All About the Tap Pants

At least once a week I seem to get asked about vintage tap pants. I’m a bit obsessed with the style and could go on and on about them, but really I get two questions the most. "Which of your tap pants patterns is best?" And “Which of these has a gusset or crotch seam?”

The first is a hard one to answer because I have so many in my collection, each of which is special and stands out in one way or another.

The second is much easier. The two main considerations in choosing a tap pant patterns are sewing experience level, and your preference for…ahem… to put it delicately, the way a seam may or may not bother certain …bits.

I’m going to apologize in advance. I’m about to use the word “crotch” an awkward amount.

In order to get the desired shape around the thighs and hips, a tap pants pattern usually has either a seam at the crotch, or a gusset. For our newbies, a gusset in this instance is a roughly triangular pattern piece that sets into a center front and center back seam and sits just at the crotch.

McCall 9744 gusset 2

(A quick side notes. Gussets are not exclusive to underthings. They may also be used in underarm seams,  shirt side seams, in hats and bags, and for purely ornamental reasons in clothing.)

In simple terms, a gusset is more comfortable than a crotch seam. But it can be a bit intimidating for a complete beginner seamstress.

My two best multi-size tap pants patterns with gussets are #2023 and #2034.


It should also be noted that while each of these are from the 1930s, the style works equally well for the 1940s. While the gusseted version looks intimidating to a beginner, the instructions on both of these are illustrated and years ago, I did sew each of these while just starting out sewing. That’s right, I went straight from aprons to tap pants and I have no regrets.

But wait, there’s more! In all of my years collecting lingerie patterns, I’ve only come across one pattern that had neither crotch seam or gusset, and it is indeed a rare beauty. It also has some of the most interesting pattern drafting features I’ve ever seen. Just look at those diagonal side seams!  Should you wish to take on #2027, I recommend it to intermediate and above seamstresses.


Now you may still be wondering about my draft-at-home patterns for tap pants. And you’re right to wonder. These are definitely great patterns but again, a beginner seamstress will have a challenge on their hands because these don’t come with sewing instructions. However, what they lack in instructions, they make up for in unique design and sizing, as they can be drafted to any size.

My favorite of these is #166. Simpler than it might look to sew, and quite frankly, it’s sexy as hell.


To read more about how the draft-at-home patterns work, check out this page. 

Lastly, I highly recommend Underwear and Lingerie - a Woman’s Institute sewing e-book that covers the how-to of every aspect of sewing vintage-style lingerie. 

Happy sewing!

Woman’s Institute Complete Millinery Coursework List

The following is a list of millinery coursework books that were available in 1921 from the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences.


This coursework changed somewhat as styles did between publishing dates in 1916, 1921, and the later 1920s. Some books may be numbered or named slightly differently depending on their publishing date. Those that include a link will take you directly to our e-book reproduction.

Elements of Millinery / Millinery Stitches

Skeleton Foundations Part 1

Skeleton Foundations Part 2

Solid Foundations Part 1 & 2

Braid Hats

Piece-Goods Hats

Individuality in Millinery

Millinery Recipes

Ribbon Trimmings, 6 Parts

Millinery Facings

Draped and Fancy Crowns

Children’s and Misses’ Millinery

Mourning Millinery

Millinery for Mature Women

Special-Purpose Millinery

Colors and Color Combinations

Flowers and Feathers

Novelty Trimmings

Glossary of Millinery Terms

The Millinery Shop

Woman’s Institute Complete Coursework List for 1921

The 1921 Dressmaking Made Easy Booklet by the Woman’s Institute is a great source of information on the complete coursework for their Dressmaking and Pattern Drafting programs. Please note that for different yers (1916, 1921, 1924, and later, the books would be renamed, expanded, or combined together to form a different, but essentially similar course.

“Membership” or participating in the coursework included a bonus, 4 Fashion Service quarterlies per year and 12 Inspiration Magazines per year for between season fashion notes.

At the time, there were two different course programs available.

1. The Complete Dressmaking and Tailoring Course  (with Drafting and Tissue Paper Patterns) comprised of 38 Lessons.

And a second Shortened Course for Home Dressmakers:

"Dressmaking (with Tissue-Paper Patterns) comprised of 25 lessons.

The Complete Dressmaking and Tailoring Course  (with Drafting and Tissue Paper Patterns) comprised of 38 Lessons included the following:

Essential Stitches and Seams (2 parts)

Tissue-Paper Patterns (2 Parts)

Pattern Drafting

Drafting and Plain Dressmaking (4 parts)

Corsets and Close-Fitting Patterns

Tight Linings and Boning

Laces, Siks, and Linens

Embroidery Stitches (2 parts)

House Aprons and Caps

Fancy Aprons and Sunbonnets

Underwear and Lingerie (3 parts) (later on 2 parts)

Harmony of Dress

Woolen Materials and Tailored Plackets

Tailored Skirts

Patterns for Blouses and Dresses

Tailored and Lingerie Blouses (2 Parts)

Dresses (2 Parts)

Tailored Pockets

Tailored Buttonholes & Buttons

Remodeling and Renovating

Patterns for Children and Misses’ Garments

Maternity and Infant’s Garments

Children and Misses’ Garments

Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers

Miscellaneous Garments

Patterns for Coats and Capes

Tailored Suits, Coats and Capes

The Dressmaker and Tailor Shop

Later in 1927 this set would also include Dressmaking Perfection in Details.

The shortened “Dressmaking  (with Tissue-Paper Patterns)"  25 lessons included the following:

Essential Stitches and Seams (2 parts)

Tissue-Paper Patterns (2 Parts)

Plain Dressmaking 

Tight Linings and Boning

Laces, Siks, and Linens

Embroidery Stitches (2 parts)

Plain Undergarments

Harmony of Dress

Woolen Materials and Tailored Plackets


Tailored and Lingerie Blouses (2 Parts)

Dresses (2 Parts)

Tailored Pockets

Tailored Buttonholes & Buttons

Remodeling and Renovating

Maternity and Infant’s Garments

Children and Misses’ Garments

Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers

Miscellaneous Garments

Tailored Suits, Coats and Capes

Membership also included the following supplies:

"Instruction Papers, Tailor’s Square, Dressmaker’s Gauge, Report Sheets, Information Blanks, Measure Slips, Tape Measure, Waist Pattern, Skirt Pattern, Drafting Paper, and Model Drafts,  showing exact outlines of all the foundation drafts used throughout the course. Tailor’s Square, Drafting paper, and Model Drafts are, however, included with the Complete Dressmaking and Tailoring Course.

The Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences

"The Woman's Institute started teaching women in their own homes to plan and make becoming clothes in February of 1916. Within four years its unique method of teaching had proved such a success that it was giving individual instruction to more than 75,000 women throughout the United States and Canada." —Mary Brooks Picken, 1924.

Dressmaking Made Easy

 Mary Brooks Picken and her eventual staff of 500 (mostly women) educated women on the arts of sewing, pattern drafting, millinery, dressmaking, running a business, and even cookery through mail order publications and lesso

By 1921 this number of students had grown to 125,000, and by 1924, with 210,000 women and girls enrolled in its courses, the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences was the largest educational in­stitution in the world teaching sewing and dressmaking.

In addition to the dressmaking, millinery, and cookery correspondence coursework, the Woman’s Institute also published fashion periodicals including Fashion Service and Inspiration magazines, which we printed first quarterly, and then monthly beginning in the fall of 1921, and printing until the late 1930s.


The Woman’s Institute advertised their coursework in several ladies’ magazines of the time. Most commonly, one could send away for a free booklet, cleverly titled  “Dressmaking Made Easy” and “ What the Woman’s Institute Means to Me," which would arrive by post and further promoted and described the courses. The course books for dressmaking and millinery were so popular that they were updated and reissued about every two years from 1916 until the mid-to-late-1930s (the latest examples I have been able to find).


For complete lists of the Woman’s Institute Dressmaking and Millinery Coursework, please stay tuned for our next blog post.

The Mrs. Depew Vintage Great Big Sew and Tell Contest

sew and tell

Let's have a contest, shall we? For the next month, Mrs. Depew Vintage will host a sew-and-tell contest. Post a picture of something you've made using any one of our reproduction patterns and get a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to!

All entries will need to be posted to the Mrs. Depew Vintage Sew and Tell Facebook Group by June 26.

If you do not use Facebook, you can send your submissions to me via email and I will post for you.

10 Finalists will be chosen from all entries and posted to both the Mrs. Depew Vintage Facebook page, as well as here on the blog where your friends and family will all be able to vote for those top ten.

Photos submitted to the top ten will be judged on fit, photo quality, and originality. Please include photos of the front, back, and side views in your submissions. Every single top ten entrant will win their choice of free pdf sewing pattern from our website. The winner of the grand prize will be the submission with the most final votes by July 5th. You can use a garment you've sewn in the past, or sew something new for the contest - the choice is yours! Photos may be taken of an actual person, or the garment on a dress form if you choose to enter lingerie.

Please note: by entering the contest, you agree that your photo submissions may be shared in our choice of promotional materials and social media by Mrs. Depew Vintage LLC.

Anyone from anywhere in the world may join but the contest is also void where prohibited by local laws.

Please feel free email us with any questions you might have, and as usual...

Happy sewing!

The Kimono in 1920s Fashion

The V&A Museum has been so kind as to create a video curator tour of their currently closed exhibition, Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk.


Image Credit: Mantle, designed by Paul Poiret, about 1913, Paris. Museum no. T.165-1967. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The five part video series is short, beautiful, and brimming with both historical knowledge, and visual inspiration.

Part one discusses kimono fashion, the haute couture of the day, in the 16th century and the Edo period. It features beautiful examples of kimono owned by the Samurai or ruling class. 

Part two delves deeper into the merchant class influence and how popular actors of the period greatly influenced kimono fabric patterns.

Part three follows the Dutch trade relationship with Japan, as well as the introduction of the kimono to Europe and the transformation of the kimono as it made its way west as the "Kimono for foreigners”, with an emphasis on the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Part four looks at kimono in the early 20th century with a brief look at 1920s and 1930s fashions, and how both Japanese fashion was influenced by the west, as well as how Kimono influenced western fashions.

Lastly, part five looks at Kimono in the later half of the 20th century and its influence on film, the cat-walk, and even fast fashion.

Of particular interest to myself as a 1920s sewing pattern collector is the great influence of the Kimono in 1920s fashion.

The western fashion movement of Orientalism mostly attributed to Poiret in the early 20th century is well exhibited in sewing patterns of the 1920s.

In addition to an emphasis on the kimono sleeve and wrap front in early 1920s dresses and blouses, pattern catalogs and periodicals of the time often included a page of lingerie and loungewear. Each nearly always included a kimono-like robe often described as a negligee. 

McCall Fashion Book/ Quarterly Fall 1920.

The designs slowly become more and more kimono-like as the 1920s progress and even make an appearance in children’s fashions.


McCall Quarterly Fall 1923.

 girl's kimono cc 1928 273

McCall Counter Catalog March 1928.

217. mcc 1928

McCall Counter Catalog March 1928.

Fabrics recommended for these varied in price range and included silk shantung, Crepe de Chine, flat crepe, crepe satin, rayons, Celanese weaves, cotton challis, cotton crepe, as well as brocades and silk velvets to make many of these as evening coats  rather than intimate apparel.

We have a selection of these patterns available here, should you wish to add a 1920s style kimono to your wardrobe.

Copyright 2020 Mrs. Depew Vintage LLC.