Katrina Van Tassel: Cosplay or Historical Costume?

It was quite a long time ago now, I think around last halloween, that I decided to make a Katrina Van Tassel cosplay. I was watching Sleepy Hollow (1999), as one is wont to do at that spooky time of year, when the idea occurred to me. Why not save myself some time and money, with a project that could serve as both cosplay and historical costume? Designed by the brilliant Colleen Atwood, and set in 1790, the costumes aren’t entirely period correct, but they’re pretty close. My dress in particular is almost spot on. I have not chosen, like most Katrina cosplayers, to make her stripy black and white robe a l’Anglaise retroussée. While unarguably fabulous, I felt it was a little beyond me. I went therefore for the costume she wears just before that one, during the climactic scenes at the end of the film.


Katrina and Ichabod

On the surface it consists of three main parts, a blue silk petticoat; a silver-blue-grey, velvet, striped, “zone front” pierrot jacket; and a sheer, embroidered apron. As with all historical costumes there is also much going on underneath, but I’ll come back to that. I have good reason to believe Atwood based the pierrot on this extant one at the Kyoto Costume Institute, seeing as they’re practically identical, down to the brush fringe trim.


KCI, c. 1790, France

As I want this costume to be as close to historically correct as I can get it, I’m going to be relying heavily on The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking. And the first step to achieving the period accurate silhouette is the correct underpinnings. The layers of my costume are as follows: shift, stockings (with garters), shoes, under-petticoat, stays, hanging pocket, false rump (bum pad), 2nd petticoat, 3rd (and final, silk) petticoat, pierrot, fichu, and embroidered apron. I knew when I started that is was going to be a slow burn project, but I’m not even half way through this list yet!


It’s really hard to get good screen grabs of this costume…

The petticoats I can make easily enough following the instructions from The AD Guide, but the pierrot is a little trickier. Thank god for The Costumer’s Guide to Movie Costumes, and their very comprehensive page on this costume. Thanks to their hard work, I know where all the seam lines are supposed to go. I’m going to start with the Italian Gown pattern from The AD Guide, and alter it for my own purposes. Fingers crossed. For the stays, I am going to use one of the pairs in Patterns of Fashion 5. As they’re hidden, I’m going to have a bit of fun, and hopefully produce my own version of an Atwood/Burton-esque design. The false rump is vital in achieving the right shape for the skirts, and if you follow me on Instagram you know the trouble I’ve had getting it right. But that’s all part of the learning process. Tune in to my next post to hear all about it.

Have you made your own cosplay x historical costume? Or have you got plans to in the future? Let me know in the comments!

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