HSF 5 Bodice

March 13, 2014 at 10:15 PM 4 comments

So these are going to go up out of order, because I’m already late on 4 and I don’t want to be late on 5. I was not sure what to do for this one at first. The Edwardian blouse is way too complicated for my current skill set, sorry to those who helped me with the translation and to anyone who was looking forward to seeing it. It would have looked horrible so just be glad I spared you that. I may make it some other time when my skill set has improved – it has been improving even just this week, so we live in hope.

What I have made has taken me somewhat by surprise. I always assumed that the 1920s were off limits to someone like me, who has curves rather than the straight up and down androgynous look stereotypical of the era. But I developed the urge to make a Victorian swimsuit.

Yeah, surely you can see the link between those two sentences? Isn’t it blindingly obvious? No, fair enough. Well, basically, as I was searching the web for a Victorian swimsuit pattern, I found a 20s one, which I bought off ebay for a very reasonable sum. It’s a photocopy of one of those mad sheets they used to have in magazines where all the pattern pieces for several garments are drawn on top of each other.

1920s pattern sheet.

1920s pattern sheet.

You can see the swimsuit at the bottom left. I made a toile of the top and pantaloons part of the swimsuit and it fits nicely and I really like it! So I thought, maybe those other patterns on the sheet might not go to waste. When I decided the Edwardian blouse was going to be a bad idea, I decided to try making a 20s top instead. Nice and simple, just 2 pieces, a front and a back.

I traced the pattern, cut it out, sewed it together and Bob’s your uncle. Well, he’s my uncle anyway. Seriously, I do actually have an uncle called Bob; that expression puzzled me as a child, how people knew that about me 🙂 The dress drawn at the top gave me the pattern I used, they only give the outline for the top part anyway, the skirts are just two rectangles sewn on. I think I will make that whole dress another time as I rather like it now.

Bad picture of my 1920s style top.

Bad picture of my 1920s style top.

So now I plan to make lots of 20s stuff as it’s really comfortable and not unflattering like I expected. Of course it’s modern fabric, so not really great for the challenge. And I haven’t finished the neck or sleeves off properly because it’s a non-fray fabric and I can’t find the right colour lace to edge it with. It would be a sort of OK, but only just.

Except it does have a period correct support garment under it. Which incidentally makes it look slightly too large now as the purpose of the period correct undergarment is to reduce, which it has by nearly 2 inches!

I was browsing ebay and came across a pattern for some 20s underwear in my size. Not cheap, but I really wanted to give it a go, and it has instructions in English! Quite comprehensive too.

The 1920s underwear pattern I bought.

As soon as it came through my letterbox I read it in detail and that very morning cut out the brassiere pattern from some calico (apparently they didn’t call it a bra yet). I pinned the darts as I drank my midday coffee and then I sewed them and tried it on and kept at it until it was nearly finished the same day!

The instructions were very clear and the only tweaking I had to do was because their sizing does not take cup size into account, so the band needed to be tighter. Why are patterns sized off a squashable thing like a bust rather than a stable and more useful measurement like the shoulder for example? My 50s sewing book says the shoulder measurement is more important. But anyway, I’d have had to either reduce the band or increase the bust, and it worked out fine.

I didn’t get much done the next day as I went to the fabric store 🙂 but I finished it today! I have to admit I did cheat a little bit. The pattern calls for hooks and eyes to close it and I did indeed use hooks and eyes, but… I just chopped them off an old sports bra.

This one, being my first, is kind of like a functioning toile, so the finishing is strong but not as neat as it should be and the materials are cheap. I’m counting it because it is functional and wearable and my plan is to make one which is actually less authentic because although it’s not as uncomfortable as it might be, I still prefer a stretchy bra.

My cheat.

My cheat.

I was glad of the cheat because when I first put it on, having just fixed it with a safety pin before, it was way too tight! So I removed the hooks and resewed them further out and also slanted so the band was tighter than the rest of the bra. You can see where I first sewed it as well as the unconventional way I did it – so glad it wasn’t a lot of hand sewn hooks I had to move! The bottom moved out 1cm, the top about 3cm.

The outline it gives is quite different than a modern one.

The outline it gives is quite different than a modern one.

By the way, this post is taking longer to write than it should because WordPress is mucking about 😦 I have noticed it being a bit problematic of late, especially in chrome. Nearly done now, just the money shot, which I am a bit loathe to post because although I am very pleased with the result, it is basically not something I usually share in so public a forum, I don’t even wear a bikini! As you can see, the intention is quite the opposite of lift and separate!

The Challenge: Bodice

Fabric: Calico, with some kind of chenille ribbon I got cheap in a bundle.

Pattern: Pink Domino, off ebay UK, it’s basically a copy of an original.

Year: 1920s

Notions: hooks and eyes off an old sports bra.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is original, calico is acceptable, the chenille ribbon is modern and the fastening a total cheat, so maybe 75%.

Hours to complete: A bit over a day, but not a whole one.

First worn: For photos today.

Total cost: All from stash, £14 for the pattern so under £15, but I will use the pattern again and make the bloomers, so less really.

Entry filed under: Hobbies. Tags: .

A French Edwardian blouse pattern HSF 6: Fairytale Princess and the Pea Edwardian Dressing Gown

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ette  |  March 16, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Thank you so much for this post. The shirt came out really nice, I love sewing historical garments that are fit for everyday-wear, so I love to see a shirt like this realized in a modern fabric.
    And thank you so much for the bra-experiment. Only friday I bought some 1920ies newspapers, one of them having a bra-pattern in it. While I read your post and came to the point where you searched for a pattern I was like “yeah, I will scan it”, but then I read on to see you already had bought one. The result is really great and I am sure your pattern is a very good one, mine has very confusing notes in the sizing, so I am not sure how easily realizable it will be (but I am going to test it and publish the pattern, soon).
    I decided to skip the bodice challenge, because bodice for me meant something more stiff and historical, I didn’t think about making a more modern blouse or shirt at all. But anyway, I have some projects I desperately need to finish, so this short time off the challenge was really something I needed. Now I only need to find an idea what to make for the fairytale-competition.
    love, ette

  • 2. knotrune  |  March 20, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    I’m glad you liked it Ette. I plan to make more of these simple 20s style garments in modern fabrics, they are so easy to make and to wear.
    Your bra pattern sounds interesting too, I find it fascinating how our forbears managed these things. I’m not sure I did the sizing right on mine, I may have gone for an option which squashed them more than was intended, I will make the darts bigger next time. And my next one will be made of stretchy modern materials!
    I have a plan for the fairytale challenge, just have to make it in time. And buy the right fabric… I am making a useable toile first, but I need to find the right fabric for the final project, I’ve tried two places but nothing quite right. There is one more to try and I should find something there. I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with for that, it should be a fun one.

  • 3. LadyD  |  March 21, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    Its very interesting to hear how the foundations affect the fit of the 20’s clothes. I don’t know if you’ve seen it before but there’s an original 1920’s sewing guide that shows you how to draft clothes
    starts with underwear and moves onto aprons and house dresses.

    • 4. knotrune  |  March 21, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      That’s brilliant, thanks! I have used the antique pattern library for knitting and crochet, but have not fully explored what they had for sewing, so I appreciate the link. The brassiere in that seems closer to a corset and the one I made is more like a modern bra so the journey from one to the other must have been quite rapid. Fascinating 🙂 I shall have a good read of it and maybe try some of it out. Thanks.


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