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1916 Research thedreamstress.com

A Fortnight in 1916: the research

It took a LOT of research to spend a Fortnight in 1916 – I spent almost a year accumulating information, reading diaries, and figuring out what was and wasn’t done.  Despite all that, I’m still sure I made plenty of mistakes. One of the real frustrations for me in creating this project, and something that was part of the impetus for it in the first place, is how little published research is available on the New Zealand home front of WWI.  There are a number of books that have chapters on the timeperiod, and much written about the WWI itself, and the politics around the war, in and outside of the country, but not one that I have found about the NZ home front as a whole. The period of 1914-18 would have been a time of huge change within the country even without the war: so many new technologies are introduced at this time.  I’d really love to see more research and writing focused on the domestic side of this period. Here are the resources I used, with …

Clothing for a Fortnight in 1916, thedreamstress.com

A Fortnight in 1916: the physical effects of living in 1916

At the start of the Fortnight in 1916 project, one of my rules was that I wasn’t allowed to continue the experiment if it put my health in any danger.  Happily, except for some minor blood blistering from a bad corset, I came through the experiment in perfect health – probably even better than if I’d spent it living 2016 style. My main worry about the fortnight was the cold.  Would using less heating in the middle of winter, and wearing nothing but wool stockings on my lower legs, increase my chance of chillblains or a bad chest cold? I hadn’t managed to make a wool union suit, and compared to the layers of socks and merino thermals I usually wear in winter (the July standard is two layers of socks, heavy jeans, and at least three layers of wool on my torso), my 1916 wardrobe seemed quite insufficient.  Every day I would be wearing a single pair of thin-ish merino stockings, cotton combinations, a one-layer cotton corset, corset cover, two cotton petticoats, a thin-ish wool skirt, cotton blouse, and …

Sewing with a Singer 27 for the Fortnight in 1916 thedreamstress.com

Sewing in 1916

As part of my Fortnight in 1916 project, one of my goals was to make a garment using period techniques and my Singer 27 machine, just as a woman would have done in 1916. As you can see, I succeeded!  It was quite an interesting experience, and I did learn quite a bit about sewing in the period. For the blouse pattern, I took a pattern from an original 1914-16 blouse in my collection: When I purchased the original blouse it was unfinished – the vestee part in front was only loosely basted in, and there was no front fastenings.  I secured the vestee, and added hooks as a less invasive alternative to buttons and buttonholes. I’ve worn it once, as it’s extremely robust, and I really wanted to understand the fit. As my original was unfinished, it made it easy to study the construction.  I’ll do a full post on the original shortly, rather than focusing on that now, but will note two of the interesting clues that it did yield.  First,  it was made from a commercial pattern as …