Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Vogue 3578 - Cat Costume

Late 1920s.

These early Vogue patterns are scarce, but they do show up now and again.  According to Butterick's corporate history, by the 1920s, each Vogue Pattern Book (published six times per year,) featured over 350 patterns.   Although we tend to think of Vogue as a high-end pattern brand, from the beginning they offered a full range of patterns, including underclothes, utilitarian patterns for garments like smocks, and costume patterns for both adults and children.

Pencil marks on the layout diagram show that the maker was carefully keeping track of the pattern pieces.  No fabric recommendations are given, but the illustration hints at a fuzzy fabric - inexpensive cotton flannel would no doubt do for the budget-conscious.

I particularly like the mitts that finish the look.

Of course this would be a fine Halloween costume, but also consider that Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats was published in 1928. Imagine if you will, an entire second grade class dressed as cats for a school pageant adaptation!  (What could possibly go wrong?)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Simplicity 4683 - Men's, Boys' and Women's Apron

Mid 1940s.

This unprinted pattern dates to before 1946, as this is apparently when Simplicity started printing their patterns.

A nice, straightforward apron for the Gentleman and his Missus, who has also made Buddy a spiffy apron for his first Industrial Arts class.  Why the illustrator chose to show the Gentleman wearing a shop apron but gearing up for kitchen duty is a bit of mystery.  And that tiny little cookbook he's holding seems to be awfully entertaining.

Your fifteen cents really bought you a good, thoughtful design.  Note that the Men's and Boys apron is darted at the sides.  This will make the apron set close through the hips, which will probably make it safer by making it less likely to snag, and should also make it more efficient at keeping the wearer clean.

The handling of the shoulder straps and ties is clever.  The straps will adjust to almost any size or shape and don't require any hardware to fasten:

Note that the topstitching around the pockets and the edges make this a very sturdy garment.

No fabric recommendations are given, but the aprons in the illustration surely look like chambray.  Denim would also have been popular, and frequently came in the 35" width called out in the yardage requirements.

Here is the men's apron made up in denim:
Here are the side darts from the inside:

And here they are from the outside:

The instructions call for a small patch of fabric to be sewn in as a backing for the button holes on the sides.  You can see that I've sewn down the patch and stitched a rectangle to outline the buttonhole.  The button holes were worked by hand.

And in the event this apron ever wanders away, I've "branded" it.

In the future, I'd probably use a good-quality twill tape for the straps, rather than making them myself, since folding those narrow strips of denim resulted in a certain amount of questionable language as I repeatedly steamed my fingers.

This denim is wonderful to work with.  Made under the SAFEDenim brand, it's made entirely in the United States by farmers who are trying to produce a sustainable product.  Cotton is demanding of the soil and can require enormous amounts of pesticides, so producing this denim requires a lot of commitment from the farmers.  I don't know where you can buy yard goods, but if you're willing to commit to a 30 yard bolt, you can buy it from the web site.

You can get a free pattern for a very similar apron from the James Thompson web site, makers of my preferred pillow ticking.  (This apron would also look great made up in ticking.)

I'm delighted to report that Simplicity has re-issued this pattern as Simplicity 8151.  Get yours now before it goes out of print again!

Originally posted on June 8, 2011.  Additional material added to show the men's apron made up. Additional information provided on the re-print.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

May Manton 1015 - Design for embroidering a case for rubber over shoes


Another entry for the Pointless Handwork category.  As the autumn rains have started here, my mind turns to keeping my feet dry.  I don't possess overshoes, but if I did, I might make up and embroider a case for them.

It's not too late to make up a few rubber over shoes cases for Christmas giving.  Astonish your friends and family with your thoughtfulness and stubborn disregard for reality.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Patrone-Modele - Sport Ensemble

First half of the 1950s.  Mes amis, it is time to get the Citroen out of the garage and take a tour into the wine country to see the grape harvest.  Monsieur will be correctly dressed for the country in this sport ensemble of plus fours and jacket in wool.

The waist length jacket (blouson) is interesting.  In the Unites States, we've seen this style in working clothing as early as the late 19th century, with Cosmopolitan 800, the working blouse, and then around World War I, with Excella 1111, the men's jumper.  In the 1920s, even with the somewhat loose definition of "waist length," the style, now called a "windbreaker" shows up in outerwear for boys, Butterick 7031, and women, Butterick 7068.  By the 1930s, when the waist had risen just past normal to being a little high, the style was still popular, as seen in Pictorial Review 9051.  From here, it's a short hop of a few years to World War II and the British Army's re-design of its battle dress which included the waist-length jacket (also referred to as a blouse.) Today we typically refer to this style as an Eisenhower or Ike jacket, but it turns out that he himself borrowed the style from the British.

This is a nice interpretation, with a zip front closing, substantial pockets with flaps, and the large, wing-like spread collar so popular at the time.

The plus-fours are referred to simply as "pantalon" on the front of the envelope.  The slightly more detailed description on the back of the envelope calls them "culotte de golf," which Google Translate tells me is "knickerbockers."  It seems a slightly old-fashioned look, yet it must have been popular enough for Le Petit Echo de la Mode to produce a home sewing pattern for culotte de golf, particularly as patterns for men's clothing represent just a tiny fraction of their pattern offerings.

Although not visible in the illustration, by looking at the layout one sees that the fullness of these culotte de golf is darted into bands.

Even though it's tempting to explain away these plus-fours as a style for older gentlemen who had worn them in the 1930s and saw no reason to change, some fairly stylish interpretations of plus fours show up in the men's fashion magazine L'Homme in  Summer 1954 for young men, and as late as Spring-Summer 1959 for older men.  (Despite multiple searches in two languages, I've not yet been able to come up with any documentary evidence that french gentlemen actually wore plus fours for golfing in the 1950s.)



This unprinted pattern is unused.

And we're off!
1950s Citroen Traction Avant Six 15

Monday, September 19, 2016

DuBarry 1300B (Ladies' Pirate Costume)

Mid 1930s.

This one is in the fine tradition of pirate pin-up girls, who sometimes get enlisted to sell oranges.

Although today we think of costumes being worn only on Halloween, fancy dress parties were still popular in the 1930s throughout the year.  Sometimes they were charity benefits.  I believe I see a pirate in the second row, third from the left in this wonderful 1930s group from Tasmania.
From the Tasmanian Philatelic Society
Pattern pieces are included for the blouse, bolero, and shorts.  The instructions sheet describes how to cut out the bandana and sash, both on the straight, and because this is the 1930s, also on the bias.

DuBarry patterns were sold in Woolworth's and produced by Simplicity. This unprinted pattern shows some signs of being used.

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Weldons No. 83 - Smart Overalls

1940s (World War II).  Probably after June, 1941.

Weldons was the British equivalent of McCalls, producing both a women's magazine and home sewing patterns.

Weldon's "So-Easy" line of patterns seems to have been a response to war-time restrictions.  According to the web site for the Imperial War Museum, clothing rationing was imposed on June 1, 1941. Utility clothing, which regulated fabric, trims, and findings, was introduced in 1942.

I haven't yet found any indication that sewing patterns were rationed.  When Weldons indicates that their So-Easy patterns are "special coupon value designs," I take this to mean that the designs accounted for rationing of yard goods, which did require coupons.

The use of the term "overall" is a shortening of the earlier term "overall apron."  ("Overall" is also used in Britain for the sleeveless double-fronted apron that we know here in the states as a Hoover apron or Hooverette.)

The overall would have been important to women is several ways.  First, women who did factory work would often have been required to provide their own "work" clothes, and some women probably made their own.

This woman's cheery garment is an overall, the short sleeves not quite covering the blouse or dress sleeve underneath:

Second, with strict rationing reducing one's clothes purchases to about one outfit per year, an overall worn over one's dress or skirt and blouse would have kept them clean and lasting longer.
Here's a lovely photograph of ladies of the Women's Institute in their aprons and overalls,  making fruit preserves of some kind (my money is on marmalade.)
Florals seem to have been the most popular print for overalls, and overalls even make their way into books.  Chapter 10 of Angela Thirkell's 1940 book Cheerfulness Breaks In starts with:
"...Lydia Keith...went off on foot to Northbridge village with a large flowered overall in a bag."
Lydia wears her overall while cooking lunch for evacuees.

The Weldons overall is essentially a simple, button-front shirt waist dress.  Raglan sleeves would have been a little simpler to make up than set-in sleeves.

This unprinted pattern is unused.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Votre Mode 686 - Robe ou Tablier de Classe

[Class dress or apron] This unprinted tissue pattern was one of a lot of two.  The other pattern is a pull-out from the Votre Mode magazine.

The typeface and photos of women's fashions in the pull-out point to a 1950s date.  The tissue pattern might be a little earlier.   Just to the left of the boy's right arm you can just see the perforations from the tracing wheel used to trace off the pattern.

The fascinating site Historical Boys Clothes tells us that in France boys wore school smocks through the 1950s, and points out that until the economy recovered after WW II, putting smocks on your students would protect clothes that might have been expensive or difficult to replace.   I'd guess that boys would stop wearing smocks by the time they started wearing long pants.

The boy's smock in the pull-out pattern is described as being made up in black satinette, a smooth-faced cotton fabric, with a white pique collar.  Here's a fine example of boy in his smock in a painting by Balthus:

The girls' smocks are a little less dreary - one in a solid cotton fabric, the other in a "vichy quadrille," or gingham, which is used on the bias to provide decorative bands on the yoke and pockets.

I was intrigued to find this example of a commercially produced smock in an Etsy shop.  Note the front yoke on the bias, and then note that the plaid hasn't been matched on the back yokes.  This makes sense for a garment that's going to used hard and outgrown.

It would be interesting to learn how people felt about their school smocks.  Did they like them?  Was it nicer to have a new smock in the fall than a hand-me down?  Did those with home-made smocks envy those with store-bought smocks?