Category Archives: 1910s


Finished Project: Irene Castle & Lucile Inspired Gala Dress

Hello!  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  Today, I’m finally sharing my 2014 Costume College Gala Dress!

Several of us signed on to do a group project of Robe De Styles for this year’s Costume College.  While most people think of 1920’s gowns with the panniers for Robe De Style (see my Pinterest board here), I wanted to do a bit of a predecessor of the style by doing 19-teens style of a similar silhouette.


Lucile’s “Happiness” dress, in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

One of my favorite extant gowns of the 19-teens is the “Happiness” dress by Lucile from her 1916 Autumn collection.  Lucile was also known as Lady Duff Gordon, who was a survivor of the Titanic disaster.  If you’d like to see more of her work, check out my pinterest board.  Since I’ve been utilizing Pinterest a lot for my projects, you can also see the other looks that I was brainstorming and inspired by for my gala dress, here.


Lucile, 1919.  In the collection of the Met museum.

I loved the fullness of skirt of the “Happiness” dress, but I also loved the draped skirt on some of Lucile’s other work.

IreneCastle1I’ve also long been a fan of Irene Castle’s style.  Vernon & Irene Castle were a world famous husband and wife dancing team of the 19-teens.  Above she wears a Lucile creation.  You can see my Pinterest board of Irene Castle’s style here.

I was procrastinating for a long time on my Gala dress because I simply didn’t know what I wanted to do.  Inspiration overload!  I was also elbow deep in designing and prepping my new clothing line, and time was tight.  Finally, I dug in and went for it.

I started with a base of this pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library for the bodice.  All else was pretty much draped or cobbled together from my knowledge of period construction by studying extant garments.  I was bad and didn’t even try it on, which meant that the torso was much too short for me (and I’m short waisted.  Disclaimer, there, if you want to buy that pattern).


I had seen tucks in several of the research photos I found, so I used a twin needle and started creating tucks to go around the waist.


A little too tuck-crazy, I played with the fabric on the form until I found I really liked the loop of this “seashell” kind of design, created by draping and twisting the fabric.

For fabric, I had a gold tissue lame silk chiffon in my stash which I had planned on using for an Edwardian gown.  I also had a sea green crinkle silk chiffon, and I bought the sea green silk taffeta in Los Angeles a few weeks before Costume College. With these, some belting, some beading, and some silk roses (made during class on Saturday!), I made this dress.


galadress1 galadress3

I am not a dancer, and not graceful, so luckily I had some help with posing from some friends and bystanders so I could attempt at the poses I loved in Irene Castle’s photos.


Here’s a black and white one, just for kicks, because it makes me feel like a time traveller :)


And me looking like an advert for drinking tea at dinner that night :)

Yay!  I love this dress!  I am a little unhappy I was in such a rush that I didn’t get to do the fittings I really needed, so the armholes are a little wonky and the torso is a little too short, but otherwise, I really love the dress and I’ll be looking for an excuse to wear it again.

And, because I was asked at Costume College- I’m sorry, there won’t be a pattern for this.  It was just a personal project, and it’s a bit too complicated to do into pattern form.

If you’re wondering, I get into the dress by opening at the side of the skirt.  The bodice is overlapped it at center front, and it snaps (or, it should snap, but it was really pinned) into place. It’s that crazy Edwardian/1910s puzzle piece of a way to get into garments.  If you’ve seen real ones, you’ll totally get what I’m saying.  They were really creative at fastenings back then.  Today, we have invisible zippers to do this- but they snapped and hooked at all sorts of strange places to make it look like your dress just magically was on your body without any obvious fasteners.  That’s one thing I wish that movies that are set in the 1910’s would do instead of putting a big ol’ zipper up the back.  But I digress… I hope you like the dress :)



1916: Uniforms for Women- A Theatrical


I have a funny little theatrical to share today that originally appeared in McCall’s Magazine, October, 1915.

I originally thought that this might have WWI women’s uniforms, but it’s not about that at all!  Very different than what we’d see today, we encounter a sort of history of fashion play- with outraged husbands tired of spending their money and allowances on their wives wardrobes.  Remember to read it with a view of the past- I know the attitudes are different than today.  But I really think those who love fashion history will get a little kick out of the cute, short play.  It might even be kind of fun to re-enact!

Click on each of the images to see the larger version.  I left the ads in, too, so you might get a kick out of seeing those.

ufw01 ufw02 ufw03 ufw04Lots of love,




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.

p02 p03 p04 p05

p01 p06 p07

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.

IMG_1073 IMG_1074 IMG_1075 IMG_1076 IMG_1077 IMG_1078

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!