Making a Silk Edwardian Dip-Waist Belt

Scenario: You're scheduled to give tours at a historic manor in one week, your current early 1890s bodice looks awful (damn that ill-fitting off-the-rack corset!) and the skirt is only cut out.

Solution: GO EDWARDIAN AND NEVER LOOK BACK. Also use stash materials.

Reality: Dip-waist belts solve all (turn of the century wardrobe) problems. Also justify stashing materials.

Coca-Cola ad from 1905 via Adbranch. Note the lady's trim skirt and smart accessorizing with a dark, dip-waist belt.

Right, so I needed a quick fix for a failed project with an upcoming deadline. I chose the lovely shot (if too slubby) orange/purple silk dupioni leftover from my 18th century poupee de mode thesis project. My main structure layer was 100% Kaufman Outback cotton canvas in white, which lent just enough stability without being too stiff.

I began by draping the pattern directly on myself so that I could better visualize the curves and angles of the dip. After pinning a long rectangle of muslin around my waist, I drew out curves that emphasized my natural shape, evened up and cut out the pattern, and tested it, clipping to add more flare over my hips.

The canvas was cut to shape without ANY seam allowances. I cut the dupioni silk outer with seam allowances, which I clipped and notched and folded over the canvas, hand whip-stitching in place. Next, I cut 5 strips of single-fold bias binding to make casings for bones. I carefully hand-stitched the casings at center front, sides, and center back of the belt. I used black 1/4 inch plastic zip ties as my boning, which provided just the right weight and stability.

Silk Edwardian dip-waist belt, innards

Silk Edwardian dip-waist belt, from the front
I cut the lining out of white cotton, with seam allowances. I clipped and notched the seam allowances, ironed the seam allowances inward, and place the lining wrong side to wrong side of the belt and whip-stitched it in place. To keep the lining from peeking out, I was careful to iron the seam allowances to be slightly larger than those of the silk outer.

The last step was to sew 4 itty bitty black hooks and eyes at the center back of the belt. In just a few hours, I had completed a great Edwardian accessory! This is an easy project for a sewist with some knowledge of historical construction techniques and hand sewing, and I think it is worth the effort as it elegantly elevates near any Edwardian ensemble.

Quick try-on of the silk Edwardian belt over my plain clothes...sewing success!

And the belt in action!

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