Obviously the starting point for my research on the costumes was the painting itself, although in the case of the temperance campaigner, a lot of her costume was obscured by other characters. So I also looked at several costume and fashion history books for a general overview of what people wore in the 1850s, and for the finer details of each individual costume. Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail 1730-1930, Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1,1660-1860, and the Taschen book Fashion: a history from the 18th-20th century, were all useful.
The fabric for the temperance campaigner’s dress came from a company in London which specialises in reproductions of original fabric prints and patterns from the 19th century, so it’s about as authentic as you can get these days. Her parasol is an original folding type dating from 1838-65, bought from an online antiques shop whilst her bonnet started life as a 1980’s large decorative straw picture hat, before being cut down and re-shaped into a Victorian bonnet and then decorated accordingly.
Other items and fabrics were sourced from various places – Abakhan Fabrics, Leon’s Fabrics, Army surplus shops, Primark(!), and The Costume Store, a company which specialises in reproduction accessories and hard to find items.
A little bit about me
I come from a background in theatrical costume, working for 14 years in the wardrobe department in the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester where I have made costumes for almost every period. I now work as a freelance costume maker, (also doing a lot of bridal wear) and have worked for several theatres across the north west. My website can be found here www.vanessacoupe.co.uk