Monthly Archives: September 2017

A Mystery Corset: 1820’s ?

NOTE: I thought this post was published on Sept. 16, 2017; I even received helpful  comments and updated it — but it’s not listed as published on my dashboard — so, forgive  if you received two notifications on it. Mysterious, indeed.

This corset is stiffened by many rows of parallel channels. A busk can be inserted in the center. Parallel rows of diagonal cording flatten the midriff, which, to me,  suggests a date after the 1810s.

When I first saw this corset in a collection that was being readied for sale, I was fascinated by its beauty and its fine state of preservation. At first, I couldn’t believe it was not a reproduction.

Detail of front of corset. It was so small it looked like it would fit a child, but no child would have a bust like this.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I took a few quick photos and sought advice, but the collection was sold before I realized that I needed more pictures. I can’t even find detailed notes — just the letter I wrote asking for advice — so apparently I never had a chance to return to this garment, or to photograph several other intriguing corsets.

Back detail of the corset near shoulder.

I believe it was completely hand stitched with shiny brown thread. The stitching is so regular that it looks, at first, like it was done by a machine; however, I believe it is perfectly spaced back-stitching, with visible starts, stops, and knots on the inside of the corset. [Update: it is not back-stitched; Cynthia Baxter suggested that is was stitched with a running stitch, and then stitched on the opposite side with running stitches using the same holes. I have seen this technique used by shoemakers and leather workers, so it makes sense for a corset.]

Inside of the corset. An occasional thread knot implies hand stitching.

The state of the fabric, except for a few spots, was remarkable — if it is as old as I think it is (before 1840.)  It could have been collected anywhere.

Channel stitching, detail of right midriff front. The busk channel is at right of photo.

Detail of front of corset.  The midriff area is stitched from below the bust to just below the natural waist. I think the channels hold cording.  I do wish I’d had time  to photograph the inside!

The corset has a dropped shoulder in the back, tiny close-fitting bound armholes, and an extended shoulder line.

In general, the collection did not include many items of this rarity and quality. However, the collection did include a fine 18th century man’s vest, as well as this dress, from early in the 1800’s.

An early 19th century dress from the same collection as the mystery corset. The chemise under it is unrelated.

Empire dress, early 1800’s, with wool embroidery at hem in three shades of brown.

The corset worn under a dress like this created a very high bust, but a woman’s waist and hips didn’t need to be re-shaped.

Back to the mystery corset: I only took one photo of the back, with a gigantic, modern black lace obscuring the eyelets.

Back of corset, with a modern black shoelace holding it closed.

Were the holes hand worked or were they metal grommets?  In my ignorance, grommets would have been a red flag to me; if there were metal grommets, I would have assumed that the corset was a reproduction or had been altered to be worn in modern times. But — I would have been mistaken. This English corset from the Museum at FIT is dated 1815. It has metal grommets down the back.

I looked online for Regency Era reproduction patterns; I didn’t find any pattern for this corset. A yahoo search turns up several images of Regency Era corsets. Click here.

There’s a nice overview of early 19th century corsets at Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion. Click here.

A Regency style corset made by sidneyeileen.com has similarities to our mystery corset.

A corset (1830 to 1840) in the Los Angeles County Museum has a similar high waisted (but not Empire) silhouette.

This corded corset, with a channel for a front busk, is at the Metropolitan Museum: it is described as 1820’s. The waist is i little above the wearer’s natural waist. The front straps are spaced as far apart as possible.

Corset from the 1820’s in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

corset met 1815 to 1825

I was going to leave it at that, but couldn’t resist trying to relate the shape of the corset to the clothing that would have been worn over it.

All the following fashion plates are from the online Casey Collection of Fashion Plates at the Los Angeles County Museum.

1800 fashion plate from Ladies’ Museum, in the Casey Collection. The early 1800’s corset pushes the breasts up to a rather unnatural position, high on the chest.

The neckline of our corset is too high for these fashions — and it does not push the breasts up this high.

Detail of front of corset. It was so small it looked like it would fot a child, but no child would have a bust like this.

Early in the 1800’s, the Empire waist was very high and the dress was often gathered in the front. The fullness moved to the back a few years later, which would call for a smoother midriff area. By 1811, the waist was moving lower:

April 1811, fashion plate from La Belle Assemblee, Casey Collection. A ball dress.

However, not every woman immediately adopted the lower waist, as this mourning evening dress from 1818 shows:

Evening dress for a woman in mourning, 1818. From British Ladies’ Magazine, December 1818. in Casey Collection.

The mourning dress and the Parisian evening dress below might have been seen at the same ball, although one has a much lower waist.

A high bust and a descending waist line, from La Belle Assemblee, January 1820.

These dresses from 1822 show a high bust with a lower, fitted waist, which is still above the natural waistline.

1822: a plate from the Ladies’ Monthly Museum, October 1822. Casey Collection. The shape of the midriff is becoming important, no longer concealed by fullness in the dress.

Bodices from La Belle Assemblee, December 1822. Casey Collection. The trend for wider shoulders and a narrow below-the-bust area is beginning. Belts accent the waist, which is still higher than nature designed.

Fashion plates from 1825 show higher necklines and lower waists, with a widening (and highly decorated) hem.

January 1825, Petit Courrier des Dames. Casey Collection.

February 1825, Petit Courrier des Dames, Casey Collection. The silhouette is wider at top and hem, emphasizing a tiny waist.

November 1825, Ladies’ Magazine. Casey Collection.

By 1829, a tiny waist, rather than a high, full bust, is the focus of fashion:

September 1829, La Belle Assemblee. Casey Collection.

April 1830, La Mode. Sleeves are enormous, the shoulder is widened and extended over the upper arm; a woman is wider everywhere — except her waist. Casey Collection.

So:  where does our mystery corset belong?

High neckline, relatively natural bust, flat midriff, slightly dropped shoulders.

Back of corset, with a modern black shoelace holding it closed. Notice the line of the shoulders.

I can imagine it being worn under this dress — but that’s only my guess.

Dress from the late 1820’s; Metropolitan Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

Regency Era?

http://sidneyeileen.com/2012/04/04/regency-corset-wip-days-2-4/assembly-15/#.Wbb4dNFlA2w

high qual repro pattern http://www.songsmyth.com/underthings.html

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrSbDs78rZZzHAAarpXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyM3ZwYmZuBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjQ0NjBfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=corset+1820s&fr=mcafee

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“Service Suits” for Girls, Boys, and Women in 1917

Military uniform for boys aged 6 to 16. Butterick pattern 8070, August 1917.

“In these times, boys of all ages like to be ready for service.” He is “ready to do ‘his bit.’ “

Butterick pattern 8070 for a boy’s “military suit” from 1917 was part of a trend: “service suits” and military dress for civilians.

Butterick 9334 for girls, September 1917. Delineator. This girl has long, “Mary Pickford” curls.

Right, Ladies’ Home Journal “military dress” pattern 1067 for girls 6 to 14, October 1917.

Butterick “military suit” pattern 9365, September 1917. For girls 10 to 15 years old.

Butterick coat pattern 9315 from August, 1917. Delineator. Sized for young girls  and adult women, it was “sometimes called the trench or military coat….” For “active  service.”

“Service suits” and a military dress for women from Butterick patterns, August 1917. Delineator. For more information about these patterns, click here. The blue and tan dress, like the tan suit, has “service pockets.”

Butterick offered so many variations on “Service uniforms” for adult women, I worry that some women spent more time making an outfit to wear while volunteering than they actually spent doing war work.

Three out of four patterns on this page are “uniforms” for civilian women aged 14 to 19. August 1917, Delineator, page 50. “When Johnny comes marching home he will find his sister all turned out in a new military suit.”

The phrases used to describe these outfits use plenty of military jargon.

It’s not surprising that young women heading off to college expected that they would spend time aiding the war effort in some way.

A traveling suit that is also a service suit, for college-bound women. Butterick coat 9324 with skirt 9374. Delineator, Sept. 1917. Pleated “service pockets” came in large, practical sizes and in sizes that were purely “fashion.”

“So many women are doing relief work of all kinds, and they drop into restaurants for tea and luncheons in this type of suit.”

Right, a Butterick military-influenced suit uses coat pattern 9324 with skirt 9309. August 1917.

Left, Ladies’ Home Journal patterns 1059 (jacket) and 1099 (skirt), November 1917. The majority of patterns were less military looking.

The military look was a new fashion option, among more traditionally feminine styles for women. Left, Ladies Home Journal pattern 1061; right, LHJ pattern 1050. October 1917.

Even Chanel showed a service suit:

A service suit designed by Gabrielle Chanel, illustrated in Butterick’s Delineator in October 1917.

That is not to say that women were just playing dress-up. The “women’s magazines” were an important channel of communication for official government notices, from food conservation to Red Cross needs and instructions for volunteers.

Knitting for sailors; a form from Delineator, August 1917. Those who could knit — or learn to knit — were asked to do so; those who couldn’t were asked to donate money to buy wool yarn.

Knit Your Bit for the Navy. Delineator, August 1917.

From a Red Cross article about knitting for servicemen. It appeared in Delineator, November 1917. The Ladies’ Home Journal printed similar articles by the Red Cross so that readers could volunteer to make everything from “comfort kits” to hospital gowns, bandages, and hot water bottle covers.

EDIT 9/10/17: Synchronicity/serendipity brought me this link via Two Nerdy History Girls to a fine article at “Behind Their Lines” about women knitting for the war effort.

The Butterick Publishing Company received such an outpouring of knitting for the troops that it briefly became a problem, before standardization of size and color was imposed.

Sweater pattern 9355 from Butterick, August 1917. It was sized for boys or men. A short time later, the Red Cross issued standardized patterns for the military.

Nevertheless, the patterns for “service uniforms” for children seem to me to be a little silly. (I certainly didn’t wear my Girl Scout uniform every minute I spent earning badges….) On the other hand, now that even young children carry a cell phone to school, some big “service pockets” on school clothes would come in handy!

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Couture Designs, World War I

Formal Styles for October, 1926

Afternoon dresses for formal day-time occasions; Butterick 1016 (for “the social butterfly”) came in very large sizes;  7079 is for formal afternoon events, dinners, theater, etc. From Delineator, October 1926.

“1016 — Paris meets the formal demands of Autumn and Winter with frocks suitable for weddings and receptions, for luncheons, tea and bridge. The cut rather than the fabric makes the difference in this mode, for satin crepe, crepe de Chine and crepe meteor are used for simple dresses as well as for the social butterfly shown at the left.  Satin crepe is used for the body and straight skirt and its reverse side for the collar and one-piece slip. The other materials area smart in two shades of the same color or in two harmonizing colors. Georgette and silk voile make charming frocks over matching slips of taffeta or satin…. The collar makes it becoming for women from 36 to 52 bust.” — Delineator, Oct. 1926,  p. 43.

The matte side of the double-sided crepe satin is shown as a lighter color; the shiny side on the lapel, slip and sleeves is shown as a darker color.

Butterick 1016, on the left, was available for women in sizes up to 52 inch bust measure. Pattern no. 7079 came in the standard range of sizes:  32 to 44 inch bust measure. Hems — even for older women — are at the bottom of the knee.

“7079 — One for every wardrobe should be the ruling for the type of one-piece frock illustrated at the right. Its circular frills and smart sleeve make it what the French dressmaker calls a dinner frock. It leads a double life of great usefulness, for it takes care of all afternoon engagements and answers for small, informal dinners, the theater, and nightlife on an ocean  liner. Chanel red — a dark peony color — in Georgette with the flower of ribbon in the same color, silk voile in string beige with the flowers of lemon and silver ribbon, fern-green moire, black Georgette with jade, with almond, with royal blue or flesh are excellent day and night colors. The lower edge measures about 44 inches…. The style is extremely becoming to women from 32 to 44 bust.” — Delineator, Oct. 1926,  p. 43.

This dress is for “informal dinners” or afternoon wear because it has sleeves. Evening gowns had deeper necklines, no sleeves, and deeper-cut armholes than formal day dresses. The ribbon pom-pom at the shoulder is apparently an important part of the dress. A very long necklace creates a flattering vertical line, although this dress does not have a hip band.

Beaded evening gowns were appropriate for very formal wear, and a truly determined woman could make her own:

Butterick frock pattern 1048 could be made to resemble this illustration if you also used Butterick embroidery and beading transfer 10481. Delineator, Oct. 1926. An alternate view shows it with sleeves and a higher neckline.

There is a copy of this pattern in the Commercial Pattern Archive, which shows the neck and sleeve differences. Some readers have commented that Butterick patterns from the 1920’s and 1930’s often seem much too difficult for a woman to make herself. In fact, since they were aimed at upper-middle-class women, many Butterick patterns must have been made by a professional seamstress, “the little dressmaker” who existed in almost every town. In the case of Butterick 1048, with all that hand beading, the customer was asking a lot!

This lace frock, Butterick 1043, is less formal than a beaded frock, but still very elegant, and more versatile. Delineator, Oct. 1926. It has a trailing “wing cascade” and is ornamented with a fake-flower pom-pom, probably of feathers, velvet, or silk chenille. Notice the bangle worn on her upper arm.

Butterick’s dolman evening coat 7084, in metallic brocade, is shown with Butterick evening dress 1041. Delineator, October 1926. In the twenties, bits of dress were often seen peeking out from the coat’s hem.

Right,Butterick evening frock 1041, October 1926, Delineator. The dress seems to be made of metallic moire, with sheer chiffon panels which have picot edges.

Alternate views of coat 7084 and frocks 1041, 1048, and 1043. Butterick patterns from October 1926. Here, 1041 is shown in an afternoon version, with sleeves and higher neckline.

A picot hem can be faked with a ziz-zag stitch. Sew Historically wrote about how picot hems were done in the 1920’s and also provides a tutorial on faking them with a modern sewing machine. [Note: Always allow your reproduction chiffon dress to hang for several days before finalizing its hem. Chiffon on the bias will stretch … a lot! Gee, I wonder if all those irregular, drooping-hem fashions of the twenties were making a virtue out of necessity….]

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Uncategorized, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

World War I Paper Dolls, 1917

A little while ago I wrote about a series of paper dolls based on silent movies.

Another set of paper dolls based on popular actors in silent films, Delineator, June 1917.

Later in 1917, after the U.S. entered World War I, Delineator magazine gave children a new set of heroes.

Paper dolls of U.S. Naval uniforms, Delineator, September, 1917.

This change of emphasis extended to clothing patterns for children:

Butterick pattern 8383 for boys 4 to 12. Delineator, September, 1917, page 63.

In November, pilots were featured. The illustrations are by Corwin Knapp Linson.

Paper Dolls based on Naval Air Force Uniforms. Delineator, Nov. 19217, p. 25. “A Naval Airplane With Its Daring Crew.”

The illustrator crammed as many drawings as possible on each page,  including a battleship and an airplane — and the Navy Mascot.

U.S. Navy uniforms illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, September 1917.

U.S. Navy uniform illustrated as paper doll, Delineator, September 1917.

U.S. Navy uniforms illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, September 1917.

U.S. Navy uniforms illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, September 1917.

The pilots include one woman:

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25.

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25. “This aviatrice is dressed in a serviceable uniform similar to that worn by Ruth Law.”

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25. Left, “a lieutenant of aviation in service uniform;” right, “his flight suit of light leather or waterproof cloth.”

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25. Left, the leather coat and hood of a lieutenant of aviation.

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25.

Delineator was a “woman’s magazine,” but it had been running articles about the valiant French and English for a long time.

“Women of France: What They Have Done in the Great War” by Gertrude Atherton. Delineator, February 1917, p. 5. Illustration by W. T. Benda.

Much of the fashion coverage used military terms, like “over the top,” and “holding the line.”  Illustrations of little boys used to show them engaged in peacetime activities; now they were shown “playing war.”

Boys imitating soldiers in a fashion illustration. Delineator, September 1917.

Did anyone really make this uniform, complete with puttees, for a little boy?

Butterick pattern 9383 for boys aged 4 to 12. September, 1917, page 63.

Butterick patterns for boys, September 1917. Left, sailor suit 9171; right, a toddler so young that he is still in a dress  (No. 8867) waves a wooden sword. (In some eras it was customary for boys to wear dresses until they were out of diapers.)

(Did the writer really understand that allusion? “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” — Elegy in a Country Churchyard, by Thomas Gray, published in 1751.)

Butterick patterns for boys, Delineator, September 1917. Left, a sporty suit with Norfolk jacket, No. 8553; right, suit No. 8381 has a naval flavor. Sailor suits for boys were an established tradition. Even girls wore middy blouses (from “midshipman.”)

Butterick patterns for boys, Delineator, 1917.

It’s almost a relief to see this “manly looking” — but civilian — overcoat for boys aged 4 to sixteen.

Butterick overcoat 9030 for boys, 1917. “… It is just the type that Dad wears.”

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, World War I