A Stitch in Time: Sophomore Victoria Simich sews elaborate historical dresses

Bianca Templeton

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How long does it normally take you to make a dress?

It varies. It depends on how busy I am. Two weekends ago, I made a dress in like a weekend because I knew what I was doing. But sometimes, it can take up to a month if I’m hand-sewing. I’ve done a regency era gown that I hand-sewed the entire thing, did all the research for it and that took around a month because I was so busy with school.

Why do you make these dresses?

A lot of what I do is just for myself. Because Conner Prairie is a Smithsonian (museum)-affiliated thing, everything that is before the Civil War era has to be hand-sewn and it has to be approved with everybody before it can go out on the grounds and that’s a little too stressful for me. So a lot of what I do is machine-sewn (dresses), but sometimes I will hand sew my own gowns. Sometimes, I host historic-themed tea parties and sometimes (I go to) conventions and (participating in) costume contests and things like that.

How do these motifs in 19th century clothing compare to today’s fashion?

I feel like modern-day, we don’t really try a lot in our appearance because people come to school in sweatpants and sweatshirts all the time, which is fine, like, whatever,  you do you. But that’s a lot different than what people would be doing back in the day. You would’ve wanted to put your best foot forward, make the best impression. You would (have) wanted to always look very proper, especially if you were higher-class. This is something you wanted to do, so definitely more people were motivated in general to dress up very pristine and nice. This was just for higher class people, mostly.

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