Saturday, December 29, 2012
Standard Designer 3804 - Surgical Gown and Cap
This one could use a little research. I don't have enough context to know whether this is really intended for medical use or is a costume pattern. The only other costume pattern I have from Standard Designer dates to about the same time but is in an entirely different number range.
Just a few years earlier during WWI, the Red Cross authorized patterns for surgical gowns, so the idea of home-sewn medical wear isn't entirely new.
This unprinted pattern and its envelope both show signs of wear.
Posted by andrea.at.the.blue.door at 12/29/2012 03:07:00 PM
Labels: 1920s, cap, men's clothing, occupational garment, Standard Designer, surgical gown
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Co-incidentally, I watched several 1939/40 Young Doctor Kildare movies on the Movie Network this week. All the doctors in the hospital were wearing something similar for every day, but it was a white tunic and pants. The tunic was shorter and buttoned at one shoulder, had a cloth belt that must have buttoned in the back and ended mid-thigh. It had the same high collar. This pattern looks like surgical gowns, but I don't remember any scenes in the movies that were set in operating rooms.
I just found your blog and I love it. Thanks. I am interested in utilitarian clothing too. Just as the pattens are lost, most utilitarian clothing was worn out, so not many examples remain. It is wonderful that you are sewing up some of your patterns.
I doubt that this is a costume. I've been nursing for 35 years and until recently our hospital had a sewing room. Many uniforms and hospital requirements were made in the sewing room. Hospitals had their own laundries and kitchens too. Back then, it is possible that the nurses made these garments after hours or, they could have been commissioned by the matron at the time according to the needs of the hospital. Nurses working in operating rooms have been responsible for the creation of many items required for surgery, doing a lot of work behind the scenes.
As a former Certified Surgical Technologist for 15 years, and a self-professed history freak, I totally concur with Susan Stuklis, above. When I was very much younger, I had wanted to be a nurse, for most of my young life. I read everything I could get my hands on, made friends with nurses, and managed to gain a considerable amount of knowledge regarding the inner workings of and historical knowledge of hospitals, nursing departments, nursing schools, and the like.
Sewing rooms in hospitals were generally run by and employed either talented seamstresses, and/or retired nurses with considerable sewing skills. The production, repair, and laundering of all hospital garments, including doctors uniforms, surgical gowns, caps and cloth masks, student nurse uniforms, their caps, and general hospital linens took place inside the hospital. They were not "farmed out" to commercial laundries and suppliers for quite a while, finding it cheaper to do in house.
I have some very vintage nurse's Surgical textbooks, from the 1920's, one of which provides enlargable patterns in the back for producing these particular surgical garments.
Nurses were expected to be seamstresses as well as nurses back then, and part of their responsibilities included inspection, repair, packaging and sterilizing of surgical caps, masks, gowns and rubber goods including the gloves. Since these cloth items were made of heavy cottons and linens, they tended to wear out after a period of wear and being subjected to heavy duty laundering and hot commercial style ironing in mangles, and being run through steam autoclaves repeatedly, requiring replacements. Sewing rooms were busy places, keeping these garments in the inventory for use by all the surgeons and interns on staff. Plus laboratory staff, and scrub dresses for the nurses who worked in surgery and sometimes in nurseries, if the hospital nursing staff were required to change to hospital laundered dresses to work with the newborns.
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