Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Peasants and Pioneers Finish

I finally managed to wrestle this project back under control. I'm very happy with how it came out - on a mannequin at least. It does not fit me right, but it still looks pretty on display. But first, how about the details?

The Challenge: Peasants and Pioneers

Fabric: 2 yards white linen, 3 yards black synthetic linen (from my stash)

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE41 1903 Plain Blousewaist and Folkwear 209 Walking Skirt

Year: 1903

Notions: Thread, buttons

How historically accurate is it? About 75%, the skirt is synthetic fabric and I took a couple shortcuts with seam finishes on the blouse when I ran out of time, but the overall silhouette and look is correct

Hours to complete: I lost track completely but maybe 12-15

First worn: Not yet

Total Cost: Used a lot of stash items this time, spent $20 on fabric and $15 on one pattern

I started with the skirt which I was most excited to make since I figured it would be good for my everyday wardrobe as well as costumes. I borrowed my mother's old Folkwear pattern for the skirt, which was my first mistake. The pattern is really old and the sizes were all too small for me. The largest size waist was 28 inches, yikes! I added half an inch to each skirt panel to fix that problem, but my next issue was a missing pattern piece for the waistband. No problem I thought, it's just a rectangle. I thought I measured it out right, but when I got the skirt together it was way too small. It doesn't even fit my mannequin.

The good thing about the skirt is that I used up some old stash fabric, a linen-look synthetic fabric that had been sitting around for years. I could probably just remake the waistband, but the skirt is also too short for proper Edwardian dress. The pattern came in two lengths, floor length and street length. I thought the street length would be at the ankles like the women's skirts in the photos I have, but it's more like mid- to low-calf length. I might just make a waistband for it and add it to my normal wardrobe and make a whole new walking skirt later.

The blouse started out fairly easy though I spent forever procrastinating on starting it. This was my first time using a Truly Victorian pattern and I found some of the same issues I have with every pattern. I really like their customizable sizing chart and directions for tailoring. I missed having a 'general directions' section and a cutting layout like most commercial patterns have though. There was no real set up of the pattern, just instructions on how to change it and nowhere in the directions did it say that the sleeve, though drawn in two separate halves needed to be cut out as one piece. It wasn't a big error though and I was able to use it the way I had cut it. I also wish they had a few more diagrams to go along with their often short instructions.

That being said, I love how this blouse came out. Linen isn't my first choice of fabric, but since it was part of the challenge I used it. I found the linen I had a little stiff for the shirt, the overlap in the front tends to stick out a bit more than I feel it should. I want to make this blouse again in a silky draping fabric.

I also love the little row of buttons down the back. I decided to add just a little pop to my blouse by adding silvery grey-black buttons, a simple little embellishment that could make a plain working girl's shirt feel just a bit more elegant. I also forgot to buy buttons when I was getting the fabric, and only had black or red in my stash.

The blouse fits almost perfectly, but it is too wide in the shoulders. It's an easy fix if I ever get around to it, but I was viewing this version more as my mock up for the blouse since I didn't have time to make one. Now I know the pattern and where I need to change it, and I can make a bunch more even more gorgeous than this one. 

Overall I really liked this challenge. The simple silhouette of a working class wardrobe is actually more appealing to me that I would have at first thought. I think there will be lots more simple Edwardian skirts and blousewaists in my future, they are fairly simple to make and I just love the look of them. I am a little disappointed that I didn't end up with a wearable costume though, but I can either sell or fix the pieces I made so not a total loss.


  1. It's lovely, I think I have to make a blousewaist too.

    1. Thank you! I think blousewaists are one of my new favorite garments, I might make another for the next challenge!

  2. Go on line and look at some photos of girls from that time frame. You may find the skirt is not too short for some occasions. And I think the poof in front looks normal for a pigeon front shirt. Also, there were synthetic fibers by then. Look up the history of that particular synthetic fiber and see if it was around at that time. I like your work!

    1. Thank you very much for all the information! Unfortunately I haven't had as much time for research as I'd like with the schedule of the Historical Fortnightly. I looked up what fiber my fabric was and I think it's a linen/rayon blend which actually was around in my time period as viscose, so not as inaccurate as I thought. The poof is more a matter of personal preference.