Tag Archives: 1910s

Pretty much exactly 104 years later…a jacket

Sometimes one project can suck all the energy off my sewing mojo. An attempt to sew a 1925 dress was such a project. I didn’t like the fabric, I didn’t like the fit, I encountered far too many problems and it took me ages to finish only to see I had miscalculated the length and the dropped waist had dropped down to my mid-thighs. I am still not sure what to do with this unfortunate project, but I knew I needed some distraction if I wanted to keep my love for sewing alive.


So I turned to something completely different. I found a diagram for a wrap jacket in “La mode illustrée” from May 24th, 1914. The pattern was meant to be ordered, but I doubt I would have been successful trying this. As the diagram had the fabric dimensions given, I copied it and enlarged it with ruler and square on an old sheet, assembled it and tested the fit. Surprisingly, it did work pretty well without alterations, though it looks completely different than the drawing. But as I liked it, I directly used the muslin as my pattern. For the jacket, I used a black virgin wool-cashmere-mix, dark red virgin wool gabardine for collar, cuffs and facings (which are still the same scraps from the red fabric I used in this handbag) and a synthetic but beautiful burgundy satin crepe (whose Color unfortunately clashes with the red wool, but it’s not too bad).


The result is not perfect, but totally wearable. I leave you with the diagram, in case you want to try it yourself. The instructions for how to fit the jacket are very detailed, but in french. I plan to do a tutorial for this one, but I’ll need a little time for it, sorry.


Es gibt so Projekte, die nehmen einem fast die gesamte Lust am Hobby. Ein Kleid nach einem Schnitt von 1925 war so eines in den letzten Monaten für mich. Der Stoff war schrecklich, es sass nie richtig, immer wieder gab es Probleme und das Ganze brauchte einfach eine Ewigkeit und wurde dadurch nicht besser. Am Ende hatte ich mich noch verrechnet und die tief sitzende 20er-Jahre-Taille baumelte bei mir irgendwo auf den Oberschenkeln herum. Das vermaledeite Ding liegt irgendwo in der Ecke, ich bin noch unschlüssig, ob ich einen letzten Versuch wage. Aber in jedem Fall brauchte ich etwas Ablenkung, etwas ganz anderes, was mich wieder auf positive Gedanken brachte.


Also nahm ich mir einen Schnitt vor, den ich in der “La mode illustrée” vom 24.5.1914 fand. Es gibt eine sehr ausführliche Anleitung und ein Schnittdiagramm, den Schnitt selbst musste man eigentlich bestellen. Nun ist das nach der Zeit nicht mehr ganz so einfach, weshalb ich die besagte Seite kopierte und den Schnitt mit Lineal und Geodreieck auf ein Bettlaken vergrösserte und direkt zusammennähte. Das Probeteil sah der Zeichnung immerhin entfernt ähnlich, aber sass doch ganz anders. Egal, es gefiel und ich benutzte die Schnittteile direkt als Schnittmuster für die eigentliche Jacke. Diese ist aus schwarzer Schurwoll-Kaschmir-Mischung und Resten von dunkelrotem Wollgabardine (immer noch derselbe, aus dem ich diese Tasche gemacht habe), gefüttert mit einem weinroten Kreppsatin (Polyester, aber sehr schöner Stoff, der sich nur leider etwas mit dem Gabardine beisst).


Das Ergebnis ist nicht perfekt, aber doch tragbar. Vorerst lasse ich euch das Diagramm da, falls ihr euch auch daran ausprobieren wollt. Eigentlich möchte ich schon noch eine richtige Anleitung dazu schreiben, aber dazu muss ich mich noch einmal dieser sehr langen Anleitung auf Französisch widmen, das wird also noch dauern.


See you soon, love


And half October like a thousand years…

You know, one thing is to find time to participate in the HSF-challenges, the other thing is to find a matching project.

Challenge #18 was “poetry in motion – bring to life a garment inspired by a song or poem.“.
This really gave me a hard time. I know many poems but not a single one that could inspire a garment came to my mind. And the ones I could think of were all pre-raffaelite medieval-themed ones, but I really didn’t want to sew a medieval dress, I already have one and never wear it, no use for a second.

After having consulted all my (english) books containing poetry I still had no concrete garment to put my finger on, but two poems that left me with some inspiration. The first got dismissed because I couldn’t find neither a matching pattern nor had I a matching fabric (R. Aldington – In the tube). So I was left with

Ford Madox Ford – Antwerp

Those of you who know it might wonder how this might serve as an inspiration for a garment.
The poem was written in late 1915 and tells about the horrors of war the author experienced himself in Flanders after having joined the British Army in August of the same year.
In a little London-Poems-Anthology I found an excerpt of this quite long poem, part VI, the last part. It describes how a crowd of women dressed in black waits for the soldiers at Charing Cross station, not knowing that their beloved are long since dead. Though they do not know there is no hope left in their faces, who appear as dead as the ones of their dear ones.

A great crowd, all black that hardly whispers aloud.
Surely, that is a dead woman – a dead mother!
She has a dead face;
She is dressed in black;

And there is another and another and another…
And little children, all in black,
All with dead faces, waiting in all the waiting-places,

In the dark of the night.
This is Charing Cross; it is past one of the clock;
There is very little light.

There is so much pain.

This black crowd with no hopes left, waiting in the gloom of the station at night created a very clear image in my head. The poem when read aloud has a very impressive rhythm that makes it appear even more vivid to me (I experience very similar effects when reading Paul Celan’s “Die Todesfuge”, maybe some german speaking readers might know the poem).

I can clearly see all that women facing the bare tracks, waiting. They have stood there too often to expect a train and still refuse to stop coming there. They face hunger, the salary of the beloved soldier is missing, they fear to think of the coming winter. The mothers miss their sons, still virtually children. The wives fear the loss of their Sweethearts and have long ceased to answer the whining questions of their children, missing their fathers.

I imagine them dressed in long, droopy robes with no colour, shine or elegance left. Maybe some still haven’t given up hope and have bought a new suit to welcome the homecomer, some may have to work hard to survive and come straight from their masters or in simple clothes they wore to clean the house or harvest some apples.


Therefore I searched for simple patterns with only few elegant touches and no decoration, something like this, imagine it in black cotton or wool, not ironed and without these laughing faces and elegant postures. This was the picture I had in mind.
In the end I went for a pattern from “The Ladies’ Tailor” from 1915, printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes” (fig. 50, for those who own it).  Because I ran out of time I only made the skirt and not the matching jacket. The skirt is very tight fitted around the waist and the hips, below the hips it is wide and ruffled. I did not copy the Waugh pattern, but constructed a broad, corset-like shaped waistband on my dress form. A little calculating and dedusting of my geometry skills helped me to construct the ruffled, slightly  flared lower part of the skirt.


The waistband consists of one layer of thick upholstery cotton tabby-weave, covered with the skirt-fabric, a black cotton twill with little stretch.

It is closed with a row of star-shaped buttons in the back. Not historical, I know. But when it was nearly finished and I first wore it, it reminded me of my black, goth teen years and I remembered that I had long wanted to sew a long black all-purpose-skirt. Very unexpectedly, there it was! And because I had used these black star-buttons on so many of my goth garments it seemed to be only appropriate to use the last ones I had for this skirt.

This is also the reason why I made it slightly longer as 1915-fashion would have been. Historically correct it would end just above the ankles. But I really liked the almost floor length look when first trying it, I couldn’t help but make only a narrow hem to leave it as long as possible.


The Challenge: #18 Poetry in motion

The Poem: Ford Madox Ford – Antwerp (esp. part VI This is Charing Cross)

Fabric: black cotton twill with a little stretch, waistband doubled with heavy grey upholstery cotton

Pattern: self-drafted after “The Ladies’ Tailor” 1915 as printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes”

Year:  1915

Notions: black thread, eight plastic buttons.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is close to the original, cotton twill is at least possible for the time. I am sure the construction would have been done differently, with boning and stiff horse hair interlacing instead of upholstery fabric. Buttons aren’t historical at all, nor is the closure itself. A hidden row of hooks and eyes would have been more likely.

Hours to complete: The waistband needed a lot of basting stitches, the buttonholes are handsewn. And the construction of the pattern took a little time. Maybe 5h in total.

First worn: not yet/for photos

Total cost: Fabric was a gift from a friend of my mother’s, lining upholstery fabric a gift from my uncle. Buttons were 25ct each, so 2€ in total, without the thread.


blouse: mavi - shawl: from my grandma; laced boots: flea market (used to be skates)
blouse: mavi – shawl: from my grandma; laced boots: flea market (used to be skates)

See you soon, love,



Sources: All information about the author and the poem as well as the excerpts from the latter I drew from:
Adolf Barth (publ.): London Poems, Stuttgart 2001 (first publ. in 1988), pages 53f and78f