1915 Circus Girl Costume

This is the first costume I completed for the play The Elephants Graveyard, which I am costuming. It takes place in 1916 and is about a group of circus performers.Β 
This first costume is for the circus girl who rides the elephant.
1915 Circus Girl

My Inspirations were these old photos below of circus girls from the era. Those short dresses must have been considered quite risque in the 1910’s when women’s skirts reached the ankles still.:

I made my outfit from some fabric I found at the FIDM Scholarship in downtown LA for a dollar a yard. Upon examining it more closely I realized it was silk charmeuse! I almost put it aside for something else that isn’t a costume, but decided to use it after all because I feel it gives the costume a more authentic feel. Synthetic fabrics didn’t yet exist in 1916.
Besides, I am hoping to impress the director so I can get more of these period pieces which I love doing!
This dress was draped on my dress form and then fitted to the actress who has the same measurements as Isabelle, my lovely model and daughter.
I wanted the feel of a bustle with the tulle peeking through Β so I pulled up the skirt and stitched it.

I wanted a gold hook and eye closure to match the gold trim on the dress but couldn’t find any so I painted some white hook and eye tape with gold craft paint.

I was lucky to find the tulle in the same color as the silk at the scholarship store as well. This dress was very inexpensive to make.
The headpiece is made from pretty feathers but I didn’t get them in the shot and didn’t notice until now. I hate when that happens!

The gloves were bought in a bridal/ quinceanera shop. These types of gloves are worn by girls when they have their Quinceaneras, a traditional coming of age celebration some hispanic girls have when they turn 15. Β 

The actress will be wearing tights and ballet pointe shoes. I wish I had had some for these photos!

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  1. cathym says

    You have such a talent! I used to sew a lot so I really appreciate the time and attention to detail something like this would take. Kudos!!!

  2. says

    These are such dreamy photos! You did a great job on the dress and your daughter is an excellent model. I especially love the gold fringe!

  3. says

    First off, your daughter is a stunner! Secondly, Wow! The costume is fanta-bulous! The details, the authenticity…if this doesn’t impress the director, I don’t know what will.:)

  4. says

    This turned out so fantastic πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Oh, and I love how you gave the photos a vintage look, too πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Beautiful πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather πŸ™‚

  5. Jaime E. says

    Beautiful job on the costumes, Justine! Isabelle looks so beautiful! And your mom was wonderful as the clown! What a wonderful talent and ability you have. I look forward to seeing the rest!