1910 Afternoon Dress, Part V: Guimpe


Don’t you think “guimpe” is a weird word? It’s a French term that got adopted into English, and it can refer to anything from a full underblouse to a dickey-type thing that just fills in the neckline, like a chemisette.

Anyway, my guimpe is made of a combination of ivory embroidered net and strips of ivory embroidered lace trim. I had to do some serious maneuvering to eke out my pattern pieces from the materials I had– take a look at the tiny scraps I had left of the net once I was done cutting! Nothing wider than 3″!


Piecing together the front bodice panel took me forever– I had to carefully pin the strips of trim together with tissue paper (I had to sew through tissue to avoid the lace getting caught in the throat plate of my machine, and then ripped it out afterwards), making sure that the circular motifs were centered and symmetrical, and then fill in the side bits with scraps of net.



Annoyingly, I miscalculated when cutting out the pieces of trim for the front of my bodice, and forgot to leave extra of the medium-width trim for my high collar. That meant I had to piece together the collar as well, and since I was completely out of fabric scraps of a suitable size, I had to utilize discarded scraps of trim from other parts to get something that worked. Because the trim is straight while the collar is curved, I ran some tiny gathering stitches along the top edge and pulled on them gently to shape the piece– it’s not perfect but it’s close enough.


For the collar stays I made squiggly-shaped pieces out of thin wire, then dipped them in a layer of white glue mixed with tan-colored paint. The combination was nicely flexible and when sewn to the inside of the collar the stay was barely visible.

The sleeves went together fairly easily– just like the piecing for the underskirt flounce, I sewed all of the main seams and trimmed them to 1/8″ before zig-zagging over the edges to roll them under. It made for a nice finish. In fact, all of the seams in this blouse got that treatment, to avoid them showing too much through the fabric (even though it’s an under-blouse… what can I say, I’m a perfectionist).

I will note that the sleeves here are two-piece sleeves, which allow the sleeve to conform better to the natural curve of the arm. I’d never used a pattern with a two-piece sleeve before, but the result was comfortable and flexible, and the seams weren’t too blatantly obvious, even with the sheer fabric, due to their location under the arm. I finished the cuffs with hand-stitched bands of narrow trim.

The original pattern had a folded-over button placket, but rather than try to wrangle my soft, drapey net into a placket I decided instead to just use a strip of my narrowest trim, at least for the buttonhole side. It provided a nicely finished look to the center back, what little of it showed over the neckline of the dress. I stitched a spare piece of net (harvested from my stash, there wasn’t enough left of the original) to reinforce the button side before stitching the buttons on.


Overall I’m very pleased with this piece– just like the underskirt, it’ll be useful for future outfits as well!






2 thoughts on “1910 Afternoon Dress, Part V: Guimpe

  1. Pingback: Edwardian Caftan Conversion, Part I: Inspiration | It's All Frosting...

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