The Four Elements – a turn of the century ensemble





(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

My husband for the still model pictures

Outline the story …

I have based this ensemble on the four classical elements; the Earth - a brown wool skirt, Water - a jacket in aqua and silver, Fire - a corset in golden yellow brocade, and Air - a summer hat decorated in light blue ribbons, organza and feathers.

I call it a turn-of-the-century ensemble, since the corset is from 1888, skirt and jacket are drafted from an 1895 manual, and the main visual inspiration is from early Edwardian period. I imagine a young woman at the beginning of the 19 hundreds, wanting to make her own clothes, looking at the fashion plates and magazines of her day - but the manuals on her shelf were given her by her mother and are a few years out of date. Personally I have many books that are more than a decade old, so I don’t think it is too far fetched…

I made sure to decorate some of the pieces in ways that would harmonise the elements. The golden brocade is found again in the covered buttons on the jacket. The tatted lace is the same pattern on the corset front, the jacket front and the sleeves. The earthy tones of the skirt is found again in embroidered black leaves, quilting and hemming on the corset.

Outline the construction…

The Corset fabric is golden cotton brocade, and flatlined in red cotton. The boning is zip-ties, bundled 2 - 8. Lacing is black sateen ribbon. The corset pattern has gores, which I was inspired to quilt. Matching the quilting and lace, the corset is hemmed in black cotton velvet ribbon, and flossed in black embroidery. I learnt how to needle-tatt lace for decoration.

The skirt is drafted from the Keystone Manual, but the two side gores cut as one. I made a doll-sized mockup, then a wearable mockup, and then the entry. Materials are 100% herringbone wool, flatlined in white cotton sateen. The challenge here was in dealing with the lining, and the pouch-type pockets. Entry into the pockets is through the dart in the middle of the side panel, cut a little longer. The pocket-opening and waist are topstitched. The hooks are sandwiched between the placket and the skirt. The back seam is strengthened with tape, the pockets are zigzaged, and the seams are otherwise felled.

Fitting and adapting the jacket was very challenging, with 3-4 mockups; especially the back seams and shoulder placement. It is cotton sateen, with linings upcycled from tablecloths and curtains. The sleeve layers are pleated separately, and I cut the seam allowance on the armscyes heavily to make room. The collar is two layers of sateen in a drop-shape.

The 20yo straw hat is upcycled with table decorations, ribbons and vintage feathers.




  1. Avatar Dawn-Marie deLara on May 7, 2023 at 4:31 pm

    Wow! All the construction thought and detail really shows in polished, finished garments! I love the fabric choices, too. I would happily wear all of these pieces mixed with modern clothes in daily life.

  2. Avatar Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski on May 7, 2023 at 7:00 pm

    Very nicely done! You really put your all into this! Wow!

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