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Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

A Hello, Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

My summer wardrobe got a bit of a thrashing last year, as it got carried over into a Hawaii trip in June, and an LA trip in August, so by the time October came around and it started warming up in NZ I was pretty short on summer frocks and tops.

In anticipation of nice warm days, I started making Scroop Henrietta Marias – my summer wardrobe staple.  I made one with a drawstring waist in rayon crepe (learn how to add your own drawstring waist here), and one in a Liberty of London silk-cotton blend.

Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

I’m not usually a huge Liberty fan.  The prints don’t really make my heart pitter-pattern, and the new Liberty fabrics just don’t feel as nice as ones from 15-20 years ago.  Liberty fabrics are NOT cheap, and I don’t feel that the quality of the fabric is good enough to justify the price any more.

However, this Liberty IS from 15 years ago, is delicious to wear and work with, and was ridiculously, ridiculously cheap.

Plus, I actually really love the print.  It’s just a bit cleaner, and less fussy, and reminds me of lemonade, and sailboats, and tiled swimming pools, and all things summery and wonderful.

Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

So, the perfect fabric for a summer frock!

I was going to call it the ‘Hello Summer’ frock.

Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

Alas, summer never really came this year in Wellington.  🙁

We got one week where the temperature hit over 20 every day, and that was it.  It’s been cold, and wet, and grey, and blustery, and altogether entirely disappointing.

Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

I’ve managed to wear my drawstring Henrietta Maria twice, and this one once (not counting the photoshoot, where I wore it, and then huddled in the car with a blanket wrapped around me as soon as we were done getting photos).

At least this means it will be in nice, pristine, condition for LA again this year (yay, Costume College!), and can carry on in to next summer.

Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

And hey, maybe we’ll get a week of awesome late Autumn weather at the end of April?

After Cyclone Cook (a cyclone is a hurricane that happens in the South Pacific) finishes clobbering us that is

Wellington isn’t expected to be hit that hard (comparatively, seeing as this is predicted to be the worst weather event in NZ since the infamous storm that cause the Wahine Disaster), but we’re still battening down the hatches and preparing for lots of rain.  Lots more rain actually – we got hit by the tail end of Cyclone Debbie last week, and Wellington got as much rain in 12 hours as it usually gets in the entire month of April, so we’re feeling a little damp and soggy.  I’m very grateful that our little Castle is perched way up on a hill!

We’re doing much better than other parts of New Zealand though.  My heart goes out to Edgecumbe and the rest of the Bay of Plenty, which had only just stopped flooding from Debbie.

The only nice thing I can say about the upcoming weather predictions is that at least it will be good sewing weather, and even if the power goes out, I have hand crank and treadle sewing machines!

Clearly it’s time to start sewing LOTS of winter clothes, and hoping I won’t have any excuse to wear those either!

But first, I’m off to the supermarket to stock up on consumables for the next three days, so we don’t have to break into the emergency kit if everything goes down…

Goodbye Summer Henrietta Maria

If you’re in New Zealand, the Pacific, or Australia, I hope you’re OK after Debbie, and please stay safe with Cook!

Rate the Dress: Lightning bolts, fringe, bobbles, straw, and miles of mauveine

What an interesting conversation we had about Heather Firbank’s extremely purple walking costume from last week!  And what interesting ratings!  Basically, everyone who didn’t like things disliked the bits that I particularly liked.  The symmetrical/asymmetrical contrast (so weird to modern eyes, but so typical of the era) came in for particular criticism, as did the ‘mean little buckles’ (which I thought were such a neat, severe, ultra-modern touch!).

One thing that I thoroughly expected everyone to criticise the ensemble for (and which certainly annoyed me every time I looked at it) was the non-matching of the ribbon trim at the corners of the jacket.  Oddly, it received only one mention!

And that’s the fabulous thing about Rate the Dress: all these different opinions, each of us looking at the same thing, and drawing on different experiences and associations for our likes and dislikes, all rounding out to a random-but-not score, which in last week’s case, was 8.6 out of 10.

I did not intend to pick another extremely purple ensemble this week.  And then I ran across this:

And yes, it’s definitely extremely purple (well, mauve, to be very technically historical).  But it’s so fabulously fascinating I thought you’d forgive me the repetition in colour, for providing something that was so novel and interesting in so many other ways!

Things that are fascinating about this dress in three parts (skirt, day bodice with attached overskirt effect, and evening bodice):

#1:  The straw embroidery:

#2 The little straw bobble trim:

#3: The straw buttons:

#4: The fact that it’s clearly not made for a little tiny woman:

#5 The matching evening bodice (which, weirdly, does seem to be made for a much smaller woman than the day bodice, even taking in to account the style for loose sacque day bodices in the late 1860s – its almost as if the evening bodice is belted in much tighter than it should be):

#6 And the AMAZING lightning bolt zig-zag edging on the evening bodice.

I’m assuming, based on the way the sleeves meet the beaded ribbon chemise effect underlay, that the bodice is sewn to the underlay, but it certainly looks like the lightning-bolt straw embroidery of the bodice is worked completely separately to the underlay, as it is on the sleeves.  Amazing!

#7: The interior view, which may not add anything to the dress aesthetically, but which is a wonderful thing to have from a historical costumers perspective.

Hopefully all those fascinating bits will make this stand out quite a bit from last weeks purple!  In any case, the extreme mauve-ness of this dress varies considerably depending on the lighting of the photograph, so you’ll just have to make your best judgement of what colour it really is/was, and how much you like it!

So, what do you think?  Is it a marvel of mauve or a mauve monstrosity?  Has this dress managed to turn straw into ratings gold?  Can lightning strike 10?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10