April 1912- Fashions and Fabrics

I recently came across a whole slew of 1910s-1920s Needlecraft magazines and am so eager to share some articles!

This article is from 107 years ago.  At first glance it may not be that exciting, since it only has one image and the rest are descriptions, but what I found was a wealth of knowledge about the time period.  One of the questions I see asked most often is what fabrics are appropriate for the 1900-1910s era.  Well, this is actually quite easy to determine by going to original period sources.  In this one we hear what was fashionable for April, 1912.

Of special interest- the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, so this was the fashion at the time of the Titanic.

Because it helps me to learn and retain more by writing it out, I typed out the description here instead of just scanning it in.  Little did I know when I started that this article was lengthy and covered parts of four pages!

I have added headers for paragraphs, so if you’re particularly interested in a certain aspect of dress, you can scan to that section instead of reading the article in entirety.  Though I do rather hope some of you get to read it, as I found the language and description to be quite lovely and the stuff that my clothing dreams are made of!

If you reference any of what I’ve typed out here, please reference back to this blog post.  Thank you!

Click for a hi-res image to save or print

Fashion Review by Dora Douglas

Needlecraft Magazine- April, 1912

A good showing of the latest New York fashions is offered to Needlecraft readers in this number.  Being the Easter issue, miladi will be especially interested in all that is smart and most up to date for the construction of her new spring toilette.  This is one time of the year when every woman wants a new frock, and most women manage to get one.  “When a woman will, you may depend on it” has oft been quoted, and the saying is particularly true when clothes are the subject under consideration.

In the budding spring, when all nature is putting on her new apparel and the whole world seems decked for a bridal, a woman’s garments worn during the winder and perhaps the fall before, look sadly shabby and out of place.  She wants something new, something bright, sometimes not because she needs it so much, but because it is her nature to admire and desire feminine finery, and when all the world is fresh and bright she alone would not be in the background.

In this day, when materials of the most beautiful color and texture can be purchased for a mere song;  when the whole world of fashion is brought to her very door, no matter in what remote village town she may live; when patterns for every conceivable garment are to be had, patterns that even the inexperienced needleworker can handle with a little ingenuity, no woman who really wants a new frock, or suit, or separate coat need be without it.

Dresses, Suits, and Fabrics

Two sketches in this number, designs No. 5801 and No. 5806, give to readers the latest word in dress- and suit-fashions.  A description of these charming garments will be found on another page, but further mentions of the models will not be amiss.

Design No. 5801 offers a wide latitude in the choice of materials for its development.  Taffeta silk in the new “khaki”-tan, “flax seed”- brown, “Copenhagen” blue, or in any of the changeable-effects, beautiful as the harmonies of a sunset sky, might be a worthy consideration:  but for the woman whose purse will not permit of an expensive material there are wonderful half-silk-and-cotton fabrics that will make up handsomely, and a great variety of colors is given to these.

In suits the influence of the Russian blouse is much in evidence, and in the delightful design shown in No. 5806 we have something especially charming that will make up exquisitely in either wool or cotton material.  A study of the design by the woman who wants something smart and out of the ordinary will be profitable indeed, and best of all no needleworker need hesitate to attempt at fashioning of the garment, as its construction is well within the limits of the home-possibility.

The other sketches are all nobby and up to the minute in style-features, and every woman will find something in the pages to suit her individual taste and need.

One of the season’s new ideas is the “coat”-waist, a novelty already a great success, which will be recognized at once by women of taste and appreciation as a delightful combination of the proverbial “useful as well as ornamental.”

As has been told earlier, taffeta is one of the leading fabrics of the season in suits and dresses.  In fact, in Paris just now taffeta is a sort of revolution in fabrics.  Suits of taffeta silk are given especial mention, and ratine, sponge-cloth and laces are prominently to the fore in trimmings.

While the changeable taffeta has found its way into the realm of evening-gowns, the plain taffetas and the changeable ones, for the most part, are in the suits and tailored dresses.  One suit of black taffeta has a short coat with pointed tails that cross in the back, emphasizing the crossed lines of the draped skirt.

Some of the coats are twenty-six and twenty-eight inches long, cut at the waist and shirred to give an Empire-effect, and buttoning to the extreme side with handmade ornaments of silk and buttons to match.  The three-quarter sleeves have fancy cuffs, and long revers, trimmed with laces and ratine.  Little plaited ruffles of fringed taffeta trim many of the suits of the changeable variety.  The peplum, the coat blouse, the blouse with two square tails in the back, and the short-jacket suit are forms in which the taffeta most frequently appears.


Mona Lisa is a soft faille silk in shot-colors, which is absolutely new and comes in the most exquisite combinations;  black shimmering to blue, or to green, or to violet.  It is used by Paris and New York dressmakers for their spring frocks.  Another new silk which will be exceedingly smart for suits is Crap de Chasse, which is a heavier-ribbed silk which comes in blues, blacks, grays, and other street colors.  From a French brocade has been borrowed a dainty wreath-design which is woven in broche-effect on a plain foulard silk.  In China blue, rose, brown, green, and other shades, this solid-color broche foulard is charming, and the price is quite reasonable.

The white and cream serges and diagonals are sure to be in favor this summer.  Suits of this fashionable material show the coats for the most part short and well cut, many of them with rounded-off fronts, and most of them are trimmed with silk soutache.  The revers are usually of silk.  Some suits have revers of black bengaline, others of plaid taffeta.  Some have white satin veiled in black chiffon, and some with white moire or white taffeta.  The sleeves are three-quarters or long, and the black and white glace-kid gloves are worn with them.  Some of the black gloves have white stitching and white edges.

One frock of white French serge has sleeves and trimmings of white taffeta.  The sleeves have cuffs of the serge, and the front of the blouse, also of the silk, is hemstitched.

Dress Trimmings

The new dress-trimmings baffle description, they are so bewitchingly lovely.  It seems that the French artists have outdone themselves to produce this season lavishly wonderful things to adorn woman’s dress.

There is such a bewildering play of color that no pen could do it justice.  There are satin beads, silver, gold and pearl bugles, crystal balls, and many more beautiful things.  Dainty Pompadour rosebuds in pastel tints are frequently seen.  The black-and-white effects are numerous and enormously smart.  There are such shimmering combinations as silver- and- rhinestone=effects, pearl-and-silver, white-and-gold, in bandings, flouncings, and separate motifs.

Veils, Wraps, Scarves, and Sashes

The new veilings are artistic, and are to be had in champagne, brown, pink, taupe, navy, and other shades, as colors are to be much worn this spring.  Black-and-white combinations with Shetland finish, which gives a delightful softness, are much featured.

Whether draped about the shoulders, or made into an evening-wrap or tunic of a gown, the new Egyptian scarfs give a tone of elegance and gracefulness.  Some of these scarfs are of black-and-white net, hand encrusted with that peculiar heavy silver thread.

Wherever possible, the scarf for evening wear repeats some note in the gown.  Even in the case of the few taffetas changeants this is possible as the same colors may be used in chiffon for a scarf.

Among the novel features in the spring frocks is noted a sash of black taffeta, well studded with jet, and jet also adorns the taffeta hem of the gown on which the sash appears.  A frock of net has the lace replaced by a deep border of cutout embroidery in an elaborate design, in which even birds appear.  The eyelet-work is of the finest quality on sheer linen, and at a short distance looks like a new sort of lace.  It finishes the foot of the gown, and decorates the bodice as well.

On some of the tailored gowns and suits, the collars are not of the sailor-variety which grew monotonously last season, but are a modification.  They are deep but not wide, being either square or rounded in the back, but not reaching to the shoulder.  They are often much decorated with soutache or embroidery.


The modes of the present and coming summer calls for the artistic wearing of earrings and bracelets, as most in keeping with the slender silhouette.  Earrings have their use not only to show the beauty of a dainty ear, but to draw attention to a softly tinted cheek, to develop the oval of a face and to contrast with a clear skin.  Long round earrings of Florentine coral, oddly shaped Baroque pearls, pendants of seed pearls, and of jet and onyx, are fashionable.

And bracelets to display the grace of a slender arm, necessary in the days of short sleeves, are plain, chased, or hand-engraved, many beautifully stone-set, others wonderful flexible snake- and novel woven straps with buckles.

Braid & Ribbon Trimmings

For edging blouses, and for heading the fringe of tunics, a narrow silver braid can be had with single brilliants firmly fastened at intervals.  The most popular hair-bandeaux include metallic- and bead-effects, among which the fashionable oriental colorings and designs are prominent.

The popularity of the ribbon-garniture is by no means waning, and the shops are filled with pretty conceits for the neck in the shape of satin roses.  These have pins attached, and can be worn either in place of a bow alone, or with a jabot.  They come in various shapes, prominent among which are the crescents and buckles.


There are but few new features in gowns that cannot be reflected somehow in the parasols, and the makers of these dainty adjuncts to the toilette are bringing out every day now some captivating novelties that show how closely they follow the late ideas in costuming.

Now that changeable taffeta has sprung into prominence for suits and dresses, it has inevitably been played up in the parasol as well, and the pretty sunshades in gold and blue, green and red, silver and lavender, and shades of one color or other good combinations are to be found.

The darker shade predominates underneath, while the lighter usually appears in the top with mere glints of the darker here and there.  The contrasting color may be placed up on top in the form of a silk cord or puffings of satin, or the changeable taffeta itself may form a box-plaited and fringed-out ruffle.


White-suede or glace-kid uppers are familiar on patent leathers by this time, buy some of the new combinations are not.  For instance tan uppers on black, black uppers on tan, white buckskin on fabric.  Some of the low shoes, or the shoe part on boots with kid uppers, are of tan or black velvet or suede, stitched over with narrow silk ribbon in a diagonal effect.

Teenage Garments

For the young girl some of the new frocks are too beautiful for description.  One model of white silk mull will make the maiden who wears it a lovely old-fashioned picture.  Its Empire bodice of white mull is perfectly plain and simply gathered around the slightly low neck.  But there are suplice drapings of lace underneath, and a garland of pink-silk roses gives the necessary finish to the corsage.  Its skirt of mull has lace overdrapings which are fastened at the front with a bunch of tiny roses.

Neck Ruffles, Jabots, and Fichus

The neck-ruff has been revived.  It is made in many instances of white or black tulle arranged in ray plaits, and extends far over the front of the coat or dress it decorates, while at the back it is considerably narrower.  These ruches are made in double, triple, and quadruple effect, and are often employed for filling in the decollate of blouses and gowns.  They are irresistibly charming when made of black net.

The jabot is still at the height of popularity and is often seen trimmed with lace and fringe.  Jabots of fine tulle, ornamented with a graceful relief-design of ribbons, and garlands of roses are as effective as they are novel.  Favored combinations for jabots of this type are icy-gray and turquoise, and dull mauve and string-color.

The fichu in various guises plays a prominent part so far as ornamentation is concerned, the graceful shawl-like lines of the Marie Antoinette fichu being undoubtedly popular,, while the flat Quaker fichu collar fashioned of net or lawn, edged with Valenciennes lace has a decidedly quaint effect which is very becoming.

Women with a little spare time can fashion many dainty jabots and fichus from odds and ends in her work-basket, odd lengths of ribbon, lace, brocade, and other dainty materials for which she has no other use.  Short lengths of lace can be converted into pretty jabots, which many dainty contrivances will result from the use of some pretty ribbon which has long been tucked away at the bottom of the scarp=pile.  Odd pieces of silver-and-gold galoons may be made into pretty hair-ornaments for evening wear, while Quaker bows to be worn with lace jabots represent another use for odd lengths of ribbon, which can be made into neckbands for day wear and girdles for evening-gowns, bt the woman deft with the needle.

Children’s Clothing

This season we have the most charming and attractive frocks and coats for children.  Of course the lines of these little garments do not vary to a great extent, but the materials change, and the ornamentation admits of much variety.

Serviceable and practical coats of tub-material are often made up in pique of white, pink, or blue, often with hand-embroidery fo white, and scalloped edges embroidered in white.  Then there is a pique with a fine honeycomb or check weave that makes up very prettily.  Imitation Cluny or baby-Irish lace is used upon pique, when lace is required, the heavy Irish crochet beading giving good effects in simple models.

One finds in silk coats for the little girl more variety than usual.  Some charming little models are seen in shantung, tussor, and other pongee-weaves.  All are simply made, often with a view to laundering, for the material will launder perfectly if proper care is taken to avoid fading the delicate color which is often selected.  One pretty little model in shell-pink was bordered with a plain hem, featherstitched by hand in white, and had a deep collar of hand-embroidered lingerie and Valenciennes lace.  Another had a collar of silk with baby-Irish insertion set just inside the hem.  One beautiful model was edged with tiny scallops embroidered in white, a design of hand-embroidery bordering the coat, and practically covering the collar.

For dressy coats for children bengaline is a favored silk.  This material is usually made up on severe lines, with a little hand-embroidery or heavy lace for trimming.  Some pretty models are quite plain, with only lace collars and big pearl buttons for relief.

Much variety is offered in the style of frock for little girls.  The Empire-waistline is very much in evidence in some of the prettiest of these dresses, sometimes indicated merely by a sash loosely confining a straight one-piece frock at this short line, sometimes running underneath tiny box-plaits of the material.

The long French waist is still used, but not in such an exaggerated form as formerly seen.  In many models the natural waist-line is in evidence so there is much variety from which to chose.

Negligees and Teagowns

The negligee garments, nearly always alluring, are positively bewitching this season, and more delicate material than ever is used for the fashioning of them.  One of the daintiest trimmings is a thread silk lace, which is used lavishly on many garments.  One negligee is made from head to foot of eyelet-work, worn over pink silk, and decked with many rosettes and loops of baby ribbon.  Pale-pink crepe de Chine makes another lovely full-length garment which is ornamented with tucks and with white lace, and in among the lace are hidden clusters of wreaths of the cunning little pink-satin rosebuds, which have been used so much of late on hats and collars.

A very pretty but simple negligee costume is in three pieces, all made of sheer white crossbar fabric.  The jacket is hip-length, but there is a ribbon-decked petticoat worn beneath this, and on the head is a fascinating cap of the crossbar, trimmed with pink-silk rosebuds.  Another exquisite three-piece set of this kind can be made of pink silk mull.

Teagowns are also playing an important part in the scheme of the attire, and deservedly so, as without a negligee garment of some kind no woman feels her wardrobe quite complete.  No matter whether she spends a small income on her clothes, or whether she is obliged to economize in such matters, the possession of a simple teagown for home wear is one which settles many a vexatious problem of dress.

Many charming models are in vogue at the present time, the Empire period being responsible for a number of ideas in this respect.  The teagown with the slightly raised waistline, and the bodice supplemented with wide revers is very much to the fore.  It certainly represents quite a practical suggestion carried out in soft Japanese silk and lace, or cashmere, or challis, trimmed with Persian embroidery.


In taking note of the latest ideas in hats one is struck by the fact that the fashions of childhood are being extended into the straws for grown-ups.  A clever little bonnet destined to be popular because of its youthfulness is designed to suggest a baby’s bonnet, with huge crown Dutch turnback flap over the face, ear-rosettes and streamers all complete.  On young girls it looks very quaint and charming.  The bonnet is of pink straw, with trimmings of Cluny insertion, pink rosebuds and black velvet.

From Paris comes the gold-lace hat, and it is predicted that as many of these hats will be worn this season as will be straws.  The hat is very supple and light, the brim rolling over against the crown at the right side.  Into the tube thus formed is thrust the end of one beautiful ostrich plume.

My personal notes for things to research in depth at a later time and find examples of.  I was unfamiliar with these particular items and will update as I research (if I remember!)



  • “coat”-waist
  • Egyptian scarfs (were these what we know as “1920’s” assuit?)


  • stitched over with narrow silk ribbon in a diagonal effect.  Would love to find existing pair to see what this looked like.


  • Marie Antoinette
  • Quaker

Children’s Dress-

  • The long French waist


  • Paris Gold Lace Hat with Plume


  • ratine
  • silver-and-gold galoons


  • Mona Lisa is a soft faille silk in shot-colors
  • Crap de Chasse, which is a heavier-ribbed silk

3 Comments on April 1912- Fashions and Fabrics

  1. Rebecca
    April 13, 2019 at 11:24 am (5 years ago)

    Did you mean “crap” or “crepe” de Chasse?

    • Lauren
      April 16, 2019 at 2:17 pm (5 years ago)

      Strangely, I’ve seen it spelled both ways in period mentions. In this one it’s spelled “crap”.

  2. K.M.
    May 11, 2019 at 8:52 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you for taking the time to write all of this down & post it. I love fashion from the early 1900’s & found this to be so rich to read!

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