Holy mother of Zeus, friends -- I nearly pulled my hair out today trying to parse the instructions of my vintage Forties swimsuit pattern, Advance 2467. I had an easier time with Beowulf.
Let's look at Step 2. Notice anything strange? Perhaps it's that Step 2 is composed of twenty-five steps. Hello?
I can't really rag on Advance, at one time the house brand for J.C. Penney, since they went kaput long ago. But imagine trying to decipher Burda instructions for a lined bathing suit with a double-layered crotch gusset, and you get an idea of what my afternoon was like.
Truly, I love old patterns, and I learn something new about clothing construction every time I use one. I can deal with the lack of printed pattern pieces. I've learned to read all the little perforations, notches, and what-not; it's pretty straightforward.
This is the back armhole -- see that double notch along the curve?
Line up these holes and you get the grain line:
These double perforations mean "cut on fold."
These three small circles designate a dart:
But the written instructions and drawn diagrams, while very detailed, are very dense. Since it's a garment type that's new to me, I have to read what's written again and again, then compare the diagram to my actual pieces of fabric (in this case, a muslin), and then read them once more.
I still mixed up the inside and the outside of my lining, so that the seams on two sides of the diamond-shaped gusset are on the outside of the lining, and the seams on the other two sides are on the inside.
Quick: which side of the lining is actually next to your skin -- the inside or the outside? I'm still wrestling with that one.
|Good so far...|
|Crotch Gusset of Shame.|
It's incredible to me that the directions for both a beach jacket and a lined swimsuit (in two different styles!) are contained on only one page of instructions. If this were a contemporary pattern there would be four, easy.
In closing, readers, do you think instructions were so densely written back then because...
1) garment construction was generally more complicated so there was more ground to cover.
2) people had better sewing skills and didn't need as much hand-holding.
3) the average person was more literate.
4) paper was more expensive to print so instructions had to be brief.
5) all of the above.
I'm up for just about any sewing challenge, but I hate getting confused because I can't figure out what the instructions are telling me to do. It feels like a waste of my time. Then again, perhaps it's keeping my brain sharp.
Readers, what's your take on vintage pattern instructions: are you ever flummoxed over old-timey techniques or do you just say, to hell with it, I'm gonna serge the whole thing?
Finally, does anyone out there miss the swimsuit crotch gusset? Please don't tell me they still exist!
Have a great day, everybody!
UPDATE -- 10:30 am dumpster diver alert!