Category Archives: World War I

100 Years Ago: Women’s Bathing Suits for 1917

The knit bathing suit illustrated in this ad for Luxite Hose is considerably more revealing than the suits that could be made from Butterick patterns in 1917. Delineator, June 1917, page 50.

A friend once gave me a bathing suit as a birthday gift, with the explanation, “The swimsuit isn’t the real present. The real present is that now you don’t have to go through the agony of shopping for a swimsuit.” She was right. Getting a glimpse of my aged,  fish-belly white thighs in a department store’s three-way mirror is never the highlight of my summer.

Butterick bathing suits for June, 1917. Top of page 64, Delineator magazine.

On the other hand, even though these bathing suits from one hundred years ago would cover my thighs, I doubt that they would be flattering in any other way.

Butterick bathing suit patterns from Delineator, July 1917, p. 53.

I always enjoy seeing multiple versions of a pattern; most of these suits were illustrated in two ways in June of 1917 and in another two ways in July. They are all Butterick patterns from Delineator magazine. It’s also interesting to see the line drawings that show alternate views and the under-layer, which is often lost in vintage bathing suits.

Butterick 9201, a bathing suit for 1917

One version of Butterick 9201 from June 1917.

A sleeveless version of Butterick bathing suit 9201. Delineator, June 1917, p. 64.

A third version of Butterick 9201, July 1917, Delineator, page 53.

A fourth, striped, version of Butterick 9201, from Delineator, July 1917, p. 53.

This view from June 1917 shows the bloomers attached to an underbodice, or underbody,  which was worn under the “blouse” of Butterick 9201.

All four versions have ruffled pockets. I won’t show descriptions of all four versions, but the basic information is contained in this one.

The fabrics and colors only apply to the sleeveless, square-necked version. Other versions suggested were purple, navy, scarlet, or green, in wool jersey, satin, or taffeta. The pattern was available in sizes 30 to 44 inches bust measure.

Butterick 9219, a bathing suit from 1917

The striped bathing outfit is Butterick pattern 9219 as shown in Delineator, June 1917, p. 64.

A sleeveless version of Butterick 9219. “You can have it show jaunty bloomers underneath or have it cover them…. The bloomers are sewed to an underbody so there is no danger of accidents.”

Butterick 9291 pictured in Delineator, July 1917, p. 53.

Another version of Butterick 9219, July 1917. She wears black stockings and bathing shoes; the “unusual and becoming cap” was included.

Other views of Butterick 9219.

This view of Butterick 9219 shows the yoked bloomers attached to an underbody.

Various wool or silk fabrics were suggested. Although serge and silk poplin are mentioned, cotton is not, with the exception of “brilliantine,” a wool-and-cotton or mohair-and-cotton blend.

Butterick 9237, a “bathing-suit” from 1917

Butterick bathing suit pattern 9237, June 1917. This is the shorter version. Note her rolled stockings.

Butterick 9237 shown with a striped skirt long enough to cover the bloomers, Delineator, June 1917, p. 64.

Coin-sized dots and white lattice on the sleeves are unique details for this blue and white version of No. 9237. Butterick pattern from 1917. Cap pattern included.

Alternate views of Butterick 9237.

Girls’ bathing costume,  Butterick 9240, from 1917.

This bathing suit pattern, Butterick 9240, was available for girls 2 to 14 years old. Delineator, June 1917.

“If the child is very small the gathered or plaited straight skirt need not be worn.”

Butterick 9240 illustrated on an older girl. Delineator, July, 1917, p. 53.

Bathing suit for girls 2 to 14, Butterick 9240, from 1917.

Description of Butterick child’s bathing suit No. 9240, July 1917. Delineator.

How anyone, much less a child, was expected to swim in one of these bathing suits once it was wet and waterlogged is a mystery to me. The pockets must have been great for collecting seashells — or filling with sand and water and dragging you down ….

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Bathing Suits, Children's Vintage styles, Hosiery, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, World War I

100 Year Old Kodak Camera Ads from World War I

“The Parting Gift — A Vest Pocket Kodak.” Ad in Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917.

We take small, portable cameras for granted. But one hundred years ago, Kodak was putting pocket sized cameras into the hands of people who never had them before — including the men and boys who volunteered to fight in World War I.

Kodak Vest Pocket camera ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917, p. 51. “It is monotony, not bullets, that our soldiers dread…. In the training camps and during the days of forced inaction there are going to be some tedious, home-sick days — days the Kodak can make more cheerful…. There’s room for a little Vest Pocket Kodak in every soldiers’ and sailor’s kit.”

When the United States entered the war in April of 1917, training camps were still being built — including Camp Fremont, in what is now Menlo Park, California. For teen-aged girls like my mother’s older sister and her friends, it was both a patriotic duty and a pleasure to meet homesick young men from all over the country. And, judging from the photos I inherited from my aunt, “the boys” did enjoy sending pictures of their daily activities to family and friends.

My aunt, in her school uniform, with Walter van Alyne. The back of the photo says, “aged 20 years,” and it was apparently mailed to her when Walter was “Somewhere in Fra …. chelles.” [writing not legible]

Here she is with Wentworth Prescott  Gann, in 1918:

Wentworth Prescott Gann and my aunt, 1918.

Pictures reassured soldiers’ families, and were also a pretext for corresponding with new friends. (“I’d love a copy of that photo with you….” or “Here’s a copy of that picture we took at the beach….”)

Wentworth Prescott Gann, posing with artillery and a friendly dog, 1918.

Three soldiers posing for a picture to send home — or to sweethearts. The one on the left is Gaston Popescul; “Columbus (?) GA”

Clarence Turpening, probably at Camp Fremont, 1918. Sitting on two garbage cans, he is the picture of military camp tedium.

Because Camp Fremont was still under construction in 1917,  many of the soldiers who trained there did not get sent overseas. However, some unfortunate members of the 8th Division were sent to Siberia after the Russian Revolution of 1917. They were on active duty for months after World War I came to an end.

This photo of a luckier group was made into a postcard — probably everyone in it sent a copy home. I believe it is a group of bakers, with my uncle Holt (the soldier my aunt eventually married) leaning against a post in the center. I’m sure a picture like this would reassure worried families that their menfolk were safe and well. And perhaps, a bit bored….

A group of Army bakers or cooks, military camp in U.S.A., World War I photo.

“Snap-shots from Home” enhance morale for soldiers in World War I. Kodak ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917, p. 91.

Text of “Snap-shots from Home” ad, Kodak, Sept. 1917. Ladies’ HOme Journal.

Even schoolgirls like my aunt took (and sometimes printed) their own photos.

This typical photo from 1917-1918 fits easily in my hand. It’s about three inches high. The soldier’s name is Philip Wilson.

I was always puzzled by how tiny (about 2″ by 3″) many of these old photos are.  Finally, I found a full page ad in the Ladies Home Journal that gave me a hint: to save money, many people used their contact prints — made directly from the negative — but never bought enlargements. (In my aunt’s case, she made her own duplicate contact prints for friends.)

[Not Actual Size] Top of a full-page ad for Kodak, showing Vest Pocket photos in two sizes. July 1917, LHJ, page 79.

The contact prints, made by putting the negative directly on the photo paper without using an enlarger, were actually about two by three inches. The paper used for contacts feels flimsier than normal photo prints.

Bottom of full-page Kodak Vest Pocket camera ad, July 1917, page 79. Not actual size. “You don’t carry a Vest Pocket Kodak, you wear it, like your watch.”

I was not able to photograph the magazine page at actual size, so I took a photo of the whole page and then made this “relative size” image of the contact print and the enlargement.

Relative size of a contact print and an enlargement, 1917. The small contact prints — the same size as the film — were meant to be used for selecting the enlargements you ordered, but people who couldn’t afford 15 cents per enlargement made do with the contact prints themselves. And duplicate contact-sized pictures could be made by amateurs who didn’t own an enlarger.

Different cameras used different sized film, so those little contact prints came in a range of sizes.  A roll of film for the Vest Pocket Kodak cost twenty cents in 1917 and made eight exposures.

Although most people on the home front, especially in the U.S.,  had no idea of the horrors of the First World War, a tone of sadness, or at least, of solemnity, affected even Kodak’s Christmas season advertising  in wartime.

“Kodak knows no dark days.” Top of a full -page ad for Kodak cameras, December 1917. Ladies Home Journal, p. 104.

The ad was referring to taking pictures indoors, but a reference to “its allies” in the text is a reminder of the war.

Text of a Kodak ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917, page 104.

“With its allies, the Kodak flash sheets and a Kodak flash sheet holder….” As in fashion writing, allusions to the war crept in everywhere, even when it wasn’t mentioned specifically.

And here, as our dessert, is that lovely pink silk dress in better detail:

A young woman poses in a party dress in this Kodak ad from 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal, Dec. 1917, p. 104. It’s not a full color ad, which would have been more expensive, but probably printed using just black and red ink.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, vintage photographs, World War I

German Spies Pictured in Fashion Magazine, 1918

Images from an article in Butterick's Delineator magazine, July 1918.

Images from an article in Butterick’s Delineator magazine, July 1918.

In high school, history was my least favorite subject. Now that I am older, I wish we had been encouraged to study history in a different way; I have always been interested in people and their daily lives. The faces of these women  intrigued me. [Caution: I may be guilty of doing superficial research — TLDR–while trying to find out more about these “Huns,” “spies, and “traitors.”]

My point is that more research might be rewarding, that starting with a face and a name might be a way into the past for people who think history is boring,  and that “women’s magazines” or “fashion magazines” should not be disdained by historians.

Historians may find more than they expect in “women’s magazines.” Especially in wartime,  Ladies’ Home Companion, Delineator, McCalls’ Magazine and several other “fashion” periodicals presented a ready platform for communicating with women across the country. During World War I,  Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s Magazine had over a million subscribers each. [Magazines in the Twentieth Century.]

"Huns, Here There, and Everywhere," a page from Butterick's Delineator magazine, July 1918.

“Huns, Here, There, and Everywhere,” a page from Butterick’s Delineator magazine, July 1918. Detail: top of page. “These are in jail, but other spies and traitors are at work for the Kaiser … WATCH FOR THEM.” Calling the enemy by a pejorative nickname (e.g., “Huns”) is a propaganda device, which made me want to learn more about these people.

When I leaf through a women’s magazine from 1925, or 1917, such as Ladies’ Home Journal, or Butterick’s Delineator, I find more than fashion — I get a little social insight into the era. The editors wanted to sell magazines, so the articles that surrounded the patterns for sale had to be of interest to readers, too. Often they are short stories, or serialized novels. But the magazines are not always about creating a fantasy world. “Real world” topics impinge.

How much money does a young married couple need, and how should they budget it? (1920’s)  What are the jobs open to a college girl? How much will they pay? Can she live on $18 a week? (1930’s) Why does one out of seven babies born in America die? (1917 Delineator series) Should doctors administer anesthetics to a woman in childbirth? (Delineator, September 1934.)

In wartime, women’s magazines cooperated with the federal government in spreading information.

How can you feed your family and understand wartime food restrictions?

Wartime food restrictions, form Ladies' Hme Journal, August 1917, p. 16.

Explaining wartime food restrictions, from Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917, p. 16.

Herbert Hoover's Food Administration answers women's questions. Ladies Home Journal, September 1917.

Herbert Hoover’s Food Administration answers women’s questions. Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917. So many articles appeared in more than one magazine source that I stopped photographing duplicates.

What garments can you sew for the Red Cross?

Official Red Cross garments to be made by volunteers. A surgical gown, and two kinds of pajamas -- one which can be easily opened while treating wounded men. Delineator, November 1917. P. 77.

Official Red Cross garments to be made by volunteers. A surgical gown, and two kinds of pajamas — one of which can be easily opened while treating wounded men. Delineator, November 1917, p. 77.

From an article on sewing for the Red Cross, Delineator, September 1917, p. 77.

From an article on sewing for the Red Cross, Delineator, September 1917, p. 77.

In December, the same information appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, illustrated with photos instead of line drawings.

Hospital garments to sew for the Red Cross, Ladies' Home Journal, December 1917., p. 25/

Hospital garments to sew for the Red Cross, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917., p. 25.

What can you expect when your son goes off to war?

From an article in Ladies' Home Journal, August 1917. "If he is the right kind of boy?" This is heartbreaking -- and it is propaganda.

From an article in Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917. “If he is the right kind of a boy… Nothing will happen to him.” — If he is “the right kind of a boy?” This is heartbreaking — and it is morale-building propaganda.

In this case, the topic was watching out for German Spies. (July 1918)

Top of "Spies and LIes" article, Delineator, July 1918, page 38/

Top of “Spies and Lies” article, Delineator, July 1918, page 38.  The women are oblivious of the eavesdropper.

More of "Spies and LIes, Delneator, July 1918, p. 38. I regret that I didn't photograph the entire article.

More of “Spies and Lies, Delineator, July 1918, p. 38. In World War II, the equivalent message was “loose lips sink ships.” But readers should also “Report the man who spreads pessimistic stories [or] … cries for peace.” I regret that I didn’t photograph the last few lines of the “Spies and Lies” article from this fashion magazine.

Huns, Spies and Traitors, 1918

Delineator, July 1918.

A gallery of German “spies” — or is it? Delineator, July 1918.

This set of “mug shots” has been on my mind recently, especially since the San Francisco Chronicle published two 100th anniversary articles about the prosecutions following the “Preparedness Day Parade” bombing that occurred in San Francisco on July 23, 1916.  One 2016 article, by Carl Nolte, had the title “Bombing Centennial: Blast in July 1916 killed 10, left 2 innocent men in jail for decades.

“Juries convicted two labor union organizers, Tom Mooney, 33, and Warren Billings, 22, … although, as it turned out, the convictions were based on perjured testimony and doctored evidence. The real bombers were never caught.

“Investigations later showed that Mooney and Billings had been framed by San Francisco District Attorney Charles Fickert, who was acting on behalf of the city’s business establishment, anxious to strike a blow at labor unions and what they saw as dangerous leftists and anarchists. “

Thanks to a crusading newspaper man  — editor Fremont Older — Mooney and Billings were finally freed — in 1939.

” ‘ It is impossible to know what really happened that day in 1916,” said Chris Carlsson, a local historian. ‘But for sure, it was not Mooney and Billings who planted that bomb.” — Carl Nolte, SF Chronicle, July 17, 2016.

If you want to read Nolte’s entire article, (the online version has a different title,)  click here. (And who doesn’t want to read about a newspaper man who lost his job — and got another– because of his investigation, but never stopped trying to free two innocent men?)

After reading about this incident,  I remembered Delineator’s gallery of convicted German spies, and I wondered about them –especially these two women. (It’s important to remember that activities which are lawful in times of peace — like organizing a strike, or opposing the draft — may be illegal in times of war. It can happen very quickly.)

Who Were These People?

They were all convicted. They were not all “Huns” or German agents.

Left, Missouri's Kate Richards O'Hare; Right, California's Mrs. Margaret Cornell. Images from Delineator July 1917.

Left, Missouri’s Kate Richards O’Hare, convicted of espionage and sentenced to five years. Right, California’s Mrs. Margaret Cornell, convicted of conspiracy. Images from Delineator July 1917.

In 1916,  Kate Richards O’Hare was the Socialist Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri. She opposed America’s entry into the war.  O’Hare was arrested in July, 1917 because she gave a speech “deemed to be anti-war.”  (By this time, the U.S. was officially at war with Germany.) When sentenced to five years in prison, she said, “[if] it is necessary for me to become a convict among criminals in order that I may serve my country there, then I am perfectly willing to perform my service there.” She was guilty of “espionage”  because she violated the Espionage Act of 1917. She later devoted many years to prison reform; according to Britannica.com, “in 1924–26 she conducted a national survey of the contract-labour practice of prisons.” [A topic still of interest today.] A great deal has been written by and about her.

But Cornell is another story. Mrs. Margaret Cornell of San Francisco might be a rewarding subject for more research.  Was she a low-level office worker trying to keep her job at the German Consulate, or a willing participant in her boss’ plot to disrupt British shipping?  She was the only woman was among many workers at the German Consulate in San Francisco convicted in the Indo-German-Irish plot: “Just a few months into World War I, an Indo-German-Irish plot was established to ship American weapons to India for a revolt against the Raj with the intention of reducing Britain’s ability to wage war on Germany and Irish nationalism. ” See British Intelligence Station in San Francisco during the First World War.  (Yes, in the neutral U.S.A., spies of many nations were at work.)

Cornell received a relatively light prison sentence, and no fine. I found the record of her admission to San Quentin Prison, on Feb. 8, 1917, through Ancestry.com. Although newspapers sometimes refer to her as Margaret W. Cornell, there she is listed as Margaret E. Cornell; Cornell is presumably her husband’s name. Her occupation is “office clerk,” her age is 52, and her birthplace is Ireland. She was convicted of espionage (Sections 37 and 13 of the U.S. criminal code) because she passed coded messages between her boss (the German Consul-General) and Charles Crowley, another member of the “Hindu Conspiracy,” as the press called it. Was she a dupe? Was she suspected of having anti-British, Irish Republican sympathies? (The Easter Rising of 1916 was a rebellion against British rule in Ireland.) At one point in the trial, she said, “I am now a woman without a country.” She is mentioned — and quoted — in newspaper accounts of the trial;  in 1917, San Francisco had several competing major newspapers, so there is plenty of material for a student of history to explore. Cornell claimed to have TB, and feared that she would die in jail. What happened to her?

Here are brief descriptions of some of the other “huns” and traitors who were pictured.

Olivereau and Schmidt, Delineator, 1918.

Left, Louise Olivereau of Seattle, Washington,  and Carl Schmidt of Detroit, Delineator, 1918.

Louise Olivereau worked as a stenographer for the Industrial Workers of the World (a labor organization popularly known as the Wobblies) — but she was also an anarchist, and she distributed anti-war circulars which she had printed at her own expense, for which she was convicted under the Espionage Act of June 1917.

Wilhelm von Brinken of San Francisco, and Jacobsen

Left, German “Baron” Wilhelm von Brinken of San Francisco, and Gustave H. Jacobsen of Chicago.

If Wilhelm von Brinken (who looks as if he usually wore a monocle) seems familiar, it is because he became an American citizen in 1920 and had a long career playing Germans in 92 Hollywood war films (WW I and WW II.)

Von Brinken was indicted along with his boss,  Franz Bopp, the German Consul-General in San Francisco, Baron E.H. von Schack (the Vice-Consul)  and Charles C. Crowley.    Like Margaret Cornell, Crowley worked for the German Consulate.  [San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 9, 1917.] A well-known detective hired by the German Consul-General, Crowley was accused of trying to plant bombs in Canadian munition ships and elsewhere; Crowley and Bopp communicated — in “coded messages” — that were sent to Cornell. (Did she understand what they were about?)

Left, von Schack, right Crowley.

Left, Baron von Schack; right, Charles C. Crowley. Von Schrack looks jaunty in a straw boater hat. Crowley was a private detective hired by the German Consulate.

Left, Bopp, and right, von Rintalen. Delineator, 1917.

Left, Franz Bopp, German Consul-General in San Francisco, who was convicted of violating U.S. neutrality as part of  the “Hindu Conspiracy,” among other charges.  Right, Captain Franz von Rintelen was chief of the German Secret Service in the U.S. during WW I. Delineator, 1917.

Somer C. Spence and LAmar in Delineator, 1917.

Homer C. Spence of Oklahoma (“sedition and anti-draft riots,) and David Lamar of New York (“planned munition delay through strike plots,”) pictured in Delineator, 1917.

David Lamar, who “planned munition delay through strike plots” and German spy-chief Captain Von Rintelen (pictured earlier) were convicted in a munition strike conspiracy.

“Anti-draft rioter” Homer C. Spence of Oklahoma — who looks like he stepped out of the pages of Time-Life’s “The Pioneers” —  was implicated in the “Green Corn Rebellion,” which was subject of a 1937 novel of that name by William Cunningham. The  inter-racial (white, black, and Native American) “Working Class Union” (WCU) of mostly young tenant farmers was involved. (The idea that rural Oklahoma was once a hotbed of Socialism was certainly news to me!)

I knew nothing about this part of American History, and I have not read every word of all the links I cited — some are book-length. (They are there for anyone to pursue.)

But it just goes to show what surprises you find while reading old “women’s magazines.” If you know any history students in search of material, you might want to steer them toward browsing old “fashion” periodicals. What a lot of questions they raise!

Since many of these “Huns” were arrested and tried in San Francisco, I used some news items from the San Francisco Chronicle archives for 1917 and 1918, accessed through my public library.

(For other ways World War I was reflected in women’s magazines, see “Up Like Little Soldiers,”  WW I Fabric Shortages , and “New Clothes from Old.”)

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Hats, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, vintage photographs, World War I

Women’s Work Overalls, circa 1917

Quite apart from work clothes worn by women doing war work (See “College Girls Become Farmers”), Butterick offered “bloomer dress” patterns in 1917.

Bloomer Dress Overalls, 1917

The woman with the mop is wearing Butterick pattern 9294, called a "Bloomer Dress." Delineator, July 1917, p. 52.

The woman with the mop is wearing Butterick pattern 9294, described as a dress, which resembles the “Bloomer dress,” of 19th century dress reformer Amelia Bloomer. Its “overalls or bloomers are soft and pretty.” Delineator, July 1917, p. 52.

500-9294-text-1917-july-p-52-bloomer-dress-9294-housedress-9258-cap-9253-9279-megligee-9304-dressing-sack-8950-9253-9267-9301

“The design is also delightful for negligee wear” in washable silk or satin. Butterick  pajamas for 1917  were also  gathered  at the ankle.

During World War I, fashion magazines used many military terms in a punning way –“over the top” fashion, the “dress parade,” etc. Here, “home-reserve” and “active service” are not meant to be taken literally, although many American women did take active roles in formerly male occupations, from farms to factories, in 1917. (Although World War I  began in Europe in August of 1914, the United States did not enter the war until April 6, 1917.)

Like the original Bloomer outfit of the 1850’s, Butterick dress No. 9294 conceals the trousers above the knee with an ample overskirt.

The month before, in June, a more daring “Bloomer dress” was shown; without a concealing overdress, it is more like a boiler suit or coverall.

Center, Butterick Bloomer dress pattern 9235, Delineator, June 1917, page 62.

Center, Butterick Bloomer dress pattern 9235, Delineator, June 1917, page 62.

500-text-9235-bloomer-1917-june-p-62-summer-bloomer-pants-9235-btm-text

“The next step in the woman movement is into the bloomer dress.” Butterick pattern 9235 is suggested for domestic duties, with no mention of volunteer work. “If you would sprinkle the lawn or clean out the attic you might as well be practical about it as well as feminine.”

The Ladies’ Home Journal suggested equally revealing outfits for women taking on traditionally male jobs in 1917, but did not offer patterns for them.

Ladies' Home Journal, September 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917. Not all of the Journal’s suggestions had overskirts.

Of course, some women factory workers simply adopted men’s overalls for their war work.

American woman in Ladies' Home Journal, August 1917.

American woman in Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917. Women doing previously male jobs freed men for military duty.

Other women workers wore variations on gym clothes, usually voluminous — and shape disguising — bloomers.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/1918-oct-college-girls-vassar-milk-platoon.jpg?w=500

College girls working at a dairy, Delineator, October 1918. They are literally wearing their gym suits.

Butterick’s Delineator magazine formed its own “Women’s Preparedness Bureau”…

Delineator magazine's Women's Preparedness Movement, July 1917, p. 22.

Delineator magazine’s Women’s Preparedness Bureau, July 1917, p. 22. “There are many kinds of service, from coursing on the clouds as an aviator to managing a spirited steed or a modern rifle.”

From Delineator's Women's Preparedness Bureau, July 1917

From Delineator’s Women’s Preparedness Bureau, July 1917.

“Businessmen are realizing that they will have to employ women in positions where formerly only men were to be found….”

The Woman's Preparedness Bureau offered to match women with suitable war jobs. Delineator, July 1917, p. 22.

The Woman’s Preparedness Bureau offered to match women with suitable war work. Delineator, July 1917, p. 22.

However,  The Ladies’ Home Journal published a much more practical multi-page article in November 1917. You can read it online thanks to the Hathi Trust. Here is the link. It may be slow to load, but it is interesting reading in women’s history.

Top of the first page of a long article on War Work for women in the United States. Ladies Home Journal, November 1917, page 39.

Top of the first page of a long article on War Jobs for women in the United States. Ladies Home Journal, November 1917, top of page 39.

This long article names government offices and civil service testing opportunities. If an army moves on its stomach, it also moves on a flood of clerical work.

One part sounds all too familiar…

From "War Jobs for Women," Ladies' Home Journal, November 1917, page 39.

From “War Jobs for Women,” Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1917, page 39. “All the facts he gives are from government sources.”

Given the current political climate, I found this paragraph — about the women who took those unglamorous jobs — quite interesting. They were often first generation Americans, the daughters of immigrants.

From The Ladies' Home Journal, November 1917, page 39.

From The Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1917, page 39.

Of course they had an economic incentive, but many of these first generation American women must have come from cultures not accustomed to letting their daughters work outside the home or family farm, away from the watchful and protective eyes of fathers and brothers.

A Disturbing Sidelight on Women in Trousers, 1920

At a Silent Film Festival, watching Oscar Micheaux’s historic 1920 silent film Within Our Gates, I saw female members of a lynch mob wearing variations on these wartime work outfits.

The movie, Micheaux’s response to the glorification of the Ku Klux Klan in Birth of a Nation, shows the lynching of a black family. Just after their little boy escapes, a mob including women surges toward the gallows. One of the women is wearing a suit; one wears a light, summery dress; at least two others wear voluminous gym knickers with middy blouses tucked into the waist. Whether they are farm workers or young women in gym suits isn’t clear.  The film is very grainy, but shows women appearing in a crowd of men while wearing trouser-like work clothes. Click here to see them in motion.   (It is grim.) Note that Micheaux has included women of all social classes in his lynch mob. This two-minute scene is powerful. Incidentally, his leading lady Evelyn Preer wears an extensive nineteen-teens wardrobe in the course of the film, so we can see period clothes in motion on a lovely but real woman’s body, instead of a fashion illustrator’s fantasy.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers, World War I

Fashions with Peculiar Pockets, 1917

Three dresses with pockets, January 1917. Butterick patterns from Delineator.

Three dresses with pockets, January 1917. Butterick patterns from Delineator.

I intended to write a nice, short blog post showing color images of clothing from January 1917, but I started to notice the many variations on pockets in women’s clothing from that year.

Pockets were a center of interest in 1917, and quite varied.

Pockets were a center of interest in 1917, and quite varied.

Women's pockets, January 1917. Unusual shapes, in a range of sizes. Delineator.

Women’s pockets, January 1917. Unusual shapes, in a range of sizes. Delineator. Pockets were often quite low on the hip. The one at bottom right is trimmed with several rows of topstitching, very popular in 1917. The construction of the plaid double flap pocket at top right is unusual.

At the end of a few hours browsing through Delineator magazines from 1917, I had a picture file much too large to put in one post.

There were gigantic pockets…

Gigantic pockets, Feb. 1917. Delineator.

Gigantic pockets, Feb. 1917. Delineator. (Plus tiny, triangular pockets on the blouse.)

Ingenious pockets….

A pocket that is also a belt carrier. August, 1917. Delineator.

A deep pocket that is also a belt carrier. August, 1917. Delineator.

Several interesting pockets from 1917. Delineator.

Several interesting pockets from 1917. Delineator.

I saw large, flapless pockets that gaped open and were secured with buttons,…

A pocket so big it has to be buttoned in several places. March 1917. Behind it, a pocket gathered into ruffles at the top.

A pocket so big that it has to be buttoned to prevent gaping. Delineator, March 1917. Behind it, a pocket gathered into ruffles at the top.

There were pockets hanging from belts and waistbands,…

Fabric belts with attached pockets, 1917. Delineator.

Self-fabric belts with attached pockets, 1917. Delineator.

Pockets suspended from the waist, Feb. 1917, Delineator.

Small pockets suspended from the waist, Feb. 1917, Delineator.

Hanging pockets trimmed with white soutache braid. Delineator, June 1917.

Hanging pockets trimmed with white soutache braid. Delineator, June 1917.

A peculiar hanging pocket on a girl's dress, and one trimmed with buttons. January 1917, Delineator.

Left, a peculiar, gathered, hanging pocket on a girl’s dress; right, wide pockets trimmed with buttons. January 1917, Delineator.

Were these belts with pockets attached to the skirt? It's not always easy to tell. Delineator, Oct. 1917.

Were these belts with pockets attached to the skirts? It’s not always easy to tell;  they were apparently so common that the editors didn’t feel obliged to mention them in pattern descriptions. Delineator, Oct. 1917.

There were oddly shaped “bellows” pockets, which expanded,…

“Bellows pockets” on clothes for teens, March 1917. The editors said you could get your daughter to compromise on other fashion details, but she would insist on bellows pockets. Delineator.

Bellows pocket on an adult woman's suit, Delineator, March 1917, p. 63.

Hanging bellows pockets on an adult woman’s suit, Delineator, March 1917, p. 63.

Pointy pockets often stuck out at the hips…

Pockets that end in points, 1917. Delineator.

Pockets that end in points, and stand away from the body. 1917. Delineator.

More pointy pockets, 1917. Pockets were often enhanced with embroidery.

More pointy pockets, 1917. Pockets were often enhanced with embroidery. I suspect that almost anything you put in this kind of pocket would fall out when you sat down.

There were hanging pockets that looked like drawstring handbags,

These hanging pockets look like the drawstring handbags of the period, but they attached to the waist or belt of the dress. 1917, Delineator.

These hanging pockets look like the drawstring purses of the period, but they are attached to the waist or belt of the skirt. 1917, Delineator.

There were shallow, semi-circular pockets that wrapped around to the back of the dress:

A shallow, crescent shaped pocket on Butterick 9931, for women or for teens. 1917.

A shallow, rounded pocket on Butterick 9931, for women or for teens. 1917.

And there were pockets that gathered into a ruffle at the top:

Right, Butterick 8989, a coat or jacket with gathered pockets. 1917.

Right, Butterick 8989, a coat or jacket with gathered pockets. 1917.

Delineator showed sketches of the pockets on French designer dresses and suits:

Pockets in Paris, Fall 1917. Chanel and Marital et Armand. Sketched in Delineator.

Pockets in Paris, Fall 1917. A suit designed by Chanel, and a dress with unusual pockets by Martial et Armand. Sketched in Delineator, they inspired Butterick patterns.

Pockets on Paris fashions, Fall of 1917. Poiret and Doucet. Sketcher in Delineator.

Pockets on Paris fashions from Fall of 1917, by Poiret and Doucet. Sketched in Delineator. Embroidery on pockets was often seen, and that odd “turned up across the jacket hem” pocket was influential.

A girl's walking top, Butterick, April 1917.

A girl’s walking top, Butterick 9047, April 1917. These pockets literally couldn’t get any lower on the jacket.

When I was still a child, eating in a highchair, I had a plastic bib with a sort of trough at the bottom to catch spilled food — it was rather like these blouses:

These blouses end in a sort of gutter; buttoned into place they would have acted as a pocket. To me, they look unflattering and nonsensical ...

These blouses end in a sort of gutter; buttoned or stitched into place they would have acted as a pocket. Butterick patterns from Delineator magazine.

To me, they look unflattering and nonsensical, but not as nutty as the skirt on the left, below…

A skirt with a buttoned cuff... 1917.

A skirt with a buttoned turn-up cuff… 1917.

… or this skirt — illustrated twice –guaranteed to (visually) add pounds:

Are those pockets for ammo? They are described as having

Are those pockets for ammo? The skirt is described as having “French gathers.” Butterick skirt pattern 9140, Delineator, May 1917.

Two normal skirts with 1917 pocket variations. The skirt in the center is weird. Butterick patterns.

Skirts with 1917 pocket variations. The skirts at far left and upper right are typical, but the skirt in the center, with button tab (pockets?) is weird. Butterick patterns.

To modern eyes, the essential oddity of many 1917 fashions is that they were intended to make a woman’s hips look wider.

Pockets were used to exaggerate the width of women's hips, in French designer fashions and in home sewing patterns. Bothe from Delineator, 1917.

Pockets were used to exaggerate the width of women’s hips, in French designer fashions (left) and in home sewing patterns (right.) Both illustrations from Delineator, 1917.

Back views of three Butterick patterns, Sep. 1917. Delineator, p. 50.

Back views of three Butterick patterns, Sept. 1917. Delineator, p. 50. The two on the left really exaggerate hip width..

1917 pockets often curved around the hip to the back of the body.

1917 pockets wrap around the body, increasing the apparent size of the hips. Delineator.

Many 1917 pockets wrap around the body, and stand away from it,  increasing the apparent size of the hips. Delineator.

Modern pockets tend to stop at or before the side seam, but in 1917, many pockets wrapped around the hip — from side front to somewhere on the back.

In thes back views of Butterick patterns, you can see that the pocket continues around the side, extending the hip width. Delineator, Oct. 1917.

In these back views of Butterick patterns, you can see that the gaping pocket continues around the side, extending the width of the body at the hip. Delineator, Oct. 1917.

In the 1850’s and the 1950’s, full skirts and exaggerated hips made corseted female waists look smaller by comparison. But in 1917, there was no emphasis on a small waist.

Dresses for misses 14 to 19. Butterick patterns, July 1917. Delineator.

Dresses for misses 14 to 19. Butterick patterns, July 1917. Delineator. These pockets start toward the side in front and wrap around to the back of the dresses.

There were pockets so strange that only the model’s pose confirmed that they were pockets.

Two Butterick patterns from 1917. Left, No. 9376. Can you call the side opening on the barrel dress a pocket?

Two Butterick patterns from 1917. Left, No. 9376. Right, No. 9274. There are  side openings on the “tonneau” (barrel) dress at right,  but can we call them “pockets”?

And, especially prevalent were pockets that drew attention to women’s hips.

An embroidered pocket wraps around the sides of this gold coat. Delineator cover, October 1917.

An embroidered pocket wraps around the sides of this gold coat. Delineator cover, October 1917.

There’s no doubt that pockets add bulk, especially if you put things in them. But sometimes you just need a place to stash a hankie, a key, or a few coins.

Today, when many women keep a cellphone within reach at all times, it’s perversely not easy to find a dress or knit top that has pockets. However, in 1917, women were “spoiled for choice.”

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Fringe Fashions, December 1918

Old copies of Delineator magazine always have surprises that catch my eye.

December fashions, Delineator, 1918, top of p. 64

December fashions, Delineator magazine, 1918, top of p. 64. Butterick patterns 1276, 1260, 1255, and 1243.

Parts of the December 1918 issue were probably ready to print before the Armistice was announced on November 11, and the magazine contains many references to World War I.

Butterick doll clothing for a soldier, 402, and a sailor, 403. Delineator, December 1918.

Butterick doll clothing: “boy doll’s military suit,” pattern 402, and “boy doll’s sailor suit,” 403. Delineator, December 1918. This woman’s “one-piece dress” pattern was available up to size 44.

text-patterns-1276-402-403-1918-dec-p-65-dec-1918-btm-text

But the “theme” of the month seems to be fringe. Here is the bottom of the same page:

Butterick patterns for women, December 1918. Two are fringed, and the gold dress is trimmed with black monkey fur. Delineator, p. 64.

Butterick patterns for women, 1283, 1294, and 1305. December 1918. Two are fringed, and the gold dress is trimmed with black monkey fur. Delineator, p. 64.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick 1283, 1294 and 1305, December 1918. Delineator.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick 1283, 1294 and 1305, December 1918. Delineator.

Fringe could be light-weight, like chenille, or made from heavier silk or cotton. I have encountered monkey fur coats in costume storage. [Eeeeeek. Just as unpleasant as having the paw fall off a vintage fox fur stole.]

More fashions with fringe appeared on page 63:

The blue dress is fringed; the other is trimmed with fur. Delineator, Dec. 1918,. p 63

The blue dress (1278) is trimmed with fringe; the other outfit (blouse 1259 and skirt 1105) is trimmed with fur and decorative buttons. Delineator, Dec. 1918, p 63. Two different muff patterns were illustrated, 1190 and 9517.

In addition to keeping your hands warm, a muff often had an interior pocket that functioned as a purse.

Two more fringed day dresses, Dec. 1918. Delineator, p 63.

Two more fringed day dresses, Dec. 1918. Delineator, p 63. Butterick 1253 and waist/blouse 1263 with skirt 9865. No. 1253 is illustrated in satin; waist 1263 is in velvet, worn over a satin skirt.

More fringe from December 1918:

Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator. Dec. 1918, page 65.

Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator. Dec. 1918, page 65. Fringe trims the center two.

Butterick patterns in Delineator, page 71, December 1918.

Fur or fringe trims these Butterick patterns in Delineator, page 71, December 1918.  Women’s dresses No. 1294, 1309, and 1285.

Butterick patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68.

Butterick patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68. The shape of the skirt is determined by the high-waisted, curve-flattening corset of the era.

Fringe hangs from the pockets of a skirt, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68.

Fringe hangs from the pockets of a skirt, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68. Butterick blouse 1306 with skirt 1226. Shirt-waist pattern 1279 with skirt of suit 1101.

In October, Butterick suggested a fringed wedding gown, pattern 1169, shown again in November in a dark, velvet version:

Left, wedding gown 1169, Butterick pattern from October 1918; right, the same pattern in velvet, worn for a formal occasion. (November, 1918.)

Left, wedding gown 1169, Butterick pattern from October 1918; right, the same pattern in velvet, worn for a formal daytime occasion. (November, 1918.)

If you weren’t ready to go wild with fringe, you could carry a subtle fringed handbag instead of a muff.

Winter coats from Butterick December 1918. The woman in the center carries a matching striped muff; the woman on the right carries a fringed handbag. Delineator, December 1918, p. 66.

Winter coats from Butterick December 1918. The woman in the center carries a striped muff (Butterick 1266) to match her coat; the woman on the right carries a fringed handbag (Butterick pattern 10720.) Delineator, December 1918, p. 66.

The coat on the right is a reminder that the “Barrel skirt” or “tonneau” was [to me, inexplicably] in fashion for a while.

 

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What’s Cooking? Holiday Aprons, Mostly from the 1940’s

Holiday party aprons for little girls, McCall pattern 1281, from a needlework catalog for December 1946.

Holiday party aprons for little girls, McCall pattern 1281, from a needlework catalog for December 1946.

Back in the mid-twentieth century, before women wore casual slacks or jeans to do housework, the apron was a useful, and often elaborate, handmade gift. Aprons were not included in the rule that gifts of clothing were too intimate for anyone but family members. Pattern catalogs and women’s magazines usually featured apron patterns in November and December;  in my parents’ home, one sign that Christmas was approaching was the making of pajamas and aprons.

Holiday Aprons" from Woman's Home Companion, December 1937. Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7652.

“Holiday Aprons” from Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937. Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7652.

The elaborate backs of these aprons may be surprising to those of us who are used to modern, store-bought, unisex aprons. These were serious aprons that protected your dress.

Back views and text for Companion-Butterick apron pattern 7652. Dec, 1937.

Back views and text for Companion-Butterick apron pattern 7652. Dec., 1937. “Triad” meant three designs in one envelope.

This unisex apron set from 1950 shows the basic outline of inexpensive, utilitarian aprons like the ones in my kitchen today; in 1950 they were called “barbecue” aprons, and the idea of a man cooking and wearing an apron at home was no longer just a joke — although the gift aprons were often intended to be humorous.

His and Hers barbeque aprons. McCall pattern circa 1950.

His and Hers barbecue aprons. McCall pattern 1515, circa 1950.

This apron set, found in a McCall Needlework catalog from May, 1950, has elaborate appliques, and would probably have been intended as a gift set — made for a friend, or newlyweds, or intended to be sold at a charity bazaar.

Making aprons to sell at fundraisers is an old tradition. The Ladies’ Home Journal suggested making these aprons for a fundraiser during WW I:

Aprons to make for a Charity Bazaar; Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

Aprons to make for a Charity Bazaar; Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917. (In 1917, some skirts also had a ruffle at the waist.) Many women still wore “pinner” aprons, without straps, like those at right.

Of course, when women made aprons for themselves, they might prefer a simple shape, bound in bias tape

Two versions of Butterick apron pattern 6874, from 1926.

Two versions of Butterick apron pattern 6874, from 1926.

… but frilly, sometimes silly, labor-intensive aprons were a staple of holiday gift-making.

McCall called this a "little girl look" apron. Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946.

McCall called this a “little girl look” apron. Pattern 917, McCall Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946, but first issued in 1941. [I can picture June Allyson in this one.]

You can see the pattern piece shapes for No. 917 from a copy in the CoPA collection; click here.

Aprons like the ones below, often decorated half-aprons, were called “cocktail aprons” or “bridge aprons,” [for hosting card parties] and were worn while entertaining, not cooking or washing dishes.

Apron decorated with sequinned hearts. McCall 1278, from a 1946 needlework catalog.

Apron decorated with sequinned hearts. McCall 1278, from a 1946 needlework catalog. I have also seen aprons with sequinned martini glasses on them….

Simplicity aprons No. 1805, dated 1956. Starching and ironing those ruffles would be time consuming.

Simplicity apron No. 1805, dated 1956. Starching and ironing those ruffles would be time consuming.

This dress, McCall 1312, made from sheer fabrics, might be a gift to a bride. It was a fantasy of housework.

This apron, McCall 1312, made from sheer fabrics and delicately appliqued, might be a gift to a bride. It evokes a fantasy of housework, unrelated to reality. 1950 needlework catalog.

I suspect that many fancy aprons were re-gifted and never worn (probably why so many delicate aprons survive in vintage collections.)

This one, decorated with Scottie dogs, is my virtual gift to The Vintage Traveler.

McCall Scottie dog apron, circa 1950.

McCall Scottie dog apron, before 1950. I prefer the version on the right.

Aprons and Sewing Classes

Many girls and women made aprons while learning to sew. A simple half apron was well within the abilities of elementary school students, and many a proud mother must have received an apron — far too pretty to wear — for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.

McCall apron 1096 -- probably a Valentine gift. From a 1946 needle work catalog.

McCall apron 1096 — an appropriate Valentine gift. Photographed from a 1946 needle work catalog, but it dates to 1943.

Simplicity aprons from 1956, pattern No. 1789.

Simplicity aprons from 1956, pattern No. 1789. Even a beginner could make version 4, or apply rickrack, as in version 3.

A Super-Successful Apron Pattern

I found three McCall needlework catalogs (1946 to 1950) at an estate sale; some apron patterns were so successful that they appeared year after year, so a three-digit pattern number is often an indication that the pattern pre-dates 1946. This one first appeared in 1941 and was still in the catalog for November, 1950 — nine years later.

McCall pattern 884, called the "Necktie" apron dates to 1941 and was still being offered in 1950.

McCall pattern 884, called the “Necktie” apron dates to 1941 and was still being offered in 1950 –and, possibly, later.

The Necktie apron — cut in many sections — had to be folded to be ironed correctly:

Necktie apron, McCall 884. It is shown folded for ironing at the left.

Necktie apron, McCall 884. It is shown folded for ironing at the left.

Necktie apron description form 1946 catalog.

Necktie apron description from 1946 catalog. Rickrack trim was applied behind its edges, so that only half the trim was visible. Other designs used rickrack more obviously:

Rickrack was applied to the top sides of these aprons, McCall 987, from 1942.

Rickrack was applied to the outsides of these aprons, McCall 987, from 1942. The tassels would be rather impractical.

Mother-Daughter Aprons

In the post-war period it was generally assumed that little girls wanted to grow up to be housewives, just like their Mommies. You could buy identical apron patterns for children and women, like these:

McCall apron pattern 1532, for women. May 1950 needlework catalog.

McCall apron pattern 1532, for women. May 1950 needlework catalog.

Child's version of McCall 1532 was McCall 1533.

The child’s version of McCall 1532 was McCall 1533.

This Butterflies apron was also available in a child's version. (From 1946)

This Butterflies apron was also available in a child’s version. (From 1946) McCall No. 1257.

A Daughter (or little sister) version of the Butterflies apron was McCall 1258.

A daughter (or little sister) version of the Butterflies apron was McCall 1258.

Once upon a time, little girls wore dresses all day, and protected them with aprons or pinafores. Women also expected a practical apron to protect their dresses from cooking spatters and laundry suds; except for their elaborate embroidery or appliques, these aprons would do the trick:

McCall 1209 covered most of the dress,

McCall apron No. 1209 covered most of the dress. 1940s.

Kitchen pet of the career girl -- this young apron ... completely covers the dress. Pinafore ruffles give the smart broad-shouldered look." McCall 1135.

“Kitchen pet of the career girl — this young apron … completely covers the dress. Pinafore ruffles give the smart broad-shouldered look.” McCall 1135. Circa 1945.

The apron below is really unusual — but I’ll save the other aprons with novelty pockets for another day!

A tulip forms a novelty pocket on this unusual, fasten-in-front apron. McCall 1403, from 1948.

A tulip forms a novelty pocket on this unusual, fasten-in-front apron. McCall 1403, from 1948.

Although it looks complex, this apron would lie completely flat for ironing — more practical than it looks.

1403-m50-p-44-text-tulip-novelty-pocket-front-tie-waist-coverall593

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re inspired to cook up something delightful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Menswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, World War I