This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. This year I am the Dean of Costume College 2018. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

1918 Armistice Day outfit

For two upcoming events, I made a 1918 outfit to wear to the Armistice Day Brunch, and to a Costumed Walkabout at the Del Mar Antique Show.
Patterns I used were Butterick 4092- Basque skirt with button down wrap around and Folkwear 210- Armistice blouse.

The fabrics would be a Navy blue linen blend for skirt & white linen for blouse

I ran across this extant blouse dated 1918 that is very similar to this pattern. I like the lace idea and it could really dress up a skirt.

In a LiveJournal community group, Lamode Illustree, someone posted a fashion print of a woman wearing a blouse and skirt very similar to this, with a jacket and very nice looking hat too. It was neat that it was the exact blouse I was making. It’s called a Sport Suit, and I can see finding a nice fabric for a jacket for mine too.

I started the skirt on 9-27-09. It went together very easily except I sewed all the way down to the bottom of the fake pleat, and realized it’s only supposed to be sewn 2 inches in so it has a “flap”. So the seam ripper went to work.
This skirt style is high waisted and it cuts in very tightly from the hip, so a good fitting is needed. I’m still waiting for someone to help me fit that.

I found a blue straw hat in antique shop, & temporarily wrapped the crown with white eyelet, plans for using white with something red on it.

I started on the white linen blouse while waiting on the skirt, and it too went together very easily. It has a self fabric belt that is sewn to a gathered section on the back of the blouse to tie around to the front to give it some poof.

I decided to use a white crocheted cotton lace to sew around the collar and cuffs. Then I attached the collar to the blouse and here we have it.

I’m going to do the tucked panel that goes in the center of the bodice, called a vestee. If I’m understanding this right, one side of the front will be sewn to the vestee, the other will be attached by hooks and eyes, and snaps. I was told some extant examples have lots of snaps holding it together instead of buttons and buttonholes. They have buttons covering them though. The thought of making 14 tiny buttonholes makes me glad I won’t have to do them now.
The tucked vestee was a little easier than I expected but handling the 1/8 inch tucks was hard. I made tiny pencil marks along the pattern lines off the pattern but didn’t draw lines so I wouldn’t have any showing when I was done. I folded over each tuck and pinned them, and found if I didn’t pin them the correct size, I “lost” part of the material for the next tuck, so I had to be careful.

There are only 4 tucks on each side of the center line so it didn’t take me very long to do them. I had to also be very careful sewing them on my machine to keep it to the 1/8 inch. The first one was a tad bit bigger but not enough to make me want to try and rip it out. I was happy with the finished tucks.

After I turned under both sides and the top, I sewed a row of the crocheted lace across the top. It lines up just above the bottom edge of the collar. I slipped stitched the right side permanently to the front of the blouse and started sewing eight of my ¼ inch buttons I’d inherited from my aunt.
I was told according to some extant examples of this blouse that they used lots of snaps and hooks & eyes instead of buttons and buttonholes. So I was happy to only have the buttons as decorations. I’m sewing snaps on the opposite side of the vestee underneath the buttons, and will have a couple hooks & eyes on some stress areas.
Today I think I trimmed my hat to where I like it. I found a white embroidered ribbon in my stash and tacked that around the crown, along with a small bow, and tucked a black feather tuft in the side over the bow.

I found these Mary Jane-style shoes at Target that I’m going to wear with this outfit now. I’ve noticed a couple photos of gowns where they’ve worn spats with this type of shoe, so I’m looking at a pattern I have for possibly making some.

While watching a movie the other night, In Love and War, based in 1918, I saw this beautiful outfit on Sandra Bullock, and took pictures of it off the screen. It’s a much fuller skirt than the one I’m making, and I love the jacket she’s wearing with the blouse collar hanging out.

The rest of the blouse is still going together fairly easily. It took me a little while to figure out how to set the vestee in. It’s sewn to the blouse opening on the right, and then the left side would have the closures. I sewed the 14 tiny buttons down both sides of the blouse/vestee, and sewed snaps on the backside of the left just underneath each button. The very top on the left wants to pull away, and I tried another snap but it still pulled. So I tried a hook and eye, but it still pulls and the hook can be seen. So now it has a snap and hook and eye, and looks better but still wants improvement. I want to make sure it has a sturdy closure since all you have to do is pull on the snaps and it will pop open.

The cuffs were the most interesting. It has a cuff, then a folded back cuff that has lace sewn into its seam. I made a mistake with the lace when I sewed it sandwiched right sides together with the cuff and cuff facing, where not enough of the lace was left free. So only a tiny portion of it shows. But it still looked nice, so I decided that was good enough.
It was a nice change not to have overly large sleeve caps for once, and I only had to ease the sleeve into the armhole instead of gathering bunches of fabric where it looks like wings.

I’m still happy with how the hat is looking so no more changes have been made on it yet.

I must add that I adore working with this linen. It even presses nice sharp edges with your fingers. The backside of that is it wrinkles but since it’s not pure linen, it’s not too bad.
I finally finished the skirt, which just needed it’s waistband, hemming, and buttons sewn on the front fake wrap-around.
For the waistband closures, I used four hooks and eyes, and three snaps to keep it flat. The pattern calls for 3 or 4 large buttons down near the bottom. I came across a fashion print with buttons running down the full length of the skirt, and liked that better, since it’s a rather plain skirt. The buttons are 2” across, so it only took 6 of them, starting just at my hip.

So now my outfit is done, and I get to wear it twice this month.
*Added on Nov 16*
Here I am wearing my outfit at the Armistice Day Brunch at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant in San Diego.

Overall I'm happy with it but am taking in the front a little since the neckline is a little too big. I figured out all I need to do is taking the stitching out along the left side of the vestee, and just move it over. I'll be covering up one side of the tucks but the other side is still visible. So other than taking out that handstitching, re-stitching it, and re-sewing the buttons back on, it was an easy fix.
However I wasn't happy with my hat when it kept sliding forward from my low bun pushing it up. So I'll be wearing a different wig, a short curly bob, with it this Saturday at the Costumed Walkabout. I hope to get some better photos of it too.


  1. What a fabulous looking ensemble! I just love all the little details from the era, with the button embellishment and cuff treatments.
    Lovely, lovely, lovely!

  2. I look forward to seeing you in this outfit. I love it. Yes, linen is lovely to sew.

  3. Did you need to wear a corset with this? I finally bought the pattern--I've seriously wanted a copy of this ever since I saw it back in the late 80's. I have a Victorian corset, but not an Edwardian one

    1. Hi Donna, I wore my Victorian corset with it because I didn't have an Edwardian so I think you'd be safe with that. But I think you could get by w/o one because its not fitted like a bodice is. It does come out very pretty.


I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!