HSF/M #1: 1895 Hug-able Skating Costume

This is one of my favorite outfits of all time. I just want to hug myself, with all the fur, and I love the trim on the back! The whole thing is so cozy and so hug-able and the skirt has such a nice drape and the accessories work so well… and I actually got to go skating in it! I am just utterly chuffed (to use a British word) with the whole thing!




I was on the fence about whether this outfit would apply to the Historical Sew Fortnightly/Monthly Challenge #1: Foundations, but then I read Leimomi’s teaser post about her foundation entry in which she reminds us about different interpretations of foundations and the intent of this challenge to create loose guidelines open to interpretation.

I was convinced (or pushed off the fence, if you prefer to think of it in that amusing way). I’m claiming my all new 1895 skating outfit for the first challenge of the new year! It does rather stretch the idea of foundations. Is the skirt a foundation because it is literally worn below the jacket, thus being a foundation as you would think of one in a building? Or is the bodice a foundation, because my direct inspiration is a lonely jacket without a skirt and therefore it is the foundation of the outfit because I wouldn’t have made the skirt without having the jacket? Either way, there is an element of a foundation in there.

Just the facts:

Fabric: 5 yds of ivory wool, about ⅓ to ½ yd of dark brown faux fur, probably about 3 yds of scrap muslin for flat lining the jacket, a bit of scrap canvas to stiffen the collar, and a bit of ivory flannel to line the inside of the collar.

Pattern: Made by me and based on my inspiration jacket as well as patterns published in Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns (a Dover book).

Year: c. 1895.

Notions: 5 yds of brown braid, thread, a bit of high loft polyester batting to keep the sleeves puffed out, about 1 yd of ivory hug snug to finish the bottom of the jacket, hooks and bars for the skirt, and thread.

How historically accurate is it? Pretty darn good. Definitely recognizable by someone in the 1890s. The construction is accurate, aside from the use of hug snug instead of bias and faux fur instead of real fur. So, 95%.

Hours to complete: Um… As usual, I did not keep track. I definitely spent at least 15 hours the few days before the event sewing on my braid and fur trim… Plus full days of pattern making, fitting, cutting, and sewing. Maybe 30-40 hours? I care so much more about the finished project than the time it takes to get there! And I loved sewing this, so I didn’t mind that it took time!

First worn: To a skating party that was part of the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers‘ 1890s weekend in January.

Total cost: $75 for the wool, probably about $8 for the fur yardage I used for this project, $4 for the braid, and the rest from the stash = $87

My accessories were a matching fur muff that I made a few years ago and wore once for caroling (with my as-yet-undocumented 1860s winter cape) but more often with my 1917 winter ensemble and a revamp of my 1883 wool hat. I didn’t have time to make a new hat because of all the last minute fur and trim sewing, so I pinned a fur scrap around the 1883 hat and added some feathers to stand up a bit more like 1890s hats and called it good. My main inspiration (and the reason I feel it was an acceptable looking style to have the squashy fedora hat look in the 1890s) was this image.

For good measure, here’s my Pinterest board for the entire project. And here are pictures of us skating (with ice skates: all our snow and cold weather does occasionally come in handy here in Boston)!






Yes, we just crashed a local outdoor ice rink on a Sunday afternoon. One of the attendees even wore vintage skates! Turns out they can be hard to skate in because they’re not very supportive… but they looked fantastic! We got lots of comments from people asking what we were doing, why we were dressed up, and that we looked good. I was asked by multiple groups of young girls why I was dressed up and one group in particular asked what the swirly thing was that I had, which I got to explain was a muff to keep my hands warm!

Here’s our skating group. People came in a variety of late 19th century and early 20th century winter outfits as well as modern clothes.

With my skating ensemble I wore fleece lined tights (modern, but warm so I didn’t care), knee high bamboo socks (modern again), my 1903 silk petticoat (super useful for the 1890s, also), a modern tank top (instead of combinations, because I needed to go to work later in the afternoon and change out of my outfit in the back seat of my car without being indecent…), my 1895 corset, and a long sleeve modern waffle tee (mostly to shield my skin against the wool seam allowances and also for warmth). And I was perfectly warm wearing this out for skating on a day that was sunny and right around freezing. In fact, with the muff and wool hat I actually was too warm at times.

Pleased, chuffed, and smiling all afternoon! So fun! Maybe we will get to go skating again this winter!

36 thoughts on “HSF/M #1: 1895 Hug-able Skating Costume

  1. It’s a beautiful costume. If I had made such a costume, I’d learn how to ice skate, just to have an excuse to wear it!

  2. Holy moly! The first words out of my mouth, well, that is after the squealing, were along the lines of ohmygoodnessthisissosososoperfect! Quinn, your 1890s skating ensemble is just gorgeous!! Pure perfection. And your companions are beautifully dressed as well – looks like a lot of fun!
    Keep inspiring us, Anneliese 🙂

  3. This is the most beautiful outfit I’ve seen in a long time!! I love it!! It is perfectly 1890s, and the fact that you got to go skating in it is amazing. I am putting an outfit like this on my “eventually making it” list!! 🙂
    Beautiful job!!

  4. What a beautiful outfit, you look as though you have stepped straight out of an 1890s photograph. To get to wear it for its intended purpose as well must have been amazing.

    1. Thank you! If you ever have the opportunity to skate in historic clothes, you should! The clothing didn’t make it any more difficult than it would have been in modern clothing, except the corset which made it hard to bend over the lace the boots, but the skating part was fine!

      1. Maybe that corset is why all the illustrations show some handsome gentleman tying the ladies’ skates.

        I know I would have been over the moon having a group of skaters in period dress “crash” my skating rink.

      2. Ooo, yes, I think you’re on to something there. I actually had help ret-tying my laces to be tighter from a kind gentleman friend because I couldn’t pull the laces tight enough to support my ankles. 😉

  5. What a beautiful ensemble and it gives a lovely silhouette. The jacket reminds me of the funny late 1820s 🙂
    And it’s so amazing to see the ensemble in ‘action’ – the ice-skating pictures are gorgeous!!!

    1. Hahaha, the late 1820s do have those ridiculous big sleeves also! I think I enjoy wearing the clothing with the biggest sleeves and biggest skirts most of all. 😉 It was so neat to wear the ensemble for it’s intended purpose! Thank you!

  6. This a gorgeous outfit! What type of wool is it made from? Felted? Suiting? I am looking to make an 1887 skating outfit and am trying to figure out the weight I should use.

    1. Hmm, that’s a good question, Lily. I would call it plain weave medium weight wool. It is not thick, like wool coating, nor is it dense, like felt. It’s a heavier weight than a suiting wool. I bought mine at a local store, but it’s very similar to the gorgeous wool here, where you can see the texture of the weave: https://dorrmillstore.com/index.php/site/products/category/dorr_wools/86/P60

      For 1880s you could probably use a suiting weight, though. It would bustle up nicely without being too thick, though you might have to line the whole thing with cotton or something similar to get the hems enough body. I hope that helps–sorry I don’t have an obvious and direct answer.

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