De Gracieuse – a walk-through

Update – This is a walk-through on how to get original Victorian patterns from the Dutch magazine De Gracieuse, which was published from 1862 to 1936. It has the original patterns included, but they can be a bit difficult to find, so this is a guide. I originally wrote this post in March 2014. As of September 2016, however, the website of the De Gracieuse magazine has changed making a large part of the original post useless or faulty. This post was therefore updated in October 2016 to reflect the new website. It’s actually a bit less orderly than the previous website when it comes to browsing, so I’ve tried to tell you how best to find stuff.


The Dutch woman’s magazine ‘De Gracieuse’ (meaning ‘the graceful’) was in print from 1862 through 1936 and focused on fashion and crafts. Its fashions were directly inspired by the French fashions of the times and varied from day-wear to outerwear to evening-wear. Most craft articles focused on knitting and embroidery for both clothing and items around the house. The most amazing thing about this magazine to me is that its entirely digitized and available online! The ‘Gemeente Museum Den Haag’, has the complete collection and put it online trough the website ‘Het Geheugen van Nederland’  (the memory of the Netherlands). It contains over 32.000 pages of black/white text,  963 pattern pages and 1200 colour images for the later years. Even though the pattern pages can be awfully small and not completely legible, it is still possible to get patterns out of it!

The only downside would be that the entire website is in Dutch, so it might be hard to navigate if you don’t speak the language. So for everyone interested, here’s an overview of where and how to find what you want! Both on how to browse, and how to find the pattern pieces corresponding to the images in the magazine.

To go to the website, this is the link:

(A quick note from the future, the website address has changed in early 2020! The old URL ( will send you to a new page of the organisation behind the collection, the new URL above to the actual collection itself. The rest should still work the same!)

At the top left, you get this menu (if you don’t see the grey area, click on the button with 3 horizontal stripes on the right of the screen), which which you can browse the Collections (‘Collecties’), Institutions (‘Instellingen’) and Themes (‘Thema’s’). To get general (Dutch) information about De Gracieuse you can go to ‘Collecties’ and find ‘Modetijdschrift De Gracieuse’ (so search under M). This browsing can be fun to get background information about the image collections this website houses, but to be honest, it’s not all that useful when browsing.

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Unfortunately, while the old website had a ‘browse by year’ function which got you all the magazine pages in correct older, the new website doesn’t. So instead of browsing, it’s better to use the search function. The search function is at the top right of the screen. What’s a good improvement: there’s actually an English version of the website now! Click on the EN to get the English one.

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To find the magazine pages, you can best search for ‘De Gracieuse’. This will get you all pages from the collection, but they won’t be prettily organized by year, date or anything. Better would therefore be to search including the year. The magazine ran from 1862 to 1936, so these are the years you can use in your search. The pattern pages start in 1866.

So to find, for example, all pages from 1888, enter ‘De Gracieuse 1888’ in the search bar.


This is what you will get. (click to enlarge)

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To the left there’s a menu. Here you can limit your search result based on theme, type object, institution and collection. As you can see, all your results are already part of the collection ‘Fashion magazine De Gracieuse’, which is what you want.

The images all have a title, which includes ‘Gracieuse, Geillustreerde Aglaja’, which was the original name. They will also all have the year (which is how the year search works). Then they will have a ‘aflevering’ meaning issue and a ‘pagina’ meaning page. Per year, the pages continue on! So for instance if issue 1 has pages 1 to 10, then issue 2 will have 11 as a first page.

As you can see, the images are not ordered per issue. The top row seems all right, but at the row below you suddenly see scans from issue 7 inbetween. This is inconvienient because descriptions are sometimes on the next page, but also because this makes it harder to find the pattern pages. To get them in more-or-less the right order, you can sort the results based on title.

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This is not perfect, when you have 11 issues it would sort them 1, 10, 11, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. But it will give you all images per issue at one time.

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To go to a particular image, you click on it, giving you a page like this.

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On the right, you will get information about this page. Most information is in the title. The remark will generally tell you the original date, or ‘Verschijningsdatum’, in this case October 10th 1888. (This is in Dutch, but most months should be easy to translate to English, they’re very similar).

At the top left you can zoom in & out, you can also just use your scroll wheel to do this! In the middle you can browse to the next/previous image.

I’ll now shortly explain how to find the patterns for the pictures! In order to do so, we first have to zoom in a bit.

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You might want to click on my screenshot above to get the full-size picture so you can read the items I’ve bordered.

Below most of the garments in the magazine, you’ll find a short description. This tells you what it is, but also where to find the pattern. I’ve noticed that for most full-gowns, you’ll only find the bodice pattern! (The skirt might be in the descriptions, but they’re too small to read) Step by step, the information is as follows (all examples for the left coat):

Bordered in Brown: No 13, this is the number of the picture, used to refer to in in the text. The text for an image is not always on the same page!

Bordered in Red: Knippatr. This is the cut-out-pattern. You might also see variants of ‘Knippatroon’, as that’s the unabbreviated word.

Bordered in blue: Beschr. , or sometimes Beschrijv. This is the description. In my experience, the descriptions in the pattern pages are too small to read. Sometimes, the pattern page will only hold a ‘beschrijv.’ and no ‘knippatr.’, which means there’s only a description and no pattern.

Bordered in green: ‘Voorz.’ The pattern pages had both a front and a back side, which are scanned separately. ‘Voorzijde’ means front and ‘Keerzijde’ back. It’s probably abbreviated to ‘Voorz.’ and ‘Keerz’. (v.h. Supplem. or ‘van het Supplement’ means ‘from the supplement’.)

Bordered in purple: No. II, 12-14. This means Number 2, figures 12 to 14. I suspect that the number II refers to the description on the supplement, but these are way to small to read, so I’m not certain. The figures, so 12 to 14 here, refer to the pattern pieces on the pattern page.

Now, of course the question is, but where’s the pattern pages? In general, the pattern pieces were at the end of the magazine, so just click on the first pattern page you see after the pictures you’re looking for! (This only works if you’ve sorted by title!) The first will be the front (voorz) and the second the back (keerz).

Another option to find the pattern pages is to use the search bar again. If you type in de gracieuse 1888 “aflevering 1” , with 1888 the year you want and the 1 the issue you want, you’ll get only the pages from that issue (it’s important to use the ” ” marks around the issue though, otherwise it won’t work). This way you will also only get the pattern pages from that particular issue, easily recognized by the squiggly lines.

Here’s the one for my example (zoomed in a bit):

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If you want to check if you’ve got the correct page, just look to the top-left. Here it says: ‘Supplement Gracieuse 1888 Nr. 1’, with below: ‘Voorzijde’ . Now, as you remember from the first page we clicked on, the title stated ‘aflevering 1’, which corresponds to the ‘Nr 1’ here. The description of the dress stated ‘voorz.’, which corresponds with ‘Voorzijde’. So we’re on the correct page!

All patterns will appear in one size only. I’ve seen corsets which specified ‘slim ladies’  or ‘bigger ladies’, but generally there’s no size indication, so you’ll have to re-size any patterns yourself!

For those of you not familiar with multiple patterns drawn on one page, you have to find the correct lines for your particular pattern. All lines will be slightly different (dots, stripes, etc.). Now you have to find the lines with the correct numbers, in this case 12 to 14. The best way is to download the image, zoom in a lot and trace with a contrast color.

For this particular example, I suspect that lines 12 to 17 correspond with this pattern. I think that’s just an editing error, so if you think you’re missing pattern pieces, it’s worthwhile to check if the adjacent numbers match. What you also see here is that you have to be careful to not miss any darts (red lines). These won’t necessarily have a number. Sometimes you see an arrow at the end of the line, this means the pattern piece extends in a straight line outside of the pattern sheet. Sometimes you see a thinner line extending from the pattern line, this means they ‘folded’ the pattern to fit it on the paper. In this case, you treat the slight line as a fold line, the pattern is drawn as if it was folded at that point. You see this with the red & yellow outlined pieces.

On the side you can see the ‘description’ for this pattern. It’s way too small to read, but useful in this case because it shows the outline for all pattern pieces. This is what told me that there were probably more than 3 pieces.

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I hope this will make life a bit easier for everyone wanting to try patterns, good luck!

Sewing – 1860’s bodice finished

The bodice for my 1860’s black velvet ballgown is done! This will be my entry for the Historical Sew Fortnightly (my first one actually…). So some details:

The Challenge: Bodice

Fabric: Black velvet. I think it’s cotton, but I’m not entirely sure. Black cotton for the lining

Pattern: Truly Victorian 400, with my own sleeve flares

Year: The pattern is listed as 1871, but it seems very similar to the dress I was imitating from 1866, so I’m assuming it’s correct for that period as well.

Notions: Black velvet covered buttons, black lace, bones made out of large cable-ties

How historically accurate is it? I believe the fabric is correct, though silk-velvet would’ve been more probable than cotton. The patterning is correct for the period as far as I know. Cable-ties are obviously not correct for boning, but whale-bone would’ve been a bit difficult. I’ts mostly machine-sewn, so that’s not correct, but most of the lace and the buttonholes were done by hand. 

Hours to complete: I didn’t really keep track, but I’d guess somewhere between 25 and 30.

First worn: Hopefully, in April. (I first have to finish the rest of the dress!)

Total cost: Again, I didn’t keep track, but I got a good price for the velvet at about 8,00 euros per meter. The most expensive was probably the lace. I’d guess somewhere between 30 and 40 euro’s.

And here’s the final result:

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Pictures of it being worn will come when the whole thing is done.

And some progress pictures. Since the last post I sewed the button holes and did the trimming on the dress. I spent a lot of time practicing button holes before I finally dared to actually start cutting in my dress!

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Practicing button holes. I kept running out of thread. I now know I need at least 85 cm 😉

Without trim & playing with rows of lace, 1 or 2? I settled on 2.

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Trim on the sleeves.

Inspriation – New Regency ballgown?

November last year I went to a Regency ball in my newly finished flowered dress. Of course, as soon as the evening was out, I wanted to make a new dress. My 1860’s velvet dress came first though, but now I’m actually nearing the end of that project I’m allowing myself to think about a new one. My goal is to first make a chemise and short stays, but after that to make a ball gown.

I’ve been looking for inspiration pictures, and I really wanted to make a white dress this time, because it’s so common in this time period. I do not, however, want the dress to become too plain. Although regency dresses seem quite simple compared to 18th century and Victorian gowns, there’s a lot of beautiful details to be found. My favourite type of white recency dresses are the ones which are made of lace, but finding the correct fabric for those for a price I can actually afford will be dificult, so I quickly put that out of my head.

They’re lovely though:

Rijksmuseu, ca. 1815 – ca. 1820

Metmuseum, 1805–10

So, what other options are there? Well, there’s also a lot of examples of white dresses with striking colour details! I always especially liked the dress in the fashion plate below. I love the red/white contrast, and the bow at the front is, of course, adorable:

The only thing I like less about this plate is the trim at the bottom, which would make it a bit too heavy for my taste. So I’ll have to think of someting else. Maybe pleats such as in the one below, or maybe just a red border?

I’ve also been looking at bodice styles. I know I’ll want the general shape to be as in the picture, but I’m still debating on pleats, gathers or a smooth style. I think I like the middle option of the ones below best. And I love the little pieces of lace in the first two pictures.

A smooth bodice, with lovely lace.

Just slightly gathered

This one is a bit more gathered

Finally, I can’t really figure out how the red part on the sleeves work, but I found this painting which has a similar idea. It’s pale pink instead of red, but it would work I think. I like this picture a lot, also the delicate lace, so I might try to replicate the sleeves in this way.