The Handkerchief Camisole From 1910

1900s pouter pigeon

An Edwardian camisole or corset cover is so easy to sew: You’ll just need three handkerchiefs, insertion lace and some ribbon: ‘The handkerchief bodice can be put together […] without the trouble of cutting out a pattern in the ordinary way. […] A dainty and inexpensive piece of lingerie that can be made both easily and quickly’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2).

edwardian handkerchief camisole

‘Here is a way in which a dainty and useful little camisole can easily be fashioned from three pretty kerchiefs. […] Before setting to work to make the bodice, the handkerchiefs should be folded from corner to corner, and pressed with a moderately hot iron to ensure a perfectly straight line across the centre. This must be cut through with a pair of scissors so that each handkerchief is divided into two equal triangular portions. […] The whole bodice is joined together with insertion […] An edging of dainty lace will form an effective finish for the top of the Camisole and round the sleeve bands. A pattern should be selected with eyelet-holes for the purpose of threading with bebe ribbon, as this will serve the double end of giving a pretty effect and drawing up the camisole.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2, with diagram and picture of the finished camisole)

My handkerschief camisole is for ‘everyday wear’: I used cambric handkerchiefs and sturdy cotton lace: ‘For everyday wear, good strong muslin, long-cloth, or cambric are the most durable materials. Use only such trimming as will outwear the material. Flimsy laces and ribbons should be worn only on rare occasions.’ (Garments For Girls, 1919)

edwardian corset cover

I made the handkerchief camisole without an opening and with an elastic waist: 1910s crepe de chine corset cover with elastic waist.

The 1910s handkerchief camisole makes a pretty pouter pigeon shape or S-curve silhouette – so typical for the 1900s. Here I’m wearing the camisole as part of my Edwardian maid’s costume.

‘Handkerchiefs have been converted into pretty [corset] covers […] and as they are a great deal more serviceable deserve to be more popular. Of course, the handkerchief must have a plain border, but there may be all sorts of monograms and raised work in the corners and about the border; in fact, the more, the prettier and the more elaborate the cover. When they are cut in two and the insertion is added, it takes but two fairsized ones, but when the linen is used by itself and they are made plenty full it takes three. The shoulder straps depend entirely upon the whim of the maker. A piece of insertion bound with lace on two sides is fluffy and pretty, and it washes well, but ribbon addds a dash of color and is infinitely less work to put on the first time, and the maker, as a rule, troubles her head but little about the numerous times the ribbon will have to be ripped off and sewed on again when it goes to the laundry.’ (San Francisco Call, 1903)

2 thoughts on “The Handkerchief Camisole From 1910

    1. Thanks, Lisa! 🙂 I like that the Edwardian reworked handkerchief, old clothes etc. into new garments. And how beautiful the camisole must’ve been when made with real lace handkerchiefs.

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