HSM #6 – Better light, better photos

Here are a few follow-up photos taken in this morning’s light.

HSM Challenge #6 - Edwardian petticoat of my own design

HSM Challenge #6 – Edwardian petticoat, of my design


HSM #6 – the Edwardian-style Petticoat is Done!!



More funky photo colors from artificial light, but I don’t mind because it’s finished. Not ironed, though. If this heat keeps up it may not get ironed until November. Here are the particulars…

HSM Challenge #6: Out of Your Comfort Zone – Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before.

  • Project: An Edwardian petticoat – my first attempt at designing a historically accurate garment and my first foray into Edwardian style
  • Title: Never Let Them See You Sweat

Examples – Inspiration:

Fabric: some semi-sheer cotton from my stash, plus a cannibalized twin bed skirt from Goodwill (cotton body, cotton-poly embroidered ruffle)

Pattern: my very own, designed as I went along (so far out of my comfort zone!!)

Year: 1912-ish

Notions: thread, vintage beading lace, jacquard-woven ribbon

How historically accurate is it? I did a lot of research into the styles of petticoats that were popular at the time and I believe the shape and decoration are correct. To my knowledge, there is one (glaring) historical inaccuracy…use of the cotton-poly ruffle from the bed skirt. I purposefully made it on the short side, so I can wear it with subsequent fashions, as hemlines rose in the following years. For the same reason, the waist is raised, but not high under the bust.

Hours to complete: I’ve lost count. I ended up in the hospital in the midst of things and lost about a week. Best guess is about 20 or so hours total for the designing and the sewing (and fixing the goofs along the way).

First worn: Will be worn later this month under an Edwardian-style dress, at a garden party.

Total cost: Everything came from my stash except the ribbon, which was about $13 total for four spools.

In confess, I am inordinately proud to have pulled this off. If one goes by a regular calendar I’m finishing two days late. But I’m counting the hospital time + the 2 days before and the 4 days after…so, by my calendar, I’m a week early. 😉

HSM #6 – Sliding into Home Base

As I’m sure you all realize by now, I can be a tad delusional when it comes to estimating my sewing times. That’s because I can’t resist the urge to play and get it “just right.” And so it went with the ribbon, and even more beading lace, last night. But it was worth it.

I’d been working with the petticoat piled up in my lap, going with where my creative juices took me, placing and pinning then moving and re-pinning, changing lines and then moving them back, etc., until I was out of steam and had to go to bed. So imagine my surprise when I finally put it back on the dress form and this appeared:

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(photo taken this morning)

Woah! I have to say, it took me by surprise…because it actually looks like a petticoat. I’ve purposely made it on the short side, because I want to be able to use it for subsequent 19-teens when hemlines started rising – especially with the WWI effort to conserve fabric.

I also ended up deciding to continue the “V” shape of the beading lace on the front bodice, which extends the vertical design line visually. The dangling loop of ribbon will be cut, trimmed and end in a little bow at the base of the “V.”

The armholes need a slight trimming down, then a turned self-finish edge. Hand sewing – yay!

Better yet, because of where the upper and lower bodice ties are, I don’t need to use any hooks and eyes.

And, best of all, it fits.

HSM #6 – On the Home Stretch

Egg cooking on a sidewalk

Egg cooking on a sidewalk

not amused

(source unknown)

It is, and has been, unseasonably hot up here and will be for some time. I used to live in a place where every summer would reach 100+ degrees F and stay there for more than a week at a time…sometimes over 110. But I’ve been in the Pacific Northwest for eight years now and have become an absolute thermal wimp. It’s a bit humid, but not bad today. However, it’s 80 degrees in my kitchen right now and all I want to do is melt. Told ya – a total wimp.

Fortunately, it usually cools off well at night but my sleep has been pretty messed up ’cause I’m still too hot. Enough bad nights in a row and strange things start to seem reasonable.

1950's heat wave, NYC

1950’s heat wave, NYC

ice cold soda water ad

All of this is just a way-too-long way of saying that the petticoat isn’t done yet. I ran out of pink ribbon, so yesterday made the trip to get another spool (plus one, just in case). I hope to start finishing the armholes – the last step – this evening. In any event, I’d rather do a good job and be a tad late than rush it when I have something going that I really like.

Today I sprung for a fan that’s designed to sit in double-hung windows, like the ones I have, so I can blow the cool and moist night air from outside into the bedroom instead of warm and dry air from the rest of the house. It was on sale and I got the last one. Yay! Hopefully, my night will be filled with wonderful dreams…

giant milkshake sign

HSM #6 Update – The Deadline is Closing Fast

Bodice front with the rest of the ribbon in place.

Bodice front with the rest of the ribbon in place.

I’ve been working hard on my Edwardian petticoat – after all, the deadline is tomorrow. Eek! This is the first time I’ve designed a garment and being faced with innumerable choices slowed me down. In the end I solved my dilemma by conveniently discovering I didn’t have enough fabric left over from the bodice to make a complete skirt. That, and realizing that using a pre-made bed ruffle from Goodwill meant the cotton-poly blend would need a bit more support than the semi-sheer bodice fabric could give.

So, like all inspired types who find themselves painted into a creative corner, I punted and made up the rest as I went. And I think it’s working.

I used the remainder of the bodice fabric for the upper portion of the skirt and the cotton body of the bed skirt for the lower part. That allowed me to leave the ruffle attached and not spend time messing around with it.

But the fabrics are distinctly different, both in texture and in color…the bodice fabric is a much whiter white. I have plenty of the vintage beading lace, so I used a round to create a softer transition from one fabric to the other.

Petticoat skirt with beading lace in place.

Petticoat skirt with beading lace in place.

Of course, things being as they sometimes are, I seem to have…um…mis-measured a bit.



Fortunately, this is an easy fix. In the end, very few people will notice it…especially since it’s underwear.

2007-03-11 03.08.01

2007-03-11 03.12.59

Adding beading lace to the lower ruffle, also to create a nicer look, went smoothly…mostly because I’d learned not to cut anything from the spool before it was all sewn in place.

2007-03-10 23.22.41

The end result was two even rounds of lace, ready for the ribbon.

Upper round, the transition from bodice fabric to the bed skirt cotton.

Upper round, the transition from bodice fabric to the bed skirt cotton.

The lower round, for a nicer transition to the bottom ruffle.

The lower round, for a nicer transition to the bottom ruffle.

To add a bit for heft to the upper portion of the skirt, I doubled the fabric to create a self-facing. Then I whipped it into place and sewed the center front closed up to the opening, adding a small tack at the top end to guard against any damage from tugging while pulling it on overhead.

2007-03-11 03.05.03

2007-03-11 03.05.47

At last…time to attach the bodice to the skirt. Hooray!

Now, I’m basically lazy enough to avoid duplicate steps whenever possible. It makes up for the time I lose in silly errors, like cutting the beading lace too short. When I decided to self-face the upper portion of the skirt, I deliberately placed the fold at the top edge. That way I could attach the bodice and create the base of the channel for the front drawstring closure at the same time. It gets a bit “fabric-origami-in-space” at this point, but it works.

2007-03-11 03.22.56

On your right is the bodice pinned to the skirt. Looks all wrong, doesn’t it? But on your left you can see what happens when the top edge of the petticoat is turned up. By doing it this way, the raw edge of the bodice will be enclosed in the drawstring casing and it’s all done in just two passes of the machine. I’ve used this trick before and it’s an absolute winner.

To finish, I need to complete the casing, add the last of the beading lace, thread the ribbon into place and finish the armholes. They keep changing shape slightly, and for the better, as more weight gets added to the bodice so I saved them for last. And by tomorrow evening I should have a petticoat of my own design…that actually fits. How fab is that?

HSM #6: It’s Beginning to Look at Lot Like…a Petticoat!

The first bit of ribbon is on.

The first bit of ribbon is on.

To my surprise and delight, it didn’t take much time to get my fine motor coordination buffed up enough for hand sewing. I was sure it would take another day or so, but last night the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award (many thanks, again, to Catherine) inspired me and I picked up the bodice for the Edwardian petticoat.

When last we saw it, it looked like this:

Playtime! Angled or straight?

Playtime! Angled or straight?

Looking at it with a fresh eye, I decided I didn’t like the shape going on with the hidden front quasi-darts. It just looked too bubbly and, since it’s a drawstring-gathered waistline anyway, they aren’t really needed. Poof! Gone.

I also decided that I wanted a little more interest with the shape of the beading lace, so I angled the self-facing at the center front and ran the beading lace along the turned edge of the facing. That way I was able to hem the facing and apply the beading lace in a single pass. (I hate having to fuss with the same area over and over for no good reason.)

The pink jacquard-weave ribbon was staring hard at me, so I put in the front top ties. When I left it on the Victorian-corseted dress form last night it looked like this:

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This morning, in much better (and natural) light, it looks like this:



2007-03-04 20.04.34


This is my first foray into Edwardian fashion, and at this point I have two questions.

Last night I noticed it wasn’t hanging too well on the dress form. The Victorian-style corset was squeezed and stuffed to my hourglass dimensions and I came to the conclusion that the Edwardian shape wasn’t working on a Victorian form.

So I switched out the corsets and put my underbust, though not truly 1912 Edwardian, corset on the dress form. The waist dimension is correct, but I’ve yet to “fill out” the hips.

2007-03-04 20.12.14

First question: what do I do with the bust? Mine is larger than the fullest settings on the dress form. However, as far as I’ve been able to determine, an underbust corset is correct for 1912 and the fluffy, full mono-bosom look was long gone by then. I need some shape for the dress I’ll be wearing, so “hanging loose” won’t work at all. I’m not even sure where the bust line should be, surely not forced higher than natural (like Regency), but…what?

I have a lot of give and take with the high drawstring waist, which was the whole point of doing it that way. But I can’t finalize the armscye shape and edging/binding until I know 1) where the girls should be and 2) what they should, or shouldn’t, be doing.

Secondly – what should I be wearing under the petticoat and above the underbust corset? Should I have a corset cover? (I think the answer is “yes.”) Chemise under the corset? I do have a set of proper drawers. Anything…um…else?

Better: slow but sure.

je suis malade

Getting over this whatever-it-was is slow going. You’ve probably noticed the dearth of posts. That’s because my hand-eye coordination is still re-tuning itself. Knitting helps and I’ve been doing a lot of it. But my hand sewing is a bit too shaky for the look I’m after, although it’s improving steadily, and my machine sewing tends to drift from a straight line unless I focus every bit of energy and concentrate. Then I’m exhausted after 20 minutes and frustrated.

In general, I start my day feeling like this:

A couple enjoys an old fashioned zipline on a weekend afternoon. (1923)

A couple on an old-fashioned zipline. (1923)

It doesn’t take long before I’m feeling like this:



And by late afternoon:

Sick person going to Lourdes to take the water.

Going to Lourdes to take the water.

I try to be patient with this *tap foot, tap foot, tap foot* while my body heals. Today has been a really good day and the worst has definitely passed.

The knitting is going pretty well now. My stitches are even again. I can do math for the patterns in my head.

I’ve been hoarding collecting 1930’s prints to make a simple quilt for my bed, and I feel good enough to re-start my machine swing on that. This one will be pretty simple and I don’t need to completely finish the top to polish up my skills. Not to mention this will finally get me going on something I’ve been putting off for a long time (hard to choose a pattern, decided to go easy on myself).

In addition, I started English paper-piecing a reproduction of an 1840’s quilt. It’s going to take a while, but there is no rush – I’m just doing it because I’ve always wanted to try and now I have the patience for it. I’ve already cut the fabric hexagons for the next panel, so I think I’ll work on that for an evening or two to get my fine hand-eye motor coordination back up to snuff.

And then it’s back to business.

The top portion of my Edwardian petticoat for HSM #6 is mostly done. Happily, the worst of the fiddly bits are finished. Before all this happened I’d purchased some lovely pink jacquard-weave ribbon for the beading lace. After lace meets ribbon, I’ll start hand-finishing the armholes. Then it’s make a tube, sew on a ruffle, gather the top edge and sew the whole thing onto the bodice portion. After that it’s just a matter of using hooks-and-eyes up the front for an easy closure.

Hmmmm. Probably shouldn’t have said “easy”….

The 1912 Petticoat is Underway

c. 1912-1914

c. 1912-1914

After looking through the many styles of petticoats available for the woman of 1912, this extant example inspired me to go with a high waist and front closing. The first will let the shape of the petticoat echo the shape of the dress, the second will make dressing easier for me (and I’m all for that).

This project marks a first for me: I’m not using a pattern. I’m designing the petticoat as I go, draping fabric and fiddling with the fit. I figure it’s going to be hidden, so I may as well take advantage of that fact and learn a thing or two about getting the concept in my head translated into what’s on the dress-form.

I’ve also decided that, unless I end up with a flaming nightmare, I’m going to use it as my loooong overdue project for HSM #1 (Foundations) that should have been finished at the end of January. At this late date it won’t officially count. No matter…I’ll have a petticoat.

Here’s where I am so far. I decided to use the remainder of the lightweight cotton I’d used for a chemise last year. It’s probably not historically correct because it has a faint herringbone weave to it. But it’s semi-sheer, breathes like crazy and washes like a dream.

I want a square neck, sleeveless petticoat that opens in the front, so I started with the bodice pieces: one back and two fronts. My long-ish Victorian corset is on the dress form, still padded out to my (current) dimensions. I left my old chemise underneath it to mimic the layer of fabric from combination suit that will be replacing it. I don’t think it will make much difference because I don’t have to worry about fit around the natural waistline. To be absolutely accurate, I should be making the combination suit first, but I wanted to do the petticoat. So I did. Am. Whatever.

I was so pleased about starting on the petticoat that I neglected to take any photos of the plain bodice pieces on the dress-form after they’d been cut, pinned and sewn. My bad. I finished off the seams, which is when I remembered taking pictures would be useful.

2007-02-04 00.36.09

Wrong side – finished seam

I want a wider neckline, so I marked and cut an additional inch all the way around.

Widening the neckline

Widening the neckline

I have some old beading lace that I want to use around the neck, so I marked 1/4 inch around the neck, folded 1/8 inch then 1/8 inch again, and turned the edge down toward the right side (i.e., outside). Yes, the outside. I cheated with a drop of FrayCheck at each corner…just in case (small sin, big comfort).

clip corners, turn raw edge outward, fold under and hem.

Clip corners, turn raw edge outward, fold under and hem.

And this is why the raw edge gets turned toward the outside of the petticoat – when the beading lace is sewn on it covers the tiny hem. Now I have my lace sewn onto a clean edge while the inside edge had been finished at (almost) the same time.

Some old beading lace from my stash.

Some old beading lace from my stash.

I sewed the beading lace across the back and up over the shoulders. Then I stopped to play around with some different looks.



You may notice the odd, kinda bubbly-looking dart on the left side at the waist. The reason it’s there is because I’m going to start taking a medicine and it’s number one side effect is weight gain. (Yeah, the fun never stops.) Anyway, I want to build in some easy latitude…again, just in case. So I put a dart in but did not sew it closed; it’s only folded and stitched as the base. The petticoat will have a drawstring-gathered waist so altering, if needed, shouldn’t be too difficult.

Here’s what the open dart looks like and my attempt at making it not too crazy obvious by hiding it under the edge of the beading lace.

I decided I like the “hidden dart” approach, so I’m going with it.

Front beading lace pinned into place.

Front beading lace pinned into place.

I need some 1/4-inch ribbon before I can sew down the rest of the beading lace, so I that’s on tomorrow’s To Do list. I’ll also decide exactly where I want the high waist to hit, then cut the panel for the petticoat skirt. I’ve got a ton of vintage embroidered cotton lace – enough for a layered-look hem. Might throw in a tuck or two for the body of the skirt. Maybe more beading lace with ribbon for a dash of extra color.

This designing is great fun. As always, I play with options and make changes as I go. Can’t wait to see what I end up with!

Edwardian Undies – What, When and Where.

Window display of unmentionables (underwear). Lewisham High St., England. 1901

Window display of unmentionables (underwear). Lewisham High St., England. 1901

When trying to reproduce a style from a certain era I try to be as accurate as I’m able/willing to. And accuracy starts from the skin and builds outward. It’s the basis for getting things to look right – the under layers must be correct or the outer layers won’t be. Which means that before I start on my 1912 dress I want to understand 1912 underwear.

The Victorian period and early Edwardian years followed a standard pattern. The style of dress changed through the decades but the under layers remained essentially the same:

    • chemise
    • unders/drawers
    • stockings
    • boots/shoes
    • corset
    • corset cover
    • bustle (starting in the early 1870’s and gone by 1890’s)
    • petticoats – lots and lots of petticoats


"Help me! Is this right?"

“Help me! Is this right?”

It took me all of about two minutes to realize that doesn’t apply to the Edwardian era. Until I started planning my sewing strategy I hadn’t really paid attention to just how many changes happened in such a relatively short period of time. It’s the reason we’re able to delight in such a variety of fashions when watching Downton Abbey – shapes were moving from antique to modern at a rapid rate. (See end of post for a montage of style from 1901 to 1914 to see the changes, year by year.)

The underwear required to support the silhouette of 1905 was different from that required in 1912, and different again by the WWI years (1914-1918). I thought I had a good start with the Edwardian and Edwardian reproduction underwear I already had. Not so. The things I have work for the early Edwardian years of nipped waists and flowing skirts. None of them will work for the columnar styles of 1912. For this, I don’t want bulk – I want sleek.

Enter the revised underwear list for 1912:

  • combination (also called a combination suit = chemise top + drawers on the bottom)
  • stockings
  • boots/shoes
  • corset
  • a single petticoat
  • a dress (or blouse and skirt)

Fewer layers and a lot less poundage. I can do that. And I already have what I need in my stash.


Combination Underwear: I have Truly Victorian #TV105, a small mountain of muslin and period mother-of-pearl buttons. I’m going to make it sleeveless to accommodate a variety of dress styles and fabrics.



This is what “combination suits” looked like by 1914. TV105 is obviously more Victorian in style, but it will do.




Corset:  A while back, I had a 1912-style corset custom-drafted to my measurements by AriaCouture. It’s named “Rose’s Corset” and was inspired by the corset worn by Kate Winslett in Titanic. I also have some lovely robin’s egg blue coutil that I’ve tagged just for this. I may or may not be able to get it done in time, it’s last on the “to be sewn” list, but I have a long-ish Victorian corset that I can use. But Edwardian corsets have interested me for a long time, so I’d like to get it made someday. (Photos courtesy of AriaCouture)


Petticoat: Happily, this will not be a monstrous fabric-eater that requires endless hours for gathering layers of flounces and ruffles. Even better, I only need one. I can make it either princess-style or with an “empire” waist, but since my 1912 dress has a raised waistline I’ll probably go in that direction. Either way, I’m eager to finally use a lot of the antique and reproduction lace I’ve been hoarding diligently collecting.

Or I could just jump two years ahead and go with a 1914-style petticoat, which would serve quite as well.

fortunately, I have a handful of dress patterns that will easily convert into a proper petticoat, and that mountain of muslin. I also have Folkwear #226 Princess Slip pattern, but it needs serious altering so I’m trying to avoid it.



And that’s it for the underwear department. The muslin is in the wash for the combo and petticoat as I write this. In addition, any one of these will fill the gap for HSM#1 – Foundations. (More than a bit late, but better late than never.)


Disclaimer: I am not a fashion historian, just a fashion history student. This is by no means a rigorously researched tutorial. These are the changes I notice happening throughout the Edwardian years.

1901-1904: The S-bend corset, wasp waist and pigeon front. Skirts are smooth at the waist and hips, then flare at the hem.

1905-1907: Droopy pigeon fronts go away and a smoother line is favored. Skirts are fuller, starting to flare at the hip.

1908-1911: A variety of waistlines are worn, but they steadily move upward. As the waistlines move up, skirts become more columnar.

1912: The waistline is up and stays up. Skirts are straight.

1913: The waistline starts drifting a bit again. Skirts gain a more ease in the hips, but lose it at the hem.

1914: Silhouettes are loosening up. Overall form is less structured, skirts are hobbled. WWI begins and the Edwardian period is long gone.

Then styles start to go crazy. Waistlines come and go, rise and fall, and shapes evolve rapidly as the effects of war are felt until its end in 1918, by which time most shape has been completely lost.



Aw, nuts!

(original source unknown)

Wouldn’t you know it. Just as I’m on the last leg of this project, I’ve run out of hoop casing tape – three hoops worth!

Even though I’d already marked the cutting lines, I decided to pay attention to the sage advice of “measure twice, cut once.” There were two lengths left and, as it turned out, I’d marked one of the lengths twice – once on each side. Such things happen when I’m tired and should be sleeping instead of sewing. Silly me.

What to do, what to do? I rummaged through the notions drawer and discovered I have two packets of double fold bias tape with 3 yards of each. One is in a creamy ecru and the other’s in a dark mocha. They’re a smidge wider than the hoop tape, but not by much.

Will it be a problem if I use this for the hoops? There’s one way to find out. If it turns out this is a bad idea I can always replace the tape later. And, since I have no immediate plans for a sheer dress, having three different colors of hoop tape should not be an issue.

So I’m pressing on. If nothing else, this will be interesting.