Should you find yourself looking for 1930s sewing patterns, I highly suggest checking out the excellent New Vintage Lady. She specializes in patterns for the Stout (plus sized) lady for primarily 1930s and 1940s. You can find her patterns for download on Etsy. Here is her blog, which includes info about her patterns, vintage advertisements and catalog pages, historic photos and her adventures in sewing. A lady after my own heart. I’m still making my way through her blog, but she has lots of great info, including vintage dos and don’ts for the plus sized figure and a primer on how to read vintage patterns.

il_570xN.836183478_56ihDid I mention that she illustrates all her own patterns and has an indy comic, Vintageville? I love her illustrations!

You can also follow her on Pinterest and all over the internets. Enjoy!

Manhattan Trade School for Girls report card of Marie Garaventa from Paul Lukas' Slate Magazine article.

I’ve always been fascinated with historical objects, bits of history, loved objects and anything that gives a hint of how a person lived their life. In 1996 Paul Lukas, the author of this article, Permanent Record (found in Slate Magazine) discovered an old filing cabinet in an unused room, in an ex-school, that was slated to be thrown away. Contained in that file cabinet were the records of almost 400 young women who attended a technical school for the sewing arts from the turn of the 20th century through at least mid century. The author and several of his friends stuffed their pockets with as many of the records as they could and one hopes that between them, they got them all.

The turn of the 20th century was focused on industry. In those early years there would be many manuals of home sewing, dressmaking, millinery and other needle arts. Some were intended as instruction for the housewife, others for tailors and some as textbooks for girls. In New York, some forward thinking people, with the help of several well known philanthropists of the day, wanted to give poor girls of all ethnicities a chance to better their skills, help them into better paying jobs, and better lives. The Manhattan Trade School for Girls began in 1902, The school’s first director, Mary Schenck Woolman, detailed the situation in her book, The Making of a Trade School , which was published in 1910. The trade school accepted mostly poor girls, some of whom needed financial aid and many who were Italian, though some were Russian, Hispanic or black. The school kept meticulous records of the girls progress, both academic, home life and even jobs – sometimes for more than a decade. These records are a time capsule, a detailed sociological record, heartbreaking and inspirational dramas.
This article is well worth the read. It gives us a glance into the lives of turn of the century underprivileged young women, many of whom would sew for a living and teach those skills and the love of making to future generations. The author goes further, eventually researching and tracking down a few of the families of these young women. The children of these women then shared stories of their mothers’ lives after they had left the school, along with photographs, letters, a diploma and even a couple sewing sample books. One attendee of the school started a sewing business that is still in production today. Many of the photos and records, and even a short film, are included in the article.
Today the 5th and final post in the series was posted. Be sure to follow all the links for more information. Happy reading!