After Edwina Ehrman's talk about London Couture at the V&A, I…
This bright and breezy pattern is described as “one of those happy little garments that go with everything, and is suitable for practically all occasions.” So it comes as a shock to find it rubbing shoulders alongside articles such as ‘Precious Pretties for a Wartime Trousseau’, ‘Married On Leave’ and ‘Make-Do and Mend and Turnabout’, placing it firmly in the WWII-era.
It’s another example of making the best of what they had, the drop-stitch inserts where the ribbon is placed use less yarn, and the ribbon could be changed to suit the occasion (“black, navy or brown with your dark tailored suit, for instance, cherry red or vivid blue when a touch of gaiety is indicated, or mixed colours as we suggest in our picture.”)
The fact that the magazine cover is in colour and the yarn suggestion is a specific Ardern’s “Star Sylko” No.5 suggest that this was produced in the early stages of the war, rather than later on when colour print was out of the question and yarn suggestions became more generic. Having said that it’s obviously far enough in for the wounded to be returning for recuperation (the advert in my earlier blogpost comes from this issue).
The booklet also contains adverts for Weldon’s sewing patterns, including this great illustration: “Dungarees are a necessity, these busy days. Wear this well-cut suit with plain and striped shirts or your favourite jersey.” Advice many are still following today!
Needlework Illustrated was published by Weldons, part of the Almalgamated Press group who operated out of Fleetway House in EC4. They were a prolific fashion publishers during the first half of the 20th century, but were sadly sold and subsequently ceased to publish patterns in the early 1960s. Incidentally, for anyone interested in the history of these companies and related businesses, there’s a fascinating article about The Sun Engraving Company who printed for Weldons and Odhams, related by Ernest Corp who joined Sun as Chief Accountant in 1933.