Since the Historical Sew Monthly Challenge for May is ‘Practicality’ and one of my submissions for it is a 1910s blouse (from the Wearing History Elsie blouse pattern), I thought I should actually test the practicality of said blouse.
Now, a blouse is a very practical garment – for a 1910s wardrobe. It was inexpensive, versatile and washable, and was basically the 1910s version of a T-shirt.
But how much could you actually do in it?
And full 1910s undergarments (corset, combination, petticoats), skirt, and heeled shoes. Plus a period apron for the messy stuff.
Well, I spent half a day in the full outfit and I managed to:
– tidy the house (general putting away the 37 things in each room that the elves seem to pull out of the drawers and closet every night and leave strewn about the house)
– sweep the kitchen, lounge, and hall
– mop the kitchen
– wash dishes (by hand)
– dust the dining room
– do laundry (OK, with a washing machine)
– make dinner
It looked a bit like this:
And you know what? It really wasn’t bad at all.
I was really hot when I first finished getting dressed, but my body quickly adjusted, and all the natural fibres breathed nicely. Once I’d settled into it and started working temperature wise, I was just as comfortable as I would have been in jeans and a cardigan.
The heels were a bit of an issue, but that’s more my Hawaiian-bred aversion to shoes indoors than a comment on the type of shoes.
The shorter hem made it easy to bend over to sweep and mop and pick up things.
The sleeves rolled up, and stayed rolled up, for dishwashing and cooking.
And the corset was actually fantastic. All that back support while sweeping and bending over to pick things up was really, really helpful. At the end of cleaning I felt much perkier than I normally would.
I was also surprised by how little the longline corset got in the way of bending over to do things once I was really settled in to it. After an hour I didn’t notice it as an impediment at all.
In fact, I was just about to deem 1910s clothes just as practical as modern wear for housework, when I discovered the one entirely strange and unexpected thing I can’t do well in them.
I bent over to pick up Felicity.
Bending over – no problem.
Picking up Felicity – no problem.
Holding Felicity. Now that was an issue.
The corset did such a beautiful job of smoothing out all my lumps and curves, and creating a seamless line from bust, down over my hips, that, with the addition of the high waist of the skirt, there was just nowhere on my body for Felicity to nestle in to.
Normally when I pick her up I can rest her against the curve of my stomach (see, non-flat stomachs are awesome), or the hollow of my waist against my hip.
In a longline corset? Nope. She just kept sliding down, and eventually I had to give up and put her down.
If this happens with a 4 kilo cat, I’m assuming the same thing happens with babies. Which makes 1910s clothes perfect for light manual labour, terrible for being a mother.
More research needs to be done! (which does sound rather like a weird hint about me and kids, but it’s not).