1894 Petticoat

For my 1890s project I decided I want 2 new petticoats. I have an Edwardian petticoat which is too slim for 1895, but which is usable as a ‘bottom’ petticoat. The second petticoat would build the right shape, and the final petticoat I’m planning to make with the same pattern as the skirt and make in more fun fabric. That one is to really get to the wide shape of the period. This post is about the second, so the middle petticoat! This is how it turned out:



After getting some white cotton I  started looking for patterns. I browsed trough the 1894 to 86 issues of the Gracieuse, and eventually found this petticoat:



There was a tiny pattern on the pattern sheet. Way to small to read any text, but enough to get a feeling for the shapes. I figured that the front and back would be cut on the fold, and that the horizontal line through the back and side panels would be where the gathering happens. I ended up not using the dart in the side panel, as that piece is gathered on anyway.

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My first step was to translate it to roughly the right length and width. For the length I just measured how far I wanted it, for the width I used the placement of the front-side seam. In the picture you can see that this is just slightly further than halfway around the body. This way I could figure out the width I wanted the front panel, and increase the size of the others similarly.

My first step was to take some notes and measures:



For construction, the first step was to cut the main skirt shapes, and sew them all together. The front panel has two darts, and has a yoke as waistband.



The side and back are gathered to a waistband which is itself a bit larger than the waist circumference. The waistband then encases a string (starting at the seam between front and side panels) which ties in place center back.



On the side and back panels, a piece of cotton tape is stitched on, encasing another cord (again starting at the seam between the front and side panel) which ties center back. Pulling this in keeps the width of the skirt towards the back, and the front smooth. This is quite typical of the skirts of this era. Though very wide, the folds are in the back.



For the ruffles, I cut one strip 42cm high and one about 16cm high. All ruffles were hemmed with a rolled (machine) hem. This took a while. The small ruffle was about 15m long, the other one about 7m.



I used my machine pleater foot to sew the small ruffle to the large one, and the large one to the base skirt. Before sewing, the top was simply ironed over about 1cm. In retrospect I cut too much ruffle fabric, as I didn’t really calculate the ratio beforehand. There’s plenty on the skirt though, and I can easily re-use the rest as linings later.



And this is how it looks finished! I’ve put it over the old Edwardian petticoat to properly show what the shape would be at this point. It’s starting to show the typical A-line shape with fulness in the back. The final petticoat will serve to make the shape even more extreme.

Inspiration – Edwardian tartan

After cutting the fabric for my Edwardian skirt, I realized I have enough left over to do something else with. I’ve been thinking on making a short jacket out of it, to go with the skirt. Not a full one, because the fabric is very busy, and I like the idea of showing off my blouse underneath. But it would make a nice ensemble. So I’ve been browsing for inspiration images, and additionally found some more images of Edwardian tartan/plaid/checkered ensembles. So it’s time for pretty pictures!

All images are from the 1905-1907 archive of the Dutch fashion magazine de Gracieuse.



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:  https://geheugen.delpher.nl/nl

(A quick note from the future, the website address has changed in early 2020! The old URL (https://geheugenvannederland.nl/) 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 – 1866 Victorian corset

As soon as I finished the first corset I made, I wanted to make another one! This time I tried a lot more historical accuracy, especially in pattern and fabric. As I was planning a 1860’s dress, this was the time period I chose. Although there’s a difference in Victorian corsets trough different decades, I figured that the silhouette would be close enough for 1870’s and maybe even early 1880’s. The pattern I used was taken from the De Gracieuse archives. De Gracieuse was a Dutch women’s magazine of which a complete scan can be found online from 1862 trough 1936. Although the pattern pages can be dreadfully small (the print is unreadable), it is doable to trace the pattern pieces.

The pattern I chose was from 1866, and is described as ‘corset for slim ladies’. I figured that this might help with resizing, as the pattern only comes in one size. I also really like gussets on corsets, as they allow for a more dramatic shape. Since I’ve quite a size difference between hips and waist I hoped this would help. In the page below, it is the right corset at the top.

Gracieuse. Geïllustreerde Aglaja, 1866, aflevering 20, pagina 177 - Corsets. The sewing patterns were included


The eventual resizing I had to do was not too bad. The gussets came in handy because I could simply reduce or enlarge those to fit bust and hips. The waist only needed a little more space, the hips fit perfectly and the bust gussets had to be taken in quite a lot, but I’d been counting on that. The other adaptation was to lenghten the pattern a bit. 1860’s corsets are quite low, from what I’ve seen they don’t really reach above mid-bust, but even then my upper body was a bit longer than the pattern.

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The final corset was single-layer, made of coutil with dark red thread. I got the idea from the description in De Gracieuse from the ‘heavy ladies corset’, where they describe a ‘grey coutil’ corset , ‘sewn with red silk’ and bound with ‘red wool’. I really liked the idea of contrasting thread, but it was incredibly scary, as you can see every imperfection this way. I decided to try it anyway and make it a challenge. I eventually sewed the corset with the machine, as I’m not a big fan of handsewing through thick fabrics. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the result, although I feel the gussets could have been a bit neater.

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Ugly mock-up stage

The construction method I used I first saw on one of the corsets of the Aristocrat. Her work is a big inspiration, and it seemed a perfect way to make boning channels in a single-layer corset. Basically, you turn over the edge of the fabric on both fabric pieces about 1 or 2 mm from the egde, and then overlap the pieces.

For boning, I used spiral steel on the side seams and spring steel in all other places. The binding was dark red bias binding and I used a bit of left-over lace of another project at the top. Here’s some pictures of the finished corset, both on my dressform and on me:


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