Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Trimming Your Victorian Gown

Finishing = Upper Class

A high society Victorian woman would have put many trims on her dresses to represent her wealth. Trims would have been put on top of other trims.

Self Trim refers to embellishment made from the same fabric as the fabric(s) in the garment. Examples are: piping, patch or cornet/parasol shaped pockets, appliqués, pleats, ruffles, ruching, fabric flowers and bows.


Other trims can include soutache braid, gimp, tassels, Passementerie, glass beads, embroidery, ribbon, smocking, feathers, fur, silk or chenille fringe, velvet, satin and lace.


When creating a new Victorian gown, stay away from anything that looks polyester.  Also, do not use polyester lace that would be used on store-bought costumes, as they usually use the cheapest available.

 Doing your own homework is very important when building your outfit. Pinterest is a good resource for period gown research. Highly recommend Jennifer Rosbrugh’s Pinterest page on Victorian Trims. Study fashion plates from the Era. A great book resource is “Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail” by Astrida Schaeffer.


If you are buying historical textiles online, the wording on Ebay can be tricky. The Victorian Era was very broad. The words “vintage”, “revival” or “Victorian-style” should be red-flags as they mean it’s not from the Victorian Era. Ask the seller to date the item.

The Victorian Roses, continually strive for a more authentic appearance in our costuming. Keep researching! Keep learning!
 Submitted by:  Margarita Rose

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Victorian Secret Love Languages

Did the Victorians have a secret “Love Language”?  Here’s a thought:  If there really were secret languages based on the below signals, that would mean most ladies and gentlemen would need to learn all these signs.  If everyone knows the signals, its not such a secret after all, and we can all see you flirting!

Its such a fun concept, lets see what we can do to flirt!

Language of the Fan.  You may have heard stories of Victorian women at a ball, dinner, musical evening or theater event, sending secret signals with her fan.  Some of the most popular of these signals are:

To hold the fan with the right hand in front of the face.  Follow me.
To hold it in the left ear.  I want you to leave me alone.
To let slide it on the forehead. You have changed.
To move it with the left hand.  They are watching us.
To change it to the right hand. You are imprudent.
To throw the fan.  I hate you.
To move it with the right hand.  I love another.
To let slide it on the cheek.  I want you.
To hold it closed. Do you love me?
To hold it on the right cheek. Yes. 
To hold it on the left cheek. No.
Fanning slowly. I am married.
Fanning quickly.  I am engaged.
Hands clasped together holding an open fan. Forgive me.
Hiding the eyes behind an open fan.  I love you.

Language of the Parasol.  If you are outdoors taking the air and happen to meet a gentleman, the fan may not be the best accessory of choice!  Ladies, use your parasol.  But please be careful - don't put someone's eye out!  These signals are much more obvious to the casual observer as you perform these tricky maneuvers.

The following comes from "Parasol Flirtation", Taranki Herald, 1891. 

Carrying it closed in the left hand - Meet on the first crossing.
Carrying it closed in the right hand by the side - Follow me.
Carrying in front of you - No more at present.
Carrying it elevated in left hand - Desiring acquaintance.
Carrying it elevated in right hand - You are too willing.
Carrying it over the right shoulder - You can speak to me.

Carrying it over the left shoulder - You are too cruel.
Closing it up - I wish to speak with you, love.
Dropping it - I love you.
End of tip to the lips - Do you love me?
Letting it rest on the right cheek - Yes 
Folding it up - Get rid of your company.  
Putting it away - No more at present.
Striking it on the hand - I am much displeased.
Swinging it to and fro by the handle on the left side - I am engaged.
Swinging it to and fro by the handle on the right side - I am married.
Tapping the chin gently - I am in love with another.
Twirling it around - be careful, we are watched!  

The Language of Gloves.  Yes, you can flirt with your gloves!  Very similar to the fan and parasol, here are their signals. 

Biting the tips - "I wish to be rid of you very soon!"  
Clenching them, rolled up in right hand - "No!"   
Drawing half way on left hand - "Indifference"    
Dropping both of them - "I love you"                                        
Dropping one of them - "Yes" 
Folding up carefully - "Get rid of your company"  
Holding the tips downward - "I wish to be acquainted"  
Holding them loose in the right hand - "I am content"  
Holding them loose in the left hand - "I am satisfied" 
Left hand with the naked thumb exposed - "Do you love me?"  
Putting them away - "I am vexed!"  
Right hand with the naked thumb exposed - "Kiss me"
Smoothing them out gently _ "I am displeased"   
Striking them over the shoulder - "Follow me"  
Tapping the chin - "I love another"  
Tossing them up gently - "I am engaged"  
Turning them inside out - "I hate you!"  
Twisting them around the fingers - "Be careful, we are watched!" 
Using them as a fan - "Introduce me to your company"              

Victorian Eye Flirtation chart from 1891

 Another chart from the 1800s is on Dining Table Signaling.

 There are also flirting signals with hankies, hats, postage stamps, and standing-at-the-window signs. A girl has to study and learn all these methods if she wants to catch a man! 😆

Finally, there is the Language of Flowers, which is still used in some fashion today.  Some of the most popular flowers and their meanings are:

Red carnation - My Heart Aches, admiration
White carnation- Innocence, pure love  
Pink carnation- I’ll never forget you
Daffodil - Regard
Daisy - Innocence, hope
Hyacinth, blue - Constancy of love
Hyacinth, yellow - Jealousy
Hyacinth, white - Loveliness, prayers for someone
Iris - A message
Jasmine - Sweet love
Lilac - Joy of youth
Morning glory- Affection
Pansy – Thoughts
Peony - Happy life, happy marriage

And of course, the most important flower of them all, the Rose!

Red - Love, Beauty
Burgundy - Unconscious Beauty
White - Purity, Innocence
Pink - Grace, Happiness
Dark Pink - Gratitude
Light Pink - Gentleness, Sweetness
Yellow- Friendship, Gladness
Orange - Gladness, Enthusiasm
Peach - Sincerity
Coral - Desire
Lavender - Enchantment

Submitted by Shenandoah Rose