I always wanted to have an Edwardian-style sweater but knitting is not my favorite activity! 😉 So instead of knitting one I finally decided to use a modern sweater and refashion it into an Edwardian sweater.
‘You will see the sweater girl this year. […] the sweater girls wears the garment because it is becoming. It opens nowhere and is easy to put on, being pullable over the head, and requiring only a smoothing down.’ (San Francisco Call, July 1902)
Edwardian Sweater Inspiration
Like many historical costumers I adore the 1890s sweater at the MET. So this late Victorian sweater was one of my main inspirations. However, I opted for a rather early Edwardian sweater.
So instead of the wide leg-o-mutton sleeves of the MET sweater I turned the sleeves of my sweater into bishop sleeves. Bishop sleeves were popular in the early Edwardian era – between 1901 and 1904.
‘Sleeves are made over several attractive designs. Some are almost as small as coat sleeves, but the latest models show much more fullness’ (Los Angeles Herald, January 1906).
The sleeves of the Edwardian sweater at the left were my inspiration. For the free knitting pattern of this sweater, click on the link above.
Related: 1900-1909 Edwardian Fashion Timeline
Edwardian Sweater Refashion
‘The new sweaters […] have lost their similarity to a man’s sweater and now come in many varying styles.’ (Los Angeles Herald, May 1903)
I used a modern off-white merino wool blend sweater as basis. Then I cut off the sleeves and turned them around: what was at the shoulder, is now at the wrist (or rather elbow)! Because the sleeves were too short now, I added long cuffs. I also took in the sweater at the waist to give it a more hourglass silhouette. Then I unravelled the leftover pieces of the sweater and knitted the hip part in brioche stitch to mimic the Victorian sweater at the MET which is also knitted in brioche stitch. Brioche stitch is easy but so terribly slow to knit! 😉
‘Since the college girl adopted her big brother’s sweater which she pulled on and off her head in an undignified fashion, it has been so feminized that one hardly remembers its very masculine parent.
In the first place, it has assumed a becoming shape, clinging snugly to the lines of the figure […] The back fits to the figure with hardly a wrinkle and neatly fits to the waist, being held in place by a narrow band that is usually of a finer stitch than the body of the sweater’ (Los Angeles Herald, January 1906).
When To Wear A Sweater?
‘There is a proper and improper time to wear a sweater […] For country wear and sports it is frequently worn as the only outside garment […]
For wear in cities and towns a contrary etiquette prevails. No woman should […] wear it when she goes a-shopping or a-calling and for similar service. This is in inexcusably bad taste and immediately proclaims the social status of the wearer.’ (Los Angeles Herald, January 1906)
What To Wear With A Sweater?
For the sweater girl ‘there are not many garments required. Next the skin there is a silk combination; then come her shoes and stockings and an outing corset. Out of regard for feminine fancy she can wear a trifle in lingerie, if she so desires; and then comes her outing skirt and her precious sweater’ (San Francisco Call, July 1902).
Edwardian Tam Hat
In the Edwardian era, women usually wore tam hats with sweaters. Edwardian tams are soft caps knitted or crocheted with wool yarn. However, my Edwardian tam hat again isn’t knitted but sewed! It’s inspired by Edwardian tam o’shanter hats like this one at the V&A museum.
‘A small woollen cap […] which only needs two hairpins to keep it in place, is extremely becoming, and suitable either for summer or winter.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)
I used a leftover piece of a felted wool sweater from my grandma which has been in my stash for years. There was only part of the sweater left so I had to piece the fabric together because Edwardian tams are really big! I tried to piece it together so that the pattern matches and sewed the pieces together with overhand stitches by hand. I also used wool yarn from my stash to make a pompom for the tam.
More Edwardian Fashion