How to make
Create the Mood

1912 afternoon gown
(under construction, please come back soon)


page 2
Cut and fit the toile

bolero cut and fit

I wanted a bodice/bolero with an unusual shape which I found on this copy of an original pattern at the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

This dress pattern was designed to be worn with a long-line corset; the waist is very nipped-in even though the bodice is designed to look loose over the top. This is typical of early 20th century dresses.

I rarely use a pattern, but with such a complicated bolero shape there was no point in devising my own when an original pattern was available.


paper pattern piece

cut out in spare fabric - the toile


It is easy to forget which way round the fabric piece goes when it is removed from the paper pattern.

I write directly on the fabric pattern so that no mistake is made when pinning the pieces together



At the first fitting I made adjustments were needed around the neck.

I do a series of small adjustments rather one big one to get the shape correct and comfortable.

I make pencil marks on the fabric and adjust in stages

final neckline shape

The back seam also needed adjusting to stop it sticking out at the neck.

I fitted the back on myself so the pin line is uneven; it will be straightened by drawing a pencil line and then trimming.


Once pinned together, I tried the bolero on again.

It was the correct fit at the back, but needed extra fabric let in at the front


tunic bodice cut and fit


the toile:

The bodice was the correct fit at the back, but also needed extra fabric let in at the front.



Bolero and tunic bodice toiles after extra fabric had been let into the centre front toile/pattern.

tunic bodice toile checked against dress lining

lace fabric:

Lace fabric was folded in two so that the patterns matched, top and underneath


front bodice pattern placed on fold of lace fabric

so that when the bodice is cut out, the pattern on both sides matches.

This takes more fabric but gives a better quality finished garment.

back bodice, cut and pinned to pattern

front bodice, cut and pattern removed

prepare dress lining


I purchased this grey silk dress very cheaply on Ebay. The idea was to save time by using it as a lining and building up the multi-layered look from this base.

The grey cotton lining was later used to check measurements to ensure that the 1912 pattern pieces fitted.

This cotton fabric was then used to extend the knee-length skirt down to ankle-length.

I washed the dress by hand as the washing instructions were 'dry clean only', then took out the cotton lining and facings for future use.





Second fitting:
bodice partially tacked in place onto lining.

Some adjustments still needed.




Small fitting adjustments were made at the shoulder and hip.

The two centre-front skirt pleats facing outwards were later changed to facing inwards so that they did not emphasise the stomach area.

shoulders lifted
(usual adjustment for me)

two front skirt pleats:
to be adjusted

hip dart pinned

cut skirt - layer 1, lace tunic

cutting the basic skirt shape:

A piece of card was used as a guide line, 7cms from the folded edge of the lace fabric.

[Using a piece of marked card is much quicker than using a tape measure for repeated measurements.]


The paper pattern pieces were used as guidelines to give a period shape to the skirt.

The waist and hip shapes were cut in lace fabric.

tunic skirt front

waist and hip shape cut



tunic skirt back

waist and hip shape cut

Using another piece of marker card the skirt side edges (only) were turned and ironed.

The shaped hip-line seam allowance was temporarily tacked down.

The tunic skirt was then trimmed with a border pattern

dress decoration and trimming

I purchased a modern devore velvet shawl that had an Art Deco design in an appropriate colour range.


back, two scarves sewn together

two scarves separated


After unpicking the shawl into two scarves, the fringe was removed from
scarf 1.

Design elements were used to decorate the lace tunic and scarf 2 for the bolero.


classical-style border

Scarf 1 centre was cut out, leaving only the geometric border plus a narrow extra hem for turning under.

The corner roundels were to be placed at the 4 corners of the tunic skirt, front and back.

roundel turns border corners on tunic skirt
This meant that I had to plan for joins in the skirt border where they would not be noticed.

border join

2 mitres checked for correct angle
The mitred ends were pinned and tacked before being placed onto the lace fabric.

At the skirt sides the border ends were mitred and checked so that they were all exactly the same.




I pinned the border onto three sides of the lace skirt from the underside: I put a large sheet of white paper on my work-table so that the devore pattern could be seen from the back.

When pinning and tacking I started at the skirt corners and worked outwards towards a join.


right side, pinned
Devore velvet tends to slide around when pinned so it was necessary to closely pin and then tack at every stage.

border tacked in place and underside pins removed

corner roundel pinned


The design was rechecked after pinning to ensure the verticals were at right-angles to the skirt edge.

One problem that occurred is that the pattern was not printed squarely onto the fabric.

border pinned down from right side

corner roundel held in place by many pins

Since the backing fabric was springy it was a little difficult to pin down.


raw edge tucked under and pinned
Tucking and pinning raw edges around the roundels plus small tacking stitches were necessary to hold
the fabric down in an even curve.
add pic of roundel tacked


Underneath the corner roundels excess velvet was cut away to reduce bulk.


to be continued
add - corner tassels

Flower design was cut from scarf 1


Glued, snipped, then sewn to one side only of front tunic skirt.


to be continued

for tunic skirt applique
skirt - layer 2, pleated flounce - to be added

for 'sailor collar'





fashion print with sailors collar

lace sailors collar
original sailor collar

original lace collar

I made a paper pattern following the fashion print and fabric sailor's collar. I checked it against the grey silk dress lining and the bolero toile, making a series of small modifications to achieve the shape and fit I wanted.


The pattern was cut out in spare fabric and a final check made against the bolero and the tunic bodice.

I cut a lace collar with a good seam allowance and picked out the small flowers in gold fabric paint.

To keep the lace taut whilst working on it I pinned the fabric onto a piece of thick card

The paint is set by being ironed, with baking parchment between the iron and the fabric.

Interlining was cut using the same pattern but with no seam allowance.

The interlining was ironed onto one layer of collar lining fabric.

Two layers of lining fabric were then cut out.

Lining with vilene underneath:
iron-on glue layer, ironed with baking parchment between the glue and the iron.

The lace layer was ironed on, also with baking parchment between iron and the lace.

(making four layers of fabric for the collar)


The lining was pinned underneath, curves nicked and straight edges tucked under and pinned.

underside pinned


add pic of underside sewn

to be continued        




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last updated 3 November, 2011