Monday, January 14, 2013

1910's Foundation Garments

Well, I didn't get my chemise or drawers made, but I did at least finish my corset and brassiere for Challenge #1 of the Historical Sew Fortnightly. And since I originally intended to just make a corset, I figure I met my goal. (even though I really wanted to make an actual dress or blouse/skirt outfit! But that will be made. In time.) 

Since you all have seen pictures of the corset I will not burden you with additional ones. Here is the finished brassiere. 

It is made of two layers of white linen and is topstitched on the seams. The bones are inserted between the layers of fabric and the brassiere is boned at sides, front princess seams (up to the fullest point of the bust) and down the center front. 

I found a bit of lace in my stash that seemed suitable to trim the neckline with. I did not have enough to go around the whole neckline but I had enough to at least do the front neckline. 

I sewed this mostly by machine. It's so nice to be able to use the machine and not feel guilty about doing so. The only bit of handwork I did was some binding finishing and I hand sewed the hook and eyes to the front opening. 

For these pictures I am wearing my regency chemise, since I did not have time to make a period 1910's style one, and an antique petticoat that was given to me by the lovely Natalie of A Frolic Through Time

The petticoat is exactly the right size for me and I have taken a pattern off it (it is a 5 gore style with a subtle flounce) to make a repro petticoat to wear for the final outfit. I still have to make drawers. 

Here you can see how the foundation layer looks with a dress on over top. I made this white dress over five years ago from the Sense and Sensibility 1914 Afternoon Dress pattern. I do not often wear this dress as I have felt it is not very flattering but it does look better when worn with the proper underpinnings. 

So that is that! The next challenge is due in two weeks time and is for a UFO (an unfinished sewing project) so I think I will finally finishing David's plaid wool fall front trousers. . .they have been *so* close to being done for *so long* (needing only hemming and buttons at the moment) but I have procrastinated. I will get those done!


The Challenge: Something from a year ending in "13". (So, this could have been worn in 1913)
Fabric: White linen for both corset and brassiere. Corset is lined with white cotton duck. 
Pattern: Corset is from the 1911 corset in Corsets and Crinolines by Nora Waugh. The brassiere pattern was draped using originals for inspiration. 
Year: 1913-ish
Notions: I used zip ties for boning, brass grommets for the corset and hook and eyes for the brassiere. I used a steel busk for the corset. 
How historically accurate is it? I hope it is fairly accurate. The corset is taken from an original so I think it is accurate in cut. In materials, it is possibly accurate (although coutil was usually used). In construction, I am fairly sure I used an atypical method (I used an 1860s method of construction) but it was a compromise I didn't mind as this is just a "for fun" outfit. 
Hours to complete: I don't really know. . .I worked on these fairly steadily for two weeks. Maybe 1-2 hrs per day? Probably 25-30 hours. 
First worn: Not yet, except for try-on. 
Total cost:


  1. It's beautiful Sarah! I am in love with 1910s - teens era, and would make more dresses except that I don't have the proper foundations. Would you ever consider sharing what you did to make the brassiere? I'm assuming you make your own pattern? or did you use something else as a template? What kind of boning did you use?

  2. Ha. Never mind. I was so excited to see all the lovely pictures that I failed to read the rest of your blog post. :P

  3. Great job! I feel inspired to make my own..almost. Too many other pans on the stove at present!

  4. it came out great. is it as comfortable as it looks.

  5. Can I bee cheeky and ask what are the dimensions of the petticoat? I've finally settled on an early 1900's style. Been wondering bout the number of gores coz I have a 40's 4 gore A-line skirt I was thinking of using the top off as working out the maths of what size gores to make was doing my head in.
    Means I can wear it long with maxiskirt for winter warmth...then tie it up shorter and use with a 50's poodle skirt.

  6. Lynn, it is very comfortable! The only thing that isn't 100% comfortable is the busk length when I'm sitting down. I can't really "lounge" in it, but have to sit up with good posture. The brassiere itself is super comfortable! More so than many of my modern bras, which do not have such good support.

  7. Lady D, I'll take the dimensions when I can find my tape measure (my boys keep making off with it!)

  8. Dear Sarah Jane,

    Happy, happy, happy! The petticoat is being loved and better yet, copied! So glad it worked out for you, especially with such pretty new underthings to go with it!

    Very best,



Thank you for your lovely thoughts!