Completed 1914 Corset and Chemise

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and happy new year. As promised in my last post, today I'm talking about my recently made 1910's corset. I finished both the corset and chemise just before the end of the year and it made a nice final project of 2017.

As I mentioned in my last post about this corset, the pattern is from Bridges of the Body. I really liked the pattern, particularly because it fit quite well without any modifications and was completely free.

The chemise is made from a book I've had in my library for many years and was printed in 1917. This was gifted to me by a friend of my mom when she learned that I was interested in historical sewing and I've been waiting to use it ever since.

The book is Practical Sewing and Dressmaking by Sara May Allington. It's filled with instructions on how to draft patterns for everything from skirts and blouses to jackets and night gowns. It even has some adorable children's clothing instructions in it too.

The pattern for the chemise is actually based off of the shirt waist pattern and has a modified neckline and is lengthened. So I drafted the shirtwaist pattern according to the instructions and made the alterations suggested for a chemise with a gathered neckline.

I didn't bother to pattern the chemise part, but I want to note I made it 36 inches in length, which sits right at my knee's, and that I added perhaps a little bit more fabric into the neckline than I would do in the future, but it still turned out nice.

The book

Drafting the Shirt Waist

Kitty Baby decided to keep me company and eat my supplies
What the Shirt Waist draft looks like

The examples of the two variations using the shirtwaist as a base for a chemise

I like the simplicity of the pieces and it's a very comfortable corset. Strangely enough, my dimensions are still pretty much the same as my non-corseted measurements with this, even though my body shape is altered a bit.

2017 in Review and 2018 Plans

With only a day and half left in 2017 I figured it was about time I sat down and wrote my annual year in review post.

This year was a good year for me costume wise. I branched out into a some new era's of historical dress as well as had my first internship. I feel like I've gained a lot of technical skills such as draping and have a lot more confidence in my abilities than I did at the beginning of the year.

In Review

I started the year off by working on a couple of late 18th century ensembles. The Polonaise, and then the Gray Gown.

In February I started working on Padme's Picnic Dress (AKA Project P19), which is still a work in progress.

For Aviation Day I made a 1930's Aviatrix outfit, which I wore later in a 1940's style for Vintage Aircraft Weekend.

During the summer I interned in the wardrobe department of Beauty and the Beast, and during production helped maintain the costumes and worked as a dresser. I have so many good memories from that experience.

Then for Vintage Aircraft Weekend I made a 1940's swing dress.

For Halloween I updated my 1871 dress by making a new shirtwaist and sash for my "portrait" costume.

Next was the 1841 Marie Louise Gown, which is also still in progress. It's close to done, but I got sidetracked and it got pushed to the back burner.

Lastly, my final project for the year is a WWI era corset and chemise, which will have a proper blog post soon.

1770's Polonaise

The Gray Gown

Padme's Picnic Dress/Project P19

1930's Aviatrix from Aviation Day

Beauty and the Beast
1940's Swing Dress worn at the dinner dance at VAW

1940's Aviatrix worn at Vintage Aircraft Weekend

1870's Portrait Costume for Halloween

The 1841 Marie Louise Gown in progress
WWI era corset and chemise

Plans for 2018

Every year I make a post full of idea's of things I want to accomplish the following year, and I usually don't follow through with much if any of the things I hoped to. So this year, I'm taking a slightly different approach.

Instead of having a list of specific costumes, I have slightly more vague goals for myself.


-Develop my artistic voice and style. I really want to start finding and developing my style for both costuming and my blogging.

-Focus more on 20th century fashion. I specifically want to build a 1940's wardrobe, as I have several events each year I attend where WWII era fashion is appropriate.

-I also want to explore the fashions from 1916-18. I have some plans already, as well as fabric on the way.

-Finish P19 before Comic Con

Those are the only specific goals I have for this year, but I expect I'll experiment with a couple of other era's and likely continue a bit of 1840's through the year.

And with that, goodbye 2017. Hello 2018!

Misconceptions of Women and Pants in the 20th Century

Last month I attended a camera convention with a friend where we attended a class about cinemagraph's and how to make them. The instructor had a live model and backdrop so he could demonstrate the process from beginning to end, and it was really fun to see the process of making these moving photographs.

His set up was an Amelia Earhart theme with a vintage plane backdrop and the model wearing a leather jacket, helmet and a pair of tan slacks. It wasn't at all historically accurate, but it got the idea across

She was adjusting her clothes as she got in position for the photo and she made a remark about women's pants as she pulled them up higher to try and get her (low cut) pants to her waist. The remark she made was something about how pants were worn higher, and then she followed that with something along the lines of "pants were worn higher up because they didn't make them for women, so they didn't fit well." and "Women didn't wear pants back then."

Being a historical costumer and having recently researched women in aviation specifically, I wanted to scream.

"No! None of what you just said is true!"

But I sat still, cringing inside instead.

It got me thinking about women and pants and just how long we've been wearing them. I've assembled a collection of women in pants dating as far back as the Civil War in the 1860's, proving that average women did in fact wear pants.
Sears Catalog c. 1918 displaying an array of pants options for women.

Women in pants c. late 1920's 

Woman in trousers c. 1930's

Catalog displaying women's trousers from the 1940's

Ginger Rogers wearing a pair of trousers in the 1940's 

Dr. Mary Walker wearing pants in during the Civil War.

As you can see, women most certainly *did* wear pants in the first half of the 20th century, and no, they weren't men's pants.

I want to address a couple of misconceptions that were expressed by the model that day, and that I'm sure other's have thought too.

1. "Pants were worn higher because they didn't make pants for women."
Not true. They were worn higher because that's what the fashion was at the time, for both men and women. And just like men's pants, you could find women's pants in clothing stores and catalogs. Or, you could always make a pair yourself.

2. "They didn't make pants for women."
Also not true.  To continue off my first point, they most certainly did make pants for women, as is proved by the numerous catalogs for women's trousers throughout the 20th century (not to mention the endless photographs showing women wearing pants).

In Conclusion:
It was common for women to wear pants for sports and physical activities such as horseback riding, hiking, and flying. In the 30's, another style of pants called beach pajama's were common, and were a very wide leg trouser made from comfortable fabrics.

During WWII women began wearing denim trousers more as they entered the work field, as comfort and mobility were needed, though it wasn't until the 50's and 60's that it became common to wear pants on a daily basis.

This is only a brief explanation of women and when they started wearing pants, there's a lot more to it, but that's all I'm going to cover for now. Hopefully this clears up some misconceptions that some people may have.
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