Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Clothing Collection: Early 1910s Blouse

Miss Lily Elsie, 1912.

I recently acquired an amazing collection of everyday clothing from the 1910s. The blouse I am going to feature, and a pair of drawers, came from Caldwell, New York (near Ithaca). My friend Tamara Manker Gates, who is an expert in the history of fashion, and of re-creating it, sent me this exciting collection. 

When I was in my teens, I indiscriminately bought anything that caught my eye, ranging from the 1910s to the 1950s. I've sold some of my old collection, and if I collect antique clothing, I'd like to focus on the 1910s and '20s only. 

The beautiful silk blouse from Caldwell, NY

I have not had much experience with drafting patterns yet, though I have attempted a few things. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn from these pieces. 

In the early 1910s, the pigeon-breast of earlier times was still suggested in the silhouette, and the waistline was very high - echoing the fashions of a century before with the Empire/ Regency style. This blouse dates probably from between 1910 and 1913. 

Illustration by A Souchel

There are some really lovely features about this blouse: 

A stiff, gathered waistband

The back of the blouse

Small gathers at the front of the blouse

I've seen this detail (seen here on the sleeves, and on the collar as well) on another silk 1910s blouse in my collection. It is so lovely! Also note the hook and eye closure for the wrist.

Beautiful mother of pearl buttons!

The front waist closure. Also with hook & eye.

It is a fairly simple garment, but so many of the small details are so incredible. It is a beautiful piece. Perhaps taking what I've learned from making a 1910s blouse, and drafting a pattern from this, I'll be able to make a copy - though I might not be able to do it in silk! Watch this space! 


  1. The little details remind one of how much we do without today. Even ordinary, inexpensive pieces of clothing were crafted with care and pride and worn with care and pride. How can we do likewise with what we put on our bodies today??

  2. The detail on the cuff is exactly like my mystery slip that I believe is made from acetate! I love all the detailing and those delicious buttons. Gorgeous! It's a lovely blouse. I'm so glad you've been able to add it to your collection.

  3. I love this blouse!! Especially the sleeve cuffs!!