For the HSM May challenge, I’ve sewn a 1900s gingham wash dress with apron and cap.
‘Every girl should try to dress in keeping with the work that she is doing. It would look very inappropriate to see an office girl at work in an evening dress. It would look just as inappropriate to see a woman or girl at work in the house dressed in worn-out finery.’ (School Sewing Based On Home Problems, 1916) The article continues that a house dress should be made of cotton, not wool, because it can be easily laundered. ‘The correctly made tub frock is never fussy. No flapping draperies should be allowed, merely trim lines’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2).
I used 4m pink striped cotton fabric for the dress and 2m white cotton fabric for the apron and cap.
Here’s a painting of a maid wearing a pink wash dress and apron.
The dress with apron and cap would be suitable for a maid’s morning dress or a nanny’s uniform, and without apron and cap for a summer excursion to ‘the river’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2). Here I’m wearing the dress as Edwardian cotton summer dress.
I followed these 1916 instructions on how to make a gingham house dress, except that I didn’t join the waist and skirt which wasn’t done until later in the Edwardian era.
I had some help while cutting out the shirtwaist pattern. 😉
Here you’ll find detail pictures with additional information about the construction process and my inspirations:
More information about the skirt and apron:
The dress is so comfortable to wear, and the shorter hem is practical for working.
Challenge: 5 – Practicality
Fabric: pink and white striped 100% cotton gingham (woven, not printed), white 100% cotton fabric
Pattern: my own, adapted from antique 1900s patterns
Notions: white pure cotton broderie anglaise lace, cotton sewing thread
How historically accurate is it? Very accurate (apart from modern fabric etc.). I’ve used antique Edwardian patterns and followed their instructions. I even used my antique sewing machine. 😉
Hours to complete: 3 whole days (shrinking the fabric and ironing took much longer than the actual sewing)
First worn: for the photos
Total cost: 51,50$/ 45,95€: 34,18$/ 30,50€ for 4m gingham, 17,32$/ 15,45€ for 2m white cotton fabric