Monday, July 18, 2011

Fashion Tips for the Thrifty Girl 1909

In Threshold Girl, Flora Nicholson is thrilled because her Mom is making her a new wardrobe. She is off to school.

But the Nicholsons remade their clothing, and I even have a letter from 1914, when Flora is working at William Lunn School in Griffintown, where she gives detailed instructions to her mom about a skirt she wants remade.

She was deskilled, she couldn't sew, it seems. Her sister Marion could, when she had the time. Marion helped her mom make Flora's new wardrobe.

I have this 1909 Delineator, and I think I will steal bits of it to describe what they made her in more detail. All they say is "sewed her up."

Here are some excerpts from the article Dressmaking Made Easy from the September 1909 Delineator.

"Making over is not ordinarly regarded as a task that calls forth any joyful thrills of anticipation and and pleasure. Somewhat erroneously, I think, it is looked on as a burden and a bother, one of the uncomfortabe results of a more of less limited income....but it not only saves money but in the end it leaves one with a peculiar feeling of elation, one has been very clever in checkmating changing fashions and keeping even with that subtle, slippery thing- Style.

Decide first what clothes are worth remaking. When the materials are badly worn it is hardly worth while going to any amount of trouble in the way of renovations. But when the material is sound and whole it is little short of criminal not to take advantage of the possiblities.

Some women look with awe upon an expensive dress and feel it must be worn just as it was made. It is an attitude that is much more in general in England. I was particularly struck on my last visit to the other side. The women have a singularly dowdy appearance simply because they have fallen into the habit of wearing their clothes unchanged until they drop to pieces. As they generally get expensive materials of the most durable character, their clothes last from 4 to 5 years. ..

The first thing that you must examine with a critical eye on an old dress is the sleeve. It is the one part of a gown that offers the most convincing evidence as to its age. It is a simple matter to remodel a sleeve just at present when the old ones were large and the new ones smaller, since it is only a matter of recutting....

The deep yokes that were so popular a year or two ago have entirely lost their prestige. The new gowns show a very small section of white in the chemisette....

It is a mistake to think that the slender, hipless silhouette is going out. The talk of increasing width of skirts is most misleading. Many of the new skirts are wider than the last in measurement, but their appearance gives no hint of the new fulness.

The Frenchwoman has discarded petticoats entirely, but on this side are very few women who will relinquish them even for pantalettes and knickerbockers...

If your petticoat has a gathered flounce it should be ripped off and accordion plated. The plates fall absolutely straight without any flare and do not hold the dress skirt out from the feet.

(So I guess, I'll have Marion make plaits for Flora, the newest style.. (Even though it's two years late. I'll have Marion remark on it.

In 1909 it was all about Plaits or Pleats as I would call them in my childhood. But if the 1909 article is correct, plaits were a way to get the person to use more material!!

Indeed, my husband's grandmother on his father's side, May Fair, was a crack seamstress (she even made coats) and she always reworked the patterns claiming that the patterns made you use more material than was needed. I think I will have Marion or Margaret say that..