Revolution Grrrl Style 1890s!



Natasha Cowley


Outline the story …

My design inspiration was Tess from "The Future of Another Timeline" by Annalee Newitz. In this book, there have always been time machines on Earth and the timeline is constantly behind changed. Tess is a historian who goes on research trips back in time to study, primarily, the 1890s. She is also part of a group who work to change the timeline to improve the lives of women, and are in an edit war with a group of misogynists who are trying to roll back women’s rights. In particular, in the book she is working towards making abortion legal in the US. Tess was also involved in the Riot Grrrl scene as a teenager and this continues to inform her lids as an adult, even time traveling back to a show.

My idea was for Tess when she is in the current time, marrying her passions in an 1890s style Riot Grrrl denim jacket. The base silhouette of an 1890s jacket, but with a more modern fabric choice and the embellishments of the DIY scene of the 1990s. I wanted to make patches for 2 of the riot grrrl bands Tess likes in the book: Grape Ape and Million Eyes, which would be especially precious to her after accidentally erasing them from the timeline. I was also inspired by a patch from one of London Roller Derby’s home teams, the ‘Sufrajets’, which references slightly the wrong era, but fit with the aesthetic I wanted to capture.

Outline the construction…

Having made less than a handful garments in the past, mostly from stretchy material, this project was a lot of firsts for me, first time setting puffed sleeves, first time sewing anything with a lining, first time making outerwear, first time making mockups! I used the Truly Victorian Ripple Bodice pattern. I found Angela Clayton’s youtube videos ‘Making an 1890's Sporting Jacket’ to be incredibly useful when I got confused or had purposefully deviated from the pattern. I mostly followed the pattern, but changed the closure, left out the boning and slightly altered the armholes.

My troubles started when I accidentally ordered stretch denim and couldn’t afford to replace the fabric, I tried to get around this issue via judicious use of fusible interfacing. For the closure I added in D-ring fastened straps to add a more punk like aesthetic. As the hem was incredibly curvy, I made a facing from the bottom of the pattern and tacked this to the interior to finish the edge. To emphasise the DIY aesthetic, aside from the main and lining fabric everything else was made from or embellished with things already in my house. I unfortunately didn’t have enough lining material to extend onto the lapels so it wasn’t visible from the outside as I’d initially planned, so I added some of this material to the outside tail, and made a badge using it. I made 4 patches for the jacket, based on Tess' character, including for 2 bands from the book.




  1. Avatar Marie on March 11, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    Your jacket is awesome! It’s such a great idea to mix the silhouette of the 1890s with the bright patches in the back.

  2. Avatar Cassandra on March 11, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    PUNK! yes! Those sleeves!

  3. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 12, 2021 at 12:14 am

    Just, wow! I want one. Brilliantly designed and executed. Best of luck x

  4. Avatar Georgina Mayne on March 12, 2021 at 12:51 am

    This is just fantastic! So creative – I love it!

  5. Avatar Jocelyn Lofstrom on March 12, 2021 at 1:09 am

    Love this, super creative and makes you think! Now I want to read that book!

  6. Avatar Seelix on March 12, 2021 at 1:15 am

    Ahhhh! I absolutely love this book, and you captured Tess perfectly! Not to mention, you’ve created a jacket that would be aesthetically be perfectly at home at both a punk show and a couture runway show. Amazing work!

  7. Avatar Yanicka Hachez on March 12, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Great mix of the 1980’s 1990’s and 1890’s ! I need to read this book!

  8. Avatar Teri Plemel on March 12, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    Adding another book to my to read list so thanks for that. This is fabulous! I love this jacket and it so clearly denotes the character you described, I can’t wait to go read this book now!

  9. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    Absolutely fabulous! I need that for my wardrobe.

  10. Avatar Anne on March 12, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    This is just all around fabulous!! I love the sleeves and the skirt and all the patches. Wonderful!! GO YOU!!!

  11. Avatar Emeline Barrès on March 14, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    Wow I love this jacket, such a style and shape ! And I love your careful choice of embellishment, gives it such a lovely twist ! Wonderful work !

  12. Avatar Lili on March 15, 2021 at 12:58 am

    This is so cool! I love all the details you put into it. It really captures the times. Beautiful shape and design and looks like it fits perfectly! It is awesome!

  13. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 1:40 am

    This mashup! These fabrics! Those SLEEVES! I’m in love.

  14. Avatar Stef McKnight on March 21, 2021 at 7:55 am

    This is great! I love its progressive message

  15. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 12:34 am

    Wow, such a nice design. Your construction is very nice. I really like this! Thank you!

  16. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 23, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    I love how you captured the essence of this feminist, time-travelling character in the design, so cleverly done, and I adore all the patches and those sleeves!

  17. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 25, 2021 at 2:31 am

    Love the sleeves!

  18. Avatar Vanessa Isobel on March 26, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    Agh! Time- travel, feminism and couture! Spectacular interpretation and those sleeeeeves! Boom! Adding the book to my reading list – thank you kindly! 🙂

  19. Avatar Ali Moore on March 28, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    You’re speaking my language here like whoa

  20. Avatar Dee on March 29, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    I am so here for this! Fantastic work and research.

  21. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    I love how you managed to marry two completely different eras into one cohesive look! Great job

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