inspiration point: lady mary's sheer surplice bodice dinner gown from series 1 with green underdress

our office holiday party was on friday, which obviously required a new dress. not only was it my first time to dress up in a little while, my company was recently acquired and there were 300 new co-workers on whom to make an impression.


i had been wanting for a while to riff on one of the series one downton abbey gowns of lady mary’s, a neat bit of sheer work with applique and a green underdress. however, as i started chewing on this idea, i realized i needed to do more than riff, i needed to adapt.

so i started with vogue 1043, which had a surplice bodice i had already fitted and worked on. i changed the side zipper to a CB because i wanted to hand-pick and bead the zipper. i went for a high-low hem, because even though this trend is EVERYWHERE, i sort of love it. it adds a major element of fun to a garment, and i cannot help myself. so i took the quarter-circle skirt of V1043, adjusted the hems, and added gathering in the back two panels for an almost-bustle and some skirt volume. i almost went super-trendy and did an even sheerer dress over a shorter skirt, for that au currant long-sheer-skirt-over-hot-pants look, but i decided that was taking it a bit too far. and also, all of the really gorgeous sheer fabric was more slippery and harder to work with than this lovely light cotton voile.


full blog post and additional photos can be found at puu’s door of time.


This is not a new project but I’m planning on making a new one for decoration so I’m trying to recall what I learned from the last one.

I bought this Edwardian dummy pattern at Atelier Sylphe Corsets. The pattern is very precise and comes together without tweaking. For me, the instructions were enough but I wont recommend this for a beginner. The fabric is thick cotton twill, upholstery fabrics probably works the best. I recommend lining the neck, arm and bottom plates with cardboard for a clean look. I filled my dummy with polyester filling which worked OK but the material is to lightweight and it took ridiculous amounts of filling to get an even shape. There is a reason people used straw or sawdust originally. Next time Ill try something else. Over all this is a nice looking, unusual pattern.

Here it is again with a corset on. My first try on an Edwardian S-shape from a free pattern. The pattern was published in various home sewing books the years around 1910. This is a quickly made, single layer corset with only six bones on each side so its not very supportive but works well for testing the fit. The Corset is made for me so its a bit big for the dummy.


I made this version of Lady Edith’s black floral blouse from Season 1 of Downton Abbey way back in January but I never got around to making a skirt to go with it…. at least until now!

The skirt is Butterick 9682 from 1915 which is available from Past Patterns. It has pockets!

Early 20th century patterns sure have different expectations of the knowledge base of the sewer! I fussed around with the closure for a good while before I got it to work.

I also got to wear my Astorias from American Duchess with this outfit. Yay for historically accurate shoes!

More photos and other costuming shenanigans on my blog. And I’m currently hosting a vintage pattern giveaway!




  • Pattern: Simplicity 8399 Misses’ Titanic inspired costume. View A.
  • Pattern sizing: N 10,12,14. I cut a size 12.
  • Fabric: 100% white cotton for bodice lining. 100% dyed satin silk for bodice lining and underskirt. Black chiffon for second overskirt. Sari fabric for bodice and overskirt.

I made this Titanic style gown for Costume Con 30. I couldn’t afford the beautiful heavy beaded net indian fabrics @$100+/yd, so I opted for a full length sparkly sari on sale for $25.

The biggest dilemma with this project was how to cut the sari. The print on the sari was one way and printed on an angle. Great if you are draping it on your body, bad if you are cutting it to make a gown as there is no real mirror image of the pattern. I finally figured it out after losing most of the sari to bad cutting decisions.

The pattern itself is a good one, and I would use it again if I needed another Titanic style gown.

Find out more details of my experience with this pattern on my blog.