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Ladies Home Journal, June 1910

Some social commentary on corsets, 1910

I bought the June 1910 issue of the Ladies Home Journal (it was the American Fashion Number!) when I was in the US, and thought I should share this fascinating piece of corset related social commentary from it with you:

Ladies Home Journal, June 1910

And if you can’t quite read that one:

Ladies Home Journal, June 1910

Ladies Home Journal, June 1910

Ladies Home Journal, June 1910

So many layers! The anti-tightlacing message, right as longline corsets came into fashion. The message that corsets should be looser, without even a hint of a suggestion that they should be left off. The weird overtones about fertility. The use of ‘man’ and ‘girl’. The idea that women dress for men. The mansplaining…

Rate the Dress: Aubergine Aestheticism, ca 1880

Last week’s 1950s Jantzen playsuit attracted either very high ratings, or quite low: there was only one 8 amongst the ratings, and not a single 7!  It lost a few points amongst the high ratings for not matching at the waist, and a most of the points in the low ratings simply for being strapless and/or a playsuit.  But there were more high than low in the end, and it came in at 8.5 out of 10

I wonder two things about the playsuit: first, were people going to like, or dislike, the non-pattern matching at the waist (I looked at it for a long time, and realised that there is no way it could have matched as it’s an un-balanced print and the seams on the bodice and pleats on the shorts don’t line up, so came to the same conclusion as SueAnne – you couldn’t match the stripes, but a belt would make the non-matching look right, as it did with the skirt, where two mis-matched wrongs really do make a right!), and second, if the topic of cultural appropriation would come up.  Surprisingly, not so much, despite the fact, that, as Daniel noted, the playsuit might have been an excellent example of tasteful inspiration, had not the name landed it firmly in the mire of obvious and oblivious stereotypes.

This week let’s look at a flip to last week’s choice: a very covered up garment, that was, for its time, more avant garde than the ’50s playsuit.

This 1880s reception gown of dark purple silk velvet with satin contrast and machine lace trims shows clear Aestheticism influence in its unbroken princess line combined with heavy use of ruching and historical-inspired details, such as the slashed ‘Renaissance’ sleeve puffs, and ruched cuffs and draping ‘engageants’ taken from 18th century fashion.

Individually, none of these would be enough to clearly mark a garment as noticeably artistic, but combined, the effect is an undeniable nod to Aestheticism, while still remaining within the conventional norms of early 1880s fashion.

What do you think?  Do you like the tone on tone embellishment, the mix of high-fashion and aestheticism, and the dark, rich colour?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10





Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

Gather ye Rosebuds… a 1916 crinoline evening dress

And here it is!  My 1916 crinoline revival evening dress:

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

Harpers Bazaar 1916

Officially, it’s been dubbed the ‘Gather ye Rosebuds’ dress – I felt I needed to make it before I was too old to get away with this look, it’s trimmed with roses, and there was lots of gathering (my gosh was there so much gathering.  I gathered, and gathered, and gathered some more….).

Unofficially….it’s the Jellyfish.

I assembled all the pieces, put them together, put the dress on, looked at myself, and said “Oh dear, I’ve made a jellyfish!”

I have mixed feelings about the Jellyfish.

I really enjoyed wearing it.  It was very bouncy, and I bounced a lot (lots of people took videos of me bouncing and spinning in it, but so far I’ve only seen one and I can’t figure out how to download it!).

And I knew it was far from perfect so I didn’t feel the need to be precious about it.

But…I know it’s far (so far…) from perfect.  It started out really thought-out and precise and beautifully finished, and the further out in the layers you get towards the final outer layer, the less perfect things get.  I budgeted exactly enough time to sew it properly, but nothing for contingencies, and there were so many contingencies (including a hurricane).

So when I look at it, all I see are the imperfections and the things I know I didn’t get right, and that bugs me.

I was so rushed and frantic on the night, and prioritising helping the room get dressed and to the Gala, that I didn’t even give it a final steam (and the fabric crumples as soon as you look at it – and photos multiply any crumple by 27X), or re-do my hair from my daytime hairdo, or re-apply lipstick before I took pictures.

It was so crumpled that there was even a tactless but well-meaning post (now gone) on how un-pressed everyone at the Gala looked, and I would not be even a tiny bit surprised if a photo of me was the inspiration for that post.  :-/

(but if I had to do it again I’d still be helpful and semi-on-time over perfectly pressed, so that’s OK!)

Crumples are one thing, but not loving the construction is another.  In an ideal world I would make the under-skirt (with lace) 30″ less full, re-do the gathers and re-attach the underskirt, fix the part where the overskirt is ‘growing’ (as circle cut skirts are apt to do) and arguing with its flat-lining, and re-do its gathers and re-attach it.  And I’d re-do the under-bodice, as I’m not happy with where it’s top line sits, and re-do the overbodice to have a much more shaped (and consequently, much trickier to sew) top line.  And replace the roses with hand-made fabric roses, and add another cluster in back, and trim the straps with roses and pearls.  And add those falling-sleeve puffs.

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

In other words, pretty much entirely re-make the dress!

So now I’m not sure what to do.  I could do the simplest fixes possible, get the dress to where it’s OK as a not-perfect costume, and call it good, or I could make it the way I really want it, but that would essentially involve taking it entirely apart and completely re-doing it.


So, now that I’ve told you everything wrong with it, here are some things that I love about the outfit, and that make me really happy!

#1: The flowers:

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

I brought all the materials to make fabric roses, but it was clear I wouldn’t have enough time, so the fabulous Meg of Nutmeg Sews went on a room-costume-rescue mission to the Costume College Marketplace with an early-bird pass.  She sent me photos of flower options from the marketplace as she shopped, and they had these, and I do love them!  (if they get taken off this dress they are going on a 1910s hat).

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

#2: The bodice fabric.  I bought that fabric almost 10 years ago, and have been hoarding it ever since, too scared to use it.   The fashion plate for this outfit describes it as being green, with a silver bodice, which sounds like a tricky match, especially with the lace underskirt, but yet when I put these fabrics together they all worked perfectly.  Yay!

#3: My shoes & stockings:

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

My shoes are ballroom dancing shoes, which are pretty much as close as you can get to 1910s evening slippers both in look and construction.  My stockings are made using my Rosalie stocking pattern, using silk mesh from The Fabric Warehouse.

#4: My handbag.  It’s a mid-century beaded number, but the lovely thing about 1910s handbags is that they all look like mid-century bags, so are easy to fake!

#5: The lace.  It’s 1950s, but it’s very pretty, and the motifs are distinct enough to have impact even gathered in layers under the overskirt.

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown

But wait, there is more!  This dress happens to fulfil the Historical Sew Monthly August: Ridiculous challenge (I’d intended to use it for June, but realised August would be more helpful, so have moved it over), and, since I’ve been working on fixing some of the things that were a bit ad-hoc to get it fully finished right up until this week, since it’s made from two fabrics (the silver and the lace) I’ve been carefully hoarding, and since I haven’t shared any pictures of it until today, the Sew Weekly ‘Living Dangerously’ challenge.

So, for the Historical Sew Fortnightly:

What the item is: a 1916 evening gown inspired by a Harpers Bazaar fashion plate.

The Challenge: #8 Ridiculous (c’mon, it’s a Jellyfish!)

Fabric/Materials: 5.m of silver brocaded silk (probably around $24pm); 5 meters of pomona green lightweight silk (it’s lighter than a taffeta, heavier than a habotai, and has a very slightly twisted crepe thread, but not nearly as much as a crepe de chine, and was $5 a meter – Fabric Warehouse sale ftw!); 3 meters of silk organza ($5 a meter – Fabric Warehouse sale ftw – again!), 8 meters of vintage lace (a gift), 4 meters of tulle (probably around $6pm), and synthetic flowers ($12)

Pattern: Based on 1910s magazines, sewing books and patterns in my collection.

Year: 1916

Notions: silk thread, cotton thread, SO MANY hooks and eyes and snap fasteners, satin ribbon, rayon seam binding.

How historically accurate is it?  Not so much.  The under layers are really good, but the construction gets a bit sloppy for this type of dress in period.  About 70%

Hours to complete: Ergh.  Way too many.  50+

First worn: Costume College Gala, Sat 29 July – not quite finished, but at least there was only one pin in it!  (a straight one, to hold down a leaf that didn’t sit properly on the sash).

Gather Ye Rosebuds CoCo 2017 Gala Gown