Costuming

1890s Umbreon: Concept Development

I’m going to be posting somewhat non-chronologically for a bit. I’d like to post the whole process of 1860s Zelda, but that process took place from early 2021 to mid-2022, as in, The Past. But I’d also like to keep up with my current projects. Therefore, I give you: 1890s Umbreon.


I’ve just started work on my next, and second, historical costume. Instead of staying with the same era as my first, like a sensible person, I’ve decided to jump ahead three decades so that I have to make entirely new underpinnings before starting the costume itself. And to be honest, none of the concepts I have in the pipeline are in the same era as each other. The benefit to this, in the long term, is that eventually I’ll be able to jump start future projects because I’ll already have underpinnings suitable for a wide range of decades.

(This is kind of like when I tell myself that buying perennializing fall bulbs for the garden means I won’t have to buy as many next year. I always buy as many next year.)

The good thing is, my trusty Truly Victorian 110 (TV110) corset, which I originally made for another cosplay (Stripper Jessie and James from Pokemon, maybe I’ll blog about that one one day) should do me pretty well through the mid- to late 19th century, so I’m not planning to make a new corset for this.

But before I get into detail about that, let’s talk about the concept!

The 1860s Zelda dress taught me that it’s really fun to mix together historical costuming and cosplay. I attend anime conventions regularly, while I haven’t yet attended a historical costuming event, so making costumes that are recognizable at anime conventions and other fandom gatherings means I get a lot more occasions to wear the outfit.

When I cosplay, I almost never stick exactly to the character. I can’t help myself—I have to put my own twist on it somehow. So adding in historical clothing is a really fun way to do that. However, it’s pretty important to me to be recognizable to other people when cosplaying, and that’s doubly so when I’m not exactly replicating the character design. As a result, I like to focus my cosplay designs on widely recognized, popular characters. If I chose an obscure character that people would have a hard time recognizing normally, and then put a historical spin on it, it would probably be a pretty cool outfit… but it doesn’t give me the massive psychological reward of people getting excited when they recognize my character.

Enter: Historical Pokémon.

Long story short, I searched through the fandoms I’m familiar with to find easily-recognizable, easily-reinterpreted characters to adapt for historical costume, and Pokémon jumped out as a really great option. They’re well known, especially the classic ones; they’re not terribly detailed compared to many, many anime/video game characters out there; and the designs lend themselves well to experimentation.

Enter: Eeveelutions.

For those not familiar, Eevee is an adorable little fox/cat sort of creature that can evolve into a much wider variety of new forms based on what it’s exposed to. In the long term, this could result in a really damn cool rainbow of linked costumes. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I opted to start with Umbreon, a Dark-type Pokémon that evolves at night, and paired it with the 1890s walking outfit I’d been craving for some time.

Drawing of a woman wearing a flared black skirt, close-fitting black vest with gold buttons, and black shirtwaist. Also wearing a straw hat with long black ears.

My goal here seems pretty simple compared to the very-involved layer cake that was the Zelda dress. Thank goodness the skirt hems shrank down again after the ‘60s. There will be a wool walking skirt, a wool vest, and a cotton shirtwaist. The gold trim will probably be the same base as whatever it’s stitched to, and it will probably be stitched on permanently, but I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to permanent stitches for those ovals… the skirt would be more versatile without. We’ll see.

Oh, and there’ll be a hat. And ears. I don’t know how I’m going to do those. I’ll figure that out later.

So. The plan.

What I need:

  1. Combinations. I don’t technically need new underwear—my chemise and drawers would work fine. But I want them. Planned pattern: BlueFineGoods Edwardian Combinations
  2. Petticoat. Probably two; one specific to the 1890s, and one suitable for the Natural Form era that I’ll wear underneath for extra volume. Planned pattern: Truly Victorian 170
  3. Shirtwaist. Planned pattern: haven’t decided yet, but maybe Angela Clayton’s McCalls 8231.
  4. Skirt. Planned pattern: Black Snail Patterns 0414 Fan skirt
  5. Vest. Planned pattern: Black Snail Patterns 0220 1890s Ladies’ Vests
  6. Hat/ears
  7. Wig

What I already have:

  1. Corset
  2. Shoes (American Duchess 1890s Paris boots)

And so it begins!