Edwardian inspired outfit.
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Edwardian inspired ensemble

My Edwardian inspired outfit is finally finished! The outfit consists of a shortened Edwardian walking skirt and a shirtwaist blouse with a lot of lace. There was a lot of hand-sewing but I think I like the finished outfit very much. The short walking skirt project was greatly inspired by a similar skirt made by Bernadette Banner. Go watch her video on YouTube to see how she made hers!

The Edwardian Walking skirt

Truly Victorian TV291 - 1898 walking skirt drawing. © Truly Victorian, used with permission.
Truly Victorian TV291 – 1898 walking skirt drawing. © Truly Victorian, used with permission.

The skirt pattern was Truly Victorian 1898 Walking skirt. This 7-gore skirt pattern is based into an original walking skirt pattern. The front of the skirt is flat and there are gathers at the back to create volume. The closure is at the centre back.

The sizing range was big with 14 sizes corresponding to the waists from 20″ to 46″. I went for the size E that corresponded to my waist size. However, if you are like me and do not pay so much attention to the instructions, it is good to know that the instructions suggest cutting a waistband 2″ larger than the pattern piece. This is probably so that you can adjust the waist to your liking after the skirt has been assembled.

My Edwardian inspired walking skirt from the back.

I chose to use black wool with a woven pinstripe pattern. For the lining, I used plum coloured cotton shirting. In addition, I used some leftover cotton gabardine to interface the facings and the waistband. I shortened the skirt pattern to the length of about 60 cm before cutting the pieces out of the fabric. All in all, I needed about 2,5 metres of wool to make this skirt.

Flatlining the skirt.

The skirt was flat-lined with the cotton. In a true Edwardian fashion, I made only my straight seams with a sewing machine and then flat felled the seams by hand. However, I did gather the waistband with the machine and not by hand, which I mention because, to my understanding, the old-fashioned way of gathering would make a bit neater gathers.

I also did a few other changes with the back opening. Firstly, I felt that the placket needed an interfacing, so I used one layer of the gabardine to add support. The original pattern has only a hook and eye closure at the waistband and no zipper. After I tried the skirt on, I noticed that the back opening tended to gape a bit. This probably wouldn’t have bothered Edwardian ladies with all their undergarments and petticoats but I felt more secure after I added two hand-sewn snaps.

The walking skirt from the front.

The heavily interfaced hem was certainly different than what I am used to. However, the gabardine surely makes the hem drape differently and that is the purpose.

Edwardian shirtwaist blouse

I wanted to make a blouse to match the skirt. Besides, I just wanted an opportunity to use more lace than I ever have in any sewing project! Edwardians called these kinds of blouses “shirtwaists” to separate them from boned garments that were called “bodices”. After some searching, I decided to use the Beatrix shirtwaist pattern by Sense & Sensibility.

This pattern is not really a true Edwardian pattern but a modern interpretation. In an Edwardian inspired style, it has wider front hem that can be either tied with tie-straps or tucked into the skirt.

The shirtwaist blouse from the front.

The pattern has several options. You can make a Victorian high collar or choose between scoop or square necklines. There are also options for front neckline gathers and both front and back fastening. You can make either narrow sleeves that I used or make puffed sleeves, whatever you fancy. Cuff pattern can be used with both sleeve types. Included are some examples of how to insert lace and embroidery examples but these don’t have any separate instructions.

The pattern has sizes from 6 to 26 that correspond to the busts from 78 cm to 120 cm (30.5″ to 48″). The waist and hips are loose so you only need to pay attention to the bust size. I was between the sizes 10 and 12 and I initially made a toile in size 12. However, that felt slightly too large and I went down to size 10. However, a little warning here: The cuffs are really small! I made the cuff first in size 10 ane I couldn’t even bring the sides to touch let alone make them overlap.

Pintucks and insertion lace.

The blouse is not a difficult pattern to make but It helps if you have some sewing experience, especially if you want to make any of the embellishments. It also helps a lot if you make a toile out of some cheap cotton.

For the fabric, I used the scraps of cotton lawn that were leftovers from my coat project. I had a very limited amount of fabric so I decided to use a lot of lace to compensate for this. In addition, I also used a bit of lace fabric and three different kinds of lace, none of which was neither cotton nor proper insertion lace with straight edges.

I chose narrow cuffed sleeves, high collar, front without gathers and a back button fastening.

The Edwardian inspired Beatrix shirtwaist blouse from the back.

To make designing the embellishments easier, I decided to cut my fabric in stages. I made my fronts and back wider to compensate for the pintucks I was planning to make. Before this, I had already cut away the top part of the pieces that I wanted to make out of lace. I couldn’t really decide how to design the lace decorations so I made the design up as I went along.

It took me days to whip all the edges of the lace insertions (see my post here). I did all of this by hand, except with the cuffs where I used my machine as the lace ended up backed by another layer of cotton.

After the lace insertion the actual sewing was easy. Of course, the French seams were a must with this sheer fabric. I did add a bit of gathers to the sleeve caps since there seemed to be enough fabric for that.

The shirtwaist blouse from the side view.

The neckline was too high at the front, so I lowered it for about 1 cm. Luckily the collar piece was large enough to still fit my larger neck opening. The collar was large also at the top edge. I did not like how it gaped, so I added tiny little darts to both sides of the collar. The darts are almost unnoticeable but they do improve the look of the collar a lot. The armholes could have been a bit smaller but I couldn’t really do much to it. I think also that bust darts might be a good idea if I ever remake this pattern. The armholes gaped a lot because the blouse doesn’t have the bust darts but luckily the fit doesn’t look too bad after the sleeves were inserted.

The finished Edwardian inspired outfit

I am really happy in how this project turned out. I think I should start thinking more of making matching outfits. Furthermore, this slow hand-sewing was something that I really started to like. I felt that I should value my makes enough to put all that time and energy into the process. Besides, this way I may not end up with so many unnecessary garments.

The finished outfit.

By the way, I am super proud that I managed to get my short hair up in a way that is inspired by Gibson girls’ voluminous updos. Even if I had lived hundred years ago I would never had had the thick and long hair that almost everyone seemed to have. (My hair is so fine that all my hair combined makes a bunch that is narrower than my thumb.)

The finished outfit from the side back.

I mentioned not wanting to make unnecessary garments above and I could almost hear you chuckle: “You made an Edwardian outfit!” But I still believe that I can wear these things separately without looking like I should be on my way to Titanic. Think about combining the lace blouse with a leather jacket and a pair of jeans! The skirt is not so different from today’s skirts so I can easily get away with wearing it with a modern sweater.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this project. Do subscribe if you want to follow my sewing adventures! Thank you for reading and happy sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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