Saturday, October 5, 2013

Historical Knitting 1860s Sontag Style

I recently decided to try something new in my historical clothing journey. Accessories is an area that I have wanted to focus on for a while now, but I have been busy with making the basics of a wardrobe. That is a time consuming process when dressing for different periods. It has always upset me that I still do not  have a fully finished mid Victorian outfit and accessories do make an outfit.

I have been focusing on researching outerwear and found many photos of women wearing sontags. While I have read blogs about how many people wear these in the states, I had never seen one worn in Australia. I am not sure if this is because my group represents a more social elite or because most of our events are in summer. It seemed perfect for me, however, as it gets very cold where I live in the hills. It was also a great idea as I could knit it on the bus on my way to university.

There was one problem though, I didn't know how to knit. I showed the January of 1860s Godey's Sontag pattern on Ragged Soldier to Jessie and she was kind enough to give me a basic lesson in knitting. I did have problems with working out what needles and wool to use. It turns out that UK, USA and Australia have different needle sizes. This was very frustrating for a beginner. In the end I used 4mm needle with 8 ply wool. To finish it I used two rows of single crochet (this is double crochet in the USA, so another conversion issue) and then a shell boarder to finish it. Jessie and a friend of hers also taught me how to crochet. To finish it I googled how to make dorset buttons. I did not feel that any other button would be suitable.

This was a great learning project and I hope to continue developing both my new skills. Thankfully, I keep getting told I am a fast learner so it only took two weeks from start to finish.

 The finished sontag laid flat
 Front View Tied Up
 Back View Tied Up
 Close up of the Dorset Button
The crocheted tie and tassel

It is very comfortable and easy to wear. I am now collecting CDVs and dreaming of the next one I plan to make, so watch my knitting space... 

The Challenge 20# Outerwear 1860s Sontag

Fabric: 100% Wool in two colours, 4 balls of tan and 2 of dark red
Notions: Bone Ring for Button
Pattern: Godey's Ladies Magazine and Ragged Soldier
Year:  1860
How historically accurate is it? I think it should be fairly good. I tried to keep the dye choices natural based. I am not sure about the crochet shell boarder though.
Hours to complete: Two weeks of bus rides
First worn: 22nd September
Total cost: The wool was about $35 in total


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, I plan to start on one for you as soon as wool goes on sale again.

  2. It turned out lovely, both knitting and colours!

  3. Thanks for sharing your sources and so many pictures. It looks great!


    1. Thank you and its my pleasure. This blog is my record of my journey. Therefore it is important for me to put up as many photos as I can and keep a record of the sources I use. Its amazing how many times I have gone back to find information. If it helps others on their journeys than that is a blessing too.

  4. Dear inspiring knitter
    I love the design...i retired in 2016 and started there a pattern for this shawl?

    Kind regards
    Lucille Cooper.

    1. Sorry for my very delayed reply. There is a link to the pattern above in the description to the Ragged Soldier website which is where the pattern is from.

  5. OmGosh, $35! I guess I am the kind of woman who would be wrapping tattered rags around her shivering body.

  6. Oh, I hoped for some how to advice. I have circled this 1860 pattern for some time, but can't afford to dive in. Well, glad for you.