Wearing History just came out with a new late-teens combination pattern taken directly from a period pattern. Naturally, I was super excited about it because I want to expand my 1910s wardrobe this year. I was even more excited about it when Lauren asked if I would pattern test it. Yes I would!
(so yes, I got the pattern for free, and yes, I’m a total Wearing History fangirl, but I wasn’t paid anything for this post, any opinions are totally my own, and if anything, as everyone knows, I tend to be hypercritical of patterns.)
The print-out e-version of the pattern was very easy to put together, and everything matched up perfectly.
I chose the view with the scooped neck and buttoning-over under-extension (because hey, as long as you are making totally crazy 1910s, underwear, let’s go whole hog!).
For my fabric I used an old cotton sheet – unfortunately I got my sheets mixed up at the last minute, and cut one I’d set aside for toiles only, because it was quite worn, rather than the one in much better nick I’d intended for the project. I was cutting at night, so didn’t notice until I’d done all the major seams that the fabric has some marks and changes from good condition to quite worn from one seam to the next.
I’m OK with this for two reasons. First, because the combinations were so easy and fun to make that whipping up another pair will be a doddle (there will be more! Lots and lots more!). Second, because while it isn’t as well known as the rationing and re-use of WWII, there was rationing and fabric shortages in WWI, and I have read accounts of even reasonably upper-class women (Flora Klickmann for example) cutting up sheets to make new undergarments – so the wear only adds to the authenticity of the piece.
I erred on the side of caution and cut the size 38″ bust (I’m a 37 1/2″ on a good day). Next time I will go down two sizes, but sew smaller 5’8″ seam allowances, rather then the 3/4″ that are given in the original pattern. I’ll keep my armholes at a size 38″ though, as the vintage armholes are quite small.
Sewing the combinations was a breeze. The pattern comes with the original 1917 instructions, which are very brief, and use terms and language that the modern seamstress may not be familiar with. To make it easier, Lauren has ‘annotated’ them with modern translations, and discussions of the various ways to sew and finish them – both helpful and educational.
The instructions are quite flexible, and expect you to decide and figure out various steps on your own (e.g. there is no detailed explanation of how to finish a neck edge with bias or beading lace, those are just given as options). Lauren makes it quite clear that the Resto-Vival patterns are for experienced seamstresses with vintage knowledge, but in this case I would say the pattern is so simple that even a very inexperienced seamstress, as long as she had a bit of common sense, would have no problem making a beautifully finished version of the combinations.
It might still help to see how I did it, so here you go:
I finished the neckline with beading (lace with holes to thread ribbon through), and the armholes with edging trim.
For the armholes, I laid the braid around the armholes, right sides together, and flat edge of the braid just covering the raw edge of the armhole. I sewed around, very close to the decorative edge of the braid, and then flipped it to the back, and topstitched again from the right side, so the decorative edge frames the armhole and the raw edges are all covered.
I folded the neck edge 1/4″ over to the right side of the garment, and laid the lace over it. I then stitched two lines of stitching very close to the edge of the lace, to be sure to catch the fold-over in it. This way there are no raw edges showing inside or outside the garment.
The garment is hemmed with a small folded hem. So that I didn’t have to do a tiny hem around the curve of the under-crotch piece, and to provide support for my buttonholes, I cut another piece the same as the under-crotch, and bag-lined around the curved bit:
You can also see the bit of ribbon I sewed behind the buttons in the photo above, to support them and prevent tearing.
I used vintage lingerie buttons to fasten the crotch piece.
The side seams are sewn with french seams. I did a double-sided reverse-flat-felled seam around the back seam, and secured the back pleat with a simple line of stitching.
All very quick and simple, but very tidy.
I thought you might also appreciate a couple of shots with a 1910s corset worn over it:
This is the 1911 corset from Norah Waugh’s Corsets & Crinolines, though the style of corset changed very little during the 1910s, and was only replaced at the end of WWI (and corsets were also rationed during the war years in a number of countries, so quite a few women would have still been wearing corsets they had bought in 1911 in 1917).
The simple shape of the combinations, and the lack of a waist gather, made them VERY comfortable to wear under a corset. The buttoning under-crotch panel also means that it would be possible to go to the loo quite easily – always a bit of a conundrum in a longline corset!
The Challenge: #1 Foundations
Fabric: 1 twin sized vintage bedsheet (courtesy of Joie de Vivre who gave me a whole stack – awesome friend!).
Year: ca. 1917
Notions: broderie anglaise beading (a Fabric-a-Brac score), cotton edging trim (ditto), rayon ribbon (Fabric Warehouses 40% off sale a couple of years back), 2x vintage lingerie buttons (8 cents apiece at an op-shop).
How historically accurate is it?: Very close to 100%. Period pattern, techniques I have seen in period sewing books or originals, and sheet re-use is period. The only thing I am not certain about is the rayon ribbon, as, while rayon was in use by 1911, I don’t know of examples of rayon ribbon from the 1910s.
Hours to complete: 2. Quick and fun! And I’m going to make SO MANY MORE!
First worn: The morning of Sat 31 Jan, when I discovered that 1910s combinations are the perfect thing to wear when you need to wear something around the house, but can’t be bothered putting on actual clothes. And then the evening of Sat 31st, when I discovered they are also ideal for sewing clothes when you are doing lots of trying ons, and need to be able to whip in and out of what you are wearing. And then Sun 1st, for the photoshoot.
Total cost: Under $5!
And finally, since you have seen all the other images, the obligatory gorgeous Felicity shots: