Ecru Eyelet Dress, Part I

The Invitation

Imagine that it’s 1909, summertime, and that you are tired of everything in your closet! Like our fictional character, Maggie Lynde, you have some very definite plans for your new wardrobe. You have come into a bit of money recently, and you have already begun shopping for new fabrics! Maggie has walked to all the shops in her little town, and even made a trip to Portland on the Red Electric Line in search of the exact colors for her fabrics and trims. She knows that she will need a new summer “costume” for church and shopping trips, and she has grand plans for a nice at-home dress and later, a silk gown. In the fall, she will want a wool dress in the new princess style, plus a lightweight woolen jacket to wear outdoors on cooler days.

summer 2020 cropped

Then, an invitation arrives; her friends will be meeting on Saturday for shopping and ice cream! How perfectly delightful! But what will she wear? She feels a bit shabby in her linen jacket, even with the new lace trims. She wore it recently to meet those same friends for a picnic in the park. The white “muslin” is lovely, of course, but she has worn it every summer since 1907. And oh, how she would love a new frock!

heavy lace collar detail

The linen jacket with its new lace collar


White dress with linen jacket

IMG_5259(1) IMG_5299

White dress alone

Maggie Lynde has always been interested in the new fashions, even when she had very little in the way of funds to buy them. She subscribes to McCall’s Magazine, which offers entertaining articles and new dress designs in every issue. So, she pulls out the June issue and begins a search. What new design could she make before Saturday, using fabrics that she already has on hand? She is particularly interested in using the ecru eyelet fabric. It is so cool and summery, and it will be easier to make up since the fabric is already embroidered.


Here is a page showing Attractive Linen Frocks. The descriptions are so intriguing! That top one is described as a particular shade of violet linen, with soutache buttonholes in the same color. Even the buttons complete the scheme, being an amethyst crystal. She can imagine wearing this frock… but oh, dear! She doesn’t own any lavender linen; she doesn’t have time to search out the matching soutache braid or the buttons, or to make all those precise tucks – all before the shopping trip on Saturday! The other frock is shown in white linen, but somehow Maggie can’t imagine herself wearing a “one-sided effect” in drapery and tucks.

Attractive Linen Frocks

Attractive Linen Frocks

She studies a page showing New Designs in Princess Frocks. Those are quite lovely. She is sure that the long, flowing lines would be flattering on her matronly figure. But each of these would require many hours of applying trim. She would probably not be finished by Saturday, and then she would still be wearing her white lawn gown again! But here is something interesting: that grand hat! Since dress lines are slimmer this year, an overlarge hat seems to balance the figure somehow. Perhaps she should visit the milliner down the street to see what new styles might be found.

New Designs in Princess Costumes

New Designs in Princess Costumes

But then she takes a good look at Two Modish Summer Gowns. That first one, with its long front panel and sections of trim, plus the Gibson Tucks on the shoulders, would be very flattering. Perhaps she should purchase the pattern and keep it on hand. It isn’t exactly the thing for an ice cream outing, though. That choice would be the “attractive summer frock” with “insertions of entree-deux.” The description says that the original was a print of brown circles on tan-colored lawn, but it doesn’t take much imagination to picture it in Maggie’s ecru embroidered eyelet. Best of all, since her fabric has long, repeating bands of the eyelet motifs, Maggie will save some time and skip some of the insertion! Yes, this is the frock.

Two Modish Summer Gowns

Two Modish Summer Gowns

Maggie decides that she won’t need to buy this pattern. The design is remarkably like several others she has on hand. She will save the fifteen cents she would have paid and use it for that stylish princess frock pattern instead.

Part II will show you how I made Maggie’s new 1909 summer frock!