Category Archives: 1910s


Part 7: Suit A Long: How To Attach The Inner Skirt Waistband


This is the single most part of the skirt construction which seems to be confusing to most.  Simply put, we no longer construct skirts like this, which is why it seems such an oddity.  But skirt construction like this continued up until the 1930s, so it was widely used for a period of at least thirty years, if not longer.

The idea is to have an internal waistband, the top of which is where the skirt is most fitted to the body.  The waistband then skims the natural waist, instead of fitting closely to it.  These waists were extremely popular during the 1910s, which could give some account of the transition of the figure from the more exaggerated hourglass of previous decades, to the straight waist of the 1920s.  The 1910′s emphasis was not on actual waistline, rather the RAISED waist and the FLARED silhouette.

For a visual example of period construction, please make sure to check out the previous post I did, showing the construction of a real skirt from this time period.

Disclaimer:  There were countless ways used to construct this sort of waistband.  Every example I have seen has a bit of a different way to go about it, but the result was the same.  That is why, in this post, I do what is intuitively easiest for me.  Like most periods of fashion history, there were various ways to construct a garment to have the same visual effect, so don’t worry too much about rules here.  Do what works for you.  At the beginning of this article I talked about the ideal silhouette, so keep that in mind and just go for it.


First, finish the top and bottom edges of your interior waistband.  I used a belting I found at an estate sale.  Originals I have use wide grosgrain ribbon.  If you are using grosgrain, you will not have to finish the edges, of course.  You may chose to turn up an edge if your ribbon is too wide for the waistband if you want to keep the original proportions.

Next, mark your darts.  I just did mine in pencil, since I wasn’t worried about the marks showing on my finished garment.



Sew the darts, then press your darts toward the center.  You can see, our inner waistband is now curved.

In your mock up phase, it’s important to check the fit of this internal waistband.  If it droops from the top edge, and wants to roll down, your darts are too deep, so you’ll want to take out some of the dart size, then cut some length off of the belt piece.  Letting out the darts makes the waist bigger.  As mentioned above, it’s most crucial that the top of the waistband fits, and the bottom of the waistband fits your corseted waist very snuggly.  If the top of the waistband is too big, the skirt weight will pull it down.  So get that interior fit right!  You can always take in the side seams or gather more at the back skirt to make it fit the new waistband size,.

Let’s just pretend you’ve checked the fit and everything’s good, so we can move on.


I have decided I’m going to sandwich this between the front placket, so I want the edge to hit flush in with the fold.   The dot marks center front.  There fold line on the skirt is 1″ from the center front.  I have 1/2″ longer than that (which would allow turn under if you want to attach the waistband another way.) That means I’m cutting off 1/2″ at the edge, so the cut edge hits flush with the folded edge of the skirt placket.

This may have been a bad idea, as it may be puckering.  It probably would have been better to do it like the original skirt I took pictures of, but I decided to wing it.  So you get to see photos of what I did, since I’m not re-doing it now ;)


Now, press under 1/2″ at the top edge of the skirt , all the way around.


Run gathering stitches along the top of the skirt.  I did one 1/8″ from the edge (this one is important), and another one 1/4″ from that.  Don’t forget to mark center back, if you haven’t already.


Now it’s time to attach the waistband.  I put the cut edge of my interior waistband right up flush of the fold of the underlap, making sure my center front lines matched.  There’s a dot on your waistband that marks center front, and this should line up right with the center front line on the skirt.


Next, I pin the waistband on.  I pin from the center front all the way to the notches where the gathering starts on both sides first.


Then I match center back.  After that, I pull in the gathers to fit, and pin those to place.


Now I stitch from the outside, 1/8″ from the fold.  This attaches the waistband to the skirt.  Make sure your waistband doesn’t peek out from behind.  It’s ok to allow a little “roll” of the skirt so the waistband edge doesn’t show, just make sure you can catch it with this 1/8″ stitch!

Go all the way around, sewing through all the gathers, too, so that the entire waistband is secured to the skirt.


Then I stitched up the front placket, 1″ from the edge (right on the center front line), and secured down the waistband.

Like I said, this probably wasn’t the most ideal thing.  After I put it on I noticed this caused puckering at the bottom of the waistband.  So try it like me, or don’t, but fair warning that the puckering is what happened to me.


When I was done, this is how the inside of the skirt looked.


And this is how the outside of the skirt looks.

Now you add hooks and eyes at the waist and snaps and your skirt is almost done!


Finished Project: 1002 Nights Poiret Dress

I have just finished up my Poiret inspired dress!

Paul Poiret is one of my fashion design icons.  Making a dress that paid homage to him was really fun!

I felt so “high fashion” in it, because of it’s absurdity, so had fun with editing my photos to capture the way it felt.

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If you missed the prior post with more details about the making of this dress, you can find it here.

This “excuse” for making this dress (not that I needed one) was the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s “Fairytale” challenge.  Here’s the info for the challenge:

The Challenge: #6- “Fairytale”  Inspired by Paul Poiret’s “One Thousand and Second Night” party.

Fabric:  The tunic is all poly with little rubber dots on it.  Pretty horrid, but has a great look when made up for the “Poiret” look.  The dress is a black satin rayon, which they actually did have in this time period.

Pattern: Underdress: My Cordelia skirt pattern and the 1910s Blouse pattern with an altered neckline and no sleeves.  Overdress:  Very loosely based on a bodice pattern from the period, but mostly entirely self composed as I went along.

Year: 1913-ish

Notions: Indian import trim, hooks and eyes, snaps, hoop wire, bias facing.

How historically accurate is it?  If it wasn’t for the fibre content, it would be pretty close.  I’m knocking myself for that, though, and giving myself a 40% accuracy marking.

Hours to complete:  I have no idea.  Maybe 12-ish?  It went pretty fast, but I puttered in 15 minute increments on it over the span of three weeks (didn’t make the “fortnight” due date).

First worn: Today for pictures!

Total cost: Hmm…. considering the only thing I really bought for this was the dupatta, I think it was around $35.  Everything else was from the stash.

More outfit details:  My shoes were thrifted, my hat is authentic Edwardian, and the brooches, etc are vintage, with the exception of the necklace and earrings, and the choker I used as an accent on the belt.  All of those are new from Ebay, bought over the last seven years or so.


Finished Project: 1919 Knitted Slipover “Bodice”

I have been working on this on and off for about a month or so, and just finished it up!  I’ve come down with a rotten cold, so the opportunity of finding couch worthy projects helped me finish this up.

I may be stretching a bit, but since I just finished this, and the next Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge is “Bodice”, I’m going to use this as a submission.  A little internet searching, and I found this “knitted bodice without sleeves” from 1870 on the Vintage Stitch-O-Rama Free Pattern Emporium.  The one I made is nearly 50 years later, but a similar idea.  Maybe stretching the “bodice” idea a bit (har had, it’s knitted, so it already stretches), but I’m going with it.


Here is the pattern I made mine from.  It’s available in my Etsy shop.  I fell in love with it in the original periodical I have in my archives.


I admit, I didn’t do this pattern exactly as it is.  Being a somewhat notice knitter, I was clueless as to how to pick up stitches and knit the border around the collar and down the front.  And it wanted me to make buttonholes.  So I cheated, and crocheted the edge instead.  There’s enough stretch in the sweater for me to not have to have functional buttonholes.

I also changed the way the cord was made.  I didn’t like how the one looked that the instructions called for, so I looked up “crocheted cord” on Youtube and ended up doing one that’s often used in crocheted lace, or macrame.  I like it!  It took a while to get used to doing, but after a while I got in the groove and the two yards I needed to make went pretty quickly.

I also realized, as I was working this up, that I colorized the photo wrong, and there were meant to be three colors.  Oops?  I actually prefer the two.  In the original instructions, the collar and front three cord and button fasteners are supposed to be a different color than the slipover and edging and cord.

The pattern is old, and so isn’t terribly instructive like modern patterns.  I had to fudge a little here and there, since I had never made crocheted buttons or crocheted top tassels before, but I just played with single crochet and it worked out just fine.  For the base of the buttons I just used some plastic buttons in my stash that I didn’t particularly like, but that were flat.  I know I had plastic rings around here somewhere, but these worked in a pinch.

I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing this!  I’m actually REALLY pleased with how it came out.  I’ve had so many knitting disasters in my eight-ish years I’ve knitted on and off, that it’s nice to have something look pretty close to the original image.

I’ve shown this over a 1910s blouse I made a few years ago and an original vintage skirt from the 1910s to very early 1920s.

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The Challenge: #5 Bodice

Fabric: (Yarn) Shine Worsted Yarn by KnitPicks.  I loooooove this yarn!  So soft!

Pattern: 1919 Knitted Slipover (PDF in my Etsy Store)

Year: 1919

Notions: Buttons to cover.  I used sewing thread to sew on the buttons and little cord things across the front.  Crochet hook and knitting needles.

How historically accurate is it?  Nearly 100%.  The buttons I used to cover are modern plastic, and they may not have had cotton/rayon yarn then, but again, they may have, as rayon was often called “artificial silk” in this time period.

Hours to complete:  A million.  I’m not the fastest knitter.

First worn:  Not yet, but I’m totally planning on wearing this with modern clothing as well as historical, so I’m sure it will get some use.

Total cost:  Maybe $30?  I think I used about 7 balls of yarn at $2.99 each plus shipping.

Corsets: 1916

In our 1910s Suit-A-Long group the question of corset height was brought up.  Here are two pages of corsets from the 1916 W & H Walker catalog.  This was the same year that the pattern was released, so is appropriate to the WWI era and the era of this suit.

1916corset2web 1916corset1webWe see the difference in height of the top of the corset in these images.  There is also a variety in length of the hip.

The size numbers would be for the corset size.  It does not state if these are the actual corset measurements or the measure of the finished waist size.  I am assuming they are the corset measure, as the “spring” allowed at back varied from person to person based on preference.  The corset “spring” refers to the inches allowed at back for comfort- corsets would not be laced edge to edge, but allow, usually from 2″-4″, or even 6″ at the back when laced.

Sizes 18 to 30 have the most options.  We see medium bust and hip (6M50), medium low bust and long hip (2M129),  low bust and long hips (8M49), medium high bust and long hips (3M99).

There is one corset that is for comfort, with tricot for ventilation and front and back lacings (8M98), in the same sizes as above.

There is one corset for “Misses”, which would be for young ladies, and is designed as a “first corset”.  5M89 in sizes 18 to 26 waist.

There is one corset for girls, aged 7 to 13 years, which includes shoulder straps.

There is one nursing corset (7M98), which has nursing flaps at the bust and is available in larger waist sizes than the standard Misses corsets.

There is one corset for larger women, called a “form reducing” corset, which has a reducing flap at the sides, to help pull in the hips, and a spoon bust which “insures absolutely flat abdomen”.

One brassiere is shown on the page (11M29), which was available in sizes 32″ to 46″ bust. The brassiere has the appearance of a corset cover, but was of more substantial construction.  These usually had flat felled seams, boning, or both, and fastened up the back.   They did not have cups or breast support as we’re accustomed to today.  In fact, most styles of dress did not require a separation of the bust, but rather, a smooth line.  It’s a continuation of the “pouter pigeon” look of the S-Curve corset era, but with a slightly higher bust point.  The bust may be restrained, but not as much as in the “flapper” era.  In fact, brassieres would change very little between now and the late 1920s.

There are also various women’s needs that are on the page- mostly of the past “sanitary” variety.  Included are women’s dress shields that are “waterproof”, and a  “sanitary apron”, which would have the long skirt worn at the back so you wouldn’t have any accidents during that time of the month.

I, for one, am happy we’ve progressed… both in terms of undergarments and in terms of these icky “solutions”.  How far we’ve come with both brassieres and sanitary products in one hundred years!

Inspiring Images- John Wanamaker New York- Fall & Winter 1918-1919

It’s finally starting to feel a bit like Autumn in Southern California! Our Summer this year has been long and hot, and I’m trilled to see some gray skies and rain today.  This sort of weather gets me dreaming of coats and suits, and pretty hats and scarves.

I’m particularly inspired by the 1890s to the 1910s at present, so here are some lovely images from one of the catalogs in my reference library.  These are from John Wanamaker Fashion Mail Order Catalog for Fall and Winter of 1918-1919.  WWI era women’s fashions, especially the suits and hats, are some of my favorites.

The bat-like hat below is perfect for Halloween!  Enjoy!
John Wanamaker New York, Fall & Winter 1918-1919
John Wanamaker New York, Fall & Winter 1918-1919

 Also, notice that you can now leave Facebook comments below, as well as standard comments.  Hope this helps make it easier for you to comment and share :)

Hope you’re having a lovely day!

Paris is Dancing Mad: McCall’s Magazine, September, 1913

What is inspiring you lately? One of my current inspirations is 1910s fashion.  I think it would be quite lovely to incorporate elements of 1910s fashion into my autumn wardrobe!

Here’s some pretty images from McCall’s Magazine, September 1913.  The article is “Paris is Dancing Mad”.  I cleaned up some of the pretty images here, and you can get free hi res images by clicking on the link and going to my Flickr account, where the images are located.  Feel free to use for your crafts or save for fashion inspiration and study.




Hope you have a lovely week!

Pretty Little Antique China


One of my weaknesses is pretty little antique china.  I don’t know much about it, but when I see them at thrift stores or estate sales I love admiring them and occasionally adopting them.  I was having fun looking up some makers marks and thought I’d share a few little snapshots of two of my favorite thrifted china finds.

This petite little teacup is my very favorite one I’ve ever found!  It’s got a lovely pearlized finish and little blue bubbles.  I call it my “mermaid teacup.”  It was made by Limoges and an internet source dates the mark from between 1892-1907.  I’m not really sure I believe it’s that old, but regardless, I really love it!

My most recent find was a set of nine little plates in this pattern.  I thought they looked rather Arts and Crafts, and loved the color pattern.  I just looked up the mark (W A Pickard) and it ends up they were made between 1912 and 1918, so I was actually correct!  I just love these. I need to come up with an excuse for a little tea party so they can be used.

Does anyone else love these old china pieces?  Tell me about your favorite find :)

I also wanted to say thank you so much to everyone who commented on my Costume College project posts!  I was so thankful for your encouraging and complimentary comments :)  I still have lots of photos to go through from the event itself so hopefully will be uploading some of those soon.


A 1910s Outfit in Honor of the Titanic

Yesterday the San Diego Costume Guild got together for a costumed walk-a-bout of the Del Mar Antique show.  It very nice to get dressed up and see several friends I had not seen in a while, and it was great to talk to many of the attendees and vendors there, who were interested in our dress.  The show’s great fun, too- more for looking than for buying for me, but we were awed by beautiful antique jewelry, furniture, and art.  Since it was the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic, the costume theme was Titanic era costumes and many costumers had amazingly lovely and creative creations.  It was an interesting way to pay remembrances to the historic event that happened on that day one hundred years ago.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to bring a camera in to the show (and it turns out I could have- will remember next time!), but I had my husband snap a few shots of my outfit when we got home.

It was quite rainy outside and a little chilly inside the building that the show was held, so on top of this outfit I had a vintage jacket from the 1910s.  I had been feeling poorly this week so wanted to make sure to keep warm! I do have some photos with the jacket and I will try to post those later.

The blouse I wore was vintage from the 1910s era- cotton with lovely pink polka dots and cotton net collar edged in bias of the polka dot fabric.  The sash was made of about a yard of silk remnants I had in my stash.  The skirt was made from an original 1910s sewing pattern, which was quite a puzzle to figure out- Beth and I recently found it at a flea market and the poor thing had most of the illustration missing and was a mystery size.  The shoes were thrifted and I added vintage buckles to them when I wore them for my wedding a few years ago.  I made the hat by using old placemats and taking them apart for the braid and hand attaching them to each other using a base from a 1909 pattern reprint for a brim and then decorated it with vintage silk from an estate sale and new silk flowers from a craft store and new feathers.

Many thanks to Mari for letting us take part in the walk-a-bout at the antique show!  It was a nice afternoon spent dressed up with friends.

The Astor Baby- McCall’s Magazine, September 1913

Today is the centennial of the sinking of the great ocean liner, the Titanic.  There has been many interesting articles circulating around blogs, in the news, and on television to commemorate and remember this horrible accident.  Today I’d like to share an interesting glimpse into the lives of one of the Titanic survivors and her baby, who she was pregnant with at the time of the sinking of the Titanic.

John Jacob Astor was known to be the most wealthy passenger on the Titanic, and was bound for home from his honeymoon with his new (much younger) wife, Madeline.  At the time of their marriage he was 47 and she was 18, and their marriage was quite a topic of gossip in their day.  John Jacob Astor would not survive the sinking of the Titanic, but his wife did and did give birth to the child.  This article from McCall’s Magazine from 1913 takes a peek into Madeline and her baby’s lives.

The article does not go into detail of the event of the sinking of the Titanic, but it does say the following, and tell of how it impacted the lives of Madeline and the baby:

“The details of the terrible night of April 14 are too fresh in everyone’s memory to need repetition here.  Colonel and Mrs. Astor were in their stateroom when the crash came.  They dressed leisurely and went on deck, where Colonel Astor lifted his wife into a lifeboat, kissing her tenderly, and saying, “Don’t worry, dear, all will be well.

Mercifully, she did not know, during those cold, rain-soaked hours until the ‘Carpathia’ came, that the supply of lifeboats had been criminally inadequate, and that her husband had been one of the 1,475 who went to the bottom.  Her maid was with her, and she saved her tiny toy Pomeranian.”

I will let you read the rest of the article for yourself, as I think you will find it quite interesting to hear a little bit of what happened to these survivors.  Click on any of the images for a larger version that you can read.

You can read more about Madeline Talmage Astor at these links:


Encyclopedia Titanic

And John Jacob Astor VI (The Astor Baby) on Wikipedia

Tutorials: How to Sew French Seams

This is the last of the tutorials in honor of the 1910s blouse pattern.  In this tutorial we will learn how to do French seams.

French seams are a great seam finish and the technique is quite old-  most of the original lingerie blouses and dresses I have seen from the Edwardian period have this finish for their seams.  I’ve seen it on the inside of lovely sheer chiffon 1920s and 1930s garments, and it is still used today on fine fabrics and sheers where you want a nice clean finish on the inside but don’t want the fabrics to ravel and don’t want an overlock stitch visible through the sheer.

You will need:

  • A sharp machine sewing needle (especially if using delicate or lightweight fabrics)
  • scissors
  • Good quality thread
  • a sewing machine (a basic straight stitch will do)
  • And, of course, your fabric. I do suggest trying this out on scraps before starting a final garment to make sure you understand technique.  Using fabrics with a print are helpful when learning this technique, as it is done by alternating stitching on right and wrong side of the fabric.

Just to clarify, for those new to sewing, the “right side” of the fabric is the side with the print or the side which should be visible when worn.  The “wrong side” of the fabric is the side which will be next to your skin and invisible when worn.  This is also called the “outside” or the “inside”, especially in vintage instructions.

For this tutorial we are using 1/2″ total seam allowance, which is what I use in most of my patterns.  Since French seams are completed in two basic stitches, we will divide that number in half, and each seam will be 1/4″ from the edge of the garment. It will make more sense as you read below:

1-  On the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric (fabric layered wrong side to wrong side), stitch 1/4″ from the edge.  I use a special 1/4″ foot for my sewing machine when doing this step, as I can just line up the seam allowance with the edge of my foot.  Be sure to be accurate with your seam, as using a smaller or larger seam allowance will cause pieces not to line up correctly when finished.

2- Trim your seam allowance to approximately 1/8″.  I usually eye half of the width and trim it away.  This is an important step, as it will prevent any threads from being visible from the outside of the garment.

3- Open the garment, with the seam allowance still facing up, and press the seam to one side using an iron.

4- Fold your piece right sides together, wrong sides facing outward, sandwiching the seam allowance between them.  Your garment will now be right side to right side (as it is when you sew a basic seam).  The edge you just stitched should be butted right up to the fold, nice and crisp.  Press again to create a nice, crisp, folded edge.

5-  Stitch 1/4″ from the edge.  This stitch encases the seam allowance, and from the outside it looks just like a normal seam. Press your seam, then open your garment and press the seam to one side.  It’s a nice and small and tidy seam on the inside!

As a visual, these photos are re-posted from one of the close up posts of an original garment.  In the first photo you can see the outside of an original 1910s blouse, and on the inside you can see the seam finishes.  Two of the seams in the last image are French seams (not the curved seam, but the others).

Outside detail.  You can faintly see the French seam through the fabric.

Inside detail, with the seam finishes visible.

That’s it!  They’re pretty simple once you get the hang of them, and you’ll find they will probably become one of your favorite seam finishes for delicates or sheers.

I hope you have enjoyed these tutorials and hopefully they will be useful for your sewing creations!