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

My photo
HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. 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 14, 2020



I learned a new thing this morning. While looking on Pinterest for a picture from 1908, I came across a fashion plate showing a sleeveless bodice that a blouse is worn under. This was not new to me, because I had others I’d saved in my Make Me file. Some had a slight sleeve as in the photo above, and some had slightly ruffled short sleeves. Others had NO SLEEVE at all, like this one in my file.

I’d already made something similar a few years ago in 2016. I’d found this line drawing in a fashion plate that I liked. I didn’t have enough fabric for sleeves, so decided to make it more like a vest.  I liked it because it was cooler, although my dress fabric. a mid-weight polyester drapery fabric, was not. But I loved the fabric, so you do what you have to do.

I had a few other fashion plates saved too, that showed a transition from the appearance of a “vest”, and they were wearing a guimpe, or under-blouse, to actually separating the blouse from the bodice. It seemed a natural transition, and used less fabric. Way back in 2011 I had tried making a pattern from the Edwardian Modiste book for this 1907 bodice, and it was very similar to this lady’s dress cropped from a 1906 wedding party. Due to some miscalculations, I had to re-do it, but it never was finished. It still sits in a ziplock bag somewhere, including my fabric, which is a cheap polyester but was perfect for this.

These are some others I’d saved. Note the changing sleeves on them. 

A couple dresses caught my eye today while I was doing a totally different search, all from 1908 fashion plates. But this one from McCalls (April 1908) had a description jumped out at me: New Ideas in Jumper Costumes. I’d never heard that term before. So, I began a further search. 

I found these articles from Delineator Magazine from their May 1908 issue. They were a thing! In the article, the loosely draped sleeves were called Grecian style. Some of the jumpers were simply called Bretelles, if they basically just had straps. 

The sleeveless, or near sleeveless, style also created this tunic to go over dresses too. The pattern is from Past Patterns #3973. It looks simple but has extremely minimal directions.  

In the years since I first tried the Edwardian Modiste book to try and drape one, now there is a pattern for the same bodice by Black Snail Patterns, #0117 available on etsy. I haven’t tried mine yet but was told it made up very well, but required fitting. 

All the ones I’m seeing are matching jumper and skirt, so no contrasting fabrics in those. But reading the article, this would be a game changer for the dressmaker, using less fabric, simpler to make, and easy to change her look with different blouses/guimpes. Granted, some of these are still some pretty fancy designs.


  1. Ooh, you tried one of the jumpers in the Edwardian modiste! Back in the late aughts thought I'd make one of those, but never did. Would love to see how it turns out. Anything that can mix and match is thumbs up :}

    In descriptions of regular gowns, bretelles are decorative extensions at the shoulder line. Like the jumper, they had a long run of popularity. Rather like mancherons.

    Very best, and hope things are well with you,

    Natalie in KY

    1. Thank you Natalie. Every time I think there's nothing new in costuming, I fall down a rabbit hole and find or notice things I'd never seen before. It keeps it so fresh!
      And we're fine here, just bored out of our gourds, or at least I am. Hubby is still at work.


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