Friday, October 22, 2010

McCall 957 - Mr. and Mrs. Aprons


1942.

Until now the aprons featured here have been more or less functional and strictly female, so it's nice to take a walk on the frivolous side with this one.  We saw our first unisex pattern with a 1934 smock pattern, also by McCall.

Mr. D. House wears a straightforward butcher's style apron, while Mrs. House's apron features a feminine gathered waist.  The dog is actually a pot holder that slips into the front of the lined pocket.


Note that the fabrics recommended for the gentleman's apron are denim, percale, or unbleached muslin, while the lady has the additional choices of gingham, chintz, and chambray.  I would have thought chambray would be suitable for both.  The recommendation of unbleached muslin, an inexpensive and not terribly sturdy fabric, is a clue that these aprons weren't intended to be taken very seriously - perhaps they were used as humorous wedding or shower gifts.


This pattern has never been used.

Friday, October 15, 2010

McCall 3759 Ladies' and Misses' Spanish Costume


1930

Clearly a companion to McCall 3760, the Spanish Gentleman, though copyrighted two years earlier.   This one will allow you to be Nita Naldi to your very own Rudolph Valentino.  Here's a rather muddy scan of a beautiful Saturday Evening Post cover by McClelland Barclay from February 1, 1930, showing our couple in full flamenco action.  Tango was also very popular at this time.


The dress itself is very simple, though the scalloped flounce will need some careful basting.  It's the choice of fabrics, high comb, mantilla, fan, jewelry, hair and make-up that will really make the look.

As with many costume patterns, the design echos but does not actually reproduce any particular Spanish regional or folk dress.  Note that the low waistline that we associate with the 1920s hasn't quite returned to the natural waistline.

Friday, October 8, 2010

McCall 3760 - Spanish Gentleman and Toreador Costume


Around 1932.

Why a Spanish Gentleman or a Toreador?  By the time this pattern was released, Rudolph Valentino (an Italian, but let's not quibble) had been dead for six years, but his 1922 film Blood and Sand had been wildly popular, particularly with women.


SeƱor A does look suspiciously like these images of "the Latin Lover," as he was known.



Friday, October 1, 2010

Butterick 1566 - Ladies' Sack Chemise with Round or Square Neck


Until I have a chance to dig deeper into Butterick's history, I'll date this one after 1887, but prior to 1903, as that was the year the company's New York offices moved to a new building at Spring Street in New York City.  Undergarments are notoriously hard to date.  The illustration looks earlier rather than later to me.

In some of the comments for earlier posts we've discussed how home sewing patterns sometimes survive more by chance than by design.  My local Goodwill store uses sewing patterns for wrapping glassware, for example.

This one seems to have just barely avoided being destroyed by time and inattention.  Typically these early Butterick patterns arrive folded into a packet that measures about 5 inches square.  Envelopes don't seem to have been supplied, and separate instruction sheets won't appear for another twenty years.  (The Shawl and Traveling  Case 4514 pattern dates to about the same time.)  My guess is that at some point this pattern was rolled  up and subsequently became squashed at the bottom of a drawer or shelf.  Mice or bugs or both could have attacked the glue used to attach the label to the pattern.

Here is how the pattern looked when I first unfolded it.


And here it is after a careful pressing with a cool, dry iron. (I've rearranged the pattern pieces to reflect the way the chemise would be put together.) The pattern pieces actually show few signs of use. Outside of the damage caused by poor storage conditions, there are almost no tears or pin holes, and the notches are still crisply cut.  Note the notch at the bottom indicating the hem line.


This is about as simple a pattern as you can get for a chemise, and home dress-making books of this period usually give ample instructions for drafting a chemise pattern on your own.

From Needlework, Knitting, Cutting Out, by Elizabeth Rosevear, 1894
The seam allowance of only 1/4" seems rather narrow if the maker intends to fell the seams, as should be done for body linen.  Note that yardages are given for lace trimming and insertion, but you're expected to know how to apply this, as well as the underfacings for the sleeve and neck edges.

The Sears and Roebuck Catalog for 1902 offers chemises for ladies ranging in price from 98 cents to $1.89.  Even the low-priced model offers lace edgings and insertions (though probably not of very high quality.)

Let's wander over to the yard goods department of the catalog and see what it'll cost us to make up the Butterick chemise in the most economical way possible. (I'm assuming that white sewing thread and needles are always kept on hand in the household.)

Pattern (price is obscured by damage, but looks like about)       20¢
2 and 3/4 yard of lawn, 32" wide, @ 20¢/yard                      55¢
3 3/8 yards of lace trimming @ 4¢/yard                            14¢
lace insertion, sold @ 12 yards for 18¢                           18¢
TOTAL                                                           $1.07

Considering only the materials and not the value of the maker's labor, the home-made chemise is nine cents more than Sears least expensive purchased chemise, but 82¢ less than the most expensive one.