Friday, June 25, 2010

Vogue 8364 - Skirt


There isn't anything particularly unusual about this skirt pattern.  However, along with the released pleat at the center back to accommodate striding energetically across the greens, the designers have provided an attached "saddle" pocket for your tees, divot tool, and lipstick.

This is somewhat similar to the earlier Pictorial 7559, though in that case, the pocket is detachable.

This pattern doesn't appear to have been used.

Those of us who spent time in the Philadelphia area will probably feel a little nostalgia for the old John Wanamaker department store.  By the time I knew Wanamaker's in the 1970s, the sewing department was gone, though only 75 miles upstate, I patronized the yard goods department in little Hess's department store until the late 1980's.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Butterick 6458 - Ladies' Dressing-Sack

This one can be definitely dated to 1902, when it appeared in Butterick's Delineator magazine.

We've seen the term "sack" used before for Banner Sack Apron 131 to describe a relatively unstructured garment that hangs from the shoulders.  (The French spelling of "sacque" tends to remind one less of a sack of potatoes.)

Here's a very funny discussion of the uses and abuses of dressing sacks, published in 1913 by Myrtle Reed in her book Threads of Grey and Gold:

The dressing sack is (supposed to be) a garment you wear while you dress you hair; it keeps hair off your clothing but more importantly, it's loose enough so that you can raise your arms up high enough to reach behind your head, which is not possible in most ladies' garments until the 1920's, when women's clothing lost much of its confining structure, and when, incidentally, women started bobbing their hair.

Dressing sacques don't seem to show up much past World War I.

However, notice that Reed recognized that dressing sacks are sometimes worn as bed jackets, which will start to show up in great variety in the 1930's, and are still offered now and again as an option in robe patterns, pointing right back to Reed's idea that a dressing sack is nothing more than a Mother Hubbard cut off at the hips.  Both are suitable for maternity wear.

This also strikes me as a supremely practical garment to wear when reading in bed when one has a drafty bedroom and a limited heating oil budget.

Friday, June 11, 2010

McCall 8104 - Artist's Smock

1934 or a little later. 

Outside of a few novelty apron patterns which start to show up in the '30s and '40s, this is the earliest "unisex" pattern I've ever seen. (The term "unisex" seems to have been coined, or at least popularized, in the 1960's.)

With this pattern we've come a long, long way from our slightly frou-frou artist of the early 1900's.  I'd be much more inclined to call this a lab or shop coat.  The 1928 book Tailored Garments states that
The making of garments for men...also offers excellent possibilities for the woman who wishes to specialize.  For example, a good business may be build up by making...coats for barbers, surgeons, etc...
The instructions are extremely brief, even for this era.

The pattern has been very carefully cut out and used.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Advance 3249 - Overalls

World War II

The image of World War II's "Rosie the Riveter" is so firmly embedded in our culture that the Library of Congress calls their collection of images of women at work during WWII The Rosie Pictures.

But where did these women get their work duds?  For the most part, they probably did what many of us still do today - they wore men's clothes.

However, Advance thought it was worth offering an overalls pattern for women.   Nothing fancy about this pattern; only one view is given.  Yardages are given for only 36" and 39" width fabric, common widths for denim.

If you couldn't find a pattern locally, Montgomery Ward could supply you.  Here are three patterns they offered at 5 cents each (very reasonable; note that the Advance pattern would set you back 15 cents.)
Ward's would also sell you your fabric, having employed some patriotic copy editing to what were, for the most part, standard fabrics:

The Advance overalls in a size 18 will require 3 1/4 yard of 36" wide fabric.

If making your own wasn't an option, Wards offered a nice line of women's workwear featuring a "Victory Volunteers" emblem.  These bib-top overalls were described as "a sensible choice for your wartime job" and were offered in three qualities:  Best quality came in gunpowder blue twill jean for $3.77, Better quality came in navy and white pin check for $2.95, Good quality came in blue Sanforized denim for $1.95 and didn't have the emblem.

Everybody got to participate in marketing the Victory Volunteers effort:

I couldn't get a clear enough image to insert here, but there were even Volunteers for Victory paper dolls!

Wards would also sell you Sanforized denim overalls.  Although these were marketed for "Victory Workers, Farm and Factory," they may have been part of their standard line and not specific to the war.  The description tells us that these will "take countless washings and ironings" and that they have "metal buttons for a smart, workmanlike appearance."

Not all women worked in factories; many did agricultural work, either on their own family's farms, orchards, and ranches, or through organizations such as the Women's Land Army.
Women riveting ships together or working in the fields probably didn't have time to sew, but their mothers or aunts might have helped out. 

Yarn companies produced a variety of booklets of items to knit for military men and women, but the folks at Chadwick's Red Heart Yarn remembered the civilian women with their booklet Women's Sweaters - America at Work and Play.  The cover model is their Victory Girl.
This practical cardigan was offered as well.  While having a sweater you've knit yourself gives a nice sense of accomplishment, we shouldn't overlook the benefit of the soothing, repetitive nature of knitting, particularly during a stressful period.