Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blooms Day Costume Ideas & Tea Dying Lace

Happy Blooms Day! It's June 16th. Visitors to Dublin who are not in the know may think we've gone a little mad or perhaps they're stepping in and out of a strange time warp. All over the city this week they bump into flamboyant, Edwardian characters discoursing in pubs, cycling around on rickety old bicycles, bursting into prose or song, and getting up to all sorts of shenanigans. Blooms Day is celebrated every year around this date to commemorate James Joyce and his most famous work, Ulysses, set on 16th June, 1904. And the fun is not confined to Dublin; the Blooms Day bug has spread far and wide with festivals taking place around the world this year.
You don't have to be a fan of Joyce or have read Ulysses to join in the fun. In fact, if it introduces you to this great Irish writer for the first time,  all the better.
Edwardian dress, National Museum, Collins Barracks. Own photo.
Edwardian Day Wear courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Anyone can become Edwardian for a day, don a costume, hired or of their own making (much more fun) and be more than just a spectator. 

Ladies have fun raiding your grannies' wardrobes and the charity shops for high-necked, lacy blouses, full skirts and fashion yourself a bustle if you can. If you are going for a more working girl style, no bustle needed. Think Mary Poppins or My Fair Lady.  Ankle or pixie boots will work really well. You'll even get away with last winter's shoe boots with the little kitten heels. Roll your hair up in a loose updo, with plenty of volume at the front.
File:Irish immigrants 1909.jpg
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Gentlemen, go seek out waistcoats, braces, rounded wire rim glasses, a straw boater or fedora hat or failing that, a flat cap will do, fob watches, Dickie bows or cravats. You will find most of what you need in the city's charity shops if you take a little time to look. If you really want to go for it, how about an eccentric, curly moustache from a joke shop or costume hire outlet? You can of course, draw yourself a big handlebar using eyeliner...though I would not recommend pinching your girlfriend's makeup without permission. For a finishing touch, carry a curly pipe or simply a newspaper under your arm.
Here I am back in 1904... oh ok, it was a few years back but not that long ago when I made this costume for Bloomsday. The blouse was a high necked, 1980s blouse from a charity shop, where I also picked up the hat with the feather on the band. The skirt is a simple long black A-line that I found in my mother's attic. But I fashioned the shawl out of an old lace kitchen curtain, dyed with tea.  I sewed on a gilt chain clasp to close it.

This method is not recommended for valuable, vintage lace or lace that you want to last for decades. The acidic tannin in tea may shorten the life of the lace.

* If the lace is new do wash it first for its initial shrinkage.
*Don latex or rubber gloves to avoid staining hands
*Boil about 10 tea bags (black tea) in a stainless steel pot on the stove. Avoid aluminium pots.
(Alternatively you can make several pots of strong tea and pour into a plastic basin, which you will need to clean with bleach later to remove staining.)
*Stir the tea with a wooden spoon and gently squeeze the bags to release more dye. 
*If any bags burst you will need to strain the liquid.
*Remove the bags and let the tea cool
*Immerse wet lace into the cooled tea, stir gently and flatten at intervals to get the dye to take evenly
*When happy with the intensity of the shade, rinse the fabric and plunge into a basin of cold water with a dash of vinnegar. This will make it more colourfast.
*Dry flat
Cute Bookmark Hook. Beaded with Candy Red Stone. Silver Plated Squiggle Hook.
Lookind for ideas for 1940s costumes? Click here
Lookind for ideas for 1960s costumes? Click here


  1. you gotta love the many uses of tea ;)

  2. I love your posts, especially the great intructions for dying lace :)