Christmas Carol 2013, Part 1

By Mary Johns

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Abi has been hard at work making an evening gown for this years Christmas Carol play at the Old Packing Shed. She is playing Kitty, nephew Fred’s wife. This fabric is a mystery fabric, but it’s a play, so it works! The bodice is flat lined with horsehair, then lined with polished cotton. It has the lining set in and stitched by hand on all edges. We have previously set the play sometime in the 1830’s, but this year we decided to make anything new in the 1850’s, so this gown is 1850’s-ish.

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Here is Abi working hard on the flounced skirt. It’s turning out lovely!


We are re-using Christmas Past, with some minor alterations. This is a gorgous silk fabric that I love so much! I made this about 4 years ago, and even though I draped it on the girl that played Christmas Past that year, it has fit all 4 of the girls that played her with just a little taking in and out here and there. It has a skirt set on a waistband, then the front is set onto the waistband, overlapping in the front and wrapping towards the back. It then goes up over the shoulders and drapes down in the back. It has a hook to hold the two panels together, then 5 snaps under the hook. I used the hook at the top so that it can’t just pop open.

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I am making a regency ensemble for Fair Young Girl (Young Scrooge’s Fiance) to wear. Fair Young Girl is played by Lizzy Riley this year. We don’t have a whole lot of regency clothing, so I started from the inside out. Here is the chemise, front and back. Just out of some plain cotton.

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Here are the short stays. They are made with three layers. The outside layer is a somewhat stretchy embroidered cotton/something blend (I know, not strictly accurate, but it looks great, and if anyone is close enough to know, then there is a problem!), the interlining is a sturdy linen canvas, and the lining is a plain white cotton. It has bones in the center front, on either side of the eyelets, the two bones at an angle next to the bust, and one bone in the side. It has two gussets at the bust, and is quilted right under the gussets to help keep it flat there. It has a drawstring at the bottom to help snug everything into place.

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This is the bodiced petticoat. The bodice on this helps smooth the stay line, and also keeps the petticoat from slipping. It is just the dress pattern without sleeves. I used the Sense and Sensibility Patterns for this set of regency wear. I’m hoping the neckline isn’t too high on this, but I’m doing a crossover bodice on the dress, so I think it will be ok.

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Stay tuned for progress! We have done the fittings for the other evening gown (teal taffeta), and for Mrs. Cratchet (blue cotton reproduction print), and we still have the regency gown (of yummy burgundy and cream striped cotton) and spencer (green wool). I have also loaded all the pictures to start the tutorial for the frock coat, so that will be coming soon too!


Sarah Courage gets a jacket that fits!

By Mary Johns

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We recently did a fundraiser for Courage, New Hampshire, at which 6 of our cast members were there in costume. Sarah Pine Wheedle Courage was one of them, played by Alexandra Oliver. She has not yet had a jacket or gown to fit her properly, and the last one I made her I really messed up. I overestimated how shortwaisted to make it, and it is 2 inches too short in the waist and sleeve. Oops! So I decided it was time to get her into something that fits! We have successfully made her stays that fit, we did the cardboard mock up and she actually wore them for one whole day of filming, then we used those to make the real stays.  So we had the underpinnings right and just needed to get the top layer right! I was hoping to make a longer skirted jacket, but I barely eeked out a short skirted one. Luckily we already had a stomacher made of the same fabric. I have to say, I really love how the print matched up in the back! I was really happy with how it turned out, and Alex loved it too, which was definitely a bonus!

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I used some of the techniques I learned making Jim’s frockcoat, and they make things turn out so much nicer. Go figure, they knew what they were doing! Please excuse the gaudy lining, I knew it wouldn’t show, and I have lots of calico that needs to be used up for something. The outside and the lining were both sewn (on the machine, gasp! I know!), then I did a hidden hem stitch on all the outside edges of the jacket and hemmed the lining on all edges. I hemmed the lining a little bit bigger then the outside. I then set the lining into the jacket and hand stitched it in. This way the lining can never roll to the outside of the jacket (that has been a problem before, since we laundry much more frequently then our forebears did, and apparently we were constructing our garments wrong!). The eyelets are all done by hand, and there is horsehair lining both front edges of the jacket where the eyelets are.


The brown block print is from, they don’t have this print anymore, but they do have some others that are darling! I got it to use for the stomacher used in the scene below. It is from Courage, New Hampshire, Episode 2.


I reused the stomacher for this jacket and we’ll see if anyone catches it!

November 9th, 2013

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Sometimes I have things to post, and I’m not quite sure if they deserve their own post, or if I just throw it up there with the date instead of a title like ‘Baltus, Katrina, Mallory and Civil War girls’. Anyway, here is a post that would use that heading;)

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Katrina and Baltus in all their glory! Abi still needs to do a post on Baltus’s outfit, but we’ll see if she gets around to it;) Katrina was played by Erin Keeney, and Baltus (her father) was played Brandon Kimbler (who is actually 2 years younger). The Baltus costume is going to double as Fezziwig’s costume for our next play, Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Brandon is also playing Fezziwig, so we were happy to kill two birds with one stone!


Here is Mallory Drazin in her gestational stays. I wanted a picture of them on her, because the one on our dressform just doesn’t do them justice for the way they are supposed to work. I tried stuffing them for a picture and it looked horrible. Here is Mallory in her whole costume too. She said the stays really do help support the belly. The first night the stays weren’t ready yet, and she said two petticoats were too heavy. After she had the stays she said that both petticoats are fine, and she can go the whole time without being nearly so tired. So Hooray! Success;)

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Here are Erin and Hannah at the beginning of a Civil War tour. We have several more girls that need to be outfitted, but these two I feel are off too a good start. Hannah is in a new gown that Abi made, I love the red! Erin is in a fairly old gown, that I made for Krystle, probably 6 or 7 years ago. We still need to add things like collars and cuffs to the girls wardrobes, but at least their dresses are in the right era!


I am working on and 18th century frock coat right now, for my boss, Jim Riley. I decided it was time to figure out how they were actually put together in the day, so I pulled out my books and my hand sewing stuff and started stitching away, with all the correct layers and stitches and padding. I will post a tutorial for the coat as soon as I am done with it.