Sewing: 1920s housemaid

About-face from the 18th century, eh what? I sort of forgot that I was volunteering at the Jazz Age on the Delaware at Glen Foerd (if you're in the Philly area, you should come! Tix are a little pricey but it's a fundraiser for the mansion, and I think it's going to be rather fab...also, yes, that is Yours Truly on the home page) on August 1st...well, not forgot, exactly, but August 1 seemed so far away!

And then all of a sudden it was next Saturday. Oh.

I had plans to make a 1920s housemaid outfit (volunteering, see), so I scrambled a bit to find some appropriate fabric for a maid's dress - of course there wasn't anything in the Stash, as I don't really go in for practical dark stuffs in my historical costume! Two yards of wool won't break the bank, though, and it should get here tomorrow or Tuesday.

(As an aside: yes, wool. I flatly won't wear synthetics on a day I have to be outside in a Philly summer, plus it of course wouldn't be correct to the 1920s. My instinct's against linen for a maid's dress - would look too sloppy and wrinkly. Rayon or cotton, possibly, but it's hard to find a dress-weight cotton that's not a sticky broadcloth nowadays, and neither of those will hold up as well as wool for a work dress. I'm a little fuzzy on the history of rayon anyway, not sure that it would be a cheap practical choice as yet in the 1920s? So that left me wool. A nice lightweight wool will breathe, and wear well - although I probably will only ever wear it this once! Details...)

So I did a bit (a very little bit!) of research into the maids of well-off families...and mainly discovered there's a relative wealth of information on British domestics when compared to their American counterparts! Not that this has to be a well-researched project, but I always feel the need to add a disclaimer when I'm Making It Up As I Go Along. Which I am doing. I'm running on a few pictures (mainly sans attribution, annoyingly) and common sense.

 I'm not trying to copy any particular outfit I found, just to put together a plausible look. Yesterday and today I put my cap-headband-thingie (technical term) together.
 It's made of striped cotton organdy, leftover from my fluffy 1860s dress, with a black velvet ribbon, and elastic in the back. It's very stiff fabric, which is great because I don't have to starch it, but which was rough on my poor fingers, basting all those horrible little pleats into place. I originally thought I'd make it by hand, as that would have turned out a lot neater, but after that basting I was So Done. Machine it is! *whizzzzzz*
Also cut out my apron pieces today (no pattern, just the very scientific method of Eyeballing It), so that shouldn't be a problem to make up tomorrow. Will the dress itself be finished in time? Stay tuned next time to find out!


  1. Can't wait to see the dress. Very nice vintage pictures. I love looking at old pictures.


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