My “Bella Wilfer” dress

I haven’t exactly been secretive about my wish to make another Victorian dress I believe. I’ve just now finished it! The dress that is…

I have no occasion planned (yet) for wearing this, the reason I made it was just purely because I wanted to. Seeing as a dress like this requires quite a lot of fabric, and as I did not at that moment have so much money to spend on it, I needed to find some fabric at a reasonable price. My mom and I went to this store where I have found good cheap fabric before, but when we came there we discovered that they had long stopped selling it! I was terribly disappointed and was just about to rush angrily out the door again when we saw these bed sheets that were on sale… 100% cotton, many different colors, at very good prices. My disappointment was instantly turned to delight and I must say that I have never before felt so excited over bed sheets!

The color of the material I chose was a very pretty blue. And that blue reminded me very much of a dress that Bella Wilfer wears in the BBC series Our Mutual Friend. It is a dress that I really like, and seeing as the color was so similar I decided to make something in that style.
Here is Bella’s dress:

Bella's blue dress

Bella's blue dress

And here is my version of it:

My blue Victorian dress

My blue Victorian dress

Here is a closer picture where you can see the ruffle thing around the neckline better. As well as my darling Prinsen! ๐Ÿ™‚

My blue Victorian dress


It’s not exactly the same of course, but I did use that dress as my inspiration. As for patterns I had a couple of different patterns that I used, for the base of the dress if you will, and then added my own touches and alterations to it. The patterns I used were one from Truly Victorian and the other was some old costume pattern that I had lying around.

My blue Victorian dress

My blue Victorian dress

My blue Victorian dress

I didn’t have any real problems with this dress. It took some time to make, but I was ok with that because I had said to myself that I would let it take whatever time it needed, so I could make it as neatly as I could. Believe me, I sometimes get really impatient when I sew! So I let it take time. I even went so far as to attach a long ribbon on the inside of the skirt just to cover the unattractive ruffle seam. I had to do that by hand and since the skirt is something like 4.5 meters around and I had to do that length twice, it took time… ๐Ÿ˜› But it was fine since I could do that at the same time as I was watching the World Cup. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I am glad I took that extra time, because like I said, I’m very pleased with it!
Getting the hooks and eyes to work properly was a little bit challenging. I seem to always have trouble with those. But I think I got it to work ok in the end.

My blue Victorian dress

Closer view of sleeve details. The lace I used is some “Nottingham Lace” that I bought when we were in Nottingham a couple of years back. It was two pieces that were made to go round the neck, but I always sort of wanted to use them for sleeves. So that’s what I did. It wasn’t quite long enough, but I think it works ok. Buttons are covered in same fabric as the rest of the dress.

My blue Victorian dress

View of the back.

My blue Victorian dress

As for the historical accuracy of this dress I don’t know if it is all true to the time. For example I haven’t really been able to find any sleeves like these in a dress like this one in any pictures or fashion plates that I have seen (my research has not been the thoroughest however and I do not claim to be an expert), but I went for the look of the dress in the film rather this time. And I must say that the “poofy”ย  sleeves that you find on most of the dresses from this time don’t really appeal to me so much…

My blue Victorian dress

Here is yet another close-up where you can see the lace better.

My blue Victorian dress

Once again my dear sister Viktoria helped me with the photos. Thanks Toy!

My blue Victorian dress

My blue Victorian dress

Boring book? ;P

My blue Victorian dress

Thanks for looking!

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34 Responses to My “Bella Wilfer” dress

  1. Raquel says:

    How gorgeus you Bella Wilfer’s dress!

    You look like Margaret Hale (North and South) in “Boring book” and Elinor Dashwood (S&S 2008) watching the sea!

    Prinsen is gorgeous too!

  2. Tilia says:

    Gorgeous! I actually like your version of the dress better. The lace is a graceful touch. The photo are beautifully set and taken as well.

  3. Tilia says:

    That should have been photoS of course. ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. Laura S. says:

    How very pretty! The full skirt makes a wonderful silhouette with the straight sleeves.

  5. Joanna says:

    It beautiful! Great job. I really like Bella’s dresses, especially her yellow one. If you don’t mind, could you email me about the hoops/petticoats you’ve maid and wear with dresses of this era? I’m interested in making the dresses, but I need a proper foundation first. Thanks SO much!

  6. Your dress is awesome, and the pictures are quite lovely! I enjoy seeing the things you make, although you make me quite jealous of your talent and skill! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Atlanta says:

    Wow! Great reproduction! I love your version… the pictures are absolutely stunning!

    I would love to have you enter this in the Historical Costume Inspiration Festival this fall!

    You are right – the costumes in the movie aren’t uber historical – but definatley still beautiful!

  8. Malene says:

    It is so stunning! I love the fact that it’s made of bed sheets – very Scarlet O’Hara ๐Ÿ™‚ Only she used curtains..

  9. jennifer says:


    I love your new dress and all these great pictures. I really like what you did with your hair too. I hope you will find some really special event at which to show off this fabulous creation. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  10. Aurora says:

    Thank you all so much for your very sweet comments! I’m very happy to hear that you like my dress!

    Joanna – I have just sent you an email. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Atlanta – I am not familiar with this festival, what is it? It sure sounds interesting!

    Thanks again everyone!

  11. Tania Diogo says:

    Wow, what a lovely dress!! I just love the costumes in Our Mutual Friend! Your pictures are beautiful too, I love the different settings, especially reading in the woods :o).

  12. Gisela says:

    I love your dress and pictures. I am pleased to know you are a Jane Austen fan, as myself. Regards to living the life!

  13. Antoinette says:

    VERY nice indeed! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Karen says:

    Oh, my God, Aurora, how beautiful is your dress! :O You have an amazing talent for sewing.
    Ohh, I also must say Swedish countryside is wonderful! It have delighted me! *.*


  15. Aurora says:

    Thank you all so very, very much! You are too kind! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Atlanta – thanks for the link, this sounds like a really fun thing to do, I think I’d like to take part! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. kronmakaren says:

    So lovely Aurora! I really love the dress and the photoshoot. Is it sweden I see? ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Allison says:

    Your dress is so beautiful! I love the pictures!
    Aren’t bed sheets wonderful? ; ) I made an blouse recently (which will be entered in the festival soon!) and found that the fabric I chose wouldn’t work. Instead I used my bedroom curtains. : )


  18. Aurora says:

    Thank you so much!

    Yes Britten, it is indeed Sweden you see! Sweden outside of Vingรฅker. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Allison – That is great! I’ve been known to make things out of bed sheets, curtains, tablecloths and other “strange” things. I think people often underestimates how good they can work to make things out of. I’m glad to find someone who thinks like me here! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Maggie says:

    What a lovely job you did with your dress…I really like the color blue that you used here!

  20. I love the photography! The whole setting is so idyllic! And that antique carriage *swoon*. Lucky, lucky you! You look so amazing!

    The lace not going all the way around the wrist may actually be historically accurate – if you look at paintings of nicely dresses women who would have had to do work in their outfits (Suson in Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergรจre’ for example) you’ll see that the lace doesn’t go all the way around their wrists.

    I’ve never found any research about this phenomena, but I can only assume it was purposeful, so that the valuable lace wasn’t soiled as their sleeves rubbed against objects.

  21. Aurora says:

    Thank you!!

    The Dreamstress – that is a very interesting observation! Thanks for sharing with me! I can well imagine that it would be that way when you say it. It woud make sense in a way, since lace was not something cheap and easy to make, you’d make sure it wasn’t spoilt.

  22. OOOHHHH MY!!!! That is so gorgeous!!!! I love that dress of Bella’s, and want to make one like it too! You did a gorgeous job. I love the picture of you standing on the dock, looking out at the water!

  23. Elinor says:

    Aurora, could post a link for Truly Victorian?

  24. Marguerite says:

    Ooh! I love these pictures!
    I just found your blog… again. (I lose track sometimes… Oh dear!)
    Anyway… I love it! You are a talented seamstress! And the posts are all very interesting! Thanks for sharing! I’m inspired!

  25. Aurora says:

    Thank you so much Marguerite! ๐Ÿ™‚

    And Elinor, I’m glad you found the I sent you useful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Melissa M. says:

    I absolutely love that! Great job!

  27. Emma says:

    Waw Aurora,

    This has truly enspired me! I am at a steiner school in Australia and I am going to be making dresses from the Victorian era, and I have been thinking that it might be a little to ambitious and too difficult to make, but now that I see that you have made something very similar! and I think the blue dress is beautiful, the photos have made a huge impact on me!

    Would you mind if I used some of your photos for my research journal??? email me for more questions about it!

    Well done! and I seriously love it! (the blue is also my favourite colour!

    Love Emma

  28. Aurora says:

    Hello Emma!

    Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that! It’s such a nice thing to hear that I have inspired someone with the things I make, so thanks! I have sent you an email as you suggested ๐Ÿ™‚


  29. My goodness!!! Somehow I didn’t see this post until just now, but that is beyond beautiful! The poses and setting really make the photos look like a charming Victorian painting.


  30. Aurora says:

    Thank you Katrina!! I so enjoyed making this dress and am very happy with how it turned out. I’ve still never used it except for this photo shoot, but I can’t wait to actually do so!!

  31. Stewart Sanson says:

    It can be so frustrating when you open your linen closet to get a set of bedsheets out and you end up spending the next 10 minutes trying to decipher if the sheets you grabbed are for your full size, queen size or king size mattress. Instead of easily grabbing what you need, you end up making a bigger mess in the closet! Not fun…

    The latest write-up straight from our blog

  32. LadyD says:

    Its a beautiful dress. I’m thinking of making a Lizzie Hexham dress. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Love the tv adaptation of the book (one of the few times I think the adaptation is an improvement on the book.)

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