Sunday, May 12, 2019
Nineteen-teens. It's a little unusual at this early date to see a pattern described explicitly as maternity wear. One suspects, though, that many patterns blandly described as wrappers, Mother Hubbards, smocks, and bungalow aprons did service as maternity clothes. Superior is the house brand of sewing patterns for Sears and Roebuck, and bless them for being very clear about the purpose of this garment, as well as offering it in larger sizes - up to 42" bust, in this case.
At about the same time, the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences cautions against making maternity wear that "serves to emphasize this condition because of the special, and perhaps unusual features it embodies." The author goes on to recommend developing maternity wear "almost entirely from one kind of material, the contrast being provided merely by a collar..." Lengthwise lines from shoulder to hem are recommended to help draw attention away from the widening mid section.
The Superior designer seems to have had much of this advice in mind. This is a thoughtful, practical design that isn't too much different from other apron dresses of the period. The box pleats front and back add needed girth. The elbow length sleeves are ideal for a working garment, and the square neck and contrast trim are an economical, stylish touch.
Although the envelope is rough, the unprinted pattern pieces are in very good condition.
Happy Mothers' Day.
Monday, December 31, 2018
It's getting to be that time of year. A deep snow pack is developing and the ponds and lakes are beginning to develop good thick ice. For the vintage snowmobile enthusiast, this may be the best way to complete your look. If you get a crack on, you can get your entire family kitted out (in maybe matching!) vintage snowmobile suits.
Notice the groovy two-color version B, shown only on the back of the envelope.
I had to look up one of the recommended fabrics - Cire, or more properly, Ciré, is one of the family of fabrics with a hard, shiny surface finish. Traditionally achieved with wax, heat, and pressure, by the time this pattern was printed ciré finish fabrics were beginning to be available in synthetic fibers.
Here's what snowmobiling looked like in 1971, when the price of Ski-doo's elan model would just about cover the cost of today's snowmobile suit.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
1964. Although I concentrate my collecting on the more utilitarian patterns, I'm intrigued by patterns produced as marketing tie-ins, so a few have made their way into the archives.
This one resonates for me because I remember seeing the film during its original theatrical release. In my cohort of seven year olds, we knew all the songs and staged our own versions of the story in our back yards and wished we had picture hats and frilly white umbrellas. The "Nanny Costume" is iconic, but I've always wondered why there wasn't also a pattern for the garden party dress.
Making dolls and their wardrobes is fussy work. Look at all the steps just to make the carpet bag.
This printed pattern is unused.
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
1938, based on the cinema listings in a cutout from a newspaper folded in with the pattern pieces (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was playing at the Melba, children 20 cents all times.)
Independence Day is always a good time to get your Colonial on. There is something sort of uproarious about providing the 9d price in the British Isles. Perhaps if you squint really hard, the instruction sheet says "George III," not "George Washington"
Size 6 is for a little tyke, and won't he look splendid riding on the fire engine in the July 4th parade? That is, if Mama managed to work her way through the tiny instruction sheet and the half inch seam allowances.
Have a safe and happy Independence Day, everybody!
Thursday, June 21, 2018
A nice basic bib-and-braces overalls pattern for the gentleman. More research needs to be done into household management in order to understand the decision to make overalls rather than buy them.
And if you were struggling to decide whether to make these up in hickory cloth or denim (or perhaps white duck if the gentleman is a house painter,) McCall's helpfully offers...stripes or checks!
Whether or not this pattern has been used is a little difficult to interpret. When I opened out the pattern pieces I discovered that the only pieces that had been cut were the front, the back, and the large pocket. Further, the front and back had been cut only down to about thigh-level.
What's going on here? One idea that occurs to me is that this overalls pattern was used to make a bib apron. I haven't yet found home sewing patterns for men's bib aprons as early as the 1920s, but butchers' and machinists' aprons do show up in the mail order catalogs of the period. If this was the case here, my guess is that the inseams probably weren't cut in the fabric and the maker just dropped a line straight down. But it's curious that the shoulder strap piece wasn't cut.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
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
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.