Friday, May 31, 2013

Those Crazy Edwardian Waistbands

Ok, so I know yesterday I said that I might not do any construction posts, but I did finished the skirt of my gala dress and got off my lazy butt and took some construction pictures. Construction during the 19-teens is very odd and complicated compared to any other period I've done. They had a thing for have each layer closing at a different place and never have one set of closures the same for the top and bottom of the garment. There's not a ton of people who do costuming between 1913 and 1920 so I thought that it would be good to contribute some photos for future sewists trying to figure out this crazy period.

In case you missed yesterday's post, this is the pattern I'm using for the skirt. It's an dinner dress from 1918. (Think dinner dress from Downton Abbey.) I'm doing the pink and yellow/orange style skirt with the side poofs/bustles/thingies.

Skirt! It does drape better when hanging up rather than laying on the floor but I've got a whole bunch of other stuff hanging up in my currently being worked on UFO spot so it was easier to just move this one piece. Instead of interlining the sheer layer with the white layer, I just made them separate layers and joined them at the waist band.

And now for the crazy closures:

The red "tunic" layer has seams in the center front and center back with the closure in the center back. It closes with snaps and a hook and eye. I used red bias binding for the snap placket since I was not going to try and make one out of this crazy poofy fabric (though it would have matched much better if I had!)

Now, the skirt portion has seams at the sides but not at the center front or back. So 1/4 of the tunic layer is on it's own separate waist band piece that connects to the main waist band with snaps. I just made the waist band from two layers of ribbon and it's pieced quite a bit as I was trying to figure out how to make all of the flaps and layers work. But that's ok since it's not going to be seen at all anyways.

The skirt portion then closes with snaps and a hook and eye just like the tunic layer. I did not add any closures to the sheer layer since it'll be covered by the tunic anyways. It just has a narrow hem.

And to add another layer of complexity to the garment, the bustle poofs are attached at the side seams which interferes with the side closure of the skirt part. So instead of being sewn down to the skirt, the gathers are tied off at each end and then snaps are used to hold the gathered sections in place. I just used one at each end and that was enough to hold it to my liking. In the picture on the pattern cover, it looks like there is some kind of decoration over the gathered part but I think I'm going to skip that because my dress is looking quite busy already.

Now, normally this wouldn't be on a separate waist band but would rather be connected directly to the blouse portion of the dress. I decided just to skip on that for several reasons such as I'm using a completely different blouse pattern and I really just didn't feel like bothering with it. The design of the blouse part *should* cover the waist band with no problem, but we'll see.

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount and quality of the directions that came with this pattern. I don't know if the Vintage Pattern Lending Library added directions or by this point in time pattern makers had started adding more directions to their patterns but there was a lot less banging of head against the wall trying to figure out how to get this to work. Some puzzling out was still necessary (especially since I wasn't doing the blouse part) but it went together quite smoothly.


  1. "side poofs/bustles/thingies" hehe. Ohhh can't wait to see it on!

  2. Thanks for posting this. My favorite fashion years are probably 1910-1920. And I have such a terrible time with closures! Too bad I picked the years when people were crazy about having a million different places that needed to be snapped, hooked, or buttoned! :p
    I'm always very happy to see posts about these particular years, especially when it's about a part I'm having trouble with.
    By the way, that is some GORGEOUS fabric!!

    1. I have issues with the closures too! Mostly I just keep playing around with things till it works.

  3. Wowza! I'd never have the patience for it. But I do love watching how you can create something so pretty.

  4. That was really thoughtful of you. It's true, considerably less people do seem to wear (and sew for) that era than the next few decades that followed it. I'd love to put together a late Edwardian outfit of my own someday, too.

    Have a gorgeous weekend, sweetie!
    ♥ Jessica

  5. Wow, what a detailed post, and the dress looks stunning. I can't wait to see it finished!

  6. This is the period I love best, though as I'm still only a novice with sewing, I have yet to attempt anything in it. So yes, please, any posts you do on this era are awesome!