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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The Greater Toledo Civil War Roundtable’s monthly meeting in October will feature a presentation by Kathy Dowd, a professional seamstress who specializes in historic clothing design.

The organization, made up of American Civil War enthusiasts, will meet Thursday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Navarre Park Shelter House, on White Street in East Toledo. According to Kathy Jones, president of the GTCWR, the meeting is free and open to the public.

Dowd, of Toledo, has a bachelor’s degree in clothing and textiles from Buffalo State University in New York. She also earned a master’s degree in Historic Clothing Design, with a specialization in Victorian design from Bowling Green State University.

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According to Dowd, her fascination with mid-to-late 19th Century clothing began when she was a child.

“My interest in historic clothing was sparked as a kid,” Dowd said. “I was reading a book called “Banners of Silk,” which was about Charles Worth, who became the first fashion designer in Paris in the 1800s,” Dowd said.  “The book follows a seamstress and her life. From that time on, I have just loved Victorian clothing.”

After working for Fisher Price in East Aurora, N.Y. as a soft goods designer, Dowd moved to Toledo with her husband Mike, who is currently the chairman of the economics department at the University of Toledo.

Dowd is a freelance designer with LifeFormations, in Bowling Green. Her designs are currently in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., as well as in several Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museums.

She was a costumer with the Toledo Opera for 12 years and also created costumes for the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.

Dowd currently is a costume designer at Costume Holiday House in Fremont as well as the owner of her own business, Heritage Rose Designs, where she painstakingly designs and sews custom-made ladies’ Victorian apparel, wedding gowns, under-pinnings, bustles and accessories. Her designs cover the years 1860-1890.

“Edwardian and Victorian wedding gowns can cost between $800 to $1,200 depending on the detail,” Dowd said. “The gowns are done in silk and the lace I use is period, authentic lace. It can take some time to track those materials down.”

Those who wish to dress in 19th Century threads, will also need the underpinnings, Dowd said.

“Underpinnings are my biggest passion,” she said. “I am drawn to the bustle era. You have to have the corset and under support needed for the dress. The corset is the reason women walked with their shoulders back, and their backs straight.”

Because of her passion for Victorian style, Dowd and her daughter, Maggy, have started Bustles 2 Bumbershoots, a Steampunk clothing and accessory business.

“Steampunk” is a term used to describe a fashion trend that mixes styles from the Victorian era, classic Goth, gypsy, and industrial fetish, into a unique look. Bumbershoot? It is a Victorian colloquial term for umbrella.

For more information on the Greater Toledo Civil War Roundtable, visit http://www.angelfire.com/oh4/civwar/gtcwrt/member.html.

More information about Heritage Rose Designs is available at http://heritagerose.biz.

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