‘Belts […] are made in girdle from, pointed in the front and as deep as the figure will permit’. (San Francisco Call, 1903)
I finished the belt for my Edwardian lingerie dress. The dress will be a white muslin and Valenciennes lace dress worn over a mint green camisole and petticoat. The muslin and lace blouse of the dress I’ve sewn last year for the Historical Sew Monthly and is nearly finished: some lace and the sleeve ruffles are still missing.
‘A girdle is a belt which may be made separately or attached to the waist; it is intended as a decoration or finish to a waist.’ (The Complete Dressmaker, 1907) My Edwardian belt will later be worn over the white muslin and lace dress.
The pattern for my belt is based on antique Edwardian belts. I used mint green artificial silk (a rayon and cellulose acetate blend) – a fabric which was already used in the Edwardian era – white cotton canvas, cotton binding, and flexible, thin plastic boning which might be similar to featherbone (made from feather quills) which was often used for 1900s belts and isn’t available any longer. For a foundation belt ‘ribbed belting or a cambric belting stiffened with stays of featherbone should be used.’ (A Manual Of Home-Making, 1919)
One bone is at the center front, and four bones are at the back. I thought the sides would also need a bone but the belt is smooth at the sides when worn over a corset.
Here’s an antique Edwardian boned black silk satin belt – my main inspiration. And here’s an interesting 1905/9 picture about how to sew an Edwardian boned belt.
The belt is closed with three hooks and eyes at the center back. ‘The ends of the belting are then turned in and a sufficient number of hooks and eyes sewed on to hold the belt in good position.’ (A Manual Of Home-Making, 1919) Here’s a picture of a 1907 back-closing belt and a front-closing belt.
The belt is sewn by hand so that no stitches are visible on the right side.
The mint green fabric is stitched down with overhand stitches on the wrong side.
I covered the boning with cream-colored cotton binding which is also stitched down with overhanding.
For the mint green petticoat, which will be worn under the white muslin and lace skirt, I used the same fabric as for the belt. As you can see, the petticoat is partly finished. Today I finished the flounce and pinned it to the skirt. To prevent the flounce from sagging, I’ll let the petticoat now hang for a day or so.