September 21, 2013

Sewing in Time

Sewing is my passion and fulfillment at this time in my life, but as a former librarian and book lover I also like reading and seeing what the sewists of the past were doing and thinking. The art major (under grad) in me is drawn by the illustrations in the books and on patterns.

That is what drew me to buy "Making Beautiful Clothes" from Garrison House Ephemera, The Past on Paper. Disclaimer: Tess of Garrison House is also a friend which is beside the point of this post. But just saying.

This is actually a 48 page pamphlet describing a mail order course in dressmaking and designing from the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences. Since I bought it from a friend she generously threw in one of the monthly "Inspiration" magazines that enrollees received which had some damage to it.

The illustrations are so charming. 

Great little history of fashion here about how everything old is new again.

I thought these little items were probably pretty obscure and rare and perhaps these original items are, but the person behind the Woman's Institute is not quite so unknown. An online search of Mary Brooks Picken, the Director of Instruction pictured in the pamphlet turned up quite a list.

Burda Style
Amy Barickman
Past Perfect Vintage
The Sewing Loft
plus more I did not list.

Also the ubiquitous Wikipedia plus her New York Times obituary so I am a little late to this party!

But does anyone know about the illustrator(s) ? This one is real charmer.


  1. These are even more charming isolated from the text. I'm so glad you're enjoying them. I also love that you researched the founder of the Institute and now understand her perspective. Do I have smart friends, or what? :-) Thanks for the mention!

  2. I love these Woman's Institute books too! I'm trying to collect full sets of their different courses. These illustrations might be by Alice Seipp--she did a lot of their artwork in the 20s.