Underneath It All, 1930’s fashion

1937 Gertrude Mason’s Pattern Book. The Principles of Pattern-Cutting Applied to Lingerie, Blouses, Skirts and Sportswear. Gertrude Mason was Instructor of Dressmaking, Coatmaking and Tailoring at the Birmingham Central Technical College at the time this book was written.

“Drawn to measure, simplified pattern making”. “A sheet of cutting out or brown paper, or newspaper will be required.”

Reference to marking of fabric: “Seam allowance is marked off outside the edge of the paper pattern with pins, pencil, tailors’chalk, or tracing wheel according to the texture of the material.” No mention of dressmakers’ carbon paper. The unserrated tracing wheel may have been used to mark the fabric to avoid leaving holes.

“Mark the outline of each piece of pattern with a tracing, or tailors’ tacks or press back the seam allowance over the pattern with a warm iron, according to the thickness and texture of the material. With some modern materials it is advisable to trace the outline of each section of the pattern and cut as few sections as possible for making up, and then of those sections, only the seams that are to be worked on immediately. A neck line should not be cut until the first fitting.”

Seam allowances: “Shoulder and underarm seams, 1/2 to 1 inch. Armhole, 1/2 inch. Neck and collar edges, 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Sleeve seams, 1/2 inch.”

A homemade chalkboard from Harriet Pepin’s Modern Pattern Designing (1942). Evidently only pencil carbon or white carbon paper was available at this time and that method is no longer recommended. “A chalk board is made by purchasing a powdered chalk, moistening it with water and “painting” several coats upon compo, paper surface board. This is then covered with cheese cloth.” I would much rather trace around the outside edge of the pattern with needle and thread. I do not know when dressmakers’ carbon paper was first invented.

This from Clothing Construction by Brown, Gorham, and Keever, 1934 edition:  “A tracing wheel is excellent for marking notches, darts, tucks, and seams, on such fabrics as percale, lawn, and some silk crepes. Place the fabric and the pattern on a table with a unfinished top, or cover the table with beaverboard or several thicknesses of paper, and trace lines as indicated.” No mention of tracing paper in this book, just pins; needles; pencil; tailor’s chalk; uneven basting; guide basting; tailor’s tacks; and tracing wheel. I would recommend using a hard pencil (without dragging on the fabric) to avoid smudging. I’ve also seen a video of an elderly tailor who had a special sharpener for his chalk right on the table next to him. He didn’t have to pick it up, he just swiped the chalk through a couple of times. Even though he was using wool, he maintained a very sharp line.

Using this search term: Costume evening wear 1930’s
I found some beautiful color drawings. Here is the direct link:

Precision Draping; a simple method for developing designing talent by Nelle Weymouth Link. Born in 1889 she would have been 40 years old in 1930. Even though this book was published in 1948, it’s possible the author was using these techniques in the 1930’s. Here is a link to this book. Free to view or make a donation. You might need to copy and paste if the link doesn’t work or use the title to search at https://www.hathitrust.org/. The beginning of the book has illustrations and descriptions of how to begin to drape. Draping the French dart on page 33.






One thought on “Underneath It All, 1930’s fashion

  1. There’s a lot to enjoy in this posting. I was taught to use thread tracing, tailors’ chalk and tailors’ tacks – this was in the late 1980s & early 1990s by a lovely elderly lady who was a very skilled tailor and dressmaker. I have never owned a tracing wheel, dressmakers carbon etc – I am still faithful to her methods.
    I was interested in the bra making too.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s