Things I Hoard: Modes & Travaux

If memory serves me, this French language publication began in the 1920s or slightly earlier, and is still in publication. It features fashion, knitting and embroidery, and many of the ones I have from the 30s still have an included iron on transfer sheet with embroidery designs. As part of my learning curve with digitization methods, I’ve been playing around with one from the 1930s with some gorgeous designs by Maggy-Rouff, Molyneux and Lelong in it. It’s gorgeous, as most illustrated fashion magazines of the era seem to be. (I think I like illustration better than photography in my fashion mags, even though the illustrations definitely seduce me into sewing things that aren’t going to flatter my body but look great in theory on a drawn person whose waist is roughly 12″ around and who stands at least 7′ tall.)

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Another thing I love about these old publications is the window they provide into the day to day life of their era. We tend to think of the past as if it were so different, but all the advertising in these speaks to the same things we worry about today–wrinkles, our weight, our hair color, that ever elusive glamor we want for ourselves. Unlike some of my friends who tend to think that technology is revolutionizing our consciousness, etc etc, I tend to think that the human heart stays mostly the same. We all worry about the same things, we all need the same intangible things from each other, whether it’s 1700 or 2015. But outside of the context of one’s era, certain things do seem bizarre…like whatever this beauty treatment ad is offering (if radio-actifs means what I think it does, omg, way to redefine youthful glow):

You, too, can own your very own beauty ball gag.
You, too, can own your very own beauty ball gag.

Another thing I can’t get enough of is old lingerie advertisements and design.

bra ad corset ad

So pretty! So I managed to digitize it all and have it not be distorted, overly blurry or overly contrasted–if you’d like the entire pdf, I’m making it available for free download for a day or two 🙂 enjoy!

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Current Projects: Digitization and the Pictorial Patterns of 1925

These days I’ve been working on my digitization skills. I am a rabid collector of pattern booklets (among entirely too many other things). They are filled with gorgeous illustration and a wealth of inspiration–I love the unique details and trimmings of the 20s, the fluttery chiffons of the 30s. I thought I’d share some images from my May 1924 Pictorial Monthly Fashion Book, which I’ll be making into a pdf and putting on Etsy, if only for other completist/hoarders/rabid OCD fueled types who might want the reference material.

Etsy shops with vintage sewing materials are an interesting phenomenon; I’ve been sort of studying them. Reproduction patterns are a wonderful thing, but I can’t help feeling a bit irked when people charge $12 for a photocopy or scan of a *single* draft-it-yourself Ecoupe Clair pattern. I’m glad there are people who hoard these things and make them available, but my recent purchase of a 20s lingerie “booklet” was just photocopied instructions from a Woman’s Institute magazine, uncredited except as “original source material from 1928.” Not gonna name the particular person because I actually sort of like her, have bought vintage original booklets from her, and I know she’s just making a living and making rare materials available again–but something about it seems off to me somehow. The Amy Barickman books “Vintage Notions” and “Magic Patterns” are similar–just repackaging of Inspiration magazine from the Woman’s Institute and representing the patterns within it in a modern graphic design packaging. It bothers me somehow that someone would claim authorship in such a way of someone else’s incredible work. But at least Amy Barickman did digitize the patterns into a pdf and write her own instructions. I don’t know. When I start offering my own patterns drawn from vintage sources, I intend to be a bit more…forthcoming? less price inflated? about my work as a “pattern designer.” There’s a difference between being a pattern designer and a seamstress/collector with a scanner, in my mind. Is that snarky? Probably snarky. But also true.

But I digress.

These old pattern booklets are hard to find and most of mine wither to the touch with the chipping, brittle edges and cracks. I love to look at them but am afraid to handle them much, so the digitization is a tricky process. Compound that with these being oversized and too large for a single scan and it’s been a delicious little challenge. But these images are gorgeous. 1922-1927 is my favorite pattern illustration era, I think. The 30s might be my favorite in terms of silhouette, but these colors! These textures! These women looking at you with that Cheshire cat all-knowing look in their perfectly fitted ensembles. *swoon*

Enjoy!

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