Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Women's Institute of Domestic arts and sciences


When I lived in Tucson I worked for a wonderful woman who owned Desert Vintage, the best vintage store in Tucson. On top of helping me with my sewing she once gave me a book called Drafting and Pattern Design. I coveted this book for many reasons but didn't take it seriously as a sewing reference. Because of the beauty of this book I went on to collect a few other volumes published by Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences. I recommend these books for their information and inspiration.

The women's institute was founded by Mary Brooks Picken in Scranton PA (the home town of our VP elect). She authored 96 books on sewing and fashion, was the first woman trustee of FIT and a founder of Fashion Group who's 60 years worth of fashion archives can be found at the NY public library. Hint, hint for you people in NY. She was also the first women author of an english language dictionary. And you thought you were busy.



When I got this book I was still so new to pattern drafting that I imagined that it was old and there for out dated. It was not until recently while reading Kathleen's book that I remembered this wealth of information that I ought to revisit.


This book was published in 1924.

This is the draft for a basic block. Notice the unusual angle of the CF line. I have my theories about why you would do it this way but I would love to hear yours.



This is the basic fitted block if that makes it any easier.



Check out this tailored sleeve. The shaping involved is beautiful.



This is the only tool used in this book. It is called a Picken's Square for obvious reasons. Both the book and this tool assume that you might not have any experience with multiplying or dividing.



And here's a little eye candy to leave you with.

10 comments:

hannah said...

I was confused at first by the bodice illustrations because they're showing the left side, and I'm so used to working exclusively with the right side. I kept thinking "why is the back necklinge SO low?"
Does the shoulder line seem excessively sloping to anyone else? Also, the back armsyce looks so much smaller than the front, it must have affected rage of motion.

Carly said...

I was interested by the shoulder line too. I like that they don't assume that its straight. In reality it's not. Go ahead and put a ruler on your shoulder and tell me I'm lying. It makes me want to try this in a fitting. I know that my shoulders are quite square so I don't think I would trust a generalized curve any more than a straight line. As for the arm hole I had similar thoughts when I first looked at this book but recently I've been thinking this might be more accurate. I think that in general back arm holes are too deep and front arm holes are too shallow, especially right where your deltoid crosses to your arm. I think I should try this draft and see what it looks like. I would be very curious.
I also noticed that the bust point was quite low. I wonder if its because this is post-corset pre-bra.

hannah said...

I agree that generally back armholes are too deep and front are too shallow, but what I meant was the length of the armsyce in general -- the shoulder point is so much lower in back than in front. The depth of the front and back seem basically the same.

Evenstar said...

hi all, i am a designer who does the pattern drafting for my clients. I have a question for you, is there a particular drafting system that you use that gives your patterns a better fit. Are you able to share your method of drafting a basic bodice block please. Thanks

hannah said...

Evenstar-
To me it's more important to know what your customer base is, and what shape they are, than to use any particular pattern drafting technique-- once you have a truly representative fit model, you can draft the basic bodice pattern using any number of techniques (i like draping) and then, through a serious of fittings, get it just right -- but technically it's not a block until it's a tried and true fit for your customers.

Sonia Levesque said...

Very interesting. I love older pattern techniques! Slanted and curved shoulders make sense. And I love that the darts are not mirror images of one another; again, realistic to what a body looks like.

As for the diagonal front... I'm a bit clueless. The only thing I could think of is that a body is NOT straight down the center front. So the biais help shape the fabric to the real curves of the body. Great way to shape maternity clothes I guess. I think I'm curious enough to try this on a fit model...

hannah said...

Carly and i talked about the layout of the front on the phone the other day, and surmised that the position is just for drafting purposes, and not actually how it's cut...the fact that it's not true bias alone makes me think it can't possibly be cut that way. Interesting that they don't put grain line on though, thats always the first thing that goes on any of my patterns

Carly said...

In response to evenstar: I rarely think true drafting is an effective way to make clothing blocks for people. If somebody has a line they should know who their clientele is and their standard body sizes. But almost more importantly they should know what that clientele is expecting in a garment. Have you ever noticed the similar fit of J crew and Gap? They are not drafting from scratch they use each other's clothing. They use their best selling clothing as blocks for later designs. They are similar price points similar locations for sale, and similar demographic. Do what they do and use the clothing that fits your demographic as a base.

Anonymous said...

It looks to me as though the line is based on using the hip measurement as the basis for setting the width of the block, with minimal shaping at the waist (which is consistent with the style lines of the day, which fall from the shoulder to the hip, with scant fitting for either bust or waist).

Anonymous said...

Nice brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.