Intro: 20th Century Sewing

In the department of 20th century sewing, we have at the beginning the “Belle Epoque,” a term with ambiguous usage that refers generally to the period around the turn of the twentieth century, comprising the end of the Victorian Era, the Edwardian Era, and sometimes some portion of the 1910s as well – some consider the Belle Epoque to end with the beginning of World War I in 1914, some with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 (though I’m really not sure why), and some with the end of the Edwardian period upon the death of Edward VII in 1910. Functionally, I use “Belle Epoque” to designate the time in between the second bustle era of the 1880s, and what I consider to be the beginning of the modern era of fashion in the 19teens, starting around 1915. Around here, you’ll find resources for 1912 clothing and reproduction sewing, but so far not much for the earlier years of the century.

Thus far, I haven’t really done any costuming for the 19teens, 1920s, or 1930s, so I don’t have much about them going on! But I am very keen on mid-twentieth century (1940s, 1950s, early 1960s) styles, and I tend to wear them regularly in everyday life (that would be harder to get away with for, say, 1860s clothes!), either in vintage reproduction form or some kind of vintage-inspired style. I tend to be looser in my authenticity for the vintage-as-opposed-to-historical-though-yes-I-do-know-it’s-a-rather-vague-and-arbitrary-distinction sewing, in large part because these are clothes I wear regularly, and not usually in any kind of historical education context. Mostly just in the context of people thinking I’m a little weird eccentric. So things for the “vintage” era tend to be much more informal, at least for me, currently.

Updated August 7, 2012.

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