I was so thrilled to discover that he next challenge for the Historical Sew Fortnightly corresponded perfectly with the DFWCG trip to the Titanic Artifacts exhibit at the Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History. So my entry to the centennial challenge is a complete 1913 outfit based on this reproduction dress pattern from Past Patterns, which is listed for the years 1911-1914.
I enjoyed working with this pattern, and I am very pleased with the way the dress turned out. One of my friends recently asked me if I would recommend this pattern to others, and I would have to answer that with a conditional yes. If you are comfortable making a dress with no instructions, you are good at resizing, and you just want some basic pattern shapes to get you started, then this is a really nice authentic historical pattern. I love the shape of the skirts, and there are very few pieces in this dress, so it goes together quite quickly. There were a few odd areas, like the fact that the bodice is HUGE! I had to take 4" out of the circumference of the bodice, and took another 3" off the length. The skirt runs a little short too, so if you are tall, you'll want to add quite a bit to the hem. The only other major change that I made was substituting a shawl collar for the ruffled one just to make it more tailored looking. But other than those small alterations, I thought the pattern came together very well.
Also, it helps to know that 1910's dresses often used lapped and top-stitched seams, and the center-front panel of the skirt and the lower sleeves on this dress are both joined this way. The edge of one piece gets folded under and ironed, then you place it over the next piece and stitch them together from the top, which makes a decorative flap of fabric that looks like a tuck. It's a fun little detail, but I only knew to do it like this thanks to another antique 1910's pattern that I made up that had much better instructions. Anyway, if you decide to give this pattern a try, these are the two best tips that I can give you, and hopefully the rest is more straightforward.
This was a 100% stash project, which was fun and very satisfying. I only spent $1 on a bit of interfacing for the collar, and everything else came from odds and ends that I've had hanging my sewing room for years and years. My dress fabric came from estate sales - I think it was $5 for a large trash bag completely filled with fabric. I picked out two shorter lengths of fabric that I couldn't do much with on their own, but when combined together, I had just enough for this dress. The burgundy velvet came from an old bedskirt, and the tassels were freebies from my husband's work. I bought the wool hat blank on clearance from Target last year (I still can't figure out how on earth you were supposed to wear a floppy, wide-brimmed blank as a modern hat!), and the feather, shoe buckles, and eyelet dickey were all odds and ends from the Antique Elegance show that I picked up with no specific project in mind, but they were too cheap to pass up. Lately I've been trying really hard to not buy fabric or other costuming materials unless I have an actual project in mind for it, but this outfit totally justified collecting a bunch of random materials "just in case" from time to time too. I have decided that 2013 is going to be the "year of the stash" for me, and this was a great project to get the ball rolling.
So that's about it. You can see more photos of all of the fabulous 1910's ladies and gents from the DFWCG on flickr, and here are a few more shots of my dress for good measure.