The Real Mother Goose



Stephanie Capps Dyke


Outline the story …

To me, the word "fairytale" always means Mother Goose and Grimm. And one of my earliest memories is my grandmother reading to me from the book "The Real Mother Goose." Although it is a book of nursery rhymes, that particular image of Mother Goose has always been with me and has come to represent a lifelong love of reading and storytelling. Thumbing through my own well-worn copy, I realized the mash-up of costume eras in the illustrations greatly (and very incorrectly!) influenced my early ideas on historical costuming.

The book's charming, and sometimes a little strange, illustrations by Blanche Fisher Wright are now in the public domain and I enjoyed reproducing just a few in hand-appliqué for the costume's underskirt. Because the book was originally published in 1916, my take on Mother Goose is loosely based on WWI era dresses (army nurses in particular); I draped the pattern over the foundation of an Edwardian corset. The cape, hat, and ruffs were fun accessories to make and complete the character. I will surely use them again in other costumes.

While not relevant to the competition, I've made a commitment over the last few years to use what I have on hand in my work. I'm proud to say most of my Mother Goose project is made from upcycled materials and fabrics from my stash.

Outline the construction…

The dress is made of olive khaki linen that was the wrong color for it's original intended purpose but very reminiscent of army drab. The dress began as a draped muslin, which became the bodice interlining. The underskirt is a lined panel that is connected to the outer skirt across the front opening and buttons to the inner side seams at the waistband.

I used scanned images from the book to draft simplified versions of a few of my favorite illustrations. Using a buttonhole stitch, I hand appliquéd the simplified images to create blocks, which are machine-stitched to the skirt.

My greatest challenge is always iteration. Missing the mark the first time (or first five times!) can be frustrating. Fitting on myself during a pandemic? Also an interesting challenge! But it's well worth the effort to make an idea come to life.




  1. Avatar Heather McGreal on March 11, 2021 at 11:09 pm

    I love the way you have captured the whimsy of mother goose both in the costume but also in your presentation of it. Great job

  2. Avatar Emma Wayne on March 12, 2021 at 4:23 am

    So cute! An adorable project for sure!

  3. Avatar Stef McKnight on March 12, 2021 at 7:41 am

    This makes me so happy. It is fresh yet so accurate to the essence of the book.

  4. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 9:08 am

    This makes my heart beam with joy- it’s so fun and marvellously done!

  5. Avatar Susan Scott on March 12, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    I love your take on the mother goose dress, different but also fun. You have captured the spirit totally. Well done.

  6. Avatar Lindsey on March 13, 2021 at 1:53 am

    This made my day. totally whimsical!

  7. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 19, 2021 at 11:17 am

    This is fantastic, well done!

  8. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 11:51 pm

    You have truly captured my heart. The appliques are absolutely amazing. Bravo!

  9. Avatar Kaity Bower on March 22, 2021 at 1:37 am

    What a clever design! Just so fun.

  10. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 24, 2021 at 3:29 am

    The ruff, the beautiful applique, the exaggerated pointy hat, this outfit is delightfully fun and whimsical!

  11. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 26, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    I love the story tale panels. How fun would this be, reading to kids at a library or cheering up sick littles in a hospital What a great outfit!

  12. Avatar Giorgio Ronchi on March 27, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    It’s a beautiful dress you can even tell. Great work!

  13. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 27, 2021 at 11:17 pm

    This is fabulous! 😀 The hat is on point, no pun intended!

  14. Constance MacKenzie Constance MacKenzie on March 28, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    I adore the ruffs.

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