Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cutting A Fashionable Fit Online - a little history lesson

Let's be honest: once a history major, always a history major. 

I'm at my happiest in the stacks at the library, or in this case, with the electronic access materials online.

Cutting A Fashionable Fit

is a 1979 article written for the Smithsonian (where apparently she worked at the time) by Claudia Kidwell. I stumbled on this through my library system, and include the link so you can read it online as well.  

Towards the beginning,  Ms Kidwell clearly states "This paper is not an exhaustive treatise on 
dressmakers' drafting systems." 
illustration from Cutting A Fashionable Fit

Check out this chart: it couldn't be. It seems that at one point or another, every other sewist in America had their own, patented system for measuring and cutting clothes.

Ms Kidwell is an engaging writer on this topic. She is an archivist and (I suspect) a sewist. What she does in 100 pages (the other 50 or so are her source records, it's that thorough) is give you a cogent history of American dressmaking and the people and the issues at play. 

 Initial reviews of "A History of the Paper Pattern Industry" by Joy Emery have been mixed. I like it, but it is pretty dry going.  Consistent with it's purpose, "Paper Pattern" is built like a dissertation, with summaries at the end of each chapter. Her time span covers the beginnings of the commerically printed paper pattern for the home sewist with Ebenezer Butterick in 1863 and through the 20th century. It should be titled the American Paper Pattern Industry, but it has a lot of ground to cover and a lot of color illustrations to boot. It's not everything I could want, but you read the Kidwell in turn, and you've found your place in the historical turn things have taken with PDF patterns and pattern drafting software.

I requested this from the Seattle Public Library, and just couldn't wait any longer for it. This is my copy.

Worth reading about. And Now I want my own McDowell Pattern Drafting Machine.

Both are a quick read, "Paper Pattern" is probably just a library away

"Fashionable Fit" is just a click at that link at the top.

(waited til the end of the Ebay auction to put this up)
(no, I don't want any more competition than I have already)

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