Tag Archives: fabric shortage World War I

Recycling, Paisley, and Shawls

A pink paisley printed dress, from Elegance, Fall 1965-66.

A pink paisley printed dress, from Elegance, Fall 1965-66.

I was a sixties girl. Paisley patterns were worn by hippies and Vogue readers alike.

Indian textiles on the Beatles. Ringo, at right, is wearing a paisley print shirt. Public domain photo from www.brandeis.edu

Indian textiles on the Beatles. Ringo, at right, is wearing a paisley print shirt. Public domain photo from http://www.brandeis.edu

In the 1960s, Western manufacturers adapted the pattern into double-knits, like this jacket. . .

A paisley knit suit jacket, Elegance magazine, Fall 1965-66.

A paisley knit suit jacket, Elegance magazine, Fall 1965-66.

. . . and created subtler prints based on Indian designs, like this light pink wool.

pink paisley close upI owned several paisley dresses, with patterns ranging from ‘dark and subtle’ to ‘psychedelic and enormous.’

Simplicity pattern 6729 for a Jiffy dress, illustrated in Paisley on the left. 1966

Simplicity pattern 6729 for a Jiffy dress, illustrated in Paisley on the left. 1966

But I never made the connection between the pattern I called “paisley” and the Scottish cloth-manufacturing town of Paisley until this month. This was a good month for learning about paisley. I had been reading a book about Jane Austen, which included an illustration of a “paisley” shawl; then I read a magazine from 1917 which showed examples of clothing made out of old paisley shawls.

A coat, hat, & bag, and a dress made from old paisley shawls. Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

A coat, hat, & bag, made from one Victorian  shawl, and a dress made from another old paisley shawl. Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

To me, it seemed like sacrilege to chop a huge, [already] 60-year old wool or cashmere shawl . . .

A cashmere shaw, mid-1800s, from Wikipedia.

A cashmere shaw, mid-1800s, from Wikipedia.

. . . into ugly 1917 clothing, but, of course, such fabric recycling is an old tradition. The Metropolitan Museum has examples of Victorian Paisley shawls converted into mid-Victorian bathrobes, and dolman jackets, 1920s coats, and rather chic 1920s suits.

Finding the History of Paisley Patterns and Paisley Shawls

I found two excellent articles online about the history of the paisley pattern (called “boteh” in India) as it was adopted and adapted for mass manufacture during the 1800s. Threads of History gives a marvellous illustrated history of the development of both the shawl and the Paisley/boteh pattern (click here.) In Victoriana, Meg Andrews also discusses the fashion history of paisley, with many different illustrations, and explains why this luxury item eventually went out of style and into attics. (click here.)

The Real Jane Austen and Her Shawl

Rectangular Indian shawls were fashionable in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Image from Wikipedia.

Rectangular Indian shawls were fashionable in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Image from Wikipedia.

I recently enjoyed reading The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, by Paula Byrne. This is not a conventional birth-to-death biography, but an exploration of Jane Austen’s world via several objects connected with her daily life: her portable writing desk, a silhouette of her family, a topaz necklace purchased for her by one of her sailor brothers, etc.  Chapter Two uses an East Indian Shawl as a springboard into her family connections with India, trade, and a family scandal (Like her character, Emma, Austen knew a young woman born out of wedlock. In Austen’s case, it was a near relation whom she knew quite well.) You can read detailed and very informative reviews of The Real Jane Austen in The Telegraph (click here), or by [Dickens expert and actor] Simon Callow (click here.)

Paisley Shawls Recycled, 1917

Having just read Paula Byrne’s Austen book, I had paisley shawls on my mind when I found these ‘recycled’ paisley shawls in the Ladies’ Home Journal, 1917:

A coat, hat, & bag, and a dress made from old paisley shawls. Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

It took one shawl to make this coat, hat, & bag;  a dress made from another Victorian Paisley shawl.  Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

When the United States entered World War I, in 1917, women expected fabric shortages. Women’s magazines like Delineator and Ladies’ Home Journal, both in the business of selling sewing patterns, began to write about ways that new clothing could be made from materials on hand. Women had always utilized dresses from the attic, and their own family’s used clothing, for children’s clothes, quilts, etc. (A bodice from the 1850s or 1860s is still relatively easy to find; finding an 1860s bodice with its matching skirt is much harder, since the skirts contained several yards of easily re-useable fabric.) Wool and silk Paisley shawls were among the garments frequently remade into robes, dresses, handbags and 1920s suits and coats.  (You can see the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of paisley shawls, and clothing made from shawls, by clicking here.)

More Creative Recycling, 1917

The Vintage Traveler has written about remade shawls and vintage clothing. Collectors of vintage clothing will probably cringe at this chiffon gown (pictured at right) converted into a couple of blouses:

A "terribly old-fashioned"  chiffon evening dress converted into a blouse. Ladies Home Journal, 1917

A “terribly old-fashioned” chiffon  dress converted into a blouse. Ladies Home Journal, 1917

But I give full marks for creativity to this handbag — made from a scrap of black velvet and a pair of old, long, white leather gloves with black stitching!

Handbag made from old gloves, Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

Handbag made from old gloves, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

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Filed under 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1920s, 1960s-1970s, Vintage Accessories

Tam-o’-Shanters for Women, 1917

Tams for Women. Ladies' Home Journal, 1917; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Tams for Women. Ladies’ Home Journal, 1917; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Tam o’ shanters have been popular hats for women at several periods, including the turn of the century . . .

Women in tams, as pictured in Punch Magazine, 1896 and 1901.

Women in tams, as pictured in Punch Magazine, 1896 and 1901.

the World War I era . . .

Young woman in a fashionable velvet tam, about 1918.

Young woman in a fashionable velvet tam, about 1918.

the twenties, the thirties, the nineteen sixties, and into the twenty-first century:

Tam "Beret" pattern, Vogue # 7980, 2004.

Tam “Beret” pattern, Vogue # 7980, 2004.

Origins of the Tam o’ Shanter

The Tam-o’-Shanter (or Tam o’ Shanter) was originally a hat worn by Scottish men.

Two Scotsmen, as drawn by Charles Keene in Punch Magazine, 1880.

Two Scotsmen, as drawn by Charles Keene in Punch Magazine, 1880.

With them it entered the military . . .

A private in Crawford’s Highland Regiment, 1740, Illustrated by Pierre Turner. From Michael Barthrop’s British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660.

A private in Crawford’s Highland Regiment, 1740, Illustrated by Pierre Turner. From Michael Barthrop’s British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660.

and became part of the official uniform of some regiments, like the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Tams and Berets

In its simplest form, a tam is just a round or oval piece of cloth gathered into a band around the head.

Some tams are made of two round pieces, or a round piece and a cylinder, stitched together around the circumference; the round hole in the lower piece can be eased into the band with or without gathering. This can produce a crisp look, as in this Vogue pattern illustration from 2004.

Vogue pattern 7980, dated 2004.

Vogue pattern 7980, dated 2004.

Vogue called this a beret in 2004; “tam-o-shanter” had disappeared from the current fashion vocabulary by then. Today, you can find tams – some with a 1920s look – at hats.com, but they are classified as berets, not tam o’ shanters.

A beret.

A beret.

Sometimes the words “tam ” and “beret” are used interchangeably, but a beret usually has a very narrow binding around the head, and a relatively small crown.

Tam, 1917.

Tam, 1917.

The tam o’ shanter usually has a wider band.

Also, the crown of a tam is much bigger than the band, and the tam is rarely symmetrical when worn by women; it tilts or droops to one side or to the back.

Both berets and tams can be worn with the band turned to the inside, where it isn’t seen:

Tam o' shanter, 1925.

Tam o’ shanter, 1925. Delineator.

Tams for Women, 1917

Tams were very popular with women’s fashions during the First World War. This Paris design “for very young women” is by Paquin, as famous in her day as Poiret or Patou:

A chic Paris costume for a 'very young lady" by Mme. Paquin, 1917. Delineator.

A chic Paris costume for ‘very young women” by Mme. Paquin, 1917. Delineator.

Here, a Butterick coat pattern is accessorized with a tam (left):

On the left, a tam worn with a coat by Butterick, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

On the left, a tam worn with a coat pattern by Butterick, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

In 1917, tams could reach rather extreme sizes, something like a chef’s toque (technically, a ‘toque” is any hat without a brim; since tam o’ shanters have no brim,  the line between tams and toques can blur. Most fashion hats described as “toques” are more vertical than horizontal, lacking these huge crowns.)

Women in tams, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

Women in tams (one is like a chef’s toque), Sept. 1917. Delineator.

A tam made of fur and a tam made of velvet; Ladies' Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

A tam made of fur and a tam made of fur or velvet; Ladies’ Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

Tams were also popular because they could be knitted or crocheted:

Delineator crochet patterns, Sept. 1917.

Delineator crochet patterns, Sept. 1917.

Ad for Bear Brand Yarn, Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

Ad for Bear Brand Yarn, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

This young lady got really carried away and made a matching tam, scarf, and handbag trimmed with Vari-colored cross-stitch:

Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

A knit tam could be rolled up and stuck in a pocket, which made them handy for wearing to school.

Both Delineator magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal encouraged their readers to economize during the First World War by making new clothes from worn-out or out-moded clothing.  One Home Journal reader bragged that she salvaged enough fabric from her old velvet skirt to make tams for both of her daughters and a “small toque” for herself:

Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Her examples look very much like this soft tam (or toque?) from Delineator magazine:

Delineator, Sept 1917.

Delineator, Sept 1917.

Perhaps the model on the right is explaining that her clever mother made this soft velvet hat from an old skirt.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs