Admire, Sewing, Textiles & Costume

The 1910 Little Miss Muffet at the Village Fête frock

Remember when Felicity was extremely helpful with my sewing?  What she was mainly helping me with was this dress, which I am calling the ‘Little Miss Muffet at the Village Fete’ frock.

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

First, the name of the dress.  I’m sure you’re wondering.  I have an elaborate and complicated mind, but this one isn’t too odd once I explain.  I first fell in love with the lace for this dress, because each little circle reminded me of a spiders web.  I like spiders!  The obvious person to wear a dress covered in sweet spider-web lace would be Little Miss Muffet, all grown up and over her fears.  I first sewed the lace as a straight line, but it was boring and lacked dimensionality, so I cut it in dags, which remind me of the bunting you see at summer fêtes.  So it’s a dress for Miss Muffet to wear to the fair!

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

The dress was inspired by ca. 1910s ‘lingerie’ frocks and linen dresses such as this one from FIDM, and this one and this one from the V&A.  This particular version was intended to be a quick & easy working toile, where I played with patterns (this is based on a couple of original patterns from my collection and small images in Janet Arnold & Norah Waugh) and techniques, but didn’t invest a huge amount of time.

And then I decided I needed to do things like applique my lace with dagged edges and sew more lace around the hem and yet more lace on the sleeves, and three days of steady sewing later….

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

Worth it though!  The model looked spectacular, and it is deliciously summer-y.

The fabrics from this dress represent a lot of my favourite fabric-sourcing places, all in one garment.  The main body fabric (white linen) was a gift from the utterly wonderful Lynne.  The blue linen was a stained tablecloth I picked up for a coin or two at one of my favourite op-shops just a few weeks before, with the idea that I might use it for fabric.  The lace I purchased in the Fabric Warehouse 40% off sale (and sewed it into the dress before the sale was even finished!).  The hidden lingerie buttons that fasten it were also found at a favourite op-shop.  It’s really nice to see long-term stash items and recent buys all come together in one happy garment.

1910s linen & lace dress

Technically I could submit this as an entry for the Historical Sew Fortnightly ‘Tucks & Pleats’ challenge, as the front bodice is shaped with three pleats.  However I’m not entirely sure I consider this done.

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

I feel it needs….something.  I’m not sure what.  Perhaps long under-sleeves?  Or something as simple as blue under-sleeves to mirror the blue on the skirt?

It may stay as it is, but it may get a bit of tweaking.  Watch this space


  1. It’s a charming dress.

    Blue undersleeves might work. A blue sash might also work.

    I don’t particularly like the turquoise shoes with it–they are too intense, somehow.

    • Don’t worry, I don’t particularly like the turquoise shoes either!

      They were a last-minute solution to the problem of realising that both of my pairs of light-coloured shoes of the right period look in the right size for this model were in desperate need of new heels and couldn’t possibly be worn for the event. The only lighter shoe-dye I had in the house was pale blue – not quite turquoise, but definitely brighter than the dress. Still, better than nothing or dark shoes, so I dyed a pair of navy shoes, just to make them go with a summer dress a bit better.

      Considering that all the costumes and shoes and hats flew across the country with me in one suitcase, and managed to fit my three models with only the most basic measurements, one pair of less-than-ideal shoes is not too bad 😉 When I’ve got it perfect and wear it myself I’ll get better shoes sorted!

      • Good to know! Thanks for the explanation about the shoes.

        Definitely pale blue undersleeves, with a matching sash. Or even a white sash–the midline of the dress needs something.

  2. I love this dress! Is Fabric Warehouse online? I would love to find lace like that.

    • Thank you!

      Unfortunately, no, Fabric Warehouse isn’t online. I’m sure there are other stores that carry this lace, I’m just not sure how you’d find them.

  3. Beautifully done. The model is just perfect for the dress. I agree that a little blue in the bodice might be just the thing.

    • Thank you! Isn’t she gorgeous? I was so lucky to get three models who each suited their dress so perfectly. AND they were all delightful women!

  4. Lynne says

    I was intrigued by glimpses we’d had of this dress, and really love to see the detail. And to find that my stash had a roll to play – happiness filled! It is such a delight to see the bits you got from me taking a life of their own under your skilled hands. I do recommend this, people. Pass on the stash while you are still alive to see people enjoying it!

    The dagging of the lace was inspired. It gives it more liveliness and energy and charm. Yes, blue under-sleeves could be an idea, but I think it looks delightful, just as it is. A white belt with an ornate silver buckle? But that would be gilding the lily. Well, silvering it.

    • Oh yay! So glad you are happy! I really love that so many different sources came together for this, and I am thrilled to be the recipient of your stash.

      I’m undecided on the sash or belt thing. Not many of the extent examples have one that really makes an impact, but that may be just because they are lost. I think I need to do some more research in fashion plates to get the right look.

  5. This is just a me thing, but I could see blue ribbon (or bits of the skirt) extending from the points over the shoulder until under the bust/just above waist and maybe a little bow? Kinda like:
    Because it looks like the top is too washed out and “plain” for all it’s covered in lace. And I super like the blue undersleeves idea. But I think if it was me, I’d do the thin blue detail adding more horizontal motion.

    I look forward to seeing the alterations!

    • Hmmm…interesting idea. I’m not sure if I entirely see it, and I may struggle with finding ribbon in just the right shade, but it’s an intriguing design concept. I shall have a play!

      Do you mean vertical motion instead of horizontal btw?

  6. Djamila says

    I am not a big fan of clothes from this era but this dress is really pretty! I think I would even wear this in real life. I also love the name you came up with. PS: I thought Felicitiy is always extremely helpful with your sewing?

    • Yay! Glad I made you like this era, even if only for one garment. 😀 Thank you!

      Felicity is always very helpful, but usually she just stops in for a bit to make sure I am on track, and then goes away satisfied. This time she felt the need to oversee every single minute of the making! 😉

  7. Sixer says

    It is breathtaking! Finding historical summer dresses always seems harder, becasue of all those layers, but this one looks fresh and cool. I would wear it as is without complaint. Still, it’s fun to think about how it could change, so I hope you will not take the following thoughts amiss.

    I cringe at the idea of blue under-sleeves, although they would look ravishing they would spoil a bit of the summer-readiness of the gown, which would be a shame. Also, I feel they would make it a little more like an evening gown than a day dress, but perhaps that is a modern perspective? The bodice is a bit of a problem though, perhaps three pin tucks from each shoulder seam — or from under the dag points — to the waistband?

    The front can make do as is if needed but the back . . . . . I can’t tell in the pictures, and I have no idea what is historically accurate, but could the blowsiness of the back be tamed a little and a bow incorporated? Not a big bustle-ly bow (though I love a bustle) but maybe a silvery-white side bow ( a flat thing, a la the green hoop skirt you showed us a few days ago) with the bottom three inches of blue? Wrap the waist once and then sweep from the right hip to fall in understated glory down the left side of the skirt. Practically invisible from the front, but helping the eye travel down the back in a graceful vertical.

    Or else exposed pearl buttons.

  8. Elise says

    Lovely dress so far! I agree that it is missing….something. It will be fun to see what you come up with!

  9. Lyn Swan says

    I believe that I like it very much as it is. Perhaps an echo of blue at the waist? As I try to imagine any additions, I think, “No, no too much!” You will find your way with it,and it will be wonderful. I love knowing that your sewing is an evolutionary process, not just a brilliant concept immediately and perfectly rendered. Thank you for sharing that process with us.

  10. This looks good enough to be in a period-accurate film adaptation! I really like it. Can’t think what the final touch would be – blue undersleeves with small triangles of lace along the bottom seems a touch too literal, although could look quite cute.

  11. Fitch says

    Beautiful! I think I have seen that lace fabric in stores and sure didn’t see the possibilities you saw! Fabulous use of it!

  12. I keep seeing blue at the neckline. Which is probably making your life difficult, because that’s applique? Sorry!
    The combination of the blue and white (can you possibly expect me not to like it?) and the lace inbetween is pretty sweet. And I like the hat, too!

  13. Beautiful!

    I definitely think a matching blue sash or belt would finish it off nicely.

  14. Annie says

    I also agree with the idea of a sash. And maybe a matching flower pin or something higher up.

    I’m really sad, looking at this, because it’s absolutely beautiful and just the kind of thing I wanted for a wedding dress, but didn’t have the skill to make for myself. Maybe I will make one now, though. 🙂 Love your blog and all the beautiful, elegant clothing.

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