Thursday, September 18, 2014

McCall 5040 - Man's Pirate Costume



Early 1930s.  Another nice color illustration from McCall, very likely by the same illustrator who did our deadly handsome Spanish Gentleman.

Pirate movies seem to have been popular from the dawn of the film age - D.W. Griffith made one in 1909.  I'm not as knowledgeable about pirate movies of the 1920s and 1930s as I perhaps ought to be, so I can't tell if this gentleman is drawn from anybody specific.  Victor Fleming directed an adaptation of Treasure Island in 1934, about when this pattern was issued.

However, I think that McCall's pirate is close kin to Howard Pyle's elegant pirates in his Book of Pirates.  I suspect many gentlemen of the 1930s (forced by their wives to attend charity costume balls) would have known and loved Pyle's book when they were small boys swinging through the rigging of apple trees in their back yards.  (I highly recommend visiting the Project Gutenberg edition so that you can see all of Pyle's wonderful work.)


This printed pattern does not appear to have been used.  Note that the pattern includes pieces for not only the trousers, shirt, and vest, but also for the sash, kerchief, and splendidly floppy hat.

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day, everybody!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

McCall 1597 - Mr. and Mrs. Aprons hat and Mitts

1950

For your summer barbecue season we have another novelty apron.  The theme is consistent with other McCall novelty aprons we've seen - there is always a dog in there somewhere!  (See also McCall 2062 and McCall 957) This pattern shows up regularly for sale on eBay, so it may have been popular, or it may have been recommended for school or other sewing class use.

This is a perfectly good basic apron with nice deep pockets.  The bias binding while cheery, also strengthens the apron and will give the beginning maker some good experience in working with binding.

The maker cut out all the pattern pieces but decided not to tangle with the little upper pocket and just shoved it back in the envelope.

A close examination of the illustration reveals that this pocket is for your pack of cigarettes.

Although the pattern was used,  the transfers were not. (What? You don't want to spend time embroidering silly dogs on your apron?  Why ever not?)


Friday, June 13, 2014

May Manton 906 - Embroidery for Corset Bag

Best guess is the 19-teens.

This one is in the category of "Who knew?"  Who knew that ladies made bags for their corsets? Who knew that they then embroidered them? (and even spent money on transfer patterns for the designs!)

Interestingly, this pattern for embroidering a long, narrow bag dates to a period when corsets had reached a rather extreme length.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art dates this fine example to 1917-1919.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Particularly when packing corsets for traveling, the laces, stud-and-loop busks, and the garters all had the potential to snag, so the corset bag protected a lady's frillies from her corset.  But protecting the corset itself is important as well.  Good quality corsets could be quite expensive, and a lady might have several.  As well as an "everyday" corset, a lady might have one suitable for evening clothes, or a flexible, lighter-weight model for summer or sports wear.  I assume that each bag was design to hold only a single corset.

I've never come across a reference to a corset bag before.  From the nineteenth century onward, ladies' magazines frequently featured pages of embroidery projects, but I don't recall ever coming across a project for a corset bag.  And while one assumes that some embroidery projects (such as the hot water bottle cover I featured in 2010) made their way to the tables of fancywork fairs, I can't imagine it would have been considered in very good taste to display corset bags in public.  On the other hand, when not made for oneself, corset bags might have been lovely gifts between sisters, or as a little gift to a bride, as a complement to her trousseau.  If you start right away, you might be able to knock out a few corset bags for the June brides on your list this year.  Good luck!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

McCall 1104 - Ladies' and Misses' Apron


1944

If you tell most people to close their eyes and imagine a "vintage apron" this is the apron they'll see in their mind's eye.  This apron goes by many names:  pinafore apron, bib apron, farmhouse apron, kitchen apron, full coverage apron, work apron, church ladies' apron.  The pattern companies have always offered this style of apron for their customers, though in the last 15 years or so the style has been called out more as a vintage or retro offering than work wear.

This particular pattern shows up on eBay pretty regularly.  There may be several reasons for this. It may have been considered a good teaching pattern for Home Economics classes.  For some wartime industrial jobs, this type of apron would have been acceptable work wear.  If the pattern companies reduced their new offerings during World War II, women might have had fewer choices when they went to buy an apron pattern.  I have two copies of this apron pattern.  One is pristine and unused.  And then there is this one, which I thought was much more interesting.

This pattern has had a very productive life.  Both the envelope and the pattern pieces have seen a lot of use.  This was somebody's favorite apron pattern - or perhaps the maker had neither the desire nor the means to replace a perfectly functional pattern.  I suspect she made aprons for her own use.



Observing the way a pattern has been used almost allows us to hear the maker's voice:
"I never cut that little facing piece for the back - too much trouble."
"I don't know why you'd need to a pattern piece for the strings - they're just rectangles, and anyway, I like mine narrower/wider/longer/shorter."
"I don't pay any attention to the grain line for the lower back piece - I just line up the back edge along the selvage - it's faster that way.""
"Why would I want to spend time putting those pepper appliques on a work apron?"
I decided to start the new year by making myself a new apron, and I chose to use this pattern more or less as it was provided, using the pattern pieces for the fiddly facing bits and the strings, but not the pepper appliques - my whimsy goes only so far!  The fabric is a remnant I've had in my stash for years, and regular readers will recognize the lavender gingham bias binding from an enormous quantity I cut a few years ago and use regularly.


Here's that facing piece (on the right; the upper back apron is on the left.)

This pattern specifies one inch binding - eight yards of it, finishing to 1/4 inch.  My current sewing machine doesn't have a binder attachment, and I don't trust myself to sew the binding on in one pass, so I pinned and sewed it first to the back, then folded to the front, pressed and pinned again, and finally sewing down on the front.  This is one of my very least favorite sewing operations, but I do love the look of the end result.

As usual with McCall patterns, this printed pattern was very accurate and went together very well.

Note the horizontal slashed dart in the side fronts to add bust fullness.  You can see on the inside where I've left in my yellow gathering stitches.


Although the instructions didn't call for it, I topstitched this dart for added strength.


Here's the completed apron, just before its maiden voyage to the kitchen.  I'm afraid it'll never look this nice again:


Here it is opened out, showing that it would be relatively easy to iron (if one were so inclined.)


The back is fastened with a single vintage shell button from my stash. 


I've been wearing this apron for kitchen work for about two weeks now, and I find it very comfortable. I think I understand why the pattern was used so much.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

McCall's 689 - Choir Cottas or Surplices


1939

I suspect that right about now there are many church choirs out there that are right up to their floppy bows in performances that involve extended lines of "Gloria" and "Halleluja," and "O Holy." In some cases their beautifully starched and pressed cottas represent the labor of the Ladies' Auxiliary.  With luck, the ladies would have been able to plan ahead and weren't slipping away from the Thanksgiving table to sew a just a few more hems to get the choir ready for the service for the first Sunday in Advent.

The boys in this choir from the 1930s look as though they're on the verge of making a run for the ice-cream truck (or just disintegrating into a scrum.)  Wouldn't you love to know what the photographer had just said?


This printed pattern has been used.


Note the little gussets under the arms - a relic of the ancestors of this garment.



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ullstein-Schnittmuster V 34 - BildhauerKittel


Based on the style of a women's dress pattern that was part of the same lot, my guess is the early 1920s.

Since I have no knowledge of German, I've relied on Google Translate to help me out here, so this post will be of a somewhat minimalist nature.

This is, apparently, a "sculptor's coat,"  which may be as generic a term as "artist's smock," or "shop coat." Available in sizes for both men and young men, this is a nice example of its kind.  Gathering the fronts and back into a yoke provides some additional ease, so that the coat could be worn over a suit jacket or a heavy sweater.  And you can't go wrong with four pockets!

Ullstein Verlag, a large publishing house based in Berlin, published Die Dame, a ladies magazine, and this line of home sewing patterns - a business model similar to that of McCall.

It's easy to imagine this smock being worn in the studios at the Bauhaus.
This perforated, unprinted pattern has been used.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Butterick 2360 - Women's and Misses' Work Garment


1940s (World War II)

It's hard to think of a more generic description than "work garment." Simplicity called their similar pattern a "Slack Suit or Coverall,"  but the concept is largely the same - a shirt and trousers united at the waist.  Butterick's solution to the drop seat is to sew the belt to the top edge of the trousers, with the shirt being buttoned to the trousers only at the side back edges.

In the description, Butterick advises us to "Note the large utility pocket,"which is the very long breast pocket on the shirt, with its convenient pencil slot.


Even though Butterick's copy department thinks that the sleeveless version is "perfect for your outdoor life," the illustrator decided to show the lady holding a pipe wrench, an implement not generally required for "outdoor life." I can imagine the sleeveless version being worn over a pullover sweater during the winter.

For the photographer's visit to the plant, this young lady has layered a white shirt with her "work garment:"


This unprinted pattern does not appear to have been used.