Three essentials for your own Dickens costume

Submitted by Michele Amy

Well, Hallowe’en has come and gone, so now is a great time to repurpose those costuming skills as we approach Carlyle Dickens Festival!

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Just think how fancy the town looks that weekend, with so many folks in costume and main street all dressed up in its finest, with the tree lit on the South end of Main Street.  And the people make such a huge addition to the “setting of the stage!”

So let’s all put on our finery and add to the scenery!

If you’ve lived in Carlyle awhile, the Dickens outfit is “old hat!”

But if you have not yet created one, or are new to the community, here are the three  essentials!

1. Hats:  Whether you represent a character from Victorian England OR Saskatchewan, you are going need some kind of a hat.

Hat Options:

 a. Make a mop hat:  There are some tutorials on line, but this is a simple matter of cutting out a large circle of fabric, and sewing in a piece  of elastic about 6 cm from the edge.

b. Lady’s hat:  Take a straw hat and glue or sew on stuff like feathers, lace, tulle, or simply tie a scarf over the hat and under your chin! And Voila! OR, if you’re into the Pinterest style creations, do a search for “beginners guide to making a Victorian hat” and you’ll find all sorts of fun crafty things using cereal boxes, bits of Bargain shop lace and great reasons to visit Tanya at Sew n Sews.

c. Gentleman’s hats: pretty much anything from a “Sherlock Holmes style” to a Newspaper boy slouch hat to a fancy top hat will do.

The Outfit:

- Lady’s garments:

SIMPLE skirt or dress. It’s easy to go simple with these! Skirts are long, often covered in an apron and a shawl.  For a shawl, a re-purposed Christmas tree skirt is an easy plan! Or simply an old bedspread folded in a triangle and pinned at the front.

FANCY: well- get out your sewing machine! Or drop a line to Shelley Slykhuis, who has been making Dickens clothing for years!  OR you can simply up-scale your fabric choices!  Pair a nice, high necked blouse with a long skirt, and add a fancy hat and shawl, and you will present quite well!

- Men’s garments:

Go SIMPLE: Workingmen wore homespun pants – brown or black and usually baggy, with a button down shirt , a pair of suspenders and vest. Often these were belted, if at all, with rope, instead of belts. 

Go FANCY: dress in nice black pants with a collared white shirt, and add a string tie and a vest, and a top hat.Suspenders are a nice touch.  If you can find a lovely set of tails, this is fun to sport, along with a pair of spats, you’ll be a regular man about town!

Children: What a fun time to be a kid! For little girls, just about any fancy dress will do, if they wear a hat or a scarf on their heads! Cute mop hats top just about any kind of dress or skirt combo!  For little boys, a pair of suspenders.


Shawls, long coats, greatcoats, Fur coats… these are all great options for staying warm! Pair with a seasonal scarf or a muff for keeping hands warm and you’ll be the talk of the town!

Whatever you wear, come on down to Fezzywig’s pub to warm up, and enjoy the diverse fashion show as locals and visitors alike show off their Victorian regalia and Christmas spirit.

© Copyright Carlyle Observer


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