1916 Wearing History Suit Wrap-up: Winterthur 2014 and Costume College 2015

Around this time last year I chronicled some of my construction of the 1916 suit from Wearing History. My main plan in making up this pattern was to wear it first to Costume College and then to the Downton Abbey exhibition at Winterthur. I got the skirt to go together pretty well but I had a lot of problems with the jacket. The grading of the pattern and my large bust did not play well with each other. These jackets are very unconstructed and somewhat sack like. There was the problem. Mine looked it – frumpy, unflattering, devoid of shaping. Having narrow shoulders and a large bust was a huge problem for this pattern. I ended up fixing it by cutting two sizes smaller than my measurements and mockup. This action seemed to get the proportions under better control. I made the same suit for my mom. My mom is broader shouldered than I am so the fit worked more easily for her. Needless to say, all of this fussing made me miss my deadline for Costume College. I wore just the skirt with a modified goodwill blouse, vintage hat, scarf and gloves to Downtown-Sur-Mer, a Edwardian weekender on the French Coast. It was a really awesome event hosted by La Compagnie de l’Histoire et des Arts. It was kind of tricky for me because my french is minimal, and hence, not very good. People were very nice and welcoming though and it was really cool to see how they do it up.

Ladies Tug of War on the beach during Downton-Sur-Mer, Touville-Sur-Mer, France

Post Costume College, DragonCon and France, I finally got both suits done and my mom and I were off to Winterthur. We had a great time wandering and did a fair amount of posing as well. One gentleman asked me if my purple hair was historic. I told him that I am an enthusiast, not a re-enactor. My mom got her cute hat at a costume sale held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

For Winterthur, I did not have the appropriate historical undergarments. I wore modern shapewear that went over the bust. I was less than thrilled with the final silhouette. But we had fun anyway!

I finally got the correct corset right before Costume College this year. I commissioned a teens era corset and bralette from Anthony of House of Canney. It is so pretty and functional. He drafted both garments based existing models at the V & A. Once I have a proper petticoat, and I suppose drawers (!), the silhouette will be complete. But just the addition of the bralette  and corset, pretty much got me there.

At Costume College 2015 

Saucy and silly in corset and bralette by House of Canney

If you’re curious about this pattern, it does turn out well. Also, with all the pockets and collar options you can make variations quite easily. Because the directions are the original pattern directions, they can be very obtuse but not hard, exactly. If you have fit issues with the unconstructed 1920s, I would guess that you would have them here also. It seems that the key to the fit is finding a good balance between the looseness of the style and not letting the garment overtake you. Also, don’t make this with fabric that is too stiff as that won’t give you a ton of help either.

If you decide to give this pattern a try or you have a specific question, pop it in the comments!

WIP: Wearing History 1910s Suit Sew-a-Long Skirt Mockup Complete

I’ve been feeling fairly focused (and also starting to feel the time crunch for Costume College) so I completed my skirt mockup for the 1910s suit sew-a-long. I usually don’t mock up skirts but this time I decided to. I probably would have been ok without but it gave me some extra info and a wearable muslin so it was worth doing.

It turns out I’m just beyond the size range of the pattern. Lauren of Wearing History suggests doing a slash and spread but as my measurements would be theoretically be the next line out, I just graded from the largest size for everything except the outer belt. That I did slash as it seemed the easiest way.

I used some sort of maybe denim, maybe not I had gotten at a thrift shop. The fabric feels very 70s to me and based on the other pieces that were in the lot I bought, could easily be from then or the 80s. It worked great for this mockup; somewhat stiff but with a decent drape and not too heavy. It does run like no one’s business on the cross grain though.

The sewing of the placket and the inside belt are the hardest part of the skirt pattern. I figured out the placket pretty quickly but the inside belt was confusing. I didn’t really understand the part about the belt overlaping inside. This lead me to believe that the inside belt somehow hooked independently from the rest of the skirt? I’m still not really sure on that part. I ended up lining up the inside belt flush with placket edges and sewing it down. I used a piece of twill finished with double fold bias tape to make the inside belt. I found that the inside belt at its current height is a little too long for my torso and tends fold up inside due to the sharp flare of my hips. I plan on either making the inside belt shorter or using actual grosgrain which is narrower and that problem should be solved. I may need to also increase the size of the darts to pull the top line smaller. Another solution to the bunching would be to tack the inside belt to the skirt but I believe that kind of defeats the logic of the construction. Also, the gathers in the back are very minimal. I was expecting to manage more fabric.

Inside Waistband – My (but perhaps not correct) Construction

The outside belt is very cute but fussy. Again, the belt doesn’t completely allow for my hip flair. I ended up tacking it down in several strategic places on the bottom edge of the belt and hand sewed the top edge all the way around. It adds bulk at the waist that I don’t really need. I’m considering omitting this detail in my final skirt.

Belt Detail. Looks Nice!

I was pleased enough with my muslin to completely finish it. It’s a very sloppy piece of sewing that I would never want anyone to see the inside of but it turned out cute enough. Because of my fabric choice and the way I tend to style, the final muslin definitely looks retro or vintage. I highly doubt most people would realize it’s a WWI era skirt. I used two different sets of vintage buttons. I planned on finishing with button holes versus hooks and snaps but my sewing machine decided not to play along this morning and I ended up savaging the button holes, and consequently the look of the placket. I had to place my buttons to cover this up so the buttons ended up being too far over from the edge. Again, something I definitely notice, but most people wont.

Wearable Muslin Ready for Errand Running — But the Back Wants to Slip…

After wearing the skirt around this afternoon while running errands, I decided that the topmost part of the skirt (the edge that hits above the natural waist) could be a little bit tighter. The skirt wants to slide down in the back to rest on my hips. I think sewing the side seams on sharper angle, tapering in to the top edge should help. Also, increasing the darts on the inside belt. I don’t really want to make the rest of the skirt smaller as it skims my actual hip quite nicely.

If anyone has more tips or fitting advice for me, feel free to comment below!


Work in Progress: Wearing History 1910s Sew-a-Long

At some point this year my mom and I will be visiting Winterthur for the Costumes of Downton Abbey Exhibition. Not surprisingly, I plan on dressing in period style. I asked my mom, who, while very crafty herself but not a costumer, if she would also be willing to dress in period style, if I was willing to do to the sewing. She agreed to humor me, so I had to figure out what to make for us. Originally I was thinking of Laughing Moon’s #104 1909-1913 Day & Evening Dress for myself but I thought a period suit would be better for my mom. Enter Wearing History’s 1910s Suit-a-Long!

Wearing History – 1916 suit with variations

Lauren Maringola has just published a new pattern for a circa 1916 suit with variations, perfect for the Downton exhibit and also perfect for my first trip to Costume College. Laughing Moon #104 is still also on my docket but has been moved back in the schedule.

I was already thinking linen when I was tipped off to a linen sale at Fashion Fabrics Club. Thanks to a fashion plate, I was on the hunt for stripes. I got nice and lucky and found a black and gray/taupe wide striped linen. I also fell in love with a pink and orange striped linen. At $4 a yard, I opted to buy both. Rather than hoping for color matches, I decided to search for coordinating fabric locally once I had the linens in hand.

check out the green & white tennis suit on the right.

As it turned out, my luck continued when I went searching at my favorite random discount fabric emporium, finding matches for both fabrics. At $2 a yard, I really couldn’t refuse! The pink linen will be complimented by some sort of wooly fabric with pink, purple and orange flecks. It’s probably a little bit on the limp side — and could be kind of toasty in the summer, but the color match was inspired. Also, the remnant piece was almost exactly the yardage required. Fate, I am sure. The linen will be used for the skirt and the woolly for the jacket. I have not yet decided if I will do any contrasts beyond the belt but I have more than enough of the linen should I want to.

Pink stripe for 1910s Suit-a-Long

While I thought I also did very well on the black stripe, under different lighting, the charcoal suiting I bought isn’t as great a match. The linen is a much warmer hue, while the suiting is much cooler. The charcoal was also $2 a yard so I figured I really couldn’t go wrong by buying both 3+ yard pieces I found. My thought was the stripe for the jacket with the charcoal as skirt and accents.

Black Stripe with Charcoal for 1910s Suit-a-Long

Between these I have fabric for both suits but the only problem is that I can’t decide which one I want! I have major love for both. I am also not sure I’m sold completely on the charcoal. I may look for something different. Maybe a contrast color to go with the stripe? I might have enough of just the charcoal to do the entire suit with that and a contrast. That could be really lovely. The linen then could make a fabulous edwardian skirt! My mom and I are not the same size so I can’t change my mind once I start. I think my mom would be OK with either color combo, although I look better in orange.

Lots of options! What do the readers think?