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.