Resources for Making Your Own 1912 Fashions

Perusing the pattern books this week, I thought it is never too soon to think about the 100th anniversary and the Gilded Age convention in Newport. There are now so many great patterns by Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity and McCall (in the costume section of the catalogue and even under the wedding portion) as well as MANY businesses which will sew FOR you. I would hurry to get the patterns at least- and put them away for later. They will probably not be available in another year or so as Cameron's film becomes a dimmer memory. Here's a great site to start you off- takes an hour to surf all these links- got any good ones?

Tracy Smith

Here is another site that I think is pretty good This designer specializes in Victorian era clothing, but she has some Edwardian designs and is working on a Titanic era page.

BTW, Shelley, I think this is who I'm going to have do my 1880s era outfit. What do you think?

Custom Historical Clothing
Tracy- Butterick patterns # 3417 and 3418 are divine- about 1890-1894 styles. It may be cheaper to buy the patterns and hire a seamstress locally. One company on the first link up there wants $800 for Rose's Boarding Suit!! The bustle had disappeared by 1890 but I love the leg-of mutton sleeves- I know you have your heart set on a bustle!

Tracy Smith

Butterick doesn't have authentic enough styling for what I'm looking for...uses zippers, is too informal looking, and, most importantly, they don't come in my size. I can find more authentic patterns in my size than Butterick makes. This site, and another called Truly Victorian has wonderful authentic patterns.

This dress shown in the left picture has the patterns pieces I can buy:

I'm not sure whether it is cheaper to buy the patterns, the fabric, and hire a seamstress, or to just let this other woman do it all.

For what I want with authentic sewing and styling, for her to do it will be in the 3 to 4 range for this type of style. Still expensive, but will last a lifetime and is much cheaper than the boarding dress. To buy the patterns would be about forty bucks; haven't priced the fabric yet, have no idea what presenting the patterns and fabric to a local seamstress would cost for fitting and labor. Still am researching it, though.
We MUST have photos of the finished product with you in it! Got a color and fabric yet?- I live for fabric! And of course you will want all the trims and accessories. I shall dreg up some links!
Miss Cynthia has scrumptious hats.

Tracy Smith

Hunter green twill, perhaps (taffeta or velvet too expensive!)with black velveteen trim at collar and cuffs , perhaps a dash of off white narrow lace trim at collar and cuffs. Satin(?) knife pleated ruffle at bottom of underskirt, not sure of any trim, except maybe for black velveteen stripe on overskirt. What is the link for Miss Cynthia's hats?

I can't wait for the day that I sent you the photo of the finished product.

Tracy Smith

Thanks for the link. She has some beautiful hats. Now I need to research on what style of hat would be appropriate for the type of dress I've chosen.

I'm glad to know that I'm on the right track, so far as fabric choice goes.
I have been trying to upload photos of my gowns that I made for quite some time now with no success. One of these days I'll get them up.

Two great sites to keep you busy all week. The first has step by step photos of how to put on a corset-who knew? There are zillions of costume and pattern links here too:
Then by next week you will be ready to check out Titanic the Movie fashions made by fans - and view J. Petersen's collection at:

Beckey Payne

Need some opinions on patterns. I'm thinking one from McCalls or Simplicity. Would like to try to have this done for Halloween, so dont want to waste time ordering and waiting for delivery. Any opinions suggestions on pattern #s for the most authentic 1912 style. I'm not concerned about minor things like zippers, etc as I can just make any needed changes to correct that and make more authentic.
Simplicity has the easiest to follow instructions-I have always had trouble with Butterick. Here is one Simplicity that I understand on highest authority is very Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon- the blue and rose one on the right. Of course the fabric color and trim can be different- spend the money on good fabric-it makes a simple dress look like a million. Post a photo of you in the creation! You may also want to go under TOPICS, Gilded Age and then click on The Thread on Threads- everything you can imagine is there-our longest running thread..
Beckey, The local sewing shops have current patterns reflecting Titanic era patterns. There is one pattern Simplicity offers in the Wedding Gown section called "Newport Wedding" that is very authentic. I have some extra patterns that I planned to sell on Ebay of authentic skirts and blouses, second class style out of Sears Catalog circa 1909 - 1916. I've collected dozens of patterns for Victorian/Edwardian fashions from corsets to promenade suits. Email me privately and I'll give you the pattern numbers. What size are you? Maybe one of my gowns will fit you?

All the best,

I can understand your question, and finding out for myself I can tell you, even though men's fashion seems stagnant, the complexity and all-out work involved is prohibitive to most pattern designs.

Years ago I came across an old, ragged formal jacket. I thought I could do something with it, but it turned instead into a learning expierience. Taking it apart, I discovered that the construction, or foundation, was made of pieces of felt (usally at the shoulders, inner-lapels, and front), horsehair- interwoven with linen, to keep shape, fabric similiar to mattress/pillow ticking everywhere else (including the sleeves and tails). Now, this architecture was done by hand; one could tell by the relative uneven stitching. Here we go to the outside fabric, usually of wool serge or a wool velour crepe, with satin or same fabric trim at lapels, that had to be molded to the inner-foundation. Then of course the lining that conscealed all that other stuff, usually of silk or sateen. Most of of this was done, like I mentioned, by hand (guy with a needle and thread), and fittings, probably a few, would have been had. That's just the jacket...

Whew! Other than finding a vintage garment, or spending...I can't even imagine what... on a new repro done by an expert tailor, best bet is to fake it as best you can! Detachable collar and cuffs are first in creating a men's vintage look. And a hat!

Now...those funny looking sock-garters...sorry! Can't help you on those!

Take care-