Touching Bases

It’s been a crazy roller coaster since I announced the 1912 Project.

 

I plan on posting a couple of longer blog posts by this weekend – but in the meantime -here is some quick information.

 

1912 Project Blog site can be found at www.vpll1912project.org.

 

And for more information – or to join the 1912 Project – email to vpll.1912@gmail.com.

 

Updates by this weekend!

The 1912 Project

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

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 vpll.librarian@gmail.com

The first two patterns that are available for testing are:

Blouse of Muslin Weight Wool

Mantelet For A Lady Of A Certain Age

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It’s All About The Men!

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:

     Description of this plate reads as follows:

TWO BUTTON SINGLE BREASTED SACK COAT

(Left Illustration)

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

(Right Illustration)

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.

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El Salon De La Moda 1880 – 1890

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 5 – no date

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.

Dressing Well – 1904


     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 Few Buts

          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.

A Peek Into The Archives – Petite Echo De La Mode

Starting a new feature in the blog this week – a sort of sneak preview of some of the items in the archives – that have yet to come into the light of day.  Or onto the website.

Petite Echo De La Mode was a lovely French fashion magazine that spanned a goodly number of years, all the way up through the 1950’s or early 1960’s I believe.    The archives contain issues dating from 1896 through 1939.  While the Library’s collection is by no means complete, there is a fairly decent selection from most of the years.

If you would like to know more about the history of the magazine AND you can read French – there is a website dedicated to the magazine.

The lovely pictures below come from our April 11, 1926 issue.

When You Have To Sew Something Vintage . . . Fast!

This past January we hosted a 1933 party at our house.  I’m part of a small group that does .  . . . well not exactly reenactment . . . and not exactly murder-mystery . . . events.  Hard to describe really, except to compare it to a sort of live-action soap opera drama with supernatural overtones.  And NO . . . this is NOT some vintage riff on “Twilight”.

As you can guess, since we were hosting, I was so busy with preparations trying to get everything coordinated (caterer, music, etc.) and organized and ready, that I didn’t have much time for sewing.  I needed at least one day dress (well ideally two) and one evening gown dinner dress.  Weirdly enough I own five evening gowns that look 1930’s (two which are actually vintage), so I was able to slide on that one.   And for one day I was also able to skate with a “faux-vintage” blouse and skirt.

And of course . . . I was down to the wire with only a day to put something together.

Can I see a show of hands of all of you who have been here before?

I did a quick look through my fabric stash and the archives to see what I could find that wouldn’t take too much fiddly work.  The pattern I finally settled on was this one:

Don’t let the “Size 20″ alarm you.  It’s a vintage sizing, and is actually equivalent to a 38 Inch Bust and 41 Inch Hip.

I ended up using this size because it was fairly close to my hip and waist measure- ments, but I had to take it in at the bust.  I’m a bit “pear-shaped” these days . . .  sigh.

But this looked like it would go together quick, and that was important, since I only had a couple of hours before I needed to wear it!

Looking through my fabric stash – I needed to find something that was 1930’s looking, and didn’t require a lot of finishing.  So things like French seams, zippers and buttons were out, because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do all of the finishing techniques before I had to put it on.

I found in my stash some light weight cotton fabric that had very art deco looking berries in dark blue and apple green.  And surprisingly I also had some apple green boiled wool that matched the  green in the cotton.

Granted boiled wool probably wouldn’t have been used for this dress – but the wool had the advantage of no raveling edges, so finishing would be minimal.

Here is a picture of the almost finished blouse.

The drop shoulder puff sleeve is pretty cute, I think, with the double row of gathers at the shoulder.

Because I was in a hurry to get it done, I just made two diagonally shaped darts in the front from the shoulder towards the center front.   I sewed them on the right side, so they look like really long tucks.  You can’t see them in the photo, because the pattern blends so well together.  And when the jumper is worn over it, the straps hide them.

Even so, I think this is a blouse that I’ll probably wear with jeans in the summer.  When it’s warm enough not to have to wear three or four layers, like I’m doing now.

I still need to hem it, put buttons or snaps on the front, and bind the seam on the inside neck to finish it up.

 

Here’s the photo of the jumper with the blouse.

The green originally looked to stark against the blouse, so I put an edging of the blouse fabric around the neckline and arm opening.

The sliders on the straps are belt buckles, that I picked more for color – but they are actually a bit too heavy for the dress.  I’m on the look out for something else to replace them with.

And clearly – I didn’t get the belt made – so for the day that I wore it, I just tied off a strip of the blouse material as a sash.

I still need to put some snaps or fastener bars under the straps, and to tack down the slider buckles to the fabric.  I may take it in a bit more at the sides at some point.

I finished the whole thing in about 6 hours of marathon sewing. And got lots of compliments on it at the party!