If you were here for the post I made before Christmas, you’ll remember that I’ve been hankering after a copy of these Edwardian drawers in the Metropolitan Museum.

Cotton drawers, 1900, Metropolitan Museum New York, C.I.38.14.9

In my last post I pledged to use Agnes Walker’s draft from 1897, but as you can see, it’s not exactly the same shape… in fact, I think I may have figured out what she means by “knickerbockers”.

"Knickerbockers" pattern draft (c) Cathy Hay

They are LONG. And my drawers are SHORT. Yeah, I could just chop this pattern up, but I can do better than that.

So… alternatives? I have three. The first is the easy modern solution – let someone else do the research for you, and use a company like Past Patterns.

Past Patterns

Tempting, but I don’t like using a middle man if I can help it. I want the time travel magic of using something original. Which brings me to option 2, take a pattern off a pair I have in my collection…

Drawers, 1900, collection of Cathy Hay (c) 2019

Pretty, but this is a bit TOO time consuming right now. I need momentum, like an original period pattern… and option 3, French fashion magazine La Mode Illustrée, has exactly what I’m looking for.

La Mode Illustree, 1902, collection of Cathy Hay (c) 2019

This is issue #30 from July 1902, complete with pattern sheet. My mission: to find a pair of drawers in this spaghetti.

La Mode Illustree, 1902, collection of Cathy Hay (c) 2019

Fortunately, it’s not that hard when you’ve found the key. I’m using patterns 95 (waistband) and 94 (drawers), and you can see near the top of the image that the corner of Fig 95 is right there. I just have to trace along the line of little crosses.

La Mode Illustree, 1902, collection of Cathy Hay (c) 2019

So many people on Instagram told me that these old pattern sheets intimidate them, but it’s really just a case of looking closely and following the right dotted line – the border line of each pattern is different, as you can see above. A big enough piece of tracing paper and a light enough touch got my pattern out of that mess much more easily than you’d imagine.

Tracing a pattern from an antique fashion magazine. (c)2019 Cathy Hay

Alternatively, if you don’t have the privilege of owning an original (and even if you do, arguably, to save risk of damage), you can find pdf copies in online shops like this one. Download, print out, tape together, and use a highlighter, as Lucy Emke did in her tutorial for Foundations Revealed on using these types of antique patterns. And then you can even cut it out if the pieces don’t overlap.

Lucy Emke highlights the pattern edge in a pdf printout of an antique pattern

Anyway, here’s my final pattern. I took the Mode Illustrée version and made a few little changes to emulate the inspiration photo (top of page) – dipping the front of the waistband and changing its width, altering the top edge of the drawers to match, and raising the leg at the side, as well as widening it. I’m not too worried about size except for the waist, since it’s a loose fitting garment. Et voila!

1900 Edwardian drawers pattern by Cathy Hay after La Mode Illustrée, 1902/2019

1900 Edwardian drawers pattern by Cathy Hay after La Mode Illustrée, 1902/2019

Rather poetic that the years 1902 and 2019 are anagrams of each other! But now we must fiddle with some bits of lace… more on that in my next post.

Insertion lace by Cathy Hay (c) 2019

Have you ever used an antique pattern from a publication like La Mode Illustrée? How was your experience with it?