I got it into my head that I wanted to squeeze in one last project before the end of the year. I moved houses just after October Comic Con, so there was a whole month where I couldn’t sew because I was either packing everything or unpacking everything. Originally I had planned for this to be a new Robe à L’Anglaise. I have had this planned for a few months already, inspired by binge watching Poldark and some lovely linen I found. However I was struggling with the patterning and decided to wait for my American Duchess Guide to 18th century to arrive before pursuing it.
So instead I got curious about the early 20th century. I’d done a half scale late 1890s costume before and I had really loved the changing style lines of these decades. I didn’t want to go full Edwardian though, I personally find the pidgeon breast style unflattering. So instead I tried to keep my marks between 1898 and 1903. Small window but I was researching for references within this time limit. I settled on a skirt, blouse and hat ensemble.
For fabric, I wanted to get something cream in colour and light in touch for the blouse, that I could then trim with some lace. The skirt I decided on a lightweight wool in preferably a wine colour. I’m actually really happy with the fabric I found to match my initial desire! I went to Goldhawk Road and managed to find some really nice wool, of which I bought 5 meters for I think it was £9 p/m. Then I found this lovely silk which I already dreamed I couldn’t afford. It was perfect: light, crisp, cream and had some duopioni texture to it which I loved. This was a great find. The silk was stained throughout the roll and discounted, and after talking to the really nice shopkeeper, I took 6 meters for £12. I really hoped I could piece around the stains for this, but since I only originally needed three meters, I hoped the surplus would be enough. I also bought some plain polycotton for the petticoat. I ended up pairing the silk with some lovely cream lace I’d bought ages ago in Spain (that fabric haul is here).
As always, I started from the inside out, as I had no appropriate foundations for this. I already wrote a post about making the corset. The pattern is from Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines and is dated 1903. It was the closest pattern that I had at hand in terms of time period. The petticoat was much simpler. I acquired a copy of The Voice of Fashion by Francis Grimble, and it was very useful for the construction of this costume. I used the instructions on page and somewhat adapted them to fit the amount of fabric and trim I had.
I bought some cheap polycotton for this (one day I’ll invest better on my foundations, I promise) and tea stained it to match some vintage eyelet trim I got off Etsy. It was my first time tea-staining so here is a quick run down for absolute beginners:
(disclaimer: I am not, in anyway, saying this is the right way to do it! Like I mentioned, it was my first time. I read a few instructions from searches on Google and thought I’d give it a try.)
I ended up using around three meters for the petticoat and around 16 meters of trim (!!). I hadn’t realised how much trim petticoats eat up. In the end, it looked like this:
After, I moved onto the blouse. This really intimidated me as I had no idea how to draft it, so I actually purchased a pattern and then altered it. I chose Black Snail’s Edwardian Blouse Sewing Pattern. My alterations consisted on entirely different sleeves, shortening and narrowing the blouse. In the mock up, the blouse was quite loose and the collar too big, so I changed both (the collar ended up being too small after!).
First I sewed up the shoulder seams.
Then I got the collar ready so that I could attach it.
Then I carefully pinned the collar and sewed it on the neckline.
At this point I was thinking about the stylist side of things and how I’d want to add lace, and then remembered the lace I’d bought in Spain. It was actually the perfect width for the collar so I thought it was fate. I handsewed it on.
I thought it would be easier to handsewn the lace to the blouse before doing up the side seams, so I started playing with placement and settled upon a V-shape.
The lace was sewn on by hand and tapers off into a larger, wider V at the back.
Then I did up the side seams and turned the bottom hem inwards by two inches. It was then sewed down by hand.
For the sleeves, I used this pattern from The Voice of Fashion as a base:
I cut it out of the silk and sewed on two gathering rows of stitches both at the top and bottom of the sleeve. Also, I thought I’d just show you some of the staining I was working around for this:
These were gathered down to match the arm opening and my wrist measurement respectively. I only gathered the top of the sleeve at the top, as I didn’t want them sleeves to be too full at the top. Then I sewed the inside seam with a french seam (though, guys, remember to leave some inches open at the bottom to get your hand through it because… I didn’t. And then I had to back and cut into the seam).
For cuffs, I cut two rectangles out of the silk and interfaced them. The two rectangles are the measurement of my wrist in the length, and then double the width of the cuff (1”) and seam allowances.
Then I handsewed these onto the bottom edge of the sleeve, as it was quite hard to get them under my machine. I think in a previous post I already mentioned this but if you can, sew on the cuffs before the side seams. It’s just so much easier. And I forgot. Again.
Then I set in the sleeves by pinning them into the armhole and sewing them by machine! However I think they skewered a bit while sewing, so that the fabric on the sleeves sometimes appears twisted. Definitely recommend basting beforehand and I’ve learned my lesson.
The last step was to add the buttonholes and buttons to the back of the blouse. Since the silk was quite light, I interfaced the back edges on both sides to better support the buttons and buttonholes.
It was my first time using the buttonhole function on my machine (or any machine for that matter), so I made sure to test it out a few times, first on scrap fabric and then on scraps from the silk. I marked the positioning of all the buttons and buttonholes to make sure they matched up. I was amazed at how quickly my machine got through the buttonholes! Then I sewed on the buttons on the other side by hand.
And that was it! What do you think?