Sunday, June 3, 2012

Marian Martin 9624 [Smart Apron Frock]

July 25, 1933, as per the The Gettysburg Times.

Between the pattern and the envelope, there is quite a lot going on here.  Let's take a look.

For those of you unfamiliar with Marian Martin patterns, they were advertised in newspapers and were generally quite economical - this one sold for fifteen cents when some of McCall's elegant embroidered smock patterns from the same period sold for three times as much.  A seasonal circular was also produced for fifteen cents.  These patterns didn't come with paper envelopes in addition to their mailing envelopes.  Now and again these patterns show up with glassine envelopes, but I haven't pinned down the exact time period when this was the practice.

The illustration above is from the instruction sheet.   The instruction sheet, which is in very poor condition, refers to this garment merely as a "dress" while the newspaper article refers to it as a "smart apron frock."

The newspaper copy is wonderful:
"Here's a new recipe for housewives!  Send for this pattern, buy a few yards of fabric...cotton prints are pretty and cost so little, add a bit of contract, (sic) make it during leisure hours and you'll have a most attractive frock.  It has reversible fronts, perky flares and handy pockets.  You'll want several different colors."
I guess that the copy edit department at the Gettysburg Times was overworked during the Great Depression and "contract" just slid by instead of "contrast."  The article just above this pattern advertisement is titled "Washington Highlights" and in passing mentions former president Hoover, for whom this style of reversible-front apron is often called a "Hooverette."  And indeed, that's how the maker Mrs. L.L. Long thought of her smart apron frock: note how she's written that across the front of the envelope:

This address appears to have been consumed by the Interstate highway
Note also the small insignia at the top center of the envelope.


This tends to stump those who are new to vintage patterns, and they wonder what on earth the National Rifle Association had to do with anything.  At this time, NRA stood for National Recovery Administration, which had the responsibility for implementing the National Industrial Recovery Act.   NIRA was passed in 1933 as part of the New Deal, but was declared unconstitutional in May 1935 shortly before it was set to expire.

NRA was strongly pro-union, so by putting the logo on their envelopes, the Des Moines Tribune was making a statement (those of you with expertise in unionization in the newspaper industry, feel free to chime in here!)  In color, the logo was known as "the blue eagle."  With the eagle holding an industrial gear in one talon and the power of electricity in the other,  this is quite a striking image.


On the reverse of the envelope, Mrs. Long made a note to herself about the amount of fabric required.   Because the pattern and envelope are so battered, I suspect that she made up her Hooverette multiple times, as the newspaper copy suggested.


But honestly, I bought this pattern entirely because I thought the illustration was so engaging.  It's very tempting to supply a caption for it:
"All hail to the god of sweet iced tea!  Sing Lipton!  Sing Tetley!"
or
"That's funny, in those nice Agatha Christie novels the poison just dissolves"
What's yours?

12 comments:

What-I-Found said...

I always learn so much from your posts, today it was the NRA logo. I knew it was from that era, but didn't know more.
I have quite a few patterns with their glassine envelopes and have wondered about dating them. And wonder if they were simply packaging or if they were so be protective, maybe against moisture?
Thanks so much for your blog.

Lynn said...

So much fun, Andrea! I think you should consider writing a book. I would certainly buy it.

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

I have some glassine envelopes that were overprinted with the names of local stores, so it's possible they were an option.

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

The original concept for Unsung was a book, but the blog has some interesting advantages. I still think of the book idea now and again, though.

Little Black Car said...

I am desperately in love with 1930's apron frocks. I know they're basically the equivalent of wearing pajama pants during the day, but they look so much better.

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

Little Black Car- Apron frocks/Hooverettes always seem to resonate when I post them; they tend to be some of the mostly highly visited pages, though the overall all-time winner is the sun bonnet, which seems to be enormously popular with readers in Europe and Russia.

Anna said...

Hooverette!! A minor obsession of mine. You're dying to trace the pattern off and offer it to readers, right???

:)

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

Anna I wish I could bottle the appeal of the Hooverette - I think I could make a mint! Sadly, I'm not equipped to trace off and grade patterns. Perhaps some day!

The Farmer's Daughter said...

What a wonderful blog! I'm linking you to my blog right this minute! thecountryfarmhome.blogspot.com
Then I'm coming back to read and enjoy. . .

okaysofi said...

I wonder if this is where Diane Von Furstenburg found her wrap dress idea?

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

okaysofi - In 1931 in France there was a fad for the hooverette as a beach cover-up (great idea!) In 1950, the french design house Mainbocher showed a Hoover apron in one of its collections. After this date, the "Hoover" name seems to drop off the radar, but the idea of a wrap-fronted dress was certainly floating around. Von Furstenburg's real innovation may have been using knit fabrics, with their clingy drape.

Dea-chan said...

I picked up a Marian Martin pattern today. And did you know that this old blog post is pretty much the only thing discussing the history of this company? Thank you so much for the research you do.