Valancy Stirling Snaith at the Museum and Rilla Blythe at the Gardens

 At the beginning of April it was announced that the St. Louis Historical Sewing Society would have a trip to the Art Museum and the Botanical Gardens the first weekend of June. Now, that would be my wedding anniversary weekend, however, after a quick consult with my husband we decided we could celebrate our anniversary the following weekend so I could go to the event - the first one this year that has actually worked with my schedule!

The following week the “suggested era” of costume for the event was announced -1920’s. 


I have a fairly full costume closet and a very long costumes in planning list, and the 1920’s are hardly featured at all.

Ok, so I do have my Vionnet evening dress and my pink and tan 1920’s inspired evening dress, but as the museum trip would be in the afternoon an evening dress didn’t seam appropriate.

So I did some brainstorming, consulted my “costume dream list” and came up with an idea.

At the time I was re-listening to the entire Anne of Green Gables series on Audiobook. I’d made it to Rilla of Ingleside, the final book. Set during World War One, all about Anne’s youngest daughter. As I listened to this every afternoon while working on my sister’s Robin Hood costume, I was dreaming of making my own 1910’s ensemble - something I’ve been planning on for years, but have never quite gotten around to.

And it hit me, why not make a 1918 or 1919 dress to wear to the museum? That was close and plausible for the target date, and I’d finally get to venture into the 1910’s!

As I was deciding this, the chatter in the sewing group was that people might be making and wearing more formal costumes for the evening’s trip to the botanical gardens. Ohhhhhh, that was just perfect! 

Back in 2017 I picked up some beautiful silks in Cambodia and I’d been planning on turning them into a 1916 evening gown ever since. Why not finally make that for this occasion? (Yes, I could have worn one of my 1920’s evening gowns instead, but I really, really, wanted to make this dress!)

Ok, I had a plan! Before I had finished my sister’s costume and could actually begin on my new dresses however, I’d finished listening to Rilla of Ingleside and moved on to L.M. Montgomery’s other works. Notably, The Blue Castle. 

The Blue Castle is set in the 1920’s, and I do love the story. The cover of the audiobook version I was listening to featured Valancie wearing an orange dress with blue trim. And that got me day dreaming of my own orange dress with blue trim.

And I came across the prettiest blue and orange 1921 dress on Pinterest. 1921, the very beginning of the 20’s. With the full skirt and longer hemline it could theoretically be worn over the same undergarments as my 1916 evening dress. The corset I was planning to make said it could be worn for ensembles from 1913-1921.

Only I didn’t have any suitable solid orange fabric in my stash. Well, Fabric Mart fixed that with a linen sale at the end of April. The orange dress with blue trim was happening!

At the beginning of May, one month before the outing, I had my sister’s costume complete and I started on my ensemble - 1910’s combinations, corset, petticoat, and two dresses!

The evening dress was finished the day before the event, and the afternoon dress was finished the morning of - but I’ll tell you the details of making those in later posts.

I had dresses to wear to the 1920’s events, and I enjoyed them!

At the art museum we went to an exhibit or Monet’s later work, alongside work of Joan Mitchell.

We enjoyed finding paintings that matched our dress colors to take pictures by.

And the hotel gift shop had the best selfie taking mirror!

As with any costume event, the best part was socializing and admiring one another’s costumes. After seeing everyone else’s ensembles now I’m inspired to make more 20’s stuff!

Photo by @papagena1791

Following the Museum I went out to dinner with a friend, and then we all met up again at the botanical gardens to see the Chihuly Glass exhibit throughout the garden.

As both of my dresses were worn over the same set of undergarments, I was able to quickly and easily change dresses in the parking lot.

I love the botanical gardens, and an evening spent wandering through them admiring glass sculptures with friends was just delightful!

The art museum was nice, but this was definitely my favorite part of the day!

We were joined by more group members than we’d had at the art museum so there were more people to chat with and more dresses to admire.

Couldn’t have asked for a better evening!

After a month spent making my sister’s prom dress, followed by a month spent making her play costume, followed by a month making my outfits for this event, I’m now out of big sewing deadlines for a while! Honestly, I’m a bit at loose ends. What do I make now? Something off my long historical costume dream list? Something for my husband? Modern dresses for me? Or should I go ahead and start on my ball gown for this fall so I have plenty of time to get that done? I can’t decide!

There’s something incredibly satisfying about finishing projects, but then what do you do when you’re done?!?!?

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