Sunday, March 20, 2011
So before I got eaten alive by my cutwork skirt project (BTW, I just found out that I won 1st place! Woohoo!), I promised that I'd post more about my new 1918 dress that I made for the Chestnut Square fashion show. Well, I added a page on my website where you can see some more pictures of this outfit, and I thought I would talk a little more about how I made it here on my blog.
The dress is made out of two wool fabrics that I picked up at estate sales. The colors are so funky that I never thought I'd use them for anything other than mockups or linings, but I was surprised as how much more I liked them when they were put together.
I never could find an exact pattern for this outfit, so I combined several late-1910's patterns and did a bit of improvising to create my dress. The bodice is based on this similar 1918 New Idea pattern that I found on ebay. I changed the sleeves to be tight fitting at the forearms, and I used an antique collar that I found at an estate sale instead of the collar style shown in the illustration. The text that accompanied my original fashion plate told me that this was actually a skirt and bodice and not a full dress, so I decided to keep mine separate as well. The only problem with that is that my blouse has a tendency to pull out when I move around a lot, so I added a drawstring at the waist (which is a very period practice) to try and keep it tucked in. This helped some, so I probably will add some hooks or snaps as well to keep everything neat and tidy.
The skirt was a little bit more difficult to make up since I never could find a good pattern match for the style I was trying to recreate. But I looked at enough period patterns to figure out the basic shapes (mostly rectangular or very slightly flared), and then I draped the yoke at the top of the skirt on my own. The first time I made the skirt, it had too much fullness, so I took it all apart, cut off some width on both the tunic and underskirt, and then tried again. The underskirt closes on one side with hooks and eyes, and there are vintage buttons and loops on both side seams of tunic to add a decorative element. Both layers of skirt are joined together at the waistline.
I think the dresses from this particular era are totally made by the accessories, so I considered myself very lucky to already own some key pieces to put the finishing touches on it. I bought a pair of fabulous spool heel oxfords several years ago on ebay. They are from the 80's or 90's, but they are in wonderful shape, and they are a near perfect match for the style of shoe shown in the illustration. I didn't even know what I would do with them when I bought them, but they were just so cool that I knew they had to be mine! I bought the Edwardian purse last year at the Antique Elegance show. It is made of silk moire with a crocheted top and silk ribbons, and the condition is amazingly good. The little "Votes for Women" button was another fun little accessory that was given to me by a friend. And of course, I've already talked a bit about my hat. I love being able to mix in some real antique pieces in a historical costume, and the good thing about this period is that a lot of vintage accessories like buttons, lace, and purses are still around if you just do a bit of digging.