Thank you Emily for not making me sound too silly – I was honored to work with you on this interview.
Thank you Emily for not making me sound too silly – I was honored to work with you on this interview.
What appears to be a basic ruffled dress, upon construction you’ll find it’s anything but. The drape at the front neckline gives this design just enough feminine shaping while the V-shaped back adds drama. The bias cut of the bodice and skirt, and the pointed seam lines make for a body hugging silhouette. And the fluttery two-tier sleeves and four ruffled godets that sweep the hem make it all just dreamy to wear.
This may be a bit more difficult than other vintage projects given the amount of pieces it takes to make up the ruffles and flutter sleeves, then add hemming all those pieces…. whew, but then it goes together nicely, and the end result is so worth the effort of those funny shapes.
Size: 32 inch bust – although it fits nicely on a 34 inch bust mannequin
Fabric: Pre-washed rayon
Construction Notes: 1) I interlined all the bodice pieces with silk organza but not the skirt and sleeves. 2) For all hemming, I opted for a rolled hem with a zig-zag stitch. I tugged the fabric toward me as it was going though the presser foot while pulling a bit from the back so it would advance. It made for wavy edge which only added to the ruffle effect.
So, for what started out in my mind as just another frilly dress, I found myself smitten with each step of the construction process. It truly is a darling dress.
New to the Library is this darling Butterick sewing pattern #2996. Listed as a 1920’s frock, it was actually advertised in Delineator Magazine, January 1930 dating it as a late 1929/early 1930 design. The dress has all the feminine details such as three different hemline options, geometric seams, two piece optional cape, and a pretty tie, all making this the perfect party frock.
When making up any design for the Library, I tend to use only basic straight and zig-zag stitches in an effort to keep the dress as accurate as the tools a sewer from that era would have had to work with in her home. The directions (or New Deltor as they were referred to), call for hemstitch detailing for the seams which would showcase the dainty geometric design. But then I wondered how this would have been done in the 1920’s? Our modern sewing machines tend to come with every gadget imaginable, but not so in 1929. So, after researching my ‘The New Dressmaker’, published by the Butterick Publishing Company, 1921, they recommended the following:
“Machine hemstitching is used on blouses, dresses, lingerie, etc., to put together seams, finish hems neat, durable and gives a garment a dainty, finished look. It is also used as a trimming either in straight rows or in a fancy design. Prices for the work vary, but it is very expensive. It can not be done at home as the machine required is too costly, but any plaiting establishment or salesroom of a sewing-machine company will do it.”
How charming is that?!
So, for the pattern testing stage, we used bias trim made of linen in a contrasting color to showcase those gorgeous lines.
There are darts at the bust, front waistline, and along the back, as well as at the shoulders of the cape, giving this pullover dress it’s subtle shaping. And if you omit the cape, it makes a fabulous dress on it’s own. Although, difficult to show in photos, and having made this in a crepe-like chiffon, the dress just floats.
And it all finishes up nicely with a tie/knot at the neckline.
This reproduction dress pattern is now available at the VPLL web-store.
Although the web-store only accepts PayPal, this pattern is also available on the Etsy store and all form of credit card is accepted there.
Here’s a lovely pattern now available at the Library as a reproduction. The original, #5215, is from the Butterick “Starred” collection and features a bathing ensemble as worn by Bette Davis. And, yes, Bette actually wore this in the movie “Working Man”, filmed in 1933. This “must have” style designed by Orry Kelly was advertised in Delineator Magazine, June 1933, and could easily be considered a fabulous addition to today’s current summer wardrobe.
Two-piece outfit in either of two styles with attached undershorts and optional bandana. Pattern is sized for a 32 inch bust.
View A (Yellow version below) has a halter-style top with plain front shorts that button along both sides.
View B top ties at shoulders and at the open back (Bali print version). Shorts have a pleated front, optional belt loops and belt, and buttons along both sides.
And finally, here is the fabulous Bette Davis wearing this ensemble. Oh my, and she wears it well!
And, oh what fun they are.
1930s Ladies Evening Slip, having a V-front neckline with gathered bra-like bodice and features a deep, plunging back with darts for shaping. Can be made in shorter length for day dresses, or longer, with or without the optional flounce. Perhaps a lace flounce with a lace bra overlay. Perfect for wearing under 1930’s era evening gowns. Pattern is sized for a 34 inch bust.
1930s Combination Undergarment, having a V-front neckline with bandeau bra bodice and features a plunging back. Tap outfit secures along the side seam for a closure free look. Can be accented with lace – perhaps along neckline and hem, or a lace bra overlay. Perfect for wearing under shorter 1930’s era fashions. Pattern is sized for a 34 inch bust.
1940s Ladies Undergarments, having darted bra with back hook closure. Bloomers feature a gathered leg hem, and gathered waistline, with optional V front yoke overlay. Can be accented with lace – perhaps along the neckline, or another lace bra overlay. A ‘must have’ for wearing under 1940’s era fashions. Pattern is sized for a 36 inch bust.
Off to work on more ‘new’ patterns…. stay tuned!
As you can see this issue of The Standard Designer that has just arrived at the Archives is a bit worse for wear. The cover has been taped several times, and has seen a lot of hard usage.
Luckily the wonderful illustrations and the pages inside have stood up a bit better. Though it’s clear that whoever the original owner was, spent many hours pouring over the most current fashions of the month.
This issue also contained all four of the colored plates, which still have lovely bright colors despite some staining and wear.
Over the next few weeks we will be taking an in-depth look at the contents of The Standard Designer from May 1897. I will be posting many of the fashion illustrations and descriptions – so stay tuned!
“Blue and white foulard was the material used to make this charming combination of garments which has resulted in a stylish toilette suitable for afternoon wear. Fine swiss embroidery and blue satin ribbon were the trimmings employed, and the belt and collar are also made of ribbon. The skirt is an exceptionally graceful model, and is particularly well suited to thin fabrics. The waist also appears to great advantage either in wash goods or silk. A detailed description of the waist pattern, prices, etc. will be found on page 28; a similar description of the skirt will be found on page 23.”
“The spring season shows in the fashion world a great leaning towards the smart blouse waist. In the accompanying illustration we have arrived at a most happy combination of a trim, neat-sitting back, with a blouse front. The model preented is one of the pretiest designed this season, and as here shown s developed in figured batiste, trimmed with narrow lace about the collar and wrist.
“This waist is mounted on a lining fitted by centre-back, side-back, under-arm and shoulder seams, also by double bust darts. The liningis overlaide to yoke depth, and the body portions of the waist which are fitted by under-arm seams, are attached to the lower edge of this one-piece yoke by gathers. At the waist line, back and front, the fulness is confined by a double row of shirring. The sleeves are two seamed and close fitting to ablve the elbow, where they expand into graceful fulness and are gathered into the arm-holes. They are finished at the wrist by a facing.
“A band collar finished the neck and a plain belt encircles the waist. The one-piece collarette is laid in a triple box-pleat on either shoulder and attahed to the neck edge of the waist. The closing of this garment is effected down the centre of the front by means of hooks and eyes invisibly placed. The smaller view depicts the waist minus the collarette. Silk, flannel, chambray, gingham, organdie, dimity, mull, etc. may be used to develop this waist and lace, braid, gimp or insertion may be used to trim. Figure views on pagees 10, 13, and 18 show different developments, more or les elaborate, of this stylish design.
“The pattern is cut in ten sizes, for ladies from thirty-two to forty-four inches bust measure, and costs 20 cents. The medium size requires four and one-half yards of material twenty-two inches wide; three and three-eighths yards of material thirty-two inches wide; two and three-eighths yards of material forty-four inches wide; or one and seven-eighths yards of material fifty-four inches wide. As represented ten yards of lace edging was used to trim.”
The Library Archives contain samples of historic fashion from all over the world – and from many different eras. While Harper’s Bazar and La Mode de Illustree are two of the more well known publications that catered to women who wanted to make their own garments – there were many, many others that mirrored their form and format. (If not quite often stealing their designs!)
La Salon De La Moda was such a publication, that featured a 11 X 17 format folio and an over size pattern sheet from which the pattern were traced. While there is not a broad depth of information on this magazine, the publishers were Montaner & Simon – one of the most important publishers in Spain. The magazine was published from about 1884 through 1913.
The mast head reads (in my not so good Spainsh!) – “A biweekly journal, indispensable for families, with a profusion of black and white illustrations of the latest fashions from Paris.”
The issues contained in the archive are noted as follows:
Volume 6 – Jan. 14, 1889
Volume 6 – Feb. 25, 1889
Volume 8 – July 14, 1890
Volume 9 – July 13, 1891
And one mystery issue which is noted as Volume 5 – but with no publication date. If it follows the system as above – volume 5 would be from 1888.
The pattern sheets are of an interesting type of paper. Rather than the same newsprint as the magazines (which Harper’s and La Mode used) the paper is a semi-transparent red – with a waxy or glossy finish on it. Heavier than onion skin – but not as heavy as newsprint.
The pattern sheet is printed both sides as is usual with these sort of publications – with a cutting guide to the pieces, but no instructions for sewing. A template of all the pieces on the sheet is provided. Pieces for bodices are given but no patterns or diagrams for skirts are included.
In general the art work and fashions depicted are not as elegant or as well defined as those in La Mode Illustree from the same period – though it is clear that the target audience for this publication would have been the same as that of La Mode or Harper’s.
This odd little booklet came from the “Misc. Fashion” files. One of those items that is somewhat difficult to actually pin a label on. At first glance one would suppose it would be chock full of all sorts of hints and information about clothing yourself or your family on a budget.
Despite the title, it appears to be an advertising give-away, most likely from a tailoring shop, as on the second page we find: The magazine is eight pages in length, with black and white illustrations through out – except for the color front and back covers. The box on the front cover is imprinted with the Berry-Ball Dry Goods Co. Which indicates that this was a magazine that was ordered from a central clearing house, where it was imprinted with the purchaser’s company name.
However, despite the title – there is very little about Dressing Well For Little Money. A few of the written pieces exhort men to consider purchasing their suits of “good taste and quality” ready-made. And there is very sound advice regarding the “Whole Cloth Back Suit” – wherein the back of the jacket is made in a single piece, in order to avoid ” . . the breaking of the stripe or check”.
The majority of the page space is filled with light humor in the form of jokes, short tales of about two paragraphs long, and some pithy observations on the nature of life. Such as:
A man demands that a woman shall always be well dressed. He is a perpetual victim to the click of high-heeled shoes and the frou-frou of silk skirts, and to his private code, considers mother hubbards and curl papers as suffcient grounds for divorce. But – he expects his wife to achieve the miracle of first-class clothes on an eighth-class income.
EVERY man demands that a woman’s heart shall be an ice-bound fortress, diffusing a cold storage atmosphere that will give every other man who approaches her frosted feet. But – he wants her to turn into a seething volcano of red-hot affection when he draws upon the scene.
All in all – it’s an odd little bit of printing. If you’d like to take a look at the magazine in it’s entirety – you can download it in full (for a small fee) – by going to this link: DRESSING WELL DOWNLOAD.
Historic fashion for men tends to get short shift, in comparison to the discussions of women’s fashions. Perhaps because the costuming world tends to be a bit gender tilted towards women. Today I address that a bit with the first in a series of posts about the world of gentleman’s clothing.
The masthead above is from a publication dated May 1932, and originally published by the American-Mitchell Style Corporation. The magazine was part of a larger company (The American Mitchell Fashion Publishers) that produced many books and periodicals about the art of tailoring. The earliest editions that are in the archives date from 1913 – but they most certainly produced books prior to then.
According to the May 1932 issue they were located at 15 West 37th Street in New York. But by the May 1934, the company is listed as the American Gentleman Publishing Corporation, located t 1133 Broadway in New York.
Typically each issue would contain news and information on the newest fabrics, styles, and articles on pattern drafting and garment construction. This 1932 edition includes the lovely fashion plates shown below:
TWO BUTTON SINGLE BREASTED SACK COAT
Material is a pearl gray tweed suiting. The coat is 30-1/2 inches for a man of average height. The shoulders are of natural width and finish. Gorge is cut rather low. The lapel notch is cut slanty and measures 2 inches at the notch and 11-1/2 inches to the top button. Collar measures 1-3/4 inches at the notch and the same at the back. The back is well shaped an draped over the blade and has a center vent. Fronts are made up soft with no hair cloth and quite chesty. Lower pockets have flaps. Breast pockets are finished with a welt. Edges are single stitched close and the seams are plain. Sleeves are finished with an open vent and four buttons. The waistcoat and trousers are the same as explained on the next figure.
DOUBLE BREASTED SACK SUIT
The material is a light Cheviot suiting. Coat length is 30 inches for a man of average height, 5 feet, 8 inches. Shoulders are of natural width and finish. The Gorge is of medium depth. Lapels are peaked, measure 2-3/4 inches at the peak and 13-1/2 inches to the top button. The back is quite shapely, but easy fitting and has a center vent. Front is quite chesty and closes with two buttons. The upper buttons are 5-1/2 inches apart and the lower buttons are 5 inches apart. Pockets are piped. The breast pocket is finished with a welt. Edges are single stitched close and the seams are plain. Sleeves are finished with an open vent and close with 4 buttons. The waistcoat is single breasted, no collar. Fronts are made up with 6 buttons but only buttoned on 5. The bottom is well dipped. The trousers are natural fitting over the hip and thigh, and measure 20-1/2 inches at the knee and 18-1/2 inches at the bottom. The bottoms are finished with a cuff.
There are several pattern drafts in this issue, including a double breasted woman’s overcoat – very similar to this pattern currently in progress. The only difference being that the magazine draft has pockets with a flap – whereas the McCall’s pattern has double welt pockets.
At some point prior to 1945, the Mitchell magazines and publications were bought by the Master Designer Publishing company in Chicago, Ill There is an indication that they were publishing tailoring books as late as 1992. A quick internet search turned up nothing current on them – so I am unsure if they are still in business or not. If anyone has further information – please post in the comments section.
I will be posting up soon a series of pattern drafts from these magazines! Watch for the next post in the series.
For those who love history or are enthralled with the tragic sinking of the Titanic, you may know that this April 2012 marks the one hundred year anniversary of the event. There are all sorts of events planned across the United States, and a quick Google search will turn up quite a few. The Grand Hotel is offering a three-day event package which looks wonderful. Locally in the San Francisco Bay area – Gaskell’s Dance Society will be hosting a Titanic themed dance in April.
If you are looking for Facebook groups The Unsinkables, is one sharing information and news about costuming and events, and you can find an ongoing series of articles about 1912 fashions written by yours truly at Your Wardrobe Unlock’d. The Edwardian period has always been one of my favorites in the terms of its elegant simplicity, and lovely lines.
Inspired by the anniversary and my own love of the period I thought it was about time to embark upon a project that I’ve been wanting to do for quite awhile.
The 1912 Project needs your help!
Through out the next few months, leading up to the Titanic Anniversary I will be transcribing patterns, graphics and information from the 1912 editions of La Mode Illustree – a beautiful French fashion journal of the period – with the goal of making all of the patterns from the entire year available.
How Can I Help?
If you love to sew, and are intrigued by the 1912 era – you can help!
The Library is looking for test sewers willing to post to the blog their experiences and photos in working with these vintage patterns. If you already have a blog, all you need to do is post there and send us a cross link to the entry. In return we will send you copies of the patterns to sew from as they are transcribed from the journals!
For an information package about the project – you can email direct to firstname.lastname@example.org
The first two patterns that are available for testing are:
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