Alan Maley-The Promise

Ever since I came across that painting and determined to replicate the dress I have been searching for the artist. The quality of the picture I found was too faded and grainy to get a good look at the name on the bottom. I could tell that it started with an ‘M’ then something … ‘L’… and that there was a ‘Y’ in it.

Not much to go on. I tried various searches, ‘painting of Victorian woman in stripes,’ ‘Victorian artist woman in stripes,’ etc. I even googled lists of artist and scrolled through a billion names, clicking on all the ‘M’ names that looked close.  Sigh, no hits.

I can’t remember what next search I tried but this one got me a picture of a Victorian scene with the name ‘Maley’ clearly signed on the bottom. It had the three letters I was looking for so I plugged that name into google and searched through a gallery of his paintings. Boom, there was the painting of the woman in stripes.

The Promise, an intriguing name, surely having something to do with that rose she's holding.

The Promise, an intriguing name, surely having something to do with that rose she’s holding. Gotta admit though, that guy behind her looks like a serial killer.

Turns out Maley wasn’t actually a Victorian artist, he just excelled at painting the Victorian era. He was born in 1931 and died in 1995, not only was he a painter but he was also a visual effects artist for movies, even winning an academy award for his work on the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

I’m not usually captured by art but his works are enthralling, a lush romantic glimpse of a past era. If you like the painting above I highly suggest that you check out more of his work.

Regarding the sewing of this dress, I’m still trying to collect information and fabric. The shirtwaist in this painting is really baffling!


Dragons: Race To The Edge/My Characters Are Killing Me

So my imaginary friends kept me awake half the night by arguing with me about plot holes, and character development and one particularly loud voice screaming at me, “Are the stakes high enough?!”

Thanks guys, it’s not like a writer needs to sleep or anything.

But luckily I awoke to glorious news this morning that restored my good humor and distracted me from brooding about killing off every one of my trucelent characters.

 I’ve been anxiously awaiting news of the third season of Dreamworks Dragons. The title was released a while ago but that was pretty much all we had. Today they finally released the first trailer and the release date!


Dragons: Race to The Edge will premier on June 26th. I know I’m not the only crazy Dragons fan who is shrieking right now. The trailer is on their official facebook page and shows a glimpse of the new dragons the season will be introducing and an artifact called the Dragon’s Eye.

This season will take place about a year before the events of How To Train Your Dragon 2 so the gang is older than in the first two seasons, they did a great job of updating their appearances. The animation looks superb and I’m confident that this will be the best season yet.

If I can watch it.

In an unfortunate twist it was revealed a while back that the season was going to be exclusively on Netflix. I don’t have Netflix, I don’t want Netflix. And I know that a lot of other people are in the same situation. Was this a good move on Dreamworks part? I don’t know, for their sake I hope so, but it sucks for those of us who have to wait.

Luckily, it’s worth waiting for.

Well, off to try to fix up this mess of a novel so that I can get some sleep tonight!

‘My Eyes!’ AKA Were Our Ancestors Color Blind.

In all my reasearch for various Victorian dresses I’ve come across more than a few dresses that make out modern fashionistas faint dead away. Who ever started the myth that Victorians were dreary people who never wore color? True, Queen Victoria became fond of black and it is well known that mourning became more of an art then a state of grief. But when they weren’t wrapped up in their mourning crepe those Victorians sure loved to wear some eye-searing colors.


Here we have some sort of wrapper in a hideous orange paisley. This would have been worn around the house, not out and about. Thank goodness, because this could probably make birds drop dead from the sky.

And this? Good god, and I thought those modern camo wedding dresses looked silly!

But wait, There’s more!

Prepare yourself.

Seriously, you might want to go get some sunglasses to protect your eyes.


For more pictures of this monstrosity go check out the link at this fabulous blog dedicated to extant gowns.

Not that they all got it wrong. As a reward for making it through those first three, I saved the best for last.


Ombre dyed velvet. THIS. IS. AWESOME.

And with that black lace overlay? This woman was clearly fabulous.


So, for those who thought the Victorians were a bunch of depressed goths, sorry to burst your bubble!

These are just my personal opinions, beauty is relative and all that.

Research for 1890’s Striped Gown

I was randomly searching through some pictures of Victorian gowns when I came across this painting:


I Love it. I ADORE it. Who cares that I have absolutely nowhere to wear it and no reason to make it. This dress is happening.

So first thing’s first, a break down of the dress. The 1890’s aren’t an era I’ve spent a lot of time researching so I’ve been working on fixing that in order to understand this dress.

The skirt’s a fairly straightforward skirt of its time, what makes it interesting is the way the fabric is cut so that the stripes create a pattern. Unless that was how the actual fabric looked? I’m going to assume those are seams because there is no way I can find that exact fabric otherwise.

Next we’ve got a Swiss Waist with buttons down the front. These were corset-like (But NOT actual corsets, corsets are undergarments, they go UNDER the dress. Sorry this issue really bugs me!) garments, it will be boned and probably laces up in the back. for a better understanding on the Swiss Waist check out this excellent article.

The bodice really had me confused for a while, at first look I though it was low cut-something you only saw on evening gowns, which this is not. I spent an entire day looking at extant dresses, fashion plates, and pictures trying to find evidence that there were afternoon/walking dresses with this neckline.

Then I looked at it again and it was like an iron skillet walloped me in the head; THAT’S NOT SKIN THAT’S HER BLOUSE.

Oh, yeah, that makes sooo much more sense.

So we’ve got this shirtwaist with a matching piece of the striped fabric at her throat. Unfortunately it’s really hard to see the details in the painting so I’m still not sure how I’ll be putting it together yet.

Finally the sleeves. Those sleeves. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THOSE SLEEVES?

My issue here is that they look like something you would have seen two decades prior when the Victorians went all patriotic and revived the colonial style briefly to celebrate our nation’s centennial. The 1890’s best known sleeves were the infamous leg o’ mutton sleeves (usually to the wrist). The sleeves in the painting do have a bit of the cap I would expect and are a little bit full.

After a ton more research I finally found one example of a dress with similar sleeves. (Though this dress might be later than the one in the painting?)

1990.28a-b 0002 

This makes me feel a little better. I want to make the exact dress from the painting but I also want to make sure it’s accurate. This is good enough for me.

I found the black and gray striped fabric on etsy; Taffeta Stripes Gray & Black 58 Inch Wide Fabric by the Yard, 1 yard Now I just have to get past my guilt of spending money on fabric for a dress I don’t need …

The bodice part and the fluff on the sleeves looks like it’s made of some sort of blonde sheer/lace. It looks cool in the picture but I’m worried how the cream will look with the gray in real life. Guess I’ll just have to wait and find out.

No matter what, I am determined to make this dress. I have never followed through and actually made a historical gown. Something always happens whether an event is cancelled or I get distracted (which happens more than I’d like to admit!) Well, not this time, I may have to ban myself from the realm of Pinterest though.