For most of the
early and mid-20th century, sewing
clothing (rather than purchasing it
ready-made) was an accepted role for most
women. It was cheaper and the outcome could be
as good (or better) than what you bought in
the store (or from Eaton's catalogue).
provide a fascinating look at the lives of the
people who wore the final product. Onoway
Museum has a small but fascinating collection
of sewing patterns. There are patterns from
the 1940s, 1950s, and on into the 70s, 80s and
90s. Many of the patterns are from well-known
companies, e.g. Simplicity, Butterick,
McCall's, Vogue, but quite a number have been
purchased from newspapers and magazines. Many
rural residents subscribed to weekly farm
magazines such as the Country Guide
or Family Herald. These
publications usually had a women's section
with a "needlecraft" page so many a pattern
was ordered via mail.
at a store or through the mail, the pattern
always came in an envelope which usually had
drawings of the garment (or whatever). The
pattern itself was printed on delicate tissue
paper with the various pieces printed on the
same sheet (or two). Instructions would show
which pieces were necessary for the particular
garment chosen. These pieces were cut out,
placed carefully on the fabric to make best
use of the fabric (probably pinned in place
with stickpins), then carefully cut with sharp
scissors through the paper and fabric. There
was definitely some skill involved!
the pattern collection, it's so easy to see
how styles change over the years, obviously
reflecting changes in society. Fascinating!
Stop by the
Onoway Museum. Look at all the sewing machines
downstairs and browse the pattern collection –
it will make you smile. And if you have
patterns still lingering about near your
sewing machine, consider adding them to the
layette 1949 1996
it's 1949 or 1996, babies
still use similar garments.
and styles may have changed
but babies are the same.
jeans and jackets 1970s
are very few patterns for
men's clothing in the Onoway
Museum collection. These
patterns were purchased in the
you remember the 1970s - days
of huge shoulder pads
and big, baggy clothing?
price on this pattern (from
the 1940s) was defiant of
the Wartime Prices and Trade
Board Control regulations.
25¢ was evidently too
M E Turnbull ordered this
pattern from Free
Press Prairie Farmer
to spruce up a chair in 1943
then passed it on to
Charlotte Coates (Potter).