered ruffles shortly.

The first step to make the layers is to cut out the panels [about 4x's the width of your skirt] and finish the edges. Here you can see I am applying a very narrow zigzag stitch to the edge of a soft sheer nylon fabric. Loosen the pressure on the foot and use the proper needle when working with this type of fabric it WILL matter, an 80/11 size needle will do.

I have measured and laid out the first two layers. If you want densely packed ruffles I usually measure the width of the layer nearly 4x's the width of the skirt.  It is better to err on the side of caution and have far too much ruffle than less after all this trouble.

Here is the last top most layer. Finishing the edges of all the layers is the most time consuming part, unless you have a serger.

If you look closely you can see I did not finish the edge at top where the layers met.

Here you can see how they are layered prior to pinning.

You want to mark where the first layer falls so you can have a line to pin the second layer, you want it to hide just beneath the edge of the first layer of ruffles.

You can hand stitch or just do a wide straight stitch on your machine. Knot the ends leave enough length on thread to pull when you are finished stitching, use very good thread or the weight of the fabric will break the thread and you will unravel your ruffles.

A note about ruffles:
I find that a narrow zigzag finished edge lets the ruffle look smoother as opposed to a shirttail hem which lends to the ruffle having a very stiff appearance.  Below you can see the first layer of ruffles has two tiers with a shirttail hem with the rest finished with a zigzag stitch.

Above: this photo illustrates where the layers are stitched, just beneath the edge of the layer above it.  I will finish the edges with basting tape to cover up the threads.  The white string is from my hand basting that I will remove now that I have sewn the ruffles on by hand.

I used three different types of black fabric to add interest, as you can see under a flash the different shade of black in 1 layer is obvious, if you are going to use your item in a photo shoot with flash photography this is something to consider during the design of your garment!

Personally I do not care if all my blacks match, I think it looks better to have some variety in the hues of black.

For the original skirt on they use a very thin light cotton fabric/cotton broadcloth/muslin which provides the stiff fullness, but I prefer to use fabric which is softer and has a lot of weight to it, so it has a very fluid movement to the skirt as opposed to the stiffness of thin cotton fabric.  It depends upon your tastes, the other layers of this skirt are a heavy synthetic rayon/woven fabric which I prefer for it's weight and bounce when moving about.

I have yet to add the waist band and zipper, I will update post as soon as I am finished with this item.

Here is a close up of the sheer panel with bias tape trim I added to the hem that I had shortened.

Thanks, R.

Here is the completed item after I finished the waist band. I added hem lace to the 2nd layers stitching.

Here you can see I've added my pleated under skirt instead of a proper pannier/petticoat with a pair of bloomers knee hi's and Victorian Junior Girls style boots.

Here the last tier of sheer fabric trim is lifted to illustrate the layers.