Mrs Bowden’s top tip – remembering the old ways

I recently attended a very good flea market in Ipswich and came back with a bundle of goodies including; 6 vintage tins for making Chritmas presents, a hat pin, a 1930’s clutch bag (green), a splendid feather for a hat, 2 dress buckles, 3 buttons, a Dressmaking book and what I call a ‘naughty cup’ – a coronation mug produced to celebrate the Coronation of Edward VIII!
I was extremely pleased with all my purchases but particularly so with the Odhams Fashion and Dressmaking book, first published in 1962, mine is a reprint from the following year.
Flicking through last night when I had finished teaching my dressmaking class I was struck with  the stonkingly good technical advice given with the aid of clear diagrams and step by step instructions.  The chapters are also intespersed with ‘professional tips’, a few of which I am going to share with you today.
Oldhams suggest you ‘test your fabric’.  It states ‘Spare a little time before starting your dress to carry out a few simple experiments on snippets of material.’

I’ve come up with a checklist of tests you can carry out before starting to construct your garment.

Test iron temperature.
Test weight of interfacing to avoid over stiffening or shadowing on fine fabrics.

Test the size of needle if using a particularly lightweight, slippery or heavy fabric.

Experiement with topstitching so you are confident of the look you are trying to achieve.

Test button hole sizes, direction and positioning as this can effect the placement of other features such as pocket alignment, topstitching and decorative trimmings such as piping.

I also thought the ‘Preparing the Fabric’ section was particularly good and not often seen in modern dressmaking tutorials or books.

The first tip is to have a straightened edge the  on the weft line (this runs from one selvedge to the other).  This will help you avoid a garment that is twisted as it has been cut ‘off-grain’.

You can straighten the grain by tearing off a small strip – but only certain types of fabric can do this without causing additional stress and fraying.  Snip through the selved first before tearing.

You can also draw a thread from heavier fabrics by pickig up a prominent thread and pulling it out of the fabric – again a WEFT thread.  This will give you a straight line to lay the pattern pieces again or you can use it as a guide to cut the edge so you have a completly clean end to work from .

To finish I would like to share the Odhams’ advice taken from the Chapter on Grooming in the ‘Correct Exercise’ section, page 211…..

It reads “Many exercises can be incorported into the normal housework routine, thus avoiding the often spasmodic daily exercises, and helping to make the noramlly dull routine more enjoyable and stimulating.  When dusting or bedmaking stretch your arms and back muscles into gracelines lines..  When cleaning low down or lifting something, don’t bend your back in a half circle rather bend your kees gracefully.  Sweeping can be used to control your waistline by incorporating a waist rolling and stretching movement, and hanging out the washing is possibly the best exercise for arms and shoulders’.

Now you know!

I do hope you have found the above most helpful and amusing!

Until next time.

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden

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