Wednesday, March 25, 2009

May Manton's 8820 - Work Apron

1915-1916.  This is the first pattern I've seen for a front buttoned work apron, making this closer to the smocks that we see in the 1920's than to the back-closing work aprons we've seen up until now.

You can glean some interesting details about May Manton (the nom de plume of  Jessie Swirles Bladworth) in Women's Periodicals in the United States.   May Manton patterns were a sort of spin-off of McCall patterns.   Presumably all the involved parties thought that there was room in the home sewing market for yet another pattern company.  To my eye, May Manton patterns don't have quite the polish of McCall patterns, so perhaps they were aimed at a different sector.  (Some day I do intend to do some price comparisons among the different pattern companies. Some day.)

During 1915-1916 The periodical School Arts ("An illustrated publication for those interested in art and industrial work") ran a monthly feature profiling a selection of patterns that would appealing to (and suitable to) high school aged girls.  This pattern was featured in the April 1916 issue, modeled with a dusting cap and feather duster.  Note that in this illustration the collar, cuffs, and belt are in a contrasting fabric, probably white.

Once again, we see from the layout that provision has been made for piecing:

Now, if we were to make up this work apron in a grey percale, don't you think it would make a splendid prison uniform?

Monday, March 23, 2009

McCall 4531 - Ladies' and Misses' Smock

About 1927-1928.  I bought this one because of the beautiful illustration.  I made this up recently in a print fabric, so I didn't use the transfer for the embroidery on the collar and pocket bands.  If I'd been thinking about it, I might have done the collar, cuffs, and pocket bands in a solid color.  Well, perhaps next time.

I can't speak highly enough of the drafting of McCall patterns of this period.  The smock practically put itself together.  The biggest puzzle was the button placement.  The pattern piece didn't indicate where buttons or button holes should be placed.  I looked at a somewhat later smock pattern and from that one discovered that only the buttons closer to the edge are functional; the others are decorative.  I used the illustration as a guide for the buttons.

The sharp eyed among you will notice that the pockets aren't level with one another.  This is why it's probably best for me not to sew too late into the night.  I had cut the pockets without regard for pattern matching and then discovered (after I'd sewn on the bands) that I had a little problem.  I have no idea why I didn't just cut another pocket.  Instead, I matched the pattern for each pocket and let symmetry fly out the window.  It is, after all, a gardening smock and in a year or so should be grubby enough that nobody will notice.

The one thing that struck me as strange was that after the sleeve was pleated, it was then gathered into the cuff.  I don't think I've ever had to do this before:

The fabric is by Windham Fabrics, from their Vintage Euro Garden line.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cosmopolitan 667 - Lady's House Dress

About 1899.

At this time "house dress" has a slightly different sense than it will later.  A dress with a Watteau back and the option for a train isn't designed for scrubbing floors.  Rather, this is a dress worn at home.  This distinguishes it from the various types of dress worn outside the home such as tailor-mades, reception dresses, evening dresses, etc.

I think the house dress could be worn when informally entertaining close friends; lemonade and gingersnaps on the porch, for example.  In this regard, it's not unlike the tea gowns just coming into fashion.

Official American Red Cross Pattern No. 80 - Underdrawers

About 1917-1918.  The Red Cross supplied refugees as well as prisoners of war.

Different pattern companies produced patterns for the American Red Cross.   Butterick produced their usual separate instruction sheet.  I love the notation "SEAMS!!!"

I need somebody to tell me what the narrow straps are used for; surely one doesn't attach one's braces to these?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pictorial Review 7759 - Ladies Two Piece Gathered Skirt

About 1918.  This one is all about those amazing pockets.  I immediately thought how useful this would be when working in the garden.  You could even make a couple of sets of pockets and just keep stuff in them.

Yes, there is no doubt that this skirt will make your hips look big.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Butterick 4078 - Men's or Boys Shirt (In Regulation Army Style)

The last patent date on the envelope is 1919, and as always, remember that this patent can be for the layout diagram or the instructions, not the style.  I don't know what makes this shirt "regulation army style," or why civilians needed such a pattern.  I really need to find an expert on early 20th century men's clothing.   Note that this shirt is offered in a pull-over version only; no "coat closing" option as we saw in Pictorial Review 6224. Also note that the only option for a collar is for an attached collar.

Butterick's instruction sheets for the period, which they called The Deltor, are very good.  This one in particular is very detailed.

Here are some things to note in The Deltor:

Direction to make flat felled seams.  Note that the instructions for the Red Cross relief pattern for the matinee blouse  called for flat felled seams and recommended that the maker examine a man's shirt to see what this looked like.

Explicit instructions to interline (today we would generally say interface) the cuffs and collar with muslin.  The lack of interfacing in vintage sewing for women's clothes has always been a puzzle to me.   My observation has been that vintage sewing books call for interlining only for men's shirts and for tailored garments.  Clothing drapes differently when there isn't any interfacing in collars, cuffs, and facings; this is something that working with vintage patterns teaches us.

Instructions to make gussets at the bottoms of the side seams.  This technique for strengthening the bottom of a shirt is centuries old.  You can see what it looks like in real life on this shirt that I recently finished (Scroll down, it's in the last few photos.)

The fabrics recommended for this shirt are flannel, khaki, cotton shirtings, pongee, and cheviot.

Cheviot shirting, in case you were wondering, has two definitions: "1. A heavy twilled cotton shirting made with heavy yarn.  The pattern is usually a small dobby design, single warp stripe, or double warp rib, in blue or brown on white ground.  Formerly popular for inexpensive work shirts. 2. A British term for a soft finish, high quality cotton shirting woven with medium count combed yarns in square constructions, in either a plain or basket weave." (Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles, 4th printing, 1975)   It's interesting how different these two definitions are.

Here's the back of the envelope; note the very cool purple stamp B.(utterick)P.(attern)Co.(mpany) in the upper right corner.  This may be the only Butterick pattern I own that has this stamp; I have no idea what distinguishes this pattern from any of the other Butterick patterns I have.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Simplicity 7001 - Women's Housedress

Early 1930's.   By this time Simplicity has adjusted their marketing approach slightly.  While still implying economy (3 patterns for the price of 1) they seem to be focusing on ease of use by adding an instruction sheet called the Simplicity Primer.  Note also that they emphasize that the pattern is Hand-Cut; the practice of producing pattern sheets as laid out on the fabric (see Smock pattern 160) has been abandoned.

Here's the description of the pattern from the envelope back:
Every woman needs a frock such as this -
while she is doing house-hold tasks, for it --
is practical enough and smart-enough looking for a --
dash to the grocery.
If you must leave the house while wearing your house dress, you won't feel ashamed of doing so, knowing you're nicely dressed in your smart Simplicity frock.  The sleeveless version would be appreciated by women living in warm climates in this era before air conditioning.

The Primer provides both the layout and detailed instructions (albeit, a little on the small side.)

I made up version 2 in a 1930's reproduction cotton I'd gotten on sale.  I left off the sleeve cuffs and I've no idea where the tie belt is. I wear this dress a lot, even though I find the v-neck a tad low. The neckline on view 3 would probably suit me better. The actual bust measurement is 46".  (Note that the pattern was offered in sizes up to a 50" bust.  Utilitarian patterns like house dresses were more likely to be offered in larger sizes.)   This dress is very easy to iron.

Simplicity 160 - Smock

Latter part of the 1920s.

Smock patterns show up regularly in the 1920's,  30's, and the first part of the '40s and seem to replace the somewhat earlier long, sleeved work aprons.

Note that Simplicity is branding this as an "All in One" pattern.  Here's how the envelope copy describes this:
The Simplicity All-in-One Pattern is laid out for you.  Just spread pattern on material and cut pattern and material together through perforated lines.  Each piece will be perfectly cut out with seams allowed.  Pattern may be used again like an ordinary pattern.
Well, it's an interesting concept.  Here's what one of the pattern sheets looks like.

This tissue sheet is 32 inches long and 18 inches wide. The large triple perforations near the left-hand edge indicate the fold line, a fairly common convention at this time.  That means that this pattern has been designed to be used with 36 inch wide fabric folded lengthwise.   I find all those dotted cutting lines confusing, and I would probably connect the dots with a pencil before I cut into my goods, otherwise I'm sure I'd get two lines confused and start out cutting the pocket and wander off and cut into the cuff by accident.

Now look at this pattern sheet carefully.  Notice that piece G, the collar, is represented twice.  This allows one to cut both the collar and the collar facing at the same time.

I wonder how much additional tissue was required in order to include the layout in the pattern.  I haven't yet determined precisely when Simplicity stopped using this method - I don't think it lasted far into the '30s.

The construction instructions amount to a brief text description on the back of the envelope.  It's interesting to note that no layout is printed on the pattern envelope.  This means that if you decide to re-use the pattern, you're on your own.  The seam allowances on this pattern are 1/2",  a little more generous than the 3/8" still common at this time.  (My treadle sewing machine, which was manufactured in 1945, doesn't have a marked throat plate, but it does have enough "landmarks" to allow me to sew at 3/8", 1/2", and 5/8" without the need for a seam guide.)

Here's a flier for Simplicity patterns that was tucked into another Simplicity pattern I own.  Simplicity's mission is very clear; produce patterns for women to make basic articles of clothing for their families.  Although the patterns conform to current styles, at this point, being fashionably turned out doesn't enter into the picture.  Historically, Simplicity's timing is interesting, because this is a year or two before the stock market crash of 1929.  Note that smock 160 is one of the featured patterns, with the girl's version in pattern 509, where the illustration of the smock makes it explicitly an artist's smock.

I'm intrigued by the patterns for men's shirts, particularly pattern 596, a standard dress shirt.  I find shirt making to be a very exacting branch of sewing, and I can't imagine that even a Simplicity pattern could make it "exceptionally easy."  Again, we need to contemplate the perceived value to the household economy of making shirts for the menfolk, even though these shirts probably didn't look as sharp as store-bought shirts.

Note that shirt pattern 595 is a cousin to Pictorial Review 6224.

I'd love to get my hands on pattern 565 for the men's coveralls (and isn't it wonderful that this gentleman is wearing a tie!)  The little girl's playsuit, pattern 505 is also intriguing.