Friday, November 8, 2013

The Tailor's Apprentice: Great War 1914 - 1918 AANS uniforms: how the e-patterns were created

AANS WWI Ward Dress and Walking Out uniform e-pattern
I was asked by a client to create an Australian WWI nurses uniform for her and then an American friend asked if I could create the same uniform for his nurses of the 5th AIF, USA GWH. So instead of doing individual drafts for everybody, I created a new pattern set for The Tailor's Apprentice and the Great War 1914-18 series was born!

There are 3 patterns in the Great War 1914-18 series:
These e-Patterns will be available for $A19.95 each, or you can purchase the full set of three patterns for $55.95.  Join my Newsletter to book all three patterns for the  special pre-release price $45.95. Only available to Newsletter readers.

AANS WWI Outdoor uniform 1914-16
The Great War 1914-18 series e-pattern size range goes from size 8 through to size 24. The patterns were drafted using Edwardian drafting techniques and the pattern notes use early 20th c sewing techniques, so when you construct your AANS uniform you will be creating it in the style of 1914-18.

The pattern can be used by most WWI nursing troops, especially the British and New Zealand WWI nurses, as the Australian and NZ uniform was based on the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS).  WWI nursing troops from other nations can also use this pattern as most nursing uniforms were very similar in style during these years, especially the Ward Dress.

Outdoor dress. Nurses prior to boarding HMAT Orsova
Through my research I discovered that the Sisters set off in 1915 to Egypt after a long fight with the Army men who didn't think women had a place in war. The women nurses knew otherwise, their Sisters blazed a trail for them in the Crimean and Boer Wars of the 19th c. The Sisters were classed as officers and therefore made their own uniform, or had a seamstress make it for them. This meant that there was a great deal of variety amongst their uniforms, they all have an owner's individual touch.

The unpopular bonnet
Their 1914 - 16 'Walking Out' or 'Outdoor' uniform was based on late Edwardian styling. A shirtwaist blouse, tucked into a 5 gored woolen skirt with a self fabric belt. White collar and cuffs, a scarlet cashmere tippet (shoulder cape) and 19th c. styled bonnets that weren't popular with the young Sisters. They wore grey gloves, black stockings and laced up or buttoned up heeled boots or shoes. Under their uniform were the underpinings of the day, chemise, late Edwardian long line corset, a corset cover, petticoat. In Egypt the bonnets were quickly 'lost' and panama hats were used instead, when hung with a dust & fly veil, they were far more sensible in the bright heat of Cairo and Alexandria.

AANS WWI Ward dress with Astro and Lulu
Their 1914 - 18 'Ward Dress' was exactly the same style as their 'Walking Out' dress, except it was joined at the waist by the waist belt and made of zephyr cotton. It was worn with a white zephyr cotton apron, linen cuffs and collar and a silk organza veil. The same tippet was worn and the same underpinings above. The uniform length rose from ankle to calf length as styles changed during the war and the underpinings would have moved with the times as well.

Riding camels in the desert
The heat of Egypt made the grey serge wool less than comfortable to bear and the Australian nurses started to wear their 'Ward Dress' as their 'Outdoor Dress' as it was cooler. They might replace the cashmere tippet for the scarlet silk Mess dress tippet.

Me and Mrs Chook looking a tad casual with a loose collar

To create an historically accurate reproduction e-pattern I have to understand the time, place and context of the dress patterns I create. I researched extensively into AANS WWI uniforms as it was a period I didn't know much about and I am now something of an expert, lol!

AANS WWI Ward dress
I travelled to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to view the uniforms that they had available and I wrote about that in an earlier post. When I visited, the only example of the early 1914 - 16 "Walking Out' dress was in a display cabinet unfortunately. I did get a great look at the 1916 - 19 'Walking Out' Norfolk jacket and Dickey. 

I am extremely grateful to the WWI conservators at the Australian War Memorial (read my earlier post), Guy Gormely of 5th AIF, USA GWH, Christie Stonehouse who initiated the project and the WWI Australian Nurses Facebook group who all provided invaluable research in the form of photos, documents and links to many online and off line sources. Many of the online sources found through the interwebs and online State and National Library collections are pinned to my Pinterest board. 

AANS 1914-16 Outdoor dress with Astro and Lulu
The AANS Ward Dress and Outdoor dress 1914-16, with all the accessories of scarlet tippet, apron, separate collars and cuffs, veil and sleeve protectors will cost of $A19.95 for the e-pattern. $A55.95 for the Great War 1914-18 series. As noted above, this pattern can be used by most WWI nurse troops as the nursing uniforms around the world were very similar and the New Zealand and AANS uniform was based on the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS).

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I'm The Tailor's Apprentice, maker of The Miss Page 1940s reproduction patterns, gowns developed from pattern pieces found amongst the remnants of Miss Violet Florence Page’s life and work. Affordable, elegant, and unique garments from the 1940s war years. 

All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern and an Australian Army Nurses Services WWI uniform pattern.

If you'd liked to be included on my mailing list for events, pattern release dates and interesting snippets about vintage and historic sewing, please subscribe to my Newsletter on The Tailor's Apprentice website.

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