I hope to inspire and entertain you with a lot of sewing and a little of everything else!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Great-Grandma's Sewing Patterns for Back to School

I have a small collection of vintage patterns. Whenever I find affordable vintage patterns that I like, I buy them. I especially love the turn-of-the-century boys' sailor suits and Russian blouse suits and the girls' 1900 and 1930s styles, but my collection includes 1895-1955 or so. Today, I am sharing a few that I think are from the 1920s. It is hard to tell, because they rarely have a copyright date (or any date at all). These all cost around 30-35 cents are are unprinted paper patterns, which means that the tissue is pre-cut into the shapes of the pieces and the only markings are by perforation or notches in the paper. The directions are usually limited to writing on the back of the envelope. As we hit the 1930s and beyond, they may have a one-page instruction sheet. Every time I buy one of these, I wonder who originally owned it and did they make an outfit for someone from this pattern. I also buy them because I hope to make some of them someday. I have actually made 2 vintage patterns: one is a 1940s "housedress" that I made for myself and the other is a 1908 "combination" underwear. I'll share those another time!
I love the front button detail on this dress. It is very simple, but would be a great base for some interesting trim. I just opened this one up and it is dated 1919. I thought it was more recent than that! Notice the fabrics recommended: pongee, chambray, gingham, dimity, batiste. Some of these old fabrics are available again in heirloom sewing stores. We are lucky to have such a variety of beautiful fabrics today.

I can't find a year on this pattern, which has the pieces and the transfer to make a smocked dress, size 6-8. Notice how the bishop sleeves are very fitted and end just under the smocking. The color graphics are pretty, but my favorite part of this pattern is something that horrifies me, too. I was a biology major in college and suffered through organic chemistry. Now, I know you're wondering what this has to do with a sewing pattern! The last part of the directions for this dress reads:
"If necessary to remove the yellow stamped designs, wool goods and silks can be rubbed with benzine (sic), gasoline, or carbora."
Here's the chemistry part: benzene is today known to be a very dangerous carcinogen. You could not go get some at the Village Store to wash your baby clothes! Likewise, can you imagine washing your little smocked dresses in gasoline? Ouch!
Finally, something for the boys. What attracted me to this pattern is the little tabs on the button-on pants. I love button-on suits on boys, even though undoing all those buttons is a bit of a nuisance! Isn't this just a sweet little suit?

Do any of you collect old patterns? I think collecting goes hand-in-hand with crafting. Most creative people seem to collect things that they can use (fabric, lace, etc.) or that inspire them (books, patterns, photos). I will share more patterns in the future. I wanted to give you a little sample today!


Jeannie B. said...

I love seeing the old patterns so enjoyed this post very much. And thank you for the chemistry lesson!

Elisabeth Rose said...

I know how wonderfully you have been inspired by vintage design; glad you enjoyed these. I'll share more soon. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Jan said...

Love all the things you've made. Apple dress is very cute. I may just have to start collecting old patterns. Your patterns are a definite inspiration. And yes gasoline is a scary thought.