I love spats. I really do. As defined by Merriam-Webster, spats are a “a cloth or leather gaiter covering the instep and ankle“. Also called spatterdashers, these have been coming back in popularity as of late, which makes me immensely happy. So you can imagine how utterly thrilled I was to discover a pattern for them in one of my antique copies of La Mode Illustreé. The pattern is from 1902, and is labeled as “Gaiters for Bicyclists”.
Now, working from antique patterns is not for the faint of heart. La Mode Illustreé patterns are written entirely in french and overlap each other on the pattern sheet. It’s thorough chaos. You are required to locate the corresponding pattern based on the graphic line style, trace the pieces out, and add seam allowances—all while having a fairly good idea of how they are intended to be constructed, because the accompanying instructions, in addition to being entirely in french, are very limited.
Luckily, I was ready for the challenge. I traced out the pattern, redrew the pattern in illustrator and adjusted it for modern sizing (ankles were very tiny back in the day) and added my seam allowances. Then I dove into my fabric stash and chose a very nice red and white herringbone tweed. Because I love tweed even more than I love spats.
I am very happy with the result and am in the process of modifying the pattern to include options for button/snap tabs and multiple ankles sizes. When I am finished it will be available for download in my etsy shop.
Since I was sending these out as a sample to be worn for a Tweed Ride in Iowa, I included a matching bowtie and a small leather tag with the nickname of the recipient. Personalization is always a nice little touch!