home sewing in the 1920s, or getting ready for november’s monthly stitch

Amy Barickman's Vintage Notions
Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions

Trolling through our local library’s listings for things vintage, I spied Vintage Notions by Amy Barickman, and requested it.  In due course it arrived, and I was surprised because it has nothing to do with haberdashery.

It’s a monthly diary and homage to Mary Brooks Picken (1886 – 1981), an American who created a national mail order Course in Dressmaking and Design, was one of the founding directors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, was the first woman to be named a trustee of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York), and wrote nearly 100 books/pamphlets, some still in print.

The book also has several sewing “patterns” (more like diagrams) from Picken’s publications, and they particularly piqued my interest.  You know me ~ I was soon looking around cyberspace to see what else might be available.

excuse my hand!
excuse my thumb!

That’s when I discovered there are reprints and some originals of Mrs. Picken’s books and pamphlets available today.  I ordered and promptly received one of the 3 in her 1920s One-Hour Dress series.

The dresses and variations in this 1925 booklet use the same folding process as my pinny.  Perhaps this method or process was in general use in the 1920s.  Paper patterns were quite possibly not in general use.

I freely admit to being thoroughly & happily spoilt by today’s printed patterns.  Game for giving the 1925 booklet a go, I carefully read directions & diagram a couple of times.  (Warning: Don’t think you’re gonna do this in 1 hour straight off, unless you’ve done this before!)  I think I’m ready for November’s Monthly Stitch challenge!

Pssst!  Cornell University has an online copy of  The Mary Brooks Picken method of modern dressmaking, 1925, here!

5 thoughts on “home sewing in the 1920s, or getting ready for november’s monthly stitch”

  1. Hello! I have just found your blog! AMAZING! I also LOVE 1920’s and 30’s fashion, sewing vintage and all things stitchery! Look forward to reading through your blog more when I have a few minutes!
    Laura x


    1. Welcome, Laura! So glad we can get together and inspire each other. Your site just gave me a wonderful idea – embroidering children’s art work. That’s SUCH a grand idea, and makes for super-special gifties. Tank you for stopping by and commenting! xx back to you ~


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