Tuesday, October 13, 2015

1910s Half-Mourning Dress

Advertisement for mourning clothing, early 1910s.

Like most seamstresses, I have a problem with fabric. I just keep buying it, and the speed of my sewing does not outstrip my stash. Last year I bought some fabric at JoAnn's that was on a fabulous sale. But I couldn't decide what to do with it - should I try a Regency dress? Use it for something 18th century? It wasn't till a couple months ago that I finally decided that it might make a fabulous half-mourning dress. 

I think people have worn mourning for a long time, but it was the Victorian era that took it to extremes - there was a strict code. How long you were in full mourning depended upon your relationship with the deceased. After that time, it would be acceptable to go into half-mourning, wearing greys, purples and mauves. 

An example of half-mourning (Victoria & Albert Museum).

This blouse is probably half-mourning as well (V&A Museum).

This 1910s dress sold on Etsy could well have been a half-mourning dress.

The pattern I used was one from Past Patterns from 1917. I'd used it before, though I hadn't done a  very good job with it, I'm afraid. This time I adjusted the pattern a little to make it larger in order to fit better, and I was more careful with the construction. 

I don't know if mine would qualify as a proper half-mourning dress, but I thought it would fit the spirit of the thing. I'm sure during The Great War, quite a profit was made in mourning clothing. 

My finished dress!

A close-up of the bodice & collar.

A picture my sister took of me with her cat: 

This dress does have its flaws, but I am happy with it, and it certainly turned out better than when I used this pattern before! 

You probably can't tell, but this is the first dress I used with this pattern. And it's not as well made at all. I'm glad I redeemed myself with my half-mourning dress. Plus I now have a proper 1910s corset, which really helps!


  1. Beautiful post. Thanks for the details and examples. You ought to expand it for the Sisters Post as well. I love this half-mourning dress. You did a splendid job!

  2. I think you did a fantastic job. I love the belt feature around the waist. Lovely!

  3. Great job, Mairi! The dress is fabulous!