Fashion Archaeology 301: Once the necessary pattern pieces are traced from the original pattern sheet, the real preservation work begins.
The next step is where our 'Edwardian Rose' and 'Fashion Archaeologist' patterns go beyond other patterns copied from antique sources that are currently available. Most so-called "antique patterns" are simply traced off the original pattern sheet, and a few markings and some assumed construction notes are thrown in (which often do not accurately reflect the historic construction of the garment). This demands very little time, effort or experience on the part of the pattern seller, but the seamstress/seamster is left to his or her own devices to puzzle out how to sew and fit a rather mysterious garment.
Antique fashion magazines with pattern sheets rarely gave more than a few limited guidelines for completing garments. Why? Because it was assumed they would be made up by dressmakers who were skilled in the construction techniques of the era. Being able to read and properly understand the original French (or German) notes, and having knowledge of antique garment construction that comes through years of experience and study makes all the difference in the patterns we offer!
If instructions for making the garment exist in the original French (or sometimes German), we translate and incorporate this information into the new, step-by-step notes that we write up in English based on actually making up a test garment from the pattern. We then add helpful markings on the pattern, again derived from on our hands-on creation of the item, to make garment construction clearer. Smaller pattern pieces, such as cuffs, pockets, flounces, etc. were often not included in Edwardian patterns, and so these too must be drafted, or instructions given for measuring and cutting them.
The rough draft of the pattern is checked, corrected where necessary, and usually graded up to a modern size. In some cases, where construction lines aren't overly complex, we are even able to produce a multi-sized pattern that is still completely true to the antique design.
Next, the pattern is normally tested as a "muslin", any revisions made, and all the pattern pieces for the garment are carefully re-drawn as a final master. The master is then professionally printed on sturdy 20-lb pattern sheets and the new design, including its full English instructions and a print of the original period fashion sketch, is added to our line of patterns on eBay.
All in all, the process of converting an antique design into a modern, useable pattern with full instructions (including making up the test garment) can take 30 to 100 hours or more, depending on how complex the garment is. The result is a completely "updated" pattern, with clear sizing indications, that will look familiar to anyone who uses modern commercial patterns like Vogue or McCalls, yet retains all of the integrity of the original design.
With our patterns, you will not be wasting frustrating hours guessing at construction steps, re-drafting pattern pieces, or enlarging a miniature version of the pattern to actual size (these 'tailor's drafts' can be very difficult to get just right). You can take our patterns straight out of the envelope and start sewing!
Last but not least, as the ultimate in Fashion Archaeology, we select particular designs to make up again 100 years or more after their original appearance by developing them into real-life garments that are offered in our store under our 'Edwardian Rose - Couture Historique' label.
We especially love to bring gorgeous replica Edwardian evening gowns back to life from original designs of the era, like the pink silk gown in the photo (previously sold) -- check back often to find out what treasures we've uncovered!!