Feeds:
Posts
Comments
Evening gown, c. 1913-1914, from Na

Evening gown, made from silk and linen, embroidered with metal and glass beads, c. 1913-1914, from the National Museum of Norway.

Talk about Titanic Panic! Work had to begin on the gown!

Gowns had begun to change in a new and different way during 1908. Waistlines suddenly rose. Skirts suddenly clung to the legs. And an entirely different set of undergarments were needed to achieve this hip-hugging new look.

Evening gowns during the early 1910s were all generally “built” on a bodice, which could often be completely hidden beneath all of the outer draped layers. This bodice was often boned and could reach from above the bustline to below the natural waist.

On top of this bodice was mounted all of the other layers. The skirts, often several layers in contrasting colours and different lengths, was sewn or tacked to the bodice. The first layer of skirt was most often a soft, flowing silk satin, and was then followed by a lighter and more sheer layer, such as silk chiffon or netting. Sometimes there were several of these sheer layers, of two or more colours, to add depth or interest, and these layers were often beaded, sometimes very heavily. Evening gowns could be trained with either a square, pointed or rounded shape.

Evening gown, made from silk satin and chiffon, c. 1912, from Augusta Auctions.

Evening gown, made from blue silk satin and chiffon, c. 1912, from Augusta Auctions.

The sleeves of this era were cut in the same style as a Japanese kimono sleeve, which gave a very draped and flowing appearance. These soft sleeves were often mounted on top of a fitted sleeve made from chiffon or net, which provided the structure to the outer sleeve to prevent them falling down. They generally reached to just above the elbow, but could be shorter. Sometimes these kimono-style sleeves even formed a part of the bodice, as the sleeve did not attach to the armhole, but rather the sleeve and the shoulder were one piece. This line of drapery was then just extended down to the waistband at the front and the back.

Once the sleeve-shoulder-bodice pieces were themselves tacked onto the under bodice, a wide waistband was used to cover it all. This waistband clearly marked the higher waistline of this period, and a sash could often be hanging from the waistband at the back.

Pattern

I used the pattern of an evening gown from 1909-10 (made by Madame Hayward), in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2. There was some alterations I was keen to make, but it provided a good starting point.

An evening gown in ivory silk satin and black net, c. 1909-1910, from Patterns of Fashion 2.

An evening gown in ivory silk satin and black net, c. 1909-1910, from Patterns of Fashion 2.

This gown uses a small kimono sleeve, which has a larger bodice mounted on an under bodice which cannot be seen. I decided to use the underbodice from this pattern, making it a bit higher at the front, and then extend the sleeves so they came down to the waistband, and thereby do away with the outer bodice you can see in the picture. The skirts I intended to make were basically the same as this pattern.

The construction of this dress seemed very complicated when reading it all through, so I did skip some minor things that didn’t seem necessary to me. However, due to its complicated nature, the length of this post is much longer than normal.

I used a polyester taffeta for the dress (I was pleased to find one dress in this era made from taffeta!), flatlined with cotton broadcloth and overlaid with a silk chiffon. The undersleeves were made from soft polyester tulle.

Construction Steps

Step One: The bodice

First I drafted the pattern out, did a mock up and fitted it with my corset on. The calico mock up pieces became my new pattern.

The pattern for the bodice

The pattern for the bodice, showing the original pattern below and my adjusted calico pattern above.

I flatlined each panel with white cotton broadcloth and sewed all the panels together. The raw edges were neatened as one.

The bodice panels are all sewn together.

The bodice panels are all sewn together.

Then I attached boning channels to the seams. I used some twill tape and sewed each side of the tape to the seam allowances, so the channel sits in the centre of the seam but is not seen from the outside. I used solid nylon (plastic) boning.

The bodice seams are all boned.

The bodice seams are all boned.

As per Janet Arnold’s instructions, the top of the bones stand free.

The boning channel stands free at the top.

The boning channel stands free at the top. You can see that I have hand stitched the top of the casing to hold the bones.

Note: It was clear to me when I fitted the bodice with the boning attached, that the original gown was probably meant to go over a mid-bust corset, rather than an underbust, as there is little bust shaping in the bodice. As I had made an underbust corset, the boning in the bodice did not behave as it normally would have. I ended up increasing the length of the boning strips in three of the seams; the centre front and the two side-front seams. This helped the front of the bodice to conform to my shape better.

A thin flat metal bone was put in the centre back edges. Then I attached hooks and eyes on the centre back seam, which met edge to edge. (Later on I did sew a little flap on the inside so that any gaping on the centre back seam was less noticeable.)

The hooks are attached to the gown beneath a facing.

The hooks are attached to the gown beneath a facing. There is also a facing on the “eye” side, which are both slipstitched down.

Step Two: The net undersleeves

The pattern for the net undersleeves.

The pattern for the net undersleeves, cut in polyester tulle.

The undersleeves were sewn together. The pattern indicates that a line of elastic is sewn along the neckline edge to help the sleeve stay on the shoulder.

The undersleeve sewn, with the elastic sewn on the lefthand edge.

The undersleeve sewn, with the elastic sewn on the lefthand edge.

The undersleeve was sewn to the top edge of the bodice. A fitting at the point is good to establish that your sleeves are in the right spot for your body.

The undersleeve is attached right-sides-together to the bodice. There is a bit of extra fabric in the allowance to trim away.

The undersleeve is attached right-sides-together to the bodice. There is a bit of extra netting fabric in the allowance to trim away.

To finish the top edge of the bodice, I sewed a strip of insertion lace which could be drawn up with a ribbon.

A length of lace is sewn around the top of the bodice to neaten the edge. The eyes can be seen on the left of picture.

A length of lace is sewn around the top of the bodice to neaten the edge. The eyes can be seen on the left of picture. You can also see the lengthened boning on the right of the picture.

The bottom edge of the bodice was hemmed with a length of bias binding, sewn right-sides-together, turned to the inside and handsewn down to cover the raw edge.

A grosgrain ribbon (to act as a petersham waistband) was stitched at the natural waistline on the inside of the bodice. It was attached at the centre front boning channel and the two side-front boning channels with herringbone stitch. This waistband is fastened with a hook and eye.

The petersham waistband sewn in. You can see the lace inserts tacked in at the neckline too.

The petersham waistband sewn in. You can see the lace inserts tacked in at the neckline too (Step Six).

The bodice was now finished.

The front of bodice

The front of bodice

The back of bodice

The back of bodice, showing the ribbon that ties up and keeps the top edge of the bodice tight.

Step Three: The skirt layers

I cut out the underskirt and sewed the side seams and back seam, leaving a bit open for a placket. There is also a small piece added along the placket edge to hide any gaps in the skirt.

It was important to re-fit at this stage, as the skirts are designed to fit fairly snugly over the hips but should still be roomy enough to sit down in.

The underskirt (with train) is cut out.

The underskirt (with train) is cut out. You can see the placket “flap” already attached on the left.

I cut out the chiffon overskirt and sewed the seams together. (I always zigzag all raw edges of chiffon before I start sewing it too!) An opening is again left in the centre back for the placket.

The top edges of both skirt layers were neatened with a zigzag, and the top edge of the chiffon skirt was gathered to help with the easing of the skirt around the bodice. The skirts were then pinned in place, flat against the bodice, and handsewn through all layers with a running backstitch.

The skirts are attached to the bodice with a back stitch.

The skirts are attached to the bodice with a back stitch. (The lace at the bottom was eventually used at the neckline.)

At the back placket, the chiffon was hand stitched to the underskirt. Hooks and “thread loop” eyes were added to the back placket to close the skirt opening.

The back skirt placket, shown here half done up.

The back skirt placket, shown here half done up.

Step Four: The chiffon oversleeves

I cut out the chiffon oversleeves, first draping them to get an idea of how long and wide they should be. They are cut in the same style and shape as a kimono style sleeve.

The chiffon sleeves cut out, with the neck edge against the selvedge.

The chiffon sleeves cut out, with the neck edge against the selvedge. The under-arm shape is yet to be cut out.

Once I had neatened the raw edges of the chiffon, I draped it on the stand to work out the under-arm shape. I made sure to test out the range of movement of the arm as well, as this can be adjusted by how the sleeve is pinned at the waistline.

The under arm section is pinned, ready to sew and then trim.

The under arm section is pinned, ready to sew and then trim back.

The underarm seam goes down the underside of the arm, and then down the side of the body. The resulting side seam should mean that the bottom edge of the sleeve can be sewn to the bodice around the waist area. I sewed this edge down (already neatened) with the same running backstitch through all thicknesses as before with the skirts. This untidy looking midriff area will be covered with the sash in following steps.

I sewed overlapping sequins along the neckline of the gown. This had the double effect of attaching the chiffon sleeves to the net sleeves underneath, whilst also attaching the chiffon sleeves to the front and back of the bodice. I sewed a similar row of sequins along the arm edge of the sleeve, turning under the zigzagged edge to neaten it.

The sequins are handsewn around the neck edge of the sleeves.

The sequins are handsewn around the neck edge of the sleeves (shown only on the right here).

Step Five: The waistband and sash

I cut the sash and waistband out as per the pattern given by Janet Arnold, only adding a bit of extra length in case I should need it. The waistband was a straight piece of fabric, 3 inches wide, which had to be pleated to fit the tapered angle of the high waist. Once pleated to my satisfaction (which took a long time!), and with the raw edges turned under, I hand stitched the waistband in place on the bodice using a slip stitch, making sure to go through all layers to properly anchor it. I also stitched the waistband pleats in place with small slipstitches, as the taffeta did not want to stay in its pressed position.

The waistband, side back view, showing the pleating to help shape it.

The waistband, side back view, showing the pleating to help shape it.

I cut two layers of each sash, sewing them right-sides-together and turning them the right way to get two sashes. I did an inverted box pleat in the top of each sash, making sure that the resulting size fitted the waistband area.

The two sashes, with a box pleat at the top.

The two sashes, with a box pleat at the top.

The bigger sash was attached underneath the waistband (on the left side) with hand stitches, making sure to go through all layers to properly anchor it.

The larger sash is attached on the left side, underneath the waistband.

The larger sash is attached on the left side, underneath the waistband.

The smaller sash was attached to the left side of the waistband on an angle, which required some adjustment and pinning in place so that it hung down straight. It was hand sewn onto the waistband securely.

The smaller sash is attached on an angle on the right side of the waistband. It hangs down over the larger sash.

The smaller sash is attached on an angle on the right side of the waistband. It hangs down over the larger sash.

Hooks and eyes were added to do up the overlapping waistband.

Step Six: Decorating and embellishing

A beaded fringe was attached to the bottom edge of the chiffon skirts, with the zigzagged edge turned up to neaten it. Another row of overlapping sequins was sewn over the top of these stitches.

The beaded fringe is sewn on by machine, turning up the zigzagged edge.

The beaded fringe is sewn on by machine, turning up the zigzagged edge.

Beading and sequins were then sewn in a graduating way up the chiffon skirt.

The beaded fringe, the sequins and beading.

The beaded fringe, the sequins and beading, all completed.

Lace sections were sewn to the front and back neckline to conveniently cover some of the undergarments that kept peeking through. The raw edges of these lace sections were bound with cotton tape and then tacked in place.

Lace was cut to fit in the front and back neckline.

Lace was cut to fit in the front and back neckline. The one pictured is for the front.

The back lace section was cut in half at the centre back and then had a hook and eye attached so it could be done up.

Step Seven: The hem and train

The hem was faced with a piece of cotton flannette (wool flannel in the original example), which reached up 12 inches from the front hem. This hem facing was sewn, right-sides-together, around the bottom raw edges of the skirt and up the side slit.

The front hem facing is pinned and cut to shape to match the skirt.

The front hem facing is pinned and cut to shape to match the skirt.

The back hem is cut to form a pointed train and the hem facing pinned ready to sew.

The back hem is cut to form a pointed train and the hem facing is pinned ready to sew.

The facing was then handsewn down from the inside. Any stitches that were showing are covered by the chiffon overskirt.

A lead weight was sewn into the facing to help weight the train down, and a hook and eye was attached so that the train could be folded up if needed.

The lead weight sewn into a little square of flannelette, with the hook shown.

The lead weight sewn into a little square of flannelette, with the hook shown.

I found this gown was quite complicated to make, but I was very pleased with my efforts when it was finished. There were many low points, like cutting a hole in it and struggling with fitting issues.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Finally, it is all completed and now its time for some real Titanic panic!

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening out!

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening out!

I hope you have enjoyed my Titanic-costuming-adventure as much as I did. Now its time for a cup of tea and a lie down!

Related Posts

Titanic Panic! – Making a chemise/drawer combination suit

Titanic Panic! – Making a 1911 corset

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: An evening gown, c. 1913-14, from the National Museum of Norway (Nasjonalmuseet).

Image Source: An evening gown, c. 1912, from Augusta Auctions

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Evening gown (c. 1909-1910) made by Madame Hayward, from Museum of London.

How to do a running backstitch, by Felt Magnet

How to make thread loops, by Historical Sewing

Dressing for Dinner on the Titanic: Early 1910s Evening Dress, by Demode Couture

Free pattern from an extant evening gown at Chapman Historical Museum, made from silk and chiffon, c. 1911-1913, patterned by Cassidy Percolo.

“Titanic” Theatre Restaurant – Williamstown, Melbourne, Aus.

Advertisements
Corset Covers and Bust Ruffles, and White Petticoats, from a Sears catalogue, c. 1912.

Corset Covers and Bust Ruffles, and White Underskirts, from a Sears catalogue, c. 1912.

My panic is rising in my quest to finish off the raft of undergarments required for a Titanic evening costume.

As the list of undergarments required for a Victorian woman increased during the length of the 19th century, new “combinations” were invented to try and limit the sheer quantity of them. There were an almost exhaustive range of these undergarment items that were combined during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods; from chemise-and-corset cover, to corset cover-and-skirt/drawers, to brassiere-and-bust improver. We have already examined the chemise-drawer combinations, but there was also the combination of the corset cover and petticoat, which became known as a “princess slip”.

An Edwardian petticoat, c. 1910-1915, from

An Edwardian petticoat, c. 1910-1915, from The MET Museum.

Princess slips of the time tended to have a series of long panels (often either 6 and 8), with or without a waist seam. There was generally a lightly gathered frill at the knee, which was not very full, especially as the width of gowns was decreasing into the 1910s. The frill was very often trimmed with lace or could be a whole embroidered lace panel fixed to the bottom of the petticoat. Lace often adorned the top of the princess slip as well, which was used instead of fabric at the shoulder straps. The neckline could have a ribbon drawstring to help adjust it properly around the neck, and the princess slip generally reached to the ankle area.

Pattern

I did not use a pattern for this princess slip, but instead relied on what I could see from pictures of surviving extants online.

The petticoat pictured below was one of the sources I used in my design. Some of the design features that I liked were the large insertion lace around the neckline, and a smaller row of lace/ribbon to draw in the neck. The knee length frill and the back opening placket were also features I wanted to include in my garment.

An Edwardian Petticoat, front view - from Antique Dress.

An Edwardian Petticoat, front view – from Antique Dress.

An Edwardian Petticoat, back view - from Antique Dress.

An Edwardian Petticoat, back view – from Antique Dress.

There are more detailed pictures of this particular garment on the Antique Dress website, which is in the “Sources” below.

My princess slip was made from white cotton lawn, and various different types of cotton lace.

Construction Steps

Step One: I decided that the best way to do this was to do a bit of draping. Initially I was going to do a side panel, which went over each shoulder, and then a front/back panel (with the centre back having a button placket). Unfortunately I underestimated how much material would need to go under my arm, so I added an “underarm side panel” in addition to the side front panel I had already cut out.

I cut out the basic pattern shapes and then pinned them together. After I laid it on the dressmakers form, (which was set to my corseted waistline) I realised I had to alter some of the seam lines as the grainline did not sit properly.

The front, pinned together.

The front, pinned together. You can see the centre front fold line.

The side, pinned together.

The side, pinned together. You can see the underarm panel I cut later.

The back, pinned together.

The back, pinned together, allowing a bit extra for the back button placket.

Step Two: I sewed all the seams and then flat-felled the raw edges.

The seams flat-felled. The top seam is how it looks from the inside, and the bottom seam is how it looks from the outside.

The seams flat-felled. Hard to see, but the top seam is how it looks from the inside, and the bottom seam is how it looks from the outside.

Step Three: I wanted to put a wide insertion of lace in the front neckline. I pinned it to fit, adjusting the corners to a mitred edge, and making sure that the resulting angle would go over the shoulders correctly. Then I topstitched it to the top of the garment. The raw edges of the lawn on the underside were trimmed and turned under and slipstitched down.

The finished neckline, showing the wide insertion lace with mitred corners.

The finished neckline, showing the wide insertion lace with mitred corners.

Step Four: The neckline was then finished with a row of large entreduex and a row of lace. These were sewn together in the same manner as is done in heirloom sewing, with a small tight row of zigzag stitches. Any raw edges were trimmed back to the row of zigzag stitches.

The finished neckline. A ribbon was threaded through the large entredeux.

The finished neckline. A ribbon was threaded through the large entreduex, and then tied in a bow at the centre front.

Step Five: The armhole was finished with the same lace as around the neckline. The raw edges were turned under and sewn in a small hem.

The lace finishing the armhole.

The lace finishing the armhole.

Step Six: The centre back (which had been cut on the selvedge line) was finished with a button placket by folding over 1 inch of the edge of the fabric. Buttonholes were then sewn and corresponding buttons attached.

The button placket. The ribbon threaded through the entreduex is attached at the centre back so as not to come undone.

The button placket. The ribbon threaded through the entreduex is attached at the centre back so as not to come undone.

Step Seven: The bottom frill was cut 15 inches deep, and finished with the same large insertion lace as used at the neckline, plus another large row of broider anglaise. The large insertion lace was sewn in the normal way, topstitched onto the fabric and then the material cut away behind the insertion. The raw edges were trimmed and turned under to form a small hem.

The bottom of the frill is edged with a row of insertion lace and a row of broider anglaise.

The bottom of the frill is edged with a row of insertion lace and a row of broider anglaise.

The broider anglaise was sewn right sides together onto the bottom of the lace insertion, and then the raw edges trimmed and neatened with a small zigzag stitch.

Step Eight: The frill was gathered and then sewn to the bottom of the slip, just below the knee level.

The frill; trimmed, gathered and attached.

The frill; trimmed, gathered and attached. The total length of the frill is 15 inches. The lace is attached at the 10 inch mark.

Step Nine: A row of ribbon insertion lace was topstitched around the bottom of the slip, but above the gathered frill. The fabric behind this insertion can be cut away, and often was in extant examples, however I didn’t do that this time.

The ribbon insertion lace attached above the frill.

The ribbon insertion lace attached above the frill.

All finished! A bit wrinkly, but nothing that an iron won’t fix.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

One of the undergarments that I had been keen to make was a brassiere, but I felt that I had run out of time to manage it for this event.

So next on the list is the Titanic-era evening gown!

Related Posts

Titanic Panic! – Making a Chemise/Drawer Combination Suit

Titanic Panic! – Making a 1911 Corset

Making a Gored Petticoat (1890)

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: 1912 Sears catalogue, in “What real women wore in 1912“, by American Duchess.

Image Source: An Edwardian Petticoat, c. 1910-1915, from The MET Museum.

Image Source: Detailed pictures of an Edwardian Petticoat, from Antique Dress.

How to sew flate-felled seams – by So Sew Easy

Sewing Lace and Entreduex – by Sew Beautiful

Basic Lace Insertion by Machine – Wearing History

Interpreting Edwardian Undergarments – by Lady Carolyn

Dressing for Dinner on the Titanic: Early 1910’s Evening Dress – by Demode Couture

A late Edwardian corset, c. 1910-1915, at Corsets and Crinolines.

A late Edwardian corset of pink coutil, c. 1910-1915.

After making the chemise-drawer combinations, my next step was to make a late Edwardian corset.

The late Edwardian corset was quite a change from the early Edwardian corset, commonly called the S-bend. Instead of a focus on the straight-fronted torso and the small waist, the late Edwardian corset concentrated on slimming the hipline into a more tubular shape, which suited the new fashions for long-line, high-waisted, and slim dresses. Some corsets still did nip the waist in tightly, but the waistline was no longer the focus in the emerging fashions.

Generally speaking, the late Edwardian corset was often only made with one layer of fabric, boned with flat steel boning housed in casing strips, and with a split busk that reached to the abdomen. As the corset reached so low over the hips, it was left unboned below the hipline to allow the wearer to sit comfortably. To limit the strain on the front busk when sitting in such a long corset, there was often a lacing or hook-and-eye configuration just below the busk at the centre front. The addition of garters or suspenders helped to both keep the knee-high silk stockings from slipping down, as well as keeping the unboned lower portion of the corset in place. The undergarment was often trimmed with lace (and sometimes ribbon) around the top edge.

An advertisement for corsets in 1912.

An advertisement for corsets in 1912.

This new corset shape did occasionally dip below the bustline and become an underbust design. The prevalence of this lower corset style led to the invention of a new garment, called the brassiere, which was needed to hold up the now-unsupported bust. Overall, the bustline did sink lower during the Edwardian era when compared to previous eras, and I have found it quite difficult to even accurately identify a woman’s bustline on pictures of the period, probably because the Edwardian mono-bosom and pouching-effects of the fashion lead to less definition in the bust area.

Initially I had decided to make an underbust corset, as this type of corset was becoming common in this era. Consequentially I had also planned to make a brassiere to “hold everything up”. Unfortunately I was in such a hurry that I discovered after I had started that they also had corsets to bust level as well, which would have saved the need for a brassiere. Oh well…

The 1911 corset reproduction, made by Bridges on the Body.

The 1911 corset reproduction, made by Bridges on the Body.

Pattern

I used the pattern supplied free by “Bridges on the Body”. This pattern is a reproduction of a 1911 corset that is privately owned by Bridges on the Body. This pattern does not reach to the bust, but reaches just above the underbust.

Bridges on the Body ran a sew-a-long in 2012 on Titanic-era corsets and has a page dedicated to all the steps involved. In this blog series, two corsets could be completed simultaneously, either the 1911 reproduction (pictured right) or the 1911 White Coutil Corset in Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh.

For my fabric, I used a rather bright pink cotton drill (flatlined with white cotton duck). I also used pink polyester ribbon for the boning casings and white cotton broadcloth for the bias binding. The lace was a white cotton cluny lace, and the embroidery was done with one strand of white cotton DMC embroidery thread. (B on the B – the supplies list)

Construction Steps

The construction steps for this corset are located at Bridges on the Body, and were all posted during the sew-a-long. I did find it hard to find all the information scrolling through so many blog posts (as well as gleaning information from all the comments, especially when two corsets were being completed at once), but that is always one of the problems of completing a sew-a-long so long after it has been completed. Here I have attempted to put my whole process in one page, with some of the relevant links to Bridges on the Body. (A thorough read through of the Bridges on the Body posts is highly recommended!)

Step One: Print off the pattern and scale it up. I tend to scale up by hand on grid paper. (B on the B – scaling up the pattern)

TIP: There are grey lead markings on the pattern that did not come out in my printer, so it is worth marking them in. These markings include the underbustline and waistline and positions of the bones. Transfer these markings (including the notches) to your mockup.

As always, I did a mock-up of the pattern in calico. Bridges on the Body goes through how to slash-and-spread the pattern if you are wanting to enlarge the dimensions of the pattern.

Step Two: The 1911 reproduction is a one-layer corset and has facings on the front and back to house the eyelets and the split busk. (B on the B – making back facings and making front facings; sewing back facings and sewing front busk, loop side and stud side.)

As I was doing a two layer corset (a flatlined corset, rather than using the sandwich method), I decided to do my centre front and centre back seams the same as I normally do. Right sides together, I sewed the two layers of the back panels (one white and one pink) together on the centre back seam. (The boning that lies on either side of the eyelets will then be sandwiched between these layers later on.)

 

The back panels, with the outer fabric sewn to the lining.

The back panels, with the outer fabric sewn to the lining along the centre back seam, and turned the right way.

I put the front busk in my regular fashion, using Sidney Eileen’s instructions (How to insert a corset busk).

The front panel, with busk inserted and the embroidery being completed.

The front panel, with busk inserted and the embroidery being completed.

From this point on, I treated the two layers of the corset as one, in the normal manner when flatlining.

Step Three: All the panel seams were sewn, making sure notches and waistline markings were matching. Bridges on the Body gives information on the way the seams were sewn on the original garment. (B on the B – method of stitching the seams)

All panels are sewn together. Only one half of the corset is shown here.

All panels are sewn together. Only one half of the corset is shown here. The boning channels have also been sewn in this picture, and the embroidery is completed.

Step Four: I had decided earlier that the colour pink was a tad too bright and that a little white embroidery along the boning channels might really help. And – of course – I do love embroidering my corsets…

Whilst I have not often seen Edwardian corsets that have been embroidered (aside for a little flossing occasionally), I have seen a number of corsets from the Victorian era with embroidered boning channels. The particular style of embroidery that I have chosen is one I have seen numerous times on corsets from the 1880s. However, to be honest, I can not say that the embroidery really toned down the shade of pink!

The embroidery detail, showing two boning channels, where only one is embroidered.

The embroidery detail, showing two boning channels, where only one is embroidered.

I embroidered the channels after I had sewn and “stay stitched” (or top stitched) the panel seams, but BEFORE the boning channels were stitched.

Step Five: Next I did the boning channels on either side of the eyelets. These channels had not been embroidered, so it was fairly simple to top stitch those at the required distances. As I normally do, I inserted a length of twill tape in between the layers of the corset to reinforce the fabric for the grommets. Then the channels are sewn through all layers. (Sidney Eileen illustrates this method in “Preparing the Grommet Area”.) You can see my twill tape poking out in the photo in Step Three.

Step Six: The 1911 reproduction corset did not have a waist tape, but I have made a habit of including one in almost all of my corsets to prevent pressure on the waistline. (B on the B – waist tape)

The waist tape was pinned in. This could have been tucked neatly under the back and front facings (if only I had done them – silly me!), so I had to fold the waist tape over at the ends and top stitch it so it didn’t unravel.

The waist tape is pinned ready to be sewn in.

The waist tape is sewn down at the centre back, and pinned at the seams ready to be sewn in with the boning channels.

Step Seven: Once the waist tape was in place, I pinned the ribbon for the boning channels in place over the top of the waist tape. The boning channels were topstitched from the outside so as to preserve the embroidery. (And -yes- I was flying a bit blind with the ribbon placed underneath!)

The inside of the corset, showing the boning channels sewn over the top of the waist tape.

The inside of the corset, showing the boning channels sewn over the top of the waist tape for seams 1 and 2.

In terms of boning placement, go back and look at the original pattern and note the grey lead markings. If we number the seams from 1-4 (going front to back), and then number the panels from 1-5 (going front to back), then there was two rows of thin boning (each 1/4 inch wide) on seams 1, 2 and 4. There was one thicker bone (1/2 inch wide) down seam 3. And there was one extra line of two rows of thin boning in the middle of panel 3.

Step Eight: The flat steel boning was inserted.

Here is where I ran into problems… Believe me, the TITANIC PANIC was justified!

Point 1: When using flat steels, it is imperative that the steels run straight up and down the body. Generally speaking flat steels are only used on the centre back and centre front of a corset, as these areas almost always run truly straight up and down on the body. When flat steels are used on the curves of the body, they often twist or stick out and it can be painful to wear a corset that does this.

Point 2: This style of corset often used flat steels on ALL the seams throughout the corset. This means that the seams were made to run perpendicular to the body, and any alterations you make to your seams during the fitting stage can alter this.

TIP 1: If you make alterations during your fitting stage, make sure you do a mock up WITH boning channels AND flat steels along the seam lines. (I didn’t…)

TIP 2: If your bones do twist in your mock up, experiment with changing the angle of the boning channels until they sit flat against you. For instance, pressing the flat steel into the curve at your waistline should show you how the bone will behave when your corset is done up. You can EITHER alter the seam lines to reflect the new position of the channels (as the boning channels did cover the seam lines in the 1911 reproduction example) OR you can put up with your seams being in the wrong place and sew your boning channels in the new position.

TIP 3: If you finish your corset and discover that some of the flat steels do not lie flat against your body, replace those flat steels with spiral steels. This will ensure that your corset lies flat against your body (in the same manner it did in your mockup, anyway), but will still give you the support of flexible boning (though not the same rigidity as flat steels).

The complete corset from the inside.

The complete corset from the inside. The bones in seams 1 and 2 have been changed for spiral steels.

I changed the bones in seams 1 and 2 for spiral steel boning, which did help the corset sit flatter against my body at the front. I tossed up the idea of removing the boning channels and resewing them straighter on my body, but this was complicated by the fact I had already embroidered my boning channels in their current position. I am still considering taking out some more of the flat steels (in panel 3 and in seam 3 particularly) and replacing them with spirals, as I feel this will improve the way it fits.

Step Nine: The grommets were set and the corset was laced up. The top and bottom raw edges were bound with bias binding, and the lace was hand sewn to the top edge.

Step Ten: The garters can then be sewn in. I am still waiting on my garter attachments, so photos of this step will be added later. (B on the B – garter building)

And now for the finished pictures. The garters will pull the corset down so it sits in place better. The horizontal wrinkles can be fixed with some flossing, which hold the bones firmly in the channels. I also want to put two eyelets and some lacing under the split busk to reduce any strain when sitting. Its not perfect, but it will work for the moment, and maybe one day I wouldn’t mind re-doing this corset.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The next item in my Titanic wardrobe is a princess slip.

Related Posts

Titanic Panic! : Making a chemise/drawer combination suit

Making a Victorian Corset (1880s)

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: A pink coutil corset, c. 1910-1915, from Corsets and Crinolines: Unique Vintage Clothing and Antique Fashion.

Image Source: An advertisement for corsets in 1912, from Sense and Sensibility Patterns.

Image Source: Titanic-era Corset and Pattern – by Bridges on the Body

Bridges on the Body – 1911 corset: All the steps in one place

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

How to insert a corset busk, by Sidney Eileen (Sidney has many corsetry tutorials in the “Sewing” menu of her blog, which can be very useful!)

Dressing for Dinner on the Titanic: Early 1910s Evening Dress, by Demode Couture

“Titanic” Theatre Restaurant – Williamstown, Melbourne, Aus.

A bag or purse, made from silk velvet and steel beads, c. 1905, from LACMA.

A silk velvet bag, beaded with steel beads, c. 1905, from LACMA.

The most annoying thing I find when dressing up in historical costume is when I have spent so much time on getting my garments completed, only to realise that I really should have spent some time focussing on gathering accessories. I have improved at this over time, beginning to first be aware of my hairstyle, and then whether I should wear gloves or jewellery.

Most recently I was particularly irritated to find that I really needed to take a handbag to an event (rather than a cane basket, which is often my go-to historical handbag accessory) and I had nothing historically suitable and had to use my modern handbag. It just didn’t feel right walking down the street in my lovely Victorian clothes and carrying my huge black leather handbag over my shoulder.

An Early 19th Century velvet purse, with an embroidered and beaded design, from Granite Pail Collectables.

An early 19th Century red velvet purse, with an embroidered and beaded design, as well as looped beaded edging, from Granite Pail Collectables.

So I decided to embark on making a handbag. I have reticules that I use for Regency, and large pockets that I use for 18th century clothing, but the real absence in my bag-wardrobe was something for the Victorian and Edwardian period.

During the late Victorian and early Edwardian period there were many many different styles of bags. There were beaded bags, embroidered bags, crocheted bags, metal mesh bags, leather bags, tatted bags, drawstring bags, clasp-style bags… I could go on! And there were just as many different sizes and shapes as well.

I eventually decided I wanted a clasp-style bag, with a short chain, but large enough to hold my essentials; that is, a phone, wallet, fan, and car keys. I found a remnant of scarlet velvet and also some white satin in my stash and purchased some black beads, a black clasp and a black chain from my local craft store.

Pattern

I followed the instructions by Guthrie & Ghani on how to draft your own pattern for a metal frame purse. This was a great tutorial and my finished pattern looked like this!

The pattern for the clasp bag, drawn on 1/4 inch grid paper.

The pattern for the clasp bag, drawn on 1/4 inch grid paper.

It is drawn on 1/4 inch grid paper and does not include seam allowances. After I had begun I foolishly discovered that this size of bag would probably not fit my fan in it, so I added a bit extra on to the seam allowances to make it longer (and slightly wider).

Construction

I have not detailed my construction steps here, as I found many tutorials on making this type of bag, and I have included some of the ones I used in the Sources list below.

As I was working with velvet, I decided to draw the pattern piece onto the back of the material with an embroidery design for the beading I wanted to complete.

The beading pattern was drawn on the back of the velvet. The beading here has already been started.

The beading pattern was drawn on the back of the velvet. The beading on this panel has already been started.

The beading was done with solid black seed beads and a larger diamond-shaped bead.

The beading detail on the bag, taken with the flash on (which is why the velvet looks so red!).

The beading detail on the bag (taken with the flash on, which is why the velvet looks so red!).

Once the beading was completed for both sides of the bag, it was cut to size and sewn together. The white satin lining was also cut and sewn. I decided to add a little internal pocket on the lining. For tips on sewing the bag together, check out this tutorial from So Sew Easy.

The corners of the bag were “boxed” to allow better fitting of items inside. There are some helpful tutorials online on how to do this.

The bottom edge was beaded with an overlapping scalloped type of fringe.

The bottom of the bag, showing the boxed corners and the scalloped beading.

The bottom of the bag, showing the boxed corners and the scalloped beading.

Depending on the type of clasp you purchase, some bags need to be glued in place, while others need to be sewn in place. I bought one that needed to be sewn. I used vertical stitches to sew the top edge of the bag inside the metal frame, which was the most common technique I had found on extant bags of this type.

The bag sewn to the metal clasp, showing the vertical (rather than horizontal stitches).

The bag sewn to the metal clasp, showing the vertical (rather than horizontal stitches). You can also see the slight gathering around the top of the bag.

I also gathered the top edge of my bag with gathering stitches to help ease in the fullness (which came from me enlarging the pattern at the beginning). The benefit of having gathers at the top is that it increases the capacity of the bag.

The inside view of the finished bag, showing the internal pocket and the stitches that attached the bag to the frame.

The inside view of the finished bag, showing the internal pocket and the stitches that attached the bag to the frame. The gathered top edge of the bag can also be seen.

And here it is all finished!

Finished!

Finished!

It is quite a roomy bag, for a little one anyway.

Just in time to take to a Victorian picnic this weekend! I also plan to use this bag for a Titanic-themed dinner later on in the year.

My outing to the Victorian picnic, showing my new bag in action!

My outing to the Victorian picnic, showing my new bag in action!

 

Related Posts

Titanic Panic! – Making a Chemise/Drawer Combination Suit – the first in a series of posts on 1912 costume.

My Regency Journey: Making Reticules

Making an Embroidered Pocket

Sources and Relevant Links

Image 1 Source: A silk velvet purse, c. 1905, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Image 2 Source: An early 19th Century purse, from Granite Pail Collectables.

How to draft your own pattern to make a metal frame purse – by Guthrie and Ghani

How to sew a coin purse with a sew-in metal frame – by So Sew Easy

DIY: 1920’s evening bag – by The Closet Historian

How to Box Corners – by Sew 4 Home

How to do Beaded Fringe – by Beadwork

An advertisement in the Sears catalogue for drawers. 1912

An advertisement in the Sears catalogue for drawers, 1912.

When the news of a Titanic-themed event suddenly bursts upon you, panic ensues!

Later this year a costume group that I am a part of is planning a dinner at the Titanic Restaurant in Melbourne. The only unfortunate part about it is that it means doing a whole set of new clothing for a new era – 1912 to be exact – from the undergarments out.

Chemise-drawer-combinations for sale in a catalogue

Chemise-drawer-combinations for sale in a Macys catalogue, 1911.

One of my first concerns upon “embarking on this voyage” was the quantity of undergarments that a late Edwardian woman wore; including a chemise, drawers, corset, corset cover, petticoat, brassiere, and bust improvers. Whilst I do like to make undergarments for all of my costumes, I felt that making a full list of them was going a bit “overboard”! Luckily my research indicated that Edwardian women also felt the same as I, that such an extraordinary number of undergarments could be simplified slightly, whilst still obtaining the same effect.

A chemise was always worn next to the skin, with the drawers either pulled over or slipped underneath it, and both of these were worn underneath the corset. However, as more and more undergarments were added to the undergarment ensemble during the late Victorian times, the chemise and drawers were one of the first to become conveniently combined.

A combination suit, chemise-and-drawers in one. From a private collection owned by

An Edwardian combination suit, chemise-and-drawers in one, showing the split crotch and the wide leg. From a private collection owned by “Lady Carolyn”. (Source link below)

In order to combine these garments, they were effectively just joined at the waistline, with the top of the combinations providing the essential layer between the corset and skin, and the bottom doing the job of the drawers. The chemise of the late Edwardian era was made from thin cotton batiste, sleeveless with thin and often lacy straps, and generally included pin tucks or lace insertion. The neckline was often decorated with ribbon-threaded lace which enabled the top to be drawn in as necessary. The drawers of this era reached to about knee length, and had a very wide leg often with ruffles or lace around the bottom. The crotch was split, as in previous eras, to enable ease of toileting which is generally difficult when wearing a long corset.

Pattern

I didn’t bother using a pattern for this undergarment, but instead used a singlet top and a pair of loose shorts as a guide to cutting out.

As this garment is worn under the corset, it did not matter too much about the fit. I took notice of my waist, bust and hip measurements to make sure I didn’t make it too small, but as this was a looser fitting garment, bigger was a bit better. The most important part of the fit, I found, was to ensure there is enough room in the length (shoulder-to-crotch) so you can still sit down comfortably.

The singlet and shorts I used as a pattern guide.

The singlet and shorts I used as a pattern guide. After cutting out, I pinned and draped the pieces on a dress form to make sure I was on the right track. I made the leg sections longer and wider.

My combinations were made from white cotton batiste, and trimmed with various sorts of cotton lace. The buttons I used were plain-and-plastic.

Construction Steps

Step One: After cutting out the pieces, I began with the top half. The side seams were sewn and then the shoulder seams. The centre front seam was cut on the selvedge and was left open for a button placket.

The top (chemise) of the combinations. The centre front is on the left, and the centre back on the right, showing the side seams pinned.

The top (chemise) of the combinations. The centre back fold is on the left, and the centre front (selvedge) is on the right. This picture shows the side seams pinned. You can also see that there is very little shaping in the bodice area.

Step Two: For the bottom half of the combinations, I first sewed the side leg seams. Then the inside leg seams were pinned and a small part of the centre back seam (at the top of the drawers) was sewn closed.

The combination (drawers), showing the inside leg seam and the split crotch.

The bottom (drawers) of the combinations, with the side seams sewn and a small part of the centre back seam also sewn. This picture also shows the inside leg seam and the split crotch.

Step Three: The raw edge around the split crotch was hemmed. At this point I decided to make the inside leg seams button-up to make it easier to use toilet facilities. As keen as I am as dressing in historical dress, I have not got to the stage of foregoing modern underwear!

The inside leg seam is buttoned up. The split crotch seam has been hemmed.

The inside leg seam is shown here buttoned up. The split crotch seam has been hemmed. At the front the split crotch goes straight into the centre front button placket.

Step Four: The top and bottoms were sewn together at the waistline. I used insertion lace to attach them but there were various other methods used, such as using ribbon-threaded lace or a simple waist seam.

The two halves are attached with insertion lace. Here you can see that the side seams did not match up.

The two halves are attached with insertion lace. Here you can see that the side seams did not quite match up.

Here is a good tutorial for insertion lace, although the method I used was a little different.

Step Five: Ruffles and lace were added to the bottom of the drawers.

The lace was first attached to the ruffle strip, which was then gathered and sewn to the bottom of the leg.

The lace was first attached to the ruffle strip, which was then gathered and sewn to the bottom of the leg.

Step Six: The raw edges of the neckline and armholes were both hemmed with lace, and ribbon inserted around the lace at the neckline.

The neckline and armhole are finished with lace. The neckline has an extra row of ribbon-threaded lace to draw in the top edge.

The neckline and armhole are finished with lace. The neckline has an extra row of ribbon-threaded lace to draw in the top edge.

Step Seven: Buttons and buttonholes were added to the centre front of the combinations. I was a tad lazy and did not make a proper placket for the buttons and buttonholes, preferring to just use the selvedge edge. This has caused a bit of puckering as the material was a bit thin.

The buttons down the centre front.

The buttons down the centre front.

And all finished…

The front view. The inside leg seams are unbuttoned in order for the garment to sit on the form.

The front view. The inside leg seams are unbuttoned in order for the garment to sit on the form.

The back view. The split crotch does look as though it would be a bit breezy. Apparently drawers tended to have so much material in them with made the

The back view. The split crotch does look as though it would be a bit breezy. Apparently drawers tended to have so much material in them which made the “breeziness” not as apparent.

This was a fairly straightforward piece to sew, mainly because the fitting of it did not need to be very exact. The next thing on the list may prove to be more tricky! A 1911 corset.

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Chemise

Making a Gored Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

“Titanic” Theatre Restaurant – in Williamstown, Melbourne.

Image Source (1): Sears Catalogue (No. 124) at Archive.com

Image Source (2&3): Interpreting Edwardian Undergarments – by Lady Carolyn

Tutorial: Basic Insertion Lace By Machine – by Wearing History

Dressing for dinner on the Titanic: Early 1910s Evening Dress – by Demode Couture

Turn an op shop find into Victorian/Edwardian undergarments – by Fashioning Nostalgia

Combination Brassiere-and-Drawers – by Lady Carolyn

Walking Dress, 1901, from De Gracious, Netherlands.

Walking Dress, 1901, from “De Gracieuse: Geillustreerde Aglaja”, The Netherlands.

After finishing my 1902 skirt and realising that I had an imminent Steampunk event to attend, I decided to make a jacket to match the skirt using the left over material.

Zouave and bolero jackets had become very popular through the 1850s and 60s and continued to be popular through the last half of the 19th century. They seemed to be consistently used as a fashion accessory rather than a warm jacket to protect against the cold, judging by the contemporary fashion plates. There was a tremendous variation in the styles and decoration of these types of jackets, and even different names to confuse you some more! The Eton jacket for women, for instance, was similar but tended to be always buttoned up at the front.

The zouave and bolero were generally short jackets, going only to the waistline. They could be decorated with any manner of trims, some imitating a military look, others more feminine with embroidery, or even decorated with ribbon and braid. They could have long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves, and – whilst they were often left open – some did have front fastenings.

A picture of a Zouave Jacket and its pattern, in Period Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett.

A picture of a Zouave Jacket and its pattern, in Period Costumes for Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett.

Pattern

The pattern I used was found – again – in Jean Hunnisett’s book, Period Costumes for Stage and Screen. It is not a pattern that she had drawn up herself in her pattern sheets, but a pattern that had been reproduced in a picture as a “Pattern for a Zouave jacket.” This jacket is very similar to many fashion plates of the period.

There were a total of four pattern pieces included: front panel, back panel, collar, and cuff. I drafted these up onto 1 inch grid paper.

In order to enlarge these types of old-style patterns up to full-size, first find the starting point of the pattern piece – often indicated with a circle or the letter A. Then use the horizontal numbers (indicating width measures) and the vertical numbers (indicating height measures) to measure out the pattern piece onto grid paper.

The part of the pattern that was the most tricky was the right side of the front panel, as the sudden use of large quantities of letters (instead of numbers) was hard to interpret. I eventually made the presumption that the jacket picture was drawn to scale and sketched it as closely as I could.

The pattern pieces, in which the seam allowance was added.

The finished pattern pieces, in which the seam allowance was added when cutting out.

This jacket was made from a cotton with a woven stripe, lined with a black broadcloth and trimmed with black polyester braid. Interfacing was used in the front lapel facing. As usual, I did a mock up in calico before I started. The size of this pattern seemed to be pretty perfect for me and needed hardly any adjustment.

Construction Steps

Step One: First I added facing to front lining piece, trimming off any excess material. The seam allowance was pressed to the front and top-stitched down.

The lapel facing is sewn to the lining to make one front-panel-lining piece.

The lapel facing is sewn to the lining to make one front-panel-lining piece.

Then add interfacing to the wrong side of the front lapel area.

Step Two: The front and back pieces were then all sewn together; first the centre back seam, then the side seams, and then the shoulder seams. This was done for the lining pieces and then the outer pieces, resulting in “two” jackets.

The centre back seam of the lining is sewn together.

The centre back seam of the lining is sewn together.

The outer layer of the jacket is sewn together, except for the shoulder seams.

The outer layer of the jacket is sewn together, with the shoulder seams pinned ready to sew. You can see the front darts already sewn in.

Step Three: At this point the front darts of the jacket can be taken in. This is also a great time for a fitting!

Step Four: The two layers of the jacket are sewn, right sides together, along the bottom edge – matching all seams and darts. Continue to sew up the centre front and around the lapels until you reach the neckline. Leave the collar area open. (You may need to pin your collar on at this point to check where it will sit.)

The two layers of the jacket are put together and sewn.

The two layers of the jacket are put together and sewn around the bottom and centre front edges.

Clip any seam allowances and turn the jacket right sides out. Press well. You could top stitch the edges at this point, however I intended to add braid which would hold the edges in place.

Step Five: The collar pattern is a fold-down collar, and has a centre back seam. This means that the pattern piece needs to be cut out four times in the outer material, and four times in the lining/interfacing (I have used the black cotton broadcloth as a stiffener).

At first I was a little baffled about how to sew it. First, I flatlined the collar with the lining material, which meant it did not require interfacing. (You could always use interfacing instead though.) Both layers were then treated as one.

The centre back seam of the collar was sewn next. This has to be done a second time with the other collar pieces. (This second collar will form the collar facing.)

The centre back seam for the collar is sewn.

The centre back seam for the collar is sewn. (The pattern piece is there for comparison, but I didn’t sew a centre front seam, even though it looks like I did!) In this picture the collar is already folded in half for the next step.

Then the top edge of the collar was sewn according to the pattern line, to form a “curved dart”. This needs to be done to each side of the collar and for the collar facing pieces as well.

The top edge of the collar is pinned right sides together to sew.

The top edge of the collar is pinned right sides together, ready to sew as per the pattern line.

I could have cut the top and bottom halves of the collar separately but then I would have had a thick seam on this top edge, so instead I have sewn it as a dart. Press the centre back seams open at this point.

Then the collar is opened out and sewn, right-sides together, to the collar facing around the sides and top of the collar. The bottom edge of the collar is left open, with the seam allowance of the facing folded up.

zouave jacket collar 3

The collar is pinned ready to sew around the outer edges. Make sure it is sewn on the “top” or “fold-down” edge. The bottom edge is left open, with the seam allowance of the facing folded up.

The seam allowances of the collar should be clipped and then turned the right way and ironed well.

The collar is then sewn to the jacket, matching the centre back seams. The seam allowance of the neck/collar can then be turned inside the collar and hand-sewn down.

The collar is attached to the jacket, with the raw edges turned under and hand-sewn.

The collar is attached to the jacket, with the raw edges turned under. The inside edge of the collar will then be hand-sewn down.

Step Six: The sleeves were flatlined first and then the sleeve seam was sewn.

The sleeve seams are sewn.

The sleeve seams are sewn.

The head of the sleeve was then gathered to fit the armhole, and sewn in – right sides together. The raw edges of the sleeve were trimmed and bound with black bias binding. The bottom edge of the sleeve was gathered to fit the cuff.

Step Seven: The cuffs – like the collar – were also in two pieces, so had to be cut four times for each sleeve. I did not use interfacing for these either, but instead used one layer of broadcloth as a stiffener (which meant there were two cut from the lining material for each sleeve).

The cuffs were then sewn, right sides together, around the lower edge of the cuff (with the seam allowance of the cuff facing turned over in the same way as the collar). Seam allowances were clipped and then the cuffs were turned right side out and pressed well.

The cuffs were then sewn to the bottom of the sleeve, with the cuff facing being turned under and handsewn down to hide the raw edges.

zouave jacket cuffs

The cuffs sewn, turned right side out, and sewn to the bottom of the sleeve. The inside raw edge will be turned under and handsewn down.

Step Eight: The last step involved the hand sewing of the braid and the addition of two buttons and buttonholes.

The braid and buttons attached

The braid and buttons attached

I am really pleased with the finished result!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The collar does not sit quite like it should (from in the picture, anyway), so I think I will use a few tacking stitches to keep it in place.

It does look a tiny bit short at the back, but I am planning on making myself an Edwardian belt to go with this ensemble which should disguise that.

But there it is, my new dancing and (quite historical) steampunk outfit! It is lovely to dance in, too!

Related Posts

Making a 1902 Walking Skirt

Making a Bolero Jacket

Sources and Relevant Links

Image source: Walking Outfits, published in “De Gracieuse: Geïllustreerde Aglaja” (1901) from The Netherlands.

Bolero and Zouave jackets of the mid-19th century – by The Quintessential Clothes Pen

Bolero jackets of the 20th century: 1900-1909 – by The Quintessential Clothes Pen

Period Costumes for Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett – buy on Amazon

McCalls Dressmaking 1901 – by Dressmaking Research

Fashions in The Delineator, 1902

Both of these skirts have a form of circular flounce, taken from The Delineator, October 1902.

For a while I have wanted to make a new dancing skirt. I have loved dancing in my Victorian Fan Skirt and I really love this style of skirt prominent in the late Victorian and early Edwardian period. The long A-line shape with the pleated fullness at the back seems so elegant, and it is a style that I think I could wear everyday!

After the late bustle period faded away in the 1880’s, the skirt – which had already become tighter over the front of the waist and hips – lost the bustle bulge at the back and became fitted closely around the waist, but full at the bottom. This basic style continued through the 1890’s and into the Edwardian period until around 1908 when the fashions for skirts began to change again.

The type of skirt that had particularly caught my eye was one that had a circular flounce that kicked out below the knees. This seems to have been particularly popular during the early Edwardian period, when S-bend corsets were also in fashion.

“They’re–they’re not–pretty,” said Anne reluctantly.

“Pretty!” Marilla sniffed.  “I didn’t trouble my head about
getting pretty dresses for you.  I don’t believe in pampering
vanity, Anne, I’ll tell you that right off.  Those dresses
are good, sensible, serviceable dresses, without any frills
or furbelows about them, and they’re all you’ll get this
summer.  The brown gingham and the blue print will do
you for school when you begin to go.  The sateen is for
church and Sunday school.  I’ll expect you to keep them
neat and clean and not to tear them.  I should think you’d
be grateful to get most anything after those skimpy wincey
things you’ve been wearing.”

Anne Of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Walking Dress, c. 1902, pattern in Period Costume for Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett.

Walking Dress, c. 1902, pattern in “Period Costume for Stage and Screen”, by Jean Hunnisett.

Pattern

I found the pattern I wanted to use in Jean Hunnisett’s book, Period Costume for Stage and Screen. All of the patterns in this book are based on period patterns or fashion plates, but have been altered by the author to fit the more modern figure.

This particular skirt had a straight front panel with the circular flounce only going around the bottom of the side panel. This pattern consists of four main pieces; front panel, side panel, side circular flounce, and back panel (plus a waistband).

The only two measurements I took was my (corseted) waistline and my waist-to-floor length. This skirt was made from a cotton fabric with a self-woven stripe. It was flat-lined with black cotton broadcloth and trimmed with black polyester braid.

Construction Steps

Step One: All pieces of the skirt were flat-lined with cotton broadcloth. I began by basting the lining to each panel.

The front panel of the skirt, flat-lined with cotton broadcloth.

The front panel of the skirt, flat-lined with cotton broadcloth.

Step Two: Then I sewed the circular flounce to the bottom of the side panel.

The circular flounce is sewn to the side panel.

The circular flounce is sewn to the side panel.

Step Three: Then all the skirt pieces were sewn together.

The back panels are sewn together.

The back panels are sewn together.

Step Four: At this point I fitted the skirt. The side panel had darts to fit it to the waist, and the back panel had two large pleats on each side of the centre back seam to take in the fullness of the skirt.

The back pleats of the skirt

The back pleats of the skirt

Step Five: Once the skirt was fitted, I attached it to the waistband in the normal manner.

Step Six: Up to this point the skirt construction had been fairly straightforward, but the hemming practices of 1902 was something I had never done before. My skirt was levelled and then hemmed using some helpful advice from Historical Sewing.

I cut a length of black broadcloth on the bias (7″ wide) for my hem facing. I also cut a length of white cotton duck on the bias (4″ wide) for a modern version of “horsehair stiffener” enclosed in the hem.

I laid the broadcloth and duck strips together and treated them as one layer. It was placed, right sides together, on the hemline of the skirt. The raw edges were stitched together at the bottom of the skirt and then the broadcloth/duck layers were turned to the inside of the skirt. The end result was that the white duck was hidden in between the hem facing and the skirt lining.

The inside of the hem, showing the folded facing stitched down.

The inside of the hem, showing the folded facing stitched down. This makes four layers at the hemline; outer skirt, skirt lining, duck stiffener, and hem facing. You can see the stitching lines for the braid attached in the next step.

The upper edge of the hem facing was pleated to fit the skirt and, with the raw edge folded under, hand stitched down on the inside of the skirt. The duck would be attached/anchored in the next step.

Step Seven: Next was the trimming! Two lines of braid were handsewn through all layers along the hemline (which effectively fixed the cotton duck in place and stopped it bunching up in the hem).

The hem finished with trim.

The hem finished with trim.

Then a bias strip of black broadcloth was added to the seamlines, with the raw edges turned under and then edged with more of the black braid used at the hem. (At this point I had to unpick small portions of the waistband to slip the trimming into the waist seam.)

The seam trimming

The seam trimming

I am very pleased with the end result!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

I decided – on a whim – to use this skirt for an upcoming steampunk event, and so then I began planning a matching jacket for it!

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Sources and Relevant Links

The Delineator, March 1902 – an article by Antique Crochet

Anne Of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery – read online

Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women’s Dress 1800-1909, by Jean Hunnisett – buy on Amazon

Flatlining 19th Century Skirts – by Historical Sewing

How to Finish Skirt Hems for the Most Support – by Historical Sewing