Latest Posts

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

An Edwardian Wrapper

I’ve always been wildly envious of costumers who post about historical retreat events that include opportunities to swan about in glamorous undress.  Whether it’s 18th century banyans, Victorian tea gowns, or Edwardian wrappers, there’s something so delicious about actually wearing historical deshabille for the purpose it would have been worn for in period.

So when we planned our 2021 historical retreat I suggested that we should definitely include early 20th century undress in our dress planning.  It would be really easy, because we all at the very least had gorgeous vintage kimono thanks to the kimono shop that used to be in Wellington.

I had slightly more ambitious plans.  I have this fabulous 1908 wrapper pattern in my stash:

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

The perfect excuse to make it!

What is a Wrapper?

Wrappers were looser, more informal dresses that women wore in their own home, either to relax or do housework. They would be acceptable attire for an invalid, or for the lady of the house to wear to breakfast or dinner with family and very close friends.

In elegant fabrics they overlapped with tea gowns in use and social status (I have an 1890s sewing pattern for a ‘wrapper or tea gown’). In simple fabrics they were ‘scrub’ attire, for housecleaning. ⁠ ⁠

Wrappers were a definite step up in formality from a bathrobe or kimono, but weren’t generally meant to be worn outside the house. Miss Cornelia wears a ‘chocolate brown wrapper scattered with huge pink roses’ on her first visit to Anne in ‘Anne’s House of Dreams’. Mongomery makes it clear this is highly unusual, highlighting that Anne instantly likes her, despite ‘certain oddities of attire’ and that ‘nobody but Miss Cornelia would have come to make a call’ in such a garment.⁠ ⁠

The extravagant design of my wrapper, ‘in empire line’, with its wide sleeves and full skirt, means it wouldn’t really be practical as anything but a very elegant garment.

Wrappers could be worn with or without a corset, depending on the formality of the occasion (I’m sure Miss Cornelia was wearing one with hers!

The Fabric and Construction:

What to make my wrapper out of?  Sometimes I know exactly what fabric to pair with what pattern, and sometimes I’m totally at a loss.

I had a rummage through my stash, and decided I definitely didn’t feel like trying a pattern out for the first time in silk charmeuse.  I was a bit stumped, and then remembered this fabric:

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

It’s a weird piece of cotton sheeting with three large embroidered cutwork motifs at one end.  I’d picked it up at Fabric-a-Brac Wellington, thinking it was embroidered all over, and then discovered how strange it was.  As far as I can guess it was meant to be a duvet cover:

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

I had a play with the pattern pieces, and they just fit perfectly.  It was meant to be!  But what a dull, uninspiring colour…

Well, I can fix that!

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

Definitely not dull and inspiring any more!  I was aiming for a very soft, muted pink-purple, but sometimes you get vivid orchid when you want dusty mauve…

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

With very careful cutting I was able to get two large motifs on the front of the skirt.  I cut out the third large motif, and appliquéd it to the back sweep of the skirt:

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

I got slightly carried away on the bodice and sleeves, and just kept inserting lace, using all the lace techniques that are covered in the Scroop Patterns Ettie Petticoat pattern.

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

And the end result?

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

So worth it!  I’m ecstatic about the end result!

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

So comfortable!  So swooshy!

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

And the best part?  If you look very closely at the side seams, you can see it has pockets!

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

I wore this basically every day of the retreat.  Swan into breakfast in it, change into it for a lazy afternoon, put it on after dinner to hang out. It’s the ideal garment!

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

It can even be worn with or without a corset.

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

It was the only properly new make for the historical weekend, but I think it’s the perfect one.

It also fits the Historical Sew Monthly 2021 ‘Purple’ challenge (obviously!)

The Challenge: Purple (May): Make something in any shade of purple.

Material: A 2m x 2m piece of cotton sheeting

Pattern:  An original 1907-8 pattern

Year: 1907-8

Notions: Insertion lace, dye, thread.

How historically accurate is it?  The fabric isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s not terribly inaccurate, and the construction techniques are spot on.

Hours to complete: 6ish hours.

First worn: For our historical retreate, October 2021

Total cost: Fabric was $6, dye was $2 (an op shop bargain), lace would probably have been around $7, so $15 all up.

An Edwardian wrapper thedreamstress.com

Cute story to wrap this post up. (haha).⁠ ⁠

I showed my parents these photos in our weekly video chat, and explained to my dad what a ‘wrapper’ was. ⁠ ⁠

He thought about it for a while, and then said “well, if you made a wrapper….what’s your rap name?’ ⁠ ⁠

Me: Ummm…I don’t know! Maybe ‘Lil Stitch’? ⁠ ⁠

Him (triumphantly): Lil Stitch? Obviously you’d be Scroop Dog!

🤣

Evening dress, 1807 - 1810, crêpe georgette, sequins, metal, whalebone; cloth of gold with embroidery, Object Number 4477, donation 1924, centraalmuseum.nl

Rate the Dress: Court-worthy gold

This week’s rate the dress was meant to be a Christmas themed Rate the Dress, and then a New Years themed Rate the Dress…and those didn’t happen.  Instead I took a Rate the Dress holiday.  So here’s a belated holiday themed Rate the Dress!

Last month (eep!): a ca. 1890 walking dress in corded wool

The ratings for the walking dress were pretty consistent.  You just didn’t like it that much.  The bodice decorations did not appeal, and you really weren’t on-board with the  long-front, short-back bodice hem.  The best comment it got was ‘stunning but slightly off’.

The Total: 6.7 out of 10

Well, I said last time I wasn’t purposefully picking things I thought people would love, and you definitely didn’t love that pick.

This week: a 1807-10 evening dress/court gown bedazzled with gold

This early 19th century evening dress is made of extremely delicate silk, embroidered with gold sequins and metal thread.  It would have been an extraordinarily expensive garment in its day.

The train indicates that it was more likely to have been worn for receptions or court events, rather than balls or dancing.

The fabric is also extremely delicate: even when it was new the expensive sequins would have been damaged and the silk georgette would have torn if it was stepped on.

The fabric of this dress has darkened with age, and some of the metal embroidery has tarnished.  The dress has also had significant conservation work.  Look closely, and you can see the silk tulle that has been sewn over the metal embroidery to stabilise it.

When you rate the dress, try to imagine it as it was when it was new: bright and shiny, the sequins standing out against a bright ground, the colours closest to the first image.

With that in mind, how would you rate it?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste.

As usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment.

Image shows two women in 18th century dress in a fern filled wood, their backs to the camera.

My Historical Sew Monthly 2021: a historical sewing round up.

It’s been quite a year!  Not one I care to repeat any time soon either.  One of the things that did go well in 2021 was sewing.  I coped with stress by making lots of things…

Almost all the historical things I made this year qualify for the Historical Sew Monthly challenges.  What did I make?

My Historical Sew Monthly 2021 Makes

January: Joy:

Create an item that brings you joy, or that epitomises the joy you find in historical costuming.

The Frances Rump!   Rumps are silly and hilarious, and thus joyful by by the very ridiculousness of their nature. And I made this one as a free pattern, to give back to the costuming community which has brought me so much joy.  I made three rumps this year.

The Frances Rump from Scroop Patterns

Another make this year that brings me a lot of joy is my Extremely Exuberant Amalia ensemble.

The fabric is just so fun!  The fabric was actually a 2020 lockdown stress purchase, so it’s nice that something that brings me so much happiness came out of that…  Plus, all the accessories for this ensemble, from my cap (2018), to my muff (2013), to my fichu, to my stockings, to my apron (2020, and never blogged), are things I’ve made for past HSM challenges.  I’m so delighted they all get to come together!

The Scroop Patterns Amalia Jacket and matching petticoat at thedreamstress.com

What a year! I managed to make a pattern with two handsewn samples, AND a full 18th century ensemble for the first challenge.  Is that a sign of how my 2021 sewing went?  Yes it is!

February: The Roaring 20s:

Make something from the 20s (any century) or that somehow incorporates a number in the 20s.

I finished my real entry for this just in the nick of time!  I really like finishing off the year with a sewing project.  This year I chose a Rilla Corset that’s been in my UFO pile for a couple of years.  It feels so good to get it done!

Image shows a hand holding a yellow and white striped corset, with a length of lace being sewn to it

I’m very annoyed with myself for the second part of this challenge.  I made a charming View D (which goes to the 1920s) Ettie Petticoat as I was testing the pattern, and gave it away to a friend before I photographed it.

It’s white, trimmed with pale yellow lace, and is very sweet indeed.

I also made a couple more pairs of Rosalie Stockings, which are perfect for the 1920s.

March: Small is beautiful:

Little things can make a big difference to the finished look. Make something small but perfect (bonus points if it exclusively uses materials purchased from a small business)

I think these 18th century pockets fit this challenge perfectly.  Small, beautiful, and all the bits from local businesses or charities.

Making 18th century pockets, thedreamstress.com

I also made a new fichu that is worn with my Extremely Exuberant Amalia ensemble.  Just a lovely light square of cotton finished with roll hemming.

Image shows a square of white cotton finished with roll hemming, with freesias in the background

April: The Costumer’s New Look:

Give an old costume a new look, either by creating a new accessory or piece which expands or changes the aesthetic and use of an outfit, re-fashioning something into a costume item, or re-making an old costume.

I remade an old nightgown into an under petticoat.  Technically accurate..no, but accurate in spirit, absolutely!

Recycled 18th c under-petticoat thedreamstress.com

My jaunty 1910s outfit also counts in triplicate.  The blouse is a re-fashion of a remake, and the skirt is a remake.

The Selina Blouse is remade from an unfinished but stained in places 1970s bathrobe.  I unpicked the robe, and carefully cut my blouse around the stains.  The blouse featured on the front cover of the Selina Blouse pattern, and then I added the jabot tie to it.

A woman in a mid-1910s outfit comprising a blue linen skirt with triangular pockets, and a polka dotted blouse stands in a vineyard with a house in the background

The skirt was worn without pockets in the Selina Blouse photoshoot, and then I added pockets to it, because pockets make any garment even more fabulous!

May: Purple:

Make an item in any shade of purple.    

This one was easy, because 2021 was the year of purple!  Two purple Ettie Petticoats, a pinky-purple dress for Miss Five (which I’ve included in zero waste instead), and a very exciting extremely purple wrapper that I haven’t even shown off yet!

The Scroop Patterns Ettie Petticoat View A Scrooppatterns.com

Here’s a sneak preview of the wrapper:

A woman in a long purple dress with wide sleeves stands silhouetted against a doorway, her arms raised


June: On Your Head:

Create an item you wear on your head.

The hat that goes with my jaunty 1910s ensemble certainly counts!  Bonus points: I helped friends trim two more hats on the day I wore this.

A woman in a mid-1910s outfit comprising a blue linen skirt with triangular pockets, and a polka dotted blouse stands in an open gate. She looks to her right, and touches a branch of a shrub

July: Like a Melody:

Make something inspired by music.

This is probably my weakest entry of the year.  Ruffly 18th century caps always make me think of traditional ballads.  I’m not really the type to be needing help re-tying my garters as I take my cheese to the fair, but I this Pretty Maid is a kindred spirit, so perhaps this is what she wore!

A woman in an 18th century outfit consisting of red petticoat, frilly white apron and floral jacket stands amidst flowers under trees.

I did make a pair of garters though!  My friend Madame O embroidered me these beautiful garters a couple of years ago.  I sewed them to pink silk ribbon from Burnley & Trowbridge, and now  I have gorgeous garters!

Image shows blue garters embroidered with little flowers sewn to pink silk ribbon

Finishing them got interrupted by a pipe needing fixing, so when I came back in I couldn’t resist taking a ‘Girls, Gumboots and Garters’ photo (if you know the reference, you’re my kind of person!)

Image shows garters tied over black jeans, worn with gumboots

August: Cite Your Sources:

We’re always a fan of research in the HSM, but this time it’s the centre of the challenge. Create something that requires research to get it right. Be thoughtful in your choice and use of research sources, and (of course) be sure to share your research sources along with your make!

Oh my goodness, did I ever do a lot of research for the Ettie Petticoat!  Extant garments, period magazines, period sewing manuals….

The Scroop Patterns Ettie Petticoat View C scrooppatterns.com

September: Closures:

This one is all about how you fasten a garment. Try a new type of closure you’ve never done (time to tackle dog-legged plackets, hand-sewn eyelets or pinning yourself in?) or make something where the focus is on the fastenings.

The interior belt and placket closure of 1910s garments is a fascinating thing.  The Kilbirnie Skirt features a classic version of this very interesting closure:

Scroop Patterns Kilbirnie Skirt scrooppatterns.com

And I made two!

Image shows a detail of the placket and boned interior waistband of a reproduction 1910s skirt

October: Orange:

It’s the final colour to be covered by a colour challenge! Make something orange.

I also made two things for this challenge!  Or, to be more accurate, I made a matching set.

The little peachy-orange berries on this silk Selina Blouse called for a matching skirt.  The linen skirt is based on a 1910s pattern in my collection.

The Scroop Patterns Selina Blouse ScroopPatterns.com

November: Zero Waste:

Make something that creates zero waste. You could either sew a garment like a shift that uses clever geometry to use all the fabric, re-make an old costuming item to extend its life, or create something entirely from re-used materials.

The sweet Norland Frock I made for Miss Four used up every bit of the fabric scraps from a few different projects: linen left over from petticoats for the dress, a silk scrap from a lining for the sash, and cotton unpicked from a costume for a film that never got made for the under-petticoat.

A midwinter Georgian dinner thedreamstress.com

December: All the World’s a Stage:

Make something inspired by theatre, opera, or the modern stage: films & tv. You can recreate a historical stage costume, a historically accurate film costume, or use this as an excuse to make a historically accurate version of something that isn’t.

The classic red cloak is a very theatrical garment that’s been used in lots of things.  I could be an accurate Little Red from Into the Woods, or the Christmas panto.

Making an 18th century red wool cloak, thedreamstress.com

So, what was my total?  Five skirts/outer petticoats.  Five petticoats.  An Amalia Jacket.  Two dress-things (one with wearable under-dress and sash).  Three Frances Rumps.  Four Selina Blouses.  A corset.  Garters.  A fichu.  A hat and a cap.  Two pairs of stockings.  A cloak.  Pockets.   28 items?  That’s better than a Historical Sew Fortnightly!

What I like most, looking back at my Historical Sew Monthly, is that while I was prolific, I was also frugal and environmentally friendly.  Quite a few of these items were made from re-fashioned items.  The vast majority of the remainder were made from stash fabric (often originally thrifted) rather than new.  And all of them were carefully and thoughtfully made, and will get lots of use.  It’s a very good feeling.

I was also generous: a free pattern, quite a bit of information and tutorial, and I helped lots of friends and students make things!

Here’s to a 2022 full of satisfying sewing, but waaaaaaay less stress than 2021!