Fixing Clothes to Make Them More Stylish

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, January 27, 1912: Saturday is a busy day if so you choose to make it. I was busy all day. Sewed nearly all afternoon. I didn’t make anything, but fixed some of my clothes the way I wanted them. And I’m not going to study any this evening—lessons or no lessons.

Waist (Source: Milton Evening Standard, Feb. 4, 1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Today clothes have become almost throwaway items.  Styles seem to change ever more rapidly. The legs on my pants from last year are too wide; the skirts too long.

A hundred years ago people remodeled their clothes when styles changed. According to The Dressmaker (1911) by the Butterick Publishing Company:

In making over a waist it is sometimes necessary to use quite a little new material; but when chemisettes, yokes, and half-sleeves are in fashion it is an easy matter to supplement the old material with net, lace, chiffon, etc.

Sleeves and skirts frequently need to be recut. If piecing is necessary, see to it that the seams fall in places where they will not show or where they can be covered with trimming.

Remodeling a skirt is an easy matter if the new pattern is narrower than the old skirt. In that case it is only a question of recutting; but if the pattern calls for more material than you have in the skirt itself you will have to do some piecing.  Braided bands covering the skirt seams are an excellent way of increasing the width of a skirt.

Or you can raise the skirt at the waistline, refit it, and add to it at the bottom by a band or a fold. Or it may be pieced at the bottom and the line of piecing covered by wide braid, bias bands, etc.

5 Responses

  1. Sometimes anything but study seems appealing. It reminds me of day spent sewing my own or kids’ clothes.

    • Good point–I tend to clean rather than sew when I’m trying to delay doing something, but it makes a lot of sense that sewing would have been an appealing activity.

  2. Makes me tired just thinking about all that recutting and resewing.

    • Me, too! Based upon the amount of effort put into remodeling clothes, it seems like new outfits (or maybe the cloth for new outfits) were relatively expensive back then.

  3. [...] amazing how people often remodeled clothes a hundred years ago. Clothing was much more expensive back then—and people often remodeled outfits [...]

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