Historical Sew Monthly – 1900s Gingham Wash Dress

1900s wash dress

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).

-> How to Dress in the Edwardian Era

1900s cotton dress

My main inspiration was this 1905 pink gingham cook’s dress with apron, this 1901-3 pink gingham cotton day dress, and this photograph of a striped servant’s dress with apron.

edwardian pink cotton dress

I used 4m pink striped cotton fabric for the dress and 2m white cotton fabric for the apron and cap.

1900s tub frock

Here’s a painting of a maid wearing a pink wash dress and apron.

1900s maid's dress

1903 photograph of maids with aprons and caps, and another 1900s photograph of maids.

edwardian servant dress

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.

edwardian nanny 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.

edwardian maid's cap with streamers
Edwardian stand-up collar and maid’s cap with streamers

edwardian gingham cotton dress

Under the dress I’m wearing a chemise, corset, my 1910 handkerchief camisole, and a cotton petticoat.

edwardian shirtwaist pattern

I had some help while cutting out the shirtwaist pattern. 😉

1900s cotton house dress

Here you’ll find detail pictures with additional information about the construction process and my inspirations:

1900s Gingham Wash Dress – The Shirtwaist

1900s Maid’s Cap With Streamers

edwardian house dress

More information about the skirt and apron:

1900s Gingham Wash Dress – The Skirt

1900s Gingham Wash Dress – The Apron

Here you’ll find my pinterest boards 1900s Washdress and Maid’s Dress and 1900s sportswear with inspirations for my wash dress.

edwardian gardening

The dress is so comfortable to wear, and the shorter hem is practical for working.

edwardian farm


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

Year: 1901-3

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

1900s dress

18 thoughts on “Historical Sew Monthly – 1900s Gingham Wash Dress

  1. This is so lovely. I love your attention to detail in your posts. It’s really informative. I’m really glad to have found your blog through the Crafting on Link-up

  2. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty. I have been sewing for many years, also, but have never made time to learn about historical sewing techniques. This has piqued my interest – perhaps I will give this kind of sewing a try this autumn when my girls go back to school. Stop by when you can and visit me at Vintage Mama’s Cottage. Nina

  3. This is lovely, so much attention to detail. I like the idea you could just wear the blouse with non period clothes just for everyday.
    Your photos are beautiful.

  4. Your blog is fascinating, its really interesting to follow the quotes and the reasonings of the earlier eras. I really appreciate reading your posts. Enjoy your new dress its lovely.

  5. I absolutely love your blog. All your sewing projects are so beautiful. What fabric weight did you use for this dress? It looks perfekt.

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