Sunday, March 8, 2009

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.


Shay said...

I have noticed when reading my teens and 20's needlework magazines and booklets (Woman's Institute, etc), the time spent in making a garment is not taken into consideration as part of a cost equation. If you could make a man's shirt for fifteen cents and it took you five hours, but they were sold in the Sears, Roebuck catalog for fifty cents, then it was more thrifty to sew them. said...

Isn't it interesting that during this period there was a lot of interest in domestic science (which in itself is an interesting term) but that interest didn't seem to extend to a scientific examination of the economic value of household labor?

I'm also curious to know if home sewing mens' clothes was perceived differently than home sewing women's clothes. My mother sewed a lot of her clothes but never dreamed of sewing anything for my father; his clothes were always purchased.

My vintage sewing books sometimes discuss making men's shirts and boys' shirts and short pants. Do any of your Womens' Institute books discuss sewing for men in any detail?