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Category Archives: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey Edwardian Maid Dress (Part 3) Finished!

My Downton Abbey Edwardian maid outfit is finished! It was actually completed last week, but I didn’t have time to take and post photos.

Here are the front, side, and back views with the apron on:

IMG_4826IMG_4828IMG_4830Here are close-ups of the top and bottom of the apron, featuring the same antique lace:
IMG_4836IMG_4839The lace on the collar and cuffs are the same, and also antique lace purchased in the same lot as the apron lace.

Here is the dress by itself. Although I originally thought of using wool, I ended up using black Kaufman Kona cotton, which I found to be decently thick, and a good value. I made the fabric-covered buttons using a button cover kit.

IMG_4816I used Butterick B6229 pattern for the dress (but not the apron), which I recommend. I found the pattern to be true to size, and the pieces fit together nicely. I used the pattern mostly as-is, with a few small changes:

  1. I made the cuffs smaller. I found them to be disproportionately large compared to my small hands.
  2. I shortened the height of the collar. If I followed the pattern the collar would be rather tall, and cover most of my neck. Although you can find old photos of Edwardian maids with similarly high collars, I wanted the shorter collars featured on the show.
  3. I lengthened the belt an inch or two; I found it a little short.
I normally don’t pay full price for a Big 3 pattern, but it was so new it was not in my local Joann’s or being sold for cheap on eBay, so I had to order it online. However, given how easy it was to work with I think it was worth it!

For the headpiece I sewed two pieces of antique lace together and gathered the center.

IMG_4832

I sewed wig clips to the back to hold them in my hair.IMG_4835  Project total costs:

  • Antique lace: $16.95 + $2.50 shipping (from Etsy)
  • Butterick pattern: $12.50 + $5.58 shipping and tax (from butterick.com)
  • 5 yards black Kaufman Kona cotton: $24.82 including tax (It’s normally $5.98/yard from Fabric.com but I had a coupon, free shipping bundled with other items, and a bonus half yard for free)
  • 3 yards white cotton broadcloth: $8.24 including tax (normally $2.98/yard at Fabric.com)
  • Button cover kit: $5.75 + $2.25 shipping (from Etsy; I still have buttons left over)

Total cost: $78.59. (I still have 2 yards white cotton, and a lot of lace and buttons left over for another project).

See parts 1 and 2 for more details.

Downton Abbey Edwardian Maid Dress (Part 2)

The apron for my Downton Abbey maid dress is finished! I made the bulk of it over the weekend, but decided to change the straps a little last night.

IMG_4572Although I am planning to use Butterick B6229 for the dress, I did not use a pattern for the apron. The Butterick pattern relies on ruffles and pintucks to add visual interest to the apron, but I wanted to use antique lace accents. You can see in the picture below that there is quite a lot of variation between the aprons on the show. There are different hem lengths, and different ways to arrange the lace on the upper part.

r-DOWNTON-large570I sewed 3 strips of insertion lace into a V shape, then placed another strip of lace across the top, to make the center of the apron top. I then used 2 long pieces of wide lace to finish off the sides.

IMG_4574The bottom of the apron is about 44 inches wide. (I used the width of the fabric I had, which happened to be the same width as the lace left over from the top part of the apron).  I added lace on the hem because it’s pretty, and to save me a few rows of pintucks! Pintucks aren’t difficult to do; I just avoid them because I’m a little OCD and it bugs me when they’re not perfectly straight and even.

IMG_4577Most of the aprons on Downton Abbey have plain, pintucked hems, but some have lace, like Ethel’s on the far right.

tumblr_m1hgaycfA01r9qe4yInstead of having two sets of ties (at the waist and upper back) I used one very long pair of ties. (They are about 2 inches wide, and 60 inches long, and probably too long). They come out of the shoulder lace, criss-cross on the back, go into loops sewn into the waistband, then tie at the waist. This way I only have one set of ties to worry about, and the straps across the back will hopefully stay more neatly arranged.

I wasn’t fond of the way the back looked in its first iteration . . .IMG_4579. . . so I pleated the lace where the straps meet, and I think it looks much better.

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See Part 1 here.

Downton Abbey Edwardian Maid Dress (Part 1)

My next project is an Edwardian maid dress, inspired by Downton Abbey. I plan to use a recently released pattern (Butterick B6229).

IMG_4411 IMG_4413I couldn’t find a lightweight wool I liked so I ordered some black Kaufman Kona cotton from Fabric.com. My order came with this cute sticker on it!

IMG_4410I ended up with an extra half yard for free! I also bough white cotton broadcloth for the apron. It was a very bright white, so I ended up tea-dyeing it, then washing it in Oxiclean to get rid of the excess color. It still appears white, but no longer looks so stark next to the antique laces I am using. The fabric on the right is my broacloth, next to some pure white fabric voile for comparison. IMG_4420I purchased a group of 20s and 30s lace trims from Etsy, that I will be using on the apron bodice, the maid’s cap, and the collar and cuffs of the dress. If there is enough I might use it on the hem of the apron, since I really dislike doing pintucks.IMG_4380 IMG_4381 IMG_4382 IMG_4383 IMG_4385I hope this will be a very comfortable day time outfit for Costume College!