On July 4th, I wore my Bloomer costume in Delaney Park. I’ve been working on my Bloomer costume for weeks and thinking about it for years. The costume popularized in 1851 by Amelia Bloomer features a full-skirted knee-length tunic over Turkish trousers. She was the editor of the first magazine editor devoted to women’s issues. The costume didn’t become fully accepted until women took up cycling at the end of the 19th century. I was aware of this when I sold bicycles at REI and that’s when I first wanted to make a Bloomer costume as well as a 19th century ski costume.
Last year I found out that Amelia Bloomer is an Episcopalian saint, and I felt greater impetus to make a Bloomer suite. I bought patterns for A Bloomer Costume from Past Patterns and for 1896 Ripple Jacket from Truly Victorian. The ripple jacket would go well with bicycling or skiing. I put away both patterns and forgot about them until I was faced with doing voter registration. At the Anchorage Summer Solstice Celebration, I couldn’t bring myself to confront strangers about their voter registration status. I realized I’d feel differently if only I had a sandwich board or a hat. Or a costume. A Bloomer Costume!
Ablaze with the idea, I dug out the pattern, purchased fabric and started sewing.The result is a resounding success. I have a blue Bloomer costume with a red-and-white sash announcing, “Vote.” I haven’t actually registered any voters, but I talk to people about the history of suffrage and about the importance of voting. Suffrage means the legally recognized right to vote and run for office. I even had my picture taken with Harriet Drummond who is running for state house. I don’t even have to speak. My costume says it all.