(Early Century Combination from the FIDM Museum Blog – not the 1912 Slip!)
So the 1912 Project began and I was so excited. I couldn’t wait for my first pattern. But there was much admin and organizational work to do and I had to be patient. Eventually (about 2 weeks ago) I finally got a pattern. Not the Group 24 pattern, but the Feb Challenge Pattern, a slip (#0336). I have to admit I was disappointed. I’d seen the available patterns and had my heart set on a beautiful coat. The slip seemed dull and like nothing I’d ever wear.
One of the first things I do when I see a pattern for a particular period is do a little research. So I asked myself a couple questions:
  1. Since women in 1912 were still corseted, what would the slip dimensions be?
  2. If I were to make the slip, did I have the proper foundation garments?
  3. When did women start wearing slips in the first place? What happened to corset covers and petticoats?

I have the pattern pieces all laid out on my cutting table and there they’ve sat since I got them. I’m still not thrilled to make it, though a couple of my fellow participants have turned out some lovely stuff. I’ll refer to another participant, Liondefleur, for the slip’s dimensions:

  • Bust (measured across the pieces at the level of the bottom of the armsyce) = 37.5″
  • Waist (measured at the ‘natural waistline’ markings on the pattern) = 30″
  • Hip (measured at 6″ below the natural waist) = 42.5″
  • Center Front of slip to base = 38″
  • Shoulder seam to base = 45″
The finished bust is supposed to be 36″ so her measurements include the 5/8″ seam allowances and the final measurements should be 36″ bust, 28 3/4″ waist, 41 1/4″ waist. There are no indications of garment ease and that is not something I’ve noticed in research (though I wasn’t looking for it, so…).
I don’t know how much the typical woman in 1912 used her corset to reduce her waist, but it is common now to assume a 2″ reduction. I have a waist cincher made from the 1894 – 1909 Laughing Moon pattern, #113. I don’t know how historical their patterns are, but I like the cincher. It gives me a 2″ reduction fairly comfortably. Corseted, that makes me 33″ bust, 25″ (natural) waist, 38″ hips. Were I to reduce the pattern about 2″ at bust and waist, I should be in good shape.
But when did women start favoring slips? Is 1912 a transitional period in undergarments, as dresses slimmed down? I still have no idea. According to the FIDM Museum collection, women started wearing combinations (corset cover plus bloomers or chemise plus drawers, depending on what you called your underthings) in the 1860s/70s. They mention a 1905 advertisement that praised the slimming look of the” Lorena” Combination. Per their blog, “In the 19th century, combinations were usually made of extremely fine, lightweight cotton fabrics like lawn, batiste, or muslin. In the early years of the 20th century, they were often made of silk. Even though a combination was the foundation layer, and therefore not meant to be seen, they were often decorated with lace or embroidery. The combination pictured above features machine lace inserts at bodice and hem, along with delicate bodice pintucks. The low, rounded neckline can be individually sized through tightening or loosening the neckline ribbon, which is inserted through small slits. Though the waistband is obscured by the bloused bodice, it is made of eyelet-type lace, also with slits for an inserted ribbon.” This is almost exactly like our slip, only in combination form!
For now, I’m still in search of the origin of the slip (rather the reemergence, a chemise was certainly slip-like) and have gotten very excited about the March Challenge Pattern, a hat!
(BTW – other garments on the FIDM Museum Blog are great! You can definitely see where cloths started slimming down and a less bulky undergarment would need to be worn.)