Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pictorial Review 7389 - U.S. Army Shirt

I'm going to give this a provisional date of early 1920's.  The illustrator makes this shirt's occupational role explicit by showing our model wearing his hat.

This shirt is a relative of Butterick 4078.  A few minor differences are observable.  The pockets of this shirt are pleated, and if the illustration is accurate, the sleeve plackets are much longer.  The back yoke is pointed.  Note that this shirt is pull over only ("Closed front" as the catalogs call it.)

It's still a puzzle to me why an "Army Shirt" is something that (presumably civilian) men would want.  However, as late as 1929, Montgomery Ward was still offering an "Army Style" shirt, yours for $1.98:

The price of the Pictorial pattern is 15 cents.  In the 1929 Montgomery Ward catalog, I find that 36" wide, half-wool shirting flannel can be had for 39c a yard.  The colors available were khaki tan, gray mixed, wine, dark green, dark brown, navy blue.  It's interesting that khaki is the first color listed.

The Pictorial Review Army shirt in this size (36) will require three and quarter yards of fabric.  I would buy a half yard extra because I'm pretty sure this fabric will shrink, and perhaps I'll buy a little extra for patching, so call it four yards.  A spool of thread will run about 23 cents.  Buttons will run about 20 cents for a dozen - that's good, it gives me some spares.  Out of pocket cost:

Pattern - 15 cents
Fabric - 4 yards @ 39 cents/yard  - $1.56
Thread - 23 cents
Buttons - 20 cents
Total = $2.14

Of course, if the man of the house is a little hard to fit, I'll be able lengthen the sleeves or make the neck a little larger.


Shay said...

"It's still a puzzle to me why an "Army Shirt" is something that (presumably civilian) men would want."

Every man thinks less of himself for not having been a soldier (Dr. Johnson).

Why do people wear pea-jackets and trenchcoats, and shop at military surplus stores? There's a cachet about military gear that appeals to the two-fisted adventurer in everyone.

Diane Shiffer said...

very interesting how you broke down everything price-wise. so it seems it would actually cost less to purchase this item than to make it... even assuming that a homemade garment would likely be better quality than a purchased one, it seems like a tremendous amount of work to go through, doesn't it? i can't imagine the hours something like this shirt would take. all those plackets! *shudders*;) said...

The cost-benefit equation for home produced clothing is tricky. In this case it certainly looks as though buying the shirt is more economical. I don't know how much the postage would have been, so the cost could come out pretty much even. Of course, the pattern can be re-used, bringing down the cost a bit for subsequent shirts. (And think of all the practice you'll get with plackets!)

We don't know the quality of the Ward's shirt, so it's impossible to say which shirt would have lasted longer, though I think I'd put my money on a well-made home produced shirt.

Anonymous said...

I had a wonderful time searching and reading your site! Very, very enjoyable!! said...

Thank you!

As I get the time to reproduce more clothing I'll re-post the patterns so that they float to the top, so do stop by now and again.

Anonymous said...

These 'closed front' shirts are still very popular in Australia where they are part of our national folk costume. (Kids sizes are available, but very expensive $150+ so usually only worn by the sons of wealthy ranchers.)

is a .pdf file that shows how to make them. They might look a bit retro, but they are code for "My back yard is as big as Texas". said...

Geoff, Many thanks, your PDF is very informative. I had heard the term "bush shirt," but didn't realize its importance in Australia's clothing history. It's impressive that they can be made without using a commercial pattern - truly, necessity is the mother of invention.