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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Alice in Fashionland, A 1920s Fashion Show

Browsing through the old newspapers in Google is becoming quite a pasttime for me.  Or, perhaps I should say a distractor.    I was out searching for a date and branding on a specific mail order crochet pattern, when I stumbled on Alice in Fashionland, and immediately, there went the next few hours .... followed by more, with more to come.   Perhaps there is a reporter in me.   I just can't seem to quit the story till I get to the end.

It's late summer, 1925, and the Milwaukee Sentinel Newspaper, in conjunction with the Retail Fashion Community decide to do daily fashion promotions in the society pages.   They held a contest to name the fashion series, which was won by Mrs. Victoria Lowe of Racine, WI with her suggestion of Alice in Fashionland.   Her prize was $5.00.  (full page add is on Page 19)

These ads represent clothing available - obviously geared towards the upscale woman - in local merchant Main Street Clothing Stores.  
September 29, 1925 - The artwork was by Mr. Warner Kreuter, and the delight descriptions by Mrs Alice Patricia.
October 13, 1925 - The original promotion indicated there would be weekly ads, as well as a Sunday full page article.   I've been able to find about 70% of the weekly ads, but none of the Sunday promotions, which are mostly not available.

October 29, 1925 - In addition to clothing, just as you might expect, their are also adds for a variety of accessories, both fashion and personal - like luggage, makeup kits, etc.

I've been capturing and processing all these old ads from screen prints.   I adore both the pictures and the creative artwork.   I've been posting one of them, in chronological order, on my Facebook Business Page and then storing them in one of my Alice in Fashion Facebook Album, should you also love these old pictures and care to follow along.

In looking ahead at some of the ads, it appears there are some writer changes, move from the society page, etc.   As I get to these parts (I'm still working January 1926 at this time), I'll update this post.

I hope you enjoy the pictures (should you browse further).

Thanks for dropping by,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mail Order Knit Crochet Patterns

I've now collected quite a number of the mail order pattern.  A have a few that are quilting and sew, but for the most part, my collection consists of knitting and crochet patterns.   I don't have any exact count yet, but I am going to say around 450.

If you have been knitting or crocheting for any given time, I'm sure you are familiar with these patterns.   Most of them will have the words Design written across the top of the photo.   There were (might still be) mail ordered through newspapers and magazines from the early 1930s to present.  (Sewing patterns go back to the 1890s).    Their format look like these.
Laura Wheeler 974 Pineapple Jacket Crochet Pattern
Design 974 - A lovely Pineapple Jacket
Mail Order Design 847 Crocheted Mother Daughter Cape Pattern
Design 847 - Shell Stitch Cape

Laura Wheeler 851 Crochet Doily Mail Order Pattern
Design 851 - Doilies

At this point, if have less that 20% of the patterns available in my shop.  These patterns are quite consuming to get listed as I rework them into a standard size paper document, with the original pictures; each one taking several hours.   

I have been wanting to put them all on display.  After some thought, I decided to add them all to one of my Facebook Albums, with notations under each picture.   This way, should you be looking for something specific that is in my collection, you can let me know and I'll move it to the top of the stack for processing.  They are also, of course, just great fun to look through.  

To view the collection, go to my Mail Order Design Facebook Page
Thanks for dropping by. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What about the National Needlecraft Bureau

I recently came across a packet of old 1940s pattern that were issued by The National Needlecraft Bureau. This lot is mostly craft related, and quite fun.  Such as ....

E-284 Stocking Dolls (Mammy & Clown)

I took up a search to see what I could learn about National Needlecraft Bureau.   Their patterns were largely mail ordered through newspapers, however, seem independent of the other mail order firms (such as Needlecraft Services).  I find tracks of their activity between the early 1940s to the late 1960s.  An old newspaper article indicated they, in support of the poor economic times (WWII) were putting out a number of craft patterns to be made as childrens presents.   

National Needlecraft in the 1940s and 1950s also were active in the various state fairs, hosting a number of crocheting and sewing competitions.   I have a feeling that many of the award winners at the state fairs may have been the pattern source.  Although, I do not have any facts that specifically state that.  

Crafts were not the only patterns.   I have several other that are of the home decor category. And in old newspaper archives I have found quite a few references to clothing and accessory sewing and crochet patterns.

Crochet Rose of Erin Doily Pattern

Braided Rug Pattern from National Needlecraft is Leaflet 13-40
I particularly like the feel of the 1940s in this one.   There's the blazing fire, the centerpiece rug, and on the end table, not only is there a very out-of-scale burning cigarette, but a stand-up holder and flower bouquet. 

But the information I could find ends there.  Was National Needlecraft Bureau actually an organization formed to promote the arts during the war era, and continued on?   Their involvement in imply far more than a mail order pattern operation.     There are trails to two different address in New York, but as far as who started it, how did it end, who were the people involved, etc, I've hit a dead end.   

I have started posting these patterns on one of my Facebook Album pages to get them all in one place visually.   They are in my shop, of course, as well.  

If you know any of the details regarding The National Needlecraft Bureau ..... please share !

Thanks for dropping by 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Meet Handy Andy; Crocheted Hot Mitt

We all know that the old issues of The Workbasket are historical for their lousy pictures.   They were lousy way back then and they, of course, have not approved with age.   But, some of them are just so fun that we must look beneath the grain to see the prize.     Like this one from 1956.

Vintage Mans Face Crocheted Oven Mitt Pattern
Meet Handy Andy.   He's has an extra long face and a really thick neck, which are nicely matched in size by those big ears.   

And then, using this chart (or branching out on your own) and some felt, you create his facial features.  

This would be a fun project to work with your grade school sized kids.  You crochet, they help decorate !  

If you'd like to make a Handy Andy of your own, he is available as a Free Download in the shop.   There are also several other Free Potholder Patterns as well.   

Thanks for dropping by,