Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Morris Brothers French à La Mode Tailor System

This last year I've been fortunate enough to find a few antique tailoring systems. Studying and cataloging them before I let them go to new homes has been one of my favorite between-work pleasures the last few busy months. For our study purposes, tailoring systems will include any drafting system that includes special rulers, charts, pantographs, expanding slopers, or skirt rules to draft a sewing pattern from a set of measurements.

Today for your pattern history lesson, I have The Morris Brothers French á La Mode Tailor System.

This is a bodice tailoring system from 1909. It is called the French A La Mode Tailoring System and was invented by the Morris Brothers. Instructions are printed on the pieces for drafting and there may have been pattern supplement booklets but I have never found any to go with it. Tailoring systems like these became very popular in the mid-to-late 19th century and several small companies sprang up to meet the demand of home seamstresses who recognized this brilliant pattern-making method as an economic answer to clothing oneself on a budget.

The system is complete when it contains a Bodice front, Bodice Back, Dart Rule, Sleeve (designed to draft a two-piece sleeve), and a Shorthand Square Skirt Guide.
Since the text printed on the bodice piece says "Perfected in 1909", one may assume that the system was originally created earlier, as these were popular and rather prevalent methods of drafting from the 1880s and later.

For more information on this sort of tailoring system, see the book Cutting a Fashionable Fit; Dressmaker's Drafting Systems in the United States by Claudia Kidwell.

Update: Due to popular requests, this set is now available as a reproduction!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Royal Pattern Company - A Bit of Sewing Pattern History


Happy weekend, my dears. Today I thought I would post just a short bit on sewing pattern history. As some of you know, I'm one of the founding Admins of The Vintage Sewing Pattern Nerds group on Facebook. My goal has always been to educate others on sewing pattern history and preservation. To continue that thread, I'm going to attempt to post more of the educational content I post to the group, but for your benefit here. Not all of you are on Facebook, after all (Which you should be proud of!).

Today, our topic is the Royal Pattern Company.

The Royal Pattern Company (not associated with Modes Royale) began selling sewing patterns in 1895 and printed their magazine Le Costume Royal beginning in 1896 to advertise their patterns. This was common practice for sewing pattern companies at the time (See The Delineator Magazine, McCall's Magazine, Le Bon Ton etc.).

The Royal Pattern Company merged with Vogue Pattern Company in 1924. Vogue patterns at this time began to carry the "Vogue/ Royal" label. By 1927, the "Royal" no longer appeared on Vogue patterns.

This particular issue came to me missing several pages but still includes a full-color centerfold and several numbered illustrations advertising patterns available for mail order.

Can you imagine getting such a pattern via mail order now?

Patterns from The Royal Pattern Company, Vogue Royal, and Le Costume Royal magazine/ quarterly are quite highly sought-after by collectors so if you find one, hang on to it!
My own personal collection of patterns and quarterlies.

How about you? Have you ever seen a Royal sewing pattern (not to be mistaken with Modes Royale) or a similar edition to this magazine? What is (in your opinion) that rarest pattern you've ever found. I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Few Pretty Pages of McCall's Catalog March 1952

So there I was, scrolling along through eBay doing some pattern research, and there it was. A nice little 1952 McCall's Catalog for a somewhat fair price. I wasn't in the market for more catalogs as I have more than enough of them (I can't believe I just wrote that...) and I didn't have the extra money to spend at the time. 

But I clicked anyway to take a look and what I read in the description forced me to click "buy it now" without a second's hesitation.

"...the inside pages are in great shape and printed on fairly heavy paper. Each page is in color and suitable for framing. Framed, these would be terrific in an office, woman’s clinic, tea room, sewing room, women’s powder room, lobby of a mid-century building, etc, etc. The return on your investment could be tremendous if the book was disassembled and sold by the page. Could even be used as wallpaper. The possibilities are endless."

As I said, I didn't hesitate. The idea of someone else reading that description and deciding to take them up on any one of these heinous suggestions was just too much. I had to save her. So I sold a few patterns from my collection to recoup the cost and here we are, with my latest rescue.

I hope you enjoy taking a look.

I even had one of her patterns handy - this one is available here.

This is the earliest catalog I've found so far to feature photographs and not just illustrations.

Happy sewing!