First draft of 1920s lingerie book

So, not that I had free time, but I was running ahead of schedule yesterday and managed to squeeze in a quick visit to work to take advantage of the scanner there. It’s a slow process but the scans are very clear and will result in a high quality pdf when all is said and done.  So far I’ve scanned the cover, inside cover and pages 1-15. And I have to admit, I’ve barely had a chance to do more than skim the contents but there are a few pieces that are already in my future.

I love that corset covers are featured prominently – within the first few pages – just going to show that not every woman tossed away her corsets as soon as the calendar pages flipped to 1920. And just to help quick track of the different books I’ll be scanning, this one is the 1922 edition of  Patterns for Underwear and Lingerie by Mary Brooks Picken and published by the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences. I’m trying to determine if this is volume 30 or volume 16 (both numbers appear in the booklet) but haven’t found a definitive list of all the publications yet.

1922 lingerie book page 9

There are surplice corset covers, two-piece embroidery corset covers (fig. 6 above), slip-over corset covers, and of course, plain corset covers. The plain ones form the basis for drafting all the variations so I guess I’ll have to start there.

It will likely take a few weeks to get the full book scanned and cleaned up, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak preview. (Download 1922 Lingerie Book sample in pdf ) It’s the first fifteen pages, mostly untouched with only a watermark added. The final version will be watermark free. There’s five or six sets of drafting instructions within those pages and I’ll be expanding on each one as I work my way through scanning the entire book. Take a look at page 2 for the complete contents to get a taste of what else will be included. I’m looking forward to the Knickerbockers and Combination Suit myself!


1920s Instruction Manuals

It’s been a busy day but sadly not filled with much sewing… I had been greatly looking forward to a 1920s sewing workshop at the museum today and trying my hand at an alternate style of 1-hour-dress, but unfortunately the workshop participants didn’t show up so the class was brought to a very early end. I hope I can make it up to AM and we can find some other time to do more 1920s sewing soon!

Late this evening, I did make a small dent in one of my regency petticoats – it’s actually wearable now, but I am adding to it  by piecing a 4″ deep ruffle from 6 strips of 36″ wide muslin and managed to hand hem about half of it. I was thinking this would be part of my halloween costume this year but practicality won out and I finally just decided to go with a Medusa costume. Phew… glad that dithering is done!! With no immediate deadline, the hand-sewing was very relaxing while we were watching TV (yes, I was actually watching TV!) and should be easy to finish tomorrow. After that it just needs to be gathered and attached to the petticoat.

Anyway, that’s not today’s exciting news! A day or two ago I won a few auctions on ebay and now these lovelies are on their way to me:

book cover 01 book cover 02

A 1922 manual on underwear and lingerie and a 1923 manual on dressmaking! Both of these were produced by the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences, developed by Mary Brooks Picken (of the 1-hour dress system fame!) and although many of these manuals were printed as correspondence courses, very few have made their way into Google Books or the other online archive sites. So, needless to say, I’m pretty excited about their arrival. I do have plans to scan them and make them available but of course that all depends on the shape they are in and how much time I can find to do it!

The Modern Priscilla – June 1911

As my required sewing is nearing an end, I spent some time today cleaning my sewing studio. I haven’t yet unpacked my 1790’s bonnet for more photos, but I did unearth my stack of The Modern Priscilla magazine issue from 1911.


It only seemed appropriate to start flipping through the June issue.

I was lucky enough to find the entire run of issues for that year and purchased them on eBay about 18 months ago. According to The eNewstand ProjectThe Modern Priscilla was started in 1887 as a monthly magazine published in Lynn, Massachusetts. (That it’s only two towns from me definitely played a factor in my interest!) As far as I can tell from reading the 1911 issues, the magazine had since moved to Boston and was geared to women who had the leisure, the desire, or the need to have resources at hand for improving their homes and wardrobes. It’s similar in scope to other periodicals of the early 20th century with a mix of short stories, recipes, fashion plates, decor ideas, and of course, advertisements.

Perhaps what interested me most of all were the project tutorials, many of which I’ll be expanding on in future posts. The Priscilla Company also sold patterns and pre-marked fabric for making the dainty embroidered collars, waists, numerous unmentionables, and housewares. In many of the tutorial-like articles there is little more than an expanded set of directions – probably only slightly more detailed than what accompanied the purchased pattern. However, there’s usually at least one more in-depth look at constructing a garment, many with clear photos of some technique or another.

Peerless Patterns appear regularly in the magazine pages and this yummy duo caught my eye:

I’m pretty sure I’ll be going to be dreaming of embroidered grapes on a summery dress…. With a parasol to match of course! Which reminds me, I wonder if B.C., the all-knowing parasol princess, would have any recommendations for the right frame to copy this one?

1790s Blue Sillk Bonnet


Can't you just picture yourself wearing this?

Can’t you just picture yourself wearing this?

This absolutely lovely bonnet has been part of my antique clothing collection for years but I haven’t gotten around to studying it very closely until now. It came on the field trip to Dress University this year and it was great fun to share with the other costume enthusiasts. It likely dates to the 1790s and has much in common with the earlier calash style bonnets.

It's in pretty remarkable condition for being over 200 years old.

It’s in pretty remarkable condition for being over 200 years old.

The primary covering is a brilliant blue plain weave silk – very lightweight. Each of the gathered/shirred area has been stitched flat and strips of cardboard provide the support inside the channels. Buckram is used at the back of the bonnet to give support to the large flat area and there are some signs that a lining may have covered the interior buckram in the past.

Flowers of three varieties adorn the front and one of these days I’ll get around to crafting some samples. The small forget-me-nots are cut from velvet, the large pink roses are made from textured paper (similar to heavy crepe paper) , and the medium flowers have been constructed from linen fabric. All the leaves appear to be silk but I’m still working on closer examination of the stems and more exact construction methods for each element.

I can almost picture this with a 1790's transitional gown but would love to find some contemporary images to be sure about the look.

I can almost picture this with a 1790’s transitional gown but would love to find some contemporary images to be sure about the look.

A pattern might be forthcoming later this summer, but for now I’ll just enjoy this bonny blue bonnet and imagine the stories it has to tell!

A pretty old book

To say things have been busy is an understatement at the very least! It’s been nearly two weeks since I attended the Vintage Textile Show in Sturbridge with A.M. and I’m sad to say I’m just looking at my purchases for the first time since then!


Not so pretty on the outside...

And here is treasure #1 – Ladies’ Tailor-Made Costumes, Fall and Winter 1909-10. Admittedly it’s not much to look at on the outside with signs of water damage and mildew. However it dry and no powder residue to be seen. (I will still ask my rare book ans conservation friends for advice… But not at this hour!)

What’s inside is much cooler anyway…



Yes, yes, those are dress and coat designs…. AND pages and pages of fabric swatches! Once I have a bit more free time on my hands, I’ll be scanning the entire book and making it available for downloads. For now, I’m just enjoying the fact that I have a few minutes to flip through the pages myself!