NY: Butterick Publishing Company, c1927
This book also has an introduction by Jacques Worth, who at that time was, with his brother, running the House of Worth in Paris. He talks about how to make smart clothing and highlights what he thinks is the keynote of French fashion: Fine Workmanship. It is very period and entertaining.
The book is broken into chapters that cover most of the details of dressmaking, from hems and buttonholes to fine finishes and fitting. There is a short section near the end on maternity, layette and boys & men's clothes, and another on clothing care, covering cleaning, mending, & restyling as well. But the bulk of the book is on the details of sewing.
One of the things I found most interesting because it is so specific to Butterick patterns of the 20s, is the beginning chapters on selecting a pattern and making it work for you. They go into great detail about the Butterick Deltor, a new phenomenon and their unique selling point -- it was basically a set of pattern instructions telling you how to sew the garment, which was a change from the basic outlines of shapes with punched holes that made up most earlier patterns. But many of the step by step tips on how to use a pattern still apply, especially to newer sewists using pattern instruction guides for the first time. For example, they recommend reading it all through before beginning, circling your view on the instruction sheet, only taking the pieces you need out of the envelope, and even suggest tissue fitting. It was really interesting to read the process that a sewist of the time would have gone through when choosing and buying patterns and fabric as well.
Their patterns had "Outlet" or "Let Out" seams -- wider seam allowances on the seams most likely to be used for fitting, and the fitting chapters cover this as well as many other common alterations like lengthening and shortening, adding width to the hips or sleeves, FBAs (by a different name) and so forth. You'll learn how to properly make buttonholes, facings, plackets, ruffles, seam finishes, hems and more. It's amazing how much is covered, actually, and can still be used today. The illustrations are line drawings and are charming, everyone in long straight 20s shifts & bobs. There is even clear information on how to lay out and cut your pattern, though if I had a cutting table as huge as the one in the illustration I'd be a happy person ;)
This book also suggests keeping a place for your sewing machine to always be out and available to make it likelier that you will sew, although there isn't as much detail on how to set up a sewing room as there was in the 1947 book I shared last week.
My copy was .50 cents from the thrift store, and it was certainly worth it; I received hours of entertainment and solid info as well. My copy has tucked inside a Certificate of Warranty from Eatons department store for a sewing machine purchased by Mrs. Scranton of Hamilton, Ont in March of 1930. I'm assuming she also received this book at the same time. I love finding those kinds of ephemera, it's so evocative.
But, and you know there is a but, this book would be so much better if they'd just left out the chapter on colour when they were talking about choosing patterns and fabric. It is absolutely dreadful, reeking of racism, sexism and classism, as well as some very dubious scientific claims! There are absurd statements like the idea that "savages" prefer oranges and reds because they aren't as common in nature, while the "civilized" person prefers greens to suggest nature in their grey cities. Or that lower classes will like bright hues while the more educated and refined person prefers subtler shades. As to the objection that some highly educated people do use bright colours, it is stated confidently that this is because those particular cases are due to colour blindness, not a flaw in this reasoning! Seriously, stated flat out.
The most bonkers part of this chapter lies in the claim that too much of the same colour causes physical damage to the eye tissues and thus the need for colours to change every fashion season, to allow the eyes to recover. What??
In any case, other than the distasteful opinions in this chapter, the rest of the book is factual, clearly outlined and informative, as well as being a really interesting period piece. If you come across a copy, it is worth exploring. Or, if you like reading online, the Hathi Trust has the full scanned volume available -- so check it out if this discussion has made you curious about this 93 year old sewing guide!