Look at this envelope, it is crumbling.
I knew this pattern was old, but wasn’t sure how old. Couldn’t find a date on the envelope. The hair looks fifties, the narrow hips and illustration style look forties.
What was throwing me most though, from guessing on a publishing date, was that plunging-to-the-waist neckline and the sort of sizing-up expression being delivered by the illustrated model. Part of me wants to laugh nervously, like “oh, haha, I’m being ridiculous, that’s not bare skin. Can’t be. Obviously she’s wearing, like, uh, like, a blouse with a jewel neckline that matches up with her necklace and happens to be the exact same shade as her skin, because, I mean, a woman in the 1940’s/1950’s would never…” Meanwhile she’s staring me straight in the eye, thinking, “Oh, wouldn’t I. You so sure about that? Youngun?”
I’ve never opened this pattern before, because it is so fragile, but once I decided to make it I carefully pulled out all the pieces and found the copyright date inside, on the instructions sheet. 1949, making this the oldest pattern I’ve ever used.
A size 12 in 1949 was drafted for 30/24/33. Not me, but lucky for me, I know someone who is that size. So I get the fun of making this without the less-fun of resizing, and she gets a surprise in the mail. Everyone’s a winner.
The fabric is a green cotton with a printed moiré. It’s lightweight like shirt fabric, but has a little bit of a waxy finish, like chintz. Too thin to be furniture upholstery, but I associate cotton moiré with home textiles more than anything else, so maybe this cotton moiré was meant to be curtains? Satin moiré, on the other hand, is exclusively for 80’s prom dresses. As everyone knows.
This fabric was a thrift shop find, and I washed it as soon as I got it home, which softened up the waxy finish, so now it just feels like a nice crisp cotton shirt.
Pretty color, huh?
Above, inside out, flung onto the dress form. The pattern calls this a jacket, and it recommends wool, so for seam finishes it recommends stitching the seams and clipping them and leaving it like that. In my fabric it’s more like a shirt, so I did french seams instead, so my friend can wash this thing and not be scared of it falling apart. I also cut the facing along the selvedge, so it didn’t need a rolled hem. I knooooooow.
Elbow darts. Double ones, even. Yay 1949.
The collar is really something. It stands at the back, and then swoops out of nowhere into a curvaceous lapel which disappears back to nothing before knoting at the waist. Drama!
The notions list on the envelope includes a pair of tiny rounded shoulder pads. They would help to support this crazy exaggerated batwing shape, they really would, but, just, no. For costumes, sure, but not for real clothes I hope my friend will actually wear in real life. It might look nice but she would question my taste.
The idea with moiré is that it is a watermark on silk, and the legend I’ve always heard is that it’s discovery was a mistake, involving a trunk full of folded yardage of silk, in olden times, which received water damage during shipping via actual ship, (And possibly pirates! Although maybe I added that to the legend), but to me it always looks like wood grain. Which is also neat.
I like to look for other examples when I use an old pattern, and this time I found one, here, on ByGumByGolly, in a plaid flannel. Yay! So check that out too, if you like seeing how a different fabric will change the vibe of a garment. I like seeing that.
Sew It or Throw It:
Well I’m definitely keeping it. I don’t know if I’ll sew it again? Possibly? I definitely like having it though. So pretty and so mine.