Styling the 203 Edwardian Underthings

The Edwardian Era is synonymous with a feminine and charming aesthetic that still stirs the senses, leaving romantic notions in it’s wake. Few eras in history have ever inspired such titles as The Belle Epoche (Beautiful Era) and The Gilded Age. There seemed nothing that was left untouched by the lingering swirl of the romantically bohemian art movement known as Art Nouveau. An appreciation for all things feminine and natural created a blending of influences that would leave a lasting mark on the definition of beauty. This all consuming notion would makes it's mark on nearly everything, including underclothes.

Learn a bit more about the History of the Edwardian Era and the revolution that would change underthings forever in this blog.


Art Nouvea Champagne ad
The champagne advertisement above is a perfect example of Art Nouveau.

There is something irresistible about the diaphanous white underthings of the Edwardian period, whether simple or embellished in delicate lace, that pulls at one’s romantic strings. The 203 Edwardian Underthings Pattern conjures up beguiling ideals of this bygone era that still manages to possess. It would be the addition of lace embellishments that would transform previously everyday undergarments into a new fixating trend called lingerie. Advancements in industrial manufactured lace created a lingerie explosion that resulted in an industry born of a desire for beautiful things, even if they were hidden from sight.


Woman wearing white Edwardian Underthings - a camisole and drawers

Our 203 Edwardian Underthings pattern consists of three mainstay lingerie pieces of an Edwardian woman’s wardrobe; a camisole (corset cover), petticoat, and drawers. Each piece is offered is in sizes XS-3XL. You can use the pattern to make your own beautiful Edwardian-inspired lingerie, or re-imagine each piece for everyday wear!

Woman wearing a white camisole from the Edwardian underthings pattern with jeans

The camisole design in this pattern is slightly high-waisted and is fitted in the back, it is bloused in the front, with a soft fullness falling from a gathered neckline. The front of this camisole closes with drawstrings or either ribbons ties at the neckline and waist, and a buttoned front opening. This is a perfectly romantic top, no matter how you wear it, so why not everyday!

For Example:

  • Wearing as a single layer top.
  • Wear like a vest... over a blouse or dress, with any sleeve length or sleeveless for a romantic layered look.
  • Pair with skirts, jeans, peddle-pushers, or long flowy pants.
  • Make out of flannel as a pajama top.
  • Add lace and embroidery detailing to a floral print fabric (like a Liberty print) to make a romantic everyday top.

 Young woman standing outside beside boxwood hedges wearing a pink camisole and blue jeans.

For a truly Edwardian look, accentuate the bodice of the camisole with clusters of tucks (as indicated on the pattern) and/or add lace insertions. The neckline and armholes can also be trimmed with lace or eyelet edging or just turned under.  The pattern also has three crochet patterns to create your own insertion lace and lace edgings.

The gored petticoat in the pattern falls to a wide flounce with a dust ruffle at the hemline. It has a drawstring tie at a back placket opening. The simple design of this piece allows for plenty of embellishment options. Add as many tucks, lace insertions and trims, as well as embroidery touches, as your heart desires (instructions for these embellishments are in the pattern). 

Young woman in Edwardian petticoat, drawers, and camisole beside boxwood bushes outside.
Young woman beside boxwood bushes outside wearing a pink camisole, lilac petticoat, and white drawers.

However, if you think of this petticoat as a skirt, the options are endless! There is no reason why this pattern would not also make a perfect everyday skirt, underskirt, or half slip… with or without the ruffle.

For example:

  • Consider making an outer petticoat/skirt without a ruffle and layer over a petticoat with a ruffle that peeks out at the bottom edge. Layered skirts are very fashionable.
  • Use semi-sheer fabric to make a skirt comprised of two layers.  Use different colored fabrics, have one peeking out over or under the other for a fun and flouncy look. See our beautiful spring cotton voile fabric offerings.
  • Make a semi-sheer petticoat and wear it as a top skirt, with a second colored skirt underneath.
  • Treat as a slip to provide body under a dress or skirt (and will be a romantic secret, especially if you've added the lace, tucks, etc.).
  • Wear a petticoat/skirt over pants or drawers (as above).
Of course, you can shorten or lengthen the petticoat pattern to suit yourself. Secure the placket at the center back with additional buttons, hooks, or snaps.  No matter the weather, petticoats are great for adding a romantic layering touch to any wardrobe. 

    Don’t forget the knee-length drawers or “knickers!" These drawers gather at a curved waistband, are constructed with a front gusset and two buttoned side plackets, then finished with a ruffle at the knees. The drawers can also be decorated with tucking and/or lace or eyelet trim or embroidery.

    Young woman with hand on her head wearing white drawers and a pink cami outside by boxwood bushes.

     To make the drawers pattern more for everyday wearing:

    • Consider leaving the ruffle off. Trim the bottom edge or leave plain.
    • Make into a "shorts" version. Leave the bottom edge un-adorned, or give in to the temptation and add a touch of lace, crochet trim, or small ruffle to the leg edges. Enjoy as cool comfy underwear, under a skirt or dress.
    • Consider either version mentioned above as underwear or pajama bottoms.
    • Or add length to the bottom edge of the legs, creating a pant any length you choose. Wear as pants, pajamas, or a substitute for a slip peeking from underneath a skirt or petticoat.
    • Add an extra-long ruffled flounce at the bottom (with eyelet or lace) for a fun, and longer, set of drawers to wear on their own or under a skirt layer.

    Young woman kicking a leg out sideways, wearing white drawers and a pink cami.

    To make a longer set of drawers, as in the sample above, you can add as much length as you like to the bottom edge of the legs. Even though there is no “lengthen or shorten” line, it is little trouble to add extra length to the drawers pattern. Just be sure to add the exact amount to the edges of both the Front and Back pattern pieces, keeping seam allowances in mind. Lengthen or shorten the ruffle in the same way if you like. Remember, if you use a fabric with a decorative finished edge, like an eyelet or lace edge, lace insertion, or crochet lace for the ruffle, there is no hemming required! The edge is already finished.  You can even make the legs full-length with or without a ruffle. A really simple version would be to use a beautiful eyelet fabric that has a decorative bottom edge (like we did with this sample) - and no ruffle is needed!

    See the photo below for original lacy Edwardian Era inspiration.

    Though the garments in this pattern were originally made of semi-sheer light weight white cotton fabrics, that does not mean they would not be perfectly lovely in other fabrics.  Light to mid-weight cotton, linen, silk, eyelet, or cotton flannel would be lovely. The versatility of each of these patterns means they can be made with sheer fabrics for warmer weather, as well as heavier fabrics for added warmth in winter.

    Personally, I think layering is under appreciated, and this pattern is perfect for layering. Pair lightweight layers like cotton batiste, muslin, handkerchief linen, and silk haboti underneath heavier weight skirts made of cotton, linen, silks, or wool. This not only extends Edwardian practicality to create comfy warmth without the bulky layers, but makes interchangeable layering fun!

    Pairing the camisole and drawers make a fun twist on pajamas! The camisole is perfect for warm weather sleeping, but don't forget how lovely it would be made of cotton flannel for winter slumbering. Make a short pair of drawers for warm weather out of cotton or linen. Make a long pair of drawers for chilly temps out of mid-weight linen, cotton shirting, cotton flannel, or silk.

    If you love the clothing of the Edwardian Era as much as we do, you are in luck. Folkwear offers a wide range of garments of to help you find the perfect Edwardian piece for any occasion or just because they are so lovely.  Additional romantic Folkwear patterns include the 205 Gibson Girl Blouse, 206 Quilted Prairie Skirt, 209 Walking Skirt, 210 Armistice Blouse, 216 schoolmistress’ Shirtwaist & Skirt, 223 Lady’s Chemise, 227 Edwardian Bridal Gown... plus more!

    Shop our lovely spring fabric selection here.

    Be sure to see Molly's blog on lace insertion if you want to add lace to this pattern (also instructions are in the pattern). Of course, this tutorial is perfect for making the 205 Gibson Girl Blouse or any other garment that needs an authentic touch of lace insertion.

    Whether for your trousseau, cosplay costume, historical reenacting, or everyday wearing our 203 Edwardian Underthings pattern will prove to be an enjoyable and easy to make addition to any romantically inspired wardrobe. Let this pattern stir the romantic in you!

    As always, we look forward to seeing what you are inspired to make.