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DCF 2006 Great Costuming Missive
(sent October 20th, 2006)

The following is the GIANT and detailed Dickens Fair missive from Kathy Kingman, that ONLY has Information about everything to do with COSTUMES.
Included in this missive:
Workshops begin in 16 days and we open in 36 days!
Greetings and introduction
Costume guidelines and approval
Costume classes out side of workshops
Costume Sources
Victorian Rummage Sale
Annie’s cheap hoops
Custom Bonnet source
Costumers for hire
Amazon Listmania!
News from Bay Area Costumers Guild
Pre-approved period patterns
Princess Parable
Word Glossary
Welcome again to The Great Dickens Christmas Fair! 
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a Themed event that brings to life the feeling and LOOK of Victorian London!
“What Kathy? Does that mean we have to abide by some sort of dress code?”
Why yes Virginia, I am glad you asked that. Everyone at the fair must wear clothing that would lead the casual observer to believe that you just stepped out of London from the period between the years 1844-1864!
And how do we attempt such a feat? Fear not friends! That is what we- the gorgeous, delightful, and modest- ladies in the Dickens Fair costume shop are here for. Kathy Kingman is returning once again as the fair Costume Designer.  She is in charge of the overall look of the fair and will be in the fore front of the costume approval process, as well as collecting information from all guilds or shows that will need costume parts or hand props for their shows. Alexandria Volk will again return as the Costume Director. She will be focusing on the educational aspect of the Costume Director position. Alexandria will be presenting classes in basic costumes and millinery along with several sewing circle and journeyman level classes outside of the fair workshop time frame. Along with these responsibilities she will also be on the front lines during fair, needle in hand (to hand to you should you split your seams) in the costume shop during fair. Her charge is to look after the costume stock and any wayward actors who find themselves naked (shocking!). However (dot, dot, dot, exclamation point) your lack of planning may not necessarily constitute an emergency on our part. Please, develop a morning checklist and go over it each day before you leave your home. We love you and want you to look beautiful but we only can do so much with our limited (and often spoken for) stock.
Costume Approval: All participants in the fair (cast members, employees, volunteers, door mice) must receive costume approval prior to opening; registration forms must be stamped with costume approval in order to receive a gate pass.
Don’t worry freshmen! All this means is you will need to familiarize yourself with the costume guidelines  The guidelines on the website are the minimal requirement to qualify as a participant/performer at the fair. The overall look of a fair approvable costume is also not overly daunting. You should be able to pass with no problem if you attempt to alter choice thrift store finds. If you have any questions or are truly worried please e-mail Kathy at she will be happy to lead you down the correct path. For those of you who are more experienced in getting dressed for fair, we know that you do your best to improve upon your look each year. You are not satisfied with simply meeting the requirements. You know that we strive each year to improve upon the next. We are grateful for that, the show loves you for that and as the fair continues to grow, thousands of guests thank you for your attention to detail.
Since Alexandria will be focusing on the educational aspect of the Costume Director position you may only see her sparingly in the costume approval process. If you are interested in the journeyman level classes she will hold please contact us at  Please include your name, location, and how experienced you are in building (***)costumes, we will then put you on the class contact list and e-mail you when the classes are set up.
Tentative Costume Approval Schedule: Kathy Kingman will be available on the first workshop weekend immediately following the morning meeting on Saturday for questions and during lunch until 5pm for approvals and TBA on Sunday. The second weekend of workshops is also vendor stake out, so Kathy will split her time between the two and will be at the Cow Palace from 3:00 - 6:00 PM Saturday and from 10:00am to 1:30pm Sunday.  Approval will also be held during workshops in Pacifica in the opposite time frame.  Kathy is doing it in this way in hopes that you will have two different time frames to work with and one will be more convenient than the other.  Approval will also take place during Dress Rehearsal Weekend at the CP.  Times will be decided and posted later for that weekend.
First weekend of workshops:Schedule
Saturday: All cast meeting until 11am
11am until lunch available for costume questions
Lunch until 5pm costume approval.
Sunday 10am to 1:30pm costume approval
Here is a word on bustles (***). They are a folded and tucked fabric version of a confectionery masterpiece.  Like taking a gorgeous wedding cake and strapping it to your bum. Beautiful? Yes. Period? No.
The latter part of the 1860’s are the years that the bustle came into being so there are many dresses of the time with longer trains and the hint of a gathering near the derriere. Please do not make the dresses with the gathers and shorten the lengthened backside of any questionable trains. We are a historical production and the posted period of 1844-1864 is a guideline meant to limit the overall look of the fair to a specific silhouette(***) . Please do not try to push the limits. Thanks!

Make up: Women in the 19th century liked to be thought of as fragile ladies. They aimed always to look pale which was achieved by staying inside and out of the harsh sun. Rouge was rarely used and lipstick unheard of, make-up in general was frowned upon in. Actresses such as the late great Sarah Bernhardt (out of our period) used make up such as powder and lipstick but a lady would only admit to pinching her cheeks for a flush of natural glow. Women in the upper classes would even paint small blue lines on themselves to look even more translucent while wearing the low cut ball gown.
That said…
Please use makeup. The Dickens fair is a glow with unnatural lighting to emulate perpetual twilight.  That makes many people look blank or like they are eyebrow-less. I suggest using makeup a shade darker than your natural color at your most healthy looking. If you are blonde you may want to use an eyebrow pencil to darken your brows. If you are stage, please use appropriate stage makeup. Consult with your Director at dress rehearsal to find the best fit for you. If you are middle class (most of London) please still attempt to look “natural (***) ” with your makeup.
Madame Kathryn says: Teach some… Learn Some…
Hello all you little Christmas clothing elves! Santa has a list of all the naughty people who didn’t finish their costumes until second weekend of fair last year, and he has sent it to ME! Bwa, ha, ha! Seriously, I realize it is tempting to hold off building your costume until the very last minute. Maybe you are very busy at work, or are waiting for those last 10 pounds to drop. Maybe you are like me and just love the thrill of getting in under the wire… right. In any case, now is the time to start thinking of what you (and in most cases your family) are going to be wearing.

Well procrastination junkies, put off for tomorrow no more what you can do today. The girls of Madame Kathryn’s Apparel Alliance and Charm School is looking for a few good hosts. We would like to have at least two pre-workshop costume meetings in different parts of the Bay Area. In order to facilitate this goal we will need homes that have a room large enough to accommodate at least 8 people sitting comfortably or 10 people with a slight discomfort-- plus two standing presenters. We are looking for homes in the East Bay, The North Bay, San Francisco, and The South Bay. We would like to have the meetings on the weekend to accommodate as many people as possible however if enough people write to me and ask for a weekday meeting (hint, hint) then maybe I will arrange for a shortened version on one weekday.

During each meeting we will discuss cut of clothes for the era, approve fabric choices, aid you in altering your costume pattern and give time saving tips for finishing your garment. This will be a basic class in the beginning. The longer you stay the more involved and advanced we will get. Our goal is to help people at every stage of costume building ability. Please note; Charm school guidelines dictate that you must be on time and attend the entire meeting to get more advanced help. We believe that reviewing basics is always a good way to get started. We do not expect the meeting to go over three hours in length as this is meant to be a time to get a boost in your production, not an opportunity to get a full costume built in one day, remember Rome…

These meetings will be a great opportunity to work with seasoned professionals for FREE. We will not be charging for the class. We will be asking for either a monetary donation or a potluck snack to help our host.

Alexandria will also be arranging separate sewing circles for you more advanced lot. She will be writing a more detailed missive soon.

If you are interested in being a host or a part of either costume event please contact Kathy at
The Victorian Costume Rummage Sale Is Back This Year!
Hello everyone! Due to the success of previous year’s sales we are again bringing back the rummage sale! Because there was overflow last year e-mail if you would like a spot. If you do not have an agreement to sell from Kathy you may be turned away when you arrive. Please bring your goodies to sell, clothing props and misc. The people from D’Lynns Costume shop are back from last year selling their affordable costume pieces as will Annie Lore and her infamous Cheap Hoops! There is limited space available please remember that this is a VICTORIAN rummage sale so please limit your wares to things that would be usable at Dickens.
An important note: Our rummage sale is ran on a cash only basis so either come prepared with CASH or be prepared to run out to an ATM.
Order early, says the lady who makes up the hoops you've been getting from Annie Lore. Also the prices have gone up a few dollars this year, so last year's hoop menu is no longer correct. Contact Annie at to get the current menu and set up your orders. Hoops must roll! Also there's access to cheap wigs and side curls, but probably won't be a table for it at workshops this time-- possibly one day. Enquire at same address as above.
Haute Couture for the hat-less (bonnet-less actually)
Mme. Grey & Company Importers, Collectors and Manufacturers of Fine Millinery and Ladies’ Goods Reproduction Hats and Bonnets. Wearable Antiques – in original condition or restored. Superior accessories for the discriminating Woman. Everything for the Well Dressed Lady.

Mme. Grey & Company is a small, woman-owned business dedicated to providing thoroughly researched, finely produced historical reproductions of hats and bonnets of the Victorian period. We create replicas of hats worn by women in both America and Europe, made from materials selected for either their authenticity or durability.

We are pleased to also offer various accessories that can complete your costume, such as parasols, handkerchiefs, gloves, purses, and other items that no lady would go without.

Address all communications to:
Thena MacArthur & Lesley Batzloff
Mme. Grey & Company
San Francisco Bay Area
thena or
News from the Bay Area Costumers Guild.
The Costumer's Guild will be having our annual "Victorian Costume Clinic" on Sunday, November 4th from 4-8. It will be a "Fitting Party" with Shelley Monson, Aurie Bradley, Jana Keeler and Jwlhyfer de Winter; along with Intermediate/Advanced Cravat Tying Techniques with Rydell Downward, an overview of the Era's commercial patterns (Simplicity, Butterick) and possibly a discussion on using the Laughing Moon Men's patterns. It is being held in San Bruno so as to be somewhat accessible for people coming from workshops, and will be starting later in the day to accommodate the workshop scheduling. Please go to for exact address and details. For more information or to RSVP, people should call Jwlhyfer at 510-839-8711
Costumers for hire!
These lovely ladies (gentlemen are also welcome to write me to be considered for the recommended costumer list) are tested as costumers who have continually built passable or more than passable costumes for our fair. Please be aware that all costumers set their own rate and any business you conduct together is not affiliated with the fair. ~Kathy
Alexandria Volk-
If you have construction questions please feel free to contact me at BlackSwanX@gmail com. I do individual consultations and patterning and construction help on a case-by-case basis, sliding scale charged. I do make custom costumes and do custom refitting and repairs – though these services cost more.
Cherie Moore-  Cherie would prefer if people email her at:
Kim Yasuda- Please email at and put "Dickens" somewhere in the subject line. We site
Julie Porter-I have an Associate of arts from Diablo Valley college in theater design and can work from draped form or pattern. I prefer to work with women’s clothing of the 1840s to 1850s era. No corsetry offered at this time, but I can do boned bodices and skirts. contact me at
To be considered for the recommended costumer list you must show interest by e-mailing the costume shop at and be qualified by showing Kathy a consistent ability to make passable Victorian costumes, Show photos of costumes you have made, or have made costumes for Kathy in the past.
There are now lists of recommended books for the Dickens Christmas Fair on Click the links below or paste them into a new browser window
So you’d like to… Dress for the Dickens Christmas Fair
So you’d like to…Research for the Dickens Christmas Fair
So you’d like to…Watch movies for the Dickens Christmas Fair
You may also go to and search the listmania section for “Kathy Kingman Historical Costume Maven”.
Pattern List
Great Dickens Christmas Fair 2006
Hello fellow Dickensians – just under 2 months before we move back to the 19th Century! Time to get out your costumes, see if they fit or need work or repairs, or if a whole new outfit is in order…
Remember, the years that the Dickens Fair covers are 1844 – 1864, jewel colors and deep, rich tones are good, and no fluorescent, overwhelming pastels, or teal colors. Plaids and stripes are great, but try not to use lightweight fabrics like madras (***) or  seersucker (***). If you have any questions after reading the info on the Dickens website, please feel free to contact me at  Feel free to send swatches of fabric, sketches, or snaps of out-of-print patterns for approval or advice. If you have construction questions, those are welcome as well.
Commercial patterns – we love them, we hate them… remember, the designers at these companies have very difficult jobs, and are severely restricted to two sheets of pattern paper, the barest of instructions, and are often advised to not use period closures (no visible zippers!) or to be true to period construction. The pattern companies see their customers as being at a strictly amateur level, not at the level to which we strive at the Dickens Fair. To get real waist reduction from any commercial corset pattern, you will have to customize it.
Here are the currently available patterns that pass muster… we have lost a few stalwarts in the past months through discontinued patterns at Simplicity, including a cape pattern and the wonderful workingman’s clothing suite 5023, 5033, 5037, 5035; and the little girl’s dress 4737 – still available at this point in the “discontinued patterns” section of Simplicity’s website. At Butterick, 6694 is now discontinued. Get them while you can. If you need a pattern for a cartridge pleated skirt, email  and we’ll email you some pattern info and instructions for free.
If you have personally built a costume from any of these patterns and would like to write a review please send us your write up and include the name you want posted under your review along with your experience level and rate how difficult you found it on a scale from one to five, with five being the most difficult. The reviews will be added to the website when we post the costume pattern list. Thank you!
4510 – sized and patterned for fine silks only dupione (***) is allowed as long as it is not the double iridescent kind
9761 – beautiful, but a bear to construct
9769 – good beginner’s corset pattern
4900 – replace zipper with buttons or a covering placket
4482 – a good man’s suit lurks here.
5129 – great bonnets!
4697 – but don’t get an a-line hoop!
4890 – the straight bottom vests are in our period
3609 – good corset pattern, easy to custom-fit, can be tailored to short or long waists
5131 – little girls dress with pantalets – very cute.
4825 – decent men’s shirt
4210 – 19th C. version
4254 – 19th century corsets
3992 – good shop girl, servant, or striving lower class woman’s dress
6195 and 6693 – these are ok, but unless you are in a show that requires it, no wearing ballgowns
3993 – caped jackets are not just for Holmes
3721 – vests are good, jacket can be converted to our period easily
3648 – one of the better jackets at this level of patterning, good pants
2767 – both views are great for men of our period
2768 – good dress, just not with an a-line hoop(no A-line hoops period)
Past Patterns: Mostly American but the following are acceptable if in approved Christmas colors and fabrics (No Calico (***)!).
#006: 1800-1890s Men's Drawers
#700 1850-1862 Fashionable Skirt
#701 1850-1867 Gathered and Fitted Bodices.
#800 Skirt
#801 Bodice.
#700 1850-1862 Fashionable Skirt
#702 1850s-1863 Dart Fitted Bodices
#800 Flounced or Single Skirt
#801 Fan Front Bodice.
#706 1850s-1860s Drawers.
#707 Two Chemises 1850-1870
#708: 1840's - 1880's Corset
PF0222 Vintage Vests
Truly Victorian
TV141  Although I recommend saving some time (and pulled hair) and ordering a set of hoops from Annie Lore. She has an Amazing source. See her contact info under Annie’s Cheap Hoops.
TV443 Beautiful results. I would love to see more of these.
TV441 There should be more of these blouses on the shopkeepers at fair.
Laughing Moon
#L111 Ladies' Early 1860's Day Dress
#L100 Ladies Victorian Underwear
#L106 Pants Men & Women’s No women may not wear the pants at fair. These are great high waisted pants for our period of clothing.
I have had great success with the corset patterns from Laughing Moon. If you keep in mind the fact that all corset patterns will need to be altered to fit the shape of the bod you are building it for then you may also find them helpful. Corset making is not a good place for beginners to delve. If you are a beginner and need a new corset, please find yourself a mentor or save up the $$$ to get yourself a first corset that will have the proper fit. You would be surprised how much you learn from wearing a garment that is well made and learning from its construction. Remember that a properly fit corset should have an EVEN space all the way up the back (among other things but we see varying gaps most often).
Note from Kathy: since we first compiled this list several more patterns went off the market. A more complete and up to date list will be posted on the website soon.
Thank you for hanging in there you brave souls. As a farewell until next missive I have a little treat for all you who missed it before or would like to see it again…
The Princess Parable
Sit friends, let me tell you a tale; ­ a parable if you will…  Once there was a beautiful princess who was late for the Ball. She had placed her wake up call but her handmaidens had slept in. A quick look at the dial told her she had only enough time to put the skirt of her gown on and tuck in her Lynard Skynard night-shirt (very retro) before she rushed out the door. So she did, and she pulled her royal snack cart behind her. When she reached the palace and stepped into the hall she saw that the dancing had already begun. She looked quickly at herself in the mirror and saw she looked a fright! Her hair was half done, her T-shirt was tucked into her beautiful full skirt and her snack cart was a terrible shade of neon blue. But, ­being the true princess she knew herself to be-- she held her head high and walked through the room. She ignored the looks from hundreds of guests from other kingdoms and her family who had gotten up early and worked very hard to look perfect for the day. She was a princess and she knew she belonged there, so it didn't matter to her if she stopped the show. It was only for a few moments after all. Little did the princess know but her Mother the Queen was watching from across the room! With one look at her bedraggled daughter, she became very angry. She was horrified by the total lack of respect her beloved daughter was showing towards her family and kingdom. With a frown she stood and pointed at her daughter.
“Stop!” she cried and the princess looked up with a start, “Pull her princess pass! No more shall you come to our fun and fancy princess parties! For the period of one year you are banished from this land, come back when you realize the consequence of your actions!”
With that, the Queens guard came out from the shadows and ejected the impious princess from the ball. The queen watched with a heavy heart, for she loves all of her children and is sad when she sees them do wrong. But she knew it was not fair to allow one princess to disrupt the whole party.
If only she had come dressed completely in her regular clothes like those of the other kingdoms and disguised her snack cart with a cloth, the Queen would never have noticed her and all would be well in the realm.
The moral to this story is: Un-prompt princesses should persist in proper appearances at parties. Or-- don't walk out into the fair wearing half your costume (or just a corset) and pulling a cooler in front of the audience!
Word Glossary (***)
- IE building a costume- is a term used to describe the process of designing sewing and fitting a costume.
Silhouette- A drawing consisting of the outline of something, especially a human profile, filled in with a solid color, in this case as a visual representation of the general look we are trying to achieve at fair.
Madras- a light cotton fabric of various weaves, esp. one in multicolored plaid or stripes, used for shirts, dresses, jackets, etc. Often used in curtains. Though this fabric was introduced between 1822-1835 this fabric is too lightweight and the plaid is too crisp to look right under the harsh light of the dickens fair.
Seersucker-a plain woven cotton, rayon, or linen fabric: traditionally a striped cotton with alternate stripes crinkled in the weaving. First recorded in 1772 this fabric is too light of a weave to look right under the harsh lights of the fair.
Dupione- Dupione is a silk that has a crisp, scrunchy hand, a rough, uneven texture and a dull luster. It is usually dyed brilliant colors and is often iridescent or plaid it does unravel, so seams should be finished. Silk is made of the same protein that our hair is made of and it bleaches and breaks down in sunlight. Use BLACK-OUT linings.
Calico- a plain-woven cotton cloth printed with a figured pattern, usually on one side, very American looking.
Bustle- A frame or pad to support and expand the fullness of the back of a woman's skirt. A bow, peplum, or gathering of material at the back of a woman's skirt below the waist.
Peplum- a short full flounce or an extension of a garment below the waist, covering the hips a short skirt attached to a bodice or jacket
Epaulettes- A shoulder ornament, especially a fringed strap worn on military uniforms.
Natural Makeup- when going for a natural look theatrically you should play up your cheekbones and wear lipstick a shade darker than your own lip color. This is for men as well as women. Women should also wear a brown shade of Mascara but no liner unless you are a bad guy.

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