1912 gowns in 2012: one hundred years after Titanic

 Next year, 2012, is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. So expect to see an increase in passing mentions of the event as well as reproduction dresses being built by costume historians and seamstresses. There will also be lots of 1912 themed events coming up. Anyway, I want to start the season by sharing this fabulous 1912 dress with you from the Diary of a Mantua Maker. Enjoy!

1912 gown

This gown has a related post on the blog Diary of a Mantua Maker. In short, the dress uses the pattern in Janet Arnold’s 1860-1940 pattern book to create a unique version of the gown. I encourage you to visit the post to read the description for yourself and see more photos! I think it was quite a success.

Vintage Lace! (for sale on Etsy)

This Etsy shop (empireroom) has wonderful vintage lace for sale by the yard! The prices are very low and even better for bulk lace (over 20 yards). The seller, Jayne, has been quite helpful in providing me with information about bulk pricing and quantities. The only down side is that she is in Australia, so shipping is slightly expensive. But you should check out her selection anyway!

I have found other lace sources that have lower prices, but not for vintage lace! Usually the low prices are only for modern made lace, which means that a distinct measure of discernment is needed to choose lace that is the right scale, color, and pliability for the project.

Most of the lace listed on this site would work very well for a reproduction 19th century garment, I think. I can especially envision an Edwardian skirt or blouse embellished with some of this lace as edging or insertion, but I can also envision the lace being used to trim undergarments such as petticoats or chemises.

Bolero jackets of the 20th century: 1900-1909

A few posts ago, we took a look at Bolero jackets from the mid-19th century. Let’s look at them  in another context: Boleros from the early 20th century, with a hint of information from the 1890s as well.

1904 Dress with Bolero

What exactly is a Bolero jacket? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “A short jacket, coming barely to the waist; worn by men in Spain; applied to a similar garment worn  by women elsewhere, usually over a blouse or bodice.” This definition condenses the influence and origination of the Bolero down quite eloquently (of course, it is the job of the OED to eloquently distill all words down to a concise definition… but still, I do like this definition). The men’s style Spanish Bolero, with elaborate braiding and bright colors, influenced the style of women’s Boleros from the Victorian period. The following quotes from the OED provide more insight into the history of the Bolero (they also mention other styles of short jackets including the Zouave and the Eton).

“1892    Daily News 14 Nov. 6/3   The Zouave is as great a favourite as it has been for some seasons, and though it varies in form—being sometimes a bolero, sometimes a toreador, and sometimes a cross between an Eton jacket and a Zouave.
1893    Daily News 1 Apr. 2/4   The Zouave is quite as popular as it was last year.‥ Sometimes it is pure bolero.
1893    Lady 17 Aug. 178/1   Zouave Bodices are a feature of autumn gowns. (in the Zouave definition)
1899    Westm. Gaz. 6 July 3/2   Robbing the coat of its basque has created‥the bolero corsage, really an actual bodice, though appearing a bolero coat and skirt.”

The flared skirt and small waist silhouette of women’s clothing during the first decade of the 20th century was well suited to the style of Bolero jackets, as they could help to visually balance the figure by adding just a small amount of width across the chest and shoulders.  Here are a few Boleros from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One is silk velvet, elaborately trimmed. The other is lace. Can you imagine the dresses that would have accompanied these Boleros? Clearly, they were intended for different purposes. Perhaps the first was intended for evening wear and the second for an afternoon stroll or visiting friends?

c. 1905 Bolero from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
c. 1905 Bolero from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
c. 1907 Bolero from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
c. 1907 Bolero from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
c. 1907 Bolero from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1901-1911 Dress

This dress is fabulous! What a wonderful piece of inspiration! It’s beautiful!

1901-1911 Dress at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I absolutely love the subtle use of vibrant teal! It really spices up the dress. The cream satin and chiffon as well as the detailed trim are especially wonderful.  The carefully arranged layers are fascinating–they keep your eye moving while managing to not distract from the fabulous fit of the whole dress.

I think this must be one of those Edwardian dresses that has a complicated closure that is hidden under crisscrossing layers. I just can’t imagine any other closure that wouldn’t detract from the beauty of the dress!

I think this is also one of the dresses that has faked layers. It seems to be an illusion that there is a blouse then a vest then a jacket. I think it is probably just one layer with trim and then the outside jacket. It’s so hard to tell from the picture! That’s the beauty of these Edwardian confections… it’s so hard to figure out how they are made and how they close without actually being able to see its inside construction!

I simply adore this dress! I just keep repeating its praise… Beautiful!

Project Journal: Victorian Women’s Tailoring Part XI: Time to celebrate!

As a finishing touch to my Women’s Tailoring Project, I thought I’d share some silly pictures from my photo shoot with you! We received many strange looks and even had strangers whipping out their cameras to snap photos… I’m sure they were very confused about what was going on!

How many people fit behind a bustle???
Can a bustle hide behind a tree???
Waiting to cross the street...
Squeezing between cars (...I mean carriages...)
Let's all promenade!
Laughs are good, too!
Wait for me!
Strike a pose!
Don't forget to smile!
Trading hats and looking great.
Cut! I DID IT!!! Time to celebrate!

Project Journal: Victorian Women’s Tailoring Part X: 1913 Gallery

Here we finally are, at 1913! Let’s look at some truly lovely pictures!

1913: Wool Suit. Wool Hat with matching Taffeta trim.
1913 Suit and Hat
1913 Suit and Hat
1913 Suit and Hat
1913 Suit and Hat
1913 Jacket and Hat
1913 Skirt, Blouse and Hat
1913 Blouse and Hat
1913 Undergarments: Corset Cover and Petticoat
1913 Undergarments: Chemise and Corset
1913 Corset

Project Journal: Victorian Women’s Tailoring Part IX: 1903 Gallery

Well, we just got to see my 1883 tailoring project. Now let’s enjoy taking a mental stroll with my 1903 tailored look! Again, there are lots of pictures to see!

1903: Wool jacket and skirt trimmed with cotton velvet. Velvet covered buckram Hat.
1903 Skirt and Jacket
1903 Skirt and Jacket
1903 Skirt and Jacket
1903 Blouse
1903 Skirt and Blouse
1903 Undergarments: Corset Cover and Petticoat
1903 Undergarments
1903 Corset Cover
1903 Undergarments: Combination and Corset
1903 Corset

Project Journal: Victorian Women’s Tailoring Part VII: Fitting 1913 Garments

Finally, here are some pictures of my fitting for my 1913 tailored look!

We’ll start here, where you can see the mostly dressed view. This look is a tailored suit from 1913. In the picture you can see the pleated skirt. I actually wound up making the finished length longer than I originally thought I would.

The skirt is worn with an Edwardian blouse featuring cluny lace, pin tucks, pleats, and pleated cuffs.

To the right you can see the look with the unfinished jacket and hat. The jacket still has a mock-up collar and at this point there is no facing, so the interior canvas is visible on the lapels of the jacket.

This period is a strange mix of Victorian holdover clothing (like the blouse) and 20th century clothing (the tailored suit).

Under the skirt are undergarments that have slimmed down since 1883 and 1903 while still remaining numerous and Victorian in principle. On the left you can see the full length chemise which still features lace, pin tucks, and silk ribbon. The silhouette has narrowed considerably from the Victorian shapes of the 19th century, but the whole look is Victorian, not modern. The corset is much longer at this time, but the bones stop about four inches above the bottom edge so that movement is not impaired. This corset is constructed of a silk/linen blend that is flat lined with coutil. The seams are flat felled on the inside. It is edged in the same fabric cut on the bias. The top edge is also edged with lace and silk ribbon. To the right you can see the corset cover for this look: simple and straight forward, with just a small edge of lace. There is also a matching fabric petticoat for this look. The petticoat (or underskirt) is edged with a pin tucked ruffle and finished at the bottom with matching embroidery. It closes at the waist with a hook and eye. The chemise, petticoat, and corset cover are all constructed of the same ivory cotton.

Project Journal: Victorian Women’s Tailoring Part VI: Fitting 1903 Garments

Well, if you remember from a few posts ago, I completed my mockup undergarments and exterior garments for this 1903 look in muslin (the same fabric I used for the 1883 and 1913 mockups). But now I’ve completed first fittings for my garments in their actual fabrics!

Let’s start at the outside and work our way in. The exterior “suit” is two pieces: a jacket and walking skirt. Both layers are constructed of fairly heavy wool, so tightly woven it is almost like melton. Melton is a felted wool frequently used for outerwear and constantly used historically for it’s water resistance and ability not to fray–thus allowing tailors to leave their cut edges raw and not finish them with time intensive seam finishes. The walking skirt is intended for use out of doors: specifically for talking walks (hence the name) and promenading about in the public eye.

Under the jacket is a silk crepe blouse with a lace yoke, collar, and cuffs. If you look closely you can see the three points of the lace yoke on the blouse. The blouse is pulled off-center in this picture because of the alterations I needed to make-only one side has the alterations pinned.

Under the skirt there is a cream colored lace edged silk shantung petticoat. The petticoat has two circular, gathered ruffles at the bottom. The top ruffle has a wavy hem edged in lace and the bottom ruffle is edged in matching lace. There are also arches of lace above the ruffles.

There is also a cream colored corset cover that is not pictured in these photos. This s-shape corset is made of green silk shantung flat lined with coutil. The seams are flat felled on the inside. The edges are bound in bias cut shantung and the top is also edged with white lace threaded with pink silk ribbon. Under the corset is a cotton combination that buttons up the front. A combination is an undergarment that is functions as a chemise but has bifurcated leg openings, like drawers. This pair is edged in white lace at the leg openings and neck edge. The neck opening is threaded with a green silk ribbon to coordinate with the corset.

Project Journal: Victorian Women’s Tailoring Part II: Patterns

The first step of this women’s tailoring project was to research what exactly I wanted to recreate. That being finished, I embarked on the next task: to create patterns for each of the garments I would be building. Each look is made up of about 8 separate garments: a chemise/combination, corset, corset cover, petticoat, blouse, skirt, jacket, and hat (the 1883 look also includes a bustle). To create the patterns for these garments I used a combination of the methods mentioned below.

Basic Sloper: a starting point for patterning

The simple undergarment patterns such as the chemises and corset covers were drafted using my models’ measurements. Pattern Drafting for Fashion Design, by Helen Joseph Armstrong, was a great starting point for creating these shapes.

The corset patterns were adapted to fit my models from the book Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh.

The petticoat patterns were created using a combination of methods. For all of them I found an image I wanted to recreate, then I either used the drafting method I used for chemises and corset covers, or I used a historic pattern that was lifted from a historic garment like the patterns for the skirts and jackets (mentioned below). The images came from a wide variety of books, including The History of Underclothes by C. Willett Cunnington, Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920, as Pictured in Sears Catalogs edited by JoAnne Olian, and Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazaar, 1867-1898 edited by Stella Blum.

For the outer garments (skirts and jackets), I used patterns from historic garments that were resized to fit the models who will be wearing the garments. The patterns are lifted from historic garments and printed in books such as Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction C. 1860-1940 by Janet Arnold, Turn of the Century Fashion Patterns and Tailoring Techniques by S. S. Gordon, and The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh.

In addition, I also consulted a variety of books to get more background information about the fabrics and colors, method of construction, and look, name and use of each garment. Other helpful reference books include, but are certainly not limited to, English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century: A Comprehensive Guide with 1,117 Illustrations by C. Willett Cunnington, Underwear: Fashion in Detail by Eleri Lynn, and Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques edited by Kristina Harris.

For the hats, I found an image I liked and then used millinery reference books to get more information. Millinery books included From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking by Denise Dreher and Edwardian Hats: The Art of Millinery by Anna Ben-Yusef, edited by R. L. Shep.

More coming soon! Next, a look at my mockups of these garments!