Friday, July 9, 2010

McCall 603 - Ladies' and Misses' Smocks


1938 or a year or two later.

Another fine example supporting my belief that the 1930's produced some of the best design ever.

The white smock is embroidered, while the two calla lily smocks are appliqued with embroidered details.  The addition of the pleats creates a trim line on a garment that is fundamentally the same as most other smock patterns.

This is not a work-a-day smock.  Unlike many of the other smocks we've seen, the layout for this one doesn't indicate a need to do any piecing.  (Even Simplicity 2291, a very sophisticated design of roughly the same period, shows you how to piece the sides.)  The amount of embroidery and applique shown would take quite a bit of time to complete.  Yet the illustrator wants us to remember that this is still a utilitarian garment; Madame Brown Smock is armed with her bowl and spoon (I always wear heels when cooking, don't you?)

As illustrated, this smock may represent economy of materials, but certainly not of time spent in the construction and embellishment.  Note that an undecorated version of the smock isn't shown.  In this case, however, the pattern has been used but the transfers and applique pieces have not.  If the maker was persuaded to buy this pattern because of the decoration, when it came down to it, she didn't have the time or interest for it.

I can never look at calla lilies without remembering Katherine Hepburn in Stage Door, which released in 1937.


9 comments:

Vande Historic Costuming said...

What a lovely, and completely wearable dress - for housework or not - it does look fresh! (and although I would possibly try to wear heels when cooking, I would certainly be covering up the white one with a volumous apron and sleeve protectors before attempting any cleaning in the white)

Persuaded said...

Wow, that is a beautiful garment! May I ask are the pleats open over the bust and below the waist, but sewn shut at the waistline? How interesting! I'm thinking that kind of treatment might work for someone with my figure type.... now my little brain is a'workin';-)

Erin said...

That really is a nice embroidery pattern that could be used on something else. I'm envisioning a little pillow.

aurelia said...

Want!

With my extensive collection of shirtdress patterns I sure I can gin up something.

Thanks for sharing this one.

Little Black Car said...

OMG--I have to look for a copy of that! I love it!

I agree: The Thirties ruled.

andrea.at.the.blue.door said...

I just have a feeling that such a dressy utilitarian garment wasn't intended to be worn when scrubbing bathroom floors. It would be terrific when arranging flowers at the church, or when working the cake and pie table at a bazaar.

The pleats are inverted box pleats, which you've probably seen on the backs of Norfolk jackets. They aren't sewn down over the bust. If you have a smock pattern with a plain front that you like, you can add in pleats.

ashley said...

i just started following your blog and i think what you're writing about is wonderful! every now and then a weirdo pattern pops up online and i save the picture... i look forward to your future posts and if you have the time, please take a peek at my fabric blog!

andrea.at.the.blue.door said...

Thanks Ashley for stopping by, and thanks also for the link to blog of fabrics - a person could spend some happy times selecting patterns from my blog and fabrics from your blog for fictional garments. Have you had an opportunity to visit Manchester NH? The last time I checked, the historical society there had sample books from the old Amoskeag Mills - hundreds and hundreds of little samples of great prints, mostly calicos. To die for!

Little Black Car said...

That the girl on the right is holding a bowl and spoon suggests that this is meant to be a housecoat or brunch coat, which could have been blousier and more decorative than a housedress in the grubby, toilet-scrubbing sense.