Inside this old loose-leaf cover is my Grandma’s workbook from the tailoring and dressmaking college she attended in Kansas City in 1937, after graduating high school.
There are some large, printed base patterns and instructions. Here is one complete unfolded sheet:
And now some close-up details:
We’ve got the name of the college.
And a statement about the badassery of women in dressmaking, tailoring and pattern making.
Clear instructions and diagrams for taking measurements. Lots of measurements.
After the students took their own detailed measurements and recorded them in the notebook, they made their own base pattern.
The big sheets spell it all out in diagrams and lists. Here is the tight-waist blouse base pattern:
The list of measurements in this piece:
Then the step-by-step drafting instructions:
After mastering the pattern drafting, the class turned to incorporating different styles into the basic pattern.
They made miniature to-scale paper patterns of different skirt, blouse and sleeve styles. There are pages and pages of examples of clothing styles, drafted into miniature paper patterns. They started with simple skirt styles, and then got more complicated.
Then they moved on to bodices.
This one below, with the curved inset is my current fave and the one I want to try for myself. I’m not sure there is enough muslin in this city for all of the mistakes I’ll make, but I’ve got to try it.
How do you draw all of these to-scale patterns? With a miniature to-scale ruler and curve, of course.
Fast-forward 20 years, during which my Grandma got married, had two daughters, worked as a ‘Rosie’ at Pratt & Whitney while awaiting her husband’s return from WWII, had two sons, and in 1958,…she got her dream machine, the Slant-O-Matic 401A.
Fast forward another 20 years, when as a teen, I spent many hours at this machine learning techniques from her that still serve me to this day.
Fast forward another 40 years, and the machine is in my care now. That is her balsa wood pin cushion in the picture foreground. It’s an awesome pin cushion. Those are her Wiss shears, too. She taught me that there is no substitute for a big pair of precisely-made, expertly-sharpened metal shears. She’s still right.