Last fall, I had the opportunity to take part in a presentation focused on the clothing of middle and upper class African Americans in Providence, RI around the turn of the 20th century (you can see photos of and information about this event here). In order to generate some promotional materials that incorporated both of the presenters (as opposed to having separate photos of each of us), my co-presenter, Lady Estelle Barada, suggested that we schedule a photo shoot together and so we spent a beautiful, sunny summer morning traipsing around a state park, accompanied by photographer David Cruz.
The outfit I chose to wear, my 1904 Anne of Green Gables Ensemble, has been a difficult outfit to photograph in the past, especially the blouse with its white-on-white lace trim and the subtle changes in the direction of the stripes. Given that challenge, I was extra excited when I saw the results of David’s work. He clearly captured the small details of our clothing, including the blouse details!
There are many wonderful photos from our shoot and I enjoy the captivating liveliness that each photo shares–you can just image that movement will continue as soon as you blink or look away.
On the outfit front, I love how comfortable my ‘Anne Ensemble’ is. I had no difficulty tromping through tall grass, climbing over rock walls, sitting on a picnic blanket, and more!
I was also pleased with how my hair turned out. I was able to achieve Edwardian volume around the face while maintaining a side part that gave me two separate poufs on the top/side of my face.
I’m very grateful that David graciously gave permission for me to share these photos with you. As always, please do not share these photos without appropriate photographer credit and a link back to this source.
Over the summer, my dance group was invited to create a turn-of-the-century atmosphere for a weekend on Bakers Island, off the coast of Salem, MA. Today, the part of the island we were on is managed by Essex Heritage and is home to a lighthouse, but for our visit the idea was that visitors to the island could get a sense of what the island would have been like over 100 years ago when there was a large hotel located there.
We didn’t actually dance, but we played historical games and activities and explained our context to the visitors. They came upon us along various paths during their walking tour.
I wore my 1904 Anne of Green Gables ensemble. This time, though, I had a new belt and I got my hat to behave. It’s supposed to flip up in back, but was misbehaving last time I wore it and was flipped down in back. Boo!
The new belt is green silk covered with the same lace that I used on the skirt. The green isn’t a perfect match to the skirt, but I like that it coordinates without being too match-y. Taking a photo of it also allowed us to capture the subtle lace detail and woven stripe in the fabric of the blouse better than we did last time, which was a bonus outcome.
In between tours, we took some group photos around the lighthouse and the light keeper’s house. The light keeper’s house, in particular, provided us with some really adorable photos. These were provided to us by the light keepers, who keep their own charming blog (currently about their stay on Bakers Island this summer) which you can view here.
Behind the scenes, we needed to arrive before the visitors to set up. Given when boats were available that meant we had to arrive the day before the visitors. There aren’t any indoor accommodations we were able to take advantage of, so it was camping in tents for us. I’m not really a camping kind of person, but thankfully other people had tents to share. Between the modern equipment and food that we needed as well as the historical clothes, games, and amusements, we had quite the pile of luggage for two days and seven people! Here we are waiting for the boat back to the mainland.
A new adventure complete! The croquet set is still in place but the players are gone! Maybe someday there will be others (or maybe us, who knows?) to once again bring history to life on this island.
In 2012, I made and wore a c.1900 green skirt and straw hat at Newport Vintage Dance Week. I had plans to make a blouse as well with it but ran out of time and wore a 1913 blouse I already had instead. I wasn’t terribly pleased with the whole look, so I didn’t ever focus on it in a blog post, though I did include it in my overview of the dance week.
Since then I’ve worn the skirt a few times, but haven’t been able to for the last few years because (and this shouldn’t be surprising given the subject of my last post) the waist was too small!
Thankfully, I had two things going for me that made changing the waist size quite simple. First, I had extra fabric. Second, when I’d originally made the skirt the waist circumference was a few inches too big for the waistband, so I took a tuck on each side of center back. Now all I had to do was let out the tucks and extend the waistband with my extra fabric!
It took me years to finally get around to doing it, but I’m glad I did, because I really like this skirt and it’s fun to remember the lovely wading adventure we had back in 2012 while I was wearing it! What gave me the final push to do the change was the opportunity for an early summer picnic, for which I had clothes but really wanted to have something new. Who hasn’t experienced that desire?
More About The New/Updated Ensemble
The picnic provided some lovely backgrounds to take documentation pictures of all the new and updated pieces that form my Anne-inspired ensemble! I ironed out all the wrinkles in the skirt ahead of time… and then sat on picnic blanket before taking pictures, so the back pictures have a rather wrinkly bum.
The Blouse Inspiration
In addition to wanting to update the skirt, I’ve also had that blouse to go with it on my to-do list for years. Instead of going back to the blouse plan from 2012, I started over with new inspiration. (Never fear, the unfinished blouse from 2012 is still in a box waiting for me to go back to it… someday.)
The new inspiration came directly from the scene in Anne of Green Gables when she’s walking down the lane with Gilbert and his horse (just before she gets mad and whacks him with her basket!). I’ve always love her silhouette and decided a blouse with a similar shape would suit the green skirt nicely.
I researched blouses from this period and decided on the year 1904 for my blouse. I was particularly inspired by this ivory c. 1905 blouse, this black c. 1905 blouse, and this blouse that The Met dates to 1899-1902. The idea to play with the direction of the stripes and to have curling lace trim (mimicking embroidery) was taken directly from this page from The Ladies’ Home Journal for April 1904 that Lauren of Wearing History kindly shared on her blog. Other views of some of these blouses as well as other inspiration are gathered on my Pinterest board for this project, here.
The Blouse Construction
My blouse is made of an ivory cotton that is woven with narrow stripes. In the center front panel the stripes are horizontal, while on the rest of the blouse they are vertical. The blouse is trimmed with lace appliqués in the same pattern as the Ladies’ Home Journal blouse from 1904. Unfortunately, all of the subtle ivory on ivory details are hard to photograph.
The blouse is mostly machine sewn and uses French seams except at the armholes, which are left raw. It is finished by hand and closes up the front with concealed hooks and thread bars. There is a twill tape channel for a drawstring at the waist to help control the fullness and the pigeon front.
The silhouette was looking a little deflated for a 1904 pigeon breast look, so I tacked ruffles down the front seams to help fill out the blouse. It’s subtle-but-useful method and was easy since I already had the circular ruffles in my stash.
The Hat Inspiration
The most direct inspiration for my hat was this image from 1903. While I decided against feathers, the general trim placement as well as the poofs under the back of the brim are present in my hat.
There are more inspirational hats here, on my Pinterest board for this project.
The Hat Construction
The hat in the 2012 version of this ensemble was an admirable idea in theory, but not execution. (I was displeased enough that it was remade into my 1885 Flower Pot Hat in 2015.) However, I had another of the same straw base that I decided to remake for the new Anne ensemble.
In 2012, I had used the second straw base to make a Regency bonnet, another project I wasn’t entirely happy with (this is not the right type of straw to get a good bonnet shape). All that needed to be done was removing the trimmings from the hat and taking out the stitching holding the wire around the edge… and I had a straw hat blank ready to be remade into a new hat!
For a hat block, I used a shallow glass bowl covered in tin foil and plastic wrap. I wet the straw base in the bathtub, then used a paintbrush to cover the straw with a layer of my sizing (a bit of elmer’s glue dissolved in water–no formula, I just winged it). I set the hat out in the hot sun to let it dry, holding the edges down with spice jars to keep it from blowing away. (Can you tell I just wandered into my kitchen to see what I had that would work to help me with this hat?)
I tidied up the edges of the hat with scissors, bound the edge of the straw with narrow strips of tulle to keep the straw from fraying, and then reshaped my wire and resewed it around the edge of the hat. I covered these edge treatments with a binding of ivory silk satin, trimmed the hat, and I was done!
In order to achieve my desired pigeon breast silhouette of 1904, I needed some omph in the back in addition to the ruffles inside the blouse in the front. I tried wearing a small bum pad (about 10″ wide), but then my hips looked sunken by comparison. I determined I needed a new bum pad that would fill in both my hips and backside to help create the illusion I was aiming for.
I also made a new belt to go with this ensemble. I wanted something a little more V shaped in front and a little less dramatic in terms of color. I actually reused the lining from the previous iteration of my new hat to make a new belt. The two shades of green don’t quite match, but they also don’t offend, so I’m pleased.
Instead of a traditional Gibson Girl hair style, I tried a style more like this, with a center part and poofs on each side. It was a bit squashed by my hat, but I was quite pleased with it overall. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any perfect shots of just my hair style. I’ll have to try it again someday and get hair pictures.
This year, I paired my new parasol and hat with a pleated skirt from ebay (it was one of those things you gamble on when you order, and while I don’t like it for modern wear I think it worked perfectly for an early 20s look!), a new silk blouse c. 1922, my 1917 Knitted Sweater of Angorina (because I’m sure people didn’t wear their clothing only during one year!), and my American Duchess Astorias. It’s wonderful to have accessories and pieces like sweaters in the closet that can fill out an outfit without having to always create an entirely new ensemble.
My goal was an early 1920s look, when the skirts were still long and the clothes weren’t quite such bags. In terms of overall clothing style, I was aiming for the yellow lady in the image below. In terms of accessories, I was aiming for some of the looks which you can see in this past post about making my parasol.
The blouse I made from white silk crepe the afternoon before the event. It’s all one piece, with the gathered sections on the sides. I used short sleeves, as in view A, but omitted the bow, as in view C. This was partially due to fabric restrictions, as I used fabric left over from another project and I only had an odd shaped piece to work with. I’m not entirely pleased with it, because, being 20s, it is rather a bag, but it was very comfortable, which I did like. I think I would like it better if it was an off white rather than a bright white, because it would have complimented my outfit better. But my hand knitted sweater is ivory and I was really pleased to wear it over the blouse, because I liked the color and the length better. It has such nice proportions with the skirt!
In no particular order, here are a variety of pictures taken around the estate of the entire ensemble. There were quite a few that I liked, for the movement of the fabrics, or the pose, or the background. The wide hat brim was great for hiding my face. Useful, since I am really good at making weird faces and not always the best at making good picture faces.
Of course, sometimes I was the person behind the camera as well (it’s only fair that if I want lots of pictures of my outfits that I also reciprocate!). Here are a few other pictures just for fun. I took all of these except the last one.
And, lastly, a bit of humor to end the parade of pictures.
And there we are! All of my recent 1920s accessories have been worn/used and documented in my complex photography files. That’s it for 1920s for awhile.
I finally put finishing touches on the navy crepe waist I made last November! A few weeks ago, I was inspired at the very last minute to attend an early 20th century picnic and decided to wear my 1917 outfit because it was still a little chilly out and I wanted to wear something practical for walking around. So, literally the night before the picnic, I embarked on buttons and buttonholes because despite the best of intentions I hadn’t actually sewn them in the months since November. I also added a yoke around the bottom of the waist to keep it from untucking itself while being worn. It untucked itself often when I wore it November, but it didn’t matter because I was wearing my 1917 sweater of Angorina over it. But for the picnic I expected to be wearing the waist without the sweater and I didn’t want to worry about it staying tucked in.
This is a candid shot, not posed, but I like how thoughtful it is, especially with the natural light filtered by the cloudy sky. You can see the collar with its interesting points which follow the diamond shapes on the lace, as well as the turn back points on the cuffs, which also follow the diamond shapes on the lace. If you look really closely you can also see the buttons down the front, clustered in groups of three rather than being evenly spaced (a detail I pulled from this 1916 image). (Oh, and I added little extensions to the back of my gaiters so that they would stop popping up over the back of my shoes! I didn’t get a picture, but the change made a huge difference in terms of ease of wearing!)
The waist was made using Past Patterns #9025, which was originally published by The New Idea Pattern Company. “Waist” is the word that was used in the early 20th century to describe the garment we would now call a blouse. Past Patterns lists the date as c. 1915, but the pattern actually has a specific date stamp on it: ” Nov. 19, 1917.” How cool is that? It’s perfect for my 1917 outfit! You can see that I mixed and matched elements from both pattern views, and that I adapted the collar shape to suit the lace that I used for it. The pattern is intended for at 36″ bust (which I am) but it’s pretty roomy. I wouldn’t mind the front being a little bit less full if I decided to make another similar garment one day.
As a bonus, here are some other picturesque images from the picnic.
The skirt isn’t quite finished yet, as I still have closures and some decorative buttons to sew on. So for now I’ll leave off posting details about it. Hopefully, I’ll finish it soon and get pictures… sometime? It’s going to be too warm to wear a wool skirt soon!