I'm not a big fan of Charles Dickens, but I think some of his characters, Miss Haversham, are one, incredibly well-made and interesting in her case, more like the lively, three-dimensional woman portrayed in Gothic period novels.
I have a close interest in Miss Haversham for, as legend says, she is said to have been based on a real jilted bride, who lived a few miles from where I was born and grew up in Shropshire, a beautiful county in the middle of rural England .
In the 1830s, a certain Elizabeth Parker was rumored to be on the way to marry a baronet when he left her standing at the altar and married her older sister instead. Many stories surround Miss Parker's life, including that she, like Miss Haversham, maintained a curtained, untouched room in her house, complete with padded bells, a dining table with a wedding party and an undefeated wedding cake.
Despite her sorrowful trials in early life, Elizabeth lived in comfort until the ripe age of 82, surviving her entire family, including her brother-in-law and sister, as the saying goes "revenge is a dish best served cold." [1
I'm also at an age to play Miss Haversham and what I would like to achieve is not only making the costume but also recreating the scene from the book where Pip meets Miss Haversham for the first time.
… and where to find them
I never throw away fabrics, when I do something I always keep all the leftovers to use for other craft projects or doll dresses. I even have a blog based on using up all the things I've dropped over the years.
All my life I have always loved and collected old fabrics and clothes and the way I can afford to buy them at auction house sales and markets is by choosing the ones that were damaged, so they are just perfect for this outfit. But even if you are not a fabric expert like me, I'm sure you can find enough supplies to make this dress from leftovers – ask friends and neighbors. Wedding dresses and fabric come on sale fairly regularly and cheaply and some of the things I have are from Bridal store sales, especially lining materials, which are very cheap. I've also collected amazing pieces like sari silk and embroidery, including those sold in the "rag markets" when I lived in the UK, so if you have such wonderful stores near you you can dive in and look at their treasures.
Also this time of year, check out thrift stores for festive bands and trims, I picked just 16 feet with very beautiful cream and ivory floral bands for 60 centimes!
So you will need:
A cream / white or even better off-white dress or
A big old sheet, cloth or curtain – or a combination of all three. This gives you a finished, vintage look on the fabric.
A wedding or evening dress pattern or suitable dress that you can copy.
So many laps of cream / nude / beige / dusty pink etc. fabric: tulle, lace, vintage trim and ribbon you want to buy or beg
An old lace / net curtain
Dried flowers – the older and dustier the better
Remnants of white or cream fabric, lace, pearls , sequins and cropping
Odd pieces of broken jewelry
White or cream evening gloves
Light or LED tea lights