Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Du Barry 2350B - Child's Two-Piece Snow Suit and Cap

Latter 1930s.

I remember my snow suits being blue quilted nylon and horribly ugly.

Du Barry patterns were sold exclusively at Woolworth's and were produced by Simplicity.

The description on the back of the envelope provides some cheerful, if somewhat ungrammatical advertising copy:

This is a nice, thoughtful design with the reinforced knees and two patch pockets (for two hankies for runny noses.)  As long as the new slide fasteners didn't jam (mine sometime did, thirty years later) they would have been an improvement over trying to cope with buttons with cold or mittened hands.

Making up a snow suit in a size two is a labor of love.  The center back length of the jacket is only fifteen inches.  The outer side length of the trousers will be 24 inches.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vogue 8053 - Hooded Coat or Smock

Late 1930s.

There is something very appealing about the illustration.  Our model is having a nice walk in the country on a sunny, blustery day.  Her rather more refined older sister is back at the house, arranging flowers for the dining table.

The pattern retailed for forty cents, good value for a garment that can be made up as a smock, jacket, and beach cover-up.  Although Vogue is marketing this pattern as "Easy to Make," they still offer you the option of putting in a lining.  And if you're not entirely confident of your sewing skills, you can get their sewing book right at the pattern counter.

I picked up my copy for $5.00

Blue chalk smudges are still visible on most of the pattern pieces, though not on the piece for the sleeve band.

If you've not seen vintage sewing patterns before you may be surprised to find that they're unprinted.  Vogue is somewhat unusual in perforating the name of the pattern piece - usually only the pattern piece letter or number is given.  All perforations have specific meanings, though the meanings aren't necessarily the same from one pattern company to another.  Unprinted patterns were produced as late as the early 1950s, even though McCall and Pictorial Review had both offered some printed patterns in the 1920s.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vogue 5770 - Women's Smock


Vogue patterns from this era don't show up very often.  Vogue has always marketed itself as a fashion leader, yet the design of the envelope, while perfectly adequate and informative, doesn't have the lovely style that McCall had adopted a few years earlier with their smock.

It's also surprising to see Vogue producing a pattern for a utilitarian garment.   But what a wonderful design they've produced!  The bound edges provide a very neat finish, as do the bound button holes

The tone of the instructions is that of a careful teacher with very high standards.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Butterick 2266 - Men's Robe

Late 1920's.

If you're going to provide the gentleman with a new robe for Christmas, this is a good time to settle on a pattern and fabric.

This elegant double-breasted model features two piece coat-style sleeves; both shawl and notched collars; and both welt and patch pockets.  View D shows contrasting fabric used for the collar, sleeve cuffs, pocket bands, and tie.  The robe can be lined; very brief instructions are given on the layout chart on how to use the pattern pieces to cut the lining.

Yardage is given for 72" wide cloth, with View C of the size 38 robe requiring 2 3/8th yards.  This layout means that if the blanket has a wide border, it will appear as a band around the bottom of the robe.    Notice from the layout that the front facings will need to be pieced (Personally, I'd probably cut them from a different fabric.)

In 1928 you could purchase a blanket from Montgomery Ward that measured 72" by 84", which would be just enough, though you might have to shorten the robe by an inch or two.

Instructions are given for lining and interlining the robe, making this a fairly substantial garment.

Made up in wool or satin, and lined with satin, I think this garment needs to be taken more seriously than today's casual terry bath robes, and it is certainly a far cry from today's usual "at-home" wear of sweats and a t-shirt.

Or, if this all seems like too much work, Montgomery Ward also sold Beacon blanket robes, sparing you the work. These still show up on ebay now and again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Banner 131 - Ladies' Sack Apron or Overall

After 1901, probably before 1910.

Banner Fashion Company, located at 532 and 535 Broadway, New York, was incorporated in mid 1901.

On October 30, 1901, Thompson, Gibson and Company advertised in The Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Daily Gazette and Bulletin about
Our New Pattern Department
We have secured the agency of the BANNER FASHION COMPANY'S PATTERNS for the City of Williamsport.  Right here we want to say they are the equal in every way of the BEST PATTERNS on the market, and in some things surpass the so-called best patterns.
Their Guarantee
We guarantee the absolute correctness of our patterns and, if fabrics are destroyed when following the directions on the label, we stand the loss.  No other house in the world advertises this, nor is there any better way of proving our faith in the construction of these patterns.
Nine-tenths of all Banner Patterns are 10c, a very few 15c and 20c.
The improvements embodied in the Banner Patterns are:
Lettered pieces.
All seams allowed.
Simple and complete labels.
Lowest priced.
Product of experts.
The only guaranteed Patterns.
Fitted to living models
Constructed regardless of expense
Absolutely the best in Design, Fit, and Style.

On June 14, 1902, the Wayne Dry Goods Company ran a 1/6 page ad in the Fort Wayne (Indiana) News for Banner patterns in which they state:
 With the Experience of Years Behind Them Gained in Connection with the Oldest and Most Popular Pattern Maker in the Country the BANNER FASHION COMPANY, Combining thus the benefits which are derived from experience and long practice, with all the additional improvements of recent years, offer their NEW PATTERNS, confident that they are as near perfect as an article of this kind can be made...Up-to-date always satisfactory styles at 10 and 15 cents each.
The popular pattern maker referenced appears to have been Butterick.  Just a few days earlier, on June 8th, 1902, the New York Times reported that Butterick owned not only Banner,  but also Standard Fashion, and New Idea.  (Butterick also acquired both Martha Dean and Little Folks and consolidated them into a single brand.)

There is some evidence that Banner produced one-sheets showing their latest styles.

In  New York in 1907 the printers' union recommended boycotting anybody who sold patterns produced by Butterick and their subsidiaries, including Banner, because they used non-union printers.  The latest reference I've found for Banner is a lawsuit in 1910.

This pattern came to me exactly as you see it, with the label glued directly to the pattern. The Butterick Shawl Case was put up the same way.  I don't know if there was ever any sort of paper or glassine covering.

The term "sack" has a venerable history in clothing, dating to the late 1600's when the french term "sacque" was used to describe a loose-appearing ladies' dress.   For the gentlemen, the sacque suit, or sack suit, was a relatively unstructured suit consisting of a jacket, vest, and trousers that first showed up in the 1850s.   The common element is that both the ladies' and the men's garments hang pretty much straight from the shoulder; there is no waist seam and minimal, if any fitting.  This clearly applies to Banner's apron as well.

This apron is interesting because there is no stated option of leaving off the sleeves; an apron requires sleeves and that's all there is to it.  Also, you're expected to know how to face or bind the round and square neckline options - no instructions are provided for this.

Note that the apron is also referred to as an "Overall." The working garment worn by men is the plural form: overalls.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Butterick 1057 - Women's and Young Girl's Smock

Late 1920's. Compare this to McCall 4531 and Simplicity 160 of roughly the same period, and Ladies Home Journal 1719, which is about ten years earlier.

There is a fair amount of interest in vintage workwear just now, with almost all of the discussion focussed on wonderful old jeans, overalls, jackets, and shirts -- most of which were originally made for and worn by men.

As I was working on making up this pattern, I came to realize that I was re-creating what is probably prototypical women's workwear from a time when women who had jobs outside the home would have worked primarily in retail, secretarial, or service occupations. This smock (here comes a very bad pun) has you covered.

If you're old enough to have ever re-inked a stamp pad or changed a typewriter ribbon, you'll immediately understand the practicality of this smock in the workplace.

The instructions very carefully instruct you to make felled seams, which are rarely specified in more fashionable women's clothing patterns of the period.

As an aside, making felled seams with 3/8" inch seam allowances isn't easy. I didn't even attempt to fell the gathered fronts and back into the yoke - I just bound these with lovely bright purple bias binding, which I also used to bind the collar, because it amused me.

Another interesting feature is the pocket slits in the sides - just like a man's shop or lab coat.

Even though women's styles in the late 20's called for a slender look, the amount of ease in the smock is enormous. For a stated bust measurement of 44 inches, the actual measurement under the arms is just over 64 inches. This means that you'd be able to wear this smock over a suit jacket. Skirts were very short at this time, and with a length of just 42" from the center back, the smock reflects that. The circumference of the sleeve around the bicep is about 20". The length of the sleeve from armscye to edge of cuff is 25"

In a section on house dresses and aprons, the Fall/Winter 1928/1929 Montgomery Ward catalog carried several different models of smock. This cheerful model on page 68 has hand-embroidered pockets and collar.

The catalog copy states that smocks are now becoming widely known as house coats, which gives us an interesting insight into how clothing terminology changes over time.

Another smock on page 71 of the same catalog was offered in black sateen. (1) I'd seen other smocks and house dresses offered in black sateen so I thought that's what I'd use for mine. Unfortunately, at the moment I was ready to start work, the only sateen I could find was stretchy, so instead I pulled this cotton print out of my stash.

My job requires me to roam around with my laptop, mouse, whiteboard markers, and pens. Depending on the time of year I'm also carrying tissues and cough drops, so it's not possible for me to have too many pockets. I wear this smock over jeans and a knit shirt or turtleneck and find it very successful (if it bit voluminous - it's really several sizes too big for me.)

(1) A generation earlier, the Sears catalog listed bicycling shirts in black sateen, so this seems to have been considered a utilitarian fabric.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Advance 1471 - (shirt, divided skirt, and sash)

Mid 1930's.

Note how similar this is to McCall 9094.

I recently ran across a very funny bit of dialog in Margery Sharp's Cluny Brown in which an older lady, Lady Carmel, observes one of her young house guests crawling around the tennis court on her hands and knees, and asks another house guest to "...make her get up, dear, I don't know what she's wearing." and is reassured that "It's a divided skirt, Lady Carmel."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pictorial Review 1543 - Ladies' Athletic Combination Undergarment

Mid 1920's.

Here's what to wear in the event you were wondering about the correct underpinnings for a gymnasium suit. This combination garment is a close relative of men's union suits. No fabric recommendations are given, but the pattern does specifically call for some knitted fabric (like that for men's undershirts) for the back waistband. Otherwise, cotton broadcloth or lawn are likely choices.

When not participating in sports, women at this period had an almost bewildering variety of undergarments to choose from, including corset covers, (no longer necessarily worn over corsets) brassieres, which seem to be identical to close-fitting corset covers, camisoles, chemises, step-in or envelope chemises, drawers, bloomers, and petticoats.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Simplicity 4737 - Women's Jumper and Blouse

World War II - probably 1942 - 1945

This blouse and jumper combination is pleasant but not really remarkable until you read the back of the envelope:
The blouse can be cut from a man's shirt and the jumper from an old dress, for which instructions are included.
And here they are:

Making over clothing has been practiced as long as there has been clothing, but it's only during times of war or economic hardship that the practice tends to get a public seal of approval. The booklet Make and Mend for Victory shows up on eBay regularly, so thousands of copies must have been printed; people probably felt patriotic just buying a copy. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Sewing, published in 1943 includes a chapter on making over garments. Here are few ways to use men's clothing.

It would be interesting to know how well people were able identify remade clothes worn by others and what their thoughts were when they observed children wearing rather somber grey or navy home-made coats. Was the practice common enough that nobody thought much of it, were the practitioners uneasy about it, were children teased for wearing made over garments. This kind of social history of clothing can be hard to document.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

McCall 4480 Ladies' Misses' and Girls' Quaker Bonnet and Tyrolean Hat

At a guess, first half of the nineteen-teens.

Technically speaking, this bonnet would probably be better called a cap. By the time this pattern was published, few Quaker ladies were plain dressing and wearing caps, and it's doubtful that those that were would have purchased a McCall pattern to use for making their caps. But late in 1910 the operetta Quaker Girl opened and was very successful. Here's Ina Claire as the Quaker Girl:

The Quaker Girl, by Tanner & M... Digital ID: TH-45074. New York Public Library

The Quaker Girl, by Tanner & M... Digital ID: TH-45075. New York Public Library

The Tyrolean hat, generally in a nice loden green, is still with us, though less exuberantly styled than this version and, if the Google image search is to be believed, much more commonly worn by men than by women. Millinery can be a tricky art, so the somewhat relaxed shaping of the Tyrolean make it a good candidate for a home seamstress with a desire for a casual, sporty chapeau.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pictorial Review 5969 - Men's and Youth's Shirt

Late teens to early 1920's.

There are several interesting things about this shirt pattern. First, only the coat-closing version is offered, even though closed front (slip over) shirts are still common at this time. Second, two choices of detachable collar are given. I don't know how to "read" men's collars well enough to know if one is decidedly more formal (or casual) than the other. Third, detachable sleeves are an option. Miscellaneous Garments states that detachable sleeves are an option for outing shirts, "thus making the shirt an ideal garment for outdoor sports." It's also interesting to note that one may make the back gathered or plainly fitted to the yoke, the latter being considered more correct for dress shirts.

Bear in mind that the button holes would have been worked by hand. I know that aftermarket button hole attachments were offered for home sewing machines by the 1930's, but I don't know how much before this they showed up. Hand-made button holes look different from machine-made ones; if they're well done I think they look very nice and they're not as stiff as machine-made button holes can be.

According the pattern envelope, a 36" chest will have a 14 1/2" neck.

This pattern is unprinted. No instructions are offered except what's on the back of the envelope.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beauty Pattern Company 9291 - Ladies' Apron


This one can be dated precisely due to its appearance in the Racine (Wisconsin) Journal News in the Thursday afternoon edition of the paper for June 20th, 1913.

A nice, straightforward apron. The illustration is another fine example of putting the most glamorous face on the very mundane task of doing dishes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

McCall 7867 Ladies and Misses One-Piece Pajamas

Late 19-teens to early 1920's.

The men's onesies were ugly, but I think these are sort of cute.

View 1, with the lace-trimmed gathered ankles is a bit over the top for my taste, but I think that View 2, made up in chambray, with short sleeves, would pass muster today as a jumpsuit and looks very comfortable for summer time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Butterick 1074 - Men's or Boys' Negligee Shirt

Late 19-teens to mid 1920's.

The Women's Institute book Miscellaneous Garments (1917) helpfully explains the different types of mens' shirts.

The instructions for a detachable collar are interesting. The double-pointed back yoke adds a stylish note. Note also that there is an alternate cutting line for the front to minimize bulk somewhat.

Notice that the "regulation" closing at this time is still a placket for a pull-over style shirt; the coat closing option still seems to be new.

To shorten the sleeve, the maker took up a two inch tuck in the sleeve piece and basted it with black thread. I know from experience that getting your sleeves the right length is a big motivation for having your shirts made (or making them yourself.) It must have been a great relief for the wearer to have cuffs that didn't drag down over his knuckles, as ready-made shirt cuffs surely must have.

This pattern includes a fairly early version of the Deltor, the instruction sheet.

The maker folded up the small pattern pieces and tied them with a scrap of shirting cotton.

McCall 7097 - Men's and Boys' One-Piece Pajamas


Notice the layout is for 27" wide (common for flannel) and 36" wide material, and the pattern designers know you'll have to piece the piece F.

The sheer ugliness of this pattern leaves me pretty much speechless.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

May Manton's 7853 - Bathing Suit

About 1912-1915.

This bloomer-and-dress style was popular from about the 1880s to about 1920. The vaguely empire lines of this model are consistent with dress styles of the mid teens.

The June 6th, 1915, the New York Times included a wonderful article about the season's styles in bathing suits. Which starts off "probably the majority of women who love the surf will bathe this Summer, as in other Summers, in suits of black or blue." But in 1915, brightly colored silks were popular. Bathing shoes came in both high boot styles, such as our model is wearing, and low slipper styles.

My edition of The Women's Institute booklet Miscellaneous Garments, copyright 1917, recommends making bathing suits of "Flannel, serge, alpaca and similar woolen materials..." The author states that a successful bathing suit "should be generously full, though not baggy nor clumsy."

Proper headgear is important. According to the New York Times, rubber bathing caps were decorated with rubber flowers, and in 1914 it became fashionable to wear corsages of these rubber flowers in colors to match or harmonize with one's bathing suit.

According to The Women's Institute, over a snug-fitting rubber cap, one wears "...a cap of lightweight material that harmonizes" [with the bathing suit.] Also " observing the instructions given for house or boudoir difficulty will be encountered in developing them." The cap that our model is wearing is very much in the boudoir cap mode.

The booklet also gives detailed instructions for tying a silk square over one's rubber bathing cap in the newest butterfly or "aeroplane" style