1926. Batwing sleeves made a brief appearance in blouses (they hung on much long in coats) and hemlines rose as much as they would before falling again (Never above the small of the underside of the knee) . I saw this blouse- a reissue of an original pattern by Wearing History (www.wearinghistory.com) and was immediately intrigued by the idea of replicating this very narrow window in history- in a non costumed way. My ultimate goal was to make an outfit that could fit as seamlessly into a modern context as it would a period film and didn’t scream “Flapper” when you looked at it. .
The look is constructed of two pieces: A blouse and a skirt slip. The entire outfit- blouse and skirt- is silk, sewn by hand and fully finished inside and out.
As mentioned the pattern of the blouse is a reproduction. I decided to up the ante a bit by adding Tambour beading, using two weights of silk and incorporating high end finishing such as french seaming and hand rolled hems. The body of the blouse is an opaque twisted crepe silk. The motif for the beading on the hem comes from an Art Nouveau embroidery transfer from a little earlier in the century. The beads are modern glass. I used different shaped beads to affect how it catches the light. I love how the beads have the appearance of neonlights in a dark night sky. Neon lights coincidentally found a huge surge of popularity during this era. Beading silk crepe was practically the worst idea ever. The crepe stretches too much in the frame. Unstretched the crepe catches the hook. It took me a long time to get a handle on the feel of beading the fabric without catching.
The skirt slip is my own pattern. A full slip was a requirement because the sheer sleeves of the batwing are open to the body. I thought it would be a great idea to box pleat crepe de chine in order to emulate some of the structured looks of the era. And it is- in terms of it looks fantastic once done. It was, however, far trickier than anticipated to produce perfect pleats. To help with stability- I used a stiffener on the fabric and the fold back of each pleat is hand stitched. The front pleats are finished with gimp and covered buttons on self fabric. For the most seamless appearing of hems- I used a silk ribbon running stitched along the edge and then cross stitched down. This creates a smooth front with no bulk. Although unseen in most photos- the neckline of the slip is hand embroidered in hemstitch and has silk straps.
I love this outfit because it shows what can be achieved if one is willing to, with patience, tackle fiddly fabrics. The journey is a bit more difficult - but the results are worth it!
I am wearing modern hosiery that I added a back seam to. Seaming modern goods is a great way to get the look of an antique- without damaging an original. They are held up with antique roll garters.
My shoes are modern . Shh- Im also wearing my 1920’s step in I made for a previous occasion.
Photos by Phillip VanNostrand
Hair by Madeline LeCuyer of @justaddwigs