Monday, January 25, 2010

suits 1910-11

Hockey Day in Canada is almost upon us (Jan 30th) and in that spirit I present the Boissevain, Manitoba Hockey Team- Intermediate Champions of 1910-11.

I couldn't resist this photo when I saw it in a shop window in a small town in Manitoba back in 1990. I had joined my husband who was on tour through Northern Ontario and Manitoba, and among the highlights of seeing more of our country was the time to check out many small town antique and junk shops. Their personalities seem to shine out at you from this hundred year old photo, and it made me wonder whether their young faces were next seen in another type of uniform.

It is a great reference for hockey clothing in general but also for the suits that the manager (left) and the "spare" (right) are wearing. I think they are both DB- there is a button showing on the front of the manager's suit. I think his seems a bit more unusual in style that the one on the right.
What is interesting to note is the general silhouette, the shoulder, the size of lapel, and the overall length.
Look at the angle of the gorge line and the subsequent length of the collar especially on the man on the right. The end of the gorge line where the lapel peaks is at least 2 1/2" below the knot of his tie. It's a young man's look of the time, and a real departure from the high buttoning style of the turn of the century just 10 years previous.

The manager is quite dapper in his starched shirt collar- you see, Don Cherry is just following tradition, but let's not talk about his suits. Really.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

more frock coat details

Here is a shot of the undercollar and under the lapel. I was surprised that it was machined through the stand. It has been felled to the coat by hand. The collar end has been clean finished, the collar and lapel were edge-stitched by machine and then the collar was caught to the lapel with a very small cross-stitch. It has a functional buttonhole and loop behind.

This is the back step - you can see the hand stitching that catches the under step area to the coat itself.
The lining is cut in two pieces at the back, which is so much easier to put in. Linings can be without a waist seam here, which is was how I learned to do it, but I have changed to this method as well for the tailor's benefit. Cutting the lining all in one is guaranteed to cause heart palpitations when you make that clip for the first time.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

frock coat details

It is difficult to take good photos of black garments.
If you enlarge the picture of the lapel, you will see how nicely made it is. Please ignore the little crumpling on the lapel-my iron was not hot so I did not press this coat.
There is a beautiful shape to the lapel, and it has a thin neat edge because it was cut on the fold. It has been seamed only on the top edge that abuts the collar and this seam travels just about 1/2" or so around the lovely curved peak of the lapel. The outer edge of the lapel has been shaped with the iron into a gentle curve, and then shrunk in at the CF before being seamed to the body.
You can see the handmade buttonhole and the machine edge stitch here. Some frock coats are cut with a silk facing but this is all wool. I wonder whether it was made without silk for a particular reason. Mourning perhaps? Or maybe it was a less formal look.

Here's the first working buttonhole on the left front.

I thought I had managed to lose a button when I looked at the sleeve, but no, there are only two buttons here (on both sleeves) and a quite wide spacing. The false sleeve vent has a tiny curved edge that has been manipulated into the curve rather than having a facing sewn on.
The sleeves only are lined with a cotton sateen, it is almost a pale tobacco colour now with age.

Friday, January 22, 2010

DB frock coat

Now I'm on a roll, unpacking and looking at these things that I have kept, so I might as well continue to document them here- it is very nostalgic, and it gives me a break from the heavy work too-taking down shelves and putting them up again, and setting up my table.
I need help to move the industrial machines anyway, so I can justify a little detour into the past.

I bought this frock-coat in 1984 for the sum of $40.00 which was a lot to me then.
It is in excellent shape- except for a bit of light damage on one shoulder- take note! keep your vintage things out of the light or you will regret it. It is small about a size 38 yet it was cut for someone with a bit of a belly and perhaps an erect posture by the way it sits on a stand.

It is a traditional double breasted frock coat with cut on lapels- hence the center front seam. This differs from cutting a "grown-on" lapel which would be of one piece with the main front body piece, perhaps with a dart into the gorge for shaping. It has three functioning front buttons and closes up fairly high on the chest by virtue of it being DB. There is no outside breast pocket, but two inside breast pockets. It has beautifully handmade buttonholes, and the linings are put in by hand, but it has a machine top-stitch, in a very short stitch length on the edges.
The buttons are basketweave with a raised rim. The back is cut with a step at the centre back, and with the usual pleats in the back skirt. The skirt is moderate in fullness. I forgot to check to see if there were pockets installed in the pleats..... I'll have to check that, they usually do.
I was guessing that this would be Edwardian at the earliest, possibly an example from as late as the 1920's.
I'll share a few close-up shots of some of the details next post.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

bow ties

That dashing young man in the thirties might have worn these bow ties. The one on top here is a plain silk that you must tie yourself, and the one below it is a pre-tied version in white pique. Stylistically they are quite different as well, so they are probably not of the same era. You can see that the silk tie has squared off ends and the cotton has pointed ends. Back in the box with these as well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

spats and gaiters

Spats and gaiters-
Spats being the short version, and in my vocabulary, gaiters being the longer- maybe there is another description for the ladies version.

I found a pair of men's wool spats and just one ladies gaiter while I was going through the boxes of things I keep at the studio. We are often called upon to make these to complement the costumes we are working on so it is nice to have examples to see the shapes and sizes and to note how they were constructed.

These are both made of a dense but not thick wool- it would have been felted for this purpose.
On the men's pair, the seam allowances are covered with a narrow 1/4" strip of leather that is topstitched in place. The same leather strip is used to finish off the inside of the top and bottom edges. The wool itself is cut raw along those edges.
The ladies gaiter has a narrow cotton canvas tape instead of leather to cover the seam allowances, and both have a layer of cotton canvas to reinforce the buttonhole and the button area. The men's spat has a leather strap and a buckle that go under the shoe, while the ladies gaiter has a matching wool strap and buckle.
They aren't in bad shape, all things considered, I think they have to be at least 75 years old, but maybe as old as a hundred.
It sometimes makes me wonder how people went from wearing these to how few dress accessories most people wear now. I don't think my daughter even unties her boots to put them on and off, so it's interesting to imagine the process of getting ready to go out, putting these on, on top of your lace up boots.

Back in the box they go. I should look up some information on how to conserve these things properly so they are here in another 75 years. Just add it to the to do list.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

trash and treasures

I didn't think it would take me this long to get set up in the new studio space. Of course I have had some set backs:

The first- what are the odds that the day I paint the floor is the day the maintenance guy decided to finally look at a problem with the steam pipe fitting? The odds turn out to be.... surprise... 100%!
I finished painting the floor at 1pm and the next morning I came in to see, footprints, dirt, and a 5 gallon bucket half catching the drips from the 100 year old steam pipe fan fitting that was last inspected in 1951. Dreary days!

The second- going through boxes of things- I mean I was beginning to feel like I should be on an episode of hoarders - should I keep this or throw it out?
Luckily I found someone who was interested in my fabric scraps- one bin down.
Old patterns that I drafted and thought would come in useful? Gone- five boxes down.

The third-finding things that I had packed away and almost forgotten about such as this:

A cutter gave me this box when she retired, and although the box looks to be from the 1960's these waistcoats came with a little handwritten card on which was written: "Here's what the 110 lb size 32 dashing young man was wearing about town in 1930."
There is a silk bengaline backless dress waistcoat, a full back black bengaline waistcoat and a white cotton pique backless formal waistcoat (with two bow ties- one plain silk and one pre-tied white pique)

In another box, I found some shirt cuffs in their packaging with instructions on how to replace the cuffs on your shirt, a pair of men's wool spats, and one ladies wool gaiter.

I located the Edwardian DB frock coat that I bought from a used clothing store in 1984 and my father in law's tuxedo trousers from the 50's- just a little treasure trove altogether!
These of course I will pack away again and try to keep them from the ravages of time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

new year, new studio

Happy New Year to all!
I've been busy over the holidays with all the usual Christmas singing and parties and food and family get togethers, but now it is the New Year and there's nothing like dealing with a leaky roof at the studio to begin the year.

This water problem has been going on for the past few months resulting in frantic moving of some items like books and temporary storage of other things like fabrics, but mostly the covering up of our cutting tables and machines, while we figure out what to do.

Having a studio space is something that I have maintained for the past 20 years. Since my job is contract based, while I am laid off, I need to find other work and also have a place to do the work in. I don't have the space at home to work from, and over the years I have collected a fair number of industrial sewing machines and related tools that are needed for work.
My colleague Carol and I share the space which helps off set the costs involved. It is increasingly difficult to find affordable studio space to work in- I'm not sure about other areas of the country, but the old factory buildings that make great studio space are often torn down or turned into condos. We've been renting in an old factory which has rented out one wing on one floor to artists to work in. I wasn't looking forward to trying to find another location nor packing up and moving-but as fate would have it, a former colleague, Cynthia, who had been retired for the past ten years or so, passed away in September, and she rented a space down the hall from us- mostly for storage. Her space has become available and I have begun my year by putting up walls and painting.
Next week I have a small contract to fulfill, and then I guess I'll be painting the floor, getting an electrician in and moving, just in time to start my contract for the coming theatre season. While I am at it, I think about Cynthia- she was such a talented cutter, a pioneer in Canadian theatrical costuming- I was privileged to have worked with her- and I think about how sad and strangely things happen and fall into place.