A Set of Pretty Underwear, May 1914

Today I have a great little article from 1914 to share. This set of underwear is a great look at what the woman of 1914 would want to have in her trousseau. If you’re attempting to recreate a set of underwear from the 19-teens, this little guide will give you ideas.

We see a nightgown, a combination (this one has full drawers, which the article claims is a corset-cover, petticoat, and drawers). Because this specifically mentions a corset-cover, we know this particular set was meant to be worn OVER the corset, though other types of combinations were worn under the corset as well.

What I learned from the article was a fashion of making a separate petticoat ruffle with a row of beading at the top. The beading would be placed on top of the upper petticoat edged at the bottom with the same size beading, and then the two could be laced together and worn. The article mentions prior fashions being for buttoned-together petticoats. Most of what we see surviving are the all-in-one petticoats with the upper and lower petticoats connecting, so I found this fashion for separating petticoats both fascinating and practical. If either the upper half or the lower half was soiled, you could launder that particular part of the petticoat. One could also assume it would be possible to mix-and-match. Perhaps one ruffle has more fullness than another, etc. Very clever!

Hope you enjoy this look at 1914.

It is safe to say there is no girl or woman who does not long to possess at least one suit of embroidered underwear, matched in design, whether it be just because she just loves pretty clothes,” or wants the garments for a bridal trousseau, or other very special use. And this desire is very easily gratified. By having a stamped piece conveniently at hand, where it may be picked up for a few minutes now and again, the work will be accomplished almost before one realizes so great is the power of the spare moment.” 

One of the newest materials used in the making of underwear is plisse-a soft crepe–like fabric which is perhaps more like a very fine seersucker, and yet quite unlike either. It is pliable, yet despite its softness has a firmness of texture which renders it especially suitable for the use made of it. The woman who travels or is SO situated that good laundry-work is difficult to obtain, will be grateful for a material that requires no iron ing-unless one chooses to give it-and may be shaken into smooth prettiness, without a wrinkle.

On material of this character solid embroidery is most suitable, since it would be difficult to work eyelets smoothly; if one cares to combine them with the satin stitch, however, the little circles or coin-spots which form a part of the design may be wrought in this way. The out line should first be closely run with short stitches, and a second row should cover the spaces between the stitches of the first row, thus affording a firm edge to work over after punching. 

The satin-stitch is well padded. As has been stated, it is an excellent plan to first outline the entire design with running-stitches, as described, particularly on material such as plisse; and care should be taken to keep the padding well within the outlines, which are needed as a guide in keeping the forms true and even. A little practice only is necessary to enable the careful and pains taking plain sewer to do solid embroidery beautifully.

The nightgown is of the convenient and popular kimono-style, with only the side and underarm seam. Bands of insertion are used to form the yoke, which is finished with edging to match, the slight fulness being adjusted by means of ribbon run through the upper portion of the edging and tied in a pretty bow in front. In joining the strips of insertion it is always better to sew them on the wrong side with an over-and-over stitch; the joining is thus rendered secure, and is quite in visible which would not be the case were the edges stitched on the machine or run together by hand. When we put in so many embroidery-stitches, and take so much pains to have an article beautiful, it seems a pity to slight the work in smaller incidentals.

The sleeves of the gown are finished with a row of insertion, lace-edged, with also the ribbon run in, and neck and sleeves of the combination garment with the lace and ribbon alone. This useful combination represents three garments, corset-cover, petticoat and drawers, with front opening and center seam at the back, and joined at the waist with beading. By running ribbon in the latter the size of the garment is as readily adjusted as at the neck, and it is better to have it a trifle large than small. The embroidery is at each side of the bottom, which is edged with insertion and lace joined.

The flounce for the skirt is made separate from the upper portion, to which it is joined by means of beading rather than by snap-fastenings or buttons and buttonholes formerly used. Finish the lower edge of the skirt with beading to match that at the upper edge of the flounce, place one strip of beading over the other and lace together with ribbon. This is quickly done, and much more secure than the other joinings. The ribbon may end in a rosette or bow. Just a word about ribbon to be used in making up embroidered underwear. It should be of the best quality, of course; but oven at a large price there is so little really “washable” ribbon–that is, such as comes from a tubbing as good as new-that it is always wiser to remove it when a garment is to be laundered. It is easily pressed and run in again, and the ironing is done so much more quickly with it out of the way that it is really a saving of time to re move it

The skirt-flounce matching this pretty set has the embroidered motif alternating with three vertical bands of insertion set about four inches apart, and the same distance from the motif, and is edged with insertion and lace joined.

And there is the dainty boudoir-cap, so called, but which is found very convenient and suitable for wear at the breakfast-table or while about the house hold duties of the morning. 

It is becoming to nearly every woman, and when there is no time for the usual dressing of the hair, unruly locks may be tucked away within this pretty bit of headgear, and nobody be very much the wiser! Many, too, provide such a cap for wearing at night, to keep the hair from tangling or becoming broken. It is in every way as serviceable as the old-fashioned nightcap worn by great–grandmother, which tied under the chin, more comfortable, a vastly more becoming The crown is prettily embroidered, the circle is bordered with insertion, beneath which is run the elastic band which holds the securely, a frill of lace finishes the edge, and a twisted ribbon, with a bow at each side, extends across the front.

3 Comments on A Set of Pretty Underwear, May 1914

  1. Quinn
    May 20, 2020 at 5:06 pm (4 years ago)

    Neat! I haven’t heard of that method of petticoat/flounce attachment before. It’s clever!


  2. Ryan
    August 5, 2020 at 9:44 pm (4 years ago)

    In saying the combinations serve as corset cover, drawers and petticoat (with the laced on flounce) I would think they would have the envelope closure attached somewhere in the skirt but high enough that the petticoat would still have plenty of flounce at the bottom so it wouldn’t get caught up between the knees. I can’t see any sign of stitching in the photo but it is pretty grainy.

  3. Damion Rodman
    May 7, 2021 at 8:24 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks, Damion Rodman for wearinghistoryblog.com

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