Sherlock Holmes 2015


This character was played by Carissa Burns. The character was a young woman, applying for help to Sherlock Holmes, to find her fiancee. Her parents did not approve!

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Abi made this dress, it was created out of cotton. It is two pieces, plus the belt. The hat is a boater we used in last years Prohibition, and will be using in this years Prohibition as well. I have also used it with my Gibson Girl Golf outfit. We have gotten a lot of use out of this hat!

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The cape was used at the beginning, and taken off when she got to 221B Baker St. It is velvet, and was originally made for Dickens Christmas Carol, many years ago.

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Nelly did a wonderful job on the hair for this production. It really tied the characters together with the costumes, and made them complete.

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Erin Drazin played Tilly Bristol, the spitfire young women who was bent on making Sherlock pay for sending her brother to prison.

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This outfit consists of three pieces. The blouse, the skirt (attached to a under bodice) and the jacket. It is a tennis outfit, I drafted it out of a book (Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe). It was meant to be a bit looser, so you could actually play tennis in it, but the waist was ridiculously large, and we added some darts to the back of the blouse. The blouse was made of linen, and the rest of the suit was silk. Maybe not the best choice for a sports suit, but we had to stick with what was in our stash. I made the hat out of velvet, with the really crazy organza bows, but her hair kind of blended with the bows and tamed the whole thing down.

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Lizzy Riley played the mother, Imogene Scott. And she was right to distrust the fiancee, as he ended up being the murderer! This outfit is a walking gown, it’s made of silver figured silk, and plum (I’m not sure what, but I know it’s not) silk. I was mostly pleased with this outfit. The vest is part of the jacket, so the whole thing is only two pieces. I did not like the gaping in the front with the hooks and eyes, and the skirt needed a touch more fullness in the front to hang properly. I modified the sleeves, as the actress hates the huge leg o mutton (which were included with this pattern). This one has a nice puff without being so ginormous!

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The hat is made of buckram and wire, and covered in silk. I wasn’t going to add flowers to the back, but the little riser to make the hat tip forward needed something!


Inspector Lestrade, inspecting one of our Revolutionary War guys that came up to check out the play.WIN_20150307_171534We didn’t get to many pictures of the gentlemen, because we didn’t spend nearly as much time on their outfits. We mostly just put things together out of what we had, and ordered a few things like coats and hats online. The ladies stuff had to be fitted, and we make nearly all our ladies clothing in house. Next time, we are hoping to take character pictures of everybody!



Prohibition Play, Part 2

 Part 2….the gents! We had coppers and gangsters and detectives…so we went shopping! The coppers we simply ordered some Civil War sack coats and matching pants, as we can re-use them on tour. They are very similar to pictures of the time. They fit a bit looser, but since they were for a play and we can re-use them, they were a win-win for us.



The gentleman in the center (Nick Riley) played an undercover detective.



Here we have Smiling Jimmy Fabrini in the center, with his dirty work helper on the right. These two, as you can tell, are gangsters. Pictured on the left is Jimmy’s girl, Linda. Jimmy’s suit got ordered online, he’s a tall fellow, and we couldn’t find what we wanted in stores. He got some awesome pinstripes!


Writer, director and player in the play! Eric Drazin played a Detective.


This fellow (Jon Harmon) played the dirty cop. I love this summer look on him. The boater is awesome!


Jordan Crother played Jimmy Fabrini’s side kick.

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The plain clothes detective with the uniformed detective.


The shoot out at the end.


Smiling Jimmy trying to make his escape!


The dirty cop talking things over with Jimmy’s guy.


After the first raid, before they actually have anything on these guys.



Looking casual, conducting business.

We ordered the badges from a party store (hey, the price was right!) and the hats from We bought most of the suits and shirts from Burlington Coat Factory, but did have some luck a local vintage store (Red Door Vintage) with some really awesome pants and sports coats, probably from the 70’s. All in all, I am really pleased with the way the costuming for this play came out. It was a great learning experience, and next time something from an unfamiliar era comes up, I will be a little bit more open and less stressed about getting everything ‘just right’ and ‘accurate’.

All photos by Mallory Drazin. Used with permission.


Prohibition Play – Part 1

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Prohibition. The time of dry laws and alcohol runners and gangsters and flappers. An exciting and scary time. When Eric told us he was writing a play on Prohibition, we were very excited. We were in the midst of the tour season, and while we did some research, we didn’t really have the time to do enough. This play was a practice in trial and error, and a lot of frustration. Everybody in the play had a thought on how their costume should be (at least to some extent), and there were a lot of strong opinions. Then there was the time issue. We had to have some of it done in time to do a photo shoot for advertising. The patterns we ordered ended up taking forever and a day to come, and we didn’t get them in time for this project. I ended up drafting some patterns out of a book. The patterns turned out ok, but we used the wrong material. Whoops! They didn’t hang quite right, and they puckered more then they should have. Live and learn! See above for the drafted dresses. The one on top turned out fairly cute, but it would have helped to be able to do a fitting for the girl it was for (who is notoriously hard to get in for fittings).  The purple one just wasn’t quite right. If we had had the proper fabric it might have turned out better. The girl it was for just felt like crap in it, and she was supposed to be this glamorous speak easy singer, so that wasn’t going to work. So after the photo shoot we started working on under-pinnings for the play itself. Under-pinnings for this era are stupid. Just go buy yourself a spanx slip and a non padded/lift bra and it will look better. Here is the brassiere from Reconstructing History. I didn’t have the right fabric on hand, so I made do. Again, a mistake.

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It turned out ok, but the girls were doing the Charleston, and she didn’t feel supported enough. So I made her this one. Which was too bulky underneath the dresses we ended getting for them.



Then there were these. For our girls that were a little more busty and curvy. Again. Spanx. Just buy the freaking Spanx. The line they give is much better. I am all for historical under-pinnings, and I was really bummed that these didn’t work, but Spanx.

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 So once I had those stupid monstrosity’s done we went shopping for dresses. It’s very odd for us to go shopping for costumes. We usually make everything in house (with the exception of some menswear) so we have this mindset that if we don’t make it, it doesn’t count as costuming. Boy, were we wrong. The play wouldn’t have ended up looking nearly as good if we hadn’t gone costume shopping. It was a very fun but stressful experience. I felt that as a costumer I wasn’t doing my job. And everybody had an opinion on which dress to get, and how it looked with spanx versus under-pinnings. And while they were right (we went shopping with all the cast that needed dresses), it was very humbling and a bit humiliating. This whole play was quite the learning experience, and I was very grateful especially for Mallory. She watches a lot of historical shows (at a lot more in that era then I do), and does a lot of graphic design for the farm, looking at fashion plates and such, and has a better feel for the era. I hate new eras. There is such a learning curve. But Mallory helped me put perspective on it, and went shopping with Abi and me (a bonus for Abi since they are besties:), and really helped us get some really good stuff. So thanks Mallory! You’re the best!

For the main dresses we went to Unique Vintage. If you get the chance, go!! It is awesome in there! Here are some of the dresses we got.


Photo by Mallory Drazin


Photo by Mallory Drazin

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Photo by Mallory Drazin

We had a dance number with three of the girls in the red dresses, and we used one of them for the waitress at the speakeasy (who was also in the dance number).


Photo by Mallory Drazin

We also got a dress and hat from Modcloth.


Photo by Mallory Drazin

Here are some of the headpieces, which have clips on the back, so we can change them out on the headbands without messing up anyone’s hair. The top pictures are before I decorated and the bottom pictures are after. The red ones were for the Charleston Dance scene with the red dresses. The other one was for the speakeasy singer who got the green dress.

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We also got some lovely shoes. Oh, American Duchess, how I love thee and wished I had bucket loads of money to spend on pretty shoes! These were for Erin, and I would steal them, but her foot is like 4 sizes smaller the mine. Damn.


In my next post we’ll look at some of the Menswear we got and some pictures of the play. Thanks for reading!

Sherlock Holmes 2014, Part 3








I started this post about a month and a half ago….whoops! I keep thinking about blogging, but somehow haven’t found the time. It’s crunch time at work right now, our very busiest tour season, and we have been sewing like mad. Since these pictures are already loaded, we’ll finish up with Sherlock, and show you some of the new things we’ve been working on in the next post. I promise it won’t take a month and a half!

I am extremely proud of this coat. It took forever (the batting is quilted to the lining), and the trim is hand sewn and a bit fussy to place, but I love how it turned out! It was worth the time and effort!

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This hat went through much gnashing of teeth before I was happy with it. I had something particular in mind, and it took some finagling, and some help from Lizzy to get it right.

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Mr. Jon Harmon as the wealthy victim at the beginning of the show.


Miss Erin Keeney as a wealthy jewel aficionado.

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Miss Danielle Garcia as the maid, and the train waitress.

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Miss Lizzy Riley as the traveling writer.

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Mr. Eric Drazin as Sherlock Holmes himself.


Mr. Sean Villarreal as the bad guy…Colonel someone or other (Sorry, I can’t remember!).


Mr. Ron Adams as Inspector Lestrade.


Mr. Mike Coleman as the railroad conductor.


The entire cast and crew after the show!


Great job everyone, it was very well done!

Sherlock Holmes, Part 2





This week we have been busy trying to get Sherlock finished, and keep up with all the new Living Historians. We have costumed 8 new people in the last 2 weeks, with more to come. So far we have managed to pull it off without making anything, but I have a feeling that pretty soon our lucky streak will end! I’m just hoping we get Sherlock all finished up first!

Among other things, this week Abi has been working on a fella named Killian. Played by Jon Harmon, our Living History director/manager everything guy. He is an Irish brawler type, a bit rough, and possibly a little drunk here and there, so he’s not put together as well as he could be. We didn’t have anything but white shirts, so Abi made him this striped one. I have a feeling more striped and checked shirts are in the not too distant future for us.


We didn’t have any coats available for him either, so Abi made him this coat. We had wanted to make it out of grey corduroy, but the fabric gods decided that this isn’t the season to have corduroy available 😦


This week I have been trying to get the coat for Mary Thumberlin done. Holy crow…I got the rest of the shopping done on Monday, and got the batting and everything, but this coat seemed like it would never get done! It wasn’t really hard, but the batting had to be quilted to the lining first (quilting…not my strong area!), and I kept getting interrupted to do silly things like costume people 🙂 It’s finally done, but it still needs to be trimmed. I wanted to use some navy blue 1/4″ velvet that I have, but it seems like it will be a pain in the hiney to apply, so we will see.


I have set the coat aside for now, since it is usable untrimmed. I have started the hat, and once the hat is finished I may go back and actually get the trim on it. Coming up: a Railroad Conductors uniform, and the tropical uniform of a Army Cpl.

Sherlock Holmes 2014, Part 1

We’ve already covered Irene Adler, so it is on to the rest of the cast. Sherlock and Watson are already costumed, they can wear the same thing every time, but the rest of the cast has to have things to fit their currant character. This week we’ve been busy with Elizabeth Adair and Mary Thumberlin (I might have totally remembered that name wrong…)!

Abi has been working hard on Elizabeth Adair, a well off lady that is quite an authority on jewelry. I think it’s coming along nicely, don’t you?




It’s three pieces, the skirt, the vest/overskirt combo, and the jacket. And the hat of course, so 4 pieces I guess! Abi designed this one, and did all the fittings and drafting to make it work. She has certainly grown as a costumer with this outfit!! It’s still not quite complete, it’s got a few more hooks/eyes and some trim left. Abi was able to do the final fitting with Erin today, so it should be done and ready for a photo shoot soon!


Meanwhile, I have been working on Mary Thumberlin. She is an author, higher middle-class, and apparently a bit of a snob. Here is my basic drawing for her, but the coat will have quite a bit of trimming, and the hat is going to be so much fun!!! She also gets to wear spectacles.


This gal is played by Lizzy Riley. I got the dress finished, and the coat mostly cut out. I might trim the dress, but we’ll see after the coat is done how much trim it needs. 



I haven’t made up the coat pattern I wanted to use before, so I made a practice one.



The inside…



the outside…




on Michelle, one of our store girls.



                              I just noticed that the plaid isn’t matched up in the back. Darn!                     This coat is meant to fit over a bustle, so we may need to give her some booty padding!



I think she likes it:)

This coat is supposed to have a layer of batting in it, but I didn’t have enough, so I put in a layer of wool (of a pattern we can’t really use). I didn’t have enough of the plaid to make the coat, so I pieced the red in to make it big enough. I’m pretty excited by how it turned out, and feeling good now about making the one for the play. I’m also excited to have a nice warm coat in the store, it gets really frigid in there!

Irene Adler, Part 3

 So we got it all done in time for the photo shoot! We were quite pleased with the results. Hannah ended up wearing heels here, but for the play she will have on flats, and that should fix the length to just about perfect.

We had fun with the photo shoot (Mallory Drazin took the official pictures, I just hung around and took some of my own! When she is done with hers she said she would send me the official ones to post:). We had some giggles and I can’t help but posting some of those too!

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We used a lobster tail bustle underneath this dress with one petticoat over it. She has on her chemise, corset and corded petticoat underneath. This is the first time any of us used a hat that had to be pinned into the hair with hatpins, so she is going to be experimenting with hairstyles that will work a little better. This is after a long day on tour and her hair had been up in a cap all day.

There are a few fitting issues around the bust/armpit, but we are going to play with her corset and maybe add some small pads to help fill out that spot.

Here is the hat up close:


I thought it looked like a pilgrim hat!


It’s a little better with the band on and the brim turned up…


And much better with the feathers!


Overall I’m pleased with the results and am looking forward to making more hats!

On another note, you may have noticed the length of the sleeves, and if you are not familiar with the era you may not realize that it’s a fairly common length. I was flipping through this book for inspiration while I was designing the dress (one of my favorite books)…


And found this one…


And this one…


with that length sleeve. I really liked it so I used it for the dress!

Abi has been designing a dress for one of the other characters today. Here is her sketch:

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As you can tell, she is a bit better at sketching then I am! The vest part is attached to the overskirt. The belt is part of the jacket, so it will help keep the jacket exactly where it is supposed to go. The jacket and underskirt will be of a dark camel, probably wool. The undervest/overskirt will be an amber color, a little bit lighter in weight then the camel. We still have to source the fabric, but that is the goal! The vest closes with frogs and buttons. We are going to try to find gold appliques for the decorated part. As least, I think that’s the plan!

Stay tuned for the Railway Conductor, the retired Army Colonel and another lady. Research commences today!