Friday, 9 November 2012

Eighteen Eighty Eight

 Friday 9th November 1888.
Today marks the anniversary of the death of the last (canon) victim of Jack the Ripper, that of Mary Jane Kelly.
Rest in peace Mary.

I have always had an interest in the Ripper and no amount of documentaries offering alternative theories have managed to shift me from who I believe the Ripper to be.  Not to belittle what happened over those four months, one hundred and twenty four years ago, but it’s a gruesome affair and I’m sure everyone knows what happened, so there will be no photos, instead there will be Fashions of 1888 instead. Or fashion as my Victorian dress dated from just that year. It was pure coincidence, I prefer the styles of the latter Victorian years to those of the start and I just love a bustle.


I made my whole outfit myself, it took me two months. This may sound excessive but there was a lot to it (the dress, hat, bag, muffler and cape) and the hand sewing took some time. 


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Even though it is termed a dress, this outfit is made up of four separate parts, a bustle, a skirt, an over skirt and a peplum jacket.


The jacket has twenty one metal buttons fastening it and it is painful indeed to unfasten and then fasten each one especially in colder weather. Tiresome too.
All the ribbon was hand sewn on and each tiny glass bead was individually sewn on (the beads really aren't wonky it's the way they are lying and the kink of the ribbon).

Such a dusty hat; I look like I was actually left in a cupboard in the late Victorian period and then dragged out for show and tell, and botherment! I forgot to take off my glasses.



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Earlier this week I attempted to iron it but as it's 100% cotton and mostly black it was the devil to iron without ending up with shiny bits. I became painfully aware that I don't have much room indoors in which to take photos.  I could also just about fit on a chair with my bustle. 


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Self timer mishap.



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What a glorious silhouette a bustle makes!


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Insubordinate pose ahoy!

"Fancy a tumble sir?"
In another time I could have been a dollymop.
(although I most certainly hope I wasn't)
(the apron part of my over skirt has a habit of pushing my jacket up .. boo!)


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Despite being incredibly warm in my dress, I then got to thinking about impractical things to do in Victorian garb. Whereas I am very sure housework would be in the top five, I was intent on fun not chores, so I present you with hula hooping in a bustle dress! How hard could it be to hula with a bustle? Well let me tell you, it was difficult, my movements were about three quarters slower and I was terribly restricted.
Here you see a variation on my concentration face ..


So there you go, now you can say you've seen a woman in a Victorian dress with a bustle, hula hooping.

34 comments:

  1. Jack The Ripper is one of the most intriguing story! Oh my!You did a masterpiece!Every detail of your costume is stunning, sometime I'd love to live in the past and wear hat, gloves and don't worry about my thighs to get bigger because of the rich skirts where I can hide!
    You and your husband are so beautiful!
    Thank you for the amazing photoshoot of the hula hoop, it made my day!!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. It really is, and is about the only serial killer that interests me, maybe because he is more legend these days.
      Thank you so much, I am very proud of my outfit, it's a shame I only got to wear it out a couple of times. I'm glad you liked the hula pictures and have a lovely weekend xxx

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  2. You are so clever to have made that dress! I wouldn't know where to start! It's gorgeous!

    The idea of the Ripper always sends shivers down my spine. It's not just the murders themeselves, it's the gruesome things he did to those poor women. I think a)he must have been a medical man, b)he was probably well to do, and c)he must have died, for the murders to just suddenly stop like they did. Someone who has killed several times would not simply stop in my opinion. Or maybe he contracted syphilis and those were all the recent prostitutes he had been with and wanted to punish. Who do you think the Ripper was then?

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    1. Thank you! I didn't know where to start either which is why I went for what I thought was easy (and wasn't) the bustle. The jacket and cape reduced me to tears, I must admit!
      The Ripper stories are particularly gruesome, even by today's standards so imagine how it must have been viewed when it happened. I don't, as many think, believe he was a medical man, well off and nor do I think he was a royal. I believe the murders continued, just not in Whitechapel. I believe he was a man by the name of John Kelly (no relation) who actually handed himself back in to an asylum and had many a tale to tell about what he had been up to. I have seen so many documentaries and have read a lot and John Kelly seems the most likely and I have stayed with this theory for years now.

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    2. Ah, well I haven't seen many documentaries and only know the more popular theories. Interesting to know though.

      Did you know that there is some TV series on/coming on (not sure which) set at the time of the Ripper murders. About wannabe police at the time, or something. I can't remember the name of it but it was mentioned in Glamour Magazine (which I believe you get anyway).

      Actually, why was he named Jack the Ripper? How did they know his name? I have a recollection that there was someone called 'spring heeled Jack' or something, who murdered at the same time. But I don't know the details. :P

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    3. I actively look for them, hehe! I quite like getting annoyed with the theories put forward ;)
      I did not know that, no. Rupert Penry-Jones was in a modern thing called Whitechapel, which I couldn't get along with, but I am very interested in this new one. How did I miss that when I get Glamour??? I shall have to investigate further, thank you for letting me know!
      The Jack the Ripper tag came from the 'Dear Boss' letters which I fully believe to have been a publicity stunt by a tabloid newspaper to garner interest in their new publication (News of the World). Much like the Yorkshire Ripper or Boston Strangler I suppose, except this one had a name attached to what he liked to do rather than just the Whitechapel Ripper.
      I just googled Spring heeled Jack which is creeeepy! Now he is the stuff of my nightmares xxx

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    4. I just checked and it's called 'Ripper Street' and stars Matthew Macfadyn!

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    5. Oooh, thank you! Saves me the trouble xxxx

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  3. You're very talented to have made that whole outfit yourself Melanie, have you ever thought about doing it professionally, making costumes for theatre or anything like that? You really have the right look for those days too, I could imagine you as an old fashioned girl. With a hula hoop.

    I've watched a few things about Jack the Ripper and it's all very horrible isn't it, I'm a big scaredy cat but I'm always fascinated by stories like that, to know what makes someone do something like that. I love the psychological side of it all but at the same time I don't like to let myself think about things like that too much. xx

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    1. Thank you :)
      I have often been told I should think about making for others, but really I am not good enough I don't think, despite what this dress may suggest! I have very limited patience too, which doesn't help!
      I have always been told I have a timeless look so feel I could slot in seamlessly to any given time period!
      The Ripper tales are all very horrible, all the more so as they were true. It doesn't actually scare me, what that says about me I don't know (!) but I know it was gruesome and terribly tragic xxx

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  4. This costume is insane, you did an incredible job! I have a thing for theses dark stories and I guess it's the goth in me:) The photo of you hula hooping in that dress RULES!

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    1. Aww thank you Krista, I'm glad you like it and my hula-ing!!
      I have always had an interest in Jack, though I have no idea where it came from, it was one of those things I always seemed to know about, maybe it's in the British blood!

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  5. Wow what a amazing dress, bustle and everything else. You sure do have some talent in the sewing department. I am afraid if I tried my hand at something like that it would end up looking like a crumpled piece of paper towel. *lol*

    Love the hula hooping pics!! *hahah*

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    1. Thank you so much! My dress certainly looked crumpled at some points, particularly when I got frustrated and threw it across the room!
      You haven't hula'd till you've tried with a bustle!

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  6. That dress is a masterpiece. I love the picture of you hula hooping it's lovely to see a smiley Melanie shot! x

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    1. Thank you Vix, I don't smile much do I? I get self conscious far too easily xxx

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  7. You are absolutely hilarious and impressively attired- love your Victorian outfit, especially the hat!!! How did you do that? Brilliant!

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    1. Thank you! The hat, well I used a cheap boater as the base. I hand stitched wire to the edges so I could manipulate it (the start of the finger tip bruising) and then I had to hand sew the fabric to it and the more I went on, the harder it became as I had more layers to go through, not least of all the straw of the boater xxx

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  8. Your outfit is amazing, Melanie, I can't believe you made it all, you are clever! AND you can hula hoop. In a bustle. Talented lady! xxx

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    1. Thank you and to be very honest, looking at it, I can't believe I made it myself either! When I have difficulties with a simple skirt I should remind myself that if I can make a Victorian ensemble, I can make something ridiculously simple xxx

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  9. The hula hooping photos are the best ever!! I love them! The dress is fantastic, you're very talented indeed. You'd love the various button hooks and glove stretchers on the dressing table at the manor xxx

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    1. Heh, thank you! Quite a feat to hula dressed like that! Oh button hooks! I never even thought of one of those, I love Victorian/Edwardian paraphernalia, back when everything had a gadget attached to it xxx

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  10. Love this look. Victorian era is one of my faves too. How talented are you making that outfit yourself?! I am fascinated by Jack the Ripper too. I get confused as to all the suspects though, there are so many of them and so many books/documentaries. I'd love to know your theory?? x

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    1. It was quite an undertaking, so I'm glad you like it xxx
      Oh there are so many suspects aren't there, and the same ones pop up time and again. I have seen so many documentaries and some just annoy me when they grasp at the same old things like the 'Dear Boss' letters which I was under the impression were quickly dismissed as fake and nothing more than a publicity stunt to shift more copies of the new tabloid newspaper The News of The World. I believe it was John Kelly (no relation to Mary Jane) who escaped from and finally forty years on, handed himself back in to Broadmoor asylum.

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  11. Melanie, you and this outfit are show-stoppingly, exquisitely gorgeous. I'm in awe over your dress and the fact that you made the whole ensemble yourself. Doffing my (Victorian top, natch :) ) hat to you to no end, dear gal.

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* Thank you very much for all of your fantastic blog comments recently, I sincerely appreciate each and every one of them.

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    1. Oh thank you Jessica, I'm glad you like it, I thought you would and I even have my brown boots on too (but you can't see them).
      And you are very welcome, I'm trying to get back into my stride of commenting and yours are always a delight xxx

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  12. Oh wow, this dress is amazing, I can't believe you made it yourself, that's fantastic! Also, the hula-hooping photos are fantastic. The country park near you must look gorgeous right now. xxx

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    1. Thank you so much!
      I wish I could see the view of the country park, but the best view is from the dual carriageway and we don't have a car anymore sadly.
      xxx

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  13. That is absolutely fabulous!!! That must have been so much work, but so very rewarding too. It's just amazing. I hear that a lot of people feel especially connected to a certain era or decade. I haven't discovered that for myself yet, but you definitely connect here. You must feel haunted a bit when you wear it.

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    1. Thank you Joni! It was a lot of hard work and I was working on it up to the last moment the night before I was due to wear it. I do feel very different when I wear it and it does shift your mindset a fair bit, things seem very surreal somehow xxx

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  14. Melanie, I am just in awe!!! I cannot imagine making all of that and having it turn out so beautifully! The photos are fabulous, but I am just thinking of all the more detail we would see in person!! Lovely!!

    xoxo
    Lynn

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  15. Melanie, I can't believe you made this dress. I mean, I believe you but I am amazed. I love the bustle silhouette as well. I wore this type dress to my prom but it was of course, strapless with a bustle. Hula hoop photos are funny...enjoyed. dawn suitcase vignettes xo

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    1. Oh thank you Dawn! It was a lot of hard work but worth it all x

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