Saturday, 12 November 2011

Home Sewing in 1911

I don't usually buy magazines.  Maybe the odd Burda or celebrity gossip magazine if I have a long train journey.  I just had to buy this month's Woman's Weekly though.  It's their centenary issue and they reproduced in full their very first magazine from 1911.  Here is the magazine cover.

It's a fascinating read.  Admittedly I have been most enthralled by the adverts with gems such as this:

There are pages of adverts flogging remedies promising to cure all manner of ills. This one was selling "Antipon" which promised "within a day and night of the first dose" to decrease your weight between 8 oz and 3 lb.    All this from something which contained only "vegetable ingredients of a quite harmless nature".

There's an insight into Britain before the National Health Service and regulation of the sale of medicinal products.   One advert asks if you have "palpitations, shortness of breath, heart skipping a beat, violent starts to your sleep".    Now you'd be told to get to the doctor pretty sharpish.  In 1911 this was an opportunity to sell "Oxien" described as "an almost infallible cure of heart disease and its many complications".

Assuming the women of 1911 were still alive after all this they had plenty of sewing to look forward to.   The magazines promised a set of sewing patterns free with  the magazine.

If Pattern Junkie had been around in 1911 she would have had a field day with the dismembered body parts in the pattern illustrations.

There are plenty of sewing tips and a whole section on "blouse blunders".   It's interesting to see that words such as "nap", "grainline" and "crosswise grain" weren't used.  For example one blunder of the inexperienced was cutting the patterns "on the wrong way of the stuff" instead of running "selvedge way" and "in striped fabrics the error is quickly noticeable".  

My favourite has to be the tip to improve your ironing board.

Yep.  1911 sewers had to make do with balancing a piece of wood on the end of two chairs.   I wouldn't have room to do much else if I had to do this in my sewing room!

Other news now and look what the postman has just delivered.

I can't wait to start reading this and sewing my first ever Colette pattern.

Thank you to Ginger Makes for tagging me for the Versatile Blogger award.  I'll have to start thinking about 7 things to post about!

Happy sewing.


  1. Looking forward to hearing your 7 things! :)

  2. Thanks Ginger. Hope your dresses were a success!