3rd Place

Lady Hilda Makes an Impression



Aimée Collins


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

"She swept across the room and seated herself with her back to the window. It was a queenly presence—tall, graceful, and intensely womanly."

Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope is a key character in Sherlock Holmes' "The Adventure of the Second Stain". Lady Hilda, being extorted over an unbecoming letter written in her youth, has paid off the blackmailer with diplomatic correspondence stolen from her husband, Trelawney Hope, Secretary for European Affairs of the United Kingdom. The stolen letter contains incendiary information which could lead to war.

When she discovers the severity of her actions and her blackmailer is fortuitously murdered, Lady Hilda executes a ballsy plan to retrieve the letter. Disguising herself as a lady of lower rank, she charms her way past the police officer guarding the scene and reclaims the letter from a secret compartment (which she had seen used previously) hidden beneath the bloodstained rug. Inadvertently she creates a second bloodstain impression, which gives both Sherlock Holmes a vital clue, and the story its name.

I was drawn to Lady Hilda as she is charming and naïve, but also brave and willing to go to great lengths to protect her family. She is more than a little ridiculous, but also endearingly ballsy. My kind of woman! My inspiration for this gown came from fashion plates and photos of upper class ladies of the time. The scalloped detailing on the bodice was inspired by an extant garment.

Outline the construction…

The construction of the cotton velvet bodice is based on the 1887-89 day dress from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion 2". I scaled the pattern up and then draped the bodice on the stand over my padded out 1880s corset. I found I had to move the dart positions in order to work with my body shape and, during the fitting process, that I needed to add an additional horizontal dart under the bust to remove wrinkling at the bust point. The bodice is flat-lined with sprung boning and hand sewn buttonholes. The scalloped silk taffeta details have a piped edge made from bias cut strips. It took me a long time to source the buttons to suit the garment, but I eventually found these which are cast from original 1880s buttons. The cuffs and centre front panels have pleated glazed cotton sections, and the cuffs have a strip of bias velvet through the centre.

The silk taffeta and glazed cotton skirt was draped over a lobster bustle and layered petticoat. The asymmetric top skirt is draped and edged with pleated, gathered and scalloped self fabrics. The tassels are made from stripped-out glazed cotton to match exactly. The French bonnet was drafted using cereal boxes, and made from silk taffeta and cotton velvet over a base of wired buckram. Fully lined with pleated glazed cotton and finished with rust feathers. Mitts were drafted from scratch and made using ecru cotton lace, sewn together to make panels.




  1. Avatar Yanicka on March 11, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    Those 2 colors together are mesmerizing! Incredibly ballsy while being perfectly balanced . Bravo my dear.

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 11, 2021 at 7:42 pm

      Thank you so much!

      • Avatar Rebecca on March 24, 2021 at 2:58 am

        what a polished and lovingly detailed ensemble! the color choice is sophisticated and cinematic, and i love the lace mitts! good luck from icarus, a bit to your left! 🙂

  2. Avatar Anna-Kaisa on March 11, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Wow! All the lovely details! I love the color combination! ❤

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 12, 2021 at 7:37 am

      Thank you! The teal and rust combination is my absolute favorite.

  3. Avatar Kristen K on March 11, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    You look like you’ve stepped right out of the Met.

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 12, 2021 at 7:38 am

      Thank you, that is an accolade indeed!

  4. Avatar Teri Biglands on March 12, 2021 at 2:48 am

    Head to toe perfection. Your workmanship and your color combination are exquisite.

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 12, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Thank you so much! 😊

  5. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 12, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    What a fun character, and how lush this is! You’ve layered incredible textures, shapes and details to fantastic effect!

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      Thank you so much! I love her as a character so it was great fun bringing her to life.

  6. Avatar Lynne on March 12, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    I sighed when I saw this… just lovely! And all the details… just beautiful. Your love of your work shows beautifully.

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you, that is such a lovely thing to hear. 😍

  7. Avatar Alexandra Cherrett on March 12, 2021 at 11:31 pm

    I am absolutely obsessed with this gown! Looks like it just stepped out of a fashion plate in to reality! #sewinggoals

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you so, so much!

  8. Avatar Amanda on March 13, 2021 at 12:58 am

    This is so very lovely! I’m in love with your bold color combinations!

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:16 pm

      Thank you! It was a bit serendipitous, but I love it too!

  9. Avatar Jackie Jacobs on March 13, 2021 at 3:07 am

    Truly a masterpiece in needlework. The piping and binding is exquisite. and the color contrast is very eye-catching. Wonderful job. You should be proud of this work.

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:17 pm

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. 😃

  10. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 13, 2021 at 10:00 am

    So gorgeous! I adore the design and the colours.

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:17 pm

      Thank you so much!

  11. Avatar Hilary Donaldson on March 13, 2021 at 5:34 pm

    The colours are knockout! The attention to detail is beautiful.Anyone who puts cereal packets to good use is to be admired 👍

  12. Avatar Sarah Bent on March 14, 2021 at 4:52 pm


  13. Kayren McKnight Kayren McKnight on March 14, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    Such beautiful details.

  14. Avatar Elowen on March 15, 2021 at 9:35 am

    As someone who also did a bustle gown for the competition, (my first, and yes it was a struggle) I must say that this is outrageously good! Inspirational!!!

  15. Avatar Laurie on March 20, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    Quite lovely. Beautiful contrasting, yet complementary, colour palette. Lovely materials and construction. Excellent fit and detailing. Real bespoke outfit. Very, very, well done!

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you so much! 😍

  16. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 21, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    This is so neatly made! All of the textures, colors and trims go so well together, great work!

    • Avatar Aimee Collins on March 28, 2021 at 5:19 pm

      Thank you! 😃

  17. Avatar Kat Cuseo on March 30, 2021 at 3:50 am

    Beautiful! I love the colors!

  18. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    I love how beautifully everything comes together – contrasting colors, beautiful silhouette, and gorgeous detail work

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