Make yourself a Downton Abbey wardrobe with this pattern!
You need our pattern for this beautiful ladies three-button walking suit based on an original pattern from the 1910s. Fits busts 28" through 48", waists 20" through 40", hips 30" through 50" with instructions for conversion to larger sizes.
All sizes are included in one pattern. Detailed instructions, period tailoring directions, embellishment suggestions, and historical notes are also included. Plus you can call our toll-free number with any questions.
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Suggested Fabrics: anysuit weights
Notions: thread, buttons for front closure, interlinings optional
Yardage Requirements: 6 yards at least 45 wide
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Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:
Ladies’ Suits in the 1910s
The narrow, columnar silhouette that became prominent in the 1910s seems a stark contrast to the S-curve of the pigeon-chested Edwardian silhouette of only a few years before. The change from many-gored “umbrella” skirts to tight-fitting hobble skirts is sudden. In 1909, fashionable skirts allowed you to stride as long as your legs would allow. And yet just two years later, we see skirts like those in the illustration at left in the Ladies’ Home Journal.
One can never precisely pin-point the reasons behind such fashion shifts. But in the last decade of the 19th century, the revolution that would take women out of the home and into the workforce was beginning. The fight for Women’s Suffrage was in full swing. Fashion took a step away from the overly-frilly styles of the previous decade and became less fussy, more tailored. Some even called these designs “man-ish” even though they are purely feminine. Certainly when the Great War began in August 1914, a growing seriousness in dress gripped the Western world. But it is clear that these styles began long before the War.
It is thought by some clothing historians that the shirtwaist and the lady’s suit have their origins as an imitation of male office dress -- that a shirtwaist, jacket and skirt was the period’s version of “dress for success”. The teens also saw a trend of what was called “Orientalism”. Designer Paul Poiret was making sheath dresses as early as 1908. His designs took their inspiration from Japanese kimono among other Asian influences. His famed hobble skirt was specifically designed to imitate the restricted gate of Geisha. Corsets became longer and less hour-glass shaped, looking more like girdles than what we think of as corsetry. Although hobble skirts were by no means liberating, women in the 1910s were certainly taking a step towards modernity and freedom in their dress.
Cunnington, C. Willett. English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century. 1937: Faber and Faber, London.
Shep, R.L. The Great War: Styles and Patterns of the 1910s. 1998: R.L Shep Publications, Fort Bragg, CA.
Thornton, J.P. The International System of Ladies’ Garment Cutting. Fifth Edition. 1919: Thornton Institute, London.
Waugh, Norah. Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930. 1968: Routledge, New York.
"shirtwaist." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: 5 April, 2011). Dictionary.com
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This information © 2011 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History
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