pseudo-victorian dresses for everyday use

The Second Stain dress

This dress is inspired by one from the Sherlock Holmes episode “The Second Stain” (TV series with Jeremy Brett). It is made from grey tweed using Ageless Patterns 1389, 1898 linen costume. The black ornaments are not embroidered but appliques. Perfect for grey autumn days in Ireland.


Lichen hat

A lichen hat for my mould dress. It is made from a cheap straw hat, covered with the same fabric the dress is made from, some lilac lace and lichen I collected from trees.

Winter coat


A wool coat inspired by this piece from the Met Museum .

I used the TV Late Bustle Coat pattern, but I took out some fabric from the back pleats, so my version does not really fit over a bustle. I did this mainly because the coat is very heavy, if you want to do the long bustle version I recommend using a lighter fabric. I can’t say much about how I made those tippet-sleeves, it was just trial and error.


Black silk ball gown


Copyright by Schattenlicht

This is a 1889-style ballgown made from stiped black silk and antique pink lace. I can’t remember which patterns I used. The train is usually pinned up, so the dress can be used for opera or non-historical balls.

I used the lace to trim a matching mask for masked balls




Black Jacquard Dress

Made from pretty pure cotton jacquard and embroidered lace. Pattern is TV 1883 tail bodice, which looks good without bustle as well. Although I prefer the stiff day bodices with high neck and long sleeves, this evening dress inspired style is more comfortable and flexible.DSCF1595

The mould dress


I lovingly call this 1887 day dress my “mould dress” because of the daring colour combination of mould-green and mould-lilac. Despite my resolution to sew no more bustle dresses I just had to try the new truly victorian pattern TV 263 Imperial Skirt and it was worth it, it is easy to make and has such a wonderful shape, I love the way the pleats fall. The bodice is TV 463

Schimmelblog3 Schimmel6

Dusky pink ball gown

pinkball DSCF0115

When I started with this dress, it was intended to become everyday wear. As you can see, I failed. The dress insisted on becoming a bustle ball gown. The fabric is cotton satin ( satin for tablecloth is sometimes 100% cotton and just perfect for dresses). Because the dress was planned differently, it is a complete construction failure. I have to sew myself into it, as the black lace triangle on the bodice covers the closure. The bodice is an altered version of the AP 1891 Corset Cover Pattern and the skirt is TV 1892 Umbrella Skirt, so it wasn’t intended to fit over a bustle. Still, I like the dress. The small tail is AP 1870 Basque Belt. I really love the lace.

pinklace2 pinklace1

General tips

Some general tips for using historical(ly inspired) clothes as everyday wear

  • People stare at you, what can be annoying. Especially in tourist-frequented areas, they consider you as some kind of public good. But with plain 1890s dresses, it’s usually ok and people won’t bother you.
  • No trains, obviously, not even for opera, as people will step on it. No floor-length skirts, either. The main problem is not dirt, but rain. If the streets are wet, the fabric will soak, become heavier, and you’ll have a train after all.
  • Comfortable fabric is important. Linen and silk are perfect for hot days. Polyester has some benefits and is ok for skirts, but I wouldn’t use it for bodices, because you feel like wrapped in plastic. I usually go for cotton.
  • Corsets are important for the right shape and I wear them for dressing up. If the corset fits, it is no problem to run around with it all day. A corset is primarily for the shape and not for reducing the waist, if you can’t breath or eat properly, it is too tight or doesn’t fit. I advise to wear victorian bloomers with a corset, as this makes it easier to use the restroom. But I usually wear my 90s dresses without corset and it looks good enough to me.
  • Bloomers are much more comfortable than tights or leggins

Street style: no corset, ill-matched hat, happy anyway.streetstyle

Safari dress

Uniformfront Uniformback

I love the 1890s military style dresses but I don’t have the patience for lots of accurate trimming, so here is my lazy version. It is made of linen -I know, someone who never irons shouldn’t wear linen, but I don’t mind if I look a bit crumpled. The trims are made of gray velvet ribbon.

I used a mixture of Truly Victorian 463 1884 French Vest Bodice and 462 1883 Tail Bodice and the 1892 Umbrella Skirt, which is my favorite skirt pattern, because it is so easy to make and it has a perfect shape, very slim in the front and wide in the back. It is not suitable for patterned fabric though, else I would use it all the time.

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pseudo-victorian dresses for everyday use