Commissions Commissions – Edwardian Lady’s Maid

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I am so pleased that I am able to share with you another historical commission, this time for a Lady’s Maid from 1901. Most of my commissions start with a photograph or reference picture sent to me by the client. We then usually have a conversation which goes, like this but with short sleeves and in black, or something like this but not so fancy. I then do some research of my own, looking for historical references that I can base my designs off (this is why my costumes Pinerest board suddenly has a lot of servants on it). I then finalise my designs and send it back to the customer for approval before I get to work.

The Pattern

For almost all my work, I create my own patterns. Why? Mostly because I enjoy it and it saves me money on having to buy a domestic pattern every time. However, for this commission, I decided to buy my first domestic pattern in over 5 years. This was purely because thanks to my extend summer holiday I am separated from all my pattern cutting equipment.

It’s been so long since I’ve used a domestic pattern that I had almost forgotten how to use it! I had to google what all the funny squares and circles meant. The pattern was Butterick B6229 from the Making History collection.

The Method

Pattern pieces cut out I began to make my period skirt. Basic period skirts, like the kind I was making for this lady’s maid, are incredibly straight forward. Depending on the era, sometimes I use gored panels but more often than not, I simple gather a width of fabric into a waistband, insert a placket and hem it. For this Edwardian style, and because I had the paper pattern, I used the shaped panels from the pattern. The pattern had originally been for a dress but I adapted it quite simply to make a skirt, moving the fastenings from the CF to the side seam and doing my usual placket fastening. As for the hem, a simple Blind Machine Hem made quick work of it and my skirt was complete.

Blind Hem - Edwardian Lady's Maid - Retro Claude

The blouse proved to be a bit trickier. Again, I worked from my domestic pattern but I had to adapt it quite substantially to get what I was looking for. Firstly, I altered the sleeve pattern. I wanted a gathered sleevehead, typical of the early 20th century, so that meant slashing my pattern. I want to make a separate tutorial for this as it is quite a lengthy process, but essentially, I cut my existing pattern, spread the pieces out and drew around them to create a pattern for a gathered sleeve.

The other alteration I wanted to make to the pattern was to have pin tucks run down the front of the blouse. I had originally intended to slash my front pattern as well to create the pin tucks, but instead I opted to created a separate panel and stitch it on to save time and fabric.

With my altered pattern pieces cut out and my pin tucks in place, all that was left was for me to construct my blouse. Easing in my gathered sleeves took a little time and as usual buttonholes caused a few head aches but I got there. I am really thrilled with the results. It was definitely worth taking the time to complete those pattern alterations as they give a much more Edwardian feel to the outfit.

Button Hole Close Up - Edwardian Lady's Maid - Retro Claude

The only thing left to do was to make a petticoat. Petticoats generally follow the lines of the skirt. So for this petticoat I reused my skirt pattern, but added a deep flounce around the hem to hold the skirt out. Rather than a bulky waist band and placket, I opted for a simple cotton tape with ties; much more appropriate for a petticoat.

And there we have it!

The Finished Lady’s Maid.

Edwardian Lady's Maid - Retro Claude

Edwardian Lady's Maid Close Up - Retro Claude

I hope you enjoyed this post, I certainly had fun making this lady’s maid outfit. If you are interested in a commission please feel free to get in touch using the form here.

Love Claude xx