A belated Christmas treasure trove.....Enid Gilchrist plus other vintage goodies


The great thing about having a bit of an unusual hobby like sewing is that often you are the first person people think of when getting rid of a stash. Now I need fabric and patterns like a hole in the head (Stash Diet 2014 is calling me!) but I'm never going to say no to a gift of vintage patterns and buttons. One of my colleagues was telling me her mum was downsizing off the family farm, and had a heap of sewing goodies that she was just going to take to the op shop - when she asked if I would be interested it was all I could to not squeal with excitement! So last week I got handed a box full of paper patterns and buttons, with the warning that 'they're probably not anything good, probably just daggy tracksuit patterns bla bla bla'. 
With the business of the new year, and cracking on with Sunny (driving permit acquired yesterday, cabinets painted and reinstalled and looking freaking awesome BTW) I only had a chance to go through my treasure box last night and I was as happy as a pig in mud! 


First up the buttons - mostly mismatching but a few cute sets. I think I love them most for the nostalgia of sifting through a collection of old buttons and knowing someone has carefully saved them for a future purpose. There's not many people that don't have memories of playing with and sorting their mum or nan's button collection...... Most of them are plastic but there's a few very unusual shapes, and some buckles! There's even a couple of old Australian Armed Forces buttons in there, made of brass worn so much that the little map of Australia is wearing off in the corners. I really need to start a collection of button jars in different colours now. My collection is getting out of control. 


I was then thrilled to find a book, the Oddhams Encyclopedia of Needlecraft - it has some beautiful old photographs, plus tips on garment sewing, knitting, embroidery and other crafts. 


It doesn't have a date of publication but I'd say from the styles of the garments it is either late 40's or early 50's....




This is not high in my Ravelry queue!
Then I found this Simplicity Sewing Book, date of publication 1947, with a gorgeous Audrey Hepburn-eque sewer on the cover:


This has some great tips on finishing techniques in particular, but also some gorgeous guides such as dressing for your colouring:


And for your shape:


Different fabric types:


Some interesting techniques - tradition vs flat construction of a dress (the 'factory method'):


But the most exciting and fascinating thing in my box was a collection of Enid Gilchrist magazines. This is what I really wanted to share with everyone. According to Wikipedia Enid Gilchrist was an Australian fashion designer who wrote a series of very popular pattern books in the 50's, 60's and 70's, teaching home sewists how to draft their own patterns, for children, teenaged girls and women (not sure if she did a men's book or not!).  These books are fascinating - they have multiple sizes of basic patterns and you draft yourself a sloper from the basic pattern (mostly dresses for the women's patterns). Then she lists a huge number of variations - collars, closure, sleeves, lengths, fullness etc etc.


You start with drawing a right angle, then according to the different measurements on the pattern in your size you start making marks at different points on your paper, eventually connecting them all up to make a pattern!



All the measurements are in inches, but some of the later versions switch to metric. The large O is the starting point of drafting the pattern - that first right angle. The shape of the sleeve is so interesting - darts in the elbows and curved to follow the shape of the arm I presume - you don't see this in modern sleeve patterns. 

Most of the mag's seem to be 60's but there is a snazzy 70's style, and a fab 'TEENAGERS and small women' edition with some hilarious photos:


That hipster recording loving cool cat!
Such a natural pose!
What amazes me is just how simple they make it all look - this page is from one of the kid's editions - it actually suggests that your daughter (child) make's her own pants! Her OWN PANTS! And I didn't notice until I was cropping the pics that this particular pattern actually has pattern lines for woven fabric with and without stretch - ingenious - the dotted lines are the lines for fabric with stretch:


Collar and neckline variations - I just love the tie neck on the second page:


What about a shirt dress (Jillian this one made me think of you!) or a wrap over dress:



Or maybe you want a sexy culotte dress? I think that's 60's speak for a onesie!




I'm looking forward to sitting down for a couple of hours and just reading them cover to cover - the line drawings are just gorgeous: 









Anyone ever seen anything like this before? Or been gifted a marvellous stash of vintage goodies that makes your heart sing? Right now I haven't got the time or need to experiment but I'd love to try drafting something out of these books just for fun.....





Comments

  1. Lucky Girl!!! We moved to our house when I was pregnant (easy to spot) and a new neighbor found out that I sewed. Her mother-in-law had just died and she was looking to give away her "sewing junk." Holy Cow! She made 3-4 trips to my house with her mini-van loaded. Vintage patterns and fabric and books and buttons...hardly junk. I took it all, more than I needed or could store, saved my favorite things and gave the rest away to sewist friends. It was awesome!

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    1. Oh that's awesome! I definitely I don't need all these mags so once I've had a good read and made some photocopies I'll be sharing the love too!

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  2. Wow! I've never heard of Enid Gilchrist, and never seen anything like this. SO cool!

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    1. Thanks Gail - you've not seen anything like this in the states? One day I'll have time to try my hand at a pattern!

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  3. What an awesome vintage score! I love the vintage sewing books. It's so fun to look at past styles.

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  4. It is fun - I'm always struck by how elegant vintage patterns are!

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  5. Awesome loot! There are hours and hours of fun (and some learning) in that box.

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    1. I know! Hours I'm struggling to find at the moment!

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  6. Wow! That looks like hours of fun! What a terrific collection of books and patterns; and buttons too! :)

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    1. I'm very lucky! I can't wait to get a nice little collection of button jars all lined up - it'll suit my OCD tendencies!

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  7. I was gifted my mum and grandmas button collection which ill always love! i wonder if they put that woman down on the page on the front of the 'teenagers and small women' book on purpose! how silly does it look! Vintage sewing books are always fun to look at. they have the same sewing techniques, but the different ways they tempt readers to buy their book is always fun!

    As for Enid, ive never heard of her, but i found a wikipedia page for her http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enid_Gilchrist

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    1. Haha I never really noticed her so far down the bottom!

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  8. What a fabulous stash find. Enid Gilchrist is a sewing legend, even if somewhat obscure. I have my mother's Enid books (which sadly are not in the lovely condition you have scored, mostly due to many years of service!) which I sewed loads of maternity clothes and children's clothes out of. Now that I am well past that I mostly use them for fitting tips and inspiration. And you are right, some of the pictures and text are hilarious. Enjoy!

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    1. Oh that's so interesting to find someone who's used these patterns! It's great to know how useful they can be! Thanks for coming by Fashionista! :)

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  9. Wow, lucky you!! I have the first 2 of the Enid Gilchrist magazines and they are absolutely wonderful! What a great haul!

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    1. Hi Jen! Thanks for coming by! It's great to hear from others who have seen and used them - thanks for letting me know!

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  10. Oh somehow I missed this post and just came across it now! You lucky, lucky thing! I grew up with my Mum having a subscription I think! We had so many Enid Gilchrist mags and over the years they just disappeared until all Mum had left when I asked a few years ago was one for "pinnies and things". Really dodgy toilet roll covers, horrid smocks etc etc. You got GOLD! Maybe if I give you my measurements you can draft me up one of those shirt dress patterns? ;)

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    1. Oh that's great to know! I'd love to draft you up something nice but time is slipping through my fingers right now at an alarming rate! I can however photocopy that magazine and post it to you at some point!

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    2. That's cool, I was only kidding. A photocopy would be amazeballs!

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  11. Too easy! I promised Danielle some knitting patterns too, need to pull my finger out!

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