Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A 1913 Dress Based on a Photograph of Mata Hari


Do you know those dresses that you see and instantly decide that you must have? That was my reaction when I saw this dress in a 1913 photograph of Mata Hari. I abandoned my Costume College gala plans and decided to make it. I'm so glad I did--it's a bizarre little dress and was so much fun to wear!

I used my bustle bodice pattern as a base, lowering the neckline and raising the waist. I draped the side pleats on my dressform. It closes at center front with a front panel covering that opening and snapping into place on the left. This is illustrated in this post.

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The dress is made of silk taffeta from Pure Silks and my bandeau and the velvet for the skirt are from Thai Silks. The lining is the combed cotton broadcloth sheeting from Dharma Trading. The sleeve flounces are silk net.

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My hair is based on this style, and though obviously smaller, I was quite pleased with how it turned out and wish it had photographed more true to life. I did realize though, that this particular style is just 1860s with a bandeau. My necklace is from The Littlest Sister on Etsy, and my earrings and bracelets are from Dames a la Mode on Etsy. My shoes are Capezio ballroom shoes with vintage shoe clips.

Closure and construction information can be found here. Although after my first dress with strange closures I thought I'd never make another one, I've really come to love making dresses with multiple closures. Figuring them out is quite satisfying, and I think they make rather lovely dresses with the hidden closures.


  1. Oh what a lovely dress! (: It looks very good on you.

  2. Beautiful. Looks wearable and delightful.

  3. Such a fantastic dress! Your wonderful creations always inspires me! :)

  4. Cute and Beautiful dress.
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  5. What a lovely outfit! Swimmers back then looked far more stylish than they do nowadays
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  6. Beautiful is the only word i have for that dress

  7. Gorgeous photos and that dress is amazing!

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