Monday, 23 March 2015

From left field - a Downton Abbey inspired housekeeper's dress

The weekend after Easter, I'm going to Nullus Anxietas V - the 5th aussie Discworld convention. I went to #3 back in 2011, though I was quite unwell - not contagious but an autoimmune flare up. So I spent most of that sleeping on padded bench seating in the venue lobby.

Back then I threw together a very dodgy Mrs Whitlow costume. She's the stout, much widowed housekeeper of Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork.She's described as wearing black, a creaking corset and an obvious red wig. Also adding "H" to words in her belief of behaving properly. I had a black skirt, black shirt and red wig - the best that I could do given how frequent the flareups were back then.

However I'm planning to make a new version - of course I'm on the crazy train and it's not the costume I should be devoting my time to. But, hey, sometimes we have to take sewing inspiration when it strikes and use that creative mojo to go on to fuel the other projects.

I had a choice of pattterns - because although most screen adaptations are pseudo-late victorian that's not where I'm going for Mrs W. I have a 1913/4 dress pattern, and also a teens blouse and teens skirt that I could combine. While fossicking through my collection of historical patterns I knew as soon as I had Past Patterns 6053 in my grabby hands again, that I have to use it. I'm going to make a narrow belt, and hang my waist chatelaine hook of it, with a large key. Will try to find more old keys and have a bunch! I may still use the collar and cuffs from my Wearing History teens blouse (Elsie).

Here's my Past Patterns dress

Of course I'm more than willing to acknowledge that I'm heavily influenced by Downton Abbey - though I've only seen a half dozen episodes from the first season. (I know, need to play catch up one of these months or risk having my obsessive costumer badge revoked). I'll use my Truly Victorian 1903 corset - in black. Not quite the right cut but I'll make it work.

Oh, better check my wig box for Mrs Whitlow's wig too.


  1. Ooooh. Such a lovely choice.

    1. Thanks :D I was disappointed with what I wore last time - though I hadn't a vision of what I wanted. This time my heart knows what it wants. And what the heart wants, the heart wants!

  2. Ista, since you made a comment on my post about my extant gown I named Mrs Hughes, from Downton, when I'm finished tracing a pattern off of it I'll contact you and see if you'd like a copy of it. Just a friendly gift between costuming friends. :)

    1. Wow, thank you for being so generous! I'd love to hear from you when it's done - however long that takes you.