“When the light begins to fade and shadows fall across the sea, one bright star in the evening sky, your love’s light leads me on my way.”

I’ve been dreading trying to put into words the emotions I felt watching the MS Balmoral set off. I think it would be best to start off explaining the costume I created for this historic event and then to share my experience with you towards the end.

In a completely odd way my costumes were planned starting with Sunday and working my way back to the  Train outfit I wore on Friday.

So to start. Unlike my other projects were I worked with a few images in mind, my inspiration image came from the fashion magazine De Gracieuse:

I knew this costume was the one for me when I realized I owned the parasol already. The first thing I did was go to Goldhawk Road and spend too much money!

How utterly perfect did that turn out?

I wanted to try to conquer the skirt first so using the same Thornton’s pattern (notice a trend?) I set about creating the skirt. Unlike the other skirts where  I added an overlap I drafted this skirt pattern as it was originally meant to be:

A fun tip when making a lining: press the darts in opposite directions to reduce the bulk!

Voila! One finished skirt (minus the buttons).

Moving on to the half coat!

I cut the top part on the stand and then transferred it to my body to finish fitting it. This is my toile using leftover fabric and I was very pleased with the way the sleeve turned out.

Once I was happy with the fit I cut out and stitched the real one together. I initially pinned in the sleeve because I don’t have a good track record in putting sleeves in but it actually worked out fine!

Here is my terrible toile! Once I was satisfied with the fit I drafted the same skirt pattern and altered it so that the waist would close at the side.

A quick slip stitch and the half jacket is complete!

I completely forgot to take photos of how I made the trim. I ended up using leftover scraps from my brown linen train dress and created binding which resulted in all my slip stitching ended up being covered! I was rather amused since I thought I did such a lovely job on the hem. C’est la vie!

I made a quick belt and added one of my Victorian (shh!) buckles.

The reason I wanted to have such a wide cuff was because I planned to deviate from the fashion plate by adding a trim to break up the color. Using my leather thimble (the hide was a little too thick to use my normal thimble) I attached the fur to the wide trim and then attached it to my sleeve.

I’m pleased with how I did this but looking back I’m rather annoyed because Lizzy was terribly late on finishing her costume and we ended up running late and missing most of the boarding.

I lost my original velvet trim and had to make do with this trim. If you are Stateside you would recognize this trim from Joann’s, the only difference is that I pulled the leather out of the center.

All packed and ready for Southampton!

I ended up being very lucky by running across a pair of shoes on Ebay that looked like they would match, when I opened the box I realized the Gods of Fashion had intervened in my Ebay search by sending me a pair of shoes that were made for this dress. They were also Clarks which only added to their complete awesome-ness.

(Sorry for the bed spread! I forgot to take pictures and stole the photos from the ebay page!)

And now I feel the need to apologize because I am about to post A LOT of photos from Sunday!

I have to mention the amazing gentlemen at The White Star Memories who really made this event absolutely spectacular. Bravo gentlemen!  I honestly felt like I was stepping back into 1912 and preparing for an adventure at sea!

When I walked down to the docks to wave farewell to the smiling masses onboard the MS Balmoral, I saw the ghosts of those who set sail for a better life smiling back at me. For this moment 1912 and 2012 were intertwined as one, the past and the present overlapping through the pages of history.

Ok I will admit that at first I was slightly miffed that we couldn’t actually go down to the docks but I do understand that in this day and age safety precautions have to be the priority. Luckily the lovely Captain of the SS Shieldhall  invited us onboard and saved the day!

When the Balmoral first started up the band was playing modern music which ruined the mood.  I stood on the stern of the SS Shieldhall and were talking about how we couldn’t cry when songs like “Save the last dance for me” and “Sway” were playing. “On Moonlight Bay” was the popular song of 1912 and I was looking forward to hearing that!

So we stood there thick as thieves promising not cry . .  which was a complete and utter lie since we  sobbed like little girls.

When the Balmoral started off and the shout went up we both began to wave, our handkerchiefs flying  in the wind. I was so happy to see the smiling crowds and suddenly I realized that 100 years ago the crowd stood here full of joy and happiness never knowing that for many this would be the last sight of their loved one. I’m not sure which one of us started crying first but when we looked at each other we dissolved into tears.

I was starting to calm down when the sun came out and we both started sobbing all over again. The sky had been dark and grey with black clouds rolling in all day. When the Balmoral turned the clouds parted and the sun highlighted the ship. We both firmly believe in our hearts that this was a blessing from the ones lost aboard the Titanic.

I stood there on the stern of the ship celebrating for the Balmoral and mourning for the Titanic. Somehow in the middle of my tears I let the Titanic go. The ghosts are laid to rest and she will forever live on in my memories. We stood there until she disappeared and then turned to leave.

I fully recommend The White Star Tavern if you are thinking of visiting Southampton! Not only were the staff friendly and amazingly knowledgable about the Titanic, they were kind and so wonderful to work with. The food was delicious and I’m still dreaming of the wonderful bed!

And so to end the Titanic Project I present the original fashion plate:

Followed by my own recreation.I still see flaws but I hope I was able to do justice with my humble attempt at re-creating the beautiful work of art from De Gracieuse:


“Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”

And so I set off ready set off for an evening full of decadence and glamour only found in the year 1912.

The fabric literally spoke to me and commanded me to turn it into something extraordinary and so without a doubt Saturday was my favorite night!  When I bought the fabric I had a few images already in my mind. Unfortunately I had one day to pull this costume together. I will be going back and fixing quite a few of the mistakes I made but for now I will share everything with you.

The first was a sketch from Worth c. 1912:

I knew that I wanted to have the fullness at the hips but I wanted the narrow cut of the hobble skirt that was starting to become very popular.

My favorite hobble skirt gown is from a “Woman’s silk and tulle dress with hobble skirt, trimmed in fur, flowers, and rhinestones. Made by Cummings, St. Louis, Missouri, ca. 1910-1912”

And the final idea is without a doubt my favorite Lucile gown:

Later I also found an image from an old Alexander McQueen collection that I also added to my moodboard.

The bodice was altered from the 1914 Norah Waugh Harem pattern that I used for my silver dress. The first step was rather easy, cut the top and lining, add the bust darts, stitch. Using the same Thornton pattern from my previous costumes I made the skirt and turned the hem

Looking back there are so many things that I wish I had done differently. I think if you take into account how quickly it was made then it’s very beautiful but after researching this period this gown will eventually be remade.

After that I created a skirt to go over the top of the dress:

To complete the costume I gathered the train up slightly in order to accomplish the shape I was hoping for!

I went down to dinner and I was sad to discover that unfortunately no matter how hungry you are, the corset will win in the end!

Yum Yum eat ’em up!

I was lucky enough to stay at  The White Star Tavern in Southampton where many of the passengers and stewards that sailed on the Titanic stayed. I can’t put into words how wonderful our stay with TWST was! The staff are fantastic and so lovely! The rooms are extraordinary and the food is delicious!

After dinner I snuck upstairs to take a photo with the Titanic room! The lovely couple staying in this room would be the same I would wave off the next day!

I will admit that I am extremely happy with how my hair turned out! Thank you to my mom who sat on skype and walked me through how to style my hair!

The headband was literally stitched together about 40 minutes before we left for diner!

I really loved this entire dress. The fabric draped beautifully and quietly slipped behind me. When I walked in the dining room I truly felt like I had crossed the barriers of time and stepped back into the 1912s.

And of course the best part of getting dressed, is getting undressed!!!

One last costume from the Titanic Project left to post!

“Voices hum, crooning over Moonlight Bay Banjos strum, tuning while the moonbeams play . . . Candle lights gleaming on the silent shore Lonely nights, dreaming till we meet once more”

Let me first start out by saying that nearly half a year later I still dislike this costume.
When I first started this costume I was working with three images in my mind. The first was a fashion plate from 1914:

And the second image is a dress from 1911 courtesy of Vintage Textile:

and annoyingly I can’t find my source for my third image:

From inspiration to this in just one days:

Continue reading

“Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea.”

April 10, 1912: Titanic departing Southampton

As this weekend draws near I would like to discuss my feelings towards the Titanic Memorial Cruise as opinions are greatly divided on the topic.

This weekend is not meant to be sad, this is a celebration that the Titanic launched. This weekend we remember that for a brief time she was the Queen of the Ocean. Although the MS Balmoral will be leaving one day early from Southampton (believe it or not the Balmoral can’t match the speed of the Titanic!) this weekend we are re-enacting the joy, hopes, and dreams that travelled along with the ship. Even though the Titanic did not make it to her final destination, this weekend is about the joy and beauty of seeing her off. A celebration of what she was before the disaster if you will.

April 10, 1912: Titanic departing Southampton.

I’m honored to have been invited to take part in marking this momentous occasion. There have been so many arguments made against this Cruise and so I can only hope that your worries will be assuaged after reading what my position on the purpose of the Titanic Memorial Cruise is.

Last week I had a very long conversation with a lady from the White Star Line and we discussed the effects the sinking of the Titanic had on the community of Southampton.

During our conversation the topic of the mixed feelings from the residents of Southampton was raised. Some believe the Memorial Cruise is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the life of those who built and sailed with the Titanic. Others think that the cruise is glorifying the death of those who perished.

I disagree. This Cruise is a final requiescat in pace to those who were unable to say goodbye to the family they would never know. Relatives of survivors who grew up listening to the heartbreaking stories their families faced onboard will finally have the chance to say farewell. In their hearts they will carry the memory of the survivors; their loved ones, who were never given the chance to say goodbye to the ones they lost during that perilous night one hundred years ago.

The time for sadness will be when the Balmoral reaches the wreckage and the bells toll around 2:20 am to mark the 100th year to the moment the Titanic slipped into the pages of history. The tears will freely flow into the ocean below in a cathartic release of that terrible, heart wrenching pain we’ve all felt for the past century. It is my firm belief that by finally being able to mark this moment over the final resting place of the RMS Titanic the ghosts of the past will be laid to rest.

I only wish I could see the Balmoral sail into New York. That city has been waiting 100 years for this moment and what a bittersweet arrival it will be.

This year the Balmoral will carry with her the memory of over 1,500 souls that were never able to sail into New York, many bound for a new life full of dreams and opportunities. This year they will finally reach their destination, and what a glorious sight that will be.

I know that when the MS Balmoral sets sail on Sunday I will be crying. To be able to witness this great event is bittersweet because this will never happen again. Even if our future generations pause to mark another century, there will be nothing left. Not only will this Cruise be the first and last of it’s kind, but this will also be the end for the Titanic and after 100 years she deserves her rest don’t you think?

The Ocean always keeps what she claims. It has been this way since the beginning of time and it will remain so until the sun fades. Even if mankind were to selfishly try to fight for claim over the Titanic, the ocean will never let her go. In a few years she will devour the Titanic completely. Nothing will be left but faint pieces of a magnificent past. Memories tenderly cherished and passed down.

This last final farewell is the epilogue for the story of the RMS Titanic. She was created, she sailed, she sank, she is remembered, and finally, she will leave us.

“Let those who would rather bury than raise their children, marry tight lacers.”
– O. S. Fowler

Quietly the maid draws back the curtains, the shafts of sun light creep across the bed towards the still slumbering lace-clad creature. Nightgown off, it’s time to dress for the day!

“The new silhouette required a much slimmer parcel of undergarments than before, and it was in this period that underclothing took on the sensual connotations of the word “lingerie“. Ornate, overtly sexual and colorful underclothes began to shift away from the boudoirs of courtesans and into the bedchambers of respectable housewives and independent women. Whereas Victorian underclothing had been functional, the sole function of Edwardian underwear was to attract and tantalize men. . . ” (click me to read more!)

The first step in dressing an Edwardian lady would be the stockings. I will be re-using my regency stockings purchased from Dressing History . I am still trying to find a pair of black silk stockings!

Continue reading

“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” ― Coco Chanel

I was invited by Dr. Butler to Southampton to give a talk on fashion from 1912 and to explain what type of costume the ladies would have worn onboard.

When I first started planning this event I knew I wanted a suit but I was unsure what type I wanted.

The first style I was looking at was something like this:

and then I found this image:

And from my inspiration a costume was born.

Continue reading

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

According to Titanic Style by Grace Evans the fashionable first class passenger would have changed her outfit at least six to seven times a day. With apologies to the period I’ve decided to limit my wardrobe to two outfits a day!

As I previously mentioned I will be traveling by train to Southampton so I thought perhaps I should start off my dress diary with the outfit for Friday.

Kings Cross Station, Camden Town, London. Taken c 1925 Ref: BB72 01476 © Crown Copyright. NMR

When researching my costume for this day I came across my most helpful source “The cyclopaedia of social usage ; manners and customs of the twentieth century”  by Helen L. Roberts  (1913). The author describes the Traveler’s dress as  “Simple and suitable and extremely tidy should the costume be for those who voyage by land or water. For a long railway journey, a woman should not wear a large hat garnished with fragile or showy trimming. Ostrich plumes, white lace, and pink rose, do not stand the sea air or coal smoke well. Nor do delicate pale silks, airy muslins, or superb velvet appear to advantage on trains or boats. A woman’s traveling-suit by land or sea should be compact, comfortable in appearance, and preferably dark in color: that fabric is best for a steamer or railway suit that stands the test of dust and moister well. Neat shoes, well-fitting gloves that are not shabby, a fresh stock or ruche, or ribbon, or frill at the throat and hair that is in immaculate order mark the capable woman traveller whose appearance is always agreeable” (Roberts, 457).

 At first I was looking at some sort of outfit based on this line drawing.

 But then I came across this fashion plate on page 25 from Evan’s Titanic Style and I fell in love.

The first thing I try to do when I plan an outfit is to look and see what I have in my closet and fabric bin first. Here are the results!

From my Eowyn Refugee dress I had about three metres of brown linen leftover, a black and brown Edwardian parasol, a lace collar, and a cream blouse which I could possibly dye if I don’t run out of time.

One of my favorite finds from the antique markets in London was made in Spitalfields last year. I purchased this beautiful fox stole lovingly dubbed Sir Charles Brandon. When I ran across the photo of a dress worn by Queen Maud of Norway I knew that Sir Charles would be accompanying me on this journey!

Queen Maud of Norway 1935

For the skirt I drafted my own pattern loosely based on the one below.. For the skirts on Saturday and Sunday I altered the pattern to have a more hobbled shape but due to the need to be able to walk to the train, walk down the steps at Vauxhall and Victoria, walk through the tube station, and finally arrive at K’sC I shaped the pattern for a small sweep.

 I added 4″ to the waist so my skirt would settle just under the bust. It is made of 2 metres (and a bit) of dark brown linen

I’m worried about having enough fabric left to make the diagonal overdress. Currently I have the blouse and the skirt on my mannequin with an antique lace jabot at the neck finished off with a small bow of brown velvet and an antique wide collar draped as a peplum.

And finally here is a photo of my suitcase that I will be traveling with. Sadly it’s only from the 30s but if you won’t tell, I won’t tell!

As promised, the update on the costume!

In the background you can see the current decorations I am playing with.  1 outfit down, 4 to go!

I was so pleased with how my hat turned out!

Looking back I am completely gutted about this costume. I ended up rushing off and leaving Sir Charles Brandon in my flatmates car. Unfortunately this is my least favorite costume.