Thursday, November 27, 2014

Time Out Thursday - The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Today Pick Heart Society editor and Harlequin Superromance author Jeannie Watt talks about her love of costuming and attending the Great Dicken's Christmas Fair.

Imagine spending the day in another era, in a “Victorian Christmas card come to life”. That is Dicken’s Fair, one of my favorite events of the year!

My family at a pub in Victorian London
Costumes are not required for Dicken’s Fair, but I love to sew, so there was never any question as to whether or not my family would blend in with the Victorian crowd. 

The first time my family attended the fair, I began planning our costumes a year in advance, ordering wool and shirting, taffeta and crinoline. I haunted eBay for acceptable patterns and knew exactly what I wanted to make. I didn't, however, start sewing, until early September,  because I always underestimate the amount of time needed to accomplish practically everything in my life.
Needless to say, it was a race to get everything done in time for the Fair. I managed to make two dresses and two full men’s outfits—two frock coats, two shirts, two pairs of trousers, one vest. 
When I hit a serious time crunch, I made my husband bring a vest from his closet.
Even without making the second vest, I was sewing buttons onto trousers on the drive to San Francisco and hemming dresses on Thanksgiving Day.
My daughter and I didn’t have hoops that first year, but after a day of dragging our skirts through sawdust and the like, we invested...
...which introduced a new set of challenges. 
The car. Bathroom stalls. Narrow hallways.

Last year I made a dress for my son’s lovely girlfriend and he attended wearing the deer stalker and ulster I made the previous year, thus creating a strong resemblance to a certain detective.

Dicken’sFair is a magical place and if you ever get the chance to attend, either in street clothes or period costume, I high recommend it. Here’s a video showing the transformation of the Cow Palace as well as some of the actors who partake in the event. Many of them are generational.

Have you ever attended a costumed event or reenactment? Do you have any recommendations for these events?

Jeannie Watt writes fast-paced character-driven romance novels, often set in the American west. Home on the Ranch: Nevada is a two-book compilation of two of her earlier releases--The Horseman's Secret and The Brother Returns. To find out more about Jeannie and her books, please visit her website.  To find out more about her love of retro sewing, please visit her sewing blog.

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