The Liberated Woman

Now I say that very casually, as it was still late 1890's when 'Sporting Costumes' went through a change for women.

With women now being able to be 'wheel women' amongst other sports, came an introduction to ditching the petticoats and skirts.

This arose out of a 'safety' factor so you didn't end up A over T and being very unladylike during an untimely dismount from your bicycle.

I had looked at the cycling costume before but it wasn't until 'Tacky Jackie' asked if I would make her one that I got more interested in it again. I quickly bought the pattern and got fabrics and away we went.

In my research I had found pictures of ladies in skirts on their bicycles with large hats or boater style hats. Still looked a little impractical but I have seen a friend riding her original antique cycle in complete skirt ensemble! So it is possible.


Wasn't what we were looking for though. Wanting the more practical version of Turkish bloomers and basque, this would bring 'Tacky Jackie' and 'Kathouse Kelli' into practicality fashion of the late 1890's.

This picture found at the below link from the Metropolitan Museum, you will find a few other pic's at that site of this particular suit. It is original and I do love the detailing on it.


However, I feel this picture probably says it all! Probably more what I perhaps would have been like, had I been allowed out of skirts back then! Lol!


The pattern used for these is Laughing Moon Mercantile #110 Ladies 1890's Sporting Costumes – with Leggings. It has a great bibliography, descriptions and excerpts from fashion books from the era. Too much for here today.

So, Jackies choice was a small check print cotton. She didn't want a wool fabric so this is what we created,with a contrast belt and collar in black. She has cream lace dickie, black buttoned leggings and of course the ensemble wouldn't be complete without her new boater hat.


I had fabric that I had bought from the lovely 'Aspen Filly'. A small houndstooth wool, the perfect colour for keeping dust unnoticeable whilst out riding. I'm waiting on a neat buckle to go on this one.


Haa! Bloomers on with leggings! I'm now waiting on a button hook to come as this was a chore doing it without one!


I also had enough fabric for a Hunting Basque (included in the same pattern) so now I can interchange the two of them. Waiting on an antique hunting buckle for this one and have yet to make an appropriate hat. I want to put a dead bird on it but can't seem to find them yet. Will keep looking.


So there you go! Something different and unusual compared to my other gowns but now it's back to corsets and shooting outfits for now.

Will get photos of us wearing them later!

Have a good one! Kat 1896-98 Cycling Suit. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Possibility of Mobility: Women 1890's Sporting Costume, Laughing Moon Mercantile



5 responses to “The Liberated Woman

  1. I find an a-line skirt challenging, so am really impressed with your bloomers & jacket. I suppose the ladies who owned one of these outfits only had one or two – we don’t realise how spoilt we are with all of our ready to wear.

    • Thank you and yes unless wealthy we probably would never have had one and for some the fabric could have been repurposed from a previous outfit. We are very spoilt with ready to wear – I don’t sew ‘normal’ clothes anymore.

  2. Pingback: Visiting the Neighbours | Life of Janine

  3. I love the old photos you included. I worked at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan and they always had a guy and girl riding around on bikes because the Wright Cycle Shop is there. The guy road the big wheel bike and the girl the Safe-T-Bike. She had an outhit very similar with a split skit like Turkish Bloomers only the blouse was a much lighter cotton or linen.

    • Thanks! Yes I have yet to make a blouse fitting for the period, not too keen on those high necks! Seeing the bikes down the street would be nice, we know a guy who rides a high wheel in Tombstone, they are impressive!

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