Call Her Cordelia


My dear Mum got me a dress form for Christmas! Even better, she came with some padding that can be added for my specific *ahem* dimensions. While it is a bit creepy having a headless torso doppelgänger, (and admittedly have hugged it to see what it’s like to hug myself) I am still a fan of naming things. Hence, when my darlingest cousin Emily suggested that I name her Cordelia, (as I am very nearly Anne) I thought it was BRILLIANT.

The first project she has christened, are my early 19th century stays.

IMG_0049Alas, they look much cleaner here than in person.


I may have to have them dry cleaned when it’s all said and done.

I am an avid fan of many Historical Costuming Blogs out there, so I am aware of what I personally always wish for in a project post (pictures, pictures, and more pictures!)

But I also know that a good solid explanation always comes in handy too! As it has been like trying to find hen’s teeth to come up with a good run down on the construction of early 19th cen. stays, this is my bat signal, so to speak, for all the pros out there.

I’ve already discovered that it is best to cord ONLY to your seam allowances and not past. Else, you will have a terribly bulky seam. I am cording each piece of cover and inner fabric together, then going to turn the allowances on the front and front side and whip stitch them together a la Merja on her 18th century stays. The side back and back I will probably just sew together like a typical shaped seam. I’m making the lining separate, then binding the whole thing.

I HATE MAKING MOCK UPS. But I did one for this, and as I do like to pull quite tight in my waist, I added a bit in the hips so all the goosh has somewhere to go.

The pattern is Mantua Maker’s, but I lengthened it, made the bust gussets longer and reshaped them a bit (next time will lengthen them even more), beefed up the straps, and will potentially cut away a bit at the side hip.

If anybody wants to weigh in on the topic of early 19th century stays, be my guest!

“Will you please call me Cordelia?” she said eagerly.

Call you Cordelia? Is that your name?”

“No-o-o, it’s not exactly my name, but I would love to be called Cordelia. It’s such a perfectly elegant name.”

“I don’t know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn’t your name, what is?”

“Anne Shirley,” reluctantly faltered forth the owner of that name, “but, oh, please do call me Cordelia. It can’t matter much to you what you call me if I’m only going to be here a little while, can it? And Anne is such an unromantic name.”

“Unromantic fiddlesticks!” said the unsympathetic Marilla. “Anne is a real good plain sensible name. You’ve no need to be ashamed of it.”

“Oh, I’m not ashamed of it,” explained Anne, “only I like Cordelia better. I’ve always imagined that my name was Cordelia–at least, I always have of late years. When I was young I used to imagine it was Geraldine, but I like Cordelia better now. But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.”

“What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.

“Oh, it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. If you’ll only call me Anne spelled with an E, I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.”


Badly Done, Emma!

Ahhhhh Mr. Knightly…..

BUT! Before I get ahead of myself, allow me to explain.

Tonight I watched BBC’s newest version of “Emma”. I love ALL their productions, with Pride and Prejudice being the top of the list. However, Emma has worked its way into my heart. Any subject matter I encounter in my life that would lead to a good blog, I eagerly snap up. Emma practically handed me a topic to write about. A topic that I know impacts me, AND quite a few of my young lady friends. The topic of finding our life’s partner.

Today’s fictional world is full of the “everyday heroine”… the girl “just like us”, who finds the oh-so-perfect-in-every-way-except-for-a-few-romanticized-flaws-like-loving-to-a-fault-or-turning-into-a-where-wolf-or-vampire- hero. We, understandably snap this up! All of us want to be loved unconditionally… by a faultless yet conventional lover. Conventional because he MUST fall in love at first sight and know his heart instantly, unconditional meaning previously programmed, and flawless… yet with a sprinkling of romantic acceptable flaws that don’t interfere with their undying adoration. Why would we wish for anything else? Why are there so many disappointed young ladies?

The story of Emma and Mr. Knightly struck me as beautiful and surprising, refreshing and inspiring! Jane Austen had a soapbox for unconventional lovers, but I really do believe she struck gold with this story. I am not sure however, that the revelations I am taking from this story are what she intended.

We first perceive Emma and Mr. Knightly’s relationship as one of old camaraderie. They are not afraid to offend one another, for they know they shall soon make it up afterwords. He knows she has frivolous and mindless tendencies and she respects him as one would respect a well-loved, yet sometimes meddlesome older brother. You soon ascertain that they have known one-another for a long time. Regardless of all this, or maybe partly because of it, we find ourselves forgetting about Emma’s own love life as she does herself!

Enter Frank… oh Frank. Honestly, I found myself gravitating towards him. When we look at him, he has much about him to gravitate towards. Consider; he is open and amiable, attractive and kind, spirited yet not empty minded. The man rides a “great black steed”… Hello! It is not hard to like Frank, to root for Frank. I, who even knew the story before I had seen this movie, could not muster any dislike for his person. Here is one of many places I can understand and relate to Emma. She liked him… she liked him so much she wanted to love him. She had every reason to, no sane person would have any reason to not fall in love with Frank Churchill. This may seem silly… but it is a real dilemma. When one has no feelings to compare it with, one wonders if a strong regard or “like” is really all love is. Fortunately for Emma, doings beyond her control draw Frank away… allowing he feelings to sort out and fade.

Mr. Knightly however grows increasingly jealous and wary of what he thinks is a strong attachment between Emma and Churchill. Which, when we do take a look at the situation, is somewhat well founded… and proven when we learn that Frank is not what he seems and when Emma makes a rude comment to Miss Bates.

Knightly finds Emma alone shortly thereafter and reproaches her, “Badly done, Emma!”

I was smitten at that moment. I was struggling with feelings of wanting to cry in remorse with Emma, yet justify her, but at the same time wanting to throw my arms around Knightly. I knew as Emma knew later on, her love for Mr. Knightly.

At this point, all of you are probably once again thinking I’m insane. “This girl finds love in a strong reproaching?” But honestly, at that moment, all I have ever been waiting for in a suitor made sense. Knightly knew Emma better than she knew herself. He knew her faults, even corrected them, but then found himself loving her anyway. Not instantly, no love at first sight, but a deep mutual love that could only be grown from the time they spent learning each-other. Emma KNEW, she didn’t have to try to make it real. It’s truly unconventional, truly magical, and truly fault-filled!

I want so much a man who can say, “Badly done, Hayley!” and instead of being outraged or hurt, I can throw my arms around and feel a slight sting, remorseful, then madly in love, because I know we have built a relationship that will outlast all the happy manners in the world. I will know that no matter how “badly done”, he will continue to love me anyway. This true, unconditional love beats any pre-programmed adoration any day.

So in conclusion dear friends, be on the search for true love (the real kind) and always keep those heads in the clouds~


I’m Bringin’ Austen Back!

I am a Jane Austen/Regency Era FANATIC! I love the loveliness of the time period; the lace, the endless rows of buttons, the soothing colors, the airiness and general womanliness. There is also a fashionista tucked away somewhere in me. I love absurd fashion and the avant-garde. I find myself envying the waif-like amateur photographers and design school students who moodily clod about in careless ensembles that are oh so vogue. Well, they appear careless… I know they are more than likely poured over for hours the week before trying to find the “IT” piece to bring it all “together”.

Do these worlds mix? Austen meets Vogue. You see the subtle details, the lace, the pearl, the airy silhouette; still… I have often lamented the fact that I can’t simply parade around in a living history project. That turned into a dream of a place where I somehow introduce the look back into the fashion world… riggggghhhhhtt.

Today however, as I flipped through a book of street fashion/photography, I was struck with the vintage throwbacks… they begin somewhere in the 19-teens and progress to the ’90s… HAH! The ’90s! That’s a decade I remember the first time around.

Sooooo, if say, a respectable young art student can parade around in knickers and a news cap… please tell me why I cannot get my Eliza Bennett on?! There is only a good century of separation there ;). I have decided to answer my own question. There is no reason in this world I can’t channel my inner Catherine Moorland (my favorite Austen heroine next to Lizzy). I propose a revolution dear friends, a fashion revolution… all in favor of loveliness say “I” hummm… or is it “Aye”??? REGARDLESS~

I am at this moment searching for a good regency era walking dress pattern, I plan to shorten it to right below my knees, curl my hair, find some pretty pearls, some adorable flats, and hit the town. So who’s with me?!

Love the absurd fashion dear friends and keep those heads in the clouds!~