Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Downton Abbey themed birthday party

It's no secret that I LOVE the series Downton Abbey.  Say what you will, I am obsessed!  So this year's birthday theme was Downton Abbey.  Guests had a costume timeline of 1912-1923, the years the series has spanned.  I chose the first season of DA for my costume and went with a pink and black colorway.

I wore the same tiara as the Marchioness of Flintshire (Rose's mum) from the Highlands Christmas special, and a necklace and earring set from the official Downton Abbey jewelry line.

I uploaded a pdf of some Downton bunting someone shared on Pinterest and made a party banner.  All photo frames contained cast members.

Someone on Pinterst shared this Downton Abbey themed votive candle cover.  I cut out the windows for the light to shine through.  Next to that are quotes from the Dowager Countess.

I have a large portrait of a woman from the 1880s, so I covered her head with a large image of the Dowager Countess.  I might leave this up!

I ordered a bottle each of the white and red Downton Abbey wine for a wine tasting.  I even decanted the red!  Carson would be proud.


My dress.  Pattern is the Laughing Moon #104 View A

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Costume Victorian parasols

Victorian era parasols are so beautiful, but they can be expensive or too delicate to use often.  While it's certainly possible to find an antique bargain, you don't always feel comfortable bringing your antiques to an event.  That's why I like to find modern reproductions to use when necessary.  They are sturdier and less expensive, so I'm not heartbroken if something happens to it. Over the years I've found a few nice ones.

Back around 2006 an accessory designer named Deborah Lewis was selling beautiful silk folding parasols.  I got a black one with brass hardware and I love it very much!  OK, I admit I'd be heartbroken if something happened to this one!

Sadly, she seems to have disappeared from the accessories market and finding her parasols is difficult.

Another one I got that I like very much is a 30" long blonde wood handle with a white canopy covered in black lace.  The tag says Parasolsbyann.com.  I found it online for about $35.00 at Uniquely Yours Victorian Apparel and Gifts, but I don't think the shop is around anymore.  Ugh, not helpful and I'm sorry!

This one has a 30" long medium wood tone handle with an ivory pongee canopy trimmed with ivory roses around the edge.  I got it on Ebay a couple of years ago for a BIN $19.99.  I've since tried to find it again and had no luck, and the tag only says "100% pongee".  I expect it pops up every now and then.

This one I got from The Victorian Trading Co a year or so ago for about $35.00.  The price has gone up since then, though I don't know why.  White cotton eyelet with a 33"long blonde wood handle. They cost $25/each if you buy 5!  If you just want one, you can get it from The Museum of the Confederacy for $45.00 or Amazon for $50.00 (If you have Amazon Prime, free shipping might make that the better option.)

Right now on Ebay, a seller called fde1pce is selling these great looking reproductions in either white or black with a choice of handle styles.  Handle length is perfect and so is the price!  

Another choice, if you want to recover your own to match your dress, is to buy a nylon costume parasol, remove the cover and use it to create a pattern you can use to recover it with your own fabric. They are pretty inexpensive if you shop around (Ebay sellers for some reason charge double, I've found.)  These are from Halloween Supply Store and cost $8.50.

Here's a link to someone who created a tutorial, but grab it fast because I hear the Belle Alley is being taken down in March:  http://carolinabelles.net/vb/showthread.php?t=6856.  SO SAD!  I learned so much from the tutorials on that site.

One type of parasol that I avoid is the Battenburg lace parasol.  While they have a super pretty cover, the handle lengths are generally too short.  If you find one, make sure the handle from bottom to top is at least 30" long.  I also avoid the ones that have curved plastic handles.  The straight handles are a better choice for a parasol.

If you have some serious cash you are willing to plunk down for a reproduction, visit: