Monday, July 31, 2017

How to Use a Victorian Edwardian McCalls Sewing Pattern - Original Instructions

I have done a lot of sewing using vintage sewing patterns - usually these are 40s and 50s patterns. Though I own a number of original sewing patterns from the 1920s and 1930s, I don't have the heart to open them up and use them.  However, these early patterns, just like those from the 1940s and 1950s, were not printed on the tissue like they are today with markings which show seam allowances, where to match pattern pieces, notches and etc.  Generally, the older pattern pieces consist of precut tissue pieces with a series of hole punches... that's it.

1903 McCall's Tissue Pattern Pieces

The person who purchase the pattern to construct it was assumed to have some general sewing knowledge, as people constructed their own garments more regularly back then.  They didn't always have the big department stores always available to them like we do today.  Even in the 1940s and 1950s, not everyone sewed.  My grandmother had a collection of patterns of her own, each was made for her by the seamstress she hired down the street from her.  These patterns were used to complete the garments which were used for outfits worn for her honeymoon after she married my grandfather.  One of these outfits is hanging in my closet upstairs and consisted of a two-piece suite with a matching cape.

1903 McCall's Pattern Advertisement

I was costuming a show for a local community theatre about 15 years ago, and found a 1940s pattern in my collection which was perfect for one of the actors characters.  However, at the time I didn't know how to use the pattern whatsoever.  Lucky for me, an elderly woman (who has sadly passed away since) was assisting me and knew from her past experience how to use them and taught me.

1903 McCall's Measurement Illustration
Today I was listing items to sell in my Etsy shop and came across a one page article in a 1903 McCall's Magazine which illustrates how to fit and use a McCall's pattern.  This is an invaluable resource to someone who would like to use one of their vintage/antique patterns from their collection.

I have listed this page for sale in my Etsy Shop Here as an Instant Digital Download for anyone who may need the reference.  Please visit my shop if you want more information on the listing.

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