January 25, 2013 § 2 Comments
Bomb Girls is back. For me, much of the show’s interest lies in its portrayal of women’s wartime fashions, both on and off the factory floor. One line of sewing patterns that I associate specifically with the Second World War is Weldons So-Easy patterns.
Founded in 1879, Weldon’s was England’s first major pattern company. The So-Easy line seems to have been introduced during World War 2. Weldons So-Easy patterns included a range of designs, from day wear to toys; the earlier women’s So-Easy designs tended to be available in only three sizes.
So-Easy patterns don’t bear copyright dates, but some include the war rationing notice, “Professional dressmakers are reminded that they must comply with the Making of Civilian Clothing (Restriction) Orders.” These measures were passed in 1942-43. (For the text and discussion see Cargo Cult Craft’s posts.) According to U.K. vintage dealer Tracy of Wickedlady Collectables, Weldons did not promote So-Easy patterns in their magazine, but the mention of purchase tax, introduced in late 1940, can also help with dating.
One thing that distinguishes wartime So-Easy patterns is their pinup-style illustrations straight out of Mrs Henderson Presents. Here is a selection of World War 2 Weldons So-Easy patterns, with an emphasis on lingerie.
This ‘Pretty Undies’ set includes a brassiere, full slip, and knickers with pointed yoke:
These ‘Slim Line Undies’—a full slip and knickers—are held in the National Trust Collections:
These ‘Simple Undies’ include a nightgown and slip with seam interest:
This pattern includes a bra and knickers in two styles, French and Directoire (bloomers), the last with interesting details:
This two-piece bathing suit with skirt was available in four sizes:
My personal favourite must be the Two-Way Siren Suit, an air raid coverall with options for a hood and gathered ankles:
For fans of Bomb Girls, which films in the Toronto area, it’s possible to visit some of the locations for the show. Victory Munitions and other sets were built in an old furniture factory in Etobicoke, while street scenes were shot in Hamilton. The Witham mansion is Oshawa’s Parkwood estate, the former home of General Motors founder R.S. McLaughlin. (Read an interview with the cinematographer here; download production notes here.)
December 31, 2011 § 5 Comments
This Christmas, while browsing my mother’s back issues of Vogue Patterns magazine, I was interested to see how the Vintage Vogue pattern line has evolved since its launch in 1998. Two repro patterns that were made up more than once for the magazine’s editorials are especially revealing of Vogue Patterns’ choices in promoting its vintage line. A look at the magazine’s different versions of these patterns seems the perfect opportunity for end-of-year reflection on different approaches to sewing—and wearing—vintage.
Vogue 2241, an early 1930s evening gown pattern, has been made up twice for the magazine. (See the pattern on flickr here.) This pattern is one of the earliest Vintage Vogues: it was released soon after the initial batch, which was photographed in black and white for the September/October 1998 issue.
The 1998 holiday issue’s “Vintage Vogue: Past Perfect” feature shows two evening designs, one Fifties, one Thirties, with an old-fashioned dressing screen. The headline promotes the ‘romance’ and timelessness of vintage, and the accompanying copy relates both designs to the “spare, romantic elegance of modern eveningwear,” but the shoot’s dress-up concept makes the garments look static and costumey. Here’s the first Vintage Vogue 2241, in washed silk charmeuse:
Six years later, the same design was remade for another holiday editorial, this one called “Vintage Nights.” This shoot features lush ‘vintage’ set design, with the model conveying a glamorous hauteur. The emphasis is more on dramatic style and interpretation: the headline reads, “Relive the glamour of a bygone era. Dressing for evening takes a cue from the past in Vintage Vogue.” Here’s the second Vogue 2241, this time in sueded silk charmeuse:
The second Vintage Vogue pattern, Vogue 2787, a Forties reproduction, is still in print. For its initial release in spring 2004, Vogue 2787 was made up in two versions, a printed and a solid silk charmeuse, each paired with a retro hat and gloves. The pattern was released with another Forties design, and the editorial gives a fairly direct rendition of Forties glamour; as the headline says, “Forties and still fabulous—take it from us, classic couture gets better with age.” Here are the first two versions of Vogue 2787:
A few years later, Vogue 2787 reappeared in a garden party-themed editorial of Forties and Fifties designs called “Well Cultivated Vintage Vogue.” (The cover shows a Fifties top from the same shoot.) The headline promotes the designs’ freshness and timelessness: “Firmly rooted in the elegance of the past, these perennial beauties make a perfect pick for today.” Vogue 2787′s next incarnation was made up in silk crepe de chine in a pink-dotted print:
And just this fall, Vogue 2787 opened a feature called “Beyond Vintage,” in which Vogue Patterns’ staff adapted and modernized their reissued patterns. Creative Director Jelena Bogavac updated the Forties dress by raising the hemline and altering both sleeves for an asymmetrical bodice. Here it is in iridescent green and pink velvet:
Has our thinking about vintage changed since the ’90s? When the two reissued patterns first came out, their straight period styling was appealing enough for me to get them both. Today I prefer the interpretation of the “Vintage Nights” shoot, and the updating and play of the fall vintage feature.
If you sew vintage, do you make it straight up, or with a twist? Do you adapt your style to accommodate vintage pieces, or make vintage adapt to you?
All the best for 2012!