Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Adventures in Apportioning Scales

My dear friend Mew was so very sweet and thinking of me when she was shopping one day. She found a book of Victorian patterns, would I like a copy? Sure! I love Victorian patterns and adding to my collection of Things I Will Sew One Day (tm). Thank you for thinking of me <3

The book came, and it wasn't precisely what I was expecting -- not that it is not dearly appreciated anyway! I really had no idea what to expect in the first place, and I was really excited to see what it had to offer. The book was 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Patterns by Kristina Harris. It's a little out-of-era for me - most of my costuming focus is the bustle years of 1869-1889 (with the bustle-less years in-between as well; they're still aesthetically pleasing to me), but some of the earliest patterns in the book were still quite lovely to my eye. It's also useful for people looking for children's patterns; there's a very small selection of girls' patterns, one boys' pattern, and 2 or 3 mens' patterns as well. I was really excited to sit down and start planning the patterns out.

But I didn't quite understand them. The sewing directions are sparse (not really a concern, I should be able to figure that out), but the drafting instructions just made no sense. You are directed to draft blouses (aka waists) by bust measurement, and skirts by waist measurement, and to regulate the length by tape measure. OK, I got the tape measure part. What does the rest of it mean?

A trawl of Google revealed that you cannot make up the patterns by the numbers given. They are not in inches, and the enlarging instructions given are partial at best. What you really need is a set of apportioning scales.

What the heck are apportioning scales? Another Google trawl led me to a blog that linked to Festyve Attire's videos on how to use Edwardian apportioning scales as given in Edwardian Modiste by Frances Grimble. The notes at the bottom also indicated that the same scales given in this book can be used for Kristina Harris' books, as they are from the same fashion magazine. Sweet, I thought. I just need to find myself a copy of a Grimble book and I should be golden.

As I am a poor working stiff in retail, buying an appropriate book was not an immediate option. The library had only one book, an early 1900s book of patterns The Voice of Fashion (Grimble). I figured I could take it out, copy the rulers I (thought I) needed, see if anything caught my attention. I know myself well enough to know that I only need enough time and opportunity looking through any given era and I will most likely develop a level of passion for it.

There's several dresses that look utterly charming. I made up the test pattern with relative ease, though I haven't had a chance to test it fully. All of my fabric and sewing supplies are currently packed up and inaccessible, but the paper part seems to be OK so far. I will have to get on making a corset for the era to be totally sure. I was impressed enough with the way the patterns are drafted to pick up copies of Modiste, and 2 mid-bustle era books also by Grimble (Fashions of the Gilded Age One and Two; funnily enough, from the bustle-less mid-era years. LOL.) I can't wait for them to arrive and get started on expanding my wardrobe.

I will hopefully remember to take detailed photos of both the drafting and construction process to post here, as these books are wonderfully fascinating! I highly recommend them to anyone looking for these eras, with the caveat that they will take some skill to prepare to an easily sew-able state.

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