Catholic Ladies Picnic Tea


Last week I attended a “Catholic Ladies Picnic Tea” in Gettysburg. It was a small event that two other ladies (Amanda and Laura) and I set up when we realized that were were all about an hour from Gettysburg, though in different directions. Of course we wanted to dress in period garb for the day. Amanda is a reenactor and has a lot of knowledge and experience dressing in civil war era attire and Laura has done living history events and also has some knowledge. I, on the other hand have never worn a dress from this period in my life and my knowledge was limited to what I could find on the internet. Given this is a very busy time of year for me I didn’t think I would have time to make a dress so I did a search online and found something very inexpensive. A two piece “Victorian” costume.

DSC_0746I loved the fabric and it fit well (with a corset mind you!) but for the period it wasn’t quite right.
The most obvious was that the shoulders were wrong. I took the sleeves off, cut off the sleeve cap, added a piece of fabric (stolen from the skirt)  to drop the shoulders and sewed the sleeves back on at the bottom of the insert.991244_537354223058831_1820575604_oI also removed the lace and lined the inside of the sleeves.

991248_537354079725512_1117594830_oI changed the buttons on both the bodice and under sleeves (covered buttons for the bodice and metal buttons for the under sleeves).

10586780_537354123058841_733337450_o2014-07-27 18.48.30

Lastly I took the collar and lace off and added an antique lace collar that I already owned.10555374_533863233407930_382686412_o10586825_537354153058838_1047067497_o

The end result was quite nice I think.


The whole ensemble, with the bonnet I showed you a few days ago and crocheted gloves:

DSC_0777Under my skirt is a full petticoat that I made and a 6 hoop skirt that I purchased. I am wearing black lace up boots as well.

I parted my hair down the middle and gathered it into a bun at the back and covered it with a lace head covering. A brooch and fake emerald drop earrings completed the look.

I know everything isn’t technically “period correct” but it worked well enough and was a lot of fun to wear.

Although, driving is a corset was a little challenging.

10480136_535894926538094_17I was a little flustered by the time I got there. Traffic and realizing that it was farther than I thought meant I got there an hour late! Unfortunately Laura wasn’t able to make it at the last minute as she had a situation happen that needed immediate attention, so it was just Amanda and I.

I had packed a full picnic complete with tea cups and china. I had planned to take lots of pictures but in the end I didn’t. I am not very good at enjoying an event and remembering to take photos it seems.


The weather was perfect and under the shade of a large tree we were quite comfortable even though it was late July.

We decided that rather than wait until next year, October would be a nice time to try again. The weather should be nice and the fall colors will be beautiful.

If you live close enough to drive to Gettysburg for a one day event and would like to be invited, let me know. It’s a private event so we won’t be publicizing the date but are certainly open to more ladies attending.


Yes, you would have to dress up. 🙂


  • Reply
    Helen Swavely
    July 28, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Michele, you are so lovely. Our dear five year old daughter said you look like a princess. Our oldest daughter is a Civil War reenactor and she loved your dress as well. She is feeling inspired by your sewing to make a new costume. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures.

  • Reply
    Holly G.
    July 28, 2014 at 4:47 am

    And all this time I thought you were playing a character for your son’s tv show. What a lovely dress and companionship to greet you on a fine picnic.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    You didn’t tell us where you got your corset—or did you make it? Driving in one is definitely one of the worst experiences; I don’t think there is any way to move the seat to make it comfortable!

    • Reply
      July 28, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      I bought my corset a few years ago from a place online called “what Katie Did”. I didn’t find driving in it to be too bad, challenging yes but eventually I was able to get my seat back in the right spot. What drove me crazy were my hairpins. I pulled those out on the drive home!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Gregory Miller
    July 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    It’s amazing how different you look with the period hairstyle! Lovely, but it really does change things.

    The whole ensemble is amazing and you look great. I

  • Reply
    August 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I live in Gettysburg and would LOVE to join you if my schedule allows! Please let me know if you choose to do it again in October – that’s my favorite month, too, and so beautiful in our historic town.

  • Reply
    Barbara Ann Levis
    August 15, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Michelle, I would also love to join you. I would have to sew a costume but it could be fun.

    Barbara Ann

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