Category Archives: edwardian

Edwardian Bust Improver “Perfect Form”


In line with my last post, I wanted to share a funny little Edwardian innovation that appeared in many periodicals of the time.  This one happens to come from The Delineator, April, 1905.  The “Sahlin Perfect Form”.  I’ve seen these ads many times, but had never seen a real one, until I happened to see one on Ebay, just sold recently.

These images are from the eBay auction, by seller $4europe.  They took quite detailed shots, by which we can see the basics of constructions.  These images are the property of the seller, and are just posted here for educational use.

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Where the boning crosses, it creates an arc.  Similar boning was done to create the rounded styles of stays in the 18th century, but here it was often to stand away from the body, rather than hug to it.
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If you compare this to the original ad, the buckles were to make it adjustable to the figure, to wrap across the back, then fasten the ties through the buckles at the sides.

Fascinating piece of fashion history!   Wonder our Edwardian counterparts would think of the “chicken cutlets” of today?


Finished Projects: Edwardian S-Curve Corset + “Improvers”

If you’re following me on Instragram, you may have seen my progress posts on my Edwardian corset and bust improvers.  The corset project was a UFO from last year’s Historical Sew Fortnightly from the same challenge.  This year I was determined to finish it.  It’s just in at the deadline, barely, but I finished it!

I have a few entries for this challenge, since I decided to make Edwardian bust improvers to go with the corset.  Each project is listed separately, but I’ll include them both in this post.

It was much too small, so I had to add 2″ panels to each side.  Luckily, with the other seaming, it’s not terribly obvious.  I had accidentally cut this WAY too small, and had forgotten I had added extra seam allowance to my mock up but didn’t transfer it to my pattern.  Thank goodness I had *just* enough coutil and fashion fabric to cut panels!

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The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton coutil, silk broade

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset

Year: 1903

Notions:  Metal boning, busk, eyelets, ribbon, vintage laces, corset lace, bone casing, twill tape for loops for detachable garters (garters were made for a previous corset, but work for this one as well).

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close, but I serged the inside seams instead of leaving them raw or flat felling them.  The garters are not really period correct, as they would have been constructed differently.

Hours to complete: Way too many

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Pretty expensive.  I didn’t keep track, but I’d guess in the $50-$60 range.  Most of the materials were bought either last year or several years before, so I didn’t need to buy any new products to complete this during this year.

paddingAlso made were the padding.  I made the “hip pad” from the Truly Victorian pattern that was included with the corset.  For the bust pads, however, I decided I wanted ones similar to those in the LACMA museum, that I had seen in the “Fashioning Fashion” exhibit.


Woman’s Bust Improver (Falsies), England, circa 1900, image from LACMA
I drafted up a quick pattern based on these.  First I made ones that were 16″ across, but they were kind of big and more “Barbie”ish.  Today I whipped up another pair that are 14″ across, and they suit better.
To compare, here’s the larger ones, and the smaller ones.  They’re both somewhat ridiculous, but so period correct!
I actually ended up sticking this up on my site as an e-pattern.  Since I went to the trouble, I thought others might want to make some, too.
e102COVERwebFair warning/disclaimer.   These were based on those in the collection of LACMA, but the pattern I made is in no way affiliated with LACMA, or endorsed by them.  It was just a fun, quick project, using an existing period example as inspiration.
In any case…
For kicks, I took pictures of my corset with a dress I had made a few years ago with padding and without padding, to get an idea of how it changes the silhouette.
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How interesting!  It reminds me so much of this ad:

The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton muslin, cotton shirting

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset, + Wearing History E102- Edwardian Bust Improver

Year: 1900-1908

Notions:  For hip pad: Cotton wadding, twill tape.  For bust improvers: cotton wadding, double fold bias tape, flat lace that was gathered, lace beading, silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close.  I think the TV pattern is dead on for the period.  Bust improvers of the time varied greatly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some exactly like this existed.  The museum examples were constructed open at the back, so they could be stuffed and unstuffed.  For ease, and because I will very seldom actually wear these, I just stuffed them and seamed it in, so they have  closed back.

Hours to complete: These were quick. Probably under an hour for each item.

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Everything was from the stash.  Actual cost of each was probably under $5.  The cotton batting was free, and everything else was constructed of scraps of inexpensive cotton.  The lace was probably the most expensive part, since it was all vintage.  The silk ribbon was maybe a few dollars a yard and under a yard was used on each bust improver.

Inspiration: 1905 Corsets

Today I have, what I think, are the most gorgeous pages of corsets I have ever seen in an Edwardian magazine.  These are both from a copy of The Delineator I have in my archives from September, 1905.

Not only are corsets beautiful, but the page layouts are gorgeous and they include great descriptions of the corsets, and what figure types they are suited for.

“No, 1 is a plain little corset designed especially to soften the angles of an extremely slight figure ;  No. 2, made of fancy sateen with ribbon decoration, shows the natural hip and high bust effect ;  No. 3,  illustrated in white coutil, is for larger hips and high bust ;  No. 4 of white satin, is designed to reduce the too pronounced curves below the waist.”

“No. 1 is a ribbon or tape girdle, especially favored for golf, tennis, and other outdoor sports ;  No. 2 is a novelty corset of brocaded satin, lacing at each side of the front ;  No. 3 combines a bust supporter of white satin ribbon and a hip reducing corset of sateen ;  No. 4 is a slightly boned silk jersey model for a medium figure, giving the high bust effect.”

I love that it includes an image of a ribbon corset! I’d love to make one of those some day.

I find it very interesting that one of the corsets includes a bust supporter.  This is the era when the top edge of the corsets started to move closer to the waist, so it is very nice to know there were options out there for ladies who required or desired bust support in a corset.  Many ladies would wear separate brassieres, which offered very little support compared to what we are accustomed to today.

I have picked up the Truly Victorian S-Curve corset again, which I set aside and has a remained a UFO (unfinished object) since last year.  These are very inspiring for me to finish it by the Historical Sew Fortnightly deadline!

I actually love these images so much that I have added one of them to my Cafepress store.  So you can get T shirts, journals, etc, with the image if you love it as much as I do!

1905_delineator_corsets_journalI do not mind if you share these original images, but please do remember to link back and give credit, as it always takes me a bit of time to clean up the originals and share.  Thanks :)


A 1909 Peek at Past Lives- “Thanksgiving Folks”

A while ago my mom gave me an old magazine that was without the cover, and a Good Housekeeping.  I usually don’t go for those types of magazines- preferring those that focus on fashion like McCall, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and the Delineator- but after I flipped the first few pages, I stumbled across this series of images and found myself wondering about the lives about about those photographed here.

As a general rule (though I know there are exceptions), we tend to base our rosy-colored view of what people of the past wore through illustrations, paintings, exquisite high-end gowns in museum collections, and photographs- and what most of those have in common, is that, in essence, most were either worn by, are images of, or are targeted toward, the younger, fashionable, and wealthy (though, advent of magazines such as McCall, Ladies Home Journal, etc, targeted the middle class).  I admit, I don’t often even think about what the older, less wealthy people wore in a given generation.  I was interested in what people in my age range wore, and, if I was going to consider a gown to make, was obviously going to make one as pictured in the fashion magazines or the other visually appealing images of loveliness that flit before our eyes constantly on social networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

But let us consider, for a moment, a completely different kind of beauty.  In fact, I venture to say, this is a more realistic, more heart-touching, more genuine form of beauty.  Just a look at the lines on the faces and smiles glistening through their eyes makes you stop and consider, not only, our perceived notion of what “beauty” is, but also WHO these images capture.  What they must have lived through!  What must their lives have been!  Even consider, had some of these sitters ever had a photograph taken of themselves?

Seeing these faces really gives me something to be thankful for.  Those courageous men and women who came before us, who carved out a life for themselves, and who touched the people they knew.  It really humbles and gives us a moment to consider how much WE have to be thankful for.









1908- How to Manipulate Long Skirts

 Happy Friday!

Today I have another set of images from The Delineator, November 1908.  If you ever feel a little out of your element in long skirts, or skirts with trains, here’s a great article that teaches how to manipulate them to move gracefully.

If you’ve studied Edwardian fashion for a while, you may recognize that the time period called these “Directoire” influence.  Now, granted, in view of the history of fashion, these have little to nothing to do with the Napoleonic and Regency dresses they were referencing, but if you consider the silhouette of historical fashion, the slim, long, draped skirt was relatively out of Vogue for around 80 years or so.  These must have seemed so refreshing and freeing, after decades of crinolines, cages, hoops, bustles, and layer upon layer of petticoats.

 “Grace is a gentle art with which Nature has endowed some, and which, others may acquire…. the proper wearing of one’s gown is an ever-present duty”.

I just love the way this period combined insult with praise.  Come, women, it’s your duty to make up for your klutziness!  Learn to move those skirts properly!

Click on the images for a larger version you can read.



How to Make a Modish Hat, 1904

Happy Saturday!

Today I have a great article from the Ladies Home Journal from 1904 that tells how to make a hat for $3.00 (which equates to about $75.50 today, via the Inflation Calculator).  Although that might seem like a high price, we need to remember that ladies would usually only have one hat to last them through, in this case, spring and summer for a year.  They may even wear the same hat for several years and simply change the trimmings.  Most women didn’t have the luxury of having several hats or a collection of them, the way we can do today with our costuming or even our regular wardrobe.  So a little bit of an investment in a do-it-at-home hat could give a lady a hat that would be chic!

In the article it tells how to make the hat pictured.  If you try to take a go at it, please do let me know and share pictures!

Click the image above to be taken to a larger image you can read.

Have a great weekend!

The Practical Shirtwaist, 1904.

Sharing another lovely image from 1904.  Here are more shirtwaist designs from 109 years ago.  The illustrations are just lovely.  And the hats! *swoon*.

What I think is particularly interesting is the sleeve design.  The placement of the tucks and the way they controlled where the fullness is released, as well as trim or decoration accenting the cuff… simply brilliant!

Click on the image for a larger version you can read.