1913 lampshade dress

Me and some of the attendees of the costumed picnic

Me and some of the attendees of the costumed picnic

I joined a very small group of local costuming enthusiasts, and during the summer we had a little costumed get together – so I thought I’d make something NEW for it.
BUT.. it’s a bit of a mixed up thing – I didn’t finish the hem (with a hoop) in time. Then I finally finished the hem by adding the hoop in November (after wearing it twice without the hem being finished…) and hated it! So I took out the hoop, and am calling my once named “unfinished” costume… finished.

Unfortunately…. I originally wanted to make this for the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge #11: The Politics of Fashion – which had already passed before I joined the challenges. I knew I’d be a bit late… but.. I had no idea HOW late I’d be in finally posting this!

The nearly-complete 1912 lampshade dress and harem pants

The nearly-complete 1913 lampshade dress and harem pants

Visit my Pinterest inspiration board here.

I was originally trying to do something like Paul Poiret’s 1913 “lampshade” dress made of gold ‘lame’ silk, with black silk gauze. The overdress has a hoop and floral embroidery, and it’s worn with a gold-embroidered belt.

Paul Poiret was a self-proclaimed “King of Fashion” and is often credited with bringing forth ideas for style that eliminated restrictive corsets, pantaloons and petticoats. In the early 1900s (when he opened his ‘maison de couture’ in 1903) until the 1920s when his styles were no longer in fashion, he was considered “terribly modern”.

Read more: The Runways of Yesterday

I thought that eliminating corsets from current (at the time) fashion is a pretty bold political move! Hence my inclusion of this costume in the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge!


Breaking down the design, I wanted harem pants in gold silk, a black net gown lined with the same silk, with a high waist, a slightly crossed-over bodice, a full hooped skirt, with fringe.

I didn’t have any gold silk, and wasn’t keen on going shopping for that, so instead I used a champagne pink satin I had bought on sale a year or so earlier that I had never used. I was going to use a black net I had in my stash (mentally allocated for an Edwardian evening dress) but found a black net with gold dots (not unlike the gold embroidered flowers) instead. I ended up doing a sewn-in self-fabric belt, though I could always wear another belt over top if I found something I liked.  I also ended up lining the skirt in black satin instead of the champagne because it was all looking TOO light for me. In retrospect I should have done more layers of the net for the bodice.

I ended up not doing the hoop finally after all, and didn’t do the fringe because it looked “cheap” with this design to me. I also ended up doing a strap in the back v-neck to keep the darn thing on my shoulders… LOL Instead of a hoop, the net overlay has a horsehair braid hem, which does a bit to make it stand out, though not nearly “enough”.

So… the overall look is similar, but not quite the same as the original.

Some of the attendees of the costumed picnic

Some of the attendees of the costumed picnic

I’ve blurred the faces of the other participants, as I didn’t have their permission to post their photos.

Timer shot to show off the whole dress (without the hooped hem)

Timer shot to show off the whole dress (without the hooped hem)

Although the costume didnt’ really turn out as I had intended, I actually like the result, and have had several good compliments about it… so.. that’s something!

I didn’t take any work-in-progress shots of the costume, but I did take a few of the turban, below:



Selfie in my turban - don't even ask me why my eyes are closed!

Selfie in my turban – don’t even ask me why my eyes are closed!

The turban was also a bit of a comedy of errors… I made it up once, hated it, and then re-did the pattern and re-made it again. I started it using a Chemo Cap pattern that I used when I lost my hair and made up a few little similar turbans. (Which I rarely ever wore mind you…)

I bought some rhinestone links from Micheal’s (for making bracelets) and dyed one of them light pink using alcohol inks, and sewed it to 2 black ostrich feathers and then onto a pin backing (so I could remove it for laundering).

Did you know you could dye rhinestones with alcohol inks?

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Historical Sew Fortnightly

The Challenge: #11: The Politics of Fashion – due Sun 15 June.  World affairs have both affected, and been affected by, fashions.  Craft something that demonstrates the interactions between dress and political history.

Fabric: Polyester satin (2 colours), black nylon net

Pattern: self-drafted

Year: 1913

Notions: thread, horsehair braid, twill tape, elastic (for the pants)

How historically accurate is it? Let’s say it had good intentions….

Hours to complete: No idea.

First worn: Summertime picnic in Red Deer, followed by Hallowe’en 2014.

Total cost: Couldn’t even begin to guess.  The satin was probably in the $7-10/m range, the net was probably in the $3-5/m range.

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