Historical Sew Fortnightly

Working on the Wearing History 1916 Suit

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been plugging away on the Wearing History 1916 Suit.  It’s going pretty slowly, because I’ve got a lot else on, but progress is being made.

For one thing, the skirt is done!

Actually, it’s been done for over a week, but I’ve been too busy/sick to blog about it, and haven’t managed to wear it or take proper photos yet.

If you are making the full suit, the Wearing History pattern prints out at a whopping 100 A4 pages of pattern pieces – plus instructions.

Worth it though: look how fabulous it is!

Wearing History 1916 Skirt thedreamstress.com1

For my fabric, I polled people on The Dreamstress FB page on fabric choices, and settled on a lightweight worsted wool in black with charcoal stripes (the other options were a black & white rayon check and a brown linen).

Then I settled down to tape pages together.  And tape.  And tape.

Wearing History 1916 Skirt thedreamstress.com2

I rather like taping print-at-home patterns.  It’s quite meditative, and you get into a rhythm.  Here is how I do it, if you are interested.

Felicity was also interested:

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She sat on a chair and watched the whole process very intently.  And then chased all the balls of scraps that I made at the end with great delight.

Then it was time for cutting, which required lots of concentration thanks to the rather elaborate stripe pattern in the fabric:

Wearing History 1916 Skirt thedreamstress.com4


Felicity also assisted with cutting out, because she’s a good cat like that:

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And besides, what black wool suit wouldn’t be complete without a liberal helping of cat hairs?

Wearing History 1916 Skirt thedreamstress.com5

I started on the skirt first, because I knew that would go quicker, and it’s always nice to feel that you’ve finished something.

Plus, if only the skirt got done, at least I could wear it with a blouse and have a full outfit!

The skirt construction was pretty basic, though (as the pattern warns) you do need to be experienced, be familiar with period sewing techniques, and use a bit of creative thinking.

The only really interesting part is the interior belt, which allows the skirt to sit 3 inches above the natural waist.  It sort-of gets sewn to the completely finished skirt, to hold it up.

Wearing History 1916 Skirt thedreamstress.com7

To make mine stiff enough, I supported it with a horsehair backing, and a length of vintage belting.

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Then the only thing to do was to make the curved decorative outer belt – also supported with horsehair for  a bit of body.

Wearing History 1916 Skirt thedreamstress.com9

Does anyone else get excited about notching?  I love doing it and always want to make it SO perfect.

And it’s done!

And while it hasn’t been worn by me, it has been worn, by a lovely model at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea’s ‘The Home Front’ night.

Wearing History 1916 Skirt thedreamstress.com10

(with, I must confess, a wacking great pleat taken in at the back, because all the models were tiny 16 year olds!)

I’m hoping to do a proper photoshoot with the skirt this weekend.  Quite fitting, as it’s Anzac weekend.

And there are more photos of the event coming soon!


  1. That is a beautiful skirt! I have to admit I am not a fan of notching, but I need to work up the patience to become one because not notching never works to my (or the outfit’s) advantage.

  2. Three inches above the natural waist? Lumme! That’s practically high enough to be hitched to the bra (if they were wearing them in the teens).
    Looks good, though, delicate waif notwithstanding 🙂

  3. Lynne says

    I think the skirt looks great! Well done, you and Felicity! And a round of applause to whoever did the hair and make-up for the Home Front night – they look very believable.

    The high waist section sits beautifully – the horse-hair (is that fabric really horse-hair or is it just called that?) really works. I used to love cutting notches, too. Evenly, and so carefully. Then you got to gloat when you turned and pressed it, and it sat so nicely! 🙂

  4. Thank you for all this detail! I have this pattern but have been a little shy to try it out – perhaps because I’m not an experienced seamstress. It’s beautiful!

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