Sewing for royalty
A look at the hands behind Tulip Time ’ s Dutch costumes
Story By : Emily Hawk
There ’ s more to Pella ’ s annual Tulip Time Festival than tulips and wooden shoes .
Jacki Craver , Vicki Jones and Carol Verhey are the hands behind the Tulip queen and royal court ’ s authentic Dutch costumes . Over the years , these women have lended their expertise and love of sewing to create beautiful , one-of-a-kind Dutch costumes for festival royalty .
In 1983 , Craver and the late Phyllis Zylstra partnered together to create Custom Costumes . Before Zylstra ’ s death in 2019 , the team spent thousands of hours sewing costumes in her walk-out basement .
“[ Zylstra ] had a really nice sewing place set up there ,” Craver said . “ But when she passed away , the Historical Village said we could come here [ Sadler Cottage ]. That ’ s when Vicki and Carol started helping again .”
Sadler Cottage is filled with colorful fabrics , thread , patterns , books and other sewing supplies . Finished Dutch costumes wait on hangers and mannequins to be claimed in an upcoming Dutch Costume Exchange . Each one is unique – especially the queen and court costumes .
“ The girls all have pockets , and the date they were [ on the court ] and their initials are sewn into the pockets ,” Jones said . “ You never see that , so it ’ s like they ’ re hidden treasures .”
Every year , Craver and her team get to decide what costume style the royal court will wear . Costumes are chosen based on different styles from twelve provinces throughout The Netherlands from the last four centuries . This year , Queen Sarah Gritters and her court will wear costumes traditionally worn in the village of Katwijk in South Holland .
Jacki Craver , left , and Carol Verhey , right , brainstorm different pattern ideas for a costume bodice .
Many years ago , a contact in The Netherlands drew a pattern for the Katwijk costumes .
“ It was a basic paper pattern , just one size , and from that , Phyllis and I made a pattern to fit a person ,” Craver said . “ It was a long time ago , and we really hadn ’ t done anything with that pattern . Then this year , we decided to use it for the queen and court .”
“ We ’ ve never done this village for the queen and court , so there was a lot of pattern-making and tweaking ,” Jones added .
These 1900-style costumes pair the colors black and plum , the queen ’ s costume accented with black sequined trim . A handmade necklace of black jet beads with a golden clasp , a white lace hat shaped by a silver oorijzer and an over-the-arm handbag complete each costume .
“ It ’ s so different for each one , but this year , we figured we spent about 100 hours for each of the queen and court costumes ,” Craver said . “ Those are pretty intense . We probably spend more time on those than
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