Most people, when they make a mental image of Lizzie Borden, have the famous photo of Lizzie in Newport at the Covell house on the porch in mind. Lizzie stands triumphantly behind a chair with those voluminous leg o’ mutton sleeves ballooning from her blouse. Vintage duds from antique shops are usually too fragile to be worn today although vintage jewelry, shawls and small accessories can add age to simple outfits. By 1892, the leg o’ mutton sleeve was all the rage, and would continue to grow to enormous proportions until 1896 when the sleeve grew to ridiculous size. What is a leg o’ mutton? A wide- topped sleeve gathered into a tapered cuff fits the bill- and it does look like a real sheep leg, or the French “gigot” sounds more elegant. And the sheep does not mind a bit!
Many pattern books offer 1890’s patterns in the costume section, and many such as Butterick’s and Simplicity and McCall’s offer historical patterns based on real vintage pattern books. Butterick’s has a particularly nice leg o’ mutton blouse pattern# B4418 which comes with a companion 7 gore skirt. Skirts from the 1890’s are wonderfully comfortable with a wide “morning glory” bottom and a smooth- fitted hip and waist. This simple duo can be dressed up with jewelry and accessories which would make the perfect ensemble. For those not handy with a needle, many ready-made options may be found on the Internet. Blanche’s place www.blanchesplace.com offers a spectacular array of men’s and ladies’ garments including ball gowns, corsets, blouses, walking suits, calicoes, taffetas, accessories and more in a wide range of prices. Here is a Blanche creation fit for Rock Street!