Victorian Family Photo for Holiday Cards

I’ve been so swamped under holiday sewing last few weeks! I’m finally done so I got some time to post, and I wanted to show our holiday card.

vintage victorian family photo
vintage victorian family photo

I’m not very good at the holiday greeting card thing. In fact, I have never sent them out before. It always seemed like way too much work and other then sending photos of my cats (and have you ever tried doing a photoshoot with cats?), I couldn’t really think of anything appropriate to put on the card.  The advent of the brood has me re-thinking my stance though, and when I found out Tiny Prints would mail the cards for me, it seemed like I was out excuses for not sending cards this year.

I love seeing themed family photoshoots (no surprise right?), so I wanted us to do one too. I’ve got a whole list of themes I want to do. This year’s theme was a vintage Victorian family photo.

Rounding up the costumes for this shoot was pretty easy: I have a few Victorian dresses, and I also own a tailcoat tuxedo that Marcus can fit into. I bought the Grub’s costume off of eBay. I surfed through all the eBay listings for christening/baptism dresses until I found an inexpensive one that looked similar to the long dresses Victorian babies wore.

I made the Larva’s dress using a piece of fabric a friend brought me from India over 10 years ago. I’ve kept it all this time because it’s so pretty, but I could never figure out what to use it for. It’s not a very Victorian looking fabric, but I really liked the way it looked in the Larva’s dress so I’m glad I finally found a use for it.

I used Simplicity 1507 as a starting point. I added pleats to the top to mimic mid-victorian girls dresses, and long sleeves. I put in a very full petticoat underneath the skirt instead of a hoopskirt as I wanted the Larva to be comfortable in the dress. I probably should have added more tulle as it wasn’t as poofy as it needed to be. Oh well, I was tired of ruffling tulle anyways…

Simplicity 1507
vintage victorian family photo

The dress didn’t take me that long but it took days to do all the trim. Of course my days are only 2-3 hours of sewing each because that’s all I have time for. I cut bias binding out of a bridal satin and bias bound all the edges. Then I made very very long ribbon tubes and box pleated them to make the trim that runs along the bottom edge of the skirt and the sleeves. I like using variations of pleated trim on my Victorian dresses. The dress is really not historically accurate but I figured most people weren’t going to be able to tell, and when one procrastinates, one really can’t afford to get hung up on historical accuracy.

I tried to get photos of Larva in her dress, but she was not cooperating the day of the photoshoot. She wanted to spend the whole time chasing a laser pointer. This photo is one of the few good ones and it’s of her staring at the laser dot on the wall… like a cat.

design boards

My good friend, Jeff Kuo who does a lot of photoshoots for me, set up a studio in his garage for our family shoot. He put a couple of chairs on a backdrop and we tried a couple of poses similar to ones we researched in historical Victorian photos.

vintage victorian family photo
vintage victorian family photo


I really love how Jeff post-processed these to make them feel vintage. I was so excited to share them and couldn’t wait for people to receive our cards in the mail. So the trick to motivating me to send out holiday cards is to do a fun photoshoot!

Happy Holidays to everyone!