Vintage Sewing Library: 1930s-40s Draping

I’m not sure if I have shared this link before or not, but I returned to it recently and thought I should share. These books were linked to on The Vintage Pattern Files blog, which is itself an incredibly generous resource for knitting and vintage fashion too. But the books themselves are great resources on draping, and one of them happens to be a Woman’s Institute booklet produced in the mid 30s. Evie of La Couturiere Dimanche scanned it and made it available on her blog (here). I love all things Woman’s Institute, and their materials from the 30s are especially hard to find. Yay for the internet!

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There’s another by Mary Evans from 1935–Draping and Dress Design.

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It goes into some depth on draping sleeves and shoulders and necklines, which are my current problem areas to get the fit just right. Also interesting historically, since there seems to be an erroneous contemporary idea that toiles or muslins weren’t really used, despite Mary Brooks Picken advocating them in notes in Fashion Service in the 20s and these draping guides. My suspicion is that wartime shortages made fabric more expensive during the 40s, or maybe people had less disposable income for muslin, or the make do and mend mentality changed sewing practices during that time, and maybe that stuck until our contemporary era. If anyone knows more about that, I’d love to hear it!

As far as my own projects go, I have two wearable muslins in progress at the moment–one is a blazer jacket that actually allows some movement and incorporates tailoring techniques (thank you Craftsy courses!) and another is my first decent self drafted corset.  Both started as flat pattern attempts, went wrong multiple times, and gradually morphed via draping and chalking and cutting and cussing into something more like a workable pattern. I think draping is more my style than flat patterning, despite all my attempts to do it the hard way. Sigh.

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Vintage Sewing Library: Medieval Embroidery Inspirations

This is the rabbit hole I’ve been down today. Medieval blackwork embroidery:

All of the above examples are from medieval portraiture except for the photograph, which is from (here).  There is a gorgeous reproduction of the cuff above, which is from Holbein’s portrait of Jane Seymour during the Tudor era. This version was done by Alexandra Gray (more info here).

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I’ve found a few great sources for this on archive.org–one is a book from 1532 from Alessandro Peganino, because when I go vintage, I go VINTAGE. Here are some of the illustrations it includes:

The original book is available for free (here). I’m hoping to incorporate some of these designs as trimming details on some of my 1920s tunic attempts!

Oh, You Pretty Things: Poiret and the 1910s-20s

Sometimes I have to drown out the ugliness of the world with the beauty of human nature and human works. So this week there have been a lot of kitten videos, avoiding of facebook and beauty for its own sake. Just thought I’d share some of my current happy micro-obsession with Poiret, the art deco fashion illustration of the 20s, and the multiculturally inspired, out-with-the-corset elegance of the 10s. Many of these are Poiret designs, and many are Barbier illustrations.

1930s Fashions: Mode Illustree and Vionnet Designs

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Anyone ever sewn from a Mode Illustree pattern sheet? Wowza. This has got to be a great brain-aging preventative if ever there was one.

Mode Illustree was a French fashion/home magazine published weekly from the 1859 until at least the 1930s–I haven’t seen any later examples, but they may very well be out there. I was lucky enough to find a few with the original pattern sheets, which are a large sheet with all the pattern pieces traced on top of one another with different lines. A bit of a tangle to wrap the head around. I guess the idea is to trace them onto paper and voila, you have your pattern.

It has taken me roughly three days, but I have finally gotten it drafted (digitally!) to the point of being ready to print it out and test it. The patterns for Mode Illustree are all listed as size 44, which at least in this 1930 version is for a 70cm waist, 94cm bust and 100cm hip (27.5in waist, 37in bust, 39.4ish waist). That waistline is *not* gonna fly, but we’ll see how it goes.

My other current perseverations: pondering the mysteries of the math behind radial grading systems (how does Lutterloh do it??! and how does one create a pattern that can be drafted in this way? *and* how does one blend sizing in this system?) There is a little bit about this in the book The Victorian Tailor but I have been too scattered to really focus on that book like it deserves. And ever since witness2fashion’s wonderful posts on Vionnet, I’m planning on trying a Vionnet (for a Halloween costume wedding reception dress!):

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I love so much about this dress. I love it’s Cersei-esque I-will-cut-you style feminity. It’s flowing and feminine without being revealing. Which means a) I won’t be bitterly cold and b) may not even have to worry about shaving my legs and c) I run zero risk of wardrobe malfunction. For a form fitting flowing dress like this, though, some homemade Spanx might be a necessity. But I digress.

This is from The Bunka Fashion College’s book on Vionnet, which gives diagrams that can be enlarged to draft patterns for 20+ designs based off of actual garments. I have vain aspirations of working my way through it to learn everything I can from hands-on practice with her technique, but given my sewing ADD in this post alone, it’s unlikely that will ever happen. (I go from obsessing on 1860s sleeves to 1930s cowls to 1970s tunics over the course of a day. Is there a name for this obsessive interest roulette wheel my consciousness turns on?) But the book is amazing. It’s in Japanese only, but the illustrations are remarkably clear.

The pattern pieces for this one are mindboggling:

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I’m looking forward to trying it. Has anyone tried any Vionnet type designs? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Digitization Issues, or, Text or Image, that is the Question

Been working on the ol’ book hoard. I’m having major issues with image/text readability as I attempt to convert books to formats that are readable but remain  20MB or smaller…This is my best yet solution:

03t06tI’m just curious what other people think of this reproduction style. I think I’ve stared at it for too long. I’m not crazy about the look of the text, but to me I prefer a less pleasurable text block with a fine illustration. Alas, a full color copy of the scans won’t give me a manageable final filesize either…more experimenting to come I’m sure.

But also just for funspiration–some images from the Woman’s Institute Designing and Draping book, all by Alice Seipp:

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I used this method on another really rough copy of a book and it worked out great, giving me images like this:

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*swoon*, right? That is from a Weldon’s Modern Bride–it was full of all these grease spots and totally disintegrating, so I’m totally happy with this. It’s on Etsy, actually–here–along with some of my other recent stuff. Shameless plug, yes? It’s been a good channel to funnel my OCD into I guess.

Iconography: Lauren Bacall “The Look” Exhibition at FIT

The museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is doing a swoon worthy exhibition of Lauren Bacall’s personal collection of pieces. She donated over 700 pieces to them over the years, and this is a selection that is guaranteed to induce salivation. My personal favorites:

Lauren_Bacall_68.143.6_20101013_01_450This glorious Norman Norell piece, designed with subway travel in mind. Cool and casual on the outside to get you where you’re going without drawing attention, with the vavavoom sequins and shimmer sheath dress beneath. I love the champagne color. Also a big fan of the era’s tendency to match jacket linings to the main garment.

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And this 1968 Christian Dior silk jersey and ostrich feather piece of evening dress wonderment. Could I pull this off? Incredibly doubtful. Could I sew on ostrich feathers? Also incredibly doubtful. But faux fur sleeve accents to add that Scarlett O’Hara flair to a otherwise minimalistic black top? Now that’s within reach. Gotta work on my resting bitch face, though.

There is a digital version of the exhibit on FIT’s website (here) with tons of information and photos. Amazing, of course, I wish there was a bit more on her menswear pieces and earlier style, but that’s just my unfaltering love of the power suit speaking.