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.)


Source

Source

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.  Notice the variety of work clothing here:

This woman's cheery garment is likely an overall.
Second, with strict rationing reducing one's clothes shopping 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?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

McCall 4653 - Ladies' & Misses' One-Piece Overalls or Shorts


From the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
1942

Once you get your Victory Garden watered, you can change into a cool play suit and take a nice picnic out to the lake (provided you have enough gas coupons.)

Here's another fine entry into women's war-time work wear.  Miss A. wears the very get-the-job done overalls, probably made up in denim or chambray, with plenty of white top-stitching  The banded sleeves will be a little faster to make than struggling with sleeve plackets and buttoned cuffs.  The over sized right pocket with its pencil slot borrows from men's work shirts.


Miss B, who has finished her work for the day, looks cool and comfortable and ready for a game of badminton.  With her one-piece play suit, she won't have to worry about becoming untucked following one of her wicked overhand serves.


This printed pattern has been cut out in Version A.


Friday, March 6, 2015

McCall 3610 - Ladies' Apron


About 1910.

This one seems to be related to McCall 2550, although in this case, rather than holding her palette and brush, our model holds her fluffy little dish mop, ready to bring her cut glass pitcher and bowl to a gleaming shine.

Like McCall 2550, there are no pockets in this apron; I can never fathom an apron without pockets.

The style is a little uncommon, with the narrow band across the front and the deep V back.



The pattern itself doesn't seem to have been used much, but the envelope has certainly had a hard life.

The maker must have been in a hurry when she folded up the pattern pieces, as several scraps of fabric got swept into the folds - very possibly a Stifel indigo. This is the second apron pattern I have with evidence of having been made up in an indigo calico.


I recently decided I needed an apron to keep in the sewing room, so I made up this pattern in some pink chambray I had on hand.

This pattern was produced before either fabric layout diagrams or detailed construction instructions were offered, so the maker is on her own to decide whether or not to face the yoke (I did, for strength and neatness) and how to finished the edges of the straps and upper backs.  (I cut 1 1/2" bias strips of the chambray and used them as facings.)

This apron is quite large.  The front yoke finishes to 16" and I think this apron would easily accommodate a bust measurement of about 40".  I shortened the pattern by 5" and with a 1" doubled-over hem, ended up with an apron that ends just above my ankle.  The circumference at the bottom is 80".  The ties are at mid back, which isn't as inconvenient to reach as you might think.


Originally posted on 8/27/2009.  Re-posted on 3/6/2015 to show made garment.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Les Patrons Favoris & Les Patrons Parisiens 17.6 - Tablier Fantaisie


Late 1940s, early 1950s.

This is a nice example of how "The New Look" made its way into all aspects of women's clothing, not just dressy clothing.  What makes this "fancy" apron such a wonderful example is that the essence of the new look shape has been captured in the shape of the applied pockets.   Probably M. Dior didn't foresee this apron in 1947 when he launched his stylistic sigh of relief that World War II was finally over.

The instructions indicate that this apron can be made up in gingham or cretonne (a printed cotton fabric often recommended for aprons) and that the pockets, as shown in the illustration, can be cut from a contrasting fabric.

This style with a full back wrap is also popular at this period in the United States.

This cut, unprinted, pattern doesn't include allowances for either seams or hem, and was produced in only a single size.  French patterns were typically offered only in a single size with a bust measurement of about 38 inches.  Not having the seam allowances actually makes it easier to alter the pattern.  Note the small box on the back of the envelope that describes how to resize the pattern.   There are some interesting questions around this.  Where did women learn to alter patterns with confidence?  Altering an apron is one thing - altering a pattern for a suit jacket is another matter entirely.  Could women hire somebody to alter home sewing patterns for them if they weren't confident of their own skill at this?  What was women's tolerance for less-than-perfect alterations?  Striving to avoid that "home-made look" comes up repeatedly in home sewing books, but for the demographic who bought these patterns, was a slightly gappy neckline or twisted sleeve acceptable?